Skip to comments.Conservatives Should Take the Lead Against Government Injustice
Posted on 02/10/2013 3:53:18 AM PST by Kaslin
If you think a twenty-something ought to be tossed in federal prison for 35 years because he tried to download some musty academic journal articles without permission, you are a lot things, but a conservative is not one of them.
You might be relieved to know that Aaron Swartz, one of the internet geniuses behind RSS and Reddit.com, will not be imprisoned for a third of a century. Unfortunately, thats because the fragile young man hanged himself after the United States attorney prosecuting the case generously offered him the alternative of pleading guilty to a felony, paying a crippling fine and going to prison for six months.
I guess we can all rest easier knowing hes no longer a looming threat to the American way of life.
This is a disgrace. We should be ashamed that this is happening in our name and conservatives should take the lead in putting a stop to it.
If this was an isolated case, that would be one thing, but the explosion of new and ridiculous federal crimes, compounded by prosecutors who have lost all sense of perspective and are not held accountable, puts every American at risk. As law professor Glenn Reynolds, the legendary Instapundit, has observed, most Americans commit several felonies a day. They just dont know it, and thats simply unacceptable in a free society.
Part of the reason is Congressional laziness, where the folks paid to debate, consider and make laws simply delegate away their responsibility to bureaucrats in federal agencies who issue idiotic regulations with the power of criminal statutes. This is how it came to become a federal crime, punishable by a fine and prison, to jailbreak your own smartphone.
Seriously - jail for jailbreaking. When did our criminal justice system become an enforcer for giant corporations? If you have a dispute with a customer, you sue him you dont send the cops to haul him off to the slam.
Americans should not live in fear that innocuous activities will end up up-ending their lives, emptying their bank accounts and costing them their freedom. Be careful not to help an injured woodpecker you might be breaking the law against harassing migratory birds. Heaven forbid you have an eagle feather theres another crime. Better be sure that you arent a rock n roll Ernst Stavros Blofeld like those Bond villains at Gibson guitar, who allegedly possessed imported wood that might not have been harvested in strict accordance with Indian woodcutting statutes. Nope, ignorance of the law is no defense even if the law was promulgated in Mumbai.
Well, I know I feel safer.
Instead of a government of laws, we are becoming a government of regulations, and opaque and indecipherable ones to boot. Making it even worse is the fact that many are strict liability statutes the federal prosecutors do not even need to prove that you intended to commit a crime. So you are just as guilty of a felony for having an eagle feather you picked up off the forest floor as one you plucked off the bald-headed national symbol you just shot.
Worse, prosecutors have nearly unlimited discretion in choosing what charges to file. This leads to overcharging piling on so many charges that a defendant is forced to plead guilty to something because he justifiably fears that one of the multitude of criminal counts will stick even if hes innocent. Our system took a turn in the wrong direction when getting convictions supplanted doing justice. Sometimes, justice means dismissing a case, or better yet, not filing it in the first place.
You might wonder why citizens dont stop this insanity at the grand jury level, where a panel of citizens hears evidence before issuing an indictment. Except that today this centuries-old procedural safeguard is little more than a sham. Prosecutors joke about how any one of them worth his salt can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Maybe I just dont have much of a sense of humor about things like the abrogation of our fundamental rights, but that joke just isnt funny.
We need reform, desperately, and that reform should be led by conservatives. No one is harder on crime real crime than us, but there is no more conservative cause than returning our justice system to a condition where the justice part takes precedence over the system part.
Its good politics too. Young people today famously support Obama and his progressive pals, but liberals have taken the lead in criminalizing everyday activities through mindless regulation and at the behest of their contributors in Silicon Valley and Hollywood and among the environmentalist whackos.
How about Congress withdraw the power of the agencies to determine what is and what isnt a crime you know, the way the Framers of the Constitution intended? Why not require that prosecutors prove the element of specific intent for every crime?
For those laws that remain after we scour the United States Code and excise the ones designed to save Verizon and other corporations the trouble of suing in civil court, lets set sentences that as my mother, a former prosecutor and hard-nosed judge, used to say temper justice with mercy.
Lets also empower our juries to do the job they are supposed to do hold the government accountable and make sure it meets the high beyond a reasonable doubt standard to take an Americans liberty. How about letting defendants present exonerating evidence to grand juries? And lets require that prosecutors disclose plea bargain proposals to the jury the jury Swartz never faced might have been interested that the U.S. attorney asking them for 35 years was willing to settle for six months.
Our federal government is supposed to be limited, but nowhere is it becoming less limited as quickly as in the criminal justice arena. Conservatives, its time to strike a blow for conservative principles while also showing demographics that dismiss us as borderline fascists which side protects freedom, and which side stands for a corporate/special interest police state.
Finally, we as citizens need to stand up and do our job as jurors. If we do, prosecutors will be rightly afraid to even dare to present a case to us like the one against Aaron Swartz. Its time to acquit the ham sandwich.
The punk broke the law. Punish him. No exceptions.
This is one of the most important fallacies in what has made our country a country of those who are not punished when breaking the law. I call it the “little Johnny” rule.
You can see it in every aspect of our lives today. It’s the “put the object out of the reach of Little Johnny” so he won’t break it or get into it. Not to teach little Johnny if he touches it he will be punished as certainly as the sun rises in the morning.
The other “little Johnny” fallacy is that we cry and wring our hands when “little Johnny” is punished for any violation of rules or law, saying “aren’t we being a little too severe” or “let’s give him one more chance.”
This “little Johnny” is the cancer that has eaten away at our justice system so that it is just about useless and the citizens simply expect to get away with anything.
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
We all feel the same way about David Gregory and his high capacity magazine.
Agree or disagree with the treatment of the guy who downloaded the files, one of the key points is the degree of discretion prosecutors have to make your life hell, should they choose to do so, because of the number of laws, and it's entirely up to their discretion.
Screw that. Between Obama care and the EPA laws are being passed so fast it’s impossible to keep up. Soon everyone will be breaking some obscure rule or regulation passed by some faceless unelected bureaucrat. Dig up a stump on your land? so sorry aginst reg 4a612z protecting crabgrass. $250.000.00 fine plus 10 years federal.
Did you read any of Kim Strassels articles on how unnamed officials were going after large Romney donors? I could go on and on....
DH, you must be a person who has never broken a law, or any associated regulation, in your life.
I commend you!! I think.
How about that EPA honcho that got caught on tape? Saying...Were going to come to town like the Romans and crucify someone to make an example
DH, you must be a person who has never broken a law, or any associated regulation, in your life.
He knew when he did it he was violating a major law and if caught, he figured with today’s coddling of criminals, he would get away with it Scott free due to the support of people like you.
With that said, I have never stolen anything from anyone or anything.
Ask yourself what the actual damages were and who exactly was damaged by his 'violation',
Companies sue each other all the time in CIVIL court for property such violations. The government up until recently provided and promoted the the judicial system that permits this avenue for justice. In a free society that is how it works -anyone could claim damages BUT they had to prove it in a court of law.
NOW HOWEVER, big daddy government has been bought off by special interests that 'want' things.
You need to wake up BEFORE the enforcer is given your name and he comes to break your leg for not following the 'law'...
Had this man lived to face a jury trial, and were I on that jury, I would unhesitatingly have exercised my right of jury nullification and voted to acquit.
Ask yourself what the actual damages were and who exactly was damaged by his ‘violation’,
I’m certain with your good judgement you would not even call the police because after all, no actual damages were incurred.
It’s a complicated case, to be sure. It appears he did have a valid account, although he was “checking out too many books out of the library.”
Certain research may actually be public domain, yet it is legal for third parties to charge for it. They do not have to admit the research is public domain when they are selling it.
That is the whole point -good judgement. RATHER than coerced special interests bought off judgement imposed by a tyrannical government.
The only time government should be directly involved prosecuting and litigating intellectual property violations is when it is the government that is the supposed 'victim' that has been damaged. Right now the complete power of the government that can be brought to bear against a citizen equates to a gun for hire. Equal justice under the law suffers as a result.
P.S. Your false analogy is irrelevant. Protecting property is far different than protecting life and government legitimately serves quite different roles when operating within each area.