First, of course, we must sort out what we mean by “crime.” So many things have been criminalized the last few years that it is no wonder people are often confused. We need to define the premise for calling anything a crime, long before we can think of what should or should not be “illegal.” There’s a difference…
What is your foundation understanding of all this? Social contract? The “good of society?” The good of the “state?” Whatever the majority wants? Legislation? OR the most basic level of relationships between free individuals: the non-aggression principle?
What is the Non-Aggression Principle?
Libertarianism is based on a single ideal, the non-aggression principle, so libertarian rhetoric tends to be remarkably consistent. Libertarians oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. They reject “first-strike” force, fraud or theft against others; they only use force in self-defense.
With the socialists and others who value the “state” and/or the whole of society above individuals, the answer is as varied and changeable as the wind. That, of course, does not in the least prevent various groups – mostly pretending to speak for or represent ALL of society – from working hard to make “illegal” as much as possible of what they disapprove one way or another. Of course, if anyone is paying attention you will notice that they so often exempt themselves. Or don’t see the irony… such as the anti-gun crowd demanding that gun owners be shot!
Individualists, voluntariarists, libertarians (mostly), and a few others limit “crime” to those actions which violate the non-aggression principle. Now there is plenty of discussion and disagreement over exactly what that means sometimes, but in general the act of aggression involves actual harm to other people. Assault, rape, murder, theft, destruction of private property and a few other things. And that includes the direct, imminent and viable acts which threaten such harm.
Many people insist that aggression includes acts of fraud, but that’s a gray area for many of us.
Personally, I include any act intended to control my life or property, but that gets complicated. Let’s just say that, by the definition of the socialists, I might commit a “crime” that doesn’t harm anyone. They will then send the guys with the guns to collect me, and would be unmoved if I died as a result of resistance. That’s a very serious part of the necessary discussion here.
And that’s exactly the sort of “crime” we hear about the most. I know most of us are tired of hearing about it, but the “war on drugs” is a perfect example. There seems to be some improvement on this front, from time to time, but the prisons – and many graves – are full of the true victims. The undeclared “wars” on so many other things continue as well.
If we look to national statistics (and trust them at all) we find that there are indications of increasing violent crimes in the last two years.
2016 Crime Statistics Released
Violent crime increased for the second consecutive year, while property crime decreased for the 14th straight year, according to the FBI’s annual report on national crime statistics released today. There were an estimated 17,250 murders in the U.S. last year, an 8.6 percent increase from 2015.
Overall violent crime rose 4.1 percent last year, while property crime fell 1.3 percent compared to 2015 figures.
Of course, these statistics can’t begin to measure the number of such violent assaults and murders that directly relate to the “war on drugs,” or any of the other government “wars” on people. Nor do they correlate the relative helplessness of the victims, or their options for self defense. A great many other factors come into play as well, naturally, such as location and demographics of the people, the training and attitude of the police, the “laws” in place, and the relative effectiveness of the (in)justice system to locate and remove the violent actors from the population.
The idea of sending someone to jail for the “crime” of a “sexist” or “racist” tweet or F-book posting is beyond insane. Hurt “feelings” do not arise to the level of any sort of crime.
But that’s my take on this. How do you see it? Is there more violent crime now, or do most people have a twisted and unrealistic idea what “crime” is and what needs to be done about it?