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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

We Are All Criminals!

(hat tip to Silverfiddle of Western Hero for the link below)

Excerpt from this source:
• Obstruction of Justice

Hypothetical: You are the parent of a teenage son. You discover illegal drugs hidden in his bedroom. Instead of contacting the police, you decide to destroy the narcotics and punish his transgressions on your own. Unbeknownst to you, the police had launched an investigation just days before. Because you have destroyed evidence in an ongoing investigation, you have just committed an arguable federal felony:

Real-life example: Philip Russell, a lawyer from Greenwich, Connecticut, was indicted in 2007 for obstruction of justice. A church had contacted this well-respected attorney when it found images of child pornography on an employee’s computer. Russell knew that child porn is illegal even to possess (“contraband”) and that holding, rather than destroying it, arguably would be criminal. He decided to destroy the images in the best interest of his client. He didn’t know that the government had launched an investigation of the church employee just days before. For this, he was charged with obstruction of justice, and eventually pleaded to a lesser crime in an agreement with prosecutors. With this same logic, prosecutors could indict parents that choose to destroy—rather than report to officials—narcotics that they find in the possession of their son or daughter.
Closer to home for those of us who frequent the blogosphere:
• Wire Fraud

Hypothetical: You decide, as a prank, to create a fake username on the popular social-networking site, Facebook. Your digital identity is that of a famous athlete. You tell your friends they are inferior to your other-wordly skills. You have just committed an arguable federal felony. Federal Wire Fraud provisions have proven so elastic that this seemingly innocuous conduct could be defined as a federal crime.

Real-life example: The so-called “Myspace suicide” made headlines in 2009, when Missouri mother Lori Drew allegedly impersonated a teenage boy to taunt her neighbor, a young woman. After the young woman’s suicide, the case became a cause célèbre for those looking to criminalize “cyber bullying”—a decidedly modern phenomenon by which Internet users taunt and annoy, perhaps belittle, others. In the federal prosecution of Ms. Drew, prosecutors charged that she violated the Myspace terms of use, and thus had violated the aforementioned Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Though the judge dismissed this charge this time, he did so only after a jury conviction, and there’s little reason to think a similar case could be brought on the equally elastic federal wire fraud provisions. And, even if that fails, Congress is currently considering a federal law that would specifically outlaw “cyber bullying,” or the transmission of “any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means.” As Harvey Silverglate pointed out when he testified against the bill in September 2009, the vaguely-worded law, if passed, would threaten the expression of almost every blogger, journalist, and publisher who uses the internet.
Read the entire essay, which has several embedded hot links, HERE.

The ever-burgeoning Nanny State and lawyerocracy are making all of us criminals!


  1. Harvey Silverglate, the author of "Three Felonies a Day," is a liberal. A true civil liberties liberal who believes we should be on guard against the state instead of worshiping it. So rare today.

    Pirates with law degrees have highjacked the ship of state and they are destroying our society.

    Thanks for the hat tip.

    1. When are our kids going to be our own kids again? I can see why you can't hide certain things...that drugs are unlawful, etc., but can't parents TRY to 'fix' their kids before the law gets involved?
      I'm thinking the lawyer who hid the porn should be in jail; you can't hide evidence in that case.

      I agree; it's astonishing to hear a liberal actually warning about the state instead of worshiping it. I hope that catches on!

    2. Me too, Z! But Nanny Statism has become too well accepted by a slim-but-growing majority who truly believe they must be cared FOR, because there is no way they could be able -- or be trusted -- to look after themselves without strict supervision by an all-powerful government acting "in loco parentis."

      It is the same mentality of men who keep reenlisting in the armed services because they have NO IDEA what to do with themselves, unless some Authority Figure is there to TELL them when to jump, how far and how high -- 24 hours a day.

      Likewise, are the actions of petty criminals who constantly manage to get themselves rearrested, because they are actually more comfortable in JAIL than they are on the outside.

      What we need to understand is that FREEDOM, which WE prize, is a TERRIFYING PROSPECT for a great many ignorant, socially and emotionally stunted people whose minds have never been developed by a set of good, wholesome, sensible, creative influences.

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  3. The first real case with child porn? In the best interests of the church, the FBI should have been notified of the child porn on the computer. The individual should have been arrested on site and carted off in handcuff style. There was the failure to report a crime, in this case. The attorney is an idiot.

    Real case in our area? News broke via the grapevine of a church youth minister who was sleeping with a young lady. This news broke late in the evening. The next day, crime tape was around the office and computers were being snatched for forensic evidence.

    The law is meant to be a terror to those who do wrong. We have to let the law work. What if the individual viewing child porn was also abusing children in the church?

    First hypothetical? I believe family intervention as a primary course of action when a child is found with drugs is a parental right.

    Regarding a poorly worded law - "substantial emotional distress" is dependent on the subject. Some people live their entire lives in substantial and self-induced emotional distress. Darwin was right on small scale about survival of the fittest.


    1. Tammy,
      Not to drift too far afield, but I want to call your attention to this:

      On June 9th, police arrested the director of the Islamic Saudi Academy in northern Virginia, and charged him with obstruction of justice for failing to report a possible sexual abuse case committed against a 5-year-old student. Director Abdallah I. Al-Shabnan later told detectives that he did not believe the girl's claims, and that he was unaware the law required him to report the accusation to child protective services. Police found that Al-Shabnan had ordered someone else to delete the written report of the girl's accusation from the school's computer.

      A court later found Al-Shabnan guilty of failure to report a child abuse allegation, which is a misdemeanor. Al-Shabnan pleaded no contest to that charge, and Fairfax County prosecutors agreed to drop the charge of obstruction of justice.

      This is not the first hint that the Islamic Saudi Academy, operated by the government of Saudi Arabia, may harbor views of justice at odds with American law and practice....

      More information at the above link.

      The WaPo also covered this story.

    2. Oh BROTHER. It's scary, self-righteous religious zealots and busybodies like you who turn those still on the fence into liberals. Your way of thinking is a mirror image of liberal authoritarianism. It's also the kind of mentality that starts witch hunts.

      Ray Locke

    3. Ray,
      Neither Tammy nor I could be classified as religious zealots.

      Get a grip, Ray!

  4. Your analogies don't add up. A parent destroying some drugs/a lawyer destroying child porn images? Pretending to be a celeb/Targeting a person for emotional harassment? I get the slippery slope argument, this these analogies are not entirely congruent with law as it is, let alone all that similar on the face of it.

    Yes, as it is, parents get in trouble all the time for examples like that. It isn't new. This is an issue where we see civil forfeiture running rampant. But the problem is the war on drugs and an over-sized local police state. Child porn is a very very very very serious crime. Makes drugs look like jay walking.

    Messing around with private citizens is what it is. Mocking celebs is what it is. Two different things in the law. Before the internet and after. "Cyber bullying" (silly name - should be either fraud or criminal/civil abuse) used to be mail or wire fraud or terroristic threats or blackmail or whatever. So, that's that.


    1. JMJ,
      The very word "cyberbullying" possesses a certain ambiguity.

      One man's "cyberbullying" is another man's spirited exchange.

      As for online impersonations, those impersonations happen with great frequency -- and not only in the toxic blogosphere. I've seen comments are newspaper sites with false names including "George W. Bush," "Barack Obama," "Marilyn Monroe," and many more. A sane person knows full well that those commenters are not the persons they claim to be.

  5. AOW's examples may or may not be the best, but mens rea has all but been thrown in the trash, especially when unwittingly violating some obscure federal edict or another.

    Other ominous aspects include impoundments by local authorities and $10,000/day fines imposed by federal bureaucracies without so much as a preliminary hearing.

    1. SF,
      I chose a couple of teasers to promote discussion.

      You mentioned impoundments by local authorities and $10,000/day fines imposed by federal bureaucracies without so much as a preliminary hearing. Indeed! Trojan horses for the confiscation of private property -- regardless of proof as to whether or not the funds were ill-gotten. And what about indictment and trial? Are they now passé?

  6. Two things were brutally murdered in the Nineteen-SICK-sties: Common Sense and Good Taste.

    With the advent of "If it feels good, DO IT!" along with "If you don't like it, F-CK IT! did more to tear apart the fabric of our society and rot its underpinnings than anything else I can think of.

    Those lamentable developments all came about because of the rotten, corrosive influence of SEX, DRUGS and ROCK 'N ROLL.

    As a result of our Great Unravelling, deliberately brought about by scheming evil geniuses, we have fallen prey to a new form of tyranny:


    Just think of how much we are 'reguated" and MICRO-MANAGED today by government "for our own good," compared to the life I new as a boy in the 1940's and 50's.

    I have witnessed ORWELL'S dismal, horrifying prophecies cime to life and become fully implemented since I graduated from high school.

    There are REASONS for this, but no one wants to know what they are for the very same reasins that the GOP is no linger willing to FIGHT for our CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED RIGHTS.

    They are too afraid of being regarded as

    --------- }}}}}}}}} GASP {{{{{{{{{{ ---------


    1. You nailed it, bro. get right to the root of things, don't you?

      ... Dolores B. Clarke

  7. I certainly agree that, in the the porn case [the individual should have been arrested on site and carted off in handcuff style (Tammy's words, but others expressed something similar).

    But what caught my eye was this:

    With this same logic, prosecutors could indict parents that choose to destroy—rather than report to officials—narcotics that they find in the possession of their son or daughter.

    So many court rulings hinge on previous rulings -- never mind that the circumstances and contexts are quite different.

  8. Prosecutors would need a search warrant to enter the parents house.
    If the parents had destroyed the evidence, there would be no evidence against them.
    BTDT, BTW.
    In the opening to Naked Lunch, the narrator posits that governments mandate so many laws that average citizens would live in fear of being caught violating them.

  9. I just stumbled across the video Civil Asset Forfeiture Overview and Protection. Is this fellow telling the truth?

    Looking forward to your reactions to this video.


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