In Which I Side With The ACLU Against Bobby Jindal…

This, I assure our readers, will not happen often.

But the ACLU has filed suit to block the implementation of a Louisiana law which seeks to ban sex offenders from social networking sites. And while I have no particular brief for sex offenders or the ACLU, I’m with the commies on this one.

Particulars on the suit

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is suing to block enforcement of a new state law that limits sex offenders’ access to social networking websites and other online forums.

The federal suit filed today in Baton Rouge claims the law is overly broad and violates the free speech rights of sex offenders.

The ACLU says the law, which took effect today, likely targets sites like Facebook and MySpace but also blocks access to newspaper sites, job databases and other websites that allow users to communicate.

The group is asking a federal judge to immediately block enforcement of the law.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who signed the measure into law, and Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell are named as defendants in the suit.

From the Governor, a fairly surly response…

“We will not comply with this request to allow convicted sex predators to use social networking sites. I will fight this with everything I have. If these people want to search the Internet for new victims they can do it somewhere else.

“Just a few weeks ago, federal officials announced the bust of the largest international online child pornography ring, which is connected to Louisiana and will be prosecuted here. Today, the ACLU sued us on behalf of sex offenders, wanting to strike down a law I recently signed to prohibit convicted sex offenders from using social networking sites where they could prey on our children. This lawsuit is a disturbing break from reality, even for the ACLU. As Governor and the father of three young kids, I will fight the ACLU every step of the way and do everything I can to keep our kids safe from the monsters who want to harm them.

“The ACLU’s lawsuit represents a criminal already convicted of child pornography who wants to use social networking sites and peer-to-peer file sharing sites. This is exactly what we designed our new law to prevent. We want to protect our children from being victimized in anything like what US Attorney General Eric Holder described as ‘some of the most disturbing images, I think, you will ever see.’

“The Attorney General said ‘It’s hard to imagine a penalty severe enough’ for a crime like this. But, in Louisiana, we not only have some of the harshest penalties for sex offenders – including castration, we are working to prevent these horrific crimes from occurring in the first place by keeping sex offenders far away from our children.

“It is frankly insulting for the ACLU to claim it is a convicted sex offender’s ‘First Amendment right’ to use Facebook, MySpace, and Craigslist.”

Look, if somebody is a pervert as adjudged in a court of law and you want to stop them from using Facebook or whatever to engage in a furtherance of their perversions, I’m sure there are ways of doing that short of banning them from social media altogether. Almost everybody under 50 is using Facebook or Twitter or Craigslist or LinkedIn or something; I don’t know that you can rehabilitate someone back into society unless they have access to those sites. And if they use them to conduct business and not fulfill whatever desires we don’t even want to know about, it seems like that’s actually a good thing.

And I’m not sure how you can possibly enforce such a law. Our police have a LOT to do already without attempting to stop somebody who looked at kiddie porn at some point from buying Katy Perry tickets on Craigslist.

It’s great politics to say you protected the folks from sex predators, and I get that. But where law enforcement issues are concerned, I’m a lot more concerned with the alarming murder rate in Baton Rouge and New Orleans and the seeming inability or lack of will on the part of politicians from the local level all the way up to do something about it.

What we need are less laws prohibiting things and more enforcement of what remains.

Convicted sex predators who can’t use Facebook and won’t stop doing whatever it is sex predators do are probably just going to throw on an overcoat and go hang out at a playground – which I would argue is a lot more immediate threat to potential sexual victims. At some point these people are either going to have to take responsibility for obeying the law and controlling their depravities or society will have to lock them away for good.

Again – how are we going to police this? Are we now going to hire a bunch of cops to surf the net looking for sex offenders? That seems a little intrusive, if not akin to a wild goose chase on steroids.

Is there a constitutional argument to be made in favor of this law? I’m sure there is, and Caldwell will make it. I’m not even going to go there in this post. I’m just talking about policy and principle here. And this law is over the top, regardless of how politically tasty it might be.

Make penalties for sex offenses tougher, if you want, and I’m fine with that. Or institute a law saying you’re immune from prosecution if you show up and whip somebody’s ass for contacting your kids on Facebook if they’re a convicted sex offender. My guess is that would eliminate more of this problem than Jindal’s new law would.

But this is a case where the ACLU actually has the upper hand, as infrequent as that is. The folks at the Capitol are on the wrong track here.



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