Monday, June 14, 2010

The Repealer

Senator Brownback, in his campaign for Governor of Kansas, has proposed creating an office of the "Repealer," whose charter is a bit murky at this point but who would apparently have the task of disposing of silly, obsolete, or excessively burdensome state regulations and laws. The suggestion is part of a trend of states to clean up their law and regulation books to get rid of unnecessary and obsolete material. Michigan, apparently, has repealed the laws against prizefighting and dueling.

Wait a minute -- dueling? Look, the idea of going through the law books and getting rid of outdated and obsolete material is a good one. As Senator Brownback points out, it seems as though regulations just increase endlessly and "nothing is ever subtracted from the system." People are rightly frustrated that there seem to be never-ending incursions on everyday freedom, and it's a good idea to check that government regulations which may have made sense when adopted are still necessary, appropriate, and wise, and to get rid of them if they aren't.

But dueling? It's not as though dueling has become OK over time. There used to be a serious problem of people dueling over alleged points of honor -- and let's not forget that dueling involves a private agreement between two people that it's OK for one of them to kill the other. That was properly suppressed, and if dueling were made legal I could imagine some young hotheads taking it up anew. Kids do crazy things, and if you could get around the laws against murder so long as there was an agreement between the people involved I would expect some people would do it.

Fortunately, the stated reason for repealing the dueling law in Michigan is that other, more modern laws clearly make dueling illegal anyway, so there's no need to maintain a specific law against it. But frankly, I would have kept that one. The news headline is "dueling decriminalized," and that's not a headline you want.

No comments: