Saturday, March 25, 2006

This Is Wrong Part II

Call it the scarlet letter for drunken drivers.
A California lawmaker wants to force two-time offenders to attach red license plates with the letters DUI, for "driving under the influence," to their vehicles - a rolling advertisement of their crimes.

Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, said he is proposing the plates, which would remain on offenders' vehicles for two years, to help tackle a disturbing rise in alcohol-related roadway deaths.

"This notifies the public, 'Here is a guy who may be dangerous,' " Haynes said. "It also alerts cops. If you see a car with a red plate in front of a bar at midnight, maybe it's someone you want to watch. Finally, it frankly does make people think twice about wanting to drive around drunk."
Haynes has put the proposal in a bill, AB 2099, which he expects will be discussed by the Assembly public safety committee in a few weeks.

The bill will be controversial. Early critics of Haynes' proposal complain of its potential cost, while privacy advocates fear unfair scrutiny and labeling of individuals.

But Haynes' effort highlights a sobering reality in California: After several decades of tough legislation and progress, California's efforts to reduce drunken driving fatalities have stalled.

One person already noted in this article, this is "well intentioned", but this is completely wrong. This is the "Scarlet Letter" of modern times. It's the "tincture of blood" and "double jeopardy" rolled into one. Completely against the constitution and any sense of freedom.

This is not sympathy for drunk drivers. I believe that drunk drivers need to receive stiffer punishments, particularly if they are involved in accidents that damage property, injure or kill other people.

In a real sense, this is government taking over the the concept of social stigmatism; that which was once the domain of the community to shame people into appropriate behavior, is now being taken over by government because the community has lost it's power through the loss of accepted social mores and the destruction of family.

When it becomes a legal manouver by the state, it becomes a matter of violating constitutional rights including privacy, double jeopardy, cruel and unusual punishment and possibly the "tincture of blood" since it would also unfairly stigmatize any family or friends. It also negates the concept of "innocent before proven guilty" assuming that any person that has been convicted of a crime is automatically guilty because of the probability or possibility of future crime.

Last, such behavior is the stepping stones of legal fascism. Once this is allowed, then each successive concept becomes more acceptable. What shall we do next? All felons should now have an "F" branded on their back, put on their license so the entire world can know they served time in prison? Maybe gays should where Pink Triangles and Jews a yellow Star of David?

The last may seem hyperbolic, but I believe that, once we invalidate the rights of any citizen, to say that any past behavior or possibility of future behavior, negates their rights.

For the record, I also disagree with public lists of "sexual predators". Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that sexual predators should be given light sentences, but that twisting the law to "protect" people is not the answer. If the crime is sufficient the punishment should be sufficient. If criminals are highly likely to be recidivists, then the outcome of the punishment must be considered and adjusted appropriately. Personally, the crime of sexual assault is hienous and often not punished appropriately. I believe that child molesters are some of the worst types of criminals, above and beyond drug pushers. I believe they should receive life sentences for the destruction of a child's life.

But, I don't believe in double jeopardy and I believe that, as we "select" people to receive this treatment, eventually, every person will be on an alert list or forced to wear a label so they can be "recognized" and treated "appropriately" by society.

California - Red tags of shame for DUI cases? -

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