Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Distrusting government power

One of the most puzzling things about the whole torture/rendition/detention issue has been now many conservatives have been complicit in enabling it. They should know better.

There are few things more certain in the world than the eventual abuse of any power granted to government officials. Sure, today we're detaining and torturing the "worst of the worst" (maybe) but what about tomorrow? What about 10 years from now?

There's an example on the wire today on a different issue that makes the same point.

The story is here:

But the gist of it is that some 14- and 15-year-old girls took some nude pictures of themselves on their cell phones and they got caught. Obviously a bad idea and the kind of stupid thing teens will do. But authorities are charging them for possessing child porn for having nude pictures of themselves!

Now the entire point of child porn laws is to prevent children from being victimized, but here the law is being used to victimize these girls. Like I said, it was stupid thing to do. Show me a teenager and I'll show you someone who did at least one stupid thing today. It shouldn't be criminal to be a stupid teen.

I am quite sure that lawmakers had no idea that teens would be charged under child porn laws for taking photos of themselves. I'm pretty sure they imagined some sleazy guys would be the only ones caught up in their law. Well, one of the laws of unintended consequences is that petty government officials will take a mile if you give them an inch. And if they can stretch a law they will.

Something to think about next time someone says we should trust the government with the power to detain, disappear or torture someone.

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