We watched a movie recently. Starring Nicholas Cage. He was an arms dealer. Bad guy. No conscience. The FBI eventually busted him, because they took his garbage and pieced together some stuff he’d shredded. Granted, this is fiction, but I’d be willing to bet that the FBI actually does go through people’s garbage when they believe they have cause. In fact, the FBI went through some peace protestors’ garbage a few years ago here in Iowa.
And I’ve heard a few silly things since then.
– They could have just asked us what we were planning to do, walked into one of our meetings and introduced themselves, we would have told them. Ok, that may be the case. But if I were planning something illegal and the FBI knocked on my door, introduced themselves, and asked what was up, I probably would not say “oh, you know, just planning such-and-such a thing…” Right? I’d say I was planning a peaceful protest.
– They are infringing on our first amendment rights. Not true. You absolutely have the right to espouse any idea you want, to stand on a street corner and shout your beliefs. But the government has the right to investigate you if your free speech leads them to believe you’re planning something illegal. I can say whatever I like here on my blog, but if I said things that led the FBI to believe I was, say, running arms from South America, I’d expect them to start looking through my garbage. (FBI: tip: I put all of my shredded mail and documents in the chicken coop for bedding, and from there, it goes into the compost bins in my backyard, and then to the garden at Abby’s house.)
– There is no such thing as violence against property, only people. The person saying this was arguing that property damage, or plans to damage property, should not be much of a crime, since it’s not violence against people. Well, who owns the property? If someone burns my house down, that’s violence against ME. I might not be physically injured, but you can bet there will be lasting emotional damage and also financial damage.
I’m not in favor of having our rights trampled on, but I AM in favor of catching the bad guys. The IA City folks had organized themselves into groups, some of which were willing to disrupt activities and get arrested, which seems like just cause to me. Maybe the folks in Iowa City were NOT, in fact, the bad guys. But I’m not sure how the FBI can determine this without some investigation.