Friday, August 04, 2006

Thought Crime

I took some time last night to try to catch up on the pile of Macleans that seem to appear on my desk every week.

I came across an article by Barbara Amiel regarding the terrorist arrests in Toronto. The gist of it (and I apologize for poor paraphrasing, but it was pretty late last night) is that until a crime is actually committed with intent, has a crime been committed. In other words, if you think about a crime can you or should you be arrested.

Personally I hope not. Some of the darker thoughts that cross my mind as I read various newspapers and listen to ridiculous delegations at council meetings would be enough to have me arrested.

Barbara also comments on whether entrapment or stings are a valid form of police action, whether it be posing as prostitutes to catch johns, posing as addicts to catch dealers, or posing as fertilizer salesmen to catch terrorists.

My thoughts are this:

As soon as you begin discussing a plan to commit a crime with others with the full intention of carrying it out at some future point, surely "conspiracy" becomes a real point, whether it be over the internet or in person.

If you purchase materials (real or not) from a supplier (real or not) to commit a crime you have already conspired to commit at some future point, surely "intent" is established.

I am generally law-abiding (generally, because I have, in the past, violated certain posted speed limits, exceeded my hourly allotment of parking and crossed the road contrary to posted signs and warnings), but I have had dark thoughts about inflicting bodily harm on others. I have not discussed particulars with others in a chat room, I have not purchased materials and weapons to commit said crimes and I have not spent hours in the backwoods of Ontario practicing the use of said weapons.

I think our law enforcement officials need the tools to be able to stop bad things before they happen. Crime prevention is more important than catching the criminals after the fact.


PS Sorry if this is a little heavy for a Friday, but I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.

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