Is that a Busted Taillight You Got There, Son?

Let me shout out “thanks” to Pipil DC and Christina for their comments on my last post.

Here’s another quick article about a news story you have missed. It seems that in Arizona, the “Toughest Sheriff in America” has overstepped his bounds.

The man with this unimaginative nickname (one that seems self-generated) is Joe Arpaio, who is the law in Maricopa County – and don’t you forget it. The sheriff has earned some attention for himself by going after illegal immigrants.

Arpaio had been working with the Department of Homeland Security to enforce federal immigration laws. Unfortunately, it seems that the sheriff wasn’t just detaining illegals. He was allegedly rounding up Latinos in general. As such, Homeland Security is trying to limit his power to arrest people for the crime of being brown.

The sheriff denies that he’s profiling. He says, “We do not go on street corners and grab people that look like they’re from another country.”

But the ACLU counters that “He’s unconstitutionally acted to racially profile many persons in the community, persons who appear or are Latino” so that he can “appeal to his anti-immigration base.”

Now, we all know (because I’ve heard it on talk radio) that the ACLU won’t rest until illegal immigrants are given the keys to our houses and allowed to sleep with our wives. So maybe the sheriff is just being hounded by liberal atheist flag-burners?

But then there is the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian group that has denounced the sheriff’s actions and said that his department “falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission.” The Goldwater Institute, not exactly known for being a hangout for hippies, says that Arpaio has “diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration.”

It’s at times like this that I’m grateful for old-school conservatives, who are still likely to get peeved when civil liberties are trampled. Social conservatives and neocons, of course, are different, in that they are first people to dismiss Constitutional rights as too cumbersome for our modern world. The contradiction between these definitions of “conservative” is far too complicated and depressing to address in this post.

Suffice to say, when you’re in Arizona, keep an eye out for Sheriff Joe. He may be arresting people based on the color of their skin. He may be ignoring real crime and sidestepping the law. And he may be shirking his duty in order to get cozy with xenophobic nuts.

But he’s a tough guy, you know.



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October 2009
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