Monday, December 01, 2008

The Standard-Examiner Nixes Senator Greiner's "Gang Bill"

Time for our society to swing the pendulum back toward a jealous protection of fundamental individual liberty

We took yesterday off, so we'll belatedly highlight the lead editorial appearing in yesterday's Standard-Examiner, which addresses State Senator Jon Greiner's 2008 “Prohibited Activities of Gang Members” bill, which the Ogden senator reportedly plans to reintroduce during the upcoming 2009 legislative session.

We had a fairly robust reader discussion of the pro and con arguments under our article of November 26, with the polar opposite law enforcement pragmatic and civil libertarian idealistic views well articulated and argued.

We welcome the Std-Ex's firm editorial stance on this issue, which comes out foursquare on the side of jealous protection of individual liberties protections contained in the U.S. Constitution. We incorporate the editorial's gist from these key paragraphs:
The bill fails a constitutional smell test. You cannot deny people the right to assemble peacefully, nor can you deny freedom of speech, which is also affected by denying the right to assemble. When a government body does that, it clashes with the First Amendment.
Another concern we have with Greiner’s bill is that it will involve profiling. Greiner promises that Ogden officers will be adequately trained to avoid racial profiling and discrimination. We have no doubt they will try, but we share the concerns of the American Civil Liberties Association that symbols, such as tattoos and hiphop clothing, will be incorrectly used by law enforcement to try to ID gang members.[...]
We hope Sen. Greiner and other leaders will engage in many brainstorming discussions with civil liberties groups and constitutional experts so a tough bill that passes muster can be enacted. We need a bill that will both curb gang crime and pass court review.
The burden of proof must be high for law enforcement to arrest or punish an individual. That’s a right that the Constitution must protect. We must not tolerate government power that violates the fundamental rights of all of us — including those people we don’t often approve of.
Tempting though it may be for some of us to succumb to the reasoning that's it's OK to fudge on the civil rights of suspected gang members in the name of expediency, we also must recognize that a dilution of individual constitutional liberties for some unfavored citizens inevitably results in a diminution of individual liberty for all citizens.

We thus join with the Standard-Examiner in expressing our opposition to Senator Greiner's bill as written. Hopefully the good senator will expend the necessary effort to modify the language of this bill, and come up with a version which will be more acceptable to those constitutional idealists among us. It's a slippery slope. Once the individual liberty of one suspect group is successfully targeted under the law, who's to predict which other group may be targeted next?

Americans have been far too lax over the past few years, in our opinion, regarding the protection of those liberties which are our constitutional legacy, gifted by the Founding Fathers of this nation. It's time for the pendulum to swing back. It's time for citizens and legislators alike, we think, to become more zealous regarding the liberties enumerated within the U.S. Constitution. Contrary to the views of some folks in this country, we believe the Constitution is much more than "just a goddamned piece of paper."

And what say our gentle readers about all this?


BenJoe said...

What I see is a group of people who decide one day they want to protest a decision of the city council. City Council decides they don't want the protest. So they declare the area they are protesting as a Gang-Free Zone and then the police come in and force them to leave or give them a $100 fine. A law like this can easily be abused. From where I sit, it is wrong!

drewmeister said...

Wow. You know it's bad when the Gondola Examiner says it goes too far.

Machster said...

Seems the slippery slope comes into play when good folks say nothing about contentious issues.

In this culture it seems most are encouraged to say little and do less.

I have no clue as to how to fix such cultural or social problems. It does seem that as many leave the "left coast" to settle in Utah, the demographics and culture are slowly changing. And folks (as those on this blog for example) are and do speak up.

What troubles me is a culture and municipality which becomes a San Francisco. Where it seems the activism and what some call liberal agendas have gone far beyond acceptable social norms and morays. San Francisco has become a "City of Freaks, where anything goes. And where citizens are afraid to walk the streets or in parks...", there is nothing to emulate from that once beautiful city by the sea, regardless of where one stands on the political balance bar.

While protecting civil rights and personal freedoms, we must come up with effective means to deal with anarchists, terriorists, criminal gangs, and abusive and incompetent "civil servants" to preserve and improve our quality of life.

Start with serious Ethics reforms at the legislature involving graft and corruption many seem to have no idea they are even participating in. Yet another cultural problem.

danny said...

Well Ben Joe doesn't see a meaningful difference between Mexican youths hanging around a gas station and people showing up to speak at a city council meeting.

And the great Rudi has in the past expressed his feeling that public votes represent "mob rule" whereas unelected judges are "safeguarding" the constitution.

And now the SE comes out against the Greiner bill.

So we fear that voters and city council attendees are the mob, and dissolute loiters are fulfilling their constitutional right to "freedom of assembly to petition for a redress of grievences."

Well okay then.

What more needs to be said, except "Go Greiner"?

BTW, great GWB quote. The world is counting the days.

BenJoe said...

If it passes, just wait and see..others won't know the difference either.

danny said...

Ben Joe,

Why wait? It's obvious many people don't know the difference, now.

But I suspect the police do, and I do, and most people do.

diciple of danny said...

All you naysayers who are against Greiner's bill are communists and terrorists. What's the problem? Why is this so difficult to understand? If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about.

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