Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

June 8, 2007

A Question Of Justice

by Doug Mataconis

Quite honestly, I’d never thought I’d mention the name Paris Hilton in a post at The Liberty Papers, but this post by Lew Rockwell just makes no sense to me at all:

How many Americans are actually proud of our record as the world’s incarceration champions? The envy and hate on display in the anti-Paris Hilton hysteria is quite something. I wonder: how many would love to see her sentenced to years in a government prison, or tortured in the arena, for a victimless crime? Maybe FOX can do a reality show. The host can be the Rev’d Al Sharpton, “once again our country’s moral arbiter,” in the words of Chris Matthews tonight.

Umm, okay. This isn’t about class envy. It’s about a woman who was convicted of a crime and had her license to drive suspended. During that suspension she was photographed and filmed on repeated occasions driving an automobile notwithstanding the fact that shouldn’t be doing so.

She broke the law. The judge sentenced her to jail. She cried like a baby until the Sheriff released her.

Explain to me precisely how this is something a libertarian should care about ?

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  • Pasquale Festa

    You’re absolutely right. This isn’t about “hating” Paris Hilton, it’s about the fact that our judicial and corrections institutions are supposed to be blind to who a person is when carrying out procedure. It has little to do with wanting to see her ‘tortured’ and everything to do with saying “justice is served”.

  • brainiac

    From what I understand, from listening to the Sheriff and to experts on tv, it looks like Paris Hilton is being treated MUCH WORSE than an ordinary person.

    Most women in her situation wouldn’t get any time at all because of the system in place to deal with overcrowding. Women who have committed misdemeanor crimes only serve 10% of their time at most. That means Hilton should have served about 5 days, exactly what she did, before they took her back (which was unfair too imo).

    I think she’s being mistreated because she’s rich and because people think she’s “immoral”. And I think libertarians should be concerned about that; everyone should be treated equally. This is a lynch mob atmosphere imo.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Stephen Littau

    I’m just glad that the judge didn’t give her any special treatment. I disagree that this was a minor crime; she could have killed someone. I don’t know what the penalties are for the average person but she shouldn’t get any special treatment.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Stephen,

    I agree with you. And, speaking from my own experience as a lawyer whose dealt with cases like this in Virginia, I can only say this…..

    If someone who wasn’t a “celebrity” had been convicted of an alcohol-related offense and had their license to drive suspended….and then been caught driving in public on multiple occasions….

    Well, all I can say is that 45 days in jail would probably be considered the best of all possible worlds.

  • Jim

    “That means Hilton should have served about 5 days, exactly what she did, before they took her back (which was unfair too imo). ”

    LOL. No, she only did 3 days, not 5. And drunk driving isn’t a misdemeanor.

    Brainiac, you really shouldn’t get the facts merely from the Sheriff. He’s the one that chose to ignore the court order that specifically said no house arrest. He’s the one that claimed she had a medical condition, but rather than move her to the medical ward, let her go home.

    He still has yet to provide the papers proving the medical condition that he claimed were on the way, and that the judge kept asking for.

  • uhm

    I’m glad she’s back in jail, driving is a privileged not a right.

    Her stupidity isn’t newsworthy. I’d like Lew Rockwell to explain how drunk driving is a “victimless crime.” I have no clue if she was drunk while driving without a license but knowing her character it’s possible.

  • Cladari

    So let me get this straight, I paid for the right of way, the equipment, the labor, the upkeep and enforcement of the road, but when it’s time to use the road it suddenly becomes a priveledge granted by government ? I’m sorry, driving on the road I built, in a car I paid for, is a right.

    And by the way, a 28 year old women should not be crying out for Momma while going to serve a few week sentence.

    Cladari

  • js290

    Her stupidity isn’t newsworthy.

    That is true…

    I’d like Lew Rockwell to explain how drunk driving is a “victimless crime.”

    I’m not Lew Rockwell, but I’ll give it a shot. If you drive home drunk without killing anybody or damaging other’s property, then it would be a victimless “crime.” If the cost of committing a crime is high enough, that should sufficiently discourage people from doing so.

    We shouldn’t need the government to tell us what we can or can’t do. On the other side of the same coin, we shouldn’t use the government to protect us from the actions we choose to take. She may get lucky and never hurt or destory anything driving drunk. I think the “libertarian” view point is that she should be free to make that gamble and also free not to use government to protect her from the potential consequences. So, while she should be free to drive drunk, she should also be free to be sued out of her inheritance if she destroys enough property and lives doing so.

    …driving is a privileged…

    That sounds pretty authoritarian…

  • uhm

    Cladari,
    No, you can use the road by walking on it or by bicycle. If you had your own private road then you should be able to do whatever you want on it but since it is public property you can’t. You have millions of other people who don’t want a head on collusion with a drunk.

    js290, but the damage would have already been done before she got sued. There would be no purpose in having government. I’d rather live in anarchy. At least then I could properly defend myself by driving a tank.

    It is a privilege. If people want to make it a right then they should petition.

  • tarran

    Lew Rockwell’s position on this matter can be broken into two parts.

    1) Drunk Driving – He is opposed to drunk driving laws because they are victimless crimes. Essentially, you are guilty if you drive with the percentage of alcohol in your blood volume higher than a certain amount regardless of whether you hurt someone or not. To him, and I agree with this*, crimes lie in actually injuring people or property. If a person causes an accident, prosecute them for that.

    2) Driving Licenses – Similarly, he is opposed to all licensing schemes. Thus, criminalizing driving a vehicle on unowned property is again creating a victimless crime. I do not fully agree with this; I do not consider public roads to be unowned.

    Lew Rockwell’s Position on road Ownership (I think):
    1) Public Property – Rothbard asserted that all public land was unowned since, governments being inherently criminal gangs, the government acquisition of the land was inherently immoral. If they seized the land with force of arms, then they stole it from its previous owners. If they purchased it, they did so with stolen money (taxes), and the money should be returned to the people it was stolen from, and the land rightly still belongs to the original owners. I believe Lew Rockwell shares this view. I agree with this up to a point.

    Where I disagree with Rothbard/Lew Rockwell:

    1) Statute of Limitations on Theft – If someone controls something, by default they own it. Their ownership only comes into question when someone else raises a competing claim. If Person A stole some property from Person B, Person B must come up with some evidence not only that A stole the property, but that B is the rightful owner. Certainly if C showed up and proved that A stole the property, and based on that was permitted to take control of the property, then C would have become the thief who had taken B’s property by stealing it in turn from A.

    2) Governments Own the Roads – For all intents and purposes, governments own the roads. They have almost universally acquired it through theft or fraud, but they still own them – there is no way for any person or group of persons to prove that they were the original rightful owners.

    3) Paris Hilton is Guilty of Tresspass – The owner of something can set rules and conditions for its use. For road users, there are a set of rules called traffic laws. Thus, the owners of roads can require you to prove your competency by acquiring something they call a “driver’s license”. A road owner can set any rule they see fit for access to the road including a requirement that you limit your alcohol intake. If you violate those rules, you are in effect driving without permission on the road-owner’s property and are guilty of tresspass.

    Now for something completely different

    1) Punishment for Tresspass – A few years ago, we had a problem with local kids cutting through our yard on their way to or from school. There were four or five kids who were pretty hard-core repeat offenders. We solved the problem by building a fence, and allowing our dog access to the yard. Had we instead seized them and dragged them into our house for a court where my wife was the prosecutor and I was the judge, and then locked them in our basement for 45 days, I think people would rightfully be outraged.

    I have, in the past, questioned the usefullness of jail. I am, like Rothbard and Lew Rockwell, a big fan of restitutive justice, where people pay compensation to the victims of their crimes rather than being incarcerated. Thus, like him, I think Paris Hilton does not deserve to go to jail. Fined certainly, have the vehicles she is driving confiscated perhaps, but not jail.

    * Before people light into me about the devastation caused by drunk drivers I would like them to know that my father broke his back after being hit by one. So I have personally been affected by someone who chose to drive while impaired. Again, I have no problem with prosecuting people for the injuries they actually cause.

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  • C Bowen

    tarran;

    They “own” the roads through emminent domain, or they improved a road with stolen dollars (usually under the guise of compulsory schooling).

    Also, the anarcho-cap position is that driving is between driver and insurance company, the state has no role. We would all be better off if either Ms.Hilton was charged 20K (lets say) in insurance premiums (underwriting the rest of us) or if she chose to not drive, hey, we are all better. In the current scheme, shall issue states means someone will have to sell her an extremely subsidized (based on obvious risk) policy that we will be paying for. The State knows the monkeys, no matter how libertarian they claim to be, will applaud like the old gladiator fights in the Coleseum.

    Some of you need to get with tactical Rothbard and Rockwell.

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