Monday, August 6, 2007

Santa Clarita court goes way too far...

The trash of society always seems to create some of our greatest Constitutional challenges. From nut jobs like Phelps, to the KKK, to this latest case of a self proclaimed pedophile basically being banned from public places in California, society's reaction to these lunatics can pose serious threats to all of our liberty.

In this latest case, a self proclaimed pedophile, a guy by the name of Jack McClellan, who had posted a pro-pedophile website, including a list of his favorite places to watch children, has, for all intents and purposes, been banned from leaving his house. In a ruling on Friday, August 3rd, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued a restraining order prohibiting McClellan from being within 10 yards of any person under 18 anywhere in California. It is important to note the Mr. McClellan has no criminal record.

On the surface, this may seem like a good thing. What is more important than protecting children from someone who thinks it's ok to be a pedophile? Gut reactions aside, however, what happened here is a court ruled that McClellan cannot exercise his rights as a citizen because society disapproves of his ideas. The "10 yard" rule from the court basically prohibits McClellan from going to a store, a mall, or any other public place, in fact, as a UCLA law professor points out, he can't even, legally, go to court to challenge this.

Thomas Paine once wrote, "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." While some, even the majority, may view it as ok to punish someone for "thought crimes", imagine the chilling effect should the same standard be applied to other people or groups? Do we allow courts to enforce similar orders on others with whom society disagrees? Who is the next target should this practice become precedent? Gays? Christians? Atheists? Liberals? Conservatives? Whoever disagrees with the state? Denying liberty to one person for their thoughts sets the stage for the denial of liberty to ALL persons for any thought deemed improper. Don't get me wrong, McClellan is, in my view, a sick freak and one of the worst pieces of human garbage out there, but, are we willing to trade in a free society because we don't like him?

The article regarding this case can be found here.

2 comments:

SantaClaritaCriminalLawyer said...

Santa Clarita Court is certainly known for its tough bench officers. It's possible, that in a more liberal court and county, that the result would not have been the same. It does send a message that his type of behavior is not acceptable in this local community, and may prevent someone else from doing the same.

Dauger's World said...

Civil rights trumps what may or may not be acceptable in a local community. You cannot deny someone who has committed no crime their civil rights because you don't like them or their views. The "tough bench officers" in Santa Clarita need to remember that they are in the United States - not some third world banana republic.