Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hesitate before you legislate

New rule:

People who have had tragic experiences shouldn't be allowed to have "closure" by giving us new, specifically targeted, laws. I'm thinking of the rash of laws given the names of lost children created in the vain hope that "this will never happen again." Passion makes bad law.

Take for instance "Megan's Law" that requires, among other things that people who exploit children sexually be registered for life as a sexual predator. Who could object? Why the very children the law exploits! There as been a rash, we're told, of 14 year old pubescents taking pictures of themselves with cell phone cameras, some times to show them to friends. Kids in their teens are drowning in hormones. Remember? They're curious about their bodies and new urges they're feeling. Hormones make for bad judgment.

Unfortunately, the rush to make sure "this will never happen again" Megan's avengers didn't think about such things when they wrote the law, and now a 14 year old girl for instance, who posted a nude picture of herself for her boyfriends delight on My Space is a sexual predator -- branded for life, if the courts obey the law, and unable to live near a community with children or a school. In Florida such people are forced by other laws of passion to live in the woods or under bridges along with schizophrenics, drug addicts and real sexual predators in their quest to serve justice.

Kids take pictures of themselves at slumber parties. Someone sends one by cell phone, a parent finds out and abracadabra, we have more "sexual predators" in possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography. Even the parents of Megan of the eponymous law are aghast, closure notwithstanding. Of course Law Enforcement is another matter. It seems that, blind to the absurdity, there is strong sentiment to prosecute anyway -- to "protect the children" of course.

There really out to be a law against stupid people passing stupid laws with terrible side effects in order to placate hysterical voters and win their votes -- but who would we name it for?


Buffalo said...

Excellent editorial, Captain. Would that I could cover the subject even a quarter as well.

It is impossible to underestimate the common sense of the average lawmaker.

Capt. Fogg said...

Whether or not patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, "protecting the children" hides a lot of idiot politicians.

rockync said...

I think perhaps the Brady law would also fit.
Always the knee jerk reaction instead of thoughtful analysis.
The backlash of the Meagan law is a good example of why knee jerk laws don't work.
And destroying those kids' lives over nudie pix? I'm horrified by the extent the court chose to take this.
On the other hand, here in NC(might be in other parts of the country) we have the Amber Alert. As soon as a child disappears, even before it is determined if they have been abducted, an alert goes out over all media with a description of the child, the abductor, the car - whatever info is available.
This makes sense since the sooner you can find the child, the greater the chance they will still be alive.
What is not attached to Amber Alerts is any legislation concerning the abduction or running away, etc. - we already have laws for that.

Capt. Fogg said...

Laws need to fit a public need and naming them after a person just rubs me the wrong way.

The same kind of mentality was behind Bill Maher and Bill Bradly's conversation last week. There have been three assault rifle shootings -- three -- so we need to ban them. No discussion of whether this is an increase or decrease over what we had when the infamously idiotic AWB was in force. No mention that three in a nation of 300,000,000 it doesn't sound like a clear and present danger and above all no mention of the fact that these shooters weren't actually using assault weapons unless you describe one as any weapon used in an assault.

Then they went on to advocate "registering" all handguns without any mention that the places that do have the highest hand gun crime rates and crime rates have plummeted in places where people are allowed to carry them.

"The notion that something needs to be done is the mother of many a bad measure" said Daniel Webster and we sure do have a lot of mothers out there today.

It would be a damned shame if the world "liberal" were to describe someone just as dedicated to continuing failed policies out of "principle" as a "Conservative" wouldn't it?

rockync said...

I agree, Fogg. We need a new word, like intelligent citizen.

If the core problem is not first addressed (high unemployment, gang activity, etc), then all the gun laws in the world are not going to solve the problem.

I don't know why it is so hard for seemingly intelligent people to grasp the idea that the guns on the street are not LEGALLY obtained. They are either stolen or smuggled into the country and then sold on the street.

We have to look at what ails our society - not the end result of that ailment if we ever hope to find a "cure."

Pamela D. Hart said...

When people get radical over something it becomes extremely dangerous. Common Sense needs to prevail in these cases. In my opinion, the parents are at fault with these sexting "crimes". Why do kids need camera phones? And if the parents decide to give this "luxury" to their kids, then it's up to the parents to PARENT and make sure their kids aren't doing normal kiddie things with the "toy". But to charge kids with pornography because they are looking at naked pictures of kids their own age is just ridiculous. Now, adults looking at teens, that's a different story. I'm sure we all feel the same about that and there are already laws about kiddie-porn.

betmo said...

stupid folks shouldn't breed either but making laws and procreating seem to rampant for them. sigh. knee jerk reactions were popular for decades as we, the people, went busily buzzing about our lives completely and blissfully unaware of the laws that were being passed. we didn't give shit one until a nice suburbanite ran afoul of said law. what else can i say? inmates running the asylum.

Capt. Fogg said...

"buzzing about our lives completely and blissfully unaware"

When they should have been listening to US!