Sunday, April 02, 2006

There will be order!

Five girls in Ohio are facing criminal charges for playing a real-life version of Super Mario Brothers:

Five teenage girls from Portage County face potential criminal charges after attempting to play a real-life version of Super Mario Bros.

The Portage County Hazardous Materials Unit and Bomb Detection Unit were called in to downtown Ravenna on Friday morning after seventeen suspicious packages -- boxes wrapped in gold wrapping paper with question marks spray painted on them -- had alarmed residents.

Boxes were found at the Immaculate Conception Church on West Main Street, the Portage County Courthouse, Deluxe Pastries, the corner of Cherry Way and Main Street, Reed Memorial Library, Ravenna High School and a residence at Sanford and Main streets.

Five girls -- age 16 and 17 -- claimed responsibility for making and placing the packages. The girls said they found an Internet site that included step-by-step instructions for creating replicas of blocks featured in the game.

The Ravenna Police Department will be working with the Portage County Prosecutor's Office regarding possible criminal charges as a result of the game.

This is insane. I'm not saying that what the kids did isn't dumb in this day and time; it is. It's the reaction of the police/prosecutors that I take issue with.

Kids are kids, and kids do dumb things, mainly from an over abundance of hormones and a deficiency of experience. How we react to these things is very telling about us as a society.

Many years ago, most locales had "peace officers", and their job was to keep the peace. They weren't out to arrest people just to pump up their arrest records or get brownie points with some government agency. Think Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. How often did Andy arrest someone? Damn rare, in my recollection. He didn't have to--he kept the peace without having to arrest and charge every person who committed some minor infraction or who made a foolish mistake of judgment.

However, over the years, we've "professionalized" our police. Rather than getting hired and learning from the old hands what does and doesn't work, now they go to Basic Law Enforcement Training and innumerable other classes and come out as "law enforcement professionals". Then we allow the state and federal governments to militarize them in the holy name of "The War on Drugs" and "Homeland Security" and so on. Now we've got Barney Fife, except with body armor, automatic weapons and lots of ammo--and no Sheriff Taylor to keep him reigned in.

When you have law enforcement officers as opposed to peace officers, you have such things as young girls being charged (and mark my words, they will be charged with something, even if it's littering) for playing games.

Americans, in large part, value security over anything else, and they're willing to give up all of their God-given rights to those who say they will protect them. Most people are too lazy or too afraid to investigate that odd noise in the backyard at 2 AM--they'll call the police, then cower under the blankets waiting for help to arrive.

The time is coming, and probably within the lifetimes of those who read this, or perhaps our children's lifetimes, when we either give up all our rights to the government and take what freedom they're willing to allow us, or we dismantle what's been put in place and create something new.

Which side of the barricades will you be on?

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