Virgina police have a warrant to photograph a teenage boy's penis
On top of all the other stories - forced enemas, setting fire to toddlers, etc. - comes a story that, in its way, is worse than all of those. This is not just overzealousness; this is officially insane.
The basic story is that a teenage girl sexted her teenage boyfriend some naughty pictures, and he responded in kind. The girl's mother saw his picture and called the police.
The girl is 15 and the boy is 17. Whatever you think about teenagers having sex, the law in this case treats it as a misdemeanor. Calling the police in the first place was an insane act by the mother, which is going to cost her any chance at a relationship with her daughter, but whatever. The cops actually pursuing it is pretty stupid, but whatever.
But it doesn't stop there.
The cops are going for a child pornography charge, apparently under the theory that a law designed to stop sexual exploitation of minors can be used to charge a minor with sexually exploiting himself. The idea that two kids can have physical sex and be charged with a misdemeanor, but if they take pictures of themselves not having sex it's a felony that lands them on the pedophile list for life, is insane. If I stopped the story right now, you'd be like, "That's f*cking insane."
But it doesn't stop there.
In an effort to prove that the boy is the perpetrator, the cops apparently sought and received a warrant to reproduce the photograph as evidence. That's right, they plan to “just take him down to the hospital, give him a shot and then take the pictures that we need.”
So: to enforce a law that protects children from sexual trauma and exploitation for adult ends, the cops intend to sexually traumatize and exploit a child for adult ends.
Mind you, we're not talking about a rape/murder case where they need to prove who the perpetrator is. The only crime greater than a speeding ticket is a picture on a phone. We're not talking about harassment or stalking or assault; the girl is not an innocent victim of a brutish predator. The only sin here is a teenage girl disobeying her mother by her choice of boyfriend.
But even the wildly disproportionate response to the trivial issue is not the problem. That's just par for the course; that ship sailed long ago when SWAT teams started delivering summons. What makes this case so much worse than all the others is the Kafkian absurdity of the police obtaining evidence for a crime by committing the same crime.
How could any sane human being think that forcibly inducing an erection in an underage boy and then forcibly subjecting him to photography by strangers is an appropriate way to protect children from being sexually exploited by adults?
What the hell are the police going to do with the photograph? Show it to the jury as evidence? It's one thing to show a jury a stash of filthy pictures you found, it's something else to manufacture child pornography to show the jury.
Maybe they'll just have their experts examine it and determine if the two match. Can you imagine the defense attorney's cross examination? "Please tell the court, sir, what your professional qualifications are. Just how many hours have you spent looking at underage boy's erect penises?"
Setting fire to toddlers, however horrific, is still just violence out of control. Forcibly searching a person for drugs by administering enemas, however sick, is still just the cops trying to beat the bad guys. But this is another level entirely. This is the not the abandonment of reason, it is the embrace of unreason.
This is not just careless disregard for human life, this is not just viewing people as a means to an end, this is not just using the law without regards to its intent: this is the perversion of the entire concept of criminal justice, making the cops worse criminals than the bad guys. In a world where reporting sexual assault results in you being raped by the police, we are better off without police. Anarchy would be safer than living under the kind of police officers that could utter the above quote without spontaneously combusting out of pure irony.
But this is not madness. This is not simple insanity; the true offense here is obvious. The police offered the boy a chance to plead guilty, and only resorted to this strong-arm tactic when he dared to assert his rights under the law. This is punishment for defiance of state power. This is authority for authority's sake.
This is the Taliban.
UPDATE: Apparently the police have decided not to pursue this opportunity because of the public outcry. So apocalypse is averted - but only temporarily. It's not like any of the police or the judge will lose their jobs. They'll just wait a until next time and hope the press doesn't catch wind of it.
UPDATE: One of my loyal readers (thanks, Dad!) has alerted me to the fact that the boy is now on probation, and charges will probably be dismissed in a year. This is a perfect metaphor for America: things slide out of control until people start paying attention. Participating in politics is not a right, it is a duty. The system doesn't work unless people do their part, which means paying attention, being reasonable, and voting.