This is a reprint from my friend the Rude Pundit.
Let us pause for a moment here to praise a state for standing up for what we quaintly used to call "civil rights." You remember those? You remember the days before we were all suspects in crimes that hadn't occurred but, boy, oh, boy, they sure might? The Rude Pundit thinks there was a brief period between about 1975 and 2000 when that was actually true. Oh, what fun we had.
Now, amid Arizona's "The Constitution can blow a cactus" show-your-papers law and the support it's been getting from other states (not to mention piquant bits of spicy bullshit like Louisiana's Jesus wants you locked and loaded law), it's almost touchingly nostalgic, a bit retro, if you will, for a state legislature and governor to actually tell police, "No, that's a bit too far."
In New York, despite the amount of spittle flying out of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's mouth, Governor David Paterson is going to sign a law that says the police can't keep a database of the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of every single person they stop and frisk. While "stop and frisk," as the stopping and frisking is called, is still quite a ways over the line of "innocent until proven guilty," at the very least, the cops won't be able to have your name on file so that every time there's a crime in your neighborhood, they come to question or arrest you for suspicion.
As for "stop and frisk," according to the NYPD's own records, "Last year, the police made a record 581,000 stops, bringing the tally since 2004 to nearly three million. Yet more than 85 percent of the stops never led to an arrest or a summons." You got that? In one year, the police intimidated nearly half a million people who didn't even have some weed on them. Oh, and 90% of the people stopped are non-white. And once they do that, the police wanted to keep your info on record forever.
Of course the cops are upset. Of course Bloomberg is upset. Surely, lots of people are willing to give up their rights in order to feel vaguely more safe. But let's let the mayor rather enthusiastically paint the picture of the future in his response to the law: "And what's wrong with keeping the data? We have data on everything. You wait until we have facial recognition software, and somebody's going to have a record of every person that walks down by your house. You just point a camera at them, the software will do it. That's coming. I mean, these days of, we put license plates on your car. You can read those by computer now, and we know where you're driving. Cell phones, everybody knows where you are."
And you know what? He's right. Feel safer?