Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stump Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for having me here today.

I'm here to talk about something that many of you might find disagreeable to talk about in polite company: misconduct on the part of law enforcement.  But before anyone accuses me and Candidate X of being anti-cop, let me start with a bit of a disclaimer:  It is our heartfelt belief that the vast majority of law enforcement people, be they local, state, or federal, are good people who have followed a calling to try to keep the lid on the parts of our society that refuse to follow our agreed-upon rules.  This post should in no way lead you to believe that either Candidate X or I hold LEO's in general in anything but respect.

However, there are a few bad apples in every basket, and the 1% that breaks the laws or abuses its authority colors our perception of the other 99%.  The answer to this problem, like almost every other government problem, is to shed light on them so that the world can see them. 

So here we go:
  • A woman in New York asserts that an NYPD officer, who is also under suspicion for allegedly planting drugs on otherwise innocent people in order to meet an arrest quota, forced her to use drugs and then sexually assaulted her.  
  • Five NYPD officers have been arrested, along with seven others, for taking part in a scheme to smuggle guns, cigarettes, and slot machines. 
  • A female blogger had a bit of a surprise when she opened her suitcase after a flight to Ireland to find a TSA notice in her baggage that said "Get your freak on girl!".  Apparently the young lady had packed her sex toy, and is now asking the TSA to investigate the incident.  The TSA says there's no evidence their officers wrote the note.
So what do we have here?  We have a police officer abusing his position of power, breaking the law, and assaulting a female.  Then, we have police officers taking part in an organized scheme to break firearms, tobacco, and gambling laws.  We also have unprofessional conduct by members of a government organization that has had issues with theft, bribery, and disregard for the civil rights of citizens. 

The first one I lay squarely at the feet of those who continue to defend the need for a War on (some) Drugs.  Yeah, if the young ladies accusations are true, the guy's a jerk with or without the drugs.  But it's the fact that the drugs are illegal that gave the guy the power in this specific case.  Take away the illegality of the drugs, and you take away the intoxicant used to force the young lady into sex.  You also remove the incentive to frame innocent people for having drugs.  No illegal drugs means no need to have a quota for drug arrests.

Next, we have an interstate conspiracy to smuggle guns, cigarettes, and gambling equipment.  The cigarettes, while legal by themselves, are probably smuggled because of lower prices and taxes in other states.  The gambling equipment and guns are illegal because of federal and state laws that try to control how we lead our lives, and no more.  Why is taking a slot machine into New York an offense?  Because someone in the state or federal legislature didn't care for gambling, so they made it illegal.  Same with guns, both at the federal and state levels.  I have news for those who think that the state should control who has guns, which guns they should have, and how they should acquire and use them:  You can buy just about any gun you want in most parts of the country, and the streets don't run red with blood.  Most places don't even require you to have a license to do it.  And most shockingly of all, you can carry that gun either openly or concealed, and children don't spontaneously combust because of your actions. 

Finally, we have adults acting like children, but it is a symptom of something that should chill the blood of every American.  As I see it, the TSA is rotten to the core.  It's continued, and now expanding, role as gropers, hinderers, and bullies is an affront to the rule of law and civil rights.  Its short history is fraught with stories of people being humiliated, intimidated, and violated.  And now the agency is expanding to doing its work on our highways.  Is the supposed security the TSA is providing us worth the continued erosion of our right to freely move about the country while conducting legal business?

My point on the first and second cases is this:  stop making silly things illegal, and people will stop doing silly things to get around your silly law.  Stop criminalizing the use of narcotics, and punish bad behavior that comes from their use.  Stop legislating morality by outlawing gambling or guns, and people will stop smuggling them into your state.  Stop charging an exorbitant amount of tax on cigarettes, and control smoking through other means, like telling people that Medicaid and Medicare won't pay to treat people who smoke, and people will stop smuggling cigarettes.  Taking that stand would probably save millions in healthcare costs on its own.

For the TSA case, it's another example of why the TSA needs to be either drastically reformed and limited, or abolished altogether.  I have never seen anything that definitively shows that the TSA has made us any safer, but I can probably find hundreds of stories about how they have taken away a lot of our liberty.

To sum up, we need to find a way to punish those who abuse their rights without taking the rights of others away.

While there may be bad cops, just as there are bad accountants, bad IT guys, and bad truck drivers, our laws aren't helping.  We make more things illegal all the time, and usually not because there is an actual harm done to society by the thing, but because we don't personally care for it or we are scared of it.  In order to make it less likely that our law enforcement will act badly, take away the incentive to abuse their power and break the law.

Candidate X and I will make it the theme of our administration to take the government out of as many aspects of your lives as we can.  We will start by working to repeal laws that on their face violate civil rights because someone felt icky about the concept of a free people doing as they wish.  We will reduce the profit incentive to break the law by making fewer things illegal.  Our citizens will have more of their freedom restored, and we will hold those who abuse their rights and authority to harm others responsible for their actions without punishing the public at large.

Thank you for your time.  Please remember, this is your country.  Only you will be held responsible for its condition when you pass it on to the next owner.

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