A variety of myths and misconceptions have arisen out of the modern world. As the world advances economically and technologically, it appears that the people grow just as distant to the throes of reality. In just this way, the people have begun to develop new ways of thinking about the world and each other, and they and their followers have come to fancy themselves more advanced for matching their pitch. Whether it's misplaced faith in cryptocurrency, democracy or the theories of manmade climate change, the modern world is rife with myths and misconceptions. Another prime example which affects us all is the belief that everything can be replaced, or, as one self-described expert puts it, "We shouldn't use deadly force to protect our property."
Now, it's worth noting that the so-called expert isn't alone here. He has a lot of company. Some of his supporters have claimed that burglars shouldn't be met with force or violence if they haven't presented the same. One such supporter put it this way: "I'm only saying that your willingness to kill or injure [someone] over losing [sic] property without danger to life or limb is equally wrong, and two wrongs don't make a right." Another such supporter has asked rhetorically, "You don't shoot people for keying your car, breaking a contract, or TP-ing your house, would you? Even though all of those things cost you money and time? Why is that?" While these incredulous types aren't generally interested in answers, we will explore them here.
As we begin, let's address the first of those two quotes: the claim that it is equally wrong to kill or injure a burglar. Before continuing, it's worth noting that the commenter phrased his statement quite differently than I have just transcribed it. I dare say that this was intentional, as it accords with the character profile to be explored later in the reading. Instead of ascribing the act to the burglar, he opted instead to equivocate both the identity and the crime. In this case, the victim isn't merely threatening to "kill or injure [someone] over losing [sic] property"; indeed, the truth is that, in presenting potentially lethal force, the victim stands to defend his rightful property by wielding sufficient force to deter a criminal from stealing his property and doing any further damage. This is the modifying distinction between the home invasion and the acts of keying a car, breaking a contract, or TP-ing a house: the former comes with a reasonable risk of further damage, up to and including bodily harm and death to the homeowners. In the case of a home invasion, there is nowhere to safely retreat, and there is no reason to assume that a home invader will suddenly become reasonable.
Now, another commenter claims, "burglary is specifically theft without threat of violence." Bearing this in mind, I've taken the time to consult a variety of sources to accurately present the common and legal definitions of burglary. Here is what I've found:
TheFreeDictionary.com defines burglary as "trespassory breaking and entering of the dwelling of another with an intent to commit a felony therein. It is an offense against possession and habitation."
According to LegalDictionary.net, "Burglary is a crime defined as unlawful entry into a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime." An alternate definition describes burglary as "Entry into a building or structure without permission from the owner with the intent to commit a crime."
Merriam Webster defines burglary as "the act of breaking and entering a dwelling to commit a felony (such as theft)."
Finally, Cambridge Dictionary defines burglary as "the crime of illegally entering a building and stealing things."
According to these definitions, burglary is not a crime devoid of the threat of violence. In fact, TheFreeDictionary.com describes it as "breaking and entering" and "an offense against possession and habitation." Surely, against any reasonable standard, "breaking and entering" and "an offense against possession and habitation" would qualify as an implied threat of violence. The common thread between these four sources is that burglary, at minimum, implies unlawful entry and theft. Now, I would argue that it's not all that important to determine or operate from this definition, but TheFreeDictionary.com does well to identify an important feature of burglary: the "offense against... habitation."
This is actually far more important than it might appear, as it indicates that burglary is not just a threat posed to property, but rather a threat to the whole residence. As explained previously, there is a meaningful difference between burglary and the acts of "keying a car, breaking a contract, or TP-ing a house." One of those differences is that, in the estimation of any reasonable person, a burglar presents a potential risk of death or bodily harm to the victims. After all, the victims don't know at the time of the crime whether he's just a plain burglar or the murdering kind. In any event, wherever a criminal has presented an "offense against... habitation", it is safe to assume that he doesn't respect you or your rights. Whether a plain burglar or the murdering kind, it's not a question of whether he threatens your life, your liberty, or your property; it's a question of only how much of it he'll take.
Now, having already justified potentially-lethal force in the defense of life, liberty, and property, let's proceed to debunk the myth that "all things can be replaced." Let's begin by pointing out the obvious: not all things can be replaced. The claim that "all things can be replaced" is not just overly simplistic, but potentially dangerous, as it threatens the very nature and the very product of life on our planet.
Not everything in life is fungible or replaceable; not everything in life has a market value. There are many things in life that are unique, that have sentimental or spiritual value, that are worth more to their owners than they are in their appraisal. Above all, there are many things and prized possessions that are priceless, or that otherwise come to define life. For example, in some aboriginal cultures, the people prize their collection of their ancestors' remains. For them, this is a time-honored tradition and a way to pay tribute to their forbears. In still other cases, people collect artifacts and heirlooms passed down through generations. This is how they preserve and honor their memory. In this particular case, it is obvious that theft would leave the family without any recourse at all if the property went unrecovered. Even if it were eventually recovered, there is no way to recover the loss and the indignity suffered by the family. After all, no society can be said to value life, liberty, or property which doesn't value all three.
The problem with the modern Western world is that most of its inhabitants don't distinguish between price and value, and for this reason they don't appreciate the true value of life and an honest day's work; it is for just this reason that they don't appreciate the legacy and heritage they've inherited or, in time, the ones they stand to leave behind. Where they view the world, its contents, and each other through the lens of commerce, they regard them as replaceable commodities not worth defending; in fact, as far as they're concerned, the only things worth defending are those of sociopolitical value.
Of course, this is the easiest position to defend, because a stern debate is their only challenge. They betray their intuition and their instincts in favor of abstract intellectualisms, which they claim to accept out of moral obligation, but which they accept only out of convenience. These intellectualisms have ultimately come to replace their family values and time-tested traditions; above all, they've come to loosen their grip on reality and to warp their sense of right and wrong. Of course, this doesn't keep them from being clever.
In fact, upon the abandonment of principle, anything goes. In their view, for example, they claim that it's wrong to wield potentially-lethal force against someone who's threatening or stealing private property. Ironically, their argument doesn't even stand on its own. When questioned, they'll even resort to using the victims' own last resort against them: the victims' own private insurance. They'll claim, "This is why people have insurance." Of course, they pay no mind to the fact that people have fire insurance, not so that arsonists can burn their houses down, but so that they're protected in the event of an unforeseen accident. They pay no mind to the fact that people have health insurance, not so that assailants can harm them, but so that their health and wellbeing can be restored after an unexpected accident. They pay no mind to the fact that people have life insurance, not so that murderers can kill them, but so that their respective families are financially protected against that loss.
They fail to recognize that insurance does not cover the total loss; it covers merely part of the financial ramifications. They fail to accept that insurance serves to protect people financially against part of the loss associated with an accident or unexpected event; it does not serve to strip people of their responsibility, or to displace morality. As stated previously, these people don't distinguish between price and value, so, as they prefer to see it, whether it's a loss of property or a loss of life, it can all be replaced in kind or in cash. If only the perpetrators carried their own liability insurance, then, as the useful idiots see it, there'd be no need for any moral standard at all. Granted, this is precisely their proposed antidote for every social problem: systems over people.
One of those systems, in this case, seeks to defend the criminals. Make no mistake, this isn't because they deserve it. First, it’s worth noting that there is a difference between rights and political protections. In this case, no criminal has the right to threaten another’s life or property. While statutes may stand to defend the criminal in some cases, they are not in place to declare his rights, nor to distinguish between right and wrong; in most cases those protections exist as the consequence of ambiguity, a technicality or, otherwise, a narrow-minded political cause.
Most reasonable people would agree that a slave has a right to threaten or even use violence to gain his freedom. There is hardly a difference between a slave holder and a burglar: both seek to exploit the other’s life and labor for his own benefit; however, the burglar doesn’t want any of the former’s added responsibility. Of course that comes as no surprise, given that responsible people don’t steal or invade other people's homes.
In this comparison, it is the slave holder who is the more ethical of the two, as he operates from no false pretense. After all, the slave at least knows his place, his purpose, and the form and function of his labor. The slave holder even allows the slave to enjoy some (or even most) of the fruits of his labor; and, in many cases, he provides the slave shelter and invests in his health and welfare.
Meanwhile the burglar does nothing more than to exploit the life and labor of his victim, to threaten his victim with force to get what he wants, and to enjoy the fruits and the protections of a feckless bureaucracy. Indeed, the burglar does absolutely nothing in return. Instead, the burglar exploits and threatens his victim’s home, his private property, his labor, and his very life. The burglar is a slave holder, except that he takes from the unsuspecting, he exploits the fallibilities of a feckless bureaucracy, and he returns nothing to the people whom he exploits for his own benefit. In just this way, the burglar isn’t just a slave holder; he’s a criminal who places precious little value on life, liberty and property, and yet there’s a whole bureaucracy and an entire cohort of people who seek to protect him.
Ultimately, wherever any person is under threat, coercion or intimidation to forfeit any of his property, or wherever any person has trespassed to effect the same, the victim is held as a slave to the whims and wants of the assailant. The primary difference between the acts themselves is that it’s not very difficult to visualize slaves being held to labor against their will, while it’s more challenging to account for the labor that’s already been done. Whether a person is held to labor today or whether he’s made to forfeit his labor from yesterday, the consequence is all the same.
Ultimately, every living and breathing person on this planet has the right to defend his property in the event that intentional destruction or theft of property is imminent; or intentional trespass or destruction imminently poses a threat of injury or death. This right is ironclad.
While there are some jurisdictions around the world that have encroached upon this right, there are many others that have expressly preserved it. Remember, rights are not given to us by men, but by our Creator; they are merely protected by men and the statutes they enact. There is no moral or ethical argument to refute this, nor any words in any language that can possibly be strung together to justify the suspension of these rights.
The principal moral imperative in all of the world is the non-aggression principle, which forbids the initiation of force or fraud. As property is an extension of the person and/or the product of his labor, any intentional force or fraud directed at person or property is immoral. The defender is therefore well within his rights to defend his property and person by all means practicable and reasonable, to the extent that the threat is neutralized and no longer present.
Just as no person ought ever to be held to labor against his will, and just as no one ought to be unjustly deprived of his rights, no person ought ever to be stripped of his right to defend his life, liberty, and property. Wherever we ignore or minimize the absolute right to defend either of those three, we stand to diminish them all in time.
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