May 5th, 2016


bad news for Javert

I'm curious what people make of this one. Basically, a starving man was caught stealing about $5 worth of food and was facing six months and jail and a fine worth a little over $100. The judges said he couldn't be convicted because the right to live trumped the right to your property.

I think I agree on the substance - I definitely don't think people should go to jail for something so minor, for a whole host of reasons. Still, putting it in terms of rights makes me uneasy. I'd say the store-owner still had a right to that food, it's just a bit... indecent, I guess, to insist on that right. So petty and callous that it's beneath the dignity of the state to enforce that right here. This isn't about rights, it's about basic moral decency and the kind of person who would look at a starving man and say more than just he has to give the food back, he can't come back to the store - that he actually needs to go to prison. "Obscene" is the only word that really seems appropriate.

Still, putting it in terms of rights seems to miss something here. Maybe it's just me.