"The Boulder County District Attorney's Office is dismissing felony animal cruelty charges against a University of Colorado student accused of killing a raccoon because the student had the proper hunting license and raccoons were in season at the time (he killed one)...Jace Griffiths was arrested in November after he told police he killed a raccoon with a bat so he could take its hide. Griffiths was charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty. But in a motion filed Thursday, District Attorney Stan Garnett said Colorado law allows the killing of 'fur-bearers' during certain seasons for people with the proper licenses."
Are you laughing? Do you get the joke? Boy would I have loved to have seen the face of the cop who arrested Jace after he found out that Jace had a license to kill, thus indemnifying him from criminal prosecution for animal cruelty. I would also have loved to have been in on the conversation in the DA's office as poor Stan considered what to do with this dangerous felon that was running around killing fur-bearing critters. What shock must have rippled through the room when the esteemed enforcers of the law suddenly realized that Jace was not a felon committing a vicious act of animal cruelty, but instead he was simply a hunter enjoying his sport. Another easy conviction goes right out the window.
The shenanigans going on in Boulder set me a thinking. The facts of the case are simple. Jace killed a raccoon. He used the novel approach of killing the raccoon with a baseball bat, but I doubt that mattered much to the raccoon or to Jace. Jace wanted a coon-skin cap, just like Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone wore. Who can blame him? I would kind of like to have a coon-skin cap myself. Then I could run around the woods pretending to be a famous pioneer. That sounds like fun. The problem is, killing an animal against its will is a violation of the moral law in the county of Boulder. It is a serious violation of the moral law. It is not just a misdemeanor, it is a felony. Anyone who commits felonious actions upon innocent fur-bearing animals is a desperate sinner in need of redemption. Jace, due to his immoral act (no doubt caused by original sin), was clearly an immoral person who needed to be punished by the state for his immoral behavior. After all, isn't that what the law is supposed to be about?
When the Boulder DA received the case he ran into a problem. He investigated the situation and discovered, much to his chagrin, that Jace was actually a government agent. Not only was he a government agent, he was a government agent who had been granted a license to kill. All of a sudden the situation changed. What had been a horribly immoral action resulting in the death of an innocent animal immediately turned into a good deed. Jace went from being a felon to being an agent of the government used to control the surplus population of fur-bearing critters in Boulder county, and all simply because he had a government license. Yep, just like James Bond, Jace has a license to kill and should be deemed a hero by the citizens of Boulder county for his service to their community. If you see him, shake his hand and thank him for his service, won't you?
The more I thought about the situation the more I realized that Jace's situation is not unique in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika. There are many deeds that are deemed immoral when performed by free men but moral when performed by agents of the government. How the exact same action can go from being moral to immoral simply because the government grants a license to perform that action is never explained. It seems to me that if something is immoral it is immoral, whether I have a license to do it or not. I can't steal from my neighbor under normal circumstances. But if I can get a license from the government I can? I don't see how. Even if the government tells me that my license is issued as part of the government's grand program of wealth redistribution, when I actually take my neighbor's property I am still stealing from him. I am still behaving immorally. But the government does not see things that way. Why?
Government is a god. Armed with the power of deity the government is free to make law as it sees fit. In addition, government is free to make moral law that contradicts itself. Government can say that a particular action is immoral if you do it as a free man but moral if you do it as an agent of the government. I think we all know this is true. We see it all the time. Let me give you just a couple of examples:
- When I hike in the foothills near my home I am surrounded by signs warning me to "stay on the trail" at all times. If I dare to venture off the trail in the presence of a government agent with a nice costume and a big gun I can be shaken down and forced to pay a fine for my offense. On other hand, I have seen the exact same government agents not only walking around off the trail, I have seen them driving their trucks cross-country through the open space. The tire tracks they leave are far more invasive of the ecosystem that my gentle footsteps. Years later I can still see the evidence of his ecological intrusion upon the landscape. No matter, he is a government agent and what is true for me is not true for him. When I walk off trail I am behaving immorally. When he drives his truck anywhere he wants he is behaving morally. Why do I find that hard to understand?
- If I provide services to others by rendering medical advice for compensation I am a modern day hero. I am called a doctor and I am considered by many to be one of the greatest members of our society. I can save lives because of my practice. That is, as long as I have a government license to do so. If I do not have a government license I am a terrible felon intent upon killing people and worthy,when caught doing so, of decades in prison. Exact same action, completely different outcome. Why?
- If I provide services to others by rendering legal advice for compensation I am a modern day hero. I am a lawyer. Everyone wants his kid to grow up to be either a doctor or a lawyer. Lawyers are pillars of our society who defend the rights of the little people against evil, profit seeking corporations. They are heroes. I am praised for my efforts as a lawyer unless I just happen to be executing my legal maneuvers without a government license. Then I am a disgusting felon who needs to be arrested and incarcerated.
- If I work as a taxi driver I am a productive member of society performing a valuable public service, or at least that is what career politicians tell me. If I take my neighbor to the airport and he pays me $20 for the trip, I am a dangerous lawbreaker who threatens the very fabric of our society. What is the difference? In the first case I have a government license, in the second I do not. The action is the same, the end result is very different.
- If I cut my neighbor's hair in exchange for a six pack of adult beverage I am breaking the law, unless I have a government license saying that I have the right to cut hair in exchange for a six pack of adult beverage. Then I am called a hairdresser and a valued member of our society. The action is the same but the final consequences are very different.