As a law-and-order neoconertarian, I’m of the general opinion we should probably criminalize fewer things (weed and speeding, I’m looking at you) and punish severely but smartly the things that are still criminalized.
Consider, for instance, petty theft. Decriminalizing petty theft is a nonstarter for obvious reasons: some of the few indisputably needed laws on the books are those punishing people who deprive others of their property. It’s one of the few basic functions of the state. But does it make much sense to, say, imprison a person who steals a meal (or some cutlery) from a restaurant? The prisons would overflow and Vox would be forced to give us some context on why we should just let everyone go.
But a slap on the wrist from a modest fine doesn’t really seem like enough of a punishment either. The risk outweighs the reward: Every time you get caught and hit with a modest fine you probably get away with your crime ten times. Illicit activity will pay off in the long run.
Bring Back Public Shaming
Fortunately, there’s a tool in our arsenal that is all-too-infrequently deployed: public shaming. And we—the shamers, the few who want to bring back the stocks and remind the world that casual criminality is something to wipe from the face of the planet—finally have a champion: Mike Rowe.
The “Dirty Jobs” star recently took to his Facebook page to recount an interesting episode at his local liquor store. In it, we discover the proprietor of his local hooch house has taken to posting photos of shoplifters at the front of the store. Rowe, applauding the move, asks if it has been an effective deterrent. “Big time,” said Frank [the liquor store owner]. “I used to get ripped off every day. Now it’s more like once a week.”
Hearing about this amazing success story, a lawyer who was standing in line behind Rowe chimed in with his thoughts: If it were up to him, he’d sue the liquor store owner on behalf of the shoplifters whose photos have been splashed across the store. Because it wasn’t fair to the shoplifters.
Now, I’m sure The System needs bottom-feeding ambulance-chasing trial attorneys to work, just as The System needs defense attorneys who are willing to smear 12-year-old rape victims. But for our society to work, we need heroes who will stand up to these scumbags, brave men and women who will say, “No, this is wrong!”
We need men like Mike Rowe, who, upon hearing that this attorney would sue a wronged store owner on behalf of the thief who stole from him, announced he was appalled and decided to post the pictures of the thief to his Facebook page, where his more than one million followers could see, judge, and shame him. And he dared the lawyer to sue him in response.
My kingdom for a seat on that jury.
Now, I’m not saying that Mike Rowe should definitely be our next president. But if there were a “Draft Mike Rowe” campaign, would you oppose it? He’s the hero America deserves—and the one it needs right now.