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Old October 23, 2008, 12:46 AM   #26
Dex Sinister
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I would agree that way too many felonies have been created by legislative acts. But, there has always been a way to change this. The fact that it has not been changed, means that, on its face, the populace agree with the law, as it is written and applied.
That is an interestingly tautological argument, to whit:
  • A law is passed criminalizing an action that by itself harms no others, out of a sense that in "pre-crime" fashion we can prevent harmful possible consequent actions that may or may not occur, and which are already criminalized.
  • people, indicating a disagreement with that law, violate it
  • they are caught, confess (as 98% or people do) and under that law denied the right to vote
  • thereby removing from the voting rolls the very people most likely to vote against such a law
  • and the more people convicted under it, the less people available to vote against it
  • therefore - according to this argument - the law is just because it remains in existence
  • because an insufficient number of people vote to repeal it (or because repealing such a law is politically infeasible)

Sorry: Doesn't work for me. It is hardly more elegant than positing right-handed people voting to enslave left-handed people, and maintaining that this would therefore be just, because not enough right-handed people vote to repeal the law.

The issue is never whether what the majority approves of remains legal - but of inviolately protecting the rights of the minority to disagree with the majority. That's the purpose of having a republic rather than a democracy.

It is true that voting is a political right rather than a natural right - inasmuch as the ability to vote is contingent on the existence of government, and thus cannot, in a sense, precede the existence of government. But OTOH, this is an incorrect view: The right to vote is the political equivalent of the right to self-defense - one of the most fundamental rights in existence, and one that is never alienable (removable by political action.)

Why is the right to vote the equivalent of the right of self-defense? For the same reason that one cannot validly maintain that participation in the voting process thereby indicates approval, or even agreement, with the process. For what choice does one have? If one does not vote, one already knows that others may take the opportunity of voting to attempt to deprive one of one's rights and freedoms. One knows that by voting, one has at least a minuscule chance of retaining the freedom that one already possesses.

By voting, one knows that one can at least cancel the vote of a single person dedicated to using the political process to impose actions on others merely because it makes them feel more psychologically secure in the idea that their own self-imposed limitations on their own behavior ought not be subject to ridicule (as no one ever votes to impose a law that they believe that they would themselves violate). Therefore, one can never conclude that by the act of voting one has consented thereby to the results.

But what an odd idea, truly - the idea that by depriving some people in society of the participation in the political process, society is thereby safer. For voting provides a harmless illusion that one has some control over the direction that society travels. Exactly what does one expect to get from the process of dispelling that idea for some people? If you tell people that they have no peaceful way to indicate their wants in society wouldn't it be logical to assume that they might thereafter choose non-peaceful ways to express their views?

At that point, what other choice has society left them?

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Old October 23, 2008, 04:00 AM   #27
BillCA
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Re: Felons and voting rights.

Please note that felons who lose their voting rights still enjoy the right to address whomever is their legislative representative and make their opinions known. And I've never heard of a legislative person or their aides asking if you're a felon before offering to assist you when questions are asked.

Quote:
If the person is still considered dangerous enough to warrant a restriction on their Constitutional rights, why are they not in prison?
This is a rhetorical red herring that gets tossed out frequently. There are societal contracts that everyone must follow, called laws. We, as a whole people, have given a subset of people the power to enact laws (supposedly) for our benefit. As a general rule, we agree to live by those contracts. Just as when you begin working for an employer whose contract says if you don't work then you don't get paid. You know ahead of time what the consequences are if you don't meet the obligations.
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Old October 24, 2008, 08:52 AM   #28
divemedic
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I think the argument presented here has an interesting parallel. Slavery was at one point the law of the land in every state of the US. Under laws allowing indentured servitude, more than half of all white immigrants to the English colonies of North America during the 17th and 18th centuries consisted of slaves. In today's society we consider slavery to be evil, but how this came about has nothing to do with voting.

The slaves could not vote against slavery, and many freed slaves were shipped back to the countries from which they came. Many wanted to abolish slavery, but the election laws in place prevented abolition form occurring. Since Democratic processes failed, the people eventually resorted to force to change things.

This has happened over and over- people who are disenfranchised eventually reach a critical mass and will revolt rather than be tyrannized by the rest of a society. I believe that as more and more of our society becomes convicted felons and is denied franchise, than critical mass will eventually be reached. It is only a matter of time.
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Old October 24, 2008, 10:14 AM   #29
Musketeer
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This has happened over and over- people who are disenfranchised eventually reach a critical mass and will revolt rather than be tyrannized by the rest of a society. I believe that as more and more of our society becomes convicted felons and is denied franchise, than critical mass will eventually be reached. It is only a matter of time.
Possibly. It depends on how widespread the abuse is and becomes. Look at laws requiring sex offenders to register with the state. If they are that much of a danger and their crime so heinous why are they freed? The bottom line is there are many people on such roles as low level offenders who are there because of some bogus case and plea. In this day and age having something on your computer, intentionally or accidental, could result in a varying amount of charges of pedophilia. One co-worker's husband went through complete hell as the result of some nut job kid, probably looking for attention, who made up a story about a slumber party hosted by their daughter. I am talking a kid of only 5 or 6 who was spoon fed things to say. This all stemmed from his carrying her up to the daughter's bedroom where the two girls were to sleep after they fell asleep on the couch and then went back for his daughter... Perhaps stupid but the wife was out and he thought he knew the girl's family. Uptight pedophilia paranoid parents who are bombarded by sex offender notices in the mail hear "A MAN CARRIED YOU" and go on a witch hunt after years of the case dragging on, his computers (which as an IT consultant with a business in his home are his livelihood) being confiscated and sifted through regularly and numerous other attempts to destroy his life with a complete lack of evidence he eventually conceded to plea to some minor charge which resulted in having to register as a lowest level offender for a couple years, end the case and its destruction of them economically and save their house. Mind you, there was no accusation from the girl that he had touched her in any "illicit" way, only that she was only semi conscious and he "could" have done so therefore maybe he did...:barf:

After hearing that story you can see how a sex offender registry can be a horrible thing and how overzealous pursuit of pedophilia cases results in crimes where none were committed but WHO is going to stand up in significant numbers to defend "pedophiles." Also do you ever think there will be enough "pedophiles" to really force the change? What politician is going to side with them?

The sick part about felons is they do not even have the opportunity to pool their electoral power and try to change the system because they are excluded from it while being beholden to it.
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Old October 24, 2008, 10:39 AM   #30
BillCA
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Divemedic,

You bring up an interesting, and somewhat valid, point about slavery. We should keep in mind that slavery, while not acceptable by today's standards, actually was acceptable for most of our history. Egyptians, Romans, Greek, Germanic, English, Spanish, Chinese, Africans, and middle eastern cultures all relied on slavery at some point and sometimes for hundreds of years.

In fact, it was improvements in agriculture that made slavery possible. Once your people had an excess of food, you could afford to take slaves to work your lands, instead of killing off your opponents. The horse collar began to reduce the worth of slaves, now that a horse could work the land without strangling. One horse and collar was worth 10 slaves and required fewer support resources.

In America, slaves were imported by the British to help work large plots of land and cut timbers. After the revolution we kept the slaves because they were still needed (to some extent) and abrupt changes to an economic model usually brings chaos (a lesson we are learning yet again today). As improvents in industry improved farming methods and people enjoyed a more stable existence, the attitude towards slavery changed.

Consider today's high-tech world collapsing. Slavery might be the only viable method to feed the most people. Do you know how to grow your own corn? How to make corn meal? How to turn that into corn bread? Or make flour from potatos? Probably not 1 in 1,000 people knows how to properly butcher a deer, cow, pig, horse or dog for food. Those who have appreciable and useful skills would be able to find jobs. Everyone else becomes "unskilled" labor to work the fields, tend animals and become servants for those who can manage a farm or some kind of factory. In return they get food and a place to sleep out of the cold.

I'm not advocating it, but the reality is that the more primitive the society, the more likely it is to rely on slave labor or some form of indentured worker.

I don't see a "parallel" to felons losing their rights, however. A felon has a choice - don't do the crime. If he makes the choice to do the crime, he knows what he's risking in terms of society's sanctions. He loses his freedom for some period of time. He carries a felony record that limits his job choices. He can no longer vote or hold office. His 2A rights are limited. A person who values his rights, especially his voting rights, will decide the risk outweighs the rewards.
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Old October 25, 2008, 04:55 AM   #31
NotJim
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Restoration of Rights

I don't see anyone mentioning something significant:

In this state at least, and I presume elsewhere, felons can petition the court to have their rights restored after their sentences are completed. I don't know details of the basis for granting or denying restoration of rights, nor am I sure it includes firearms rights in all cases. I've been told ALL rights can be restored in most cases, but I've not checked up on the stats or statutes.

By some standards, I suppose "once a felon always a felon" may apply. But as regards voting rights, it's not necessarily a permanent condition.

A Google search on: felon "restoration of rights" gets 16,800 hits.

This link appears to be a state-by-state listing as regards voting rights in particular.
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Old October 25, 2008, 11:32 AM   #32
divemedic
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Quote:
I don't see a "parallel" to felons losing their rights, however. A felon has a choice - don't do the crime. If he makes the choice to do the crime, he knows what he's risking in terms of society's sanctions. He loses his freedom for some period of time. He carries a felony record that limits his job choices. He can no longer vote or hold office. His 2A rights are limited. A person who values his rights, especially his voting rights, will decide the risk outweighs the rewards.
The problem is that we have lowered the bar for felony to the point where you can commit a felony without realizing it. The ATFE is a perfect example. There are people who have written the ATF to make sure a product is legal before they begin selling it, and the ATF has approved the item, only to have the ATF change their minds and prosecute.

In Texas, it is a felony to own more than 5 sex toys.

In Florida, "deviate sexual intercourse" is defined as: sexual conduct between persons not married to each other consisting of contact between the penis and the anus, the mouth and the penis, or the mouth and the vulva.

It is a felony to have "deviate sexual intercourse" with a minor in Florida, even if you believe the minor to be an adult. So a 25 year old who gets a little freaky with his 17 year old girlfriend, who by the way lied and says she is 18, is now a FELON.

The prohibition on owning a firearm if you were convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence is, IMO, an ex post facto law that changes the punishment for a crime long after the punishment for the crime has been served. A man convicted in 1970 for domestic violence cannot buy a gun because of a law passed nearly 25 years later.

ETA: That while you CAN petition to have your rights restored, Congress has "defunded" the program, so your petition goes into the old circular file because there are no available funds to grant the petition.
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