Did you know that the largest established group of outlaws in the united states goes by the name of Congress?
If not, can you name something lawful which is illegal?
How about something that is legal but not lawful?
If not dear reader, read on...
When I hear someone say "it's the law", I have to bite my tongue.
Not because the one saying it is stupid, but because almost invariably they don't know the difference between legal and lawful.
This is a common side effect of going through government run schools.
What these people usually mean is, "It's illegal".
As a voluntaryist, I obey the law but have no use for the "illegal".
Not because anyone tells me that I must or threatens to do things if I don't, but because "the law" actually makes sense.
So, what is the law?
Well, law (as juxtaposed from legal) consists of things that any rational man or woman can figure out just by giving them some thought. This is generally called the common law here in the several states.
- It is unlawful to harm someone else without their consent
- It is unlawful to cause loss to someone else
This is where we get laws such as thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not kill.
My rights end where yours begin and vice versa. That is how actual law works.
How is lawful different than legal?
The legality of something has to do with what has been legislated by people calling themselves a government, typically within a geographical area that they claim utter dominion over.
Keep in mind that they, like you and I, are just people.
The words they write, commonly called "legislation", are simply words written by people.
You might consider legislation to be "the will of some group of men or women".
Typically, such a group calls themselves a government and tries to force their legislation on everyone else.
The use of force against other people, excepting in self defense, is unlawful.
Yes, yes, it might be declared legal by those who are doing it, but that does not make it just, right, or lawful.
They might claim that it is for the good of the children, to save lives, or any other number of things. Even so, they have no right to use force against other men and women.
Doing so is unlawful.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse... (for breaking the law)
This is true only so long as one is considering law simply because law is self evident.
The same cannot be said for "the will of a group and men and women who use force against other men and women".
Ignorance of "legislation" is, in fact, normal.
After all, how is anyone supposed to know the will of some group of people that they have probably never met?
I seriously doubt that anyone alive could possibly be familiar with every bit of legislation in any major country today, especially here in the several united states of america.
Stop being confused
An unlawful act involves harm to someone.
An illegal act involves doing something that is against the will of some group of men and women you may have never met while standing on land that they claim to have absolute dominion over even though it is not their land.
A crime involves causing some kind of harm to someone else.
No harm = no crime
One man stops another while traveling, demands to see various forms of paper, and then demands (under threat of throwing the first man in a cell and possibly beating him) that he takes a contract to pay his employer some amount of money.
Who is breaking the law? The man traveling or the man extorting monies from him?
Clearly, the man extorting monies from the traveler. This used to be called highway robbery. It is unlawful.
Today, highway robbery is conducted by men in uniforms with shiny badges who call themselves cops.
There is no factual difference in what they are doing. Just the outfits and words change.
Both men are in fact conducting highway robbery.
- Unlawful AND Illegal when done by you or I
- Unlawful AND Legal when done by a "cop" in a costume with a shiny piece of metal (or plastic) on his chest.
While his dress, badge, and title might make his actions "legal", meaning in compliance with the will of some group of men and women calling themselves a legislature, his actions are still unlawful.
One man sees another man carrying a plant around. He then jumps upon the man carrying the plant, shackles him, destroys the plant, takes the mans property, and throws the plant carrying man into a cage.
Who is breaking the law? The man with the plant or the man who is committing Battery, False Imprisonment, and Robbery?
Clearly, the aggressor is acting unlawfully.
Even if done by a man in a costume (uniform) with a shiny pin (badge) who works for the legislature (cop), it is still unlawful even though it is legal as long as the cop makes sure to say certain phrases and do certain things while conducting said crimes (or at least says he did so).
The real crimes are being committed against the plant owner, not by him.
Real criminals are those who harm other people or purposefully cause other people to be harmed.
It doesn't matter if you have a badge, a gun, a uniform, and call yourself a police officer.
If you are committing crimes against peaceful people who have harmed no one then you are a criminal as well.
An excellent book that can help clear your head of the public relations nightmare we are taught in schools is Marc Stevens Adventures in Legal Land.
It might well be said that the largest groups of criminals in the land are in fact those who call themselves governments.
Here in the united states, we have two forms of legal process.
- Civil Process: Used to uphold the law and make victims whole
- Criminal Process: Used to enforce legislation and extort money from those who don't obey the legislature
Personally, I'd have name them Civilized Process and The Criminals Process respectively.
Yes, criminal process is sometimes used to process actual criminals. But in every instance of a bona fide crime, civil process can be used instead.