I don't know that I have ever seen a clearer example of the disconnect of thinking between libertarians and authoritarian political thinking than in this brief paragraph from Dahlia Lithwick. She is writing about a court case reviewing whether it should be a crime to deny police your identification. She writes, making fun of libertarians:
It would be easier to credit the Cato and ACLU arguments if we didn't already have to hand over our ID to borrow a library book, obtain a credit card, drive a car, rent videos, obtain medical treatment, or get onto a plane. So the stark question then becomes this: Why are you willing to tell everyone but the state who you are? It's a curious sort of privacy that must be protected from nobody except the government.
Really?? It is strange to her that we would treat privacy uniquely with the one and only organization in this country that can legally use force against us, legally take our money without our permission, and legally throw us in prison? Is she really so blinded by a love for state authority that she can't tell the difference between a transaction at Blockbuster, which we can choose not to patronize if we don't like their terms of sale, and an interaction with police, where there is not even a hint of it being an arms-length, consensual, balanced interaction.
There is an largeand growing body of evidence that police take advantage of their power mismatch with citizens and abuse their power in multiple ways, large and small. These abuses have likely always existed, but were covered up by police officers standing up for each other. Only the advent of portable video cameras has started to really document what really goes on in these interactions. Just read a few posts at this site to get a flavor. And cops sure don't like when you ask them for their ID, as they hate anything that might impose accountability on them:
And in today's daily contempt-of-cop story, Ft. Lauderdale Police Officer Jeff Overcash did not appreciate a man asking him for his badge number, so he pulled out his handcuffs and arrested him.And it was all caught on video.
The video shows Brennan Hamilton walking up to Overcash in a calm manner with a pen and notepad in his hand. Overcash, who is leaning against his squad car with other cops, then pulls out his handcuffs and arrests Hamilton.
Overcash charged him with resisting arrest without violence and disorderly intoxication.
Alex Tabarrok makes a good point. Based on these arguments, Lithwick must be A-OK with Arizona's new immigration laws, right?
Update: It is interesting that while sneering at slippery slope arguments, she proves their merit.
The slippery-slope arguments"”that this leads to a police state in which people are harassed for doing nothing"”won't really fly, although I guarantee that you'll hear more and more of them in the coming weeks.
But in the immediately proceeding lines she wrote:
Is there something about stating your name or handing over a driver's license that differs from being patted down or frisked, which is already constitutional for Terry purposes?I, for one, would rather hand over my driver's license to a cop than be groped by one.
This is a perfect illustration of the slippery slope, almost textbook. Libertarians certainly opposed current pat down and frisking rules, but since these are legal, Lithwick uses their legality to creep the line a little further. And then the legality of these ID checks will in turn be used to justify the legality of something else more intrusive.