More FBI Agents to Monitor Pron
The latest fun target for the liberal blogsphere has been the FBI’s announcement that they plan to focus on obscenity laws more. Not child-pornography, which is already heavily attacked, but pornography that apparently is disqualified because of its obscene content, and yet generally flies under the radar without trouble. This is the stuff that falls under Justice Potter-Stewart’s famous “I’ll know it when I see it.”
And there are many quotes by clever writers and FBI agents who think it’s silly to enforce this while taking resources away from terrorism. To some degree of course I agree; I don’t believe fighting obscene pornography helps our country, and I think we need more agents doing the unglamorous work of “swatting at flies” and defending against terrorists and other immediate problems. I don’t think you’d consider me a fan of any obscenity law.
But that’s the difference there. It is one thing to say there shouldn’t be a law against obscenity, but it’s another thing to not enforce it. If we don’t think its worth wasting manpower and money to enforce a law, then I don’t think we should make the damn law.
In fact, far too much damage is being done to this country because the public is able to convince Congress to make strict laws and agencies against important crimes, but when it comes time to enforce the crimes those agencies routinely find their budgets slashed, and the best and brightest workforces shunted in other directions. Just ask the EPA, the FAA, or the SEC. The ability of the executive to discourage and underfund the enforcement of laws it finds inconvenient is a serious breach of democracy. It’s a security hole that allows those who pay a lot of attention to very few things (ie, the demonized special interests) to circumvent the will of the public that can only pay a little attention to many things.
It’s a problem that I don’t know entirely how to solve, but that’s not the point today. The point is that the American electorate wants obscenity laws and I presume they want them enforced. As a democrat (“small d” hat) I have to support that. If creating and enforcing obscenity laws isn’t worth the resources it pulls from other areas, then please bring that up when drafting legislation and running for office. We can’t ask that this type of cynical avoidance of enforcing the public will be used in the laws we disdain, but fume when the agencies that are meant to monitor the business world get sent to the back of the room.
PS: And do not get me started on the societal costs of a law unenforced. It encourages people to disdain the government, and it allows for blackmail, either by private interests or prosecutors.