♪ Dog police (bow wow), where are you coming from?
Dog police, nobody knows who you are ♪
— Mr. State Trooper of the Highway Patrol, please put down your radar gun.
Never go with a U.S. Constitution originalist to a second loc cit.
Nothing proves the prescience of this proverb better than the following cataract of caca spewed in the center of Samuel Alito’s concurrence to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen:
Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years? Does the dissent think that laws like New York’s prevent or deter such atrocities? Will a person bent on carrying out a mass shooting be stopped if he knows that it is illegal to carry a handgun outside the home? And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.
A more perfect encapsulation of statutory nihilism one will never find. Before descending into your delving Weekend Politics Thread host’s discussion of this, though, recognize how Alito consistently misrepresented facts and introduced a hypothetical that changed the terms of the debate.
The law in Bruen at issue applied to residents of New York City. The Buffalo mass murdered used a rifle. The question mooted concerned carrying a pistol or revolver for self-defense, not hunting humans. NYC officials who enforced the requirement for handgun permit applicants to state their valid reason for applying never could fulfill an obligation to stop a person living in Conklin, N.Y., from acquiring a long gun.
Ignoring and lying about the evidence at hand to and issues raised by the Bruen litigants permitted Alito and his complicit radical rightwing activist justices to undermine the project of using laws to regulate society well. Neil Gorsuch pulled the same underhanded trick when finding for the Jesushadist football coach in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. There, the writing justice threw out photographic and video evidence, flatly stated teen athletes never feel coerced by bullying adults who determine perks or punishments and playing time, and declared hollered hosanas at the 50 yard line quiet reflection in private.
The outcomes of both cases fit into a larger mosaic of theocratic fascists redefining the concept of law and legalism. But the Bruen decision and its reasoning strike Uvular as particularly pernicious.
Arguing x law would not forever and always bar the commission of y crime amounts to propounding zee proposition that no proscriptive law ever achieves its purpose. A Supreme Court majority accepting the argument becomes especially frightening when, as Alito did, the rubric runs “x law failed to prevent b crime.” Throw out all gun control statutes and ordinances because a tightly geographically defined barrier to handgun ownership failed to deter an offense involving a rifle hundreds of miles away? Sure. Let’s.
Worse, even entering into a debate over laws stopping crime unbalances the colloquy in favor of bad actors. A nonexhaustive list of what written statutes and ordinances do includes:
- Setting rules for how things get done, which covers everything from speed limits to registering corporations;
- Expressing current consensus regarding acceptable behavior, which covers everything from marriage to drug and alcohol use;
- Protecting rights, which covers antidiscrimination, voting, and privacy;
- Protecting property, which covers everything from theft and vandalism to fraud;
- Specifying penalties for breaking the rule; and
- Making things illegal.
The last point exists as far more than a tautology. Think, for instance, about rules for immigrating to the United States. Xenophobes, racists and bog-standard bigots wheedlingly whinge welcomes for new arrivals who enter America “legally.” Leaving aside the nearly insurmountable barriers to compliance with the standard immigration process, that dodge absolves everyone opposing immigration from admitting that liberalizing laws would increase legal entries.
Permissive laws work to encourage or even reward acceptable behaviors. Proscriptive laws work to deter1 and sanction unacceptable actions. A tangent on police constituting a reactive force belongs here, possibly with an aside on the deadly dangers of proactive police. However, this header, as most of Uvular’s do, has already spun out too long.
So, to refocus, even starting a conversation premised on the farcical notion of a law banning certain action preventing stipulated actions dooms the defender of the law to rhetorical defeat. Do people make laws only so others break them? Yes, by design and definition. Anyone arguing otherwise operates in pure bad faith.
Never meet bad faith with good faith. Denounce Alito, Gorsuch, and your MAGA uncle on Facebook as the wrong kinds of lawless anarchists from the jump. Spare yourself other hassles and just tell them to go op cit. on it.
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