The Basics: What is the law

Functionally, the law is place dependent. Whatever governments have jurisdiction over a particular place each contribute to the collective rules we call the law.

Since we don’t have a comprehensive list of governments, we don’t really have a way to be sure we know what the law is. Think on that for a moment. Some institution you’ve never heard of can come and take your life, liberty, or property for conduct you didn’t know violated a rule you’ve never read and if you plead ignorance of the law, it’s no excuse in court. You are responsible for knowing things without the tools available to fulfill that responsibility.

A society based on the rule of law can still survive like that if the laws are few in number and it is rare that people are inconvenience by the law. That hasn’t been true for at least a century. As laws proliferate, more and more people walk around, unknowingly violating the law and randomly getting called to account for things that the average person was not even aware were illegal. This breeds a sense of fear and the habit to watch your step and mind your betters. That society is a perfect one if what you’re looking to do is breed a nation of serfs. It is no society for free men.

If we want a real rule of law, the law has to be available to all and simple enough that we have a reasonable chance to obey it. This is not the case in the USA in 2016 and that’s a travesty.

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