No Monarchists Allowed

I enjoyed Christopher Caldwell's "There Ought To Be a Law?" in Sunday's NYTimes Magazine. I'm not at all sure that it's thesis is true however. The thesis is that far more areas of life, everywhere in the Western world, are being regulated by criminal law rather than social customs. The anecdotal evidence about anti-social behavior orders (seeing as they're British, isn't it behaviour?) is rather persuasive, though the Economist has been covering that angle for at least the last year, and probably longer (see here and here, subscription access only, I think). But more broadly, is it really true that more areas of life are subject to criminal penalty, rather than just different ones? Also, the article seems to ignore that in the past social sanctions could have a lot more bite, what with dueling and similar sanctions. When people could mete out something similar to vigilante injustice when people annoyed them, they didn't to call for legal assistance. Which isn't to say that vigilante justice is good, but instead that I'm unsure things in general have gotten worse. Also, the general point that stupid laws are stupid is well taken, but rather un-helpful.

On the Ethicist, I 'm completely nonplussed by the second letter. How could someone reveal their political preference, other than non-monarchist, by proposing a voting system? Discussing the relative merits of different methods of allocating representatives based on preference, comparing first past the post, instant runoff, or what have you has nothing to do with one's political beliefs. Can anyone think of an example of what the letter writer is worried about? Maybe supporting campaign finance reform or something, but that's not part of the voting system per se. The first letter is a little tricky, and the third is a snap.