The “reasonable person” notion in jurisprudence is almost entirely irrelevant here. It’s used to decide whether an action was negligent — if the actions a person took or failed to take showed appropriate prudence.
As I remember it “reasonable” came up this time in the context of favoring gun control. I really don’t want to start that debate again because we have gone over that ground too often, but you have certainly not proven that a belief that guns are dangerous is not reasonable.
I conceded that you did demonstrate that available statistics do not show that there is a statistically significant number of gun homicides in the USA that can be attributed to our generally slack private gun ownership laws. That may be reasonable proof for a scientific mind like yours, but let me assure you that there are millions of reasonable Americans who, even after they have had that explained to them, would still believe that guns are so dangerous that access to them should be well controlled.
It is rational to believe that hand guns are dangerous because they have no other purpose thant to inflict (or threaten to inflict) painful and usually fatal wounds on human beings. If they wern’t a dangerous tool there would be no point in them.
you offered your reasons, and I showed them to be invalid.
No you didn’t. there is more to being reasonable than statistics. If mayors are biased about this it is probably due to the fact that it is good for their electoral prospects because there are so many voters who share that view. Sure, a common belief is not necessarily reasonable to science and there are many examples where the common thinking has been shown by science to be wrong. However, a court is not made of scientists but legally trained people who are trying to interpret the meaning of laws in terms of the intention of legislators: and that was most likely to follow the will of the people. They are unlikely to conclude that a commonly held belief is unreasonable.
Belief in God is not scientifically sound, but the courts think it is so reasonable that they prefer witnesses to swear on a Bible. I think you have to score me positively on that point Scott. :)
When I was researching the death penalty I think I found that something like 95% of appeals against it are upheld. Some (unknown to me) percentage of these would have been due to invalid evidence, or interpretation of it. For me, one of the prime reasons that the death penalty is so wrong is because our justice system is simply not sufficiently accurate to support an irrevocable penalty. One of the reasons for that is that strong evidence of guilt or innocence can sometimes be ruled inadmissable – leading to patently unsound (everyone knows) convictions or dismissals.
Like you, I believe that some of this is tolerable if the inadmissability derives from reasonable privacy protection linked to constitutional rights. However, I am sure that I would not hink that way if I had been wrongly convicted, because execution is a very personal and private matter in particular cases. A balance is required and we are on opposite sides of the line (but both sides of that line are concerned with preserving freedom). I think that being required to surrender documents held on a computer in order to ensure a good result in a court case affecting the liberty of an individual is one of the freedoms that we can afford to sacrifice in order to achieve the balance. More than that, I believe that modern communications is so increasingly dependent on electronic documents that it will eventually completely knacker the judicial system if we don’t allow this.
It’d be easy to find the guilty if we put police cameras in every building and gave up all of our privacy, but I hope nobody would stand for it. In my personal opinion, the government has shown over and over that it can’t be trusted with more police powers.
Street cameras would make another interesting debate. I certainly feel more free at night when visiting a strange city like London because there are cameras everywhere, and any violent people know that there will be strong evidence against them. I might feel differently if I were a Londoner, but I am not sure because I actually have nothing to hide and I do like to move about alone at night: so my loss would be theoretical while my gain would be real. I actually find it hard to imagine how police could misuse a street photo of me. I can imagine how someone like say Newt Gingrich could be blackmailed using a photo of him exiting a brothel, but somehow I am not too concerned about this kind of loss of liberty. Cameras don’t lie, but they can cause the need for a lot of explaining.
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