This Vidcast was inspired by my muse, Clover, whose every view seems to be based on the idea of presumptive guilt. This is an idea similar to “pre-crime” – if you remember the movie (based on the novel by the great Phillip K. Dick) but takes things a step farther.
Pre-crime at least focuses on a specific individual who – according to various indicators – appears likely to commit some crime in the future. The person is punished before he actually commits whatever the crime is.
Presumptive guilt, on the other hand, presumes everyone’s guilty. And so, everyone is punished before the fact. This is the principle behind “sobriety” checkpoints – and it will be expanded, as I have tried to explain to my muse, because precedents are based on principles and principles, once accepted, become practice. If it is legitimate to stop motorists at random, without any reason for suspecting them, as individuals, of having done the slightest thing illegal, then why would it not be legitimate to also randomly stop people merely walking down the street? Or even to randomly eavesdrop on people’s telephone calls and e-mails (whoops – they’re already doing that) or – to take it one natural step farther – conduct random “checks” of their homes?
Clover, of course, has no answer. Well, he has no answer based on principles. For Clover is ethically myopic. He only sees “dangerous drunks.” Not the danger of ceding to the state very dangerous sweeping authority based on a principle that will necessarily be applied to other things.
Already has been, in fact.
Which explains why there’s been no real uproar over outrages such as the government randomly and without even the pretext of individualized suspicion (once upon a a time, the keystone of Western legal tradition) filching our e-mails, monitoring our conversations and subjecting us to degradations formerly only visited upon convicted felons merely to travel by airplane.
It has been accepted – in principle – by broad swaths of the public that such things are legitimate – because the linchpins of a free society such as individualized suspicion and evidence of guilt prior to criminal investigation/punishment have been de-legitimized.
Worse is on the way as a result of this. It is as inevitable as a muddy lawn after a sustained downpour.
The average person probably believes that history’s great tyrants – Hitler, for instance – mesmerized a nation, turning the people, who were sane one day, into raving maniacs the next by flights of satanic oratory.
Hitler and his kind are always among us. But they are powerless until the people are ready to give them power. By 1932, a sufficient number of Germans were ready. They had come to venerate authority. The pathetic little man with the funny moustache merely channeled this lust to be led. To be “kept safe” and made “secure” … and became Der Fuhrer. He himself admitted this, openly. That he was a vessel, the incarnation of the German People, the manifestation of its will.
Those with eyes to see may see what’s coming. The same bland men, authoritarian but ditherers unable or unwilling to take the next step precede the man who is able – and who will.
He is coming.
Because Americans are ready now, too.
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