The relationship between the ways in which Canadian and U.S. common law and classical Roman law treat blackmail, as d...

Shiyi on June 1 at 12:06AM

Why is E incorrect?

Why is E incorrect? Why is D correct?

1 Reply

Victoria on June 2 at 07:48PM

Hi @Shiyi-Zhang,

Let's go through the two passages first.

In Canadian and U.S. common law, blackmail is considered to be unique among major crimes in that no one has yet adequately explained why it ought to be illegal. This is because of the "blackmail paradox," i.e. that the two acts of threatening to disclose information and seeking money are legal on their own but become illegal when combined. Although there is no adequate explanation as to why, blackmail is explicitly considered to be an illegal act in Canada and the U.S.

In classical Roman law, there was no special category for blackmail because Roman jurists began their evaluation of specific actions - e.g. blackmail - by considering whether the action caused harm and not by considering whether the action was legal or illegal. Within this line of thought, the Romans attempted to mitigate harm by shifting the burden of proof onto the possessor of the information. The only time that it was considered to be acceptable to reveal shameful information, regardless of whether it was true or not, was when the revelation had been made for a legitimate purpose and dealt with a matter that the public authorities had an interest in having revealed.

Overall, blackmail is explicitly illegal in Canadian and U.S. common law. Classical Roman law did not consider blackmail to be explicitly illegal as it was captured under the broader legal line of thought which attempted to minimize harm and, thereby, made blackmail illegal in nearly all cases excluding those where information was revealed for a legitimate purpose and dealt with a matter that the public authorities had an interest in having revealed.

D is the correct answer because it mirrors the legal differences outlined in the two passages. Canada and the U.S. explicitly consider blackmail to be illegal whereas the Romans did not because it was covered under the line of legal thought which aimed to prevent harm. In answer choice D, one country explicitly considers felons owning guns to be illegal whereas the other country does not because felons are covered under the line of legal thought which makes gun ownership illegal for everyone excluding the police and the military.

The first half of answer choice E does represent the position of Canada and the U.S. as it explicitly considers driving motorcycles with racing-grade engines to be illegal. However, the second half of this answer choice says that these motorcycles are legally permitted in the other country but those riders who commit traffic violations are fined higher than other motorists. This is the opposite of how the Romans considered blackmail. They did not consider it to be a special category as it was already covered under the legal line of thought which aimed to reduce harm.

Hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.