Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wonderland comes to the Georgia Supreme Court

The Georgia Supreme Court is apparently stocked with imbeciles. Either that or they are simply dishonest to the core.

As I have noted before, Georgia is one of these theocratic states where the detestable sex offender registry requires people to register as sex offenders, even when they have not committed a sexually based crime. There are two cases where individuals were placed on this odious, useless, counter-productive list where no sex was involved.

I previously reported on a young man who accompanied a friend when the friend robbed a Dairy Queen. A teenager was exiting the store as the robber went in. The robber instructed the young man to lie on the ground until they finished the robbery. No physical contact with the youth took place. But the underage accomplice in the case is now listed as a registered sex offender in Georgia.

The case that these morons in robes heard was similar. One Jake Rainer, then 18, along with unnamed co-defendants, met a 17-year-old girl who said she would sell them pot. She got in their car and they drove her to a cul-de-sac where they relieved her of her marijuana, without paying. Instead of rightfully charging them with theft (something the government doesn't oppose on principle) they robbers were charged with "false imprisonment" and forced to register as sex offenders. Again no sexual contact took place, no attempt at sexual contact took place. There isn't even evidence that anyone thought about sex, let alone did anything sexual.

Now consider that the sex offender registry is itself a vicious form of perpetual punishment applied very indiscriminately, as we see in this case. Having the status of "sex offender," the closest any human even gets to eternal life, means that one is constantly penalized. Presence on that data base, no matter what the circumstances of the "crime," means that one is banned from living in most places, especially in Georgia. There are entire counties where a "sex offender" is basically banned from living there. It subjects one to constant harassment from would-be vigilantes as well as the local police. It is used to deny people seeking to better themselves, from obtaining a college education. It is used so that many on the list are incapable of finding employment. The whole purpose of the registry is to inflict unrelenting punishment on people, even if the sex was consenting and non-violent. And, as we saw here, one need not even commit a sexual crime to be on the list.

The Georgia Supreme Court was asked to rule on the list being cruel and unusual punishment. It certainly is cruel, unfortunately in these less civilized times it is not unusual. Justice Harold Melton rejected the arguments entirely because he said such registries "are regulatory, not punitive, in nature." What a butt wipe! A proper understanding of the nature of "regulatory" actions shows them to differ little from punitive actions.

Consider an area completely outside the realm of sex offenses. If a businessman uses his premises to sell drugs the government may come in and confiscate his business under Rico laws, thus putting him out of business. In truth they can do this merely by accusing him of a crime, even if they have no evidence he actually did anything illegal. The business is gone, the owner is bankrupt. Now consider the same business getting zoned out of existence, regulated into oblivion instead. What is the difference between punitive actions and regulatory actions if both can inflict the same harm?

In this case much of the harm that is inflicted eternally on these "offenders" is not just government sanctioned, but government mandated. Surely when government arrests people for living in their own home, due to sex offender zoning laws, that is punitive. There is a fine line between regulatory actions and punitive ones and the sex offender laws were intentionally created as punitive measures.

The Court ruled that "it is of no consequence whether or not one has committed an offense that is 'sexual' in nature before being required to register." No consequence! Exactly where does this justice have his brains?

Conservatives ought to be worried. This ruling basically says that a government regulation, one that is onerous and harmful, is not punitive because the government calls it a regulation instead of punishment. The court also said that the state may place people on the sex offender list, for public scrutiny and harassment, even if they have never committed a sex crime in their life. As the Justice (sic.) put it, "it is of no consequence" whether or not a sex crime was committed.

I am going to rename my cat Fido, because that will apparently, miraculously turn him into a dog, at least if the logic of the court is accurate. Calling something regulatory, instead of punitive, makes it non-punitive, no matter how much punishment is inflicted by it.

The court said that it was perfectly fine to do this because it "advances the State's legitimate goal of informing the public for purposes of protecting children from those who would harm them." Get real! In this case Rainer was within a few months of the same age of the girl he robbed. She was dealing an illegal drug and he took the drug. If the police did it they would be applauded. There is no reason to assume that Rainer is a threat to children and it is absurd to say that the girl was a child. This girl is old enough to consent to sex in Georgia, and old enough to marry. Yet if she deals drugs and is robbed her robber becomes a sex offender because the State is protecting children.

This should indicate exactly how America's sex laws are running wild, as well as contradicting common sense. The Court ruled:
There is no requirement that sexual activity be involved. Rainer’s belief that the term “sexual offender” may only apply to offenders who commit sexual offenses against minors does not change the fact that the definition provided in the statute, and not the definition that Rainer wishes to impose upon the statute, controls.
Do you get that? Rainer argued that it was wrong to call him a "sex offender" when he never committed a sexual offense. The Court refers to that reasonable definitional issue as merely a "belief" which doesn't matter because the State has redefined the term "sex offense" to include offenses that are entirely non-sexual. In Through the Looking-Glass (aka, Alice in Wonderland), Alice speaks to Humpty Dumpty who tells her: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." Of course when Lewis Caroll wrote that, he meant it as nonsense. When Justice Melton wrote something similar he thought it made perfect sense.

Melton says that Rainer's definition of sex offender is "incorrect" because the Georgia legislature has redefined the word to mean "just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." In children's fantasies this might be amusing, but in the law it is dangerous.

In related news a new study says that 20 percent of teens have sent erotic photos of themselves by cell phone. For most of these teens that means they have committed a felony, could be imprisoned, and may very likely be listed a sex offenders. Given America's tendency to see sex as evil I would assume that when 20 percent of teens admit to sexting, that the actual numbers are significantly higher. As I see it, the government may as well publish well publish a list of the names of everyone in the country, call it a "sex offenders" list and get it over with. The over-criminalization of everything continues unabashed and it is destroying lives.