A Pity They Can't Both Lose

Today I witnessed a confrontation between two characters so despicable that I was sorry to have to take sides, mentally though in no way practically, with one of them.

I was crossing the street in a small Southern city when it happened.  Perpendicular to my own crossing -- which is to say, against the light -- a large and muscular man in shorts, apparently drunk at two in the afternoon, was also crossing the street.  A little black car apparently decided that trespass justified nearly running him over, perhaps in an attempt to scare him straight.  He was carrying a beverage of some sort in a styrofoam cup, which he dashed against the window of the black car as it passed.

The car slammed to a stop -- now out in the intersection -- and a very large woman got out and started yelling.  "Oh, H#LL no!" she began, pink cell phone in her hand, proclaiming that she was going to call the cops because he was crossing against the light, and he had better not leave before they got there to arrest him.

I hope she did call them, because she was guilty of several crimes.  Her interlocutor wasn't actually doing anything worse than the misdemeanor offense of jaywalking -- impossible to prove, though I know he was guilty of it -- which doesn't rise to the level of offense at which citizens may exercise their arrest powers. Nor are you generally entitled to put someone's life at risk to demonstrate your annoyance at their violation of a minor point of legal protocol.  

Good thing we have equality under the law!  We can all be held to the same standard these jokers require to keep them from killing each other.  That's the way to guarantee human liberty.


gringo said...

Which reminds me of the citizen's arrest on the Andy Griffith Show, where Gomer Pyle arrested
Barney Fife for making an illegal u-turn.

Cass said...

I'm confused about what law has to do with any of this? Or equality under the law.

People have (and have always had) the freedom to be jerks. What they are guilty of, and what they get punished for are quite often two different things even when there's no law.

There's no perfect system out there. The law doesn't make the existing situation wrt guilt/innocence/punishment any worse or more capricious.

I suspect I'm missing your larger point - can you explain it to me?

Grim said...

It's your point, usually: the laws I would prefer and consider just aren't adequate for losers like these. You can't write the law with the good citizen in mind, but so they can adequately restrain the 2-PM-Irritable-Drunkard and the Horrible-Screaming-Arrogant-Entitled-Reckless-Driver.

I think the laws I favor are just, if the people are worthy of them. The Founders warned of this occasionally: the liberty they envisioned assumed a certain virtue that, if lost, would make it impossible to retain the liberty.

So part of the answer for pursuing justice is to improve the people -- hard for one person to do to any great degree, but we can work on producing children and students who are wiser and better. To the degree that we can have better citizens, we can have better laws.

But I also wonder if equality under the law isn't baleful here, because it means that we must all be subject to worse laws when there are worse people around. Clearly these two deserve each other, but meanwhile traffic is stopped while Ms. Entitlement blocks off both streets with her car to scream and wave her cell-phone around, and asserts powers and rights to which she is not actually entitled at all. That's a problem for everyone, but it doesn't mean everyone should be punished for it by having less freedom, or by being more subject to authority.

We don't have a problem with reducing the liberty of felons as a class, or parolees, so pure equality under the law isn't necessary for us. Perhaps there are other ways to more strictly control the people who need it, while letting good citizens enjoy more of the liberty the Founders intended.

Another thing you said recently that made sense was that cities and rural areas might benefit from different laws, because density makes a difference in the amount of liberty that is practical. Maybe there are other ways, not localized to place but to person, to limit freedom and subject people to authority only when they prove they aren't capable of living according to the freer set of rules.

Cass said...

Thanks for the explanation. I've had a phone glued to my ear since noon (no, not really a woman's fantasy :p) but will respond if/when the deluge of idiocy lets up.

Anonymous said...

I probably shouldn't say this, Cass, but the idiocy-tsunami alarm just sounded out here. That gives you, oh, about an hour to prepare, unless it was an alert for federal-level idiocy, in which case you've been hit already. :)


Cass said...

*snort* :)

I think I was hit several days ago...

Man, what a week. It's like a full moon over an insane asylum on Friday the 13th.

DL Sly said...

Isn't that a daily thing for those who live, work and drive in the DC metroplex?

Cass said...

Pretty much. I haven't even driven in to work this week at all. Can't afford to lose the time.


Race, meet rat.