First Rule of Government

The First Rule of Government:
Any government power that can be abused, will be abused.

The Second Rule of Government:
All government powers can be abused.

This means that any use of government power needs to be wrapped around with all manner of checks and restraints. You won’t prevent abuse, but you can, at least, make it more difficult and, hopefully, slow the progress of abuse.

Whenever some new policy granting power to some part of government is proposed, the first question the wise man will ask is “how will people intent on abusing power use this?”  A good touchstone is to personalize it: “how would my worst enemy, intent on doing me harm, use this?”

If the answer to that question makes you break out in cold sweats, maybe thing twice about granting that power to government.  If it doesn’t make you break out in cold sweats, well, I hate to break it to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.  It may just mean a failure of your imagination to consider all the ways that it might be used to your harm.

This is why I am utterly and completely opposed to the “Red Flag” law proposed in Congress.  Basically, these laws state that somebody can make a claim about an individual–the individual being a “danger to self or others”–and police will swoop down on this person in order to remove any weapons they might have.  And if the person makes any mistakes, any mistakes at all, why the police already have an excuse to open fire because, you know, “danger to self and others.”

The requirement for “due process” is supposed to be a check on government abuse.  This flies in the face of that.  Simply having a judge rubber-stamp someone’s accusation does not make it “due process.”

Due process is a two-way street, which includes actual evidence and not just somebody’s word and allowing the accused to present evidence and call witnesses in his behalf.  It is not just one side making a decision unilaterally.

Admittedly, there are some limited cases where things can be held for a very limited time while things are sorted out (that three day hold I mention–most arrests as another example) but only for a very brief period so that the process doesn’t become the punishment. They are limited for a reason.  It’s why there’s a “speedy trial” provision in the Bill of Rights and why we have things like Habeus Corpus (you can only hold a person so long before charging and before arraignment).

“Red Flag” laws fly in the face of all of that.

 

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3 thoughts on “First Rule of Government”

  1. I watched an angry ex-sister in law accuse my brother of horrible things on a weekly basis, trying to build a paper trail with the cops for the eventual (blessed) divorce. She was a vicious, lying, angry woman. She’d love Red Flag laws.

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    1. Some years back, I had some business with a lawyer. In the course of the business he told me of a case where a man spent every summer in jail. Seems the man’s ex would accuse him of assaulting her. The police would arrest him. Then, when it came to trial she would not show up and the case would be dismissed on “lack of evidence”.

      I asked the lawyer if the police didn’t eventually figure out what was going on. He said that from their perspective they didn’t see “a bunch of false accusations.” They saw a man with a long arrest record.

      “Red Flag” laws are just another way for the vindictive and just plain evil to use the state to carry out harassment and abuse on their behalf.

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