A Clover – EPautos’ term for people of the left and right persuasion, who love government force and despise individual rights – wrote the following love note to me in response to a post about Florida cops randomly stopping people and forcing them to submit to an inspection of the contents of their beverage cups (see here for the news story).
“Proof Libertarian’s have their imaginary view of the Constitution: the 4A only pertain to private residences. Only a Libertarian thinks a cop needs a search warrant to view the contents of your cup.”
So writes Clover.
Here’s the verbatim language of the 4th Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
So no, Clover, the Fourth Amendment does not “only pertain to private residences.”
It applies generally.
And more deeply, the Constitution merely acknowledges rights that exist independent of any written document. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as an affirmation, and to make what was then commonly accepted an explicit roster of Thou Shall Nots directed at the government. Each amendment serves as a “line in the sand” forbidding encroachments based on utilitarian arguments.
Back to the Florida story:
The cops aren’t merely “viewing” the cup, as Clover benignly puts it. They are forcibly detaining people and subjecting the contents of their cups to a search.
Clover’s supine embrace of carte blanche searches absent any individualized/specific probable cause because he believes it’s for a “good cause” – and because he believes the state’s armed goons are benevolent massas keeping us all “safe” – is both loathsome and genuinely dangerous.
Which is ironic given Clover’s maudlin concern for “safety.”
If the state’s armed goons can waylay people and search them “just because” (i.e., without any individualized/specific probable cause that would justify suspicion they’ve committed or are about to commit a crime) then there is in principle no limit to their Authoritah over us, other than what Clover and Co. regard as acceptable.
No defined line in the sand beyond which Authoritah may not step.
So, where does it end, Clover?
If it’s ok today to stop/search people’s beverage containers, then why not (tomorrow) search their persons? Someone might be carrying a bag of weeeeeeeeeeeeeeed in his crotch (or her vagina) after all.
No limits. Right, Clover?
The ends justify any means. Just trot out a “good” – however vaguely asserted. It’s an old song, Clover. One that’s been warbled by tyrants and echoed by their enablers for as long as human beings have walked this earth.
If I could, if I had the technology, I’d have every single person who hews to the views expressed by Clover time-traveled to Germany circa 1939. Or Soviet Russia. Or Khmer Cambodia. Or Mao’s China. Then he’d be among friends.
Oh, I know. You’ll eruct that I’m exaggerating.
But here’s the thing, Clover. Principles matter. One thing necessarily leads to the next. Germany did not become Nazi Germany – poof! – just like that, or “because Hitler.”
It happened because the groundwork had been laid for a Hitler.
If the German people (a majority) believed in individual liberty, in the inherent right of each individual to be left in peace, Hitler and the Third Reich would have been impossible. He would have remained an obscure freak ranting on street corners, his name lost to history.
But because his fellow countrymen shared his views – your views – that the individual has no rights that are inviolable, that “greater goods” trump those rights, that “safety” (and yes, he used that term often) justifies almost any measure… Hitler became chancellor and the rest is history.
Ethical (and historical) ignoramuses such as yourself never learn this lesson.
And thus, we are doomed to repeat it.
Throw it in the Woods?