NED’S BLOG #23, FROM 12 FEBRUARY ’06

The wonderful Wikipedia website provides the following definitions: “Malum in se (plural mala in se) is a Latin phrase meaning wrong in itself; it is an act that is illegal from the nature of the act, i.e. it is inherently evil without any fact of its being noticed or punished; such crimes as larceny, rape and murder are considered malum in se. This concept was used to develop the various common law crimes.” This term is to be distinguished from malum prohibitum (plural mal prohibita), which means wrongs that are merely prohibited, i.e. not inherently immoral or hurtful but only wrong by statute, such as parking violations, smuggling, selling products without a license, selling prohibited products or any of thousands of benign acts turned into crimes so the state can profit from its immoral acts in one way or another.”

It should be obvious to any reasonable mind that tax evasion or any other “crime” involving non-payment of taxes is malum prohibitum. There is nothing morally wrong with keeping one’s own property. The only thing “wrong” with tax evasion is that a law has been written by a dictator or legislature making tax evasion a crime. Otherwise, it is as benign as brushing one’s teeth or being too long at a parking meter. Tax evasion is merely malum prohibitum, nothing more nor less.

Tax collecting, on the other hand, is obviously a case of malum in se. It is, as the above definition merely confirms, inherently evil. That is so because collecting any tax requires a tax collector taking another person’s property by force or coercion. It is a violation of God’s law, “Thou shalt not steal!” It is in the same category major crimes as larceny, rape and murder. Here again, it is only by an act of a dictator or legislature that the immoral act of taking property by force or coercion is turned into something “legal.” Unfortunately for those who collect, receive or consume taxes, human laws cannot change an inherently evil act into something moral. Tax collecting is and will always be malum in se. Willingly consuming the proceeds of looting makes one a receiver of stolen property.

The common-law and such concepts of malum in se and malum prohibitum are indispensable tools for clearly understanding how far man-made laws have strayed from the path of righteousness. If you ask a dozen lawyers today for their view of the common law, nine out of ten will tell you that the common law has been abolished from criminal law, replaced by statutes and rules of courts. Most lawyers think and act pretty much the same today as they did two millennia ago when Jesus said of them, “Woe to you lawyers, you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

Lawyers’ declarations to the contrary notwithstanding, the common law is no more susceptible to abolition by legislative fiat than the Constitution. Of course if you try to unlock its wisdom through your government-licensed legal professional, you may be hindered.

                                             LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, IT BEFUDDLES THEM!