The 1-Sentence-Summary: The Law Says What is a book that delivers significant insights into various everyday aspects of the law that most of us don’t know about but really should, how we should navigate between them and get a better understanding of how they can protect us.
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Favorite quote from the author:
The world as we know it took a long time to develop. Rules and laws of all kinds are what build our society. At first, organizing and imposing accountability, social norms, and rules of conduct was much different than it is today.
Common sense, rather than black-and-white mandates, imposes these rules and norms often. Still, the current law has its grey areas, susceptible to interpretation and arbitrary decisions, as it should. The absolute truth is in no one’s possession, so you can’t expect to redeem it from official regulatory bodies.
Still, laws help us navigate the layers of our social structures and live with each other in relative peace. We count on them for our safety. But what if we told you that they might not guarantee your protection at all times? Do you really feel like you understand the law?
The Law Says What by Maclen Stanley will teach you about the most bizarre, confusing, yet indispensable legal topics of your everyday life. The book will go into the quirks of civil law, contract law, courtroom procedures, real-life cases, and much more!
Here are my three favorite lessons from this book:
- The police may be exempt from protecting you.
- Self-defense can only be justified in extreme circumstances defined by the law.
- Setting booby traps in your home is illegal.
Lesson 1: The police are not obliged to protect you unless you have a special relationship with them.
“To protect and to serve’’ is just one of the numerous slogans police officers everywhere carry around with them on their uniforms, cars, or badges, making people around them feel safe when they read it. But is that the case? Is their duty to keep you safe?
We’ve seen police officers doing a poor job in protecting us multiple times. When that happens, we feel angry and mistreated. Some people even sue, and this is where the law interferes. Its purpose is to defend whoever has legal legitimacy, contrary to common sense.
There are many cases where the police didn’t interfere to help save a victim and still got away with it. Why? Well, according to the law, they’re not legally bound to offer this protection unless involving special circumstances.
A special relationship is a legal term used to describe whether the police have the legal obligation to protect you or not during a certain circumstance. Although every individual and the legal bodies, in particular, have a moral obligation to do so, the law imposes no such duty on them.
When one person can exert some form of control over the other, such as a parent-minor correlation, that is a special relationship. However, the circumstances that form such links are still in a grey legal zone and are up to the court to decide every case.
For example, if police officers were to be in your neighborhood and hear screams of help, they wouldn’t necessarily be obliged to inspect this and offer protection. However, if an officer takes you with him to identify a person of interest and that person tries to harm you, it’s their legal responsibility to keep you safe in that situation.
Lesson 2: Legally shooting someone can only occur in extreme circumstances.
Protecting yourself is an instinct, and if the situation asks for it, you have to do whatever is in your power to hold on to dear life. Therefore, some laws regulate these situations, so you don’t have to face years in jail after the fact and even get compensation in some cases.
However, to avoid misinterpretation and people abusing these laws just to get rid of people they don’t like, legal bodies have made it very clear that shooting someone can only count as self-defense in special circumstances categorized on four brackets.
Firstly, you have to be in imminent danger, meaning that the threat is happening now, at that very moment. So, for example, if you feel like someone wants to kill you in the near future and you decide to act on it, that wouldn’t be considered an imminent threat, and you’d be found guilty.
Secondly, you cannot exercise your right to self-defense if you initiated the fight. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: if the opponent responds with aggressiveness and escalates the situation, and if you try to withdraw from the conflict and the other person insists.
Thirdly, the proportionate force principle states that the degree of force used to protect yourself should be directly proportional to the danger you’re being exposed to. Moreover, your belief that harm was imminent has to be within reasonable limits. And the court decides this when the victim tells the story.
Lesson 3: The law doesn’t permit you to attempt to defend yourself using booby traps.
Perhaps you want to set up a defense mechanism in your home to prevent people from breaking in and attacking you. After all, it’s self-defense, right? Unfortunately, it’s not, according to the law. You have to consider a lot of legal aspects before even considering these mechanisms.
This is because some legal bodies can enter your house when the situation asks for it. These include firefighters, police officers, paramedics, or other emergency personnel. So you don’t want to be in the position of harming them for your prevention.
However, these legal bodies are not the only ones who can enter your home without asking for permission. For example, an unfortunate passerby can also come into your house if they’re looking for shelter. Or maybe a kid looking for his lost basketball can do so.
Moreover, setting these booby traps is illegal because they are not humane. So if you want to use self-defense, you have to remember the calculation of reasonableness. But these traps are not reasonable. That’s because these traps are not capable of assessing a situation nor the imminence of a threat.
The Law Says What Review
The Law Says What teaches its readers about the ups and downs of laws and how to interpret them properly. The insights delivered are very valuable for any preoccupied citizen. Moreover, reading it will allow individuals to really grasp the particularities of day-to-day laws.
Who would I recommend The Law Says What summary to?
This book is ideal for anyone willing to explore modern political discussions, educate themselves about the particularities of the legal systems, or a potential student looking to attend law school.