A real slippery slope

June 9, 2008

I haven’t liked a lot of things the ACLU has done, but I’m with them on keeping a close eye on this:

Police in neon yellow vests stopped motorists traveling through the main thoroughfare of Trinidad — a neighborhood near the National Arboretum in the city’s northeast section. Police checked drivers’ identification and turned away those who didn’t have a “legitimate purpose” in the area, such as a church visit or doctor’s appointment.

The checkpoints were announced after eight people were killed in the city last weekend. Most of the killings occurred in the police district that includes Trinidad. Already this year, the district has had 22 killings — one more than in all of last year.

The checkpoints have drawn harsh criticism from civil rights groups.

I’m not sure what constitutional grounds this could be challenged on. The Supreme Court in 1999 struck down an ordinance forbidding “gangs” from loitering, on freedom-to-assemble grounds. In 2000 (in a case from Indianapolis), it threw out on unreasonable-search grounds police roadblocks to randomly search for drugs. This case doesn’t seem to have either 1st or 4th Amendment issues, however. No car will be searched unless drugs or guns are seen.

But there is something really creepy about the police stopping people at random to see if they live in the affected neighborhood and asking them to prove they have a “legitimate” reason for being there if they don’t. Who decides what is “legitimate”? That’s a little fuzzy and wide open to abuse. They’re starting to call D.C. “Baghdad on the Potomac.” Imagine that being done here — “Baghdad on the Maumee.” Imagine being stopped every time you drove into your neighborhood.

We can all appreciate the frustration of people having to live in crime-ridden areas. But this seems like an admission of failure, not a real way to fight the problem. Some will say too much of a fuss is being made over a program set to last only five days. But they’re already saying it might be extended to 10 days. That’s how a right can be lost. We accept a little encroachment, then a little more, then a little more, and before we know it we don’t have the right to freely move about any longer. Sometimes, we make slippery-slope arguments because there really are slippery slopes.


10 Responses to “A real slippery slope”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    Hey, having the military (or police) set up checkpoints in MY neighborhood is FINE with me….I don’t feel I’m abrogating ANY of MY rights.
    Oh wait, I forgot that I’m one of “those” people.
    You know…the LAW-ABIDING kind.

    BTW, can we borrow some of the Marines that are doing “urban warfare” exercises and have them drop on by HERE…for say, a MONTH?

    You fight to WIN…or don’t don’t even bother to fight at all. Doesn’t matter if it’s a war, crime, drugs…whatever.

    When the slope gets slippery, time to dig out the “GOLF SHOES” and get a grip (unless you prefer grass stains on your rear).



  2. Harl Delos Says:

    I’m not sure what constitutional grounds this could be challenged on.

    That part in the first amendment about “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” would seem to apply.

    If Bob G wants to live in a military encampment, perhaps he could move to the green zone in Baghdad.

    Patriotism isn’t wearing a pin in your lapel. It’s loyalty to, and willingness to sacrifice for, your country, and this country is defined by the US Constitution. We should be pledging allegiance to it, not to a pretty piece of cloth.

  3. One of the things I have always promoted though is removing the access to neighborhoods from primary roads to secondary that would eliminate alot of the drive through traffic as well as some of the easy escapes issues.

  4. Bob G. Says:


    Believe me, it’s not by choice, but rather by “design” thanks to the city, the judicial system and a flawed sense of “patriotism” by those that speak out both sides of their mouths.
    (what part of the Constitution are THEY ascribing to I wonder?)

    You should spend some time down here…it might “enlighten” you as to what truth really is these days.

    And ask Phil Marx about being stopped in his OWN neighborhood.


    (NO “ivory tower rhetor” here)

  5. Harl Delos Says:

    Bob, the parking lot at the supermarket is privately owned. The owner pays real estate taxes on that parking lot, he pays to maintain the pavement, and he has the right to decide who can park there.

    A gated community owns their streets. The community members pay an assessment to cover the real estate taxes, to maintain the pavement, and they have the right to decide who is allowed to drive on those streets

    If you want to keep people off your property, Bob, have at it. But a street that is a public thorofare, not taxed to provide schools and fire protection, with maintenance provided by gasoline taxes, then anyone who pays those gasoline taxes has a right to use the street.

    Around 1980, I had a temporary job which involved walking up and down Pontiac street, collecting small payments from customers. By the end of the day, I’d have $1000 of currency in my pockets. I think I am sufficiently enlightened.

    If you hate the fundamental rules for living in this country, why don’t you move someplace where they do things the way you want to do things? As Mr. Reagan pointed out, you can always vote with your feet.

  6. Bob G. Says:

    This ought to bring down the Sword of Damocles upon me, but here goes:
    I apologize if I come off a bit TERSE here, but I sure as hell don’t hate this country…I just hate what we’ve ALLOWED bleeding heart liberals & uber-conservatives to DO TO this country.
    It’s not the way “I” want to do things…it’s HOW THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DONE FOR EVERYONE IN A FAIR AND JUST MANNER, OK?
    THAT’S what is warranted.

    Hell, I can’t EVEN keep”people” off of my property (obviously there’s a READING probelm afoot)…gee, didn’t even HAVE that issue until the neighborhood CHANGED (read HUD/section 8, etc). It’s this sub-cutlural “communal” mindset I suppose that I’m having trouble with.
    What’s MINE is THEIRS, and what’s THEIRS is THEIR OWN just doesn’t fly for me.
    Nor would it for any other normal person.
    Funny, I don’t see these trespassers helping to pay MY property tax (maybe is a few of them WORKED, they might understand).

    I DO HAVE a vested interest in my area…I LIVE here (more like exist these days), we OWN our property, have not ONE HAND OUT to ANYONE for “something for nothing”, and get by using the resources and intellect bestowed upon us by our creator, our parents (yes, we had TWO of them back then), and what USED to be a damn fine public school system.
    And we OBEY THE LAWS (something else many down here could benefit from).

    The rules for living in this nation HAVE changed…make NO mistake about that. Ask anyone that has been forced from their neighborhood.

    And 1980 is 28 years REMOVED from what life is like today. You really do have NO idea (except what the MSM wants you to know) what it’s like in our “ghetto”.

    Tell ‘ya what…You go right ahead and believe what “they” want you to believe…sound fair?
    As for me?
    I like the TRUTH…MUCH better.
    (less sugar – fewer calories)



  7. Larry Morris Says:

    Bob, in case you’ve missed some of my posts lately (and in case you wonder where I’ve gone, …) you should know that since Harl joined our ranks, none of us can win any argument, … get used to it.

  8. Bob G. Says:

    Not a problem…already got it covered (married to a debate team member)…LOL!
    Thanks for the heads up.



  9. Steve T. Says:

    Along with neighborhood watch initiatives, block closures have been among the most effective tactics to bring relief to residential streets where crime has become insufferable. Saw horses are erected at either end of the affected roadways and traffic, at least, is detoured, all at the request and with the cooperation of the neighborhood itself. Reports indicate that relief from crime is immediate and virtually complete in many cases.

    The differences in the Trinidad matter, among others, seem to be that government instituted a district quarantine and police, rather than simply redirecting traffic, are checking everyone’s papers. One wonders if they couldn’t accomplish the desired results with a less drastic version of limiting access.

  10. tim zank Says:

    Larry…heh heh heh…you’re crackin’ me up!

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