Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Jack-Booted Thug(s) of the Week...

... are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, of all agencies, who in October 2003 sent its goon squad, complete with ninja outfits and heavy weaponry, to conduct a "no-knock" raid on an elderly couple in Spring, Texas (utterly trashing their home in the process) who were suspected of growing - marijuana? Opium poppies?

Nope - orchids.

Here's what they told the wife, Kathy Norris, when she quite reasonably inquired at the courthouse the next day as to exactly why she was being treated like a major drug baron:

"'You don't need to know. You can't know'"

How does the all-too-true saying go again - "When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail"?

What's worse, the family's business was entirely legal, but the husband, 66-year-old George Norris, was still sentenced to the federal pokey for basically not dotting his i's and crossing his t's:

"Mr. Norris ended up spending almost two years in prison because he didn't have the proper paperwork for some of the many orchids he imported. The orchids were all legal - but Mr. Norris and the overseas shippers who had packaged the flowers had failed to properly navigate the many, often irrational, paperwork requirements the U.S. imposed when it implemented an arcane international treaty's new restrictions on trade in flowers and other flora."

Want another example from a subject that's near and dear to us? How about the thugs at the BATFE, who regularly go after law-abiding gun dealers who make the tragic error (interpreted by the ATF agents as being a serious crime) of not noticing that a tiny fraction of their otherwise legal customers had put "Y" and "N" instead of "Yes" and "No" on their firearms purchase forms?

Brian Walsh, who authored Monday's Washington Times commentary on this subject, has it completely right:

"Astronomical numbers of federal criminal laws lack specifics, can apply to almost anyone and fail to protect innocents by requiring substantial proof that an accused person acted with actual criminal intent."

How many otherwise law-abiding peasants unintentionally break numerous laws every single day simply because the statutes are too many in number and too broad in their language?

We really need to reclaim our lives from this sort of insane legal bureaucracy.

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