By Danielle,

Are Harmful Behaviours Not Included in the Criminal Law Just As Important As Those Included?

5/28/2012 DK 0 Comments

What are the "harmful behaviours" that the criminal law includes?
We all know these: burglary, homicide, terrorism, physical assault, sexual assault, paedophilia, graffiti, hacking, and the list goes on. But what does "harmful behaviours" mean? Better yet, what is "harm"?

What are the "harmful behaviours" that the criminal law does not include?
War, police shootings/violence, violence in sports, zoos, meat-eating, capital punishment, pornography, torture, and the list goes on. Using the commonly used meaning of the word "harm", activities/behaviours listed above cannot escape the concept of "harm".

For example:
- War - physical assault, murder/homicide, terrorism (a universal meaning of the term 'terrorism' is yet to be defined and decided upon), racial violence, ...
- Police violence: physical/sexual assault, racial violence, murder/homicide, ...
- Zoos and meat-eating: animal abuse (you don't have to be a "tree-hugger" to see that the concepts of zoos and meat-eating are identical to the concepts of animal abuse)
- Capital punishment: murder
- Pornography: sexual assault, physical assault, ...
- Torture: "legal" torture? Government institutions can "legally" torture suspected terrorists or even suspected associates of terrorists.
Now, how are these different from the "illegal" harmful behaviours? How can these be justified when the same justifications cannot protect the offenders of the "illegal" behaviours? Self-defence? For the greater good of the society? For personal/national gain? For education? For fun? The justifications given for the "legal" activities employ a utilitarian concept of morality: sacrificing something/someone (mostly the minority) for the greater good of society. But how do these adequately justify the killing, violating and abusing of millions of people and animals? How can they be accepted? After all, justifications of this form are unaccepted for the "illegal" harmful activities.

The government tricks us into believing that the "legal" harmful activities are necessary and justified. However, we need to be able to question the system, the authority, and ask with a critical point of view: what is the difference? We need to wake up and stop relying on the definitions and concepts pre-determined for us by the ones with power in our world. We need to be skeptic of the world around us; we need to question everything; and we need to desire to really know the world we are living in.

Follow-up post: Harmful Behaviours the Criminal Law Leaves Out (Conflict Theory)

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