Sunday, April 27, 2008

Again, with the FLDS

Now, this may shock a few as read my wee blog, but there exists a short list of things as leave me twitchy.

About the time anyone uses phrases like "we all know", "for the sake of the children", "common knowledge", or "common sense" my skepticism kicks into overdrive, simply because of the sheer number of times such phrases have been used to whip up more or less allegorical lynch mobs or justify illegitimate actions over the years . They just don't sit well with me, kind of like a 6-star curry.

When you play roulette, if you spin the wheel enough times, sure enough you'll win - but in roulette, just like when we hear those buzz words, it's a better bet that you're getting your chain jerked than hitting a jack-pot.

Malice and/or incompetence is not required. Humanity is. It is *easier* to believe the worst of those we already dislike or fear than it is those we either revere or simply discount as "just another joe normal" - and then it becomes easier to ignore relatively petty things like due process, constitutional rights, and other annoyances in the service of a greater good. It merely takes humanity and a quick screamed "for the sake of the children".

Moving right along, numbers catch my eye. Specifically numbers of persons held in incommunicado in custody without charges brought against said individuals as multiplied by the number of hours such persons are held. My eyebrow raises in direct ratio to the number of persons.

Similarly, I'm generally pro-cop and anti-criminal,on occasion rather grimly so. However, amidst my usually zealous enthusiasm...we stumble across one or two of my other points o' twitchiness.

My support dwindles at just about the point when the ancient question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes kicks in. Loosely, "who will watch the watchman?" And I readily acknowledge that from time to time there are situations where the right or best tactical answer to ensure the best chance of both officers and persons of varying guilt/innocence all go home with more or less the same physiological arrangement they came to the party with...may bear a strange resemblance to those very criteria that rattle my cage in this arena.

As many police organizations (not all, not even a majority, I don't believe) drift away from the "Officer of the Peace" model and towards more paramilitary and interventionist organizational philosophies, I'm not left re-assured. It doesn't feel like a trend towards either freedom or a nice place to live, and it leaves me nervous. Waco and Ruby Ridge spring to mind.

Finally, I'm predictably pretty much of the view that what consenting adults do amongst themselves that doesn't get their individual and collective either studied by epidemiologists or hauled off by the big van with the flashy red lights and the funny staff'n'snake thingy on the side is pretty much their own business.

While the whole multi-spousal thing doesn't look awfully workable to me, or anything that at this moment I'd care to participate in - I'm fairly certain that between consenting adults it's none of my business (nor anyone elses beyond the participants, not least not the governments). Thus, the only appropriate response when I'm told that polygamy is to ask where to sign up to repeal that law - it's none of the governments business within the aforementioned broad limits, and any misery suffered by participants is first their own damned fault and second part of the price we pay for being let the hell alone - freedom.

If either the "consenting" or "adults" tests are failed, we have a whole different ball of either case laying hands upon those believed guilty and ensuring such proposed felons are out of circulation in the short term, the long term, or both as determined by a judge and jury. If consent does not exist, well hell, that's rape. If one or more of the players is not of locally determined age of consent* or not competent to give consent, we return to "well hell, that's rape."

With my relevant pre-existing prejudices carefully admitted to, let us move on to the FLDS festivities.

To start the fun, lots of those suspicious buzz words have been and are being flung about. Not, by any means, a sure thing.....but enough to throw at least the hint of that tangy scent o' skepticism in the air.

Then we have over 400 folks hauled off against their will and kids separated from their families in what we will laughably call a hearing. Umm. Excuse me?

Maybe I'm just a wild-eyed libertarian, but it seems to me that those kids and their families are entitled to individual hearings before shipping them off to god knows where until their parents can prove themselves innocent of wrongdoing. I'm not sure, but I think there's some legal principal about "innocent until proven guilty" laying about someplace that might perhaps be applicable.

In other words, I have some issues with hauling off 460-some folks not charged with any crime and then depriving them of the ability to communicate (see the awe-inspiring court order authorizing seizure of all potential electronic communications devices). Can we say "overkill"?

I can support hauling off a bunch of under-17 mothers for questioning in a state where age of consent is 17; I may have some qualms about "harassing the victim", but nothing I can't live with. Seizing all the children in sight, rather larger qualms. Seizing all those persons of non-male gender and hauling them off...oh, I have great thumping big qualms and I would hope others would, as well - particularly if the seizure and detainment contain significant periods where the detainees are kept from communications.

At that point my preferred mode of support for the police and the courts is on awfully shaky ground. At least partly because precedent, once created, has a nasty way of coming back to haunt one. As an example, let us examine the response if some Austin judge determined that abuse had occurred in the home of one or more TSRA's homes - and that as a result, all TSRA member's children and womenfolk would be dragged off for questioning till the guilty could be found.

I learned a long time ago that if you had to have a nasty was almost always better to do it on someone else's turf, as it cut down on the damage to one's own real estate. In this case, the FLDS (as weird and dysfunctional as I believe them to be) is "someone elses real estate" - I'd much rather they set the legal precedent that "overkill=bad" in the courts...than be within miles of any case concerning me or anyone I care about having to attempt to prove such a principal.

We, as a nation, have increasingly discarded the restraints on government intervention - I suggest it is time to start putting them back.

*Age of Consent is one of those hotly debated things that I don't voluntarily touch until and unless and god forbid I'm elected to a legislative body. I have my personal views on such matters, which are usually more conservative than local law. I will admit to a belief that some folks should just be kept in barrels to keep all of us safe. In the meantime I'll stick to obeying local law (perhaps a bit over enthusiastically, adding extra years beyond the local standard for my own sanity) or if I just can't agree with it, moving someplace I can agree with local law.

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