To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thought Crime in the US

The NY Times Magazine cover story last Sunday was a very scary look into how the government might one day subpoena our brains.
neuroscientists agree that the legal system should be radically refocused on deterrence rather than on retribution....[One scientist says] “Suppose I could show you that your intentions and your reasons for your actions are post hoc rationalizations that somehow your brain generates to explain to you what your brain has already done” without your conscious participation. If neuroscience could reveal us to be automatons in this respect, Morse is prepared to agree with Greene and Cohen that criminal law would have to abandon its current ideas about responsibility and seek other ways of protecting society.
What they mean, if you read the article and listen to outraged author Jeffrey Rosen's much more frank appearance on the Diane Rehm show, is that the very real threat to civil liberties is that people will be imprisoned for crimes that they might do, or think about, versus crimes that they commit.

If anyone doubts the slippery slope of this and its possibility just look at Eliot Spitzer's plan to, in the words of an NY Times editorial, to
travel down a murky legal road, to a place where laws are made not in response to facts, but to wishfulness and fear. It is a place where prisoners who finish their sentences remain locked up for crimes they might commit, submitting to psychological treatment that nearly always fails and whose only sure outcome is the open-ended spending of tens of millions of dollars a year.