05.14.06

…with a deadly firecracker.

Posted in Politics, Law, Pyrotechnics at 10:02 pm by Administrator

This recent flap about the government “spying on Americans” caused me to recall a letter I got about a year ago from the Department of Justice. You can find a scan of the actual letter here.

In case you didn’t read it, here’s a summary:

 Dear [administrator],

We’ve been going through the pyrotechnics companies records. Therefore, we know you’ve been ordering chemicals that can be used to make fireworks. How dare you! These things are dangerous. Don’t you know you could poke your eye out?

If we catch you selling fireworks, we’ll send you to FPMITAP for a very long time. We can’t prove you actually did anything illegal, but remember: We’re watching you!

Sincerely,     

[some pantywaist in Washington]

In the first place, you little pissant: I bought those perfectly legal chemicals to make perfectly legal rocket engines. Ever seen October Sky? In the second place: there are lots of legal fireworks I could have made with those chemicals if I had wanted to. In the third place: This is supposed to be the land of the free. What business is it of yours if I make an M-80 or two anyway? Where in the constitution does it charge you to protect me from my chemistry set? If it’s not in the Sacred Document, it’s not supposed to be any of your business. (Read the Tenth Amendment.)

The eventual demise of freedom in this country will not have been the result of NSA datamining operations or the like. It will have been the result of us putting up with thousands of little nanny-state infractions like this. On the subject of the cell-phone records, Kim du Toit offers a pretty good explanation here.

I think I’ll go make some cherry bombs now…

05.10.06

Guilty of Something

Posted in Law at 10:15 am by Administrator

Here’s an interesting (hypothetical) legal question for you:

Suppose there are two hit-and-runs in a town on a certain night. The police apprehend two suspects and are able to prove that each suspect hit someone that night, but they can’t prove which victim belongs to which suspect.

Now suppose there are two shootings at opposite ends of a large building at the same time. Everyone in the building is tested and two people have powder residue on their hands. Again, police are unable to connect either suspect with their respective victim. There is also no evidence of conspiracy between the suspects.

Both situations are fundamentally the same. In each case, it’s obvious that each suspect is guilty of one of the crimes; but it’s impossible to know which one. (This assumes both suspects keep their mouths shut.) My question is: could the DA get any convictions at a trial?  Wouldn’t the existence of the other crime create a reasonable doubt that the defendant was involved with the crime in question?

I don’t know.