Does our society have enough public order or too little of it?

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The question does not consider the possibility of too much public order, for the very good reason that there can never be too little crime and violence in a society. Therefore, it would appear that, while there is any crime at all in a society, that society could always be...

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The question does not consider the possibility of too much public order, for the very good reason that there can never be too little crime and violence in a society. Therefore, it would appear that, while there is any crime at all in a society, that society could always be improved by an increase in public order.

The essential questions, therefore, are what the society has to sacrifice in order to increase public order and whether the sacrifice is worth making. The obvious answer to the first question is that a very strong public order policy generally requires a sacrifice of freedom. Up to a point, public order increases freedom, since it is difficult to exercise freedom in the midst of anarchy. Beyond that point, freedom diminishes as public order increases, leading to an increasingly authoritarian society. The precise point at which this occurs is impossible to locate, not lease because it differs for different individuals within society.

Freedom has traditionally been of paramount importance in American society and many citizens, particularly those of a libertarian persuasion, think freedom has already been too extensively sacrificed to public order. The American prison population of around 2.3 million (see attached website from the Prison Policy Initiative) is exceptionally high by global standards and it is very difficult to argue that more Americans should be incarcerated. One freedom which is not enjoyed by the citizens of many other countries is that of access to guns, but limiting this freedom remains highly controversial in the United States.

If a way to increase public order without encroaching on freedom can be found, it should certainly be adopted, but if the two must be balanced, the balance, with the exception of gun controls, is already more tilted towards public order at the expense of freedom than it is in other developed countries.

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This is of course a matter of opinion, not only of the order of the United States, but of what makes effective government in general. If there is one fact that you can begin with when addressing this, it is that the US is one of the most heavily policed countries in the developed world, with more imprisoned persons per capita than any other nation. While this can delve deeply into a separate argument about the merit of private prisons, it also says a great deal about what we consider to be appropriate and orderly public behavior.

You'd certainly think that with such a threat of imprisonment, there would be less crime. However, this is not the case. Crime, particularly violent crime, is rampant in the US in ways that are almost unheard of in other developed nations of the world. One could not be blamed for thinking that the while emphasis on public order is effective, the means by which that order is enforced is not. For example, it could be that the United States sees a returning prisoner statistic that is uncommon in other countries because the justice system is focused on punishment rather than rehabilitation. This is just one example of how, while the amount of order may be correct, the method is, perhaps, flawed.

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As the other educator stated, the answer to this question depends very much on your opinion. The United States probably has some of the strictest public order policies present among the world's democratic nations. Some may argue that this is too much emphasis on public order, as it has led to one of the largest per-capita populations of citizens with a criminal record worldwide. In fact, a common criticism of a significant focus on heavily enforcing public order is that it leads to the possibility of abuse by the police and judiciary. Another criticism is that enforcement of public order is not applied evenly among different communities. We can see this with the disproportionate incarceration rates among many minority groups.

However, there are still high crime rates in many places in the United States. This implies that while the politicians of the country and law enforcement agencies are placing a high emphasis on maintaining public order, the execution of this is not necessarily effective. In this sense, it could be said that we do not have enough public order, but that is because of policy that is not effective.

Many cities and regions have attempted to address the problem in recent years and have experimented with programs like community policing. The goal is to not simply expand current criminal justice institutions but to improve the delivery of justice throughout communities.

You might be able to say that we have enough public order but that we do not enforce it in the most effective and just manner. Once again, this is an opinion, and others certainly see it differently.

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  There is no amount of public order that is objectively better than any other amount. 

We can start by saying that there is more crime than we would like to have in our society.  It is impossible to have a society where there is no crime, but our crime rates are higher than those of most other rich countries in the world.  We incarcerate many more people than any other rich country.  This implies that we do not have as much public order as we probably should.

However, crime is not the only aspect to public order or the lack thereof.  Public order also includes our general behaviors when we are in public.  Here, it is even harder to define what an appropriate level of public order is. For example, there are many people who would prefer that young people (and others) should refrain from using bad language in public places.  We do not have this level of public order in many places in the US as it is easy to hear bad language from young people.  We periodically see efforts to force young people to wear their pants higher rather than allowing them to “sag.”  There are others, however, who would argue that we do not need to try to enforce these sorts of ideas of public order.  These people think that we should allow people to express themselves even in ways that are objectionable to others.  The appropriate level of this sort of order is a matter of personal preference.

Thus, we clearly do not have enough public order when it comes to crime, and there are those who would say that we also lack other kinds of public order.  However, this is merely an opinion.

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