Tag Archives: Law

I’m rather Blue over Sharia Law

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

In 2010, a legal decision in New Jersey incited national debate when Judge Joseph Charles decided not to grant a restraining order to a Moroccan woman who had been raped, according to legal standards in the United States, by her ex-husband. The reason given was that the judge accepted the Muslim man’s argument that under Sharia Law, he had done nothing wrong, and that ruling against him would violate his religious rights as enumerated in the 1st amendment.

As a result of this ruling and the potential for others like it, several states across the U.S. enacted anti-Sharia law statutes, including Oklahoma. However, after Oklahoma’s “Save Our State Amendment” passed, it was overturned by a higher court due to its targeting of one specific religion, specifically Sharia law, again citing that such a law violates the 1st amendment.

Judge Charles was wrong in his decision, but Oklahoma legislators reacted wrongly as well, and the higher courts were charged with making it all right. Many conservatives were upset the Save Our State Amendment was overturned, but they shouldn’t have been. If a statute can lawfully target the Muslim faith, one could lawfully draft laws targeting Christian faith as well.shariah-law[1]

American legislators define American law in their respective jurisdictions. There should not be a need to specifically exclude Sharia law, because unless Sharia law verbiage happens to be on that jurisdiction’s register, it should never be considered in the first place. The exception being in civil court where Sharia law may have been part of a contract.

Rape is not excusable under U.S. law because of religious views, so Judge Charles simply made an improper ruling that needed overturned—no additional legislation needed. If the man had killed his wife in an honor-killing, would the judge still have come to the same conclusion?

While I applaud Oklahoma and other such states attempting to take measures to prevent this in the future, the higher courts are there to reverse such decisions, and there are mechanisms in place to remove judges who go afoul of the law they are charged with adjudicating. Oklahoma didn’t need to amend their state constitution, they merely needed to deal with a judge violating his oath to uphold it.

If they truly felt it was necessary to elaborate, the Oklahoma legislature could have simply wrote something to the effect of the following:

The criminal court of Oklahoma may not consider laws which are not specifically on the United States Federal Register, Oklahoma State Register, or any applicable local registers as an argument for innocence or guilt.

It is succinct, and doesn’t target any single religion.

However, there’s a deep hypocrisy here with many conservatives. A majority of them are Christian, and they were the ones most vocal about prohibiting Sharia law, yet they often have no qualms about legislation such as blue laws or the proposed Defense Of Marriage Act.

Blue laws have curiously stood up to constitutional challenges because proponents have argued that while they were enacted as a way to force people to conform to a religious doctrine of the Sabbath, it can also be viewed as merely the government in question, ordering a day of rest, and does not necessarily have a religious component, making it okay.

Somehow the Supreme Court agreed—but how? It’s not a day of rest, it’s a day of not being able to buy alcohol. If they closed down all business on Sundays, then and only then would it be a forced day of rest.

SundayAlcohol[1]

More important, what business does government have telling you when to rest  in the first place? Why not tell me when I have to go to bed then? Maybe force me to take a nap too, while we’re at it.

As for the Defense of Marriage act, it is entirely contrary to the purpose of the Constitution. It was never intended to be a dictionary to define something such as marriage, nor was it intended to tell the people, in this case the gay community, what rights they have. One look at the Bill of Rights and it’s clear that it was written to define limits to the federal government, not the people. The Volstead Act (Prohibition) was the first attempt at perverting the Constitution in such a manner, also largely based on religious doctrine, and that was rightfully repealed a short time later. All such acts imply the government has the power, not the people.

As for blue laws, the supreme court did something in declaring these laws constitutional that I think violates their oath of office.

The Supreme Court Of The United States
The Supreme Court Of The United States

The Supreme Court Justices are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not the will of the majority. If we were a democracy, a system where only the majority opinion mattered, instead of a republic with a Constitution, we would have no need for them.

But we have a Constitution, and it exists to protect the rights of the minority from the majority. The Supreme Court is charged with interpreting it as written. What the SCOTUS did was find away to allow the majority to deny rights to the minority (atheists like myself), instead of judging these laws on their merits against the Constitution.

In so doing, they undermined the purpose of them being appointed, not elected, so that they don’t act on popular opinion. They behaved like legislators instead of guarantors of our rights.

Christians upset about Sharia Law arguments being allowed in criminal courts are absolutely right to be upset. But they must cease to endeavor to make American laws congruent with Christian doctrine also, or they are no better than the cause they are fighting against—hypocrisy destroys credibility.

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A Good Police Officer Is A Humble Police Officer

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I have a great respect for police officers. Like soldiers, they selflessly put their lives on the line for my safety. But a good police officer is a humble one. They understand that they are not above the law—they are there to serve and protect the citizenry. When a humble and respectable person is wrong, they admit it. More importantly, when they’re wrong, and a 12-year-old kid asks for their badge number, they give it up and show dignity and honor for the job they are charged with. This Las Vegas police officer however, has traded such dignity and honor for a sense of entitlement and a god-complex.US_Park_Police_badge[1]

He did something illegal by parking his motorcycle where a motorcycle shouldn’t be parked unless he had been chasing someone, or doing other official police business that required an emergency parking job. As it turns out, he was getting food/drink and he got called out on his illegal parking by young Jeremy Drew, a kid with a pretty good sense of justice.

If this officer had a shred of dignity, he would have looked at Jeremy and said something like, “You know, you’re right. My sincerest apologies. I was wrong to park here. Here’s my badge number, and if you feel a duty to report me, then by all means, you should do so.” Would the officer had been so kind had I parked my motorcycle there while I got lunch?

Las Vegas PD Officer In Question
Las Vegas PD Officer In Question

Then that officer should seriously reflect on why he became a cop in the first place, and whether he’s serious about defending the Constitution and local laws—therefore not violating them himself. He then should either resign if he doesn’t have the honor to do the job properly anymore, or change his way of thinking and behaving if he does.

Many police get upset when we citizens show little respect for them. To those officers I say this: don’t do actions that are disrespectful, hypocritical, arrogant, or plain illegal, and you won’t usually get disrespected. The corrupt among you, the indifferent among you, and the good officers who do nothing about the bad ones, serve as the main reason respect for the badge is waning.

We all know bad cops are bad, but that’s simply not the whole issue. I understand the idea of the police “brotherhood,” but if one of your fellow officer’s is out of line and you accept it, allow it, and/or condone it, you’re indifference might as well be an endorsement. If it is a crime for a person watching a murder to do nothing (depraved indifference), then you as police officers should also do something to stop your fellow officers when they do wrong as well.

The honor for the badge should be far more important than the honor for the random person behind it. If they don’t respond apologetically and remorsefully—showing clear signs such behavior will cease, then maybe a discussion with superiors or internal affairs is in order.

While most police officers are good, the ones that are doing illegal and/or inexcusable acts are rarely dealt with when their offense is only a misdemeanor like above, and this tolerance of bad behavior is exactly why America has shifted from a country that heralded Andy Griffith to a country that embraces the “F*** the police” mantra so prevalent in pop culture these days.

In another instance, on May 26th, 2012, a Portland Maine law student who remained unnamed by choice, was carrying a sidearm, as is his Constitutional right. A resident with what appears to be little understanding of the rights to carry a sidearm, decided to call the police and report the innocent open-carrier. Officers were dispatched to the scene. See the story here:

Again, an officer was in the wrong, and reacted incorrectly once confronted by a citizen who was in the right. Here’s what should have transpired but didn’t.

  • An officer should have never been dispatched. The person who called the police should have been advised by the dispatcher that carrying a weapon is a legal act and that they cannot dispatch an officer unless it appears there is an illegal act happening.
  • The officer merely did his duty in responding, but he was incorrect in his interpretation of the law. I can forgive an officer for not being in command of the laws like a lawyer—a law degree takes a lot longer to attain than your typical police academy certification. But if someone is telling you the law, and they seem to know what they’re talking about, especially when you don’t, then stop acting like you do. The law student was right, which means the officer was either purposefully being incorrect, or just wasn’t certain and thought he knew the law. Either way, arguing with someone when you don’t know you’re right is pure arrogance. What would have been so hard about saying, “You may be correct, let me check with my superior” or “You’re right sir, my mistake” once corrected by the law student.

There are a litany of videos of police officers abusing their power, these are merely two. The military and police are somewhat similar, yet where the military is revered for its respect and honor, the police are too often not. The one glaring difference between the two is labor unions—soldiers aren’t unionized. When union entitlement mentalities take over a workforce, the workers rarely fear for losing their job. Someone with little fear of getting fired, isn’t so compelled to do the right thing—in government, this is a recipe for abuse.

When legislators, police, and other government employees violate the law, the penalties imposed are usually far less severe than what John Q Public might endure if he committed the same offense. This is fundamentally wrong in a country where “We the people” give power to the government.

Instead, government officials should be penalized more severely. I didn’t take an oath to defend the Constitution, but they did—they know better. If we can’t trust them, who can we trust? And if we can’t trust them, “We the people” who actually have the power according to our Constitution, might as well get rid of them. Would you hire an employee if you thought they would steal from you?

Barney Fife and Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show
Barney Fife and Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show

We voters must vote to rid our government of organized labor so that we can better hold the rule-breakers accountable. But police must start to care about the honor of their profession and police themselves as stringently is they police us. Doing so will yield top quality public servants. Until then, we get the Barney Fifes and/or Joseph Miedzianowskis instead of the Andy Griffiths and Elliot Nesses. We deserve better.

Contrary To Popular Belief, Laws And Police Rarely Prevent Crime

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

What are laws actually for? If you’re thinking to prevent crime, think again. While I don’t support anarchy, if there’s no laws to be broken, there’s no crime, right?

The legislature writes laws to set a standard for law-abiding citizens to know what will and won’t land them in jail. It’s the best way to ensure fairness in prosecution.

Sure, some of the delusional legislators believe that would-be murderers would pause and think, “I want to kill this person, but Nancy Pelosi says that’s wrong,” but lawmakers with critical thinking skills know better.

Nancy Pelosi (D - California)
Nancy Pelosi (D – California)

Taking it further and speaking in absolutes; a law cannot stop a crime—criminal acts are physical actions. In order to stop a moving object, you need another physical object to interfere. Isaac’s Laws of Motion, remember? But a law is just words on a page and cannot technically prevent anything. A police officer could, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Let me give an example of why this nuance of defining standards is important and what happens when it’s done wrong.

In 1995, after the repeal of the national 55 mph speed limit, Montana passed a daytime “reasonable and prudent” law. In what could be one of the most glorious acts of libertarianism ever enacted, the state entrusted the people of Montana to determine for themselves a safe speed to travel under the conditions at any given time. To many people’s surprise, studies showed that letting people drive as fast as they wanted actually reduced highway fatalities. They got to where they were going faster too.

Montana Reasonable and Prudent Speed "Limit" Sign
Montana Reasonable and Prudent Speed “Limit” Sign

Then on March 10th, 1996, at a brisk 85 mph, along came Rudy Stanko and his Camaro, when Kenneth Breidenbach, a Montana Highway Patrol officer pulled him over, citing him for unsafe driving in relation to speed. See the legal arguments here.

Stanko was initially convicted, but “Reasonable and prudent” wasn’t properly written, making Stanko the victim of bad law.

Stanko’s attorneys appealed, stating that the “reasonable and prudent” statute was constitutionally vague—they were right. The judge agreed that a person cannot be cited for not driving reasonably and prudently unless the state first defines reasonable and prudent, which it hadn’t. As such, Stanko had no way of knowing if he was doing something that would earn him a ticket, and thus no way to avoid doing it.

Although I hated to see the Montanabahn go, we cannot allow police officers and courts to arbitrarily decide why one person doing 85 is OK, and the other is not. Why? Officer Ken or Justice Joe, for instance, could cite their cheating ex-girlfriends at will for something they let everyone else get away with—I assume you get the point.

As a libertarian (and a Corvette owner), I of course hoped that Montana would have attempted to define reasonable and prudent, which I concede may have been monumentally difficult, but instead, they reverted back to an actual speed limit of 75 mph, and this great bastion of libertarianism died a sad yet preventable death.

So now that I’ve illustrated the purpose of laws and what a good law does, to be fair, I should point out that some laws may serve as a deterrent. However, crimes of a violent nature are also usually crimes of passion, which are usually only preventable with a weapon, not a law.

So do police prevent crime?

Think about all the times you might call the police. More often than not, they are called because either a crime is in progress or has been committed. Also, when police pull someone over, they are doing so because a traffic law has been broken, not because you were about to run a red light—which was clearly still yellow—dammit.

In both instances, the crime is investigated and/or prosecuted, not prevented. It is a very rare occasion you would call the police before a crime is perpetrated and the police would intervene to stop the act before it was able to be carried out. EC689123235C04BEBFE698A4CC_h231_w308_m5_caksoayGp[1]

Again to be fair though, as evidenced by high rates of recidivism, when police arrest someone who committed one crime, they are often preventing the next one on that felon’s “to-do” list.

To all police officers, if you’re one of the many honorable and law-abiding people putting your life at risk for me on a daily basis, I appreciate you immensely—as we all should. So please don’t assume I’m criticizing your sacrifices.

But I believe preventing crime is ultimately a duty of the people. This is one of the many reasons why we have the 2nd amendment and why we all should be more apt to take advantage of it. We should encourage citizen-based crime prevention options, and stand your ground legislation should be nationwide. If a criminal knew most of the neighborhood was armed and would gladly shoot them without repercussion, the innate sense of self-preservation might just override the desire to steal your car stereo—it is not worth dying for.

As far as the police go, I firmly believe that as a nation we should have far less police officers in favor of more police detectives. I don’t blame the officers themselves, they’re just doing a job, but too often the police serve as a means of income for the community via traffic enforcement instead of preventing and solving crime, and this isn’t in the people’s best interests.

So how do we prevent crime then? As you may have imagined, I have some suggestions. Here’s but a few:

  1. Stop writing unneeded laws: I won’t go deep into the drug debate here, but it is a perfect example. Most violent drug-related crimes occur because recreational drugs are illegal. This idea was proven beyond any doubt during alcohol prohibition and its subsequent repeal approximately 80 years ago. Deep within our nature exists a truism: if you encroach on mankind’s freedom, we will lash out—sometimes quite violently. Don’t believe me, tell your kid not to do something, see what happens.YourSpeed
  2. Reign in entitlements: As long as we’re paying welfare mothers to have welfare babies that serve more as a source of income than an outlet for an abundance of motherly love, we’re going to have children who grow up with little to no sense of morality. If I feel I’m entitled to your car, I’ll likely just take it? However, if we force people to sink or swim, we’ll have a lot more people who develop a good work ethic. People who work for things appreciate them and don’t feel compelled to take what others worked for due to another innate quality in most humans—empathy.
  3. Improve education: Get rid of teacher’s unions, public schools, etc., and have proper free market education. If free markets can make a better car, and I think Russia vs. America proved this, then it can build a better school too. Studies have shown private schools routinely outperform their public counterparts. One look at any prison shows that most of the people in there can’t even spell incarceration. Sure there are genius criminal minds, but contrary to Hollywood hype, they’re not as common as you would think. A smarter society is usually a more peaceful one, whereas most criminals are idiots.
  4. Improve the economy: Some criminals are psychopaths, but some criminals are just desperate. Psychopaths will commit crimes as long as they are free, but with a strong economy, you at least reduce the crimes of desperation.

Ultimately we need to adopt a “No victim, no crime” policy then restore our country’s greatness such that people don’t feel the need to do bad things to survive. but the answer is almost never more laws and more police.