25 March 2013

Q: Are driverless cars illegal? A: Cops don't give a shit about legality, so who cares?

Marginal Revolution | Tyler Cowen | Are driverless cars illegal?

There are different notions of the word “legal,” but from a practical point of view what the police will let you get away with is surely relevant. It seems to me that your protected sphere here is quite small.
His point is well taken, but I see very low correlation between what is illegal and what the police will attempt to punish you for.

Would Cowen say that nibbling breakfast pastries into gun-like shapes is legal or illegal? How about photographing public buildings or uniformed police? How about demanding that the government follow its own laws? Are these things legal?

If you think the police let you get away with legal things but not illegal ones, you haven't been reading Popehat. And frankly, you haven't been paying attention.

Again, Cowen's point is a good one, but the underlying assumption*
(which is unfortunately increasingly accurate)
is that we do not live in a society with the Rule of Law any longer. It matters more what the guy with the gun and the badge will let you get away with than what the actual, ostensibly legitimate, legislature has decided.

Just one more reason your precious "social contract" isn't worth the imaginary paper it's (not) written on.

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