We are officially over-legislated. While America hit this point long ago, this weekâ€™s state and regional news stories truly highlight that fact.
In our neighboring state to the west â€“â€“ Utah for the geographically disinclined â€“â€“ a 13-year-old girl is fighting charges that could result in her permanent classification as a sex offender if she is convicted. While that portion of the story is mildly strange, it becomes truly bizarre when you find out she is a victim of the same crime; a victim of the same specific act that led to her charges.
The brain trust that is the Utah legislature wrote a law that made it illegal for anyone to engage in intercourse with anyone under the age of 14.
Now, Iâ€™m not going to take a pro-statutory rape stance here so you can relax. However, the other victim/offender in this case was a 12-year-old boy.
Weâ€™ve all read stories about parents forcing children to have sex for child pornography rings and the countless disgusting, illegal and unforgiveable acts take place every day in this country. But this case was two teenage kids experimenting with sex, and charging either of them with a crime is an affront to every actual victim of child molestation.
I know what youâ€™re thinking: â€œWell, thatâ€™s Utah for you.â€ After all, this is one state that is almost proud of the lack of separation between church and government.
The problem is, even the Colorado government is prone to criminal stupidity.
According to the Denver Post, Clear Creek Sheriffâ€™s deputies arrested Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a raft guide for Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, for saving a 13-year-old girl. And no, those were not the charges they filed against him.
Snodgrass had the audacity to swim to the stranded rafter, who incidentally had fallen out of his boat approximately 30 to 45 minutes earlier, rescue her and get her to safety. The charges? Obstructing government operations.
Snodgrassâ€™ criminal act, in the eyes of the (insert sarcastic font) unquestionably competent Clear Creek sheriff, was solving a problem whilst government officials were preparing to solve a problem.
Weâ€™re not talking about someone walking into a hostage situation and shooting the hostage-taker while a SWAT team is preparing to engage. Weâ€™re talking about a 13-year-old girl from Texas at risk of drowning within moments.
If anything Snodgrass should have gotten a cup of coffee and a handshake from Clear Creek. Instead, because the police seem to think he showed them up, he got handcuffs.
As the economic downturn continues and worsens, cities, counties, states and the federal government are looking for ways to replace missing tax revenues. Naturally, budget cuts only happen when you canâ€™t print your own money.
At the city and state levels the fines for speeding are increasing, the quotas for tickets are likewise headed north, and in extreme cases like California, the government is going to spend more money to take more of your money.
Have you seen the drone radar SUV around Fort Collins that takes your picture if you speed past or the sensor cameras on major intersections around town? Imagine those on every intersection of every city and state around the country.
The Governor of California wants to put speed sensors on every red light camera in the state. Imagine the boon to local government budgets if they all manage to achieve this.
For the last two years Iâ€™ve been a major advocate of a chain of succession that starts with local government, county government, state government and ends with federal government holding the appropriate level of involvement in our personal lives.
Sadly, the state of Utah, Californiaâ€™s proposition and Clear Creek County have proven that the federal government is not alone in their utter incompetence and desire to control everything we do.
The writing is on the wall, dear readers, itâ€™s only going to get worse.
When we have reached the point that people are being arrested for good deeds, we have too many laws. I guess we at least have guardians in government to protect us from the marijuana dispensaries.
Seth Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His column will appear periodically throughout the summer. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.