Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

[Legalities] Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat

Posted by Lex Fear on February 27, 2009

Gavin Ayling thinks the law should be written in plain English. I’d like to expand on his post. I’ve always been amazed at this legal principle that underlines society.

Since there are so many laws and regulations to follows wouldn’t many of us be ignorant until pulled up on one?

And yet how many times have we come up against authorities themselves who play upon our ignorance and ignore the laws meant to keep them in check?

It seems to me laws have been crafted as to cover every tiny possibility and remove as much discretion as possible for a judge to employ. I think an efficient and humanitarian society should look to reducing laws and regulations as much as possible – wording them so that they cover a ‘multitude of sins’ rather than every single little possibility. This would then assure people of (a) their rights and (b) their responsibilities.

For example, what is the point of having a Racial and Religious Hatred Act, a Protection from Harrassment Act, a Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act, a Criminal Justice Act, an Anti-Social Behaviour Act, a Female Genital Mutilation Act (yes, there is one), a Sexual Offenses Act, a Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, a Violent Crime Reduction Act, plus hundreds of others I cannot be bothered to reference (but you get the picture).

All of the above acts deal with or touch on violence of some sort. Obviously we could say most reasonable people are not the violent type so many of these rules won’t apply, but this is just an example.

What this tells me is at least one of the following reasons,

  • The lawmakers are too lazy, or braindead, to check if something is already covered in exsisting law
  • The existing law was not good enough
  • The law was created for political expediency, not for genuine practical reasons
  • There is money to be made in lawmaking

Is not violence or harrassment against a black person as bad it is against a white person? A gay person or straight person? A child or adult? An immigrant or local? A man or woman?

Does this also mean that any minority not covered by this existing legislation is at risk from lawful violence?

“Your honour, I would like to point out that the man my client attacked is a narcoleptic and is therefore not protected by any existing legislation. My client was therefore acting in a lawful manner and I would request this case is thrown out.”

Would it not be a better society if lawmakers actually tried to include the widest possible interpretation when crafting legislation? Then, leave it for the judges to interpret and decide if a law had actually been broken or not.

What’s wrong with, for example, a law that states “You shall not inflict violence upon another person”. It would then be for a judge and jury to distinguish between a bloody beheading or a playful punch and award compensation and punishments on a scale.

“To make laws that a man cannot, and will not obey, serves to bring all law into contempt.”
– Elizabeth Candy Stanton

People do not exist for laws, laws exist for people and politicians need to get it into their head that society cannot be controlled or coerced into being happy and nice to each other, but most of us are capable of telling right from wrong. No-one needs to consult various regulations and acts each day before leaving their house to ensure that they don’t commit an offence. It’s time for better laws, not more laws.

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One Response to “[Legalities] Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat”

  1. BHudson said

    As well as what you said, at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing:
    Discrimination/violence/anything else of that sort is wrong. It’s hard work to get rid of the causes of it. But the Government must be seen to be ‘doing something’. So they make laws. They don’t do anything… but the Government is ‘doing something’. It must be doing something to make it better, there’s a law against it, right?

    By the way, sorry for not posting in ages. I’ve been busy, but I’ll have something up soon if you like.

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