Bet you didn’t know this one: under the federal Lacey Act, it is a crime to import stuff in violation of another nation’s laws. Thus, Americans are responsible for knowing the laws of foreign countries, even when those statutes are published in foreign languages.
Besides the fact that this law is impossible to comply with, it also violates the US Constitution by giving law-making authority to bodies other than the US Congress.
But who cares. The criminalization of benign behavior — conduct that doesn’t harm another person or his property — is a feature of state power. Remember that the state is a group of privileged criminals; they have the power to impose rules on you that they themselves don’t have to obey. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The Federal Reserve is a counterfeiter. Unions have the legal right to do mob violence. The state establishes and protects monopolies like municipal utilities. The state’s very existence is premised on its right to steal your money. So there’s nothing to stop them from criminalizing whatever floats their boat.
In the particular case of the Lacey Act, Sen. Rand Paul has introduced a bill which would decriminalize any violations of the Lacey Act; it’s the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures (FOCUS) Act of 2012. I know it sounds good, but it doesn’t go far enough because it still would contain civil penalties, i.e. fines. Of course. Can’t deprive the state of money, can we now? But oh well, at least they won’t be able to throw you in prison, like they did poor Mr. McNab, who imported lobsters that were caught in violation of Honduran law.
No, wait. The Honduran courts said the catch did not violate Honduran law. It was the US court that determined the catch violated Honduran law, and refused to give any weight to the opinions of the Honduran courts.
As I say, at least Rand Paul is attempting to bring a modicum of sanity to our laws. Let’s hope we can get more legislators like him.