Malum In Se, Malum Prohibitum

And Justice For All is a movie filmed in 1979 starring Al Pacino. It is a story centred around a legal scandal. Al Pacino is an idealistic lawyer who has always fought for justice in a corrupt legal system.  A prominent judge is charged with rape and assault, and Fleming is blackmailed into defending him. The case takes over his life and speeds into a final statement in the courtroom that blew my mind. I mean, the movie was astounding. As a piece of cinematography, it was masterful. The scenes are smooth and the dialogue is so clever. Al Pacino gives such an energy to his roles – he has this wide-eyed almost hysteric anger in him that bursts out of him. He is dynamic, moving within the camera effortlessly. I could not take my eyes off as he fought a nickel-and-dime world of favors and pandering.

The movie reminded me of an article I read today in the Canadian Firearms Journal. There were two terms that stood out for me in said article. Malum in se, and malum prohibitum. Translated, evil in itself, and evil in prohibition. Malum in se is the concept of an act being inherently evil by nature – murder, rape and theft. Malum prohibitum is the concept of an act being wrong and punishable because it has been forbidden by the governing state – tax evasion, drunk driving and improper storage of firearms. The current legal system in North America was built around the concepts of malum in se – justice. But since all of the North American colonies became self-governed, there has been an increase in malum prohibitum – law, which leaves society in the state you see today – a bureaucratic nightmare where forms come in triplicate and you cannot dig a hole to take a crap in without a permit. And it gets worse every day. There are so many rules. Just glancing around the net there are hundreds of websites dedicated to ridiculous laws such as these:

In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle (http://www.elistmania.com/juice/10_most_ridiculous_laws_from_around_the_world/)

In Maine, It’s Illegal To Have Christmas Decorations Up After Jan. 14 (http://lawiscool.com/2010/03/04/17-ridiculous-american-laws/)

– In Canada, by law, 1 out of every 5 songs on the radio must be sung by a Canadian (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/weird/the-worlds-strangest-laws/story-e6frev20-1111114208087)

– In Burma it is illegal to get internet access. If a person is found in possession of a modem he can be imprisoned. (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/weird/the-worlds-strangest-laws/story-e6frev20-1111114208087)

This is small fry though in comparison to the excessive Bills C-17 and C-68, both firearms legislations that have wasted billions of dollars in taxpayers money and not done anything to lower firearm-related crimes in Canada. And then there is Bill C-46 and C-47, the new internet laws which is exactly the same thing. Laws that claim to target child pornographers, identity theft and illegal downloads. But the only people who are going to be accused of committing malum prohibitum are you and I. We will have our private thoughts ripped away from us through government surveillance, and we will never get them back. And you know what? We deserve it. What exactly has anybody done to fight back? I hear a lout of complaining, but I do not read a single news report of people storming their MPs office and demanding answers. I do not see people raising their voices on the sidewalk and asking anyone what they think we should do. No one is raising a fist in defence, and the state is walking right into our lives because we are not stopping them.

So there you have it. Laws for all, justice and liberty for none.

Until next time,

Z.

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