Write first, add links later
The rising generation only gets the full impact of Phil Ochs if they happen to find his concert album from 1966 or so. In his spoken intro to "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," he defines his subject as "ten degrees to the left of center in good times...ten degrees to the right when it affects them personally." I have always enjoyed that as much as or more than the song. I've adopted it as a description of some people in my life, whom I speak of as "Phil Ochs liberals."
Alas, I've found that I'm married to one.
One of my spouse's leading hobbies is jurisprudence, especially criminal law. This hobby often tempts her to be rather judgmental toward people who don't rise to her high standard. The objects of her scorn presume suspects' guilt. They have no problem with officialdom throwing over little details like probable cause, or the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. These bad habits get my spouse into a rare snit.
Except.... In this case, the exception is the story making the rounds of the Interwebz this week, about an unfortunate man in Buffalo, NY. The man in question was, shall we say, not tech-savvy, but was an otherwise upstanding US citizen. When he bought his wireless router, and failed to set up a password after a few tries, he said "fuck it." Well, more or less, but he gave the matter no further effort or thought.
That is, he didn't until he heard his door smashed down in the middle of the night and found himself pummeled to the floor with the rifle butts of, of all agencies, the I.C.E. After interrogation, which seems chiefly to have consisted of ICE agents calling him "filth," "trash," and "pervert," he figured out that the agents thought he was a child pornographer.
I asked if my law-junkie spouse had a) heard of the story and b) perhaps thought the law enforcement response was over the top. She scowled and snarled that the man was getting what he deserved.
Umm...due process? Probable cause? Presumption of innocence? Or is it "ten degrees to the right when it affects them personally?"
Back to the story. Somewhere along the line it occurred to one of these law enforcement geniuses to examine the arrestee's computer and peripherals. He had no kiddy porn, or any evidence that he had ever had kiddy porn on his computer. What they did find was that wireless router without password protection. Did they at least express regrets? Nooo. They are now evidently mounting a PR blitz to convince the world that when they smashed into the man's house in the middle of the night, smashing not only his door but several clear protections of the Bill Of Rights, it was his fault. Because he couldn't enable password protection on his router. This is known in most circles as PYA. I don't hesitate to call the schmuck a schmuck, because evidently he isn't throwing the lawbook at his tormentors (on the advice of counsel, Atty. Schmuck). That is schmuckdom.
Despite the I.C.E. obsession with blaming the victim of this obscene excess of force, someone in law enforcement had brains enough to wonder who was dealing kiddy porn from that IP address. They managed to bust a neighbour who did have kiddy porn on his machine, before he skipped town laughing at the law. That fool had days to skip, and it's clear the law got him only because he was the dumbest dumbass of all. Left to their own, these latter-day G-men only get their man if someone else ties him up and throws him in their path. Righteousness, like happiness, is a warm gun.
As part of their collective arse-kissing of the Justice Department, the news media has pushed this solely as a cautionary tale, warning you that you should protect your router: which you should. They don't ask what penalties should face geeks who build wireless routers that do not make security enabling so easy your dog could do it. They don't ask why this investigation of a U.S. citizen requires a law enforcement agency that is supposed to chase drug runners, illegal immigrants and terrorists, and why they feel empowered to smash down any citizen's door at night on slim suspicion and without probable cause.*
Why bother with due process when even law geeks like my spouse are ready to presume guilt and applaud the law when the charge is socially reprehensible? Before the applause dies down in such cases, smarter perps than the one in Buffalo will bolt for the border or the Idaho woods, not to be found for another half lifetime. As the Great Gonzo said, "rats don't understand these things."
But then, I'm not ten degrees to the right when it affects me personally.
* This legal excess does strike close to home because, as it happens, there is only one wireless address in this tech-savvy neighbourhood that isn't password protected. One member of the couple in question is bipolar, and I don't like to think what might happen if I.C.E. smashed their doors down in the wee hours.