Saturday Links/Open Thread

Saturday, March 28th, 2009
  • Another obstinate cop involved in a traffic stop: Police officer won’t let man continue on to hospital after pulling him over for expired plates, despite the fact that his mother had stopped breathing, and the hospital was less than a mile away. She died in the car.
  • I think they’re nuts, but you have to credit PETA people for their creativity.
  • Governments across the globe are secretly negotiating a pretty scary-sounding copyright treaty that according to leaked documents could criminalize peer-to-peer filesharing (as opposed to civil fines) and subject iPods and laptops to border searches for pirated material. Scarier still, the Obama administration has invoked state secrets in response to FOIA requests, claiming release the details of the treaty or the negotiations would compromise “national security.” More here and here.
  • Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) continues his stellar work on criminal justice and prison reform.
  • Daniel Larison has sensible thoughts on decriminalizing marijuana. The “drugs are horrible, but the drug war is worse” approach has never struck me as a particularly sensible approach when it comes to marijuana.
  • Dead pixel on Google Earth.
  • Here’s some good news, as a man in Washington is acquitted in a medical marijuana case. The police poisoning the family dogs during a drug raid is certainly a new one to me.
  • Here’s a trailer for the upcoming Where the Wild Things Are movie.
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    57 Responses to “Saturday Links/Open Thread”

    1. #1 |  Jesse | 

      @ Maus-

      Officers of the law have discretion… ie, they do not HAVE to write a ticket or enforce every law. It is called judgement and situational methodology. This is what we expect cops to have. They are not acting above the law if they choose to escort someone to the hospital, they are doing their job.

      BTW, no one is asking for him to not get a ticket for the expired tag anyway. Just get him to the hospital first. Your argument doesn’t hold water.

    2. #2 |  Chris | 

      Well, Maus, then the real question — it’s ultimately the only pertinent question — is about the propriety of vehicle “registration” in the first place.

    3. #3 |  Chris | 

      BTW, no one is asking for him to not get a ticket for the expired tag anyway.

      I am.

    4. #4 |  Lucy | 

      Maus, it’s absurd to come to this blog and act like Balko is defending following the law as some inherent good. See: libertarianism.

      A cop, like an other human being, should have the sense to be able to not be a robot for procedure and fucking forget about expired tags when a person’s life is in danger! Life > car citation. ANYONE can figure that out, and being “above the law” or not has nothing to do with it.

    5. #5 |  LibCop | 


      You grossly overestimate the kind of power the citizenry have over politics and, through the system, law enforcement. The police are basically a well-organized protection racket: You pay for it whether you want it or not, and if you don’t want to pay they send the police to throw you in jail!


      No I’m not. The highest rank a human can attain in this country is called “Citizen”, just because people don’t use it (or worse, fall for the “old okey-doke” from the two mainstream statist political parties) is NOT Law Enforcement’s fault, in the same way that that the Military didn’t invade Iraq of it’s own volition (some of them may have WANTED to, in the same way some law enforcement officials are the anti-drug prohibitionists).

      If the sovereign citizen’s of a Republic are responsible for it’s actions, then no one is, we don’t have the King of England to blame for our problems anymore lol. WE (all) allow this stuff to happen (which is why I wrote the name “Ron Paul” on my ballot in the last election, for all the good it does) What I don’t do is blame the little guy (the cops). You guys get mad when cops go after the little guy (ie the guy selling a little harmless Herb), but in your own way, you do the same thing.

      **#50 | Maus | March 29th, 2009 at 5:02 am

      LibCop: Why am I unsurprised that you find the law flexible or consider yourself a medical expert? In your own scenario you would pull someone over for a — as you put it — “BS” citation. Thereafter, in your expert medical opinion, you thought there was a valid health issue you would then escort them to the hospital. And then forget about the “BS” citation for a violation of law that was the cause for pulling them over in the first place?

      Cops ignoring or bending the law when it suits them is the problem in the first place.

      Balko: I am surprised you agree with LibCop that law enforcement should ignore the law and bend the rules. Just. This. Once. Would you still claim that it’s not law-breaking when there’s an inconvenient medical issue at play if the driver simply shot the officer in the face and continued to drive to the hospital? It’s not a question that you’re ok with that concept on principle. We’re just haggling about the price.

      The guy already knew he was taking a legal risk. It was his choice to put the old lady in such danger. It was his choice to stop for the officer. It was his choice not to just keep on driving as Cappy recommended. But the guy chose to break the law.

      Disagree with the law and the manner in which stops are handled if you like. But it’s the height of comedy to ask that the police stop acting like they’re above the law and then ask them to act above the law.

      This is totally wrong. The way the law works, is if it’s a Felony the law says a Peace officer SHALL arrest, where as with a misdemeanor, the law says we MAY arrest. The law gives us discretion in cases of minor offenses.

      writing a citation for someone breaking a minor law that the law says I don’t have to when the person has a real and just cause for doing so (like a medical emergency) would be a BS citation in mt opinion. It wouldn’t be BS if there was no emergency and someone was just playing a role trying to get out of it (meaning they were putting the public at risk by speeding for no reason at all).

      it’s not being “above the law” to use a little common sense, and some kind of hyper-legalistic interpretation of the law doesn’t serve the interests of either public safety or the Rule of Law.

      Of course I’m a cop, so no matter what I say I’m automatically wrong among the fine denizens of this blog :) .

    6. #6 |  anarch | 

      The highest rank a human can attain in this country is called “Citizen”

      Again, Officer, begging to differ: The highest rank a human can attain, in this country and anywhere else short of the Kingdom of Heaven, is “Human Being.”


    7. #7 |  Michael | 

      Well, the lady died in the back seat of a car, suffocating, from complications of her COPD. If a doctor is that negligent, he gets sued for malpractice! I can’t believe that anyone thinks it is best to blame her son for this death! It is arrogance at its max!

      We need cops who don’t think they are medical experts, as well! If they want to be able to judge that, they need to go the extra years to medical school!

      He should have allowed the guy to get his mother to the ER! It was just, absolutely, stupid behavior, on the cop’s part. And, the son was kind to the cop, saying she likely would have died anyway! She may not have died, if treated properly at the ER. If an ER doc told the son that, he was just trying to make the son feel less guilty about the fact that his mother died in the back of his car. Even though, the ultimate cause was an arrogant cop’s fatal error in judgment! This means this type of stop is like a drug raid…. “a life and death situation”!