Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Protecting Victims Through the Abolition of Law
Originally Written on August 21st, 2015
Expanded on December 3rd, 2015
Edited on December 3rd, 2015 and January 22nd, 2016
Libertarianism is perhaps best known for its opposition to laws that criminalize victimless actions; for example, the use and sale of drugs, prostitution, pornography, file-sharing, offensive speech, and (arguably victimless) tax dodging, et cetera.
But I would like to argue that consistent libertarianism additionally opposes laws that criminalize actions which do have victims. This is partially due to the fact that the victims can become accused criminals in the process, and also fall victim to lack of justice. It is also due to the libertarian’s position that laws (statutes and ordinances drafted by legislative bodies) should be replaced with private, mutual contracts.
Victims can become repeat victims of injustice, in that some laws against victimizing people come with statutes of limitations; laws that limit justiciable remedy based on how long the victim went without reporting the crime.
In such situations, even if the criminal attempts to turn himself in, lawyers will most likely advise him against turning himself in, and moreover, police might not even arrest him unless he is doing something unlawful at the moment of the police encounter.
The result of all this that – since it is the state’s responsibility to charge a perpetrator with a crime, and the victim may only charge the accused with civil rather than criminal charges – the victim becomes disempowered.
The effect is, or might as well be, as if the victim has been the property of the state all along. If the state doesn’t care about the damage that its property (that is, the victimized human being) suffered, then the state doesn’t have any responsibility to ensure that justice is delivered. Furthermore, the state will suffer no repercussions, because it can continue to compel the victim to remain its client (i.e., its citizen), and no other agency can effectively challenge the state’s failure to deliver justice.
This is true even when the reason why the victim waited so long to report the crime, is because the victim had been so viciously traumatized, that it took years or decades to notice that the crime had even occurred, and/or that it took that long for the victim to relocate to a sufficiently safe space where reporting the crime would be a safe enough option to consider.
My proposed solution to this set of problems is that all laws made through legislative avenues be immediately abolished, leaving law and precedent to arise only through private, mutually agreeable contracts. Such contracts should be enforced by neutral third party arbitrators having no substantial vested interest in the outcome of the resolution of the dispute, creating precedent (precedent which resembles, but is not, legislation) through court decisions, and through interlocking arbitration agreements (which are norms and customary standards which govern how courts and arbitrators interact).
Such a paradigm would render all infractions – even true corpus delicti crimes against persons and their legitimate property – torts (i.e., civil matters) rather than criminal matters. Such a paradigm – a system of private law – would retain for the victim (or his or her loved ones, if the victim is deceased) the right to charge the accused with civil violations, as well as the right to hold the accused person(s) responsible for any damages.