Traplaws comprise one of the many baffling qualities of Tylansia's inconsistent legal system. Indeed, inconsistency is the sole purpose of their existence.
While Tylansia's judicial system is notoriously harsh and unforgiving when its laws are broken, it is often equally harsh and unforgiving when its laws are obeyed excessively. Several times a year, certain existing laws are chosen to become temporary traplaws - laws that may demand severe punishment if obeyed excessively. The details of such decisions are determined in secret (by the President, on the advice of the Supreme Court and selected corporations who stand to benefit from occasional civil disobedience), and never revealed to the public in case they become wary of obeying them (which they were supposed to do, anyway, but not in excess).
The origins of traplaws can be traced back to the writings of Lucius Volder (3504 - 3582). In his manifesto "Averting Cultural Suicide" (3539), Volder stated that "any state that informs its citizens of their duties with absolute certainty would breed nothing but comfort, complacency and creativity. Thus would sow the seeds of slow genocide." He went on to argue that traplaws are the only true method of ensuring that the fittest survive. "A law abiding citizen," he stated, "is a coward in fear of punishment. Let him fear the law. Let him fear the dungeon. Let him fear the electrodes and the bone drills. But most importantly, let him fear nothing higher than fear itself. For only a man who risks persecution and torture every day of his life is fit to be called a man, and only a state filled with such men is fit to be called a nation."
Unsurprisingly, the selection and application of such traplaws leads to some astonishingly bizarre results. For example, a man who has lived all his life in the heart of a major city, and has never seen a real live cow before - let alone lived on a farm -, could be convicted of excessively obeying the specific law that states that no person shall milk a cow between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 on the morning of Grylken's Day while using a kelpwood pail. Because the man's excessive obedience of this law is easily proven - after all, he probably never learned of its existence, let alone actively disobeyed it - his fate is pretty much sealed.
The very existence of traplaws is frequently cited as irrefutable proof that Tylantian culture is nothing more than a memetic joke by a truly warped and sadistic archailect. Indeed, it could well be a form of living satire or parable - an example of the absurdities baseline-level culture could descend to without the guidance of the archailects.
Text by Darren Ryding
Initially published on 09 April 2003.
page uploaded 9 April 2003, last modified 1 July 2007