Justice

Prurient Purposes Thwarted

How far does freedom really go?

The man with shoulder-length red hair stood by the sidewalk just north of Island Park Pool. In the muggy heat, he wore gray slacks and a silky, blue, long-sleeve shirt.

From his perch along First Avenue South, the man, who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, could peer down on swimmers by the pool’s diving boards. He would look around, act like he was smoking and then snap a photo using a camera with a zoom lens.

Jed Felix said he witnessed all this on Monday afternoon. After watching the man surreptitiously take photos for a while, Felix confronted him and asked what he was doing. “He said he was just taking pictures and that he was an artist,” said Felix, 26, of Fargo. “He said it’s completely legal.”

Now, imagine the impending freakout--they're violating his rights.

Well, yes, but no. They've made this an issue of trespassing, which means he went somewhere that he wasn't welcome and he did something specific that violates the use of public property for personal or prurient reasons. This is not the sort of thing that would stand up in every court, but it does make sense when considering the safety of the public.

This is because the man in question, regardless of what he's wearing, is using technology (a camera) to violate the privacy of others. Should they get a search warrant and see what's on the camera? Would a judge sign off on that? Who knows? Your right to be a weirdo is guaranteed up and until the moment when you start taking telephoto lens photos of kids and women (which should be good enough to ban paparazzi, but oh well).

The  kicker in this whole article will appear briefly before your eyes:

One of the comments was from a woman who said she saw the same man taking photos of women in bikinis on Friday in Island Park.

“We watched as he set his camera on his lap and aim it at women in the park and then moments later look through the shots he just took,” she said in a post on her own Facebook site, which included a photo of the alleged photographer, a man with long red hair who looked like the man Felix encountered.

Felix said the man he approached would not tell him his name or show him the photos he’d taken.

“He was very calm during the entire thing like he knew that he was in the right,” Felix said. “He said that until it’s illegal, he’s going to keep doing it.”

Why didn't the man want to show a perfect stranger, a common citizen, what was on his camera? Because he doesn't have to. That's a matter for the courts. Short of that, using trespass laws to keep him out of public places is about the only recourse left to the community, which has rights as well. He's made up his mind to be an asshole. That's his right! Nobody else has to put up with that, though.

Don't be an asshole. You're ruining freedom for everyone else.

Federal Control Over Ferguson is Needed


Do you know what is wrong with this picture?

The State of Missouri has far too many crazy Republican lawmakers and judges. The Federal bench as well--too many wingnuts and kooks.

We should be well on our way to Federal control of the police and the courts in Ferguson, Missouri. Instead, we're dancing around the problem, which is this--the power structure is corrupt as hell and needs to be dismantled. Someone needs to protect the citizens of Ferguson from their own police force and their own racist, bigoted municipal government.

And how sad is it that you can say that and discover there really are no plausible or coherent arguments to the contrary?

Tax Cheats and Swiss Banks


Even if you were able to get the taxes owed on the money stashed in HSBC's bank accounts, you wouldn't get it next year or the year after that because the owners would move their assets to another location.

It's a noble idea--make tax cheats pay their fair share. In theory, we could close budget gaps. fully fund education, and put free sweaters on puppies everywhere. This is the goal of tax collection agencies throughout the world, but it rarely turns out to be practical in the long term. You might see a surge of revenue one year and then the tax cheats find a new haven for their wealthy.

HSBC shouldn't even be allowed to do business in the United States. Withdrawing the protection of the American rule of law would force many wealthy people to go off shore. If you think you can get a better deal paying European tax rates, go live there. Wait until some shady organization with the legal backing of the state confiscates your wealth and then try to get an American lawyer to sue to get it back. I will you well in that endeavor. Ask a former Russian billionaire how they got their money back from the government. I'm still waiting to see what that looks like because it would be fantastic and wonderful to behold.

People are always going to try and cheat, even though the smart money is on using America's legal system as a guarantor of perpetual wealth. Once they have been robbed by questionable governments and sleazy bankers outside of the protection of American courts, let them come home and live under the law and pay their fair share of taxes. Got a bank in the Cayman Islands? Good, steal from these people so we can laugh when they come begging for the protection they saw fit to abandon.