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cold law

dstebbins

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My son recently had to read a famous short story in English class entitled "The Cold Equation." It takes place about a thousand years in the future, in times of planetary colinization. The two main characters are a spaceship pilot and a little girl from Earth. The little girl sneaks aboard an emergency delivery ship so she can visit her brother, a space cop (oh and btw, I don't remember all the details, so forgive any errors I make). The problem is that the ship has barely enough fuel to reach its destination as it was, much less carry 110 extra pounds. If they didn't get rid of the "excess weight" (and by excess weight, I mean the little girl), the ship would run empty in the middle of space, stranding them out there. So the pilot had no choice but to throw the girl into space to die. There is no happy ending.

The moral of this story: NEVER leave life or death decision making in the hands of statistics (the statistic here is the formula x amount of fuel will not carry y+z weight a distance of a miles), because they can't comprehend innocense, emotion, logic, or anything like that. Which leads me to part 2 of my thread.

The law is pretty statistical. Lawmakers try to make it as unstatistical as they can without giving too much leniency to people who truly deserve it, but keep in mind the latter makes it impossible. A prime example is when the lawmakers tried to make exceptions in the law to make them unstatistical. Normally, you are excempt from almost any law except the law against bodily injury of another if you are acting under a threat. According to the law book I read this in, an example is if a criminal jumps into your car, puts a gun to your head, and orders you to speed down the school zone at 180mph in order to evade the cops, you could do that and get away with it (I'm not making this up. I read it in a book of law) because you were acting under a threat. However, keep in mind except the law against bodily injury of another. If, in the same situation, the criminal orders you to run down a cop up ahead that was trying to stop the car, you are expected to disobeye the order even at the risk of your own life (again, I swear I'm not making this up. Ask a lawyer if you think I'm BSing you).

So basically we have a system of law that doesn't take into account weird situations or what the accused was thinking at the time. Seems pretty cold to me, just like The Cold Equation. Seriously, who in their right mind is going to obey the law over someone who is threatening to kill them? Who in their right mind is going to even think about it for an instant?

This isn't the only part of the law that's statistical. Every part of law is statistical, simply because of the fact that there's only two possible verdicts: Guilty and Not Guilty. You either murdered (not to be confused with killed) that man or you didn't. You either shoplifted or you didn't. There's no "partially guilty" verdict that represents the gray area, and while I have no idea how a verdict like that would function, that's probably because I've never been introduced to it.

Despite everything we've done to make our law less like The Cold Equation, with things like juvenile courts, insanity, and stuff like that, it still seems as if our law is still extremely flawed.

Just thought I'd let you know.
 
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