There Shouldn’t Be A Law

Apparently there is a small group of nuts that go around attending funerals of servicemen killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, protesting and waving signs to the effect that the soldiers died in a bad cause, i.e., on behalf of a country that promotes homosexuality. Now the Minnesota legislature is enacting legislation to limit demonstrations within a certain number of feet of a funeral.

This strikes me as one of many examples of our culture’s obsession with legal remedies. As a lawyer, I suppose I shouldn’t complain; but as a citizen, I think it’s ridiculous. If a bunch of crazies show up waving signs at a funeral, the appropriate course is for an able-bodied man–there should be at least one at any funeral–to take a sign and break it over the ringleader’s head. One of the basic problems in our society is that nearly all informal sanctions have been forfeited, so that there is hardly any middle ground between passive acceptance of antisocial behavior and a felony prosecution. Legislation and criminal prosecution are blunt instruments that cannot be brought to bear against every deviancy that may arise.

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