James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is and isn't a victimless crime

I know that whenever I mention "victimless crimes" some people will question it.

"But drug addiction produces victims!"

"But prostitution produces victims!"

"But markets create victims!"

"But gambling creates victims!"

Such complaints confuse the issue. Broken agreements create victims. The victim of child neglect isn't the victim of a parent's substance abuse, but of neglect; parents doing legal things can also neglect their children. A gambling addiction can destroy families, but so can other forms of financial mismanagement.

So who is a victim?

Someone with objective, measureable damages as a result from the direct actions of someone else:
  • You lost money through fraud? That loss can be counted.
  • You were physically injured? That can be diagnosed.
  • Your property was vandalized? That can be seen.
  • Something was stolen? That can be investigated.  
But your broken heart? Lost trust? Disappointment? Wasted time? Hurt feelings? Self-destruction? 

Those are huge parts of life. That doesn't mean they should be a part of the law. Because to legislate their prevention requires the threat of inflicting measurable damages on people who themselves aren't inflicting measurable damages. When you punish the immeasurable, the law becomes arbitrary. And when law's arbitrary, there's no freedom. Where there's no freedom, there's no happiness.


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