Albert Florence and the Machine

Some of you have already read about Albert Florence, but let me catch everyone up. Albert Florence had a minor ticket a number of years ago, which he paid. Unfortunately, a computer glitch kept showing that it hadn’t been paid and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Mr. Florence knew about this, and carried around an official receipt from the state of New Jersey showing that his ticket had been paid, in case of any problems.

One day, his wife was driving he and his 4-year-old son when she was pulled over for a traffic violation. The policeman noted the warrant for Florence and arrested him, despite the signed official receipt that he produced showing that he had, in fact, paid the ticket that the warrant was issued for.

Over the next six days, Mr. Florence was held in two separate jails and strip searched twice. During one of the strip searches, he was ordered to grab his rear end, bend over to expose his anus, and cough. No charges were ever filed and he was released. There was never any probable cause to believe he was hiding anything requiring a strip search.

Mr. Florence sued, claiming his civil rights had been violated. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled against him, and set a precedent that applies to all of us now: law enforcement can strip search us at any time, without any probable cause, if we are taken into custody.

This is the same Supreme Court that conservatives are giddy about because they might strike down the individual mandate that conservatives used to support. Supposedly, these conservatives argue, the Court will do this because of its deep-seated belief in individual liberty. Cognitive dissonance, having killed irony, dances on its grave.

A friend at work and I were discussing the Supreme Court at lunch yesterday, and how people seem to be waking up to the fact that it is now an ideologically driven political body. But that wasn’t quite right, we decided. Ideology would be preferable almost, because at least then it might be intellectually consistent. It’s hard to reconcile these two decisions (and many other decisions) based on a conservative/liberal ideological spectrum.

The common thread that is driving these kinds of decisions by the 5 “conservative” justices is not a belief in liberty but rather a tendency to always decide on the side of the powerful against the weak. The state wants to strip search you? Go right ahead, big government.

But wait, you say, the Court is protecting the rights of the individual against the government mandate to purchase insurance. That’s their argument, sure, but it doesn’t hold water. We know that it is not ideology that is driving the conservative opposition to the mandate. You simply cannot argue that with a straight face in the age of YouTube. Just about every Republican politician who is out there crying about the tyranny of the mandate is on record as supporting the same exact policy just a few years ago. (With the notable exception of Ron Paul, who would almost assuredly disagree with this Supreme Court ruling as well.)

The Republican opposition to Obamacare is based on two things: 1) that providing health care to poor people will require more spending from rich people, and 2) that it was proposed by President Obama. That’s it. The individual mandate is just what they seized on as a plausible reason for objecting to it. The fact that they can do so without shame after supporting the mandate for the previous 30 years just exposes them for the nihilists that they are. (Say what you will about the tenets of Kenyan Socialism; at least it’s an ethos.)

The reason that a conservative like Ron Paul is able to attract some moderates and liberals is that, unlike 90% of conservative politicians, he really is an ideologue. He believes what he says. It might be crazy in some areas, but it’s genuine. Given a choice between genuine ideology and opportunistic nihilism for the sake of acquiring and keeping power, I guess I’ll take ideology.

About Wiesman

Husband, father, video game developer, liberal, and perpetual Underdog.
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