Bring Back Jesse Ventura

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Gopher State Gov. Tim Pawlenty has a bold new idea: He wants to make antiwar protesters reimburse the state for the cost of their arrests. Reports Minnesota's Star Tribune:

"We don't begrudge people the right to protest peacefully and lawfully about whatever the topic is," he said. "But when they go so far as to say we're going to purposely go out and get arrested as a device to get attention and purposely burden the law enforcement system for their own P.R. purposes, it's reasonable to ask for some reimbursement to pay for the cost of the arrest."

But don't think Pawlenty is just trying to shut down unwanted speech. Ever a man of the people, he'd like to keep the costs nominal, said a spokeswomen, perhaps $200.

[Link courtesy of Lefty]

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  1. Why not just increase the fines associated with the crime? Or is that these crimes are usually never prosocuted?

  2. Provided that it required an actual criminal conviction before any fine could be levied, I’d be OK with fining them in place of jailing them.

    I really, really don’t like the idea of dismissing the charges in exchange for ‘restitution’; frankly, I really don’t like the idea of dismissing the charges at all.

    Civil disobedience can be impressive because it send sthe message that you are willing to pay the price of going to jail to get your beliefs across. However, I am unaware of any “civil disobedience” exemption to the law, and feel that the absence of criminal penalty cheapens the value of civil disobedience immeasurably. After all, if there is no penalty for the civil disobedience, the message becomes not ‘I’m willing to go to jail to get my point through’ but ‘I’m willing to be a jerk to get my point through’.

  3. hey all!

    cool — okay about the difference between the “speech” and “civil disobedience”. and then Laz’s thought of increased penalties along with Craig’s and Joe’s conviction.

    are there worries about blurring the lines a la (whoops, that was french… please read “freedom” instead *gaffaw*) “click it or ticket” searches?

    thanks kindly!
    drf

  4. There has been a piling on effect in general throughout the justice system. Fining and jailing for drunk driving’s not enough. Now we take their car, too, even if their wife owns it. Sex offenders can NEVER live down their crime now. Teenagers caught with a doobie? Forget any student loans or getting a driver’s license.

    Now they’re suggesting that government agencies get paid twice for doing their job. That’s not restitution, it’s an additional fine.

  5. Civil disobedience is by definition illegal and hence not protected by first amendment. The point is that if people are willing to go to jail the government should bare the costs of convicting and sentencing them. Profiting from criminal activity is organized crime, unless the government does it, but some of us still call it corruption.
    Anyone else catch where the administration is suggesting that the Iraqi oil reserves and frozen Iraqi assets should be used to help pay for the Iraqi war?
    Soon they won’t even need to bother with the pretext.

  6. I agree with posters above. Aren’t these things already illegal? Sure, raise the fines, but let the punishment fit the crime. None of this “Fines for Improper Speech” crap.

    There was something on O’Reilly last night about a proposed law in Oregon that would label certain protestors “terrorists.” WTF is going on here? It’s wrong to restigmatize acts for political reasons (a la “hate crimes”), acts that are already illegal.

  7. Further, I bet I’m not the only one that thinks it’s a complete riot (no pun intended) that the protestors in SanFran, while some were no doubt ranting about police oppression, were in effect giving the city cops a pay raise in the form of $900,000 of overtime.

  8. geophile,
    I think the issue is that many DAs are too much of cowards to actually prosecute these crimes. To prosecute would put them at risk of being “anti-free speech” etc. Those that commit the crimes are released without punishment, while the public pays the price.

  9. Exactly. Being tough on protesters won’t get you reelected in California.

    Much is forgiven in the name of free speech. By itself, that’s not so bad, but with the massive, disruptive protests we’ve seen recently one is sorely tempted to take someone to task for it. Problem is, in a gigantic mob, it seems the buck stops nowhere.

  10. What’s the big deal? He’s basically asking for a fine for people who GET ARRESTED!! Happens all the time. You’re not supposed to do things that warrant arrest. I have no problem with a civil fine for this stuff. I fail to see the free speech issue here. Nobody’s saying they are not free to express their position, just that they may have to pay a fine for being arrested. Not exactly a novel idea. If a guy was engaged in political speech while commiting a nurder, would it offend your First Amendment sensibilities for that guy to go to jail? I hope not.

  11. hey!

    and, geophile, your reaction to ANYTHING from o’reilley like that is normal (“WTF”). that guy is a moron. but he does have some funny moments…

    his comments that bill clinton’s stoopid (sic) antics damaged us presteige in europe were blatantly false. i was there then. for the whole damned thing. it was kenneth starr et al people were expecting me to apologize for them, not billy. and when i did apologize (for his redistributative, anti freedom policies), nobody understood why…

    cheers,
    drf

  12. I’m with Sparky: There are plenty of effective avenues of speech open. Tying up a major traffic artery is marketing, not freedom.

  13. This post wasn’t too popular!

    I agree with all above, really. I don’t like the mechanism–you don’t charge people for the priviledge of being arrested–but don’t have any problem with fining or otherwise placing a burden on illegal and immoral conduct. These people are not only imposing a burden on the liberty of their fellow citizens by blocking roadways, etc. but they are also potentially endangering the security of the society as well. While the cops are out guarding and arresting lamebrains, the criminals–and, indeed, terrorists–have a golden opportunity to take advantage.

    C’mon, Nick. We established a few centuries ago that there’s a difference between liberty and license.

  14. hey Nick! hey Lefty!

    good post.

    to me this signifies the “government and gov’t policies = the nation” and dislike of one equals dislike of the other.

    those people do have a right to protest. although i disapprove of many of the methods (blocking lakeshore drive, grrrrrr), i would support their efforts to protest. ditto the “pro-war” people (or “support our troops” or what not).

    the chomsky/bill bennett arguments sorta highlight this. with both sides being against the other’s ability to protest.

    hrumph.
    drf

  15. Oh, come on. “Shut down unwanted speech?” Even the most hardcore civil libertarian would have to admit that intentionally getting arrested as a form of protest has a significant non-speech element — the cost of the arrest, the diversion of police resources, etc. — that could reasonably be argued to outweigh the speech element. When did Reason get so whiny? Bring back Virginia Postrel!

  16. hey digger,

    happy friday to you!

    sure — going out to get arrested (even though it does have a communicative intent and does get some sort of message through) can be argued in such a way. however, the danger with these types of laws is that they get twisted so that everything is a diversion (speeding, parking tickets) in the hands of an overly zealous system. it seems way too slippery a slope.

    put it in another context: anti-abortion protests. many people, including libertarians are worried about curtailing the protesters’ ability to demonstrate (often times with measures to get on tv).

    but then, would this be a part of the charge/penalty? you know, fine and court costs for speeding? is it workable from that angle? is it constitutional? of course, the gov, according to his mouthpiece, kupchella, doesn’t have that kind of authority to force judges to do so.

    watching those idiots who pvc-pipe themselves together get sawed out by cops (who are in some sort of danger) jammering at the cops and chanting “the whole world is watching” is annoying, and getting “back” at them in the forms of payment like this certainly gives some sort of revenge feeling, but will this turn into checkpoint-style laws where the gov’t can use “click it or ticket” laws to make drug busts, illegal searches, etc…. i fear it would…

    cheers!
    drf

  17. Many confuse civil disobedience with free speech. Every advocate of free speech understands that people have a right to stand on the sidewalk with their sign 24 hours a day. Yet, the minute they step into the street without a permit and block traffic their free speech right ends and they are criminals. Whenever a protester blocks the entrance to a building, blocks a street, or trespasses they take the publics rights. They take away the publics right to freely associate by preventing travel. They take away people’s rights to police protection by tying up public resources. Finally they take away property rights by using misusing tax dollars to pay for their arrest. It therefore seems reasonable to me that those who participate in acts of civil disobedience at least pay their own way. I believe this view is consistent with the libertarian views of Reason.

  18. It’s called Civil Disobedience because those participating in it are breaking an unjust law with the full expectation of taking the consequences, and publicizing their subjugation in order to undermine popular support for the law or the regime imposing it.

    Making people pay a fine, in addition to jail, after being CONVICTED of a crime of civil disobedience sounds fine to me. All the more opportunity for protesters to keep the spotlight and shine it on the unjust law or government practice.

    Now, if people end up being arrested on flimsy pretexts, just to generate revenue, one could argue to reduce or eliminate the fines, or change the arrest criteria, on free-speech grounds. Let’s cross that bridge when we get there.

    What amazes me is that judicious voting — especially by people who are always ready to protest but haven’t registered to vote for years — could obviate the need for the extreme kinds of protest we are now seeing. This suggests to me that a lot of people aren’t interested in making our system work, as much as in tearing it down — or at least, simply getting the thrill of participating in inflammatory street theatre. Too much time on their hands, perhaps.

    Remember, you have free speech and freedom to assemble. But you can’t expect or force someone else to pay for your soapbox, and you can’t obstruct someone else’s passage, or harm them or their property, without expecting some unpleasant consequences.

  19. -It’s called Civil Disobedience because those participating in it are breaking an unjust law…

    Ok, heres the stickler, this isnt even civil disobedience unless you think that its ‘unjust’ that these jack-holes are blocking major traffic arteries. And I think the danger of reduced fire/police response is underestimated.

  20. Just quit invading other countries and the problem’s solved.

  21. Ah, the tyranny of the majority.

    The logic I’m seeing here is very similar to that of New York as it imposes its no-smoking laws (patterned after California). A minority engages in conduct that is inconvenient to the majority and is about .0001% dangerous. The behavior is constitutional, so it can’t be banned. To get around that little detail a series of laws, rules and regulations are enacted that incrimentally nibbles around the edges of the “problem” and effectively eliminates it – and you never have to deal with the constitutional part head-on.

    That’s the way it works here in the good old USA.

  22. Bad news:

    A mother died trying to deliver her baby, because the driver couldn’t get through. Traffic was blocked by protesters. — NY Post, 03-27-03.

    Good going, lame brain collectivists! Let’s kill a few more people with your “free” speech.

  23. 50 Iraquis killed in a market place from an “errant” American bomb. And more to come.

    What’s the acceptable ratio, Groupthink?

  24. Here in Arizona we have a ?stupid motorist? law. Basically it allows the local government to charge motorists that need to be rescued because they did something stupid for the cost of the rescue. It?s mostly been applied to people that have driven into rain swollen washes and can?t get back out.

    Seems to me the same sort of thing should apply here. If a protestor needs to get arrested in order to gain the attention that they need, we should oblige them. They also ought to pay for both the arrest and any related problems that they cause. A surcharge for the marketing exposure would also be appropriate.

  25. It is not peacable to obstruct the way of someone who is going about his lawful business. Freedom of speach does not include authority to force others to listen.We need to file class action civil lawsuits against blockaders with fines akin to those given in smoking cases. Let people find out how their life goes with a million dollar judgement hanging over their head.

  26. Billing people the cost of their prosecution?

    Excuse me, when did I wake up and find myself in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

    Don’t worry, the state will offer a convenient payment plan with reasonable interest if you cannot afford the payment up front. Here’s a receipt for your husband.

    Oh, and if you don’t plead guilty, you may be billed the cost of additional prosecution!

    Are we going from “due process” to “payment due?”

  27. Lefty, the errant bomb did not kill anyone. It exploded in the sand. Reporters heard two explosions. It was that second explosion that killed the 50 in the market, and it was set off by local thugs killing their own people, to make it look like Americans did it.

    But if you feel it’s OK to kill American mothers and their babies here in the U.S., then you should go over there and join those thugs. Because I don’t believe you are American. What are you doing over here anyway? Mooching?

  28. You’re watching too much Fox news, dude.

  29. >>You’re watching too much Fox news, dude.

  30. Mr. Nosuch: If your next-door neighbor suddenly goes on a rant, exercising his “FREE” speech, blocking your driveway (so you can’t go to work) breaking a few of your windows in the process of his “FREE” speech — then who pays?

    (Due process, for sure.)
    But who’s gonna pay? You?

  31. While we’re on the topic of making people pay for their own law enforcement and their own prosecution, check out this link. I certainly file it under “WTF” as mentioned above:

    http://www.ksrevenue.org/faqs-abcdrugtax.htm

    I tried to call the number but no one answered. I gotta know if anyone in the history of this law has ever purchased one of these drug stamps. Undoubtedly the only time someone buys one is when they have to after a criminal prosecution. Kansas has some beastly drug prohibition laws, and some wretched asset forfeiture laws, but that’s another subject for another day.

    Missouri also requires released inmates to pay for their criminal prosecution and incarceration. It’s at Mo. Stat. sec. 217.827 et al (“The Missouri Incarceration Reimbursement Act.” There’s a very recent appellate case in Missouri where an attorney represented a client who had his property civilly forfeited by Missouri authorities who “adopted” the loose federal civil asset forfeiture laws. Somehow the lawyer was able to defeat the forfeiture or got some other relief for the client, and went to collect his attorney fees. But the government, via this Incarceration REimbursement Act, took all the client’s money for his incarceration. The lawyer brought a taking claim, which was rejected by the trial court. I’m messing up a lot of the details; a review of the case appeared in a recent Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly.

    Thanks for listening.

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    DATE: 01/20/2004 08:26:43
    People are just smart enough to not be happily ignorant.

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    IP: 212.253.2.204
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    There are as many translators as there are humans.

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