Law Enforcement: More Art than Sanctification

Mencken finds wisdom from the mayor of Toledo:

There are, to be sure, on the scrolls of the State, and on the books of the city, statutes and ordinances which forbid the commission of certain sins, and even enlarge venial offenses to the proportions of crimes for the sake of prohibiting them; and, having enacted this legislation, society seems to be content, because the theoretical remedy has been provided against evil. All that remains, according to the theory, is to “enforce” these statutes and ordinances, and the evils will vanish, the sins cease. But these remedies are theoretical only. They do not search out the mysterious and obscure causes of crime; they are concerned solely with the symptoms or surface indications of those deeply hidden causes. But, however that may be, these statutes and ordinances can be administered only by human agencies, and in their administration are encountered human obstacles. (VIRTUE BY STATUTE. From “The Enforcement of Law in Cities,” by Brand Whitlock)

If John Piper’s preaching can’t transform the human heart (without the Holy Spirit), how are Barney Fife and Andy Griffith?

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One thought on “Law Enforcement: More Art than Sanctification

  1. And then there‘s the moralists and the legislators:

    Our laws, we must remember, are not made by our wisest men, nor even by men of average wisdom, but by professional politicians, which means, in the main, by numbskulls, trimmers and crooks. It is the prime aim of these men, not to do that which is most prudent and patriotic, but that which is most popular and profitable, and so they are always ready to bend as the wind blows. If public ignorance seizes upon a new panacea, they are for it instanter. If private avarice is willing to share its spoils, they are willing to facilitate the spoliation. And if militant morality comes up at the double, dripping with the blood of sinners and howling threats, they are very eager to grant its demands and escape its savage revenges.

    The militant moralist is a specialist in badgering lawmakers. It is not often that he has a majority of voters behind him–sometimes, in truth, he doesn’t have 5 per cent.–but he is such a violent and resourceful fellow that politicians stand in constant fear of him. If he cannot get their hides in one way he will achieve the feat in some other way. That is to say, he devotes himself cheerfully to the ruination of every politician who opposes him–and politicians are vulnerable, scary men. They have no convictions to give them courage: all they seek is the office and its profits. So it is easy for a man who actually has convictions, however fatuous they may be, to strike terror in their hearts and bring them into line.

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