Facebook, the Batman shootings and Journalists… let’s be consistent, people.



Yay privacy!

Facebook is evil.  I’ve explained this before.  I mean, it’s a great place for people to press a “like” button and feel like they’ve done something when they’re actually not doing anything.  It’s really not for me, though.  This is, perhaps, the reason nobody “likes” my facebook page.  Maybe.  At least I make up for it by being a total sensation on Twitter.

Much to my chagrin Facebook is all over the news again.  Our Govenor, Pat Quinn, signed a law last week preventing prospective employers from asking interviewees for their Facebook login information.  And the soon-to-be-interviewing college kids who have spent the last 5 years posting their drunken escapades rejoice.  This law is necessary to protect people’s privacy rights.

Yay for privacy!

Gun control is also all over the news right now, too.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that the new Batman came out a couple of weeks back.  It’s pretty good.  News reports out of Aurora, Colorado, however, seem to indicate that an individual out there might have gone on some sort of a shooting spree resulting in the deaths of several theater goers .  Then there was the shooting at the Sikh temple this weekend.  This is bad.

Governor Quinn to the rescue again.  He’s apparently looking to make sure there’s never another Aurora, Colorado or Oak Creek, Wisconsin mass shooting by passing gun control laws in Illinois.  Maybe he’s trying to prevent one in Aurora, Ill. That part isn’t clear.

The fact that the Facebook and gun control stories came out on the same day last week was odd. To me, anyway.

When I hear people talk about their “rights” my ears perk up.  I like my rights.  I like using them to frustrate the government.  You can say that having, knowing about, and using my rights are a bit of a hobby of mine. Maybe more than a hobby.  Call it more like a job.  Protecting people’s rights is really the essence of criminal defense.  It’s also fun.

Your rights can come from a lot of places.  The most powerful rights come from the first 10 amendments to the United State’s Constitution.  Or, as I like to call it, “the bill of rights.”  The bill of rights talks about a lot of things the government absolutely, positively, without question cannot do.  No question about it.

The bill of rights has some pretty cool stuff, too.  Freedom of speech? It’s in there. Your right to be free from unreasonable searches? Yeah, that’s in there, too.  As is your right to remain silent (which, we have discussed, people love to know about but hate to use).

It’s got some lesser known, but equally powerful rights as well.  Freedom of the press? Yes, they are free, too.  You want to “petition the government for redress of grievances?”  Petition away… the first amendment says they can’t stop you.  If they try, the Eighth Amendment will give you a right against excessive bail while you wait for your jury trial (which is protected by the Seventh Amendment).

What makes me testy is when people make up rights.  Especially if they’re making them up to win some sort of dumb argument.  You have a “right to know,” don’t you? Not really.  That “right” was fabricated by a bunch of journalists to justify their being nosy.  Don’t get me wrong. It sounds awesome, and I’m all for it.  It’s just not real.

And, that brings us right back your right to privacy.  It’s not real, either.

I take that back. It’s real.  More real than the “right to know,” anyway.  It’s just not really in the constitution.

Oh… it is?  Find it.

Did you look?  Didn’t think so.  Don’t be lazy. Go ahead and look. It will take 30 seconds. Click here, then do a word search for “privacy”.

If it’s not really in there, how can it be real?  I’m not going to bore you with the legal mumbo-jumbo, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the other amendments essentially look like they are drafted so that you have a general right to privacy.  So, you have something of a right to privacy.

Again, yay privacy!

Where am I going with this?  I’m going right back to the second amendment.  Where the bill of rights doesn’t directly talk about privacy rights, it does directly talk about your right to “keep and bear” guns and also be the “well regulated militia” your survivalist friends are always talking about.  Yay guns, right?

This is where the shootings at the Aurora, Colorado showing of Batman highlight a bit of a problem in current popular Illinois opinion: Gun control should be expanded because people are dying, and privacy rights should be expanded because we like to be as private as possible.  The problem there is that gun rights are explicitly protected by the constitution. Privacy rights are not.  And, now you’re yelling at your computers screen telling me I’m an idiot.

I’m not saying I’m not an idiot.  I am saying that there seems to be a lot of inconsistent opinions flying around right now… even by the Governor.  Do you think the second amendment prohibits almost all gun control?  Good.  Just make sure that you read the same into the fifth amendment next time you see a defense attorney complain that his client’s right to remain silent was infringed.  Or, be sure to take such an expansive view when you hear about the police searching somebody’s house.  Don’t forget to rejoice when the press publishes details about you that you’d rather not have published… their right to freedom is directly protected, you know.  You would never ask the police to protect us from the press, right?

On the other hand, are you telling me that the second amendment only applies to “militias” and doesn’t make your local neighborhood gun collector free to carry around that cannon?  You read the second amendment as narrowly as possible?  That’s fine. Just don’t come back and whine about the State taking away your right to free speech… after all, the text of the bill of rights only keeps Congress from messing with your right to sing horribly in public.  Don’t even let the words “right to privacy” come out of your mouth, either. That’s a right that, although it may exist, fails to directly make it into the constitution.

I recognize that I’ve overly simplified things here, and that constitutional scholars might have decent reasons to interpret some of the rights slightly different than they do others. Maybe. I know that most people (including most lawyers) don’t, though.  Yet, everybody with a keyboard and twitter account will talk about their “right to” do something.

I’m just asking you to be consistent when you start talking about rights.  If you’re not being consistent, you’re not really talking about your rights. You’re talking about what you want your rights to be.  You’re talking about your agenda.

It’s ok to have an agenda.  Unless you’re pretending that the “rights” you speak of are anything more than your unsupported opinion, though, you’re fooling yourself (and, perhaps, whomever else you argue with).  That’s it, nothing more.

Maybe Quinn’s new laws aren’t just based on agenda. Maybe he’s one of those learned constitutional scholars and he’s got good reasons to be inconsistent.  I don’t know.  I’m just happy we can talk about a Governor who is not in prison.  Although that might change if things go bad on his Facebook page.  Then he will be in prison but I’ll finally be right about something.

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