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You Have Something to Hide

June 11th, 2013

With so much happening with the NSA right now, many people are commenting the commonly-misplaced, “I have nothing to hide” logical fallacy. Danah Boyd has some interesting comments regarding that argument. I thought I would add to it quite a bit. using Danah’s context, a tax return audit is so scary because the tax code is so outrageously massive, counter-intuitive, and vague, there is no way for even experienced tax attorneys to know every detail, especially as it changes. For the record, the IRS’s enforceable tax code is about 9 million words. There is no possible way to know if you are compliant, and statistically speaking, you are not. But, you don’t know how you are out of compliance. Your tax attorney can only speculate your compliance (at $300/hr) and along with your accountant (at $150/hr). But don’t worry, the IRS will only take your hard-earned money, plus interest, plus penalties for not knowing the tax code, because ignorance is no excuse.

But the tax code is not the only example of the legal system our of control. Every area has gone crazy, from gun laws, to drug laws, to medical laws you can no longer judge your “legality” by the old method of coercion. You can’t buy cold medication without filling out forms and risking arrest for buying too much. In simpler days, you could simply apply the property rights test and the coercion test (Am I forcing [ or threatening force] somebody to comply with my wishes?) Using this test makes 99% of the situations very clear.  But those days are long since gone.

Finally, because you commit 3 felonies a day, you have 3 reasons per day to keep the federal government out of your life. Because so much of our daily lives is illegal, you are literally playing the felony lottery every day when you invite the federal government into your lives. Its incredibly short sited as well. Because while the powers that be may agree with your life choices, the next batch may not be so agreeable.  Just in case you thought it won’t happen to you, here is a case of a man arrested for taking pictures at night. While the cops knew it was not illegal to take photos, they did know he WOULD eventually commit a crime because so much is illegal. They simply waited for him to walk down an alley, then arrested him for his offense. They took his equipment and now he gets to fight a legal system stacked against him.

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn Rand

Football Analogy to Our Criminal Justice System

February 2nd, 2009

With the Superbowl fresh in our minds, I want to provide an analogy to our criminal justice system.

What the referees see is what they call. What actually happened is irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is what the referees call. They are human and its the only way to mitigate the imperfection they suffer. But lets pretend for a moment that a referee’s call of offsides would place the alleged offender in a penalty box for a year while things were sorted out. Mean while his team must play with out him for the rest of the season, regardless of guilt. Once the call was made, the referee’s job was not to determine guilt, but to ensure the call sticks. Ignore evidence of otherwise, and call attention to anything demonstrating his accuracy. That means that instant replays would be irrelavant unless they proved that the referee was right. How would that change the game?

That is our criminal justice system. Prosecutors are paid to convict, not determine truth. They only search and present evidence “proving” guilt of the suspect. That’s why prosecutors rely on character asassinations as well as evidence.  With such an imperfect system, would you want to be convicted of murder based on “evidence” presented by a person trying to convict you, not expose truth? Would you want to be placed on death row by that very person? In life, we rarely get an instant replay. If we did, do you think a DA would use it to prove your innocence, or leave it out to convict you?

Many people believe our legal system does a good job of sorting the good from the bad. That the few good people convicted is worth catching all the bad guys. The fallacy is that catching the good does not mean we catch all the bad. Additionally, you may find yourself defending your actions to police and a the DA. You may have been justified killing your daughter’s rapist, but remember, the DA only wants a conviction. The laws still apply when its you.