3 things you can do if you want to be a big jerk

Here are a few recent stories in which various people — including some public officials — demonstrate how to be a really big jerk.

I don’t recommend being a big jerk, mind you, but if that’s your goal, then study these stories carefully. These folks are putting on a clinic in jerkitude.

1. Walk into a store owned by Christians, throw their religious literature into the trash and insult their faith.

Mayor Tonya Hoeffel of Garrett, Indiana, is a big jerk.

Mayor Hoeffel walked into a local convenience store, observed pamphlets about the owner’s Christian faith on the store counter, and picked them up before throwing them in the trash bin.

When the manager and part-owner of the store asked Mayor Hoeffel why she threw out the informational pamphlets, she replied, “It’s against my beliefs. This is against true religion.”

As Ed Brayton says, “Hoeffel is a moron and a bigot.” This unprovoked disrespect for others’ faith is despicable — particularly from someone elected to represent people of all faiths.

2. Abuse your power as principal to deny gay students an education.

Hemant Mehta brings us the news from the Taylor Career and Technology Center in Texas, which used to offer an adult class in cosmetology. The class was canceled because principal Thomas Amons worried that one of the students might be gay.

Amons thought one of the students enrolled in the class this semester looked gay. And since it’s illegal to bar someone from a public school because of his sexual orientation, Amons — who is, not surprisingly, a deacon at a Baptist church — decided to just cancel the class altogether.

For good measure, Amons fired the teacher, too, since she was apparently willing to teach a gay student. If that happened, next thing you know there might be gay men working in hair salons all over the country.

Thomas Amons is a big jerk.

3. Only get upset when it’s your own tribe being disrespected.

I changed that story about Mayor Hoeffel in the first item. What actually happened was this:

Less than one month after of the massacre of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Mayor Tonya Hoeffel of Garrett, Indiana has further offended the Sikh community. Mayor Hoeffel walked into a local convenience store, observed pamphlets about the Sikh religion on the store counter, and picked them up before throwing them in the trash bin.

When manager and part-owner of the store Kulwinder Singh Nagra asked Mayor Hoeffel why she threw out the informational pamphlets, she replied, “It’s against my beliefs. This is against Christianity.”

Mayor Tonya Hoeffel of Garrett, Indiana, is a big jerk.

And if you’re a Christian and you’re not upset by her jerkery because it was directed at Sikhs instead of at Christians, then I’m afraid you may be well on your way to joining her in Big Jerkland.

  • Münchner Kindl

    What “people” exactly are saying this? You change between ‘reporters’
    and ‘posters’, say things like “when I ask, they say”, and say someone
    will say “you can’t trust newspapers.”

    It’s both. In the newspaper articles Fred linked to, sometimes the victims say it. Sometimes a lawyer is quoted by the reporter. Sometimes the reporter says it.

    When discussing these cases on this or at another board, various posters said that “state can not be sued” (Some of the posters on the other board claim to be lawyers). (I linked to an article by Cecil Adams in straightdope where he said that.

    I almost never read the comments under the newspaper articles.

    I admit I seem to have misunderstood that “sue” means only civil suit. I thought it meant “take into court” generally. I always expect criminal court (prosecute) first for serious offences like mistreatment of citizens by cops or withholding evidence so innocent are wrongly convicted. Money comes later in my mind to punishment for serious abuse of power and trust of an officer of law or executive has and expects, to neglect and disregard the citizens he is charged with, so serious steps must be taken. Yet the articles never mention those steps being taken automatically.

    Even if the DA always throw out those cases, I would expect a public statement on why at least, not closed door “well that’s not worth our time; this is not enough evidence”.

  • The_L1985

    The problem is, a lot of the places with corrupt cops are also in low-income areas.  Poor people are generally assumed to be criminals when they bad-mouth the police here, or why would they say such things about the cops?  We trust our elected officials too much as a general rule.

    Also, remember that when you’re a police officer, your coworkers are also your most trusted friends.  Could you call the police on your best friend?  Those emotions can be powerful enough to create doubt in a lot of people.

  • El Santo

    I’m not The_L1985, but I think I can clear up at least some of your confusion.

    1.  “Sue” does indeed mean to bring action in civil court, whether for money damages or to compel some specific action.  For instance, if you were fired unjustly, you could sue your employer either for some amount of money or to make them reinstate you in your old job.

    2.  The criminal equivalent of suit is prosecution.

    3.  The reason we have two different words is because the object of a criminal trial is very different from the object of a civil trial.  In a civil case, the person who initiates the suit (called the “plaintiff”) is the individual who believes himself to be wronged, and the aim of the proceeding is to undo the harm caused to him, or at least to compensate him for it.  In a criminal case, action is initiated by the government (whether state or federal), and the aim is to punish the wrongdoer.  The victim herself has no role in a criminal trial except possibly as a witness, and may not receive any compensation for her injuries even if the prosecution is successful.

    4.  The criminal courts in America cover individuals only, not governments or corporations.  This makes sense, when you think about it from a practical standpoint:  how exactly would you send the state of New Hampshire or Ford Motor Corporation to prison?

    5.  Sovereign immunity applies to state and federal governments, but not to governments of lesser rank (cities, counties, parishes, etc.).  Furthermore, the federal government has waived sovereign immunity in a wide array of circumstances by statute.  That means Congress has said that in all cases meeting certain general descriptions (you’d have to look up the individual statutes to say which, and I don’t have that kind of time right now), the federal government will submit to being sued.  Presumably future Congresses could repeal the laws waiving sovereign immunity, but that hasn’t happened yet.

    6.  The main purpose of the 11th Amendment was to establish a mechanism whereby states governments in dispute with each other could get those disputes resolved on neutral territory.  For example, Maryland and Virginia have been wrangling over water rights in the Potomac River (which acts as the border between them) literally for centuries, and the way those lawsuits are handled is governed by the 11th Amendment.  For the purposes of your question, the 11th Amendment is more a distraction than anything else.

    7.  As I said in my big, long post above, individual government employees or officials can indeed be sued or prosecuted, but only AS INDIVIDUALS.  The principle is called the “stripping doctrine,” and it was intended to address exactly the sort of concerns that you raise.  Note also that because American law allows for suit or prosecution to be brought against multiple people for the same offense (the targets of such proceedings are called “co-defendants”), the stripping doctrine could in theory be applied to the whole membership of, say, a police department or a district attorney’s office, although it would be highly unusual to do so.

  • AlsnB

     I think it says something really sad about the state of our country that I was confused by the first story because I couldn’t picture the scenario playing out with anyone BUT a Christian being the big jerk.  (Particularly a politician.  It seems like non-Christians can get elected to office but they have to be exceedingly polite and discreet and well-mannered about their beliefs.  Whereas Christian politicos seem to be encouraged to be obnoxious about it.)

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    3.  Yes, “sue” refers solely to monetary damages and the like.  For
    example, if a doctor accidentally leaves a small piece of medical
    equipment in your body during surgery, you can sue him for monetary
    damages (usually the amount necessary to get the item removed, plus a
    small amount to pay off the lawyers and such).

    Ah. So I must admit I used the wrong term. I meant the general word for “take to court” (is there a general word, or is it always differentiated into civil or criminal?)

    Also, in your example, I would want the doctor prosecuted for neglience in addition.

    2. Wikipedia is not always reliable; however, here it’s not actually
    contradicting what I said.  Note it says “SOME forms of suit,” not all
    civil suits in general.  A class-action suit (a.k.a. “tort”) is a suit
    by hundreds or thousands of people at once, so it makes sense that you
    wouldn’t want one of those filed against the government.

    Sorry, I’m still unclear on the meaning.
    You said that 11th am. means only that people outside GA can not sue (civil) the state of GA. I inferred that you mean that people from GA can sue the state, therefore.

    Wikipedia says the state of GA can not be sued. I understand that nobody can sue the state of GA, whether inside or outside.

    Which is correct?

  • AlsnB

     I sort of get where you’re coming from, although I hadn’t thought about it before.  I definitely think I shouldn’t be trashing a group’s materials just because I disagreed with them.  If I were less lazy, a better approach might be to make the effort to provide a counter set of materials.  (But I am lazy so I guess I still might just decide to toss something.  Morally ambiguous SLACKTIVISM.)
    Of course, there are some materials–for example legitimate hate speech of the sort that people could be prosecuted for if they weren’t dropping fliers or bulletins anonymously–that I wouldn’t hesitate to toss.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    “Because I still do not understand and have not gotten an answer as to why people say “we can not prosecute” DAs or cops.”

    It is because those particular people are misinformed.

    Thank you! Finally.

    However, (sorry ;-), this only raises more questions for me:

    Is there no institution / group to bring these cases where prosecution is possible routinly into court? You have the ACLU which is concerned about civil rights, but a private group.

    Can they only bring civil cases, not criminal ones? Are they limited in funds and time and so only take a few cases?

    Is there no prosecutor general or similar who oversees a state / the union for misdeeds and brings them to court? (Is it a problem of jurisdiction again, that the feds can’t prosecute on a local level, and that not all states have a state DA?)

    Should not such an institution exist to counteract lack of probity? (Or would an institution itself suffer from it)?

  • The_L1985

    “Ah. So I must admit I used the wrong term. I meant the general word
    for “take to court” (is there a general word, or is it always
    differentiated into civil or criminal?)

    Also, in your example, I would want the doctor prosecuted for neglience in addition.”

    “Take to court,” as it is generally used, refers also to civil suits.  In the example, the patient can’t have the doctor prosecuted, but if the doctor is arrested for negligence, then yes, he/she can go to prison.  Arrest is generally a necessary part of criminal prosecution, and since you need a warrant to arrest someone*, it’s not exactly super-easy to send people to prison (for good reasons).

    “You said that 11th am. means only that people outside GA can not sue
    (civil) the state of GA. I inferred that you mean that people from GA
    can sue the state, therefore.”

    The 11th Amendment doesn’t affect whether or not people from GA can sue GA.  I don’t know what other laws may affect suing states (El Santo says you can’t do it at all, but I honestly don’t know), just that it isn’t mentioned in that particular amendment.

    *4th and 5th Amendments:  You can’t search or seize someone’s property without a search warrant, and you can’t arrest someone without a warrant for that person’s arrest.

  • Emcee, cubed

    There is some recourse, though it is limited. Eminent domain has all kinds of issues, some of which are in legal limbo right now, because of people fighting it for just those reasons (they think the government is abusing eminent domain.) So yes, you can sue to stop the eminent domain, and likely you can sue for more money if what they propose to give you is too low. But eminent domain has a fairly broad latitude, so wrongdoing is really tough to prove. 

    An easier to understand example with less gray area. A policeman is in a high speed chase of a criminal, and crashes into your parked car. In most cases I believe, the police department carries insurance that will cover the cost of the repairs or replacement. What you can’t do is sue the police officer or the department as a whole for additional monies (what are called “punitive damages”). Those type of damages are used as a punishment to try to stop the offending behavior. To punish a policeman or a department for doing its job is not something we want to happen. A policeman who says they aren’t going to chase a criminal because they could get sued if they get into an accident is pretty useless.

  • The_L1985

    “Can they only bring civil cases, not criminal ones?”

    Bingo!  Only the courts can bring a criminal case against someone, and you can’t have more than one criminal trial for the same person and the same exact offense.  (For example, Joe murders Sally, but is acquitted in court due to lack of evidence.  Joe can’t be tried for Sally’s murder again, but if he kills somebody else, he can be tried for that second murder.)

    Basically, a suspect is arrested*, then the prosecution and defense prepare their case.  The defendant (suspected criminal) then gets his legally-required trial by jury, and is either acquitted (found innocent) or sentenced (because he was found guilty).  You have to be arrested first.

    To be “tried” generally refers to the criminal courts (to help distinguish it from being “sued”).

    * Forgot an exception to the “must have an arrest warrant” rule:  if the police actually witness you committing a crime, or if you attack an officer, they can arrest you on the spot.

  • El Santo

    “In the case of the deaf woman, or the DAs office, it was a group of people, however, showing that that specific office/ precint had a bad attitude towards the law and civil rights and correct proceedigns. That’s where I would expect the whole office to be criminally charged to stop that.”

    Ah, okay.  There’s another misconception about the system buried in this paragraph.  In the US, a great many laws carry no ciminal penalties for violating them; the actions they forbid are still illegal, but the enforcement mechanism is strictly civil.  Most American discrimination law is like that.  Things can get very complicated here, too, because government agencies are allowed to sue individuals (and corporations, although that’s a side issue here), including in cases of official misconduct, and there are whole agencies charged specifically with enforcing the law by civil means.  The Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, doesn’t try to put polluters in jail.  Instead, it sues them for violation of the Clean Air & Water Act and other such legislation and/or regulations.  The federal Department of Justice is also permitted, under some circumstances, to step in and sue rogue government officials for civil rights violations, and rampant abuse of minorities falls into that category.  However, that usually requires a private citizen to bring such violations to the enforcers’ attention– not so much as a matter of law, but as a matter of practicality.  That is, it’s a huge country, and there’s a limited number of federal agents to notice things going wrong.  And of course there is that discretion issue you raise.  So again, the system is by no means perfect, but there are mechanisms in place to deal with these problems.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    The problem is, a lot of the places with corrupt cops are also in
    low-income areas.  Poor people are generally assumed to be criminals
    when they bad-mouth the police here, or why would they say such things
    about the cops?  We trust our elected officials too much as a general
    rule.

    The newspaper articles show a very clear side, however. If it’s one cop (or even two cops) against a citizen, it quickly becomes a case of “he said, she said” (as in a lot of other instances). But in the case of the deaf woman (to use the latest example), there was a witness to the cops shouting verbally only at her before subduing her; her previous call to 911 with the note that she was deaf – and the dispatcher passing it onto the cops – is a matter of record (most likely – 911 is recorded, yes?); that x amount of time passed until she had acess to an interpreter is a matter of record…

    Even considering the sad state of the media in general – as many articles and Fred specifically have often lamented – with lack of adequate reporters, or proper investigating, those articles do not sound like a simple parroting of statements or quick jumping to conclusions without facts. They look like a story of things gone wrong.

    Also, remember that when you’re a police officer, your coworkers are also your most trusted friends.  Could you call the police on your best friend?  Those emotions can be powerful enough to create doubt in a lot of people.

    That’s where training comes in – somewhere there was an article about individual police schools trying a new track to hammer it into their students that the law is more important than protecting a buddy with false loyalty.

    A supervisor outside the normal structure, or an anymous line people could call, just to voice their doubts, would probably be helpful “Today I saw my buddy do x, and it didn’t feel right. I didn’t speak up, because I didn’t want to break file in front of a suspect, but now I don’t know what to do.”
    Or if the boss regularly has meetings discussing what happened at a particular event and how things should have been done to raise awareness.

    If the general perception both inside and outside is that most police stick together more than that they obey the law / are bad apples it’s very difficult to turn around.

    If on the other hand you start with a culture of “all cops are helpers of citizens” like beat cops and the cops themselves seeing as upholding the law first, then seeing bad behaviour will cause a different reaction of “You can’t do that!!!” from both fellow cops and citizens.

    Terry Pratchett describes how Vimes trains the city guards in Ankh-Morpork similarly: first, they are lectured by a troll (very single-minded) on the law and how they are not allowed to break it (when interviewing suspects etc.)
    Then, a mean cynic street cop takes them outside and shows them the dirty forbidden tricks to survive the mean criminals.
    This steps always comes after the first automatic step towards the law. Otherwise, if you take them out to the street first, they learn to be nasty to survive (shoot first for protection) and disregard the law too easily.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    4.  The criminal courts in America cover individuals only, not
    governments or corporations.  This makes sense, when you think about it
    from a practical standpoint:  how exactly would you send the state of
    New Hampshire or Ford Motor Corporation to prison?

    Well, the fish stinks from the head. If the whole culture and attitude of a group is wrong, then the whole thing must be cleared out, instead of picking one lower-rank scapegoat and continuing as usual.

    With corporations, the problem of diluted responsiblity and how to make people accountable in court has been addressed by Fred several times in the past – we need new morals and new laws not only if corporations are “persons”, but also to adequatly deal with new problems of a few people giving orders, many people following them that cause grief for thousands of victims, but nobody being responsible for a direct criminal act.

    Yes, it’s practically difficult, but I think it’s important to find a solution.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    6.  The main purpose of the 11th Amendment was to establish a mechanism
    whereby states governments in dispute with each other could get those
    disputes resolved on neutral territory.  For example, Maryland and
    Virginia have been wrangling over water rights in the Potomac River
    (which acts as the border between them) literally for centuries, and the
    way those lawsuits are handled is governed by the 11th Amendment.  For
    the purposes of your question, the 11th Amendment is more a distraction
    than anything else.

    Thank you, that explains the original idea better. I understand sovereign immunity in places which have a sovereign (like monarchies) because that is a holdover from being special, blessed, not-ordinary-mortal etc.

    But exemptions in a democracy don’t make sense to me.

    Note also that because American law allows for suit or prosecution to be
    brought against multiple people for the same offense (the targets of
    such proceedings are called “co-defendants”), the stripping doctrine
    could in theory be applied to the whole membership of, say, a police
    department or a district attorney’s office, although it would be highly
    unusual to do so.

    So if a whole DA office or police precinct shows in their behaviour a blatant disregard in their whole attitude, the whole group could be brought up for criminal prosecution under one suit, and thus house be cleaned?
    That sounds like it could work. But if you say it’s unusual, why is not done often?

  • El Santo

    “(El Santo says you can’t do it at all, but I honestly don’t know)”

    Well, it’s like the situation with the feds, only x50.  Every state has its own regime of what is and is not covered under sovereign immunity, and I didn’t want to open up that can of worms while I was trying to CLARIFY the issue, you know?

  • Münchner Kindl

     Thank you, but this example was not what I meant*. A cop crashing during a high speed case is not wrong behaviour, it’s an accident. The cases I meant were all wrong behaviour – cops not checking up on legal papers; DAs withholding evidence…

    * Though if a lot of cops crash, it’s a good idea to force the dept. to have special courses to avoid crashes during chases. I’ve also read that a lot of dept. stopped having high speed chases despite Hollywood because there are so many bystanders damaged, and to set up roadblocks instead.

  • El Santo

    “So if a whole DA office or police precinct shows in their behaviour a blatant disregard in their whole attitude, the whole group could be brought up for criminal prosecution under one suit, and thus house be cleaned?That sounds like it could work. But if you say it’s unusual, why is not done often?

    Again, it’s a question of practicality.  If you’re the plaintiff trying to get some semblance of justice, it’s just a lot quicker, easier, and cheaper (those legal bills do add up, after all) to pick out the worst of the bad apples and go after them with every weapon at your disposal than it is to try to prove that the whole barrel is at fault.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Basically, a suspect is arrested*, then the prosecution and defense
    prepare their case.  The defendant (suspected criminal) then gets his
    legally-required trial by jury, and is either acquitted (found innocent)
    or sentenced (because he was found guilty).  You have to be arrested
    first.

    But there are two kinds of arrest then – the one with a warrant/ witnessing a crime; and the one where police just arrests people and throws them into jail without charging them.

    Or do the cops in the unjust cases always claim “it was an attack on a cop/ resisting arrest”? Can you actually be arrested for a traffic ticket, or only because your asking “why?” is twisted into “resisting arrest”?

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    In the US, a great many laws carry no ciminal penalties for violating
    them; the actions they forbid are still illegal, but the enforcement
    mechanism is strictly civil.  Most American discrimination law is like
    that.

    OH! That is … disappointing to me. Civil rights are so very important in the US, since they are the only protection against mistreatment (and because of the history), and yet a cop beating or tasering a suspect can only be charged civily?

    Shouldn’t there be a medium step to make it more drastic to stop cops and officials misusing their power? Like those punitive damages mentioned above, an automatic damage for each instance?

    The federal Department of Justice is also permitted, under some
    circumstances, to step in and sue rogue government officials for civil
    rights violations, and rampant abuse of minorities falls into that
    category.  However, that usually requires a private citizen to bring
    such violations to the enforcers’ attention– not so much as a matter of
    law, but as a matter of practicality.  That is, it’s a huge country,
    and there’s a limited number of federal agents to notice things going
    wrong.

    So if the victims of the newspaper articles; or the reporters; or readers of the article – went to the DOJ (wrote them) and told them of this misbehaviour and that this was serious misconduct – the DoJ would investigate? Would they be obliged to, or could they say “not enough staff, sorry”, “not serious enough, business as usual if suspects are tasered, that’s necessary? (Can’t make an omelette without eggs)?

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    The Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, doesn’t try to put
    polluters in jail.  Instead, it sues them for violation of the Clean Air
    & Water Act and other such legislation and/or regulations.

    Doesn’t that make it rather toothless? Isn’t it easier for a big corporation to pay a small fine out of the petty cash? (Shouldn’t the fine be a percentage of total income, plus the option of jail time for the chairman /CEO for serious, aggravated, continous offence?)

  • Münchner Kindl

    Sorry, have to leave for tonight. But thanks for all the help in clarifying the issue. It’s still complicated for me to get through and keep things seperated, but it does look less bad as it did originally. (Though I still think a lot needs to be done systematically aside from practical problems, but that’s another topic).

  • El Santo

    “But there are two kinds of arrest then – the one with a warrant/ witnessing a crime; and the one where police just arrests people and throws them into jail without charging them.”

    No, a warrantless arrest still requires the police to charge you with something, or to release you within a set period of time (usually 24 hours, but it probably varies somewhat from one jurisdiction to another).  Once you’ve been formally charged, there’s a hearing before a low-ranking judge to set the amount of your bail (the amount of money that you’d need to pay in order to avoid staying in jail until your trial– which you really want to do, since the delay between arrest and trial can amount to months).  Then comes the grand jury hearing, at which another judge and 24 more or less randomly selected citizens hear the preliminary evidence against you, and decide whether or not the police have enough evidence against you to merit an actual trial.  If not, the charges are dropped, and you go on your way.  But if the grand jury is impressed with the evidence against you, trial proceedings begin.

    “Or do the cops in the unjust cases always claim ‘it was an attack on a cop/ resisting arrest’? Can you actually be arrested for a traffic ticket, or only because your asking ‘why?’ is twisted into ‘resisting arrest’?”

    All too often that is EXACTLY what happens.  It isn’t allowed, naturally, but cops can be criminals, too.

  • The_L1985

     If on the other hand you start with a culture of “all cops are helpers of citizens”

    We have a culture of “Police officers enforce the law.”  The implication is that the law is always right.

  • The_L1985

     You have just pinpointed exactly why poor people tend not to get much in the way of justice in this country.

  • The_L1985

     Depends on how much the EPA is suing them for.

  • Emcee, cubed

    No, cops who use undue force can be prosecuted criminally. The officers involved with the Rodney King beating were tried in the criminal courts. They were acquitted because the legal definition of “undue force” and “resisting arrest” aren’t common knowledge, and when the jury was given those definitions, they had reasonable doubt as to whether the officers had, in fact, broken the law according to those definitions.

    Also, ignoring instructions from a police officer (that are not in themselves illegal) is actually a crime. So failing to stop when police say “Freeze”, failing to get out of the car when asked, refusing to submit to a breathilizer test, or even failing to pull over when you see the blinking lights and hear the siren behind you, are all legitimate reasons for officers to bring you in. Now, what happens after that can be in question. As mentioned above, they should only be able to hold you 24 hours unless they have a jailable offense to charge you with (the “not listening to a police officer” crime is usually only a fine – but it is a legit reason to bring you in to see if there are any outstanding warrants, etc. (Also, failing to submit to a breathilizer test is a jailable offense. It is considered a tacit admission that you are drunk driving.) 

  • Rhubarbarian82

     The officers involved with the Rodney King beating were tried in the criminal courts. 

    For a more current example, there are currently two Fullerton PD officers facing charges in the beating death of Kelly Thomas last year. One of them faces a second degree murder charge (we’ll see if it sticks, but if there was ever a cop who deserved it, the one on trial certainly does). Charges may still be brought against a third officer. 

    Personally, I think there’s going to be increasing friction between easily captured video evidence and department spokespersons’ default response of “resisting arrest” and “justified force.”

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    a cop beating or tasering a suspect can only be charged civily?

    That’s not exactly what is meant by “civil rights violation.”  Tasering and beating are both considered “battery” which is a crime and one can do jail time for that.

    A civil rights violation is something like not hiring a person because of his or her race or religion or disability.  And we do not send people to jail for things like that. 

    However, the term “only” doesn’t really apply, because we have an idiom in English — “hit (him/her/them) in the pocketbook.”  In our culture, at least, having to give someone you wronged money, or having money withheld by someone you wronged, is often all the punishment needed.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    I didn’t read all the comments, because Holy Crap, and I didn’t want to get into a long discussion of the general legal principles everyone is confused about (“prosecutorial immunity” is a different thing than sovereign immunity for instance, and it does exist, but it’s not absolute.)

    I just wanted to point out that fraud is not protected speech. Therefore Scientoligist have no more right to promote their culty-MLM scheme as a religion than Bernie Madoff does – just that nobody has caught up with them yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    It’s also worth noting that when someone says, “We can’t do anything about it,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything preventing them from pursuing criminal charges; it often means that they are not confident that they can make a sufficient case to secure a prosecution.

    There can be any number of reasons why a prosecutor might reach that conclusion:  corruption, political pressure, witnesses who are unwilling to testify, the fear of losing a high-profile case and deciding that not even bothering is the more prudent course of action, etc.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Um please, don’t start getting snide.

    I find it amusing that this sentence starts with “um”, and that it’s the second response that starts that way, because it’s forbidden on TWoP to start a reply with “um” since it almost always is an indication that the poster is – yep – being snide.

  • PJ Evans

    two Fullerton PD officers facing charges in the beating death of Kelly Thomas

    The Fullerton PD has said, just in the last couple of weeks, that Thomas was innocent. It’s not much, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Personally, I think there’s going to be increasing friction between
    easily captured video evidence and department spokespersons’ default
    response of “resisting arrest” and “justified force.”

    To which some have responded by abusing state wiretapping laws, which in effect criminalizes single-party recording of something, even if it’s in public.

  • Münchner Kindl

     You mean like this http://www.cracked.com/article_18620_6-completely-legal-ways-cops-can-screw-you.html

    Sadly, that entire genre might be on its way out. Currently, three states had made it illegal to film on-duty police officers, even (and especially) if they are beating up handicapped minorities in the middle of the town square.

    In Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland, they require both parties to
    consent to any recording for it to be legal. So, that cop whom you just
    filmed spouting profanities that reinvent the very idea of racism?
    Unless he always dreamt of being an Internet sensation, he can easily
    bust your ass and confiscate your camera.There are 12 states in total that enforce an all-party-consent law, but
    only three interpret it to include public places of gathering with
    absolutely no expectation of privacy. So on one hand, that kind of sucks
    for people trying to record police misconduct, but on the other, hey,
    apparently security cameras are now illegal in parts of the Northeast!
    Looting party next week!
    Read more: 6 Completely Legal Ways The Cops Can Screw You | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/article_18620_6-completely-legal-ways-cops-can-screw-you_p2.html#ixzz275ZvOIjS

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    I find it amusing that this sentence starts with “um”, and that it’s the
    second response that starts that way, because it’s forbidden on TWoP to
    start a reply with “um” since it almost always is an indication that
    the poster is – yep – being snide.

    TWop = Television without Pity? Or do you mean something else?

    And I thought um is just a noise of clearing your throat to get attention or get your thoughts, like hm?

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    That’s not what is meant by “civil rights violation.”  Tasering and
    beating are both considered “battery” which is a crime and one can do
    jail time for that.

    A civil rights violation is something like not hiring a person
    because of his or her race or religion or disability.  And we do not
    send people to jail for things like that.

    Well, for example during the Rodney King trial, when the cops were let off despite beating King when he was already on the ground and subdued (which I would consider battery), the media said the only way the feds could get in and get a new trial was with civil rights violation of Rodney King – because they had no jurisdiction otherwise, and because there is no federal standard on how cops should treat people, so apparently “beating a suspect” can still be explained as “resisting arrest”.

  • Münchner Kindl

    So now that I have (I think) understood the principle – what resources would the Sikh shop owner have had against the mayor?

    I assume, given the statement about religion, that she was not acting in her capacity as mayor enforcing an ordinance (against littering or hate speech), but as private citizen. So theoretically, the shop owner could have told her to leave because of house right, if necessary called the police to get her out. (In practice, it would probably be unwise to get the mayor pissed off at you  that way, esp. in a small town).

    If the mayor had acted officially – that would be a violation of 1st amendment, yes? She would need an ordinance or something passed by the city council to back her up – she can’t make up her own rules, because mayors are executive, not judiscative, correct?
    But the law / rule/ ordinance itself would be illegal, could be taken to court and struck down, right? (Although that might take some time and require ressources like the ACLU).

    So is there any way the mayor was not only a jerk, but legally acting?

    Again, depositing a bunch of flyers at once in a public park would fall under littering, I understand that, but that’s not described here.

    Would it make a difference if the shop owner had put up a sign “Please take one” or can that be assumed/ inferred reasonably?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Define “Fraud”. Because when dealing with religions, I fail to see how Scientology is less fraud than Roman Catholicism  (It’s good to be sovereign ruler of your own country because all those people accept you as the successor of Saint Peter), or indeed, any religion that is not the True Religion.

  • Ross Thompson

    *4th and 5th Amendments:  You can’t search or seize someone’s property without a search warrant, and you can’t arrest someone without a warrant for that person’s arrest unless they’re committing the crime right in front of the police.

    Except at airports, or by reading their email, or tapping their phone, or any one of the dozens of other “loopholes” the Supreme Court has recently seen fit to carve into the 4th.

  • Ross Thompson

    We have a culture of “Police officers enforce the law.”  The implication is that the law is always right, that police officers always obey the law, and more chillingly, that the law is more important than individual people.

    Based on watching cop shops (so probably not entirely 100% accurate), American police tend to have a culture of “the law is what criminals use to get off on a technicality”, which leads to “getting the bad guy” being more important for the police than “following the law”.

    In contrast, British police (again, mostly from TV, post-1980′s) had the culture of “the law is what makes sure we got the right guy”, which leads to more respect for the procedure, even if it means the presumed bad guy walks.

  • Tricksterson

    No littering, they were on the counter in his store.  And in most cases of pamphlets like this there’s no sign, they’re just there for anyone who wants them.

  • TheFaithfulStone

     Please.  The Catholic Church does not charge you $5,000 to shock you with a nine volt battery, then require you to ditch your friends and family, then sue people who point out that they’re a cult (not because they can win, but because it’s a pain in your ass.)

    In other words, one of these things is not at all like the other.  That is, for all of it’s problems, the Catholic Church is NOT ENTIRELY a dangerous cult of grifters and con-men founded by a paranoid drug addict.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    But they ARE an organization happily devoted to ensuring kiddie diddlers never get the justice they deserve. (>_<)

  • Emcee, cubed

    There are two factors at work in why the Feds used civil rights violations to go after the officers in the Rodney King case.

    First is jurisdiction, again. Federal authorities do not prosecute crimes like battery. You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the federal government should be allowed to prosecute anyone who has broken any laws. This is not the case. Because the specifics of laws can vary from state to state (yes, every state has a battery law, but penalties, exceptions, details, etc. may be different), the states themselves are responsible for enforcing those laws. Federal authorities only have the right to prosecute when a federal law has been broken. There is no federal battery law, so the federal government can’t prosecute for that. (Part of the reason for this break-up of jurisdiction comes from the idea that the states wanted to united for their mutual benefit, but able to act independently of each other. So this defining of jurisdiction is a feature, not a bug.)

    The second is what we call “double jeopardy”. The officers had already been tried and acquitted of the battery charges. They are not allowed to be tried again for the same instance of the same crime, even if it is a different court. If this was not the case, a person could be dragged through court after court until either someone found them guilty or possibly until it reach the US Supreme Court, who would them sent every minute of the day dealing with all these little cases that shouldn’t have come to them in the first place. So because the officers had been tried, the Feds couldn’t try them again for the same thing. 

  • Ross Thompson

    To be fair, the Catholic Church might have been founded by a paranoid drug addict; how would we know?

  • Mark Z.

    Most churches straight-up ask you to give them money. If you give it to them, and get nothing in return, that’s not fraud. They didn’t promise you anything.

    Scientology sells services, which ought to make them accountable for the quality of their services. For example, there’s one step in the Scientology program that’s supposed to make you immune to the harmful effects of drugs. I assume most Scientologists don’t immediately go and test this, but if they did, they could sue.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the federal government
    should be allowed to prosecute anyone who has broken any laws. This is
    not the case. Because the specifics of laws can vary from state to state
    (yes, every state has a battery law, but penalties, exceptions,
    details, etc. may be different), the states themselves are responsible
    for enforcing those laws.

    Yes and no. I know on one level that in the US, the principle of states being independent trumps the principle that standardisation both on practical (one design for fake-proof ID instead of 50 different drivers licenses, some on paper!) and on principal (a minimum standard for education or on what cops should never do to a subject) issues would be desirable.

    On the other hand, I have a hard time remembering it because my instinctive response to cops beating a suspect is “They are not allowed to do that!”  That they can weasel out because in this state the battery is defined different once a cop has been assaulted, is too strange for me to fully accept; it’s one of the things I think your people should change.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Scientology sells services, which ought to make them accountable
    for the quality of their services. For example, there’s one step in the
    Scientology program that’s supposed to make you immune to the harmful
    effects of drugs. I assume most Scientologists don’t immediately go and
    test this, but if they did, they could sue.

    Wasn’t there way back in the 70s when they started an investigation by the FDA or consumer protection agency (I forgot whether it was an US or German office) who looked at the E-meter and found it didn’t work at all – that is, it didn’t register like a normal EKG or similar meter would (the principle of measuring skin current for stress wasn’t invented by Hubbard after all)?

    They tried to stop them, but the influence of the Scientologists in the higher levels and/ or their campaign of harrassment made them drop the issue for not worth the battle, IIRC.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Well, not going by cop shows (which are fiction – rule of drama – and written by non-cops mostly) but by those newspaper articles and how the defenders of cops on messageboards argue vs. how newspapers in my country write/ how the cops here talk at open door functions, the attitude in the US is:

    “there’s lots of crazies / criminals out there with guns – every time I stop somebody to give them a traffic ticket, they might pull a gun and shoot me, so I better shoot first to protect me”

    Obviously, this is difficult for cops on the one hand to legitmatly protect themselves, on the other hand, to not shoot a 10year old black boy with a super-soaker out of overreaction.

    Better training, better standards, better selection process and better pay would help, along with different laws (the whole war on drugs escalation has not helped).

    vs. “The police is your friend and helper” (this was the official slogan back when I was a kid) and they serve to protect citizens.

    But there is a cultural difference : we not only have less crazies, but also less guns. A cop here does not imagine that a traffic stop will turn into a shoot-out.
    There’s also a different emphasis in the law itself. Paragraph one of our Constitution says *”Human dignity is unviolatable. To respect and protect her is the obligation of all state power”. This is the basic idea for all other rights.

    So a cop protecting the law can not violate the rights of one individual for the greater good; the law is about each individual. The greater god doctrine has been refused several times as argument.

    *(Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar. Sie zu achten und zu schützen ist Verpflichtung aller staatlichen Gewalt) http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/GG.htm#1
    While this is technically bad grammar (Human dignity can and has been
    violated; it should be “shall” instead of “is”,) obviously the intent
    was to show how important this is.

  • The_L1985

     Good luck.  Remember, from 1783-1789, the U.S. wasn’t one country: it was a loose confederation of allied countries.


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