Posts tagged ‘civil liberties’


Apparently being a reporter is the easiest job in the world

by wfgodbold

Because you don’t have to do research, or make sure you’re not just fabricating shit out of whole cloth, or anything else. You can just write whatever the hell you want, and CNN will publish it (H/T Tam). Presumably their “solution” to the “problem” will be some kind of ban on violent games*.

Too bad that’s unconstitutional.

Rock Paper Shotgun actually does real journalism in their piece on Brevik and his trial.

I’ve played video games, violent and nonviolent, for almost 25 years (The earliest games I remember playing were The Black Cauldron and Lords of Conquest). And yet, somehow, I have never killed anyone, never planned to kill anyone, never plotted world domination, or anything else. Just about every American in my generation can say the same.

Games are ubiquitous, and playing games is normal. The breathless media is just trying to gin up a controversy to stay relevant for a bit longer. If they keep publishing tripe like this, they’re more desperate than I thought.

This is another case where the Gell-Man Amnesia effect comes into play. If journalists can’t be bothered to do the due diligence required to print truthful information about a vile human being who killed nearly 80 people, why should we expect them to bother doing enough work to make sure their less consequential stories are truthful?

*Those are sarcasm quotes; banning wouldn’t be a solution, and violent games are no more a problem than rock music, D&D, or whatever the next generation will come up with to scandalize this one.


Your tax dollars at work (4th amendment edition!)

by wfgodbold

I was curious about the genesis of the newest SCOTUS decision to come down the pipe, and you’ll be interested (leave me my delusions!) to know what I learned.

In the original case, U.S. v. Jones, Jones (who generally appears to be a misanthrope (not that that makes any difference to his civil rights)) moved to suppress evidence gathered when the police put a tracking device on his car and used it to see where he was going:

Jones also has moved to suppress the data obtained from an electronic tracking device-a Global Positioning System (“GPS”)-which law enforcement agents placed on his Jeep Cherokee pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Paul L. Friedman on September 16, 2005. In support of the motion, Jones advances two arguments. First, he contends that Special Agent Yanta’s affidavit in support of the application for GPS authorization lacked probable cause to believe that his vehicle “was in any manner being used for criminal activity.” (Def.’s Omnibus Mot. at 18.) Second, Jones asserts that the government placed the GPS device on his vehicle both after the Order authorizing its *88 placement had expired and while the vehicle was located outside of the issuing court’s jurisdiction. (See Defendant Jones’ Supplemental Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion at 3-6.) In response, while conceding the “technical” violations of the September 10, 2005 Order (Gov’t’s Omnibus Opp’n at 52 n. 12), the government contends that the placement of the GPS device was proper-“even in the complete absence of a court order”-because Jones lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle. (Id. at 51.)

U.S. v. Jones, 451 F. Supp. 2d 71, 87-88 (D.D.C. 2006) aff’d in part, rev’d in part sub nom.U.S. v. Maynard, 615 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir. 2010) aff’d in part sub nom.U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259, 2012 WL 171117 (U.S. 2012) [emphasis added]
So this whole case came about because the DC cops let their warrant expire and then bugged the guy’s car while it was outside their jurisdiction. After they got caught, they argued that they didn’t really need a warrant in the first place.
The case was then appealed, granted certiorari, and finally heard by the Supreme Court.
Almost five and a half years after the end of Jones’s original trial (which itself was for actions the defendant took between 2003 and October 2004).
And all because the police tried to fast-talk their way out of something they knew wasn’t going to work.
Sure, the police might screw you over, but unless you can afford to pay your lawyer for the better part of a decade, you’re not going to prevail.
And the government? They don’t care if they can’t afford their own appeals; after all, you’re the one footing their bill.

Give up your privacy! Do it! FOR THE CHILDREN!

by wfgodbold

They even put it in the name of the damn bill this time. House Resolution 1981 (more like 1984, amirite?), the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

Like Sebastian, I saw this on Boing Boing yesterday, and I couldn’t believe it. Actually, I could believe it; I just didn’t want to.

Sebastian points out:

I should note that Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT), and Rep. Issa (R-CA), all voted against this stupid, stupid bill. The rest of the GOP fell in line. The GOP is still for big government, they are just for different big government than the Democrats.

He’s right.

Michael Patrick Leahy touched on this earlier this week, when he pointed out that historically, the GOP has been just as big a fan of government intervention in stuff it has no business intervening in as the Democratic party has, just that its focus was different. It was only with Goldwater, and later Reagan, that liberty was emphasized; even now, there are those in the GOP that are in favor of all-powerful government.

Both parties are perfectly willing to pass whatever nonsense bills they can come up with if they think it will get them votes, regardless of whether those bills are constitutional or not. I don’t see how tracking every person’s total internet activity would be any more legit than tracking their every move and recording every damn conversation they have.

But if it’s for the children, then, well, civil rights be damned!

Child pornography is vile. Child pornographers are vile people. It’s morally wrong, it’s against the law, it’s an egregious violation of children’s civil rights, and the government is right to try to apprehend child pornographers.

But you don’t find them by searching every single person every time they do anything on the internet. It’s child pornography theater.

On the other hand, the government seems to think that works with terrorism and the TSA, so I guess I’m more surprised that it took this long. Maybe this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back; I’m not holding my breath, though.

Any opposition to this awful, awful bill will result in those opposing it being tarred as being in favor of child pornography and hating the children. Just like those against security theater are tarred as wanting the terrorists to win.


This whole “we can force you to give up your encrypted files w/o violating your rights” crap is old news

by wfgodbold

I mean, I complained about it on twitter three whole days ago (an eternity in internet time)! Where were the rest of you!

Seriously, though. The idea that the police can make you give them your password is ludicrous; if they have probable cause, they can get a warrant, just like for your house.

And just like with your house, if you don’t let them in, they’re perfectly capable of busting down the door.

It’s just that in this case, “busting down the door” is a wee bit more difficult.

I am curious, though. If you refuse to comply, can you be held in contempt and jailed forever? Or at some point does that violate your 8th amendment rights?


We don’t have a justice system

by wfgodbold

We have a legal system.

Trite, but accurate; any system that could result in decisions like this can hardly be called just.

Just because the Supreme Court has handed down a decision doesn’t mean that it’s right.

In all, more than 60,000 people—including 7,600 in North Carolina—were forcibly sterilized in the United States in the name of “progress.” Progressives of the time lauded the decision in Buck. Individual rights, they firmly believed, should not be allowed to stand in the way of collective progress. Justice Brandeis called Buck an example of properly allowing states the freedom to “meet modern conditions by regulations which a century ago, or even half a century ago, probably would have been rejected as arbitrary and oppressive.” [emphasis added]

Of course, once some individual rights have been sacrificed on the altar of “collective progress,” it becomes easier to do away with others; look at how effective the TSA is at negating the fourth amendment in the name of collective security, or how individuals’ right to choose how to provide for their own health care is being overruled by the federal decree that all must purchase qualifying insurance or be punished.

It’s a slippery slope, but that makes it no less true; whenever the state becomes more powerful, it does so at the individual’s expense.

And the individual can rarely reclaim what the state has appropriated.


National Prohibition, that so-called “Noble Experiment,” only lasted thirteen years

by wfgodbold

The War on Drugs, on the other hand, turns 40 on Friday.

NPR points out (H/T Uncle) that the spending on this unwinnable war is unjustifiable; the Obama administration disagrees.

Gary Johnson agrees, and said, “In my view, in terms of individual liberties and fiscal responsibility, opposition to the drug war is perfectly consistent with true Republican Party values.”

I don’t know if ending the drug war and decriminalizing the various currently illegal drugs would affect crime rates; my gut feeling is that they would go down, much like bootlegging (mostly) ended with the repeal of Prohibition.

I do know that at this point, continuing the drug war is merely throwing good money after bad; thinking that we have to continue fighting against the scourge of illegal drugs because of how much we’ve spent is merely falling prey to the sunk cost fallacy.

The money we’ve wasted in the War on Drugs is gone forever. We can’t get it back.

What we can do is stop spending more money on it, immediately.

It’s not much, but it would be a good start towards reining in the government and reclaiming our civil liberties; how many of them have been sacrificed already due to the war on drugs?


It’s true; there are no stupid questions. Only stupid people.

by wfgodbold

Some poor soul found their way to my little corner of the internet by searching for the phrase, “should the right to privacy still exist”.

I am dumbfounded.

Rights don’t stop existing merely because they’re inconvenient or unpopular; that’s why they’re called rights.

Further, the right to privacy is a negative liberty; it merely requires that you be let alone (if you choose), not that others provide you with anything.


The police are not your friends.

by wfgodbold

Fortunately, they’ve grown less shy about pointing that out.

Claims that the police are jackbooted thugs are growing less hyperbolic by the incident; if contempt of cop is a crime, then it’s merely a matter of time before we’re all criminals.

Because this behavior is utterly contemptible.


More on the decline of the Fourth Amendment

by wfgodbold

This time from the Cato Institute.

In her dissenting opinion in Kentucky v. King, Justice Ginsberg wrote,

“The court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases. In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant.”

Read the whole article; it illustrates how much the fourth amendment has been destroyed on the altar of the drug war.


How the TSA counts to ten

by wfgodbold

One, two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

Oh, you can’t carry guns on flights, either; better adjust that to: One, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

Better watch what you say while you’re in line for your unreasonable search; new count: Three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

If they don’t like how you look or act, or if you’re not sufficiently deferential, then good luck leaving; new count: Three, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth amendments don’t really apply here, so we can leave those in.

Nine is right out.

And ten has been ignored for ages.

Final TSA guide for counting to ten: Three, six, seven, eight.

This post inspired by our benevolent overlords employed by the TSA at San Diego International.

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