Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Jonathan Turley has an interesting column up at Jewish World Review in which he catalogs the astonishing array of new, victimless crimes that have sprung up like weeds over recent years. Here is just one example.
Consider the budding criminal career of Kay Leibrand. The 61-year-old grandmother lived a deceptively quiet life in Palo Alto, Calif., until the prosecutors outed her as a habitual horticultural offender. It appears that she allowed her hedge bushes to grow more than 2 feet high -- a crime in the city. Battling cancer, Leibrand had allowed her shrubbery to grow into a criminal enterprise. (After her arraignment and shortly before her jury trial, she was allowed to cut down her bushes and settle the case.) [bold added]I found it no less astonishing that Congress had recently outlawed the sale of horse meat for human consumption and that public profanity is a crime in some locales.
Turley is right to say that this epidemic of criminalizing noncriminal behavior is political pandering and that it undermines respect for the law, but he could have gone further on both counts.
In considering just the question of why our government has become so intrusive, I said the following some time ago.
And so many of the same people who fight for criminals to be excused from responsibility will support the government taking an ever-larger role in making sure that what ordinary adults and even children used to be trusted to do will get done. A government official will inconvenience you at your own home to make you pump your tanks whether or not you would do that already. And law enforcement will overreact to reports that someone might have something remotely like a gun. And our lawmakers will get closer and closer to banning the possession of firearms outright.In other words, the politicians are both merely cashing in on our general cultural breakdown and, ironically, serving as convenient scapegoats for the excess in regulations!
Furthermore -- and I have also commented on how such bad laws undermine respect for all law -- Turley doesn't tell the half of it on this score. Awhile back, city officials in Omaha were urging citizens to call 9-1-1 over violations of its new smoking ordinance!
At the moment, the only thing between a few lit cigarettes and a total collapse of the ability of the police department in Omaha to respond promptly to an [actual] emergency is whatever residual rationality the public has left. And that rationality has to be implemented in the form of breaking the law -- by turning a blind eye to a "crime" in progress!We are not only all being made into "criminals". We are also becoming scofflaws as a matter of survival.
And finally, as we have seen elsewhere, this inordinate concern of the government with the behavior of those citizens it can expect to be law-abiding (from cultural inertia, if nothing else) contrasts with its eagerness to turn a blind eye to the actions, often including real crimes, of those it cannot. The logical end of what Turley describes, has, in other contexts, been called anarcho-tyranny.
The fact remains that the government cannot take care of us, but that it will "take care of us" if we do not begin reasserting control over our own lives and taking the personal responsibility that entails.
3-29-07: Corrected a typo.