Ilya Somin calls himself a lawyer, and he probably is one, too. Therefore what he says about the law must be right.
Convinced by Somin’s arguments, I will later this week head off to Sweden and set up shop on the streets. Why? Well, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I am unemployed. And I’ve heard Sweden has a heck of a welfare system. Once I make it past the border, they’ll have to take care of me. Give me food, a comfortable place in which to eat it, dignity. It’s their responsibility since they have more than I do.
Of course I will be breaking the law by crossing Sweden’s border, and they may seek to call me an “illegal immigrant” or even, Heaven forfend, a criminal. I prefer the term “undocumented worker,” incidentally. And I might even try to find work, if somebody will offer it to me. The Swedish government had better not try to kick me out, either, else I’ll sick Somin on them. Then—look out!
Somin would tell those mean hateful racist Swedes “Illegal Immigration is Easily Justified Under a Weak Presumption in Favor of Obedience to Law.” He says, “If obeying a law is inconvenient and violating it is unlikely to harm anyone, [most people] believe that violation is morally justified.”
“Strict compliance” of laws we disfavor “would be annoying and inconvenient”. And this includes all those “violations of various federal regulations that ordinary citizens and small businesses routinely run afoul of.” He forgets to mention that ordinary citizens have no idea of the number and extent of federal laws, which increase yearly in number, reach, and severity of punishment. But everybody knows crossing a border without permission is illegal.
From this he concludes, “If you apply this theory to illegal immigration, it becomes clear that illegal immigrants have a much stronger case for violating immigration laws than native-born citizens do for their routine violations of the speed limit and various petty federal regulations.”
Far as I can tell, his “theory” is that you only have to follow those laws which you don’t find annoying and inconvenient. And that you can ignore those laws which you have concluded won’t harm others.
The anarchist in me likes this. Piracy has always had an appeal. “A short life but a merry one!” is my cry. Besides, if Sweden leaves me to rot in this country, full of progressive head hunters gunning for heretics like myself, it would (Somin’s words) consign me to poverty and oppression “through no fault of [my] own, merely because [I was] born on the wrong side of a line on the map.” And that’s just not fair.
Hey! Sweden! You rich so-and-sos. Gimme! And make it quick.
Update My jet lag is making me miss the obvious. Somin likens illegally crossing borders to speeding. He forgets that speeders get tickets, and that repeat offenders lose their licenses or even go to jail. Somin is a lawyer.