Sunday, February 13, 2005

Criminalizing Fantasy

In a further demonstration that the government is truly out of control, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger is apparently attracting a lot of positive response to his attempt to extend the already foolish statutes against suicide to a ban on the mere discussion of, and fantasy concerning, suicide. I have (so far) found no news items suggesting that this action is overstepping the boundaries of the law, giving me more reason to believe that I have been right all along, that almost everyone can clearly see the Emperor's new clothes, and is not merely reticent about discussing their lack.

A sample of the news coverage, "Man Allegedly Sought Suicide Pacts for Years", from the Washington Post, seems to me to allege no crime that has been committed. Even a conspiracy charge requires that at least one act in furtherance of the commission of a crime must be performed before the conspiracy becomes a criminal act. Yet, incredibly, it seems that the mere act of clicking the "send" button in a chat room transforms conversation about suicide into a crime. This completes the realization of the aim of those who would seek to make illegal mere unpopular speech. If this prosecution succeeds, all internet communicators will have a far heavier burden to carry. But. Far more important is the silence. Why are not civil liberties activists of all stripes screaming about this? Is it because of the supposed victim status of the so-called scheme's so-called participants?

Where does it stop? If a man can not speak to strangers about fantasy hangings that will noy take place over non-existent beams in his trailer home, after they discuss sex acts that will never be performed, at what point does harmless banter become an actionable crime? This is very troubling to me, mostly because it does not seem to trouble anybody else.