- PowerScore Staff
- Posts: 8317
- Joined: Feb 02, 2011
These two passages deal with the issue of blackmail; Passage A examines the response to the issue
from American and Canadian common law, presenting the blackmail paradox which desribes the fact
that this illegal act represents the combination of two legally permissible acts. The author of Passage
B discusses classical Roman law, a system whose format did not necessitate the need for such a
category of crime.
Paragraph One: In the opening paragraph, the author introduces the “blackmail paradox,”
the fact that two legally permissible acts become illegal when they overlap:
freedom of speech allows one to disclose embarrassing facts, or expose
criminal activity, and people are generally allowed to seek money, but
threatening to expose such information if money is not paid amounts to
blackmail, which is illegal.
Paragraph Two: Since there is no clear theory of blackmail, there are no clear lines to be
drawn. The result: broad statutes that leave it to the discretion of prosecutors
only to enforce such statutes when reasonable.
Paragraph Three: Here, the author presents a theory of blackmail: its wrongness arises from
the triangular structure of the activity—it involves the misuse of a third party
for the benefit of the blackmailer, as, for example, when threats to expose
criminal activity are used to leverage the state’s power for the good of the
party making the threat.
Paragraph One: Roman law based legality not on the act, but on whether harm was caused by
the act. As such, classical Roman law did not specify a category for the act of
Paragraph Two: Roman law assumed that harm would be caused by the revealing of
embarrassing or illegal acts, so the threat of such disclosure was illegal,
shifting the burden to the party making the threats to show cause to make such
Paragraph Three: Truth alone would not, in Roman law, legally justify the threat of disclosure.
Rather, the revealer would have to show a public interest in having the
information in question revealed.