Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
Isaiah 10: 1-2
I have almost finished discussing about Ten Commandment. Ten Commandment was a set of law given by God to maintain relationship between God and human and between human and their fellows. However, Ten Commandment is quite general law. Due to complex interconnection between human, all countries in the world need to formulate a kind of civil law.
Since civil law was man-made and human has tendency to become corrupt given enough power, a lot of civil laws are unjust law. I can point out many characteristics of unjust laws, such as heavy punishment for trivial activities that cause no visible life or property damage, oppressing common and poor people and favoring those rich and powerful, the use of vague language so that the law can be open to any interpretation as long as the person can hire cunning lawyers (In other words, the correct interpretation is interpretation of people with most money or power).
In this post, I would like to elaborate most common unjust laws in all countries around the world. They are defamation law, zoning law, and fiat currency law.
1. Defamation law. Defamation law typically states that if a person made public statement (usually on the internet and mass media) about some people and/or organization and the statement is proven as slander, the person can be sued with fine or imprisonment for reason of ‘damaging reputation’.
Typically, defamation law has very vague language. The word like ‘damaging reputation’ itself is very vague. What does it mean by ‘damaging reputation’? Unlike car or property, reputation is abstract concept whose damage cannot be quantified. And unlike car or house, reputation is not private property. Reputation is collective perception of society towards specific individuals and organization and hence it is common good.
And finally, damaged reputation is mostly caused by the concerned person or organization. A person’s reputation will be tarnished if he did any misconduct or unethical action and it was made known publicly. If telling someone’s mistakes publicly are counted as crime, then there will be no social accountability to any public figure or organization. It is oppressive law that benefits to mostly famous people and organizations.
I am sick of seeing this law is abused everywhere by rich and powerful people or organization. In Indonesia, it was misused in 2009 by a private hospital to attack its customer who complained about its service quality in internet. The customer complained that her condition worsened during treatment and the hospital did not (or cannot) give any medical records and laboratory results requested by customer. She posted her case in mailing list and internet column. Instead of doing self examination, this hospital filed a lawsuit to the customer using this defamation law and they won. The customer was imprisoned for twenty days.
2. Zoning law. In most cities, governments have a law called zoning to regulate landowners how they can use their land. Most common use of zoning law is reservation of downtown to be used for central business district, government offices and diplomatic embassies. Most of residential area will be located around suburban area.
This law is unethical and also problematic in several ways. Firstly and most importantly, it violated the right of private property. If government can regulate landowner how to use his own piece of land just because of their city’s outline plan then that land is not belonged to the landowner. Most of the times, the land is bought by landowners using their own money and labor and government should not regulate his own property.
Some people may say that by putting business centers in the downtown area, it will make overall business owners more profitable and thus government can collect more taxes which in turn will be used to build public infrastructures. In theory, that reason is acceptable. But, in practice, big corporations whose offices are located in downtown area has more lobbying power to government to get tax exemption. Most often, instead of building public infrastructures as what they said, government officials will collude and take bribe from these corporate executives or else reward themselves with extraordinary amount of bonuses and salaries from taxes that are collected from these corporations.
Not only the law does not achieve its purposes (building more public infrastructures), the law also introduces a lot of side effects. Zoning law is one key factor which contributes to city’s traffic congestion. Since most big corporations are located in downtown area, a lot of people will commute from rural or sub-urban areas to downtown area. Since the road and train has limited capacity, there will always be heavy traffic, noise and air pollution around downtown area on the morning and evening time. Furthermore, it leaves most roads around suburban and rural areas (where most residential complex are located) empty and unused.
Traffic congestion is just one of many side effects. I can literally give tons of scary examples of things criminalized under zoning law such as collecting rainwater, holding Bible study, planting flowers, feeding poor people, and so on. So, essentially instead of giving benefit of public infrastructures as what your government said, it becomes a tool of controlling mass for elites.
3. Fiat currency law. Another bizarre and unjust law is notion that government has right to regulate how an economic transaction between two party of consented adult citizens should be done. In virtually every country, government can declare worthless paper notes (which cannot be used even for toilet paper) to be used in economic transaction and arresting people who do not want to comply and labeling them as ‘domestic terrorist’.
I have previously published another article which discussed about this fiat currency. You can read that article here. Essentially, the reason why government want to monopolize currency is because of control. They want to have power to decide amount of money circulating in the market. Government, through the central bank, is able to print the money as many as they want to fund expensive and unpopular activities such as financing war in other side of the world or financing bailout to big banks who sponsored political campaign against will of the people.
Printing money will cause inflation and raises price of commodities such as food, electricity and oil. These commodities are essential to common and poor people. But this law, like all unjust law, prioritize interest of political and corporate elites to finance their wasteful public policies (war and bailout) over interest of common people. It is no wonder that civil riots and demonstrations are happening everywhere (United States, United Kingdom, Greece, France, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, China, Indonesia and so on). If authority can decrease the value of your money until you cannot eat then there is little, if any, reason to become law-abiding citizens.
I hope by this article, I can enlighten many of you that many rules in our society is not made in people’s interest. They are made for interest of ruling elites to enslave us and leave us with nothing but servitude.
Then what to do? Well, it is another big question…..I will leave it for next time.