We’re All Criminals Right?
"You don’t need to know. You can’t know." That’s what Kathy Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother of eight, was told when she tried to ask court officials why, the day before, federal agents had subjected her home to a furious search.
The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris’ longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.
The six agents, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with – get this- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Kathy and George Norris lived under the specter of a covert government investigation for almost six months before the government unsealed a secret indictment and revealed why the Fish and Wildlife Service had treated their family home as if it were a training base for suspected terrorists. Orchids.
That’s right. Orchids.
The overcriminalization of the populace by our government is going to become a growing concern. As information increases exponentially and technology facilitates the creation of laws and prohibitions by people who may lack the requisite knowledge to do so, we are all increasingly in danger of becoming criminals. While it is my opinion that there are too many laws on the books in our country (many of them contradictory), it simply isn’t reasonable to expect our lawmakers to be experts on every topic. It is their responsibility however, to draft laws based upon a common understanding, driven by a common good for the benefit of the public. I agree with The Cato Institute’s Timothy Lynch, an expert on overcriminalization, who called for "a clean line between lawful conduct and unlawful conduct." A person should not be deemed a criminal unless that person "crossed over that line knowing what he or she was doing." Seems like common sense, but apparently it isn’t to some federal officials.