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In a letter to the Beacon Wed. Oct 3rd, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers'(MADD) Doug Scoles took issue with Bob Dyer's reporting on Summit County's "sobriety checkpoints".
MADD State Director Scoles said Dyer's reporting on Jerry Seabrook's experience with the checkpoint was, "purposely misleading".
The Reverend has been following Dyer's series and I take issue with Scoles evaluation. Dyer told it like it was...."sobriety checkpoints" not only threaten our Constitutional rights but also are terribly inefficient in catching drunk drivers.
But here's the part of Scoles' argument I want to have at.....
"..the ones who object to checkpoints are most likely those who make it a practice to drink alcohol and drive. They want to stop law enforcement getting drunken drivers off the road while hiding behind terms such as "freedom" and "rights".
This response is, I'm sorry, the exact response neo-conservatives and their cheerleaders gave to anyone opposing their lawlessness and their myriad of Constitutional violations. Warrantless wiretaps, FISA violations, National Security Letters, refusal of oversight, among others. Anyone who disagreed with the lawlessness coming from the executive branch was said to be "aiding the terrorists".
MADD's Scole falsely states, just as Dick Cheney's neo-cons state, that those who oppose their tactics only want to help the enemy, the drunk drivers,....to encourage them. Dyer said nothing of the kind, just as those pointing out White House crimes said nothing in any attempt to help America's enemies.
But when Scole said, "..hiding behind terms like "freedom" and "rights"... ", I had to read the name again to make sure it wasn't Dick Cheney whom had written the letter.
MADD and Dick Cheney hold to an argument called "the one percent doctrine". Roughly, in Cheney's case, it means that if there is even the slightest of chances that the detainee in front of you knows the whereabouts of a nuclear device that will go off in an American city, the government has the right to abusively torture that person with whatever means or methods, lawful or unlawful, it wishes. No holds barred because the threat is so great. In MADD's case, it becomes acceptable to stop every driver, in clear violation of "probable cause", if ANY drunk drivers can be stopped.
With MADD the "one percent doctrine" is reduced to less than one percent in their defense of "sobriety checkpoints". That's the success rate per driver stopped in Summit County's checkpoints. Less than one percent.
Clearly, as Bob Dyer's articles pointed out, these checkpoints are a violation of the "probable cause" "freedom" or "right" that American citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution. Even the Supreme Court ruling in support of checkpoints was very narrowly defined.
I truly sympathize with parents of a child who has been killed by a drunk driver.....and I sincerely mean that. It's in the same way that I felt sorry for those on 9-11 who were killed so ruthlessly.
At the same time, just as the Constitution and America's rule of law cannot be simply set aside by using killers striking buildings as the reason, so too our "rights" and "freedoms" cannot be sacrificed because of those who decide to drive drunk.
We are either a nation, a state, a, community of laws.....or we are not.
Scoles closes his letter with a classic neo-con line.
"Sobriety checkpoints are proven to deter drunken driving and save lives."
Scoles doesn't say how inefficiently these checkpoints actually function.
In the very same way that Bush or Cheney or Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell would tell us that their violations of the Constitution and FISA laws in spying on Americans without warrants is "saving lives"(without any evidence either), thus justifying the means....so too MADD argues that the end, removing drunk drivers(even though extremely inefficiently), justifies the means of violating "probable cause" through blanket checkpoints.
MADD has done many good things since their inception. Their members sit in courtrooms and hold judges accountable for their rulings on drunk driving cases. That's a good thing. They educate where education is needed. However, Doug Scoles letter in response to Bob Dyer is not their finest work and the faulty premise it works under about Constitutional rights is just that...faulty. Good solid police WORK is how drunk drivers AND would-be terrorists are stopped.
Giving up "freedoms" or "rights", to deter "terrorists" or drunk drivers does not strenthen our country, our state, or our local communities,......it is only a sign of weakness.