If you see something, say something. Or go to jail.

There is a bill in the Missouri legislature which may have repercussions for years to come. Sen. Eric Schmitt (R- Glendale, MO) has sponsored SENATE BILL NO. 457, which would create the crime of failing to inform the government of sexual abuse of a child.

Unlike the practice in totalitarian countries, free countries like the United States have never been enthusiastic about forcing citizens to inform on other citizens. In this country, “Good Samaritian Laws” are laws that encourage people to aid other people in trouble. For example, healthcare professionals can give emergency help without worrying about getting sued for malpractice. Such laws encourage helping others. Aiding another is the right thing to do, but in a free country, rendering assistance it is not mandatory unless one has somehow contributed to the harm or otherwise has a relationship-based duty of care for that person.

A new kind of Good Samaritan law has become common in recent years. These are called “manditory reporting” laws. Under mandatory reporting laws, doctors, nurses, social workers, day care workers and others responsible for the care of children–who have reason to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected–must report it to the government or face criminal charges. These laws are justified when limited to persons who already have a duty of care toward the child.

Last year, sexual abuse scandals were in the news and decent people everywhere are outraged that persons, who knew of the abuse, said nothing. When the prospective witness is not a mandated reporter, however, nothing can be done to punish them for this morally reprehensible failure. Some states already have universal child abuse reporting laws, so it was only a matter of time before this bill surfaced in Missouri..

The bill takes that next step by making every person a government informer, whether they have any connection with–or duty toward–the child. Since this bill is directed at a truly despicable crime, child sexual abuse, it may well be supported by legislators who “do it for the children.”

With this well-intentioned bill, we cross over to a dangerous side of the street. Maybe in a year or two, it will be but a small step to cover other crimes, serious ones at first, less serious crimes later. Eventually, all crimes may be covered. Then, if you see anything and don’t say something, you go to jail. I hope lawmakers will consider where this bill may take us.

With an informer-oriented society, the police state would blossom, and like the twentieth century residents of fascist and communist states, a healthy fear of one’s neighbors, friends and even family could become a valuable survival skill.

 

Baptist pastor tased & beaten by police at checkpoint

Missouri Criminal Defense LawyerThere is a news story about a Baptist pastor who was driving home to Phoenix, AZ from San Diego. He was stopped at a customs checkpoint (not actually at any border, apparently).  He informed  the agents that his business was his own and he would not answer their questions, but just wanted to be on his way.

They brought up a drug dog up to sniff his car trunk and then informed him that the dog indicated that he had drugs or a person hidden in the car trunk and that they were going to search it.

[Note:  the indication of drugs turned out to be false, but not soon enough to do this guy any good]

When he refused to get out, they broke out his car windows, ground his head into the broken glass, dragged him out, threw him on the ground while tasing him throughout the entire procedure.

After a trip to the emergency room to stitch up his face, they took him to jail (I’m not sure for what).

When he later asked why they had done it, he was told it was because he did not answer their questions.

Here is some local coverage of the story:  Pastor Claims Border Agents Beat Him

Here is a YouTube video of the guy telling his side of the story:

In the news story the border patrol claims they never use tasers. Here is a video that the pastor made showing one of his taser wounds (looked real to me –and I’ve seen taser wounds) and some of the spent taser wires that he collected from inside his car after the incident:

I really admire this guy.  It takes guts to refuse to answer police questions about one’s personal business. Even when you know you are completely innocent, this can still happen to you.  It is so much easier to give them what they want.  I fear our police state will get worse before it gets better.