Malum Prohibitum v. Malum in Se
i don't know if you've ever spent the better part of your
morning trying to coax your albino pet rat from out
underneath the fridge, but that is exactly how i spent
yesterday morning. needless to say, this was going to be a
bad day. after a spout of what surely sounded like child
abuse from outside of the apartment,
"harold, i swear to god, if you don't get back in your cage,
i'm not gonna fucking feed you for 3 days!!!"
the problem was finally solved and Harold decided he wanted
the tasty carrots in his cage.
i then got to property which is a real drag but i was
determined to go because it was my only class of the day and
if i didn't i'd just spend the entire day watching court tv
of cousre in property brian decided to make my already
shitty day worse by bringing to my attention that i had
forgotten to cite the most important case in my memo. i
don't know how i had missed this case...i mean i literally
went through 30 cases in our jurisdiciton and for some
reason i missed the most important!
so all thorugh property i stewed and read the case online
and basically got nothing out of property.
then i decided to better myself by going to the gym. well
as i strolled into the locker room i slammed my knee into a
bench, it hurt like holy hell and as i bent upwards from my
crouched position of pain i noticed a gay visible giggling
at my misfortune. at this point i was so pissed about
everything and in a bad mood in general that i thought i'd
kill him. but instead i walked past him always operating on
the principle of "don't go to jail"
well i take off my pants and i'm wearing my penguin boxer
shorts...the dude stares at them for an uncomfortable 3
seconds and then starts snickering. that's it...i was gonna
say something now. and just as i got up to the guy this old
dude rounds the corner to our lockers and says,
"hey, steven! are you ready to go swimming!!?" and steven
responds with the mentality of a 10 year old,
so essentially i had been three steps away from fucking up a
retarded person. that's when i decided it was time to
simmer down. what made it worse was that on my way to the
weight room i saw steven in the pool, with a fucking life
vest and goggles on. jesus h. christ.
so then i'm finally on the bus traveling towards what i hope
is a sedated rat and the rest of the people's court when all
of a sudden there is a flurry a few seats down. this
disgusting looking guy was wildly swinging his arms and
muttering something. apparently he had just gotten on the
bus and wanted the seats to himself. the poor guy sitting
on the seats (they were the ones that faced the side of the
bus and not the front like the others) quickly fled and sat
so there this guy was and i just looked him over with my
head on the cool window of the bus. he was wearing a hat
that said, 'jesus' on it and every 2 seconds he would take
it off and run his grimy hands through his hair. well what
was there of it. he had shaved a straight line down the
middle (sort of a reverse mohawk and on the sides of his
head. the rest of his head was covered in long greasy hair
which went just below his ears.
he was completely filthy and he had an open sore which was
oozing on the left side of his face.
he was really pissing me off and all he was doing was
sitting there and ranting and raving to the poor people
across from him. well at this point the bus was quite full
and the bus driver did not have the balls to throw this
asshole off (i hate the spineless bus drivers in our city)
and up to me comes this girl with a backpack on and asks,
"can i sit by the window?"
my first reaction was, "fuck no" but then i remembered how i
had almost socked a retarded guy a few minutes back so i
muttered acquiesence and let her scoot in. she turned,
smiled and said,
"i just don't want to be near him, you'll protect me right?"
it was said in that usual jest that cool college kids have,
that ironic fear of reality they always tout...wait i am a
college kid again...hm, anyway...but in a way you could tell
that there was a certain amount of truth to it. she
scrunched up against the window and proceeded to stair out
of it and jolting everytime the asshole let out another
barrage of sacrimonious sounds.
god that dude was pissing me off.
and that got me thinking about malum prohibitum v. malum in
se. essentially the difference is this:
malum in se: are crimes which we deem inherently bad. rape,
murder, kidnapping, theft, etc. those crimes that for lack
of a better phrase, "write the criminal law themselves".
but then there is also malum prohibitum.
malum prohibitum are all those things that we have MADE
crimes because (although they may or may not consist of
innocuous actions) they tend to cause harm. stalking is a
classic example of malum prohibitum. so is loitering,
soliciting, etc. basically you add a few attendant
circumstances, say, stalking for example. it starts out
with you following someone or just 'showing up' randomly
around taht person. per se (or on its face) there is
nothing wrong with that. now couple it with some attendant
circumstances (say.....causing fear in the person you are
following) and it is now stalking.
loiteirng again is the same, there is nothing wrong with
loitering per se, just standing outside somewhere, but add
the attendant circumstance of doing it say...right
underneath a sign that says 'no loitering' and which was put
there because a restaurant doesn't want you to scare away
customers then you now have a malum prohibitum.
what i'm getting at is that i really wanted to throw this
obvious meth addict in prison. i wanted himm dead to be
honest. not only was he causing discomfort to the good
people on the bus, but there was probably a good chance that
he might hurt someone down the road (or was hurting
someone). there may also be a good chance that he will rob
someone or some store to get more meth money.
i. just. want. him. dead.
but that's where the law comes in and i fully respect it.
the legality of arresting someone for his appearance or for
his conduct (unless, obviously it's criminal conduct) is
what the constitution protects us against. we can't pick
people up and throw them in jail because they're homeless,
or crazy (unless they are crazy enough to commit a criminal
act), no instead we take the chance of them possibly doing
something bad for the sake of the legality limit we place on
our system. so that we don't live in a country that can
wantonly incarcerate people based on either a.) moral
stand-points or b.) arbitrary characteristics.
that's why racial profiling is illegal and unconstitutional.
i mean i completely understand the reasoning behind it and
i support it's statistical evidence and logic. but i am
whole-heartedly against racial profiling because it is
completely illegal. unless you are going to make "being
black" a crime, you have no right to pull someone over or
stop someone unless theya re actually commiting a crime.
since being black is not a crime and we view racism as
morally reprehensible and therefore won't make it a crime,
then any officer who stops a black kid driving a car under
the speed limit is doing something illegal.
plain and fucking simple.
so there is my meth addict and he is now getting off the
bus...of course it has to be with me. i wonder if i could
kill him and possibly save someone that would potentially be
hurt by him later on down the line.
but i can't. the law at least injects the reasoning that
all human life has an inherent value. and no matter who you
are you should get the same fair trial on your death and the
perpetrator pursued to the same degree. obviously this does
not happen in real life and lives unfortunately come with a
price tag. black youth in the ghetto are $20 and police
officers are $100. i might rank somewhere around $70 and
the meth addict at probably $.50.
but the logical basis behind the legal system is that a
life's value is inherent in it being a human life. there is
no derivative value. it shouldn't be derived from you being
a multi-millionaire, or asian, or a cop, or a woman, or even
a meth addict. your life is of a value that is equal to all
others, no more no less.
of course in civil trials this is obviously not the case and
in that instance i just look at it in exasperation. when
you truly try to quantify the value of a human life in
monetary terms then you subject yourself to the social norms
of the time. but when it comes to justice, we should all be
equal...even rats who hide under the fridge for 40 god