by Russ Kick
Did you realize that you can only have children if your government allows it? Or that evidence that was obtained illegally can still be used against you? Or that you can be imprisoned for writing your sexual fantasies in a private journal? These recent decisions by US state courts are some of the most egregious examples of an encroaching police state.
A man in Wisconsin has been told he cannot have any children until 2004. It seems this exuberant breeder had fathered nine kids by four women and couldn't keep up the child support. In 1999 a circuit court judge put him on probation for five years, decreeing that if he had any more children he'd go to the slammer for eight and a half years. The state's Supreme Court upheld that ruling.
Pause for a moment to let that sink in. The State has declared that one of its citizens is not allowed to have children. By implication, you're only allowed to reproduce because the State graciously hasn't stripped you of that right. Actually, becoming a parent is now a “privilege,” rather than a “right.” It's a privilege that can now be revoked by a judge.
Who's next? Why not forbid anyone who's unemployed or lives below the poverty level from having kids? And since everyone knows that drug users are unfit parents (why else would DARE tell kids to rat on their own mothers and fathers?), it's only a matter of time until they, too, are told they'll go to prison if they have children.
Once the State has granted itself power to take away a right, it can continue revoking that right from whomever it pleases. The government will always start by taking away a right from one of the most hated groups in society. Once the precedent is set, it keeps expanding its newfound power so that more and more people are eligible for the same mistreatment.
Just look at a recent case in Ohio. A 22-year-old man had been found guilty of possessing child pornography, and as part of his probation a police officer was allowed periodically to search his house. During one such search, the cop found the man's private journal, in which he had written his fantasies about three children, aged 10 and 11, being molested and tortured. He's been sentenced to ten years in prison for those writings.
Bear in mind that the journal did not violate the terms of his probation. That was not why he was arrested. He was jailed for violating state obscenity laws. All he had done was write fictional scenarios in a private journal – a diary, if you will – that wasn't intended to be shared with anyone else. The whole motivation behind the legal concept of “obscenity” – which is completely bogus from the outset – is to keep certain material out of circulation. When something is ruled obscene, it means that you have no right to buy it or even see it. Yet, these writings weren't for distribution. They were his private thoughts written in a diary.
Now that the floodgate has been opened, all of our private writings are fair game. What's in your diary? What's on your computer? Have you written down any of your sexual fantasies? If so, the Thought Police want to see them, judge them, make sure that your fantasies aren't “obscene.” (Whose fantasies aren't obscene?) If you don't voluntarily present your private, written fantasies to the authorities, perhaps an upset ex-lover will do it for you. What better way to get you thrown into the slammer than show a judge all those gross things you've written?
But wait a minute. If your journals were stolen, wouldn't that be inadmissible evidence? Not if you're in Wisconsin. The same state Supreme Court that believes it can order citizens not to have children is the same one that has ruled that illegally-obtained evidence can be used in trial. The caveat is that this evidence must be illegally seized in “good faith.” Ah, yes, everyone knows that the police always operate in good faith and with the best interests of the accused in mind.
The decision results from a no-knock raid on an apartment in which marijuana was seized. The defendant asked the court to throw out the evidence, since the warrant for the search didn't authorize a surprise entry. When the court refused, the defendant pled guilty and appealed. The case eventually ended up in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices, who said that the police had enough evidence to support a no-knock raid. For some reason, though, the cops didn't present this evidence in the application for the search warrant. That's all right, said the court, as long as you had the evidence there was no need to go through the pesky process of actually having to present it.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented, excoriating the majority: “The exception betrays Wisconsin's longstanding commitment to excluding illegally seized evidence from use at trial.” Justice Possner also raked his colleagues over the coals: “Because the small gain that may come out of this sea change in our law does not outweigh the potential loss of liberty to our citizens, and because this case offers a feeble excuse to make such a far-reaching change, I respectfully dissent.... The court resolves the issues by burying almost 80 years of legal precedent to create a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule.”
These decisions have set ugly precedents that courts in other states will consider when faced with similar violations of citizens' rights. All of these cases seem like good candidates for the US Supreme Court, where perhaps we'll see some real justice. The current Court has issued some good rulings and some shitty ones. In their past term (2000-1), they struck down the scanning of homes with thermal-imaging equipment and the use of random checkpoints to search motorists for drugs, yet they upheld the right of police to cuff and arrest people for violating petty laws, such as not wearing a seatbelt, and the right of religious groups to meet in public schools. As always, they're inconsistent when it comes to civil liberties, so it's impossible to say which way they'll fly on any of the fascist tactics we've discussed.
Until things are settled, you might want to keep your sexual fantasies in your head, pray the police don't illegally raid your house in “good faith,” and thank the government for magnanimously allowing you to have children. That's the price of living in a creeping police state.