Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Government Distractions: Enforcing Unenforceable Laws, Praying on Social Issues At Electric Utility Board

A couple strange little news items demonstrate how even the best, and the worst for that matter, of public officials sometimes lose their focus and get into things that aren't exactly productive.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid
Gautreaux, III  had deputies
troll for gays to prosecute
under invalid laws, say critics

A weird one came out of Baton Rouge, where undercover sheriffs go to a park, where they pick up gay guys, invite them to their apartment, then charge the poor guys under sodomy laws that the U.S. Supreme Court said are void, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate

The courts have all ruled that consensual sexual acts between adults done in private are legal.

But laws that ban such things as oral or anal sex (sorry to get so graphic) are still on the books in some states, either because legislatures understandably haven't gotten around to erasing them, or less understandably, some lawmakers want the laws in place, even though they can't be.

If the law is still on the books, but invalid and unenforceable, that seems to be no barrier for the sheriff's department:

From the Advocate article:

"Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, denied that investigators had been misapplying the anti-sodomy law, which remains among the state's criminal statutes.

"This is the law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enfofcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature," Hicks said. "Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted."

Um, the courts have already determined whether the law is valid. And it isn't. The local district attorney, Hillar Moore III knows that. That's why he hasn't followed through on prosecuting any of the victims of the sheriff's gay witch hunt. Moore says no crime had been committed, so he can't prosecute.

Makes sense, no?

Can't the fine sheriff deputies around Baton Rouge go around finding crimes that are actually crimes to solve? Do most people, while, say, getting robbed in a bad neighborhood,  care if two guys are getting it on in some apartment somewhere?

Of course, these sheriff deputies might be closeted and enjoy these little excursions, but their possible sexual hangups are really none of my business.

As a shitstorm erupted around the Baton Rouge sheriffs, they started taking a somewhat more conciliatory tone on their Facebook page.  ....

"The goal of our statement was to express our intent to the public, which was to keep the parks safe. We admit, however, the approach needs to change. We are not making excuses, simply stating that we want to learn from this, make changes and move forward. We will be working with all branches of government to find a better solution for keeping our parks safe. Thanks for the input.

Keeping the parks safe from what, exactly? Any sexual acts that might have happened were in private residences, not parks. And I love earlier statements that said they were trying to protect children. Maybe children ought to be protected from the East Baton Rouge sheriff's office.

And I bet you want to move forward.

Meanwhile, the Alabama  Public Service Commission, which is supposed to manage utilities and utility rates, recently opened the meeting with a prayer that seemed to have little do do with electric bills. 

"God, we've taken you out of our schools, we've taken you out of our prayers, we've murdered your children, we've said it's OK to have same-sex marriage. God, we have sinned. And we ask once again that you'll forgive us for our sins."

Of course, the fine members of the Alabama Public Service Commission are all entitled to their opinions, as is the preacher who led the prayer and anybody else who goes to their meetings.

But I wonder if the prayer had much to do with the task at hand. Will gay marriage in some parts of the country make God so angry that he'll raise electric bills for Alabama residents, overruling the Alabama Public Service Commission in the process?

Will abortions in, say, New York, make the power go out in Birmingham or Montgomery?

Maybe the Alabama Public Service Commission should just pray that no atheists come to their meetings to complain about their electric bill.

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