Big Time Thought Police

April 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm (Big Brother)

Usually I talk about the economy.  However, the media has lately been doing an adequate job of documenting the downward spiral, so I don’t have much to point out there.  I did run into a disturbing article, however, which seemed innocuous enough at first.  Here it is.  You have a mentally disturbed guy who wants to take out his high school in a repeat of Columbine.  Bad, right?  Of course.  And there is really no question that he likely would have carried out his plan had his parents, and subsequently the cops, intervened.  So, it’s a no-brainer he should be tried and, if convicted, sent to prison, right (unless found mentally incapable of standing trial)?  Sure.

Well, here’s the problem.  Among other things, he was charged with “attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction,” which carries a lifetime sentence.  He never did attempt it, however.  He had materials that could be used to make a bomb, but he didn’t actually make the bomb.  He had a journal of hateful sayings and diagrams of his plans, etc, but he hadn’t acted them out.

I don’t have a problem with his arrest, or his being charged, but I do have a problem with what he was ultimately charged.  The list includes: attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use explosives on a building that gets federal funding, using interstate commerce to obtain explosives to be used against people and property, making a bomb threat, and possession of bomb-making materials.

The only one that seems accurate to me is possession of bomb-making materials considering he never actually made a bomb, never threatened to make a bomb, and never attempted to harm anyone.  Now, I’m not saying he didn’t intend to possibly do all these things, but the point is that he hadn’t.  Yet.  Therefore, charging him for crimes he didn’t commit is thought-policing, and that scares me.  All he had was a journal and some fertilizer, and now, if convicted on the WMD charge, will serve life in prison.  Life in prison for THINKING about doing something and gathering materials that might be used to do it.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of people behind bars who have actually taken a life who do not have life sentences.

By that rationale, every person who gets cut off while driving and yells to their spouse, “I’m going to run that bastard off the road” should be tried for attempted murder, because as the driver, they were in possession of a potentially deadly weapon.  Even though they didn’t carry it out, they thought about it, and could have if they wanted to.

Similarly, having an empty wine bottle, some gasoline, and a rag is the same thing as owning a molotov cocktail because, as the police in the article mentioned, someone “could assemble a bomb with those materials in minutes.”  If he is convicted, this sets a very dangerous precident which is that thinking about doing something and making preparations to potentially do it is the same as doing it.  It is not. 

He might have had a change of heart, he might have gotten scared.  Hell, he might have gotten laid that day and changed his whole perspective.  Or he might have carried it out.  The point is he was stopped, which is good, but he didn’t attempt to carry it out, so he should not be charged as if he was one of the 9/11 hijackers.  But I suppose the Federal government has every motivation to consider him a crazed terrorist with WMDs.  Just for the record, I’m not scared of him.  I’m scared of the people who are charging him with those crimes.

Today’s (other) article of doom: Wall Street Journal recommends hoarding food.

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