On Point: The primates are howling for new legislation

By David Ziemer

The Daily Record Newswire

The latest cause de jour is passage of what its proponents call "Caylee's Law," which would make it a federal crime for a parent not to report a missing child within 24 hours.

I have a better idea. Let's forget it, and instead repeal every single federal law that has been enacted since the patently unconstitutional Sherman Antitrust Act.

If there is one thing this country does not need, it's another criminal law. As it is, I expect I violate 10 to 12 federal and state laws every day of my life. Even my friends who actually try to obey the law probably violate three or four laws per day.

Apparently, the impetus for this is a criminal case that recently resolved in Florida called State v. Anthony. I didn't follow the case, and don't have much idea what it's about.

I expect most of you haven't followed it either. But the mainstream media has been obsessed with the case, so I expect some laypersons have asked you for your thoughts. If you're like me, you respond: "I've got my own cases to worry about; I don't give a damn."

The word on the street is that most people believe the defendant in the case killed her daughter, but was acquitted of everything except some misdemeanor charges for lying to the cops.

So, like a primate who lets a banana slip through its fingers, the populace is making a horrible racket, and howling for new federal statute that would protect it from ever losing a banana again.

You can always tell that a proposed law is a bad one when it is named after a child. It's a common, if insidious, tactic: Name a law after a child, so you can demonize any opponents of the law as monsters who hate children instead.

But that doesn't work with me; the demon's horns fit me rather well, and I don't mind being called a monster and a hater of children.

Unfortunately, some people think criminal law should provide a right and a remedy for every imaginable wrong.

They look to criminal law the way the subject of the Bob Dylan song, "It Ain't Me Babe," looks to Mr. Dylan.

They expect the criminal code to be the legal equivalent of a perfect boyfriend -- to open each and every door for you; to gather flowers constantly; to come each time you call, and to die for you and more.

But criminal law isn't a perfect lover. It's something you stay with because the alternative is worse.

Perhaps, in the course of the next 50 years, maybe one person in the United States will kill a child, not report the child missing for a month and avoid conviction for murder because the failure to report made it difficult to prove the case.

And over the course of those 50 years, hundreds of juries will find the failure to report the child missing the state's strongest evidence of guilt. Then, the judge will be able to pile on a few extra years in prison for failure to report, on top of the life sentence for murder. That's really important legislation we need to pass.

But I am a reasonable man, amenable to compromise. So, let's add a couple of amendments to Caylee's Law; I suggest repealing the Clean Air Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Do that, and I will howl for its passage as loudly as any primate in the forest.

Published: Fri, Aug 19, 2011

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