That\’s what we\’re told about all of those scary laws aren\’t we? 42 days detention, trials without juries, RICO in the US, all to be used only when other measures mean that we can\’t get known and obvious baddies.
It\’s not how it works out though, is it?
Steve Barnes, in particular, was anxious to co-operate, on the understanding that the charges against his 20-year old son Matthew would be dropped. He is an unusually keen and capable young fisherman who held his first skipper\’s ticket when he was only 16.
The men expected fines. What they did not expect, at the second hearing, was that the agency would also invoke the Proceeds of Crime Act, designed to penalise major criminals such as money launderers and drug barons.
The MFA trawled through the fishermen\’s bank statements, and they were told it was up to them to prove that each of thousands of payments was legal: otherwise the payment would be deemed "proceeds of crime" and confiscated.
Reversing the burden of proof for three fishermen, eh? Insisting that they must explain where everything came from rather than the prosectuion having to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the money did indeed come from criminal activity.
Slippery slope arguments are not, in strict logic, correct. They are only so if the second step inevitably follows from the first.
When we talk about these laws though, they way in which they\’re promised as exceptional measures, experience tells us that they will indeed be gradually extended out to more minor crimes and criminals. And thus we all become helots of the State once again, after all those hundreds of years of struggle by our forefathers to stop being so.
Yes, I\’ll drag out that Larry Flynt story again. When found not guilty because of the First Amendment the pornographer said that if the law protected bastards like him, you can be sure that it\’ll protect you. Which is why yes, we should protect the freedoms, liberties and property of drug dealers, of child pornographers, terrorists, of murders and those we know in general to be wrong uns. Because if we don\’t protect their rights to a fair trial, to the presumption of innocence, to the prosecutorial burden of proof, to habeas corpus, there\’s no fucker out there who is going to protect the same things for us.
Remember, these rules do not exist to protect criminals from righteous punishment. They exist to protect us all from the State: and as Perry points out repeatedly, the State is not your friend.