police and property

Thanks to TS:

A year ago, AOL had a contest where they decided to give away $20,000 in gold bars they had received from spammer Brad Bournival, as part of their settlement with him. Bournival is a name that should be familiar to anyone who read Brian McWilliams’ excellent book Spam Kings. Bournival, if you recall, was the apprentice to the book’s main character, Davis Wolfgang Hawke. While Bournival was willing to cooperate when authorities cracked down on their spamming activities, Hawke ran. However, since AOL won their case against both spammers, it feels that Hawke still owes them plenty of money. In the book, it details how Hawke would hide his money all over the place often in the form of gold bars, and apparently the folks at AOL have taken notice. They’re now trying to dig up the backyard of Hawke’s parents, in search of more gold bars. A judge has given permission for the search, which AOL says shouldn’t be too destructive — but Hawke’s mother is vowing to fight the search, saying she has no clue where her son is and she’s sure he didn’t bury any gold on their property.

And thanks to Murray Rothbard:

There is one concession we might make to the police argument, but it is doubtful the police would be happy with the concession. It is proper to invade the property of a thief, for example, who has himself invaded to a far greater extent the property of others. Suppose the police decide that John Jones is a jewel thief. They tap his wires, and use this evidence to convict Jones of the crime. We might say that this tapping is legitimate, and should go unpunished: provided, however, that if Jones should prove not to be a thief, the police and the judges who may have issued the court order for the tap are now to be adjudged criminals themselves and sent to jail for their crime of unjust wiretapping. This reform would have two happy consequences: no policeman or judge would participate in wiretapping unless he was dead certain the victim is indeed a criminal; and the police and judges would at last join everyone else as equally subject to the rule of the criminal law. Certainly equality of liberty requires that the law applies to everyone; therefore any invasion of the property of a noncriminal by anyone should be outlawed, regardless of who committed the deed. The policeman who guessed wrong and thereby aggressed against a noncriminal should therefore be considered just as guilty as any “private” wiretapper.


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