General Question

flo's avatar

Why do we need a law against .... if there is no more than a handful of people wo do ...

Asked by flo (10958points) 3 months ago

What can go in the blanks?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

43 Answers

chyna's avatar

I don’t understand the question.

ragingloli's avatar

murder, theft, rape, jaywalking.

flo's avatar

@chyna There should be no words that can go into those blanks, right? Otherwise since serial killers are rare, serial killing should not be illegal.
No, @ragingloli those are not things just a handful of people do. I suppose you’re being funny.

ragingloli's avatar

relatively, compared to the population at large, yes, it is just a handful.

flo's avatar

@ragingloli, Re. my last post re. the serial killers?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Why do we need laws against murder when only a few people die each year?

Is that what you mean?

kritiper's avatar

Some people learn.
Some people only learn the hard way.
Some people never learn.
Everybody else needs laws to protect them from some people.

ragingloli's avatar

@flo
serial killing would be illegal anyway, since normal killing is already against the law.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Normal killing?
Whassat?

ragingloli's avatar

In your country, they call it “mass shootings”.

flo's avatar

@elbanditoroso If you see my response to @chyna (and let me add here) ’‘for example’’, since serial killers are rare, ...’’ , you’ll see I don’t mean that. I mean there are no words that you can put in the 2 blank spaces to have it make sense.

@kritiper, So, you don’t need to wait until it’s more than one person who did something wrong to make it illegal, right?

Mariah's avatar

Well, laws have to be enforced or else there’s not really any point in having them. If a crime is very rare and hard to detect, the price of enforcing it may be greater than the price of letting it go. I wouldn’t personally make such a broad statement that it’s always useful to make a law about something no matter how rare the thing is.

Do you have something specific in mind with this question, flo?

flo's avatar

@Mariah What I have in mind is the OP itself.

Besides people who can’t give an unequivocal no, “No, you don’t need to wait for more than one person to make something illegal/against the rules) would also would think of referring to one person “they” or….,I,ll continue in my next post.

janbb's avatar

Maybe this is the kind of situation @flo has in mind.

flo's avatar

…. Or would also with repond with “This is my house so I can choose to do what I want with my house”, when they are asked “Why did you kill the person who was in your house?”

flo's avatar

It can be any of the gizillions of examples where one party was the first one to do it. That means everything. Either it it deserves to be against the law/rules or it doesn’t.

Yellowdog's avatar

It took me a while to understand the question.

Its not wrong because its a crime. Rather, its a crime in response to it being wrong, Its wrong because of what it does to others.

We have many laws against such acts, but they are wrong before they are classified as crimes or before there are laws against them.

Most wrong acts that harm others are covered by laws now—but there are still many wrong things you can legally do. There are laws about cruelty to animals, but your neighbor’s pet is still just property worth a certain monetary amount, and nothing more, legally. We need LAWS protecting animals and especially domesticated ones that live symbiotic with humans

Mariah's avatar

@flo I don’t understand any of your responses following mine. Some clarification would help.

flo's avatar

@Mariah
If x should be illegal, it should be illegal as soon as one person does it. It’s different what should be illegal, according to differrent people, but the one thing they would all agree is that it shouldn’t need to be more than one person who’s done the illegal act before it is made to be illegal, correct or not?

Mariah's avatar

I disagree as stated in my first post. Enforcement of certain rare crimes would be so expensive as to not be worth it.

flo's avatar

@Yellowdog I was trying to understand why you think I would disagree with that. Serial killing or….(fill in the blanks, rare) are prosecuted even if they are rare, is all I’m saying.

flo's avatar

@Mariah The law doesn’t work like that. If a homeless person was murdered they still investigate who did it, not just if the person is rich enough to make it “worth it” as you put it.

flo's avatar

@Mariah They investigate who did the serial killing, (just one one of all the rare crimes) regardless of how rare it is.

Mariah's avatar

Because murder is illegal. I thought we were talking about actions that are not yet crimes, but we’re considering making the action illegal because it has just been committed for the first time.

Also, don’t twist my words. Did I ever say murder is only worth investigating if the person murdered was rich? That is not what I said.

flo's avatar

@Mariah Everything illegal was not illegal before the first person commited it. So, it makes no difference if we’re talking about what is already a crime or not.
And the reason I brought up rich or homeless is to give an example. If the murder of a homeless person is rare, let’s say, they still investigate it.

Mariah's avatar

OK, but your point that “the law doesn’t work like that” assumes the thing is already illegal, and I’m saying that in some cases we shouldn’t make a new law about something because enforcing the new law wouldn’t be worth it.

flo's avatar

@Mariah I think we’re not getting anywhere. I was editing my last post when you posted your last post by the way.

flo's avatar

@Mariah So, if someone did something not yet illegal, to your child, and the officials tell you it’s not illegal, and it’s not worth making it illegal, since no one else has commited this act, that would make sense to you.
(Edited for punctuation)

Mariah's avatar

I only said that in some cases making a law might not be worth it, not all cases. There are many instances where I would advocate for making a law against an action even though it is rare. An action that results in harm towards a child would almost certainly be one of those instances.

Let me give an example of what I was thinking of. Say that somebody committed some sort of not-yet-illegal fraud that resulted in a loss of taxpayer money. But say that this type of fraud has only happened once, is unlikely to happen often in the future, and in order to enforce any law banning that type of fraud, we’d need to establish new types of police forces, new training methods for the police, new investigative techniques, etc. Establishing this new infrastructure would likely cost the taxpayers far more than what they lose as a result of this very rare form of fraud. So, making this type of fraud illegal might not be worth it, because it would be more expensive to the taxpayer to enforce the new law than it would be to ignore it, and the entire reason why the fraud was wrong/evil in the first place was because it wasted taxpayer dollars.

Obviously there’s no applying a dollar value to a human life, so my thought does not apply to violent behavior. But you were asking about laws in general, not just laws against violent behavior.

My point being, you were making a universal statement that there is never a reason not to outlaw something wrong/evil just because it is rare, and I am arguing that in some cases there is.

flo's avatar

@Mariah
I wasn’t specifying violent or non violent because I meant all acts that should be illegal.

And I don’t go with . “So, making this type of fraud illegal might not be worth it, because it would be more expensive to the taxpayer to enforce the new law than it would be to ignore it,” because if it’s ignored long enough wouldn’t more and more people be commiting it until it becomes too big of a problem?

Mariah's avatar

I specified in my hypothetical example that the fraud was unlikely to happen often in the future. Say that only a very small number of people in the world have the resources necessary to commit this type of fraud.

If it seemed plausible that it would happen often in the future, sure, it might be worth it to make a law against it. I’d leave it up to actuaries to perform an analysis and make that decision based on actual data.

flo's avatar

Who’s to say what is unlikely to happen in the future? Did anyone ever suspect the financial disaster of 2007/2008?
https://www.thebalance.com/2008-financial-crisis-3305679

Mariah's avatar

If it starts happening often enough that it becomes a problem, we can make a law against it then. We don’t have to preemptively waste taxpayer dollars enforcing a law against something that may or may not end up posing any kind of actual substantial problem.

Again I would leave it up to people whose job it is to make predictions like this – actuaries, economists, etc. If they think we’d likely waste more taxpayer dollars on enforcing the law than we would as a result of the fraud, then I’d be in favor of ignoring it.

flo's avatar

But at what point does it become “often enough”?

Mariah's avatar

When the amount of fraud that’s happening is costing tax payers more money than it would take to enforce a law against that type of fraud.

flo's avatar

So, what caused the Financial crisis of 2008 then if it is so clear cut?

Mariah's avatar

I don’t understand the relevance of the question. The behavior that caused the recession was not an instance of something being legal because only one person had ever done it.

flo's avatar

I don’t know for sure.

kritiper's avatar

Also, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Mariah's avatar

Sure, the stuff that caused the 2008 crisis wasn’t illegal. But, it also wasn’t only being done by 1 person. So I don’t know why you’re bringing it up here.

flo's avatar

Since I didn’t specify only 1 person doing the act, it could be 2 people or more.

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