Driving and 'Pre-Crime'?
to be a sci-fi literature concept. But its already our everyday
reality. The fallout from the shooting in Tucson is going to make
that very clear, very soon.
consider drunk driving.
There was a
time, long ago, when a driver had to actually cause an accident
or at least, do something tangible that gave evidence of
actually impaired driving, such as weaving over the double yellow
or limping along at suspiciously slow speed. This was the probable
cause needed by a cop to pull the suspect over.
Then in the
90s we got (courtesy of Clintigula) the criminalization of
drinking irrespective of our actual driving.
The mere presence of trace amounts of alcohol in ones blood
became sufficient to arrest a person for drunk driving
even though all the person did was run afoul of a notoriously
unreliable Breathalyzer machine.
It did not
matter that people process alcohol differently; that some people
are much better drivers even with a little booze in their systems
than others are completely sober. And more besides.
now equate having x amount of alcohol in your system
in ever-declining percentages with drunk driving.
It is an epic victory of demagoguery and propaganda.
And it is also
by definition an example of pre-crime. You havent done anything
but youre in trouble because of what you might
will clamp shut their brains right about now and accuse me of defending
mayhem and irresponsibility which is proof theyve bought
into the pre-crime argument at the deepest level possible.
potential connection; the flimsiest hint of possibility, no matter
how tenuous or stretched. Its now all you need to be regarded
as having actually done something.
And to be treated
itself deeply in the American mindset, we shall soon see an expansion
of the principle.
than a week after the fruitcake in Tucson did his thing, we have
lawmakers equating criticism of the government or its representatives
with acts of violence against the government and its representatives.
It does not matter that the fruitcake did his deed because hes
a fruitcake, or that we have laws on the books to prosecute actions
such as murder.
will matter is what you think and more, what others
(those in power) think your thoughts might lead to.
To give voice
to a sentiment such as the government is corrupt and something
needs to done, will amount to evidence of advocating violence
perhaps even of committing violence much as a motorist
who has consumed an arbitrary amount of alcohol is ipso facto a
are liable to arrest for drunk driving in America today
even if you arent driving at all. You merely have to be in
your car even if youre in the passenger seat and the
car is parked. People who have had one too many and decided to sleep
it off in their car have been arrested for DWI just the same as
if they had been straddling the double yellow at 65 MPH with a gin
and tonic in one hand and their left leg hanging out the window.
have said that drinking x amount of alcohol not only
defines impairment it also amounts to intent
to drive drunk, whether youre driving or not. And that intent
imputed, perceived, ginned-up out of nothingness is
Is it really
a great leap to imagine that political speech hatriolic
speech, as it is being styled will soon be treated the same
way? That to say or even to think something anything
that smacks of criticism of government and its flunkies will shortly
be regarded as tantamount to shooting people?
and the TSA already operate on this principle.
You have no
record of criminal misconduct or mental illness. Youre a taxpayer,
a responsible citizen. Yet in several states (and of course, Washington,
D.C.) youre assumed to have criminal intent, and thus, denied
the right to own a firearm. If you possess one anyway even
if you have done nothing with it to harm or even threaten to harm
another person then youre subject to being cuffed and
stuffed just the same as if you had actually used it to threaten
or harm others.
The TSA subjects
people at random and en masse to rough and humiliating
searches, including invasive physical pat downs, just like cops
do to felony suspects. Not because of anything theyve actually
done or even hinted they may do but only because the TSA apes impute
terrorist intent to anyone who desires to travel by
Just like having
a drink before you drive makes you a drunk driver
no matter how good your actual driving happens to be.
upended perhaps the most basic concept of Western jurisprudence
that for there to be a crime, or wrongdoing, there must be
an actual criminal act, or wrongdoing.
But a society
that embraced the tar baby of pre-emptive wars should not
be surprised to wake up one day to find it is now also snuggling
the concept of pre-crime with all its consequences.
God bless America. Land of the Free.
Throw it in
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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