Archive for Justice

A warning from the past on isms

G — March 22, 2012

Welfare Air

Dave Killion — March 15, 2012

Via The Province

“The B.C. government announced a pilot project Wednesday that will fly, house and clothe B.C.’s welfare recipients and unemployed should they want “very high-paying” jobs in the province’s employee-starved rural communities.”

See what they’re doing? The government is going to provide social welfare in such a fashion as to dish out corporate welfare! Northern companies are already hard at work seeking out quality employees, and providing incentives to entice them to take on these high-paying jobs. If they think someone is worth flying up, housing, training, and paying, then you can bet your boots they’ll do so. But now they won’t have to. The government will pick up the tab, and these companies will get the people they would have hired in any case, but at reduced cost. And if the government sends up people that wouldn’t have been hired without this subsidy, you can also bet the bulk of them will wash out. End result? Money shifted from the pockets of provincial taxpayers into the bank accounts of wealthy business owners. How this is supposed to help the poor is a mystery to me.

Crossing the thin blue line

Dave Killion — December 24, 2011

Doug Smith, an investigative journalist from Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida, reports that an Ohio man was stripped, masked, restrained, and pepper-sprayed by Lee County police until he died

“The District 21 Medical Examiner ruled his death was a homicide because he had been restrained and sprayed with pepper sprayed by law enforcement officers. But to this day, nobody has ever been charged with a crime, and the Lee County State Attorney cleared the sheriff’s office of any wrong doing.”

The jury is, almost literally, still out on this, but I have read of so many similar incidents that whenever there is any question as to whether or not the police have committed an injustice I can no longer give them the benefit of the doubt.  Policing should be one of our most honoured and honourable professions, but so long as the constabulary answers directly to the state rather than the citizen, performance and respectability will continue to decline.

Unconstitutional laws; convenient and profitable!

Dave Killion — December 21, 2011

Isn't there supposed to be a trial or something first?

The Province of British Columbia has some new drunk-driving laws, sections of which were recently found by the B.C. Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. The Vancouver Sun reports that the provincial government is asking permission to keep violating the rights of its electorate for a little while longer

“The province asked Monday for a six-month delay of a B.C. Supreme Court decision, to give the legislature time to react to a ruling that found sections of new drunk-driving laws to be unconstitutional.

In the interim, the tougher drunk-driving laws should remain in place, said provincial lawyer George Copley.

“There is a danger to the public if this legislation is not kept in force,” said Copley.”

This is remarkably weak. Should we all be kept locked in padded cells because letting people move about creates a danger to the public? Of course not. The court should reject the argument that the existence of some level of danger is justification for violating the rights of BC residents.

“Copley also argued the court should consider the financial “chaos” of repealing the law and having to reimburse drivers who have incurred penalties, estimating that fines and other costs collected have reached $50 million.”

Oh, really? Well, perhaps the government should consider the financial “chaos” of recklessly enacting constitutionally indefensible regulations. Then maybe they would vet their legislative proposals a little more carefully before mugging the taxpayer. Hopefully the court will not entertain the notion that the province should be permitted to keep behaving like criminals simply because it’s cheaper than doing otherwise. It’s about time someone taught these ethically-challenged politicians that the ends don’t justify the means.

Film the police

Dave Killion — December 16, 2011

The world of politics, economics, philosophy, and advocacy can be terribly, terribly serious at times, and there come intervals during which one simply wants to watch pugs chase a balloon. For those moments, we rely on our friend Missy at Kyoot, etc., who has taken a break from posting videos of rhinos painting long enough to share this video and her comments on it –

No message should take nearly 7 minutes, but this one does make a good point. I find that my parents’ generation has a tendency to fear surveillance, but it’s not a tool that should only be used against us. There is power in surveillance and with a phone in nearly everyone’s pockets, we need to really start exercising this power. In 2009 we all laughed and chanted “You don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight” along with the crowd on our screen. We also nervously watched Twitter as Iranian university students updated us on the invasion of their dorms, as police came through the halls and one by one, the updates stopped. People need to start realizing this isn’t “just like in the movies”, it’s just like real life. Don’t let your grandma tell you it never happened when she was a little girl because it did and no one had the power to tell the world and if we don’t start doing it then we’ll be just as ignorant when we grow old.

Recently I came across this app available for iPhone and Android phones –

http://www.openwatch.net/

OpenWatch is a participatory citizen media project which uses mobile technology to enable public monitoring of authority figures” (from the site). It not only allows you to secretly audio or video record, but it will also automatically upload that video to their website where it will be edited to for identification concerns and then anonymously uploaded. This means if you get caught and someone thinks stomping your phone will fix the problem, wrong! Too late! Anyways, just watch the video, it’s all on there!”

In the best interest of your children

Dave Killion — December 11, 2011

At the Free New York blog, they are taking a look at The Delinquency Dilemma For Parents – What To Do When The Police Come Knocking –

“Parents who learn that their child has committed a criminal act can face a difficult choice when the police come knocking: whether to cooperate with law enforcement. In one respect, you must teach your child to respect the law and punish them for their behaviors. In another respect, you may not want the State dictating that punishment. It’s a struggle between protecting your family and upholding the law.”

My take on the matter is that the legal system is a powerful and potentially devastating institution populated by employees more incentivized to gather convictions than to seek justice. It is well known that many innocent people have been caged or murdered by the state, and that many more have been subjected to tremendous punishment for ‘crimes’ that have no victims. Given the resources government commands and the potential injustice to be dealt, I think that cooperation with the state will almost always be a bad idea.

Whatever one decides, the most important thing to remember is that no one should ever talk to the police or anyone else from the state legal system without the advice of council. Even if your child is guilty of a crime, there will always be time for them to confess later –

“It is vital to have an experienced attorney review the facts and guide you when making these decisions. Understanding the legal implications is vital to making decisions that may impact your child’s life well beyond their teenage years.”

The article is brief and worth reading in full, so please go take a look.

When everyone breaks the law, the law is broken

G — November 26, 2011

Reflecting recently on the polygamy case decision, it startles me how many laws are actually out there that don’t go enforced.  If a given act truly is a ‘crime’, shouldn’t then all acts of that type be prosecuted across the board?  In the recent polygamy ruling, this will likely not be the case.  People in polygamous relationships will likely not be affected at all by this ruling except for those in Bountiful, for which this ruling is specifically targeted.  I can say this with confidence because if harm to women or children were truly the issue, then those involved in harming women or children would be prosecuted now, without the need for this trial.  I am not advocating enforcement of violent laws, of course, but I am saying that if the crimes on the books were truly enforced consistently across the board based on the rationale and guise for which they are created, people would quickly see how authoritarian our laws have become and how selective and punitive they were in the past (aka ‘prosecutor discretion’).

Either it is a crime across the board based on the rationale for which it is created, or it is not.

To have a weapon for which to pick and choose a crime to fit those you wish to attack, that is not justice, that is totalitarianism.

Reflections on the Polygamy Reference Case

JMaddock — November 23, 2011

I have a couple of thoughts on today’s BC Supreme Court decision upholding Section 293 of the Criminal Code, which makes it a criminal offence to live in a polygamous relationship, punishable by up to five years of jail time.

First of all, I was amazed by how brazenly utilitarian the judge’s reasoning was, and how he generalized that the negative consequences of some polygamous relationships were reason enough to ban all polygamous relationships.

I was also surprised by some of the alleged “harms” of polygamy used to justify the criminal law. For example, it was alleged (and the judge accepted) that children from polygamous families “tend to suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, as well as lower educational achievement…” The same generalization could undoubtedly be made about single-parent families, yet nobody is clamoring to make single parenthood illegal. (Here, it’s worth mentioning that the polygamous community of Bountiful actually has one of the best-performing schools in BC.)

Also, the judge found that “the inability of fathers to give sufficient affection and disciplinary attention to all of their children can further reduce children’s emotional security.” This is more an argument against large families, and again single parenthood, than it is against polygamy.

These same kinds of utilitarian arguments were basically declared off-limits when it came to granting marriage rights to homosexual couples, which demonstrates the effects that powerful, well-funded interest groups can have. It also demonstrates how much government loves to expand its own power (i.e. by expanding the institution of marriage beyond its traditional scope), but never to reduce it (i.e. by leaving people alone to make their own relationships and live their own lives). When government makes concessions to interest groups, it generally does so to increase, not reduce, its own power in the lives of citizens.

Now that the decision has come down (assuming it isn’t overturned on appeal), it will be interesting to see just how far the government is willing to go in persecuting Canadian polygamous communities, particularly the one in Bountiful, BC.

Time will tell if the police will actually go in with guns, break up a peaceful community, and turn several hundred children into wards of the State. If so, we could be looking at the residential school fiasco all over again. If not, this whole reference case was just a colossal waste of money.

Injustice

Dave Killion — November 5, 2011

The Huffington Post writes about the unanimous ‘yes’ vote by Riverside County supervisors in favour of forcing inmates to pay for their time in jail –

Supervisor Stone told the Huffington Post, “Inmates will be charged $140 for each day in jail and for drug testing, medical care and parol costs.” He explained that a defendent who uses a public defender will also be charged for the attorney fees if he is found to have equity, such as a property. “If the parolee does not have liquid funds to pay, the County will put a lien against the property to receive payment when the property is sold. The County will do the same on the parolee’s parents’ property if that’s the only way to get the money.”

Libertarians are very much in favour of restitution by convicted criminals, but there are right ways to do it and there are wrong ways to do it. It sounds to me like Riverside County is doing it the wrong way. Consider the last line of the quote. If the criminal comes from a broken home, and the father is long out of the picture, they’re going to take money away from the parent who stayed to look after the kid? Where’s the justice in that!

Say it, don’t spray it!

Dave Killion — October 24, 2011

Cheap, legal, and more debilitating than mace. Get some!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a clip of some Occupy Wall Street protestors being penned in, during which time some cop strides up and spray their faces with mace before marching away –

NYPD Officer Anthony Bologna claims he did not intend to spray the women, acted with the best intentions, cannot understand the hostile reaction to his conduct, and “would do it again“. NYPD took this all into consideration, and fined Tony Baloney $6000. It is a great comfort to me to know that if I pepper spray an NYPD officer without intending to, so long as I have the best intentions I won’t have to face anything worse than a $6000 fine. Because the law’s the same for us as it is for cops, right? Right?