Reply to post: Re: Laws

Intelligence director pulls national security BS on spying question

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Laws

Subverting the spirit of a law should also be a crime.

Depends on the legal system. The US uses "letter of law", which means that if it is made illegal to kill someone with a baseball bat, using a cricket bat would be acceptable. Swiss law, for instance, is "spirit of law", so in the aforementioned case the judge would tell you that the idea behind this law is that you shouldn't use any bat-shaped items to kill people*.

You see more creative abuse of the US system because that's simply more in the news, but spirit of law is also not without flaws. The above example, for instance, could lead to an argument that using a gun would be OK* - the debate simply shifts to a different point, and so do the excuses.

There is a benefit in a "spirit of the law" approach in that it introduces an element of personal responsibility into the equation, aka the incorrectly named "common" sense (incorrect as it is clearly not that common): even if it is not explicitly stated that Y is verboten, you should have been able to work out by yourself that if X is a no-go, it implies that Y is probably not a good idea either. It generally makes for shorter, less convoluted laws because you don't have to name every aspect and exception, but it can lead to more complex debates because you're dealing with interpretation.

This is just my take, btw, IANAL :)

* Not a perfect example because it's simply "thy shalt not kill unless authorised by the state or as ultimate act of self defence" but it's just an illustration.

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