Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

How the War on Drugs trashed civil liberties

Many left-wing bloggers have pontificated about how a white couple was arrested for 'trespassing' on a public street after asking for directions home. They whine stuff like, "how can we be trespassing on a public street?" and about how this is proof that the Bush Administration is building a police state.

Oh dear, dear, naive liberals... look. This has nothing to do with the Bush Administration, and 100% to do with the War on Drugs.

In various news sources on the incident, I found out that the street this white couple was driving down is lined with public housing projects. Okay, you do the math. White couple driving through The Projects. Why are they there?

If you guessed "drugs", bingo! At least, that's what any self-respecting cop is going to think, thanks to the War on Drugs and the way it criminalizes the consensual act of buying and selling substances in full knowledge of what one is buying and its side effects.

So what's a self-respecting cop to do? Why, get laws passed that basically make it illegal to pull over in The Projects. It's called "drug loitering", and it's a crime in many major cities and, indeed, in the entire state of California (where a law was passed in 1995 making it illegal). The behavior of driving through an area known to have an active drug trade, pulling to the side of the road, and flagging down people is probable cause enough, under California law, to seize the car and arrest the people in the car for the crime of "drug loitering". My suspicion is that the same is true in Baltimore.

Furthermore, the Supreme's have danced on the question of arresting people for trespassing on public streets. Answer: No problemo, as long as the public streets are first conveyed to, say, the Housing Authority of Greater Baltimore. Again, part of the War on Drugs.

So what does this have to do with George W. Bush? Absolutely nothing. As I mentioned, this law in California was passed in 1995, during the administration of the liberals's Saint Bill Clinton Of The Massive Pecker. What it does point out is that we have lost a massive amount of liberty due to the War on Drugs, a bogus "War" that criminalizes commercial transactions between consenting adults and thus will never be winnable, yet which provides oh so many excuse to keep "them" down (where "them" are dark-skinned people -- whites arrested for the same crime don't get the same penalty as blacks or Hispanics).

Support the War on Drugs? Then you support racism and the loss of civil liberties. Sorry, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, and you can't make marijuana, Ecstasy, etc. go away just by illegalizing them. That dog don't hunt, as they put it back home...

- Badtux the Libertarian Penguin

Posted by: BadTux / 5/21/2006 04:33:00 PM  


Thanks for the info, even though it's really depressing. The law sucks. A public street is a public street, and a charge of "trespassing" on it ought to be legally impossible.
# posted by TheGreenKnight : 21/5/06 8:45 PM  

I've been rattling alarm bells for the past ten years about this issue and others related to the War on Drugs (did you know, for example, that all property you own can be confiscated by the police at any time -- and the only way you can get it back is to *PROVE* that not a single dime of drug money went into its purchase? I.e., you're guilty until you prove yourself innocent?), but nobody seems to want to listen. "Oh, it can't happen to me," they say. "I don't do drugs and I don't hang out with druggies." Tough. All it takes is one rogue cop having a bad day and PMS hot flashes, and you're on the hot seat. Or you could be like those South Louisiana cops on Dateline NBC a few years back who'd pull over folks driving inexpensive cars, ask those folks to "donate" to the police charity, and if the person didn't donate, they'd instead seize the car and sell it at auction. In many cases it cost more money to sue to get the car back than the car was worth, so they got away with it for a long, long time.

Anytime you put the police into the position of interfering with consensual commerce between informed parties, you a) are automatically introducing a loss of liberty into the situation, and b) open up enormous possibilities for abuse of power and government corruption. But nobody seems to care, because it only happens to "those" people, not to them. Well, except in this case, where the victims are white and the girl's daddy is a cop. Or to you, if you happen to take a wrong turn and end up in the Projects by mistake...

- Badtux the Gruntled Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 21/5/06 9:14 PM  

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