* 'PC' versus civil liberties, double jeopardy

Topics: FreeSpeech, Rights
06 Oct 1994

From: ervan

One of the ironies of the PC movement is that in the name of diversity and
tolerance, most of the laws (or rules) that it proposes are various forms of
censorship. The contempt for civil liberties doesn't end there. In the
interest of achieving its goals, regardless of its methods, it has also
embraced double jeopardy.

The trial of the policemen in the Rodney King beating is the first obvious
example. I'm not going to tell you the first jury that acquited them was
right; it would seem not. But, that isn't the point. The government does
not get to try you twice for the same offense even when the jury is "wrong".
In this case, the officers were tried once for assault because of swinging a
baton and found innocent (of unnecessary force) then they were tried again
for "violating civil rights" because of swinging a baton and found guilty.
"Group justice" demanded that particular individuals be found guilty by
whatever contrivance was available.

That's old news, but I see the same theme repeated today. Paul Hill, the
anti-aborition protestor who shot a doctor, was found guilty under a new
federal law prohibiting interference with the provision of abortion
services. He is also being tried by the state of Florida for murder for the
exact same action. The former carries a maximum penalty of life
imprisonment and the latter the death penalty. Life imprisonment is a
fitting punishment in this case, but that's not the point.

Beyond the abrogation of the Fifth amendment, this has all sorts of other
pernicious effects. It says that killing a neurosurgeon to steal his BWM is
less of a crime than killing an abortion doctor (since the government will
only try once to convict you of that crime). Just like hate crime laws, it
says that your political motivation (as opposed to merely criminal intent)
makes the crime worse. It is still legal to loath abortion, but if you
engage in a criminal act, that loathing then becomes a thought crime for
which you will receive additional punishment (or at least suffer higher
chances of being punished). 'Your honor, the defendent was caught speeding
with the intent to vote Libertarian.'

For those of you who have missed previous discussions, I am pro-choice but
this sort of action to protect access to abortion is wholly unacceptable.
The ends do not justify the means. It's not even an interesting trade-off.