Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Selective Enforcement of the Law Is Wrong

If David Gregory were a member of the Tea Party, we would not even be having this discussion. Look, try this (actually don't, since you're not important, you'll be arrested.) Go down to Washington and wave around a high capacity magazine. Inform the police you are going to make a demonstration with one. When told you cannot do so, do it anyway. Publicly flout any other law you want, and you will usually quickly be faced with consequences. This is how the law is supposed to work.

Sometimes, though, there are are bad laws. These are laws that are so bad, people willingly break them as an act of civil disobedience and use their immoral (but technically legal) incarceration to protest against the law in question. That is not what is happening here: Gregory is not for the legalization of these magazines in the District. He wants them to stay banned, in fact. So, to prove how important they stay banned he... goes on TV to break the law and people now insist he should face no consequences for breaking the very law he wants to see strengthened? If he thinks the law is reasonable, he should pay the piper.

I'm not the only one who thinks that enforcing laws is a reasonable thing to do, by the way.

If David Gregory can go on TV and blatantly disregard the law with no consequences, why should any other citizen expect to suffer consequences for breaking the same law? Some people might claim it is a waste of resources to run him in; it is not. Not only that, but I have some other questions: How did he get possession of the magazine? Was the initial purchase legal or illegal? Did he use a straw buyer? Did he smuggle it into the district illegally? Did he use his name when purchasing it? How many laws was Gregory willing to break to, essentially, wave a prop in the face of someone he was interviewing? That's the beautiful thing about our legal system: Breaking one law usually entails breaking any number of other laws, some of which are much more serious than the minor infraction you're initially brought in on.

There should be an investigation, and we should ask him the same questions we'd ask anyone else seen carrying illegal weapons. Because that's what he did. On television, in the full view of millions. A press pass may get you in to some places, but it is not a magic shield to protect you from prosecution. You know what would be a good way to avoid these thorny legal issues? Don't break the very laws you advocate for, lest you get hoisted on your own petard.

UPDATE: Althouse links to here. Let's take a few of the thoughts and show why Kurtz is wrong. First: "Let’s get real here. People who don’t like Gregory, or his network, or the media, or gun control are using his little stunt to express a bit of manufactured outrage, as though he were some kind of criminal."

O'Keefe called and would like to know where Kurtz was when he needed him. Oh, that's right. Kurtz doesn't like O'Keefe, his network, his media or what he stands for and doesn't seem too concerned with protecting him. As to the police probe being a waste of time: See above where we need to know how Gregory went about breaking this law. He may have done worse than just procure and own an illegal object.

Next: "Gregory had no intent to commit a crime; he was committing journalism instead." Intent is written into certain statutes; this one does not care about intent. Intent, like ignorance, is no excuse.

Finally: "Gun owners often say they want the government to leave them alone; why then are some clamoring for Gregory to be prosecuted?" Who would have guessed? Law-abiding gun owners like to see the law upheld and not used solely as a tool to oppress Kurtz's political enemies. Funny, that.

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P.S.,

If this were the only time NBC had messed up in a major way recently, maybe we could ignore it. It is not. Whoever is running things at NBC is running it shoddily, letting their on air talent violate the law and their behind the scenes talent to screw things up. NBC needs to clean house.

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