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When All Crimes Are Those Against the State

When All Crimes Are Those Against the State
“Do not encroach against others or their property.”

The above principle is a simple one, yet it’s the basis for all criminal law. In turn, criminal law is the basis for Common Law, the legal system for English-speaking peoples and much of the rest of the world.

The idea is a simple one: If party A aggresses against party B, party B is entitled under the law to restitution or compensation to be paid by party A to party B.

Well, that seems straightforward enough. But at some point along the way, two fundamental changes have been made that don’t reflect the original principle.

First, convicted offenders started to be ordered by the court to pay the court as punishment. Of course, the offense was not against the court, but the government of the day wanted to get in on the action. Surely, if a crime against a given party had been committed, the state was entitled to dip its beak, so to speak.

Over time, fines payable to the state became the norm. And for those who couldn’t pay the state, jail time.

Along the way, another extension to the concept came into use: victimless crimes. Increasingly, laws were passed by governments to make actions unlawful when there was no harm to an individual or his property.

To wit: Recently, the State of Michigan passed law HB4474, against “hate crime” – any perceived slight against another person, verbal or otherwise. The law recognizes such disparate slurs as those critical of gender identity, religion, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, or even affiliation with a group. Incredibly, the law extends as far as the outlawing of unacceptable pronouns.

The punishment is imprisonment of up to two years, a fine of $5,000, or both.

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