Monday, December 20, 2010

Law By Common Sense

Buckle up motorists - It's the law! And of course, as everyone knows, the law is the law! You follow the law or suffer the consequences. But why is that the case? What gives lawmakers the power to restrict the freedoms of other people? They are human beings just like the rest of us. People should be entitled to do whatever it is they see fit without worrying about the opinions of some law-giving authority.

A perfect system of laws would enable people to do exactly what they feel is appropriate. No individual is logical enough to create perfect laws that would equally apply to all of humankind. In fact, it seems like laws evade logic altogether, and most laws are nothing more than relative social constructs. Therefore, the ideal system would provide laws dictated through a consensus of the general population. When people vote to create laws, they are testifying to the moral superiority of those measures. By the fact that people have agreed to this law, it is apparent that this code of conduct is acceptable to that society, and the people of each locale are therefore free to act exactly how they see fit.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to implement this ideal society, and the kinds of democracy that abound today are only poor approximations of this model. Although people occasionally vote on referendums, and all representative lawmakers have earned their respective positions through popular polls, it is hard to claim that all the laws with all the esoteric language are a fair representation of the popular sentiment. Laws are very complicated, and loopholes are plentiful. Sophisticated politicians use convoluted logical arguments to concoct laws laced with legislative jargon. Very few people know the laws, and even fewer people understand the laws. Lawmakers compose, Judges interpret, and lawyers defend. If the law is far out of the reach of the common individual, it is definitely not the fair rules of conduct acceptable in that locale. Situations like these lead to the abrogation of freedoms.

If laws become too complicated, they cannot be easily justified. A good example of the shortfalls of a complicated structure of laws is the aftermath of the Wikileaks incident. Should we prosecute the founder of Wikileaks website for his misconducts? Lawmakers are not yet certain if he has violated any laws while engaging is his latest whistle blowing actions. But senators are looking far and wide hoping that at least some minor violations would eventually show up. Now ask yourself, if the investigations discover that laws were broken, would it be appropriate to take punitive actions? After all, if senators did not know the law, is it appropriate to hold him accountable for the law? Also, think of what happens if the investigation yields nothing. We may have an individual being vilified by all of humanity yet free of any legal charges. Why should the words in some law book take precedent over national sentiment? It is clear that complicated laws introduced in the current structure of government do not necessarily always represent the popular opinion of right and wrong.

A better form of law would be one that links punitive measures directly to popular opinion. Instead of governing by sophisticated scholarship, people follow common sense. The jury system in the United States represents a good start in the process of reaching this general framework of governing. With a jury, the final decision of guilt results from the popular decision of a few common citizens. It shouldn't matter what the smart judge or the shrewd lawyers have to say. If the people think a man is guilty, he is guilty by definition. The jury system is a good start, but a perfect system would have to augment this basic structure. There should be no laws and no law books. If a person acts in what seems to be an inappropriate manner, a jury would decide whether such actions are indeed unruly. Instead of 6 or 12 people, this jury would have about 30 people. If the jury feels that the person acted inappropriately, then the person has acted outside of the accepted codes of conduct in that locale. After much deliberation, the jury would decide the proper consequences as well. However, if these people find that the defendant has done nothing wrong, he or she has acted in a lawful manner.

With such a system in place, people would be free to do what they themselves have deemed appropriate. People need only act with common sense, and they wouldn’t have to worry about unknowingly violating esoteric laws. A law that does nothing more than to encourage people to act with common sense can be justified as a law that should bind all of us. We are not limiting anyone’s freedoms. Rather, we are collectively doing what we want.


  1. Dude, you are crazy. Common sense doesn't exist. The mob will kill all the people they don't like. Some sort of guiding structure is necessary before we allow the masses to start hanging people.

  2. It seems like your common senses dictate that killing is wrong. Most people probably agree with you, and people who commit murder would therefore be punished by the jury. Obviously the jury must be a good "random" sample taken from the same population.