November 22, 2009

"Society at Large"


Age and responsibility

by Kent McManigal

As originally posted on: Albuquerque Libertarian Examiner
November 8, 2009


Once we finally turn our backs on coercive "government", who will protect the "minors"? I have heard people claim that there needs to be some way for society to decide who is a "minor", in other words one who is not responsible for his or her own safety and actions, and who is not a "minor". I have heard them insist that age is the best way to uniformly do so. This celebrated "uniformity" is a strike against its legitimacy. A one size fits all yardstick is not needed, and even if it were, age is the worst possible way to determine who is responsible for themselves and who is not.

People become responsible at different rates. They may be responsible in some areas of their lives now, but not yet responsible in other areas. Not all people will become responsible in the same areas in the same sequence, some never become self-responsible in all ways, yet "laws" don't recognize this. Sexual responsibility, financial responsibility, and responsibility for committing theft and aggression are completely unrelated to one another. In the case of aggression, even the "law" manages to admit that age does not work, as is demonstrated when the state decides to prosecute a suspected particularly violent "minor" as an "adult". This is to suit the state's own agenda, of course.

When there is a real need to decide if someone is self-responsible it should be done individually, on a case-by-case basis. After all, this is how it works when someone who falls outside the arbitrary age limit is suspected of not being able to be responsible for themselves. It is not worth ruining lives to expedite the resolution by removing discernment from the equation. It is "just too bad" if it takes a little longer to use your mind and think through a situation rather than brainlessly and cowardly pointing to a "law" as your justification. Haste makes waste, and it destroys lives.

I don't think it is any of "society's" business whether someone is self-responsible or not in most cases. It is the individual's business, and sometimes it is their family's business. Unless someone else is directly involved, that is where it ends. When someone else is involved, then the issue is still between the concerned individuals only.

People who victimize those who are unable to help themselves need to be held accountable. Not by society at large, but by the victim and their family and/or friends. The goal must be restitution; not retribution (as "Roger Young" correctly pointed out in a recent comment). Civilization depends on this.

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