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Esse non disarmano che i non inclinati né determinati ai delitti, mentre coloro che hanno il coraggio di poter violare le leggi piú sacre della umanità e le piú importanti del codice, come rispetteranno le minori e le puramente arbitrarie, e delle quali tanto facili ed impuni debbon essere le contravenzioni, e l’esecuzione esatta delle quali toglie la libertà personale, carissima all’uomo, carissima all’illuminato legislatore?
Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty so dear to mankind and the wise legislator?
–Cesare Beccaria, Dei delitti e delle pene, cap. xl (1764)(A. Caso transl. 1770)
More from Scott Horton:
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Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
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Chances that an American knows the position of his or her senators on health-care reform:
Climate experts proposed creating a fleet of cloud-seeding yachts that will pump water vapor into the atmosphere to thicken global cloud cover, thereby reflecting more sunlight, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."