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Two more stones for paving that road

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The Sunday Boston Globe was an utter bore. I thumbed through the whole thing looking for an interesting or witty story and came up empty. So what, it’s vacation time, right?

I did see an OK column in the Times by Dahlia Lithwick. It noted the failute of rape shield laws, especially in media feeding frenzy cases like Kobe Bryant. The failure leaves both parties very damaged by the trial process. Yep. Then she says something interesting:

“In that one sense rape law is not unlike campaign finance reform law – block one path and the sludge just oozes elsewhere.”

These laws are alike in more ways than one. Both are from the same era; the post-Watergate 1970s. Both were enacted without much resistance from a demoralized and confused Republican party. You couldn’t vote against these laws without being accused of being in favor of rape or political corruption. Both had zealous support from parts of the left. In one case it was the feminist left, in the other the Naderites who (to this day) desparately want to separate elections from big donors and big money.

Both were cases of law that runs so contrary to human nature that the result is utter legal futility at best. Not a Left-Right issue, either. It was just this type of legislation that gave Paula Jones’ lawyers carte blanche to question the 42nd President under oath about any aspect of his workplace behavior. Even Slick Willie couldn’t escape that net without resorting to perjury.

And of course the latest spasm of campaign finance reform, McCain-Feingold, allows George Soros to pump megabucks into an organization (the aptly named MoveOn.org) that creates anti-Bush propaganda which for Kerry can deny responsibility. But what goes around comes around. The well-financed Swift Boat Vet advertisement of the past week attacking Kerry was financed by a conservative 527, and Bush&Co deny any responsibility for it.

Some reform. Can nobody admit that these laws have made things worse, and that we would likely benefit from less such regulation rather than more?

In her column, Lithwick mentions twice that these laws were well-intentioned. Thanks a lot. What is that supposed to mean, and how are we supposed to be consoled by it? Our country suffers 30 years of rotten law and the best the left can say is that they were “well-intentioned”? Jeez, so was Lenin well-intentioned. Big ‘effin Deal. Having good intentions is no kind of yardstick, and if the Left could take a wild leap of imagination and consider the remote possibility that good intentions might exist widely across the ideological spectrum, our political discourse would elevate, and our laws might well improve.

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