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Thread: Is littering a victimless crime?

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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Is littering a victimless crime?

    The easy answer is that it's a crime against the property owner of the property that you're littering on. But let's play with hypothetical and say someone litters in unclaimed wilderness. Has a legitimate crime been committed? What if it's not just a candy bar wrapper, but they're dumping large amounts of waste, does that change anything?
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    In HS and college I used to pay for Sierra Club clean-up trips. I helped clean-up the Lone Pine Whitney Portal trail on the east side of Mt. Whitney. We took out bedsprings, iron stoves and old car parts, chassis and bodies - on our backs.

    Littering is an abuse of The Commons and a theft of my life.
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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Changing the parameters (definition?) of littering.

    Littering is a victim-less crime until a citizen is directly harmed...then it is no longer a victim-less crime.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Changing the parameters (definition?) of littering.

    Littering is a victim-less crime until a citizen is directly harmed...then it is no longer a victim-less crime.
    Does that make littering an 'illegitimate' crime, when there is not a known victim?
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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    Does that make littering an 'illegitimate' crime, when there is not a known victim?
    Is OCing a pistol in TX a illegitimate crime because there is no known victim?

    You dump sludge on your property, in TX, then your immediate neighbors may or may not be harmed. If they are not harmed, ever, then there is no (should not be) crime. You obviously don't mind sludge in your yard. Who is harmed.

    Uncle Sam has been and remains the primary "polluter" in the USA. We are still spending untold billions on cleaning up Uncle Sam's mess. We all have been harmed, if your premise is true, and as such where is my compensation? Where are those who "made the mess" today? In jail...yeah, that's what I thought...
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    To me, food trash is not littering as it decomposes quickly if not eaten by wildlife.

    But other trash is a crime with a victim yes. Every passer-by that has to see it is a victim. I wouldn't even argue too greatly that the food trash still has a victim, though it is just a short-lived one.

    Don't rationalize sloppy laziness. We build landfills in specific places for a reason.

    EDIT: Private property is different. I'm addressing the wilderness/roadside aspects. If you can CONTAIN your trash so that it stays on your private property, you have the right for the rest of us to pity your sloppy laziness.
    Last edited by MAC702; 09-30-2014 at 06:10 PM.
    "It's not important how many people I've killed. What's important is how I get along with the people who are still alive" - Jimmy the Tulip

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    Regular Member The Truth's Avatar
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    In my opinion littering is not a victimless crime. How hard is it to dispose of your rubbish properly?

    Organic waste such as food is not considered rubbish to me. If you can compost it, it's fine.
    Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator
    So in actuality you have no evidence that anything wrong took place, you only believe that it could be spun to appear wrong. But it hasn't been. The truth has a funny way of coming out with persistence, even if it was spun negatively the truth would find its way because these people will not accept less.
    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    The truth causes some people so much pain they can only respond with impotent laughable insults. Life must be rough for those people.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Well, if you witness a citizen littering report the crime. Most roadsides in MO have a sign that defines the penalty for littering. Also, "q-munity service" results in litter being collected. Segregating different types of litter clouds the underlying issue. Is littering a victim-less crime. Of course it is unless the victim is the collective "the village."

    I don't litter because it is wrong not because it is illegal.

    Also, seeing trash equates to me becoming a victim is the top of a slippery slope.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Regular Member The Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Well, if you witness a citizen littering report the crime. Most roadsides in MO have a sign that defines the penalty for littering. Also, "q-munity service" results in litter being collected. Segregating different types of litter clouds the underlying issue. Is littering a victim-less crime. Of course it is unless the victim is the collective "the village."

    I don't litter because it is wrong not because it is illegal.

    Also, seeing trash equates to me becoming a victim is the top of a slippery slope.
    OK, I'll bite. Organic matter shouldn't be considered litter because it decomposes and also helps the environment. Non-organic matter which takes many decades and sometimes centuries to decompose is what I consider litter, although some organic matter in the form of industrial waste is still detrimental to nature. It has a profound effect on nature and its ecosystems which is why I believe it is not a victimless crime.
    Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator
    So in actuality you have no evidence that anything wrong took place, you only believe that it could be spun to appear wrong. But it hasn't been. The truth has a funny way of coming out with persistence, even if it was spun negatively the truth would find its way because these people will not accept less.
    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    The truth causes some people so much pain they can only respond with impotent laughable insults. Life must be rough for those people.

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    ... seeing trash equates to me becoming a victim is the top of a slippery slope.
    So if I take a date to the top of Lover's Lane to enjoy the view, and the previous person dumped their trash there, I'm not a victim?
    "It's not important how many people I've killed. What's important is how I get along with the people who are still alive" - Jimmy the Tulip

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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Well, if you witness a citizen littering report the crime. Most roadsides in MO have a sign that defines the penalty for littering. Also, "q-munity service" results in litter being collected. Segregating different types of litter clouds the underlying issue. Is littering a victim-less crime. Of course it is unless the victim is the collective "the village."

    I don't litter because it is wrong not because it is illegal.

    Also, seeing trash equates to me becoming a victim is the top of a slippery slope.
    I agree with you. In my opinion in order for littering to be a crime a real victim with real, articulable damages should be shown in court.

    That doesn't mean all littering isn't a problem, though, it only means we need to find a solution outside of creating an arbitrary law and strictly enforcing it.
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    Let's put a small spin on this.

    You like to shoot at a local spot, but it's not an "official range", and the parking area is right next to a a well-used trail for OHV and such.

    You don't reload, but you know that others who shoot there do, so you leave your brass/shells knowing that they will be collected at some point in the near future...hopefully.

    Is that littering if you know that others can and will collect and use at some point what you don't want or need?

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    The Francis Marion NF near Charleston, SC used to have a number of informal ranges - that were closed for being trashed including with brass and hulls. Learn about Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

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    Regular Member The Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post

    That doesn't mean all littering isn't a problem, though, it only means we need to find a solution outside of creating an arbitrary law and strictly enforcing it.
    Agreed.
    Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator
    So in actuality you have no evidence that anything wrong took place, you only believe that it could be spun to appear wrong. But it hasn't been. The truth has a funny way of coming out with persistence, even if it was spun negatively the truth would find its way because these people will not accept less.
    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    The truth causes some people so much pain they can only respond with impotent laughable insults. Life must be rough for those people.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    So if I take a date to the top of Lover's Lane to enjoy the view, and the previous person dumped their trash there, I'm not a victim?
    If you choose to consider yourself a victim, go right ahead. Me, I roll my eyes, pick up the litter, throw the litter into the back of my truck and grumble about litter bugs, but I am no victim of littering.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Regular Member twoskinsonemanns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    I agree with you. In my opinion in order for littering to be a crime a real victim with real, articulable damages should be shown in court.

    That doesn't mean all littering isn't a problem, though, it only means we need to find a solution outside of creating an arbitrary law and strictly enforcing it.
    I agree with you. But all things are connected and it's often futile to argue applying a libertarian view point to a specific issue without addressing connecting issues.
    For instance I believe drug laws are wrong. But a connecting issue in my mind is requiring people to be responsible for their drug choices.
    I believe the welfare and social security system is wrong. But the suffering and loss of life resulting from just shutting down those systems as this point would be extreme.

    The government has cultivated their nation into a place where everything is either owned or so strictly regulated as to be practically owned by the government.
    IMO this has resulted in such a mentality of apathy that it makes some victim-less crimes needed. It's a convenient and vicious circle.
    "I support the ban on assault weapons" - Donald Trump

    We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission - Ayn Rand

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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    I agree with you. In my opinion in order for littering to be a crime a real victim with real, articulable damages should be shown in court. That doesn't mean all littering isn't a problem, though, it only means we need to find a solution outside of creating an arbitrary law and strictly enforcing it.
    Nuisance is a well established tort, a tort being a civil wrong causing unfair loss. No need for law or enforcement.

    If I see you drop a butt in my yard then you are liable for my effort in curing the defect.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    Nuisance is a well established tort, a tort being a civil wrong causing unfair loss. No need for law or enforcement.

    If I see you drop a butt in my yard then you are liable for my effort in curing the defect.
    But can you claim tort if I drop the butt in your neighbor's yard? If not, then how can you claim tort if I drop a butt on any other property not owned by you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthyeliminator View Post
    But can you claim tort if I drop the butt in your neighbor's yard? If not, then how can you claim tort if I drop a butt on any other property not owned by you?
    Well, depending on the jurisdiction and speaking specifically of cigarette butts, dial 1-800-LITTERBUG and report the license plate number.

    https://encrypted.google.com/search?...00%20litterbug 140,000 hits
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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Yeah, and if it is a dude walkin and smokin make sure you report that too. Though, if it is a cop who tosses a butt, what then?
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    ...Me, I roll my eyes, pick up the litter, throw the litter into the back of my truck and grumble about litter bugs, but I am no victim of littering.
    Then why would you grumble and pick it up? It's not hurting anyone! How did you even notice it unless it stands out and distracts you from the environment?

    Perhaps you are overthinking the word "victim." It does not need to imply a certain level of severity.
    "It's not important how many people I've killed. What's important is how I get along with the people who are still alive" - Jimmy the Tulip

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    ... I don't litter because it is wrong not because it is illegal. ...
    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    Then why would you grumble and pick it up? It's not hurting anyone! How did you even notice it unless it stands out and distracts you from the environment?

    Perhaps you are overthinking the word "victim." It does not need to imply a certain level of severity.
    Are we discussing the legality of a distraction? The severity of the littering?

    I get where folks come from on this, littering is bad. I see litter where I happen to be I clean up as much as I can, if I can, and move on. Some folks leave the trash and move on. What is the observers resonsability? Do you report a pile of trash, yet you did not witness the "crime?" Are you now burdened, or should be, to collect the trash?

    Or, I drop a candy wrapper on your property what do you do? Do you call a cop? Restrain me until the cop shows up? What if the car that the litter comes from was not driven by me?

    The "state" has placed littering in the criminal code in many states.
    Littering. 577.070.

    1. A person commits the crime of littering if he throws or places, or causes to be thrown or placed, any glass, glass bottles, wire, nails, tacks, hedge, cans, garbage, trash, refuse, or rubbish of any kind, nature or description on the right-of-way of any public road or state highway or on or in any of the waters in this state or on the banks of any stream, or on any land or water owned, operated or leased by the state, any board, department, agency or commission thereof or on any land or water owned, operated or leased by the federal government or on any private real property owned by another without his consent.

    2. Littering is a class A misdemeanor.
    Please note the term consent. I consent to you tossing your wrapper on my property, yet a passer by does not know this and calls the cops on you.

    Should there be a crime? No. If you dump a truck load of sludge into a river, yes. When the municipality, through poor maintenance practices, dumps a truck load of sludge into a river who is arrested? Typically nobody. Just a unfortunate accident. Does the city sue their own sludge keepers department? Toss the whole lot of them into the county lock-up?

    The STL area has had these municipalities departments dump sewage into creeks and rivers and not one employee has been charged. Not one employee has had to pay out of his pocket. But, you or I, well, off to the can we go and our pockets are likely drained.

    No, "littering" must not be a crime. Civil act only, as Nightmare discusses.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    ... No, "littering" must not be a crime. Civil act only, as Nightmare discusses.
    Also:
    Certain cities may enact ordinances, purposes, punishments (including Kansas City). 82.300.3. Any city with a population of more than four hundred thousand inhabitants may enact all needful ordinances to protect public and private property from illegal and unauthorized dumping and littering, and to punish the violation of such ordinances by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars or by imprisonment not to exceed twelve months for each offense, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
    What is classified as a offense? Each wrapper? The littering itself regardless of the amount of litter?

    No, "littering" must not be a crime.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    I think we are using different terms to describe the same thing.

    Littering is morally wrong, as you say. I used the word victims to describe those who have to see its detrimental impact on clean environments that we enjoy.

    I did not say I would call cops and swear out warrants for candy bar wrappers. If I were a cop, I would be glad to write a ticket if I observed someone purposely throw one out a window. I would not pull over a pickup because one blew out of its back end unless he had a pile of them that were constantly doing so. The intent to litter is morally wrong and I have no problem with penalties.

    Littering can be malum en se.

    I used the word victim in the loose generic sense, if it also has a legal definition. If I used the word crime, I was doing the same, and not attempting to label the severity of the wrongness.
    Last edited by MAC702; 10-01-2014 at 01:18 PM.
    "It's not important how many people I've killed. What's important is how I get along with the people who are still alive" - Jimmy the Tulip

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    I think we are using different terms to describe the same thing.

    Littering is morally wrong, as you say. I used the word victims to describe those who have to see its detrimental impact on clean environments that we enjoy.

    I did not say I would call cops and swear out warrants for candy bar wrappers. If I were a cop, I would be glad to write a ticket if I observed someone purposely throw one out a window. I would not pull over a pickup because one blew out of its back end unless he had a pile of them that were constantly doing so. The intent to litter is morally wrong and I have no problem with penalties.

    Littering can be malum en se.

    I used the word victim in the loose generic sense, if it also has a legal definition. If I used the word crime, I was doing the same, and not attempting to label the severity of the wrongness.
    OK. Got it. As you can see severity is not a component of the statute in MO. At what point will my consent to litter my property not be permissible? Other states may be different.

    Liberty is at risk with criminal litter statutes.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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