Friday, July 08, 2011

I blame TV.

"He knew something, but when they put him on the stand, he refused to answer any questions. He got off on a technicality."

"They found the body right there in his house, but his lawyer said they didn't have a warrant or probable cause or something. He got off on a technicality."

Folks, the Bill of Rights is not a "technicality". The very mechanisms that keep some hypothetical jackbooted thug from wandering through your front door and rifling through your unmentionables drawer whenever they get the urge are the same ones that mean occasionally somebody who is guilty as sin is going to walk. Like some game of Constitutional Jenga, every prop you knock out of the structure to make it easier to catch the guilty makes it that much more likely that the whole edifice will collapse right on top of you, (if it hasn't already.)

The price of the Bill of Rights is that people are going to say things you don't like. The price of the Bill of Rights means that sometimes people are going to get shot accidentally or on purpose. The price of the Bill of Rights is that sometimes the guilty are going to get away with murder.

The reason the police have to dot every "i" and cross every "t" when they rightly go after Mario Mafioso or Suzi Scumbag is so that they have to dot every "i" and cross every "t" when they wrongly come after you.

Every law you pass to make it easier to get the bad guys winds up being used against the good guys. Every one: RICO, The PATRIOT Act, all of them. If you hand the government a hammer, it's only a matter of time before they stop pounding nails and turn around and crack you in the head with it.

We ignore that at our peril.


Ken said...

"The very mechanisms that keep some hypothetical jackbooted thug from wandering through your front door and rifling through your unmentionables drawer whenever they get the urge...."

Yeah, they at least gotta say they smelled marijuana.

Tam said...

Which only goes to prove my point.

Bubblehead Les. said...

What was it Heinlein wrote? Oh yeah. "You can have Peace, or you can have Freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once."

Isn't it Ironic that most of the political Scandals over the last 40 years or so seem to be revolving around how to get around the Constitution?

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...


Buzz said...

My 4Jul rant:

In establishing the framework of this new country, a bold experiment in empowerment of the individual, our founding fathers explicitly sought to restrain and constrain the government. Those restrictions of power, our Bill of Rights, were the key to delegates signing the Constitution, their horrific memories still fresh from having thrown off the yoke of oppressive, intrusive overlords intent on taxing and controlling the people for "the greater good."

My friends, the experiment has gone horribly wrong. The 9th and 10th amendments were long ago shoved down the outhouse hole as detritus on a corncob. The 1st amendment has been relegated to a political football, whereby religious freedom has been perverted into freedom from exposure to citizens' public practice of religion, speech codes have become de rigueur at public institutions of learning, the press have become an administration's attack dog, and freedom-loving Americans, including those returning from putting their lives on the line for this country, have been declared enemies. The 2nd amendment has quite simply been truncated, its original intent of citizens standing up against foreign and governmental destruction of a free state to meaning nothing more than having toys for sport. The 4th amendment is a joke, with the government deciding it was already so easy to get a warrant at any time for the most trivial of reasons, it was more expedient just to barge in at will. Sure, there are fragments of some of the first 10 amendments still in practice, but the Bill of Rights wasn't approved piecemeal and the steady erosion makes it clear that freedom has lost to central authority.

This July 4th, I implore you to read the Declaration of Independence, then think long and hard about this country and its current condition. I demand every citizen thoroughly read the Constitution to understand that this country's greatness and success have been accomplished by restricting government and freeing the individual. I beg my fellow citizens to recognize the elements of oppression, then stand up and fight. Fight at public meetings. Fight at the ballot box. Fight with your pocketbooks. Fight with all the vigor you can muster as free, thinking individuals, because if you don't, the only fight remaining will be in the realm of sporting toys and none of us wants the last battle for freedom to be waged there.

Anonymous said...

...the day Tam starts to sound like WRSA is the day to clean your wookie suit indeed.

Anonymous said...

BRAVO!! I rarely hear--or read--such a concise, brilliant summation of the facts!

I will in future reference your remarks when such a conversation develops.

Once again, WELL DONE!!!

cap'n chumbucket

Alan said...

Any law you pass to make the cop's jobs easier can and will be used against you.

BobG said...

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
- H. L. Mencken

Hobie said...

I'm glad to read this here, not surprised, just happy to see another voice for freedom.

Armed Texan said...

I'm conflicted. In a more perfect world, evidence would be evidence regardless of how it was attained. Government officials (police, prosecutors, judges, etc) who violated the bill of rights would be held personally responsible, not with just the loss of their job, but a severely long stay in prison.

But I have to be realistic and I know that even if it started out that way, legislators would water down the consequences of violating our rights and prosecutors would eventually refuse to prosecute such cases. Therefore, our current exclusion penalty is all that we have to hammer these goons back. I would also like to have them held personally liable with severe criminal penalties though.

Wolfwood said...

I have to disagree on, ahem, a technicality.

The problem isn't that the Bill of Rights is a technicality, but rather that we view all technicalities as bad. The people in your examples didn't get off because they were innocent but because the government couldn't prove its case because it had broken the rules and had to suffer the consequences.

I think a "substantive vs. procedural" differentiation would be more helpful, though.

staghounds said...

The exclusionary rule is pretty peculiarly American, most places use variants of Armed Texan's system.

I'm a prosecutor and I think the exclusionary rule works fine. It ought to be hard to lock someone in a cage. (Ad not, as is the current situation, hard but they are still not locked up because we do not have enough cages.)

The "techncality" is just shorthand for beat the case although he did the crime.

Killed her baby and found guilty of killing her baby are two different things.

I always ask people who complain about this stuff if they are upset that they didn't get a ticket for speeding the last time they did it. People get away with far more crimes, individually and statistically, than they are convicted of.

Firehand said...

Especially considering that the current rate is 'three felonies a day'. No matter how hard you try.

Borepatch said...

Laws are like spiders' webs which, if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape.
- Solon

Those "technicalities" sure seem to apply more to the High and Mighty. Our rights are what we're willing to fight for, hopefully in the first three of the four boxes.

WV: "wingeri" - latin plural of "Wookiesuiter"

Rick C said...

It's never a bad time to replay this:

WILLIAM ROPER: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

SIR THOMAS MORE: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Crotalus (Dont Tread on Me) said...

If you're comparing the Constitution to a Jenga tower, that tower collapsed a long time ago. We haven't been governed with the Constitution in years.

Joseph said...

Required reading: "The Reluctant Torturer" by Hayford Pierce (Analog, September 1983)