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Bernard M -- Taipei English Tutor

Bernard M - English Conversation / TOEFL / IELTS 一對一英文會話

Monday, June 30, 2008

Blackmail Case Study #11 FROM The University of San Diego

#11 Blackmail
In the summer of 1997 Ms. Autumn Jackson was convicted of attempting to blackmail Bill Cosby. At her trial the prosecution presented evidence that Ms. Jackson threatened to disclose to the press her claims of having been wronged by Mr. Cosby, who she believes is her father, unless he agreed to pay her tens of millions of dollars. In an opinion piece that appeared in the New York Times shortly after the trial, Michael P. Rips, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School, criticized the conviction of Ms. Jackson on the following grounds. According to Mr. Rips, Ms. Jackson's crime, blackmail, is defined in a way that consists of performing two acts together, which are not crimes if done separately. In this regard, Mr. Rips first noted that if Ms. Jackson had told her story to the press, without demanding any money from Mr. Cosby, she would not have done anything illegal. Second, Mr. Rips pointed out that if she had demanded the money from Mr. Cosby, but without making her threat to go to the press, then, again, she would not have broken the law. Mr. Rips concluded that it is both illogical and unfair to make the performing of these two acts together a crime, when performing each of them separately is legally permissible. Based on this line of reasoning, Mr. Rips believes that the crime of blackmail, as currently defined, should be removed from federal and state criminal statutes.

Should the crime of blackmail be removed from federal and state criminal statutes as Mr. Rips recommends? If so, why? If not, why not?

By this logic, drinking while intoxicated should also be legal since driving and drinking are by themselves legal acts. I happen to agree that blackmail should be legal, but for other reasons.
  1. The specter of blackmail has the benefit of deterring people from committing unethical acts.
  2. Legalized blackmail allows for the punishment of unethical, though legal acts, which the legal system does not address.

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