If a free society is to work, the vast majority of citizens must reflexively obey the law not because they fear punishment, but because they accept that the rule of law makes society possible. That reflexive law-abidingness is reinforced when the laws are limited to core objectives that enjoy consensus support, even though people may disagree on means.George Will, the conservative Newsweek columnist, had similar thoughts this week — although he found a way to blame the Democrats.
Thus society is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The G.O.P.’s Bad Bet
In an article criticizing the recent law attempting to ban Internet gambling, Charles Murray of the (conservative) American Enterprise Institute writes