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Another Good Reason The U.S. Needs The American Civil Liberties Union

A recent case in Portland, Oregon where a Portland Community College instructor was falsely arrested on prostitution charges for merely waiting for a bus for a ride home is a another pretty good example why the United States needs civil liberties watchdogs like the American Civil Liberties Union.

On 82nd Avenue, there is a SouthEast Center Campus of Portland Community College, and a young female instructor was merely waiting for a bus to arrive, before Portland vice cops swooped down on her and held her for two hours on false prostitution arrest charges. The city eventually paid her $5,000 in damages for the false arrest, but it doesn't take away from the fact of a cavalier legal system way too fast to put citizens in jail on false charges even if no evidence of a crime even exists.

The city and the police both attempted to defend this arrest claiming that her behavior was suspicious merely because some buses passed her by and she did not get on. However, often many bus stops are used for as many as five different bus lines going to different locations and some buses are "limited" ones that do not make stops. Waiting for more than one bus is certainly not uncommon for anyone who rides a bus. Another claim was that she talked to someone in a car. However, the city failed to prove that wasn't one of her students who might have seen her at the bus stop and attempted to offer her ride that she might have declined because they weren't traveling in her direction.

The fact of the matter is society cannot be so concerned with stomping out victimless crimes such as actual prostitution that innocent citizens are swooped-up in government dragnets and arrested on false charges. Civil liberties organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have to wage an ongoing fight with local, state and federal governments who go too far in laying out government dragnets. Capturing college instructors who merely wait for a bus ride home from work is a poor law enforcement practice. Just because a college instructor is young or even attractive is not a very good a reason to put her in jail on false prostitution charges with no evidence of her ever having committed any crime. The $5,000 in damages paid to this innocent victim hardly go far enough to repay her for this human rights outrage against the right of a young woman to wait for a bus ride home from work without the fear of false arrest.


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Comments (24)

Stan25:
The city eventually paid her $5,000 in damages for the false arrest, but it doesn't take away from the fact of a cavalier legal system way too fast to put citizens in jail on false charges even if no evidence of a crime even exists.

Yet you, Paul, and the rest of your socialists butt buddies were all too ready to fry Ted Stevens, Larry Craig and the most egregious of all, your continued howls to have Karl Rove and most the Bush Administration's head on a silver platter over the supposed leak of Valerie Plame's alleged covert assignment at the C.I.A and other so-called crimes.

You and your friends did manage to get a conviction (falsely I might add) of Scooter Libby and he did not have anything to do with the leak. That was Richard Armitage that did that, but you and your friends knew that and still railroaded Libby.

Now some poor Communist college prof gets falsely arrested on a prostitution rap, you scream bloody murder and drag in the ACLU. While the prof, was eventually cleared and let go, by the cops, you and your ilk did not afford the same standard to the above mentioned people. It seems to me that the ACLU should have been called into these cases too, I doubt if they would have done anything to help.

Paul Hooson:

Stan25, you do know that is was the Bush Administration's own Justice Department that brought those charges against Stevens don't you? It was the Eric Holder and the Obama Administration's Justice Department that looked at this case and decided that these charges were improperly brought. That doesn't completely mean that Stevens did no wrong, just that these charges were not properly brought against him.

In the case of the college instructor, she made no attempt to illegally sell sex or break any law. She merely waited for a bus. There were no grounds at all for an arrest to be made in this case at all. This was a complete civil liberties violation.

Maynard:

I agree with you on this one Paul. The ACLU is doing the right thing here.

Tim:

Gald they could break away from defending NAMBLA to take the case on.

Lee Ward:

Republicans used to care about civil liberties.

Now they make butt buddy jokes and think about NAMBLA.

Hmmm, I'm beginning to see a pattern here....

Allen:

Stan, where is your proof that the teacher is a communist? Either prove it or STFU.

epador:

While I certainly believe one is innocent until proven guilty, the "facts" I see here with no supporting links merely show that when confronted with a suit from the ACLU, the Portland authorities backed away and settled out of court for a small sum.

From what is presented here, it is also possible to conclude she may have been guilty, or at least acting suspiciously enough to warrant police interest.

It is entirely within ACLU ethics to defend a guilty person who did not receive absolutely down to the smallest detail legal rights. Just because the authorities abandoned their case does not necessarily mean they were wrong or she was innocent.

This case certainly sounds unfortunate for the woman detained, but I'm not willing to determine her an innocent abused from the information provided. And I'm not ready to exonerate the ACLU for this particular episode.

Lee Ward:

"It is entirely within ACLU ethics to defend a guilty person who did not receive absolutely down to the smallest detail legal rights."

You bet it is - in this country it shouldn't happen any other way.

The line has to be drawn somewhere - or you are faced with "how much of your rights can be lost before it matters" problem.

And the courts should always, always err on the side of our civil rights, and not the opposite.

Tim:

Lee, I'm not joking about NAMBLA. The ACLU has defended those sick bastards, while at the same time helping to sue the Boy Souts. That may seem reasonable to you, but I find it rather perverse.

Lee Ward:

And the ACLU has defended the KKK also.

NAMBLA and the KKK have rights too - and defending them in support of their civil rights doesn't mean one is in agreement with them on their core issues.

If the Mayor of your town gives the KKK a permit to demonstrate does that mean the city or the mayor specifically 'supports' the KKK?

Of course not. Just as the ACLU defending NAMBLA or anyone else does not mean they support that group's goals, platform,. etc.

Bashing the ACLU is just another example of what conservatives do without thinking.

If you support this country and its Constitution, you should support the ACLU.

epador:

My main problem with the ACLU is not who they represent, but that they are experts at disingenuous tactics both in the courtroom, and in the public forum, and have no compunctions at using these tactics to destroy those they oppose. A secondary problem I have is that they will, as Lee admits, go to extremes on the personal rights issues that result in very harmful and dangerous results for people and our nation.

Chad:

I'd like to know how prostitution is a victimless crime. Women all over the world, and yes, here in the states, are forced into prostitution against their will. How are they not victims? Many are brutally beaten, and psychologically controlled by their pimps. Chances of these women (or men) developing STDs that can ravage the mind and body are very high. How are they not victims? If the act of selling/buying sex is illegal in an area, how would you not expect to go to jail for it? If you want to be a prostitute (I don't think that many women make that their first choice) go to where it's legal. Or get it made legal through legislative means. But if you are breaking the law, you get arrested. I don't know if this instructor was guilty or not, but the whole idea that prostitution is "victimless" and should therefore be ignored is ridiculous. If it were victimless it wouldn't be illegal. The ACLU and other civil rights groups should be out there, however, the ACLU has in most cases shown itself willing to only try to represent people/groups that agree with it's own ideals. There have been exceptions to this occassionally, but not often. They should have been hip deep and swinging on Heller vs. DC(just to name one), but not one peep. What about Roe vs. Wade? The woman that brought that case to the supreme court has asked to have the verdict overturned (she is the only person that can legally have that done), but the supreme court has denied her motions and won't even allow her to present her case for years now(when by law they are required to hear her case). Where is the ACLU? Not standing up for her rights, because they aren't what the ACLU believes in. There have been exceptions, but those are glaring cases where if the ACLU is non-partisan, they should be involved. Those are cases that came before the highest court in the land, and were about individual rights. Is that not what they do?

Lee Ward:

"Forcing someone into prostitution" is a crime in and of itself - and not victimless.

Prostitution itself is a victimless crime.

Forcing someone to do something against their will is not a victimless crime, but the crime they're then forced to commit is a separate and unique matter.

Chad's remark illustrates one of the ways conservatives twist facts to support their arguments. Set-up strawman arguments like this, claiming that because a percentage of woman may be forced into prostitution that means prostitution isn't "victimless."

Just another example of an attempt to take right wing morality and jam it down the throats of everyone else by distorting the facts...

Chad:

So slavery to feed prostitution is really the problem? Without prostitution the slavery wouldn't have occured. I'm not talking about morality, I'm talking about the value of a human life. Many women around the world are forced into prostitution. It's a known fact, verifiable by any number of agencies, NGOs, and our own state department. Yet it's not prostitution that's at fault. Must be something George Bush did, huh? It's not about morality, it's about the law. Prostitution is illegal for a reason, and that is the cost to the individuals and the society. There are places that have legalized prostitution (Amsterdam and Las Vegas for example), that seem to manage some control over the industry of selling sex, and there are other places around the world that don't bother to try to moralize sexual behavior. However, around most of the world, prostitution preys on women, especially young women, many of whom continue it out of fear, psychological manipulation, or simply having no other option. Many get STDs and spread them to their "customers", get pregnant, and never manage to make the money to "better" themselves. How is this a straw man argument? These are all facts based upon research done by several women's rights groups. Selling sex does things to the human Psyche that will cause issues for most people. There's no way around that. The number of "willing" prostitutes the world over is less than 2% of the estimated number of those engaged in prostitution. Again, that's by the UN's figures. This is not about left wing/right wing crap. I honestly believe 99% of both parties could care less about all of us. Prostitution is not victimless (I think Lee just likes to say that because it hasn't hurt HIM yet). Ask a family from Uzbekhistan who's 14 year old daughter was kidnapped strictly for the purpose of prostitution feels about it. Or find a 16 year old girl from Hawaii that was raped by her pimp/boyfriend, and forced to turn tricks for his drug money. Look her in the eyes and tell her prostitution is "victimless". I've looked her in the eye, and I can tell you, you can't do it. Don't make a theoretical argument Lee, I've seen the real people, the hurt in their eyes, heard the stories of how they were violated. Have you?

Lee Ward:

I'm not disputing that prostitution is a crime. But it's a victimless crime.

The fact that some, but not all prostitutes are victimized and forced into it through "slavery" doesn't change the fact that prostitution itself is a victimless crime.

Slavery isn't victimless, but prostitution is.

I realize that this is the kind of reasoned analysis that completely escapes conservatives, but I can't dumb it down any further.

Chad:

I understand what you're saying Lee, but you are missing the logical jump. Without the prostitution paying for the people that are in control, the slavery wouldn't be happening. Pimps, slave traders, organized crime would all be severely financially hurt without the money garnered from prostitution. Do you realize that there are "slave markets" in eastern europe that move thousands of young women into brothels all over europe and the middle east every year? The slavery I'm talking about exists to feed prostitution. It's not that prostitution is feeding the slavery. Prostitution created the demand for the slaves. Prostitution is the cause of the slavery. In most cases the prostitutes themselves are the victims. Victims of us all. Because we let it happen. Because we don't try to stop the crimes perpetrated against them. I'm tired of the "victimless" argument Lee, because you aren't going to actually be victimized doesn't mean others aren't. Go talk to some young prostitutes Lee. I don't mean the ones in Nevada or Amsterdam. Talk to the ones in Detroit, LA, Boston, Honolulu, Prague, Venice, Rome. Look into the number of eastern european women that just "disappear" every year. I'll tell you that your definition of "victimless" will change. But you won't do that, will you Lee? You'll just keep telling everyone that I am the one without facts, that I am the one that can't reason, that I can't grasp the facts (when I'm the one that has seen the facts, heard the story face to face, wiped tears from their faces). Just because it hasn't hurt YOU doesn't make a crime victimless.

Lee Ward:

It's not a "logical jump" - it's an illogical leap into the world of conservative ass-hattery.

In Africa slaves are used to mine for diamonds.

In your twisted, illogical, emotion-driven world the act of buying a diamond promotes slavery.

It doesn't.

Let's say that in Cuba slaves were used as labor to make cigars.

Therefore smoking cigars supports slavery?

No, it doesn't.

This underscores the principal reason conservatives are so particularly unfit to legislate and govern. They can't separate their ideological beliefs from the logical facts, and their emotions get in the way of governance.

And when you point this out to them they don't deny it -- they take pride in the fact that they follow their ideological guiding light.

Chad:

Yes, smoking cigars and buying a diamond that comes from a mine that uses slave labor supports slavery. If it's produced by slave labor, and you buy it, you are supporting slavery. That is a fact, not an illogical jump in reason. Slavery is clearly wrong, as is standing aside and allowing it to continue, just as standing aside and letting the industries that use slavery to continue getting away with it. Any enterprise that "requires" forced labor to continue is wrong. My world is not driven by emotion, it's driven by the cold hard facts. Once again, you say that I don't use reason, but look at the logic. Prostitution requires laborers to do the work, yet few do it willingly. Therefore, the slavery/forced labor required to fill the "market" occurs. Slavery occurs because of prostitution. Once again Lee, talk to the victims of your "victimless" crime. I know you won't, just as you won't look at the stats on how many women are forcibly taken to work as prostitutes. Because you aren't the victim, the crime is victimless. You talk about people's rights in the article above, but when it comes to the rights of prostitutes, well, they aren't victims, so you don't care.

Lee Ward:

Prostitutes aren't victims.

Slaves are.

A diamond miner is a 'victim" only if they are a slave.

A cigar maker is a 'victim' only if they are slave.

A prostitute is a 'victim' only if they are a slave.

It's the slavery, not the mining of diamonds or making of cigars, that results in the victimization.

The same is true for prostitution.

I know you're incapable of discriminating the difference, Chad. I referenced the reasons why above.

Chad:

Get a copy of the book "The Natashas" by Victor Malarek. Go to this website http://www.state.gov/g/tip/c16482.htm See what you think after looking at this information. The slavery exists to provide labor for prostitution. Prostitution and the sex industry are the cause of the slavery, not the result of the slavery. Especially read the book by Malarek. If the industry "requires" slavery to make up the work force, is that not the reason the slavery exists? I very carefully bought the diamonds for my wife's ring, and I bought my hand-rolled hondurans from the guy that I watched roll them. A moral equivalence argument isn't going to get you a concession from me that prostitution doesn't create victims. Clearly, from the above sources, it does.

Lee Ward:

The industry doesn't require slavery to exist. It floourishes where no slavery is present.

Slavery is just the means that some use -- certainly not all - and in the US slavery is probably a small percentage of sex workers.

Do I have to speak in tongues to read that book? Or is it one of those extremist publications, like the ones distributed by skinheads?

Slavery exists outside of prostitution, therefore slavery isn't caused by prostitution.

Chad:

That's a pretty specious argument Lee. In eastern europe the slave trade exists almost solely to feed prostitution. I know that in Africa, Asia, and South America that some slave trading is done for the purpose of forced labor in industries other than prostitution, but prostitution is the single largest market for slaves world wide. Do you realize that 800,000 to 1,000,000 women are taken as slaves each year in eastern europe alone? These women are sold/kidnapped to be used as sexual slaves/prostitutes. Some go to harems, etc., but almost all of them are turned into prostitutes. The largest market for slaves in the world is prostitution. So how does that not make prostitution responsible for the demand for slaves. How does that still allow in your mind that prostitution is "victimless"? 800,000 women Lee. Forced into prostitution. Most will never see their homes again. Many will die. Almost (I'd like to say all, but you never know) all of them will be treated horribly, beaten, raped, starved, drugged, and forced to perform acts they would never willingly do. Read the book I mentioned above (nothing religious about it, don't know where you get the whole speaking in tongues thing) then let's talk again. You'll be horrified about what's being done to these women if you have any shred of human compassion.

Lee Ward:

The fact that the problem you've railed about as an excuse against the point of this post is almost non-existent in the U.S. is "specious"?

You're ignoring that the title of this article is "Another Good Reason The U.S. Needs The American Civil Liberties Union"

Are you serious? Do you ever think before commenting?

Mindless conservative babbling... blah, blah, blah...

Chad:

No good argument, huh? I also included my thoughts on the ACLU, Lee, or did you not get to that part of the comment. I was just taking issue with the comment you made about prostitution being "victimless". Forced prostitution occurs in this country on a daily basis. No, it's not nearly as bad here as other areas around the globe, but it's still happening. Usually the controls used in the states are psychological and chemical in nature, but it's still occurring. The US needs the ACLU and groups like it to be non-partisan when choosing cases to represent. Heller should've been top of their list. Not one peep from the ACLU. Do I ever think before commenting? Certainly, however, It's a little above your capability to reason. Obviously the best you could do was find a way to dismiss me so you didn't actually have to look at the facts.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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