Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can Unjust Laws Be Changed?

What do you do when laws need serious reform, but doing so would cost you an election?

I was reading this article by the Economist where they argue why sex offender laws have gotten out of hand. For example, two teenagers could do the dumb thing and have sex while young and for the rest of their lives suffer severe consequences such as nobody will hire them because they are forever on a sex offender list. Some such sex offenders are harassed and even murdered.

Now the article admits that there are some real dangerous sex offenders who need such laws, but what about someone like a teenager sending their friend a half naked picture of themselves and therefore become a sex offender for distributing child pornography?

Now my goal was not to voice an opinion on sex offender laws, but just in this position in general. Especially I want to ask: How can they ever be fixed? As the article points out, any politician who would "lessen" sex offender regulation would be crucified!

Though I am not going to name them, since they are controversial in the same way sex offender laws are controversial, I do fear there are many such laws out there. Laws that will do a lot of needless harm until they are reformed, but making such a reformation would cost you an election, thus, the bad laws continue.


  1. This is one of the perils of democracy. If the general population lacks the interest or attention span to understand a certain issue then politicians will have to resort to sound-bite legislation that allows them to say that they strengthened laws to protect our children.

    An example of this sort of thing has come up in the football world recently. Most people know that former quarterback Michael Vick was sentanced to a two year jail term for involvement in a dog-fighting ring. Meanwhile former NFL wide reciever Donte Stallworth plead guilty to hitting and killing a pedestrian while driving drunk and received 24 days in jail, 8 months of house arest, and 2 year probation. I don't care if you're a card-carying member of PETA, you have to admit that killing a person is worse than killing a dog. The difference was that Stallworth's case was handled at the state level while Vick's case went into the federal system where almost every law has a mandatory minimum sentance and federal prosecutors that are eagar to be seen as tough on crime.

  2. Wow, great comment Nick. You make some really good points. I am going to have to use the phrase "sound-bite legislation" one of these days as it is all so true.


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