So… the way laws work, more or less, is that we as a community cede our individual, natural rights to do whatever we want, whenever we want, to the governing “state.” We do this in exchange for the state’s promise to protect us from everybody else’s inclination to do whatever they want, whenever they want, which we rightly perceive could decrease our happiness or security if left wholly unchecked. For any of this to work, we must also grant the state something approaching a monopoly of force. And we have to trust that our fellow humans, now reconstituted as fellow citizens, will, more or less, follow the same rules we’ve all agreed to. Critically, while our decision to enter into this “social contract” is not explicitly made by all, or even any individual human, we understand that our existence within the community constitutes tacit consent to that accord, and a willingness to abide by all the rules that spring forth from that contract.
It can be an ephemeral thing, this “society” we all live in. I don’t for instance piss on the Subway. Not because I can’t — I technically posses all the tools I need to pee. And not because I don’t want to sometimes, the subway ride back from the bar can be quite long indeed. And not because of the rules and regulations, though there are rules and regulations prohibiting peeing on the subway. Mostly, I don’t piss on the subway because I have a sense that if I peed on the subway then everybody would pee on the subway and the subway would become unusable as it was slowly drowned in urine.
And I keep this sense about me, even when confronted with the stark reality that people piss on the subway all the damn time and make the system neigh unusable but for those with the highest tolerance for the smell of urine. I adhere to the social contract, even when others don’t, not because I always want to follow the rules, but because I do not want to literally and figuratively piss on society.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m a better person that Cody R. Wilson. He wants to do what he wants to do because he can do it, and if others have to die, well that’s their problem. He does not respect our social contract.
Wilson is the guy who wants to make the blueprints for making guns in 3-D printers available on the internet. There’s been a court order restraining the government from changing the standards to make that possible. Yesterday, the court even expanded its injunction. Today, Wilson started selling the blueprints anyway. From Courthouse News Service:
Consumers in the United States can name their own price for the controversial files that began shipping on USB drives Tuesday morning by Austin-based Defense Distributed, owner Cody R. Wilson told reporters at a news conference.
“This judge’s order stopping us from simply giving things away was only an authorization that we can sell it, that we can mail it, that we can e-mail it, that we can provide it by secure transfer,” Wilson said.
“I am doing all of those things,” he added.
He’s interpreting the court order as preventing him from giving it away for free, but finds no reason he can’t make money off of it. And instead of waiting around for somebody to tell him he’s wrong, he’s selling the blueprints now.
Obviously, the way to stop Wilson from violating our social compact of LISTENING TO COURT ORDERS would be for the whole “monopoly of force” to kick in. If anything, the state should be most concerned with anti-social actors like Wilson, since he seeks to abrogate the monopoly of force that the entire social contract is based on.
But, somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Armed agents of the state should be busting down his door right now to hold him in contempt. But Wilson lives in Texas and our system, broken and corrupt as it is, is slow to react unless a brown person is violating the rules.
More importantly, even if he is later caught and held accountable the damage will have already been done. Like the person who pisses on the subway, all the fines and punishments in the world can’t really clean the stench out of the system. It’s just there, permanently mixed with the air.
So, congratulations, Cody Wilson. You’ve successfully urinated on society. Because you felt like it. You have taken us all one step closer back to the state of nature. Your mother must be so proud.
Against Court Order, Texan Begins Selling 3D-Gun Prints [Courthouse News Service]
Elie Mystal is the Executive Editor of Above the Law and the Legal Editor for More Perfect. He can be reached @ElieNYC on Twitter, or at [email protected] He will resist.
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