I have seen the face of
evil stupid crazy and I'm pretty sure this is it.
Meet Tony Zirkle: Republican Congressional candidate from the great state of Indiana. Mr. Zirkle is what you might call a path-breaker. He wants shake things up in Washington and show the "intelligentsia" how things are done back home. Specifically, he wants to do something about sexual predators. What does he want to do, you ask? He wants to implement a complex, four-stage plan to deal with rapists, pimps, child molesters, and the like. You can read the story for yourself, but to make things easier, try this:
Stage 4 contemplates the reintroduction of the guillotine and lynch mob into the criminal justice process...
He also said he is in favor of the death penalty.
To which I respond, "You bet your ass he's in favor of the death penalty."
While I'll grant that Mr. Zirkle has said he's taking this final position more to stimulate debate than anything else, allow me to assure you that the remainder of his platform is equally loon-tastic. Returning to his plans for sexual predators, however, let's consider Zirkle's ideas in their full glory.
First, there's stage one:
The first stage of the battle, as proposed by Zirkle, calls for suspension of the constitutional protections of property rights for "porn-pimps."
"Every adultery (sic) book store will be immediately seized and the property will be forfeited to the taxpayers without any process of law other than a hearing within 10 days of seizure to give the porn-pimps the opportunity (to) challenge the sufficiency of prostitution evidence."
I can only assume that by "adultery book store" Zirkle means "shop dealing in adult novelties." In such a case I imagine it should be quite easy to challenge the "prostitution evidence" since prostitution is really something quite distinct from the sale of do-it-yourself products. This, of course, ignores the fact that suspending consitutional rights to property is something that even conservatives should shy away from. Let's also keep in mind that what he's really saying here is: "We don't really need due process, do we?" Of late, that seems to have become a Republican mantra.
Then, after this absurdity, we get to stage two:
Stage 2, Zirkle said, would involve "actual arrests" for those who did not learn from Stage 1.
I suppose that "actual arrests" are better than those "fake arrests" the cops are so fond of. You know, where they come to your house, take you down to the station, throw you in a cell with a man named Earl who anally rapes you for three or four hours and then the cops are like, "Shit, man, you been punk'd!" Moreover, I'm a little dubious about the "learning standard" that Zirkle wants to apply. Should we arrest people who learn the error of their ways, but sell porn anyway, or just the folks who don't "learn" from stage one, even if they fail to re-offend? Speaking personally, I suspect that what most folks will learn from stage one is that Zirkle is batshit insane.
Stage two is followed shortly thereafter by stage three:
Stage 3, if necessary, calls for "super speedy public trials with severe punishment that is swiftly carried out after a rapid appeal."
And this, frankly, confuses me. You see, in a society governed by law, the completion of stage two, arrests, effectively requires that those arrested eventually be tried, rather than that they simply be held without trial. Certainly the United States has been dispensing with formalities like trials and habeus corpus lately, but does that mean we need to just start assuming that an arrest won't be followed by a trial? I like to think not. So, I don't think that stage three will follow stage two "if necessary" but rather more "as an inevitable consequence of." I won't even touch the "rapid appeal" or "super speedy" points since it's easy to promise a fast-running judicial system, but another thing to deliver.
Unless, you know, we chuck the rights of the accused right out of a window.
And if all that fails, we return to the joy of stage four:
"If this stage is necessary, then I am willing to debate the idea of returning the guillotine and lynch mob for those who prey on children under the age of 12; however, no capital punishment will be extended without at least four witnesses."
This leads me to remark on two things. First, as a general rule, lynch mobs are not really known for weighing the evidence and coming to a conclusion based on four or more witnesses. Usually a dude named Lester and his buddies Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels are sufficient to get a lynch mob together. So, you know, make sure your trial procedures and your punishment procedures are compatible. Secondly, I suppose we could look at the four witness rule as somewhat progressive. I mean, four witnesses are better than one, right?
How might this play out in other crimes? Could some variant be used for adultery or even sassing one's parents? Perhaps we could work some sort of system out for rape too? I'm sure there are some precedents for this sort of thing somewhere. I'm sure Tony knows about them, too, judging by his website. Try clicking on the "porn-prostitution" link on the left-hand side. It's... instructive.
So what's my point with all of this? I'm sorry, were you expecting a point? This is a blog, don't you know: points are entirely optional.
As long as we're talking, however, let me point something out: Tony Zirkle is a lawyer and a former attendee of the United States Naval Academy. He is a highly educated, experienced individual.
He wants to reintroduce the lynch mob and the guillotine.
Obviously, education is not the silver bullet we'd like to think it is, and we in this country have some serious problems. At the same time, despite the fact that this candidate is clearly an utter lunatic, the fact that he can run is magnificent. Moreover, the fact that his candidacy is not, from what I can tell, likely to result in victory is equally magnificent. We have a field of ideas and alternatives and, so far, the people seem to be concluding that Zirkle is a madman.
Maybe there's hope for this country yet.
I'd like to point out, since Zirkle is a lawyer and all, that the contents of this post are my personal opinions. I'm sure Mr. Zirkle is an upstanding member of the community, who simply has some of the worst ideas for governing the country that I've ever heard.