Judge Demands Remorse From Criminal For Victimless Crimeby Brad Warbiany
In the year of my birth, Jimmy Carter actually did something good: he legalized homebrewing of beer. About 27 years later, I took advantage of that legality by beginning to do so myself, and have been enjoying the hobby ever since.
I appreciate the fact that it’s legal. While I’m not one to personally respect laws criminalizing acts which hurt nobody, I also prefer not to worry about getting locked in jail for what I’m doing.
Home distilling, on the other hand, isn’t legal. I’m not a big fan of hard liquor, so I’ve never tried it myself, but I know that I wouldn’t let some law stand in my way of distilling a liquor for my own consumption. Either way, though, it would be criminal.
Tennessean Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who’s likely been distilling liquor longer than I’ve lived, also doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. He’s a remorseless criminal, and he’s headed to the clink for it*. In fact, his lack of remorse is part of his problem:
He gained fame through a book he wrote called “Me and My Likker,” as well as through Internet videos and cable TV documentaries in which he demonstrated how to make moonshine.
That notoriety may have harmed him in the sentencing hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reeves introduced several of the videos as evidence Monday, claiming they showed Sutton “flaunted criminal activity.”
The judge appeared to agree.
“Your moonshining is a violation of the law,” Greer told Sutton. “I don’t care how it is glamorized on the History Channel or the Discovery Channel.”
The testimony, he added, showed that “not only are you not remorseful for your criminal conduct, you seem to be proud of it.”
Now, I can’t speak for Sutton. But I can speak for myself. If homebrewing were illegal, and I was caught doing it, would I be remorseful? Not a chance.
Remorse makes sense when you’ve wronged someone. It doesn’t even need to be a criminal matter, if I say something unkind, or treat another person disrespectfully, I’m not a criminal — but I am remorseful. It is not difficult to break a law without remorse. If you’re at a deserted stoplight in the middle of the night, and there’s a “No Turn on Red” sign but you do so anyway, will you feel remorse if you’re caught?
Demanding remorse for committing victimless crimes is demanding fealty. It is demanding obedience to an unjust law.
I brew good beer. I like my beer. My family and my friends like my beer. If it were illegal, I would still be brewing, and that beer would be bringing pleasure to myself and those around me. Any law infringing on that deserves to be broken, and without a shred of remorse.
Hat Tip: TJIC
* Note: He did also have a weapons charge, which I’m deliberately not discussing here. According to the article, he will serve an 18-month sentence on each charge, served concurrently. Whether that impacted the severity of his sentence on the moonshining charge is unclear, but the point about remorse over victimless crimes is immaterial of the length of sentence.