Rand Paul’s neighbor, who physically attacked Paul last year, damaging lungs and ribs, is now facing federal charges. This is because Paul is a Senator. This could mean up to 10 years in prison and $250k fine. Although it looks like prosecutors are seeking a 21-month sentence.
Sympathetic as some libertarians might be for Paul, due to his (imperfect) libertarian tendencies, this should be seen as ridiculous. For one thing, we just today published a case for “restoring the victim’s rights in the criminal justice system.” There is no just reason why the government should be able to siphon a quarter million dollars for its own coffers, as it was not the victim. Further, prison as a consequence for a criminal act such as this is, in effect, making the non-criminals in society, including the victim himself, cover the costs of living for the criminal!
Murray Rothbard makes the same point in his For a New Liberty:
Moreover, in the system of criminal punishment in the libertarian world, the emphasis would never be, as it is now, on “society’s” jailing the criminal; the emphasis would necessarily be on compelling the criminal to make restitution to the victim of his crime. The present system, in which the victim is not recompensed but instead has to pay taxes to support the incarceration of his own attacker—would be evident nonsense in a world that focuses on the defense of property rights and therefore on the victim of crime.
Additionally, this is a great example of how nationalized law has become. Clearly this is a matter for the locality in which Paul and his attacker reside.
Besides these points, the libertarian should find it unjust that the Senator is a separate class of citizen such that crimes committed against him deserve a unique set of consequences. This is completely at odds with the libertarian idea that government officials are not to be categorized under separate laws. Hans Hoppe:
In a private law society every individual and institution is subject to one and the same set of laws. No public law granting privileges to specific persons or functions exists in this society. There is only private law (and private property), equally applicable to each and everyone.
The consequences for assaulting Rand Paul, myself, some poor old lady, Donald Trump, and so on, should all be similar (reflective of the crime, not the victim).
It’s a bummer that this happened to Rand for sure. Still, principles must reign supreme.