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A'vast and be swabbed, me matey.
January 10, 2005 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Back in Decemeber of 2002 Christa Worthington was murdered in the small Cape Cod tourist (and home of the 'livliest' nude beach on the Cape) of Truro, MA. Despite an active investigation and a $25,000 reward there has little progress in the search for the killer. This has led to a police request for voluntary DNA samples from 790 men. Civil libertarians (ACLU press release in .doc format) are concerned that, though voluntary, police have stated that, "that those who refuse could face some scrutiny." The Dept. of Justice, on the other hand, feels that DNA is a means to prevent crime. Though more common in the UK and Europe, mass DNA testing has been used several times in the United States, most notably in Lousiana where more than 1,000 men were tested in the search for a serial killer.
posted by cedar (58 comments total)

 
The slope this opens up is very steep and sprayed with teflon. Does that DNA stay on file? Can a voluntary DNA sample be used against you later if you commit another crime?

I'm not a crook but I don't really think I'd like my DNA to on file and ready to convict me if some circumstance did arise.

I feel bad for the dead girl and her family but its a short step from voluntary to mandatory testing in the name of justice. The peer pressure to "vollunteer" would become inescapable.

And what happens if they test the whole town and still don't find her killer? Do they expand the zone of testing until they do find the killer?

Its a crappy situation but this isn't the way to go about resolving it.
posted by fenriq at 10:29 AM on January 10, 2005


Just like all those kids who got fingerprinted in the 80's during the epidemic of child abduction hysteria. No way those fingerprints found their way into crime databases, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:40 AM on January 10, 2005


"We're trying to find that person who has something to hide," Sergeant Perry said. [NYTimes article]

Hmm. You have nothing to be afraid of if you have nothing to hide. Where have I heard that before?
posted by psmealey at 10:46 AM on January 10, 2005


I know I'd be telling them to go pound sand if asked. Bloody fascists.

Most of the kid finger printing I'm familiar with resulted in copies being held only by the parents. Are there systems where branches of government keep copies?
posted by Mitheral at 10:50 AM on January 10, 2005


In November, 1996 a 67-yeard old woman was sexually-assaulted and murdered across the street from my mother's house in a small town in Northern Michigan. The murder is still unsolved today.

I was in college at the time, 300 miles down-state and moved back to the area in early 1997. One day I got a call from the state police in the nearest big city asking if I would mind coming in to provide a voluntary DNA sample. At the time I thought nothing of it, had nothing to hide, so I agreed. The police were very friendly and cooperative while I gave them a sample of my DNA via a saliva swab.

I echo fenriq's concerns about whether or not this DNA info stays on file. It's not like I plan on committing any crimes where my DNA can be used against me, but I do worry that this kind of thing encroaches on our civil liberties and rights.
posted by camworld at 11:01 AM on January 10, 2005


Most of the kid finger printing I'm familiar with resulted in copies being held only by the parents. Are there systems where branches of government keep copies?

Lots of kids in New England were fingerprinted at school and the records were kept in some kind of database. Of course, the records were never going to be used for anything except identifying missing kids!.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:01 AM on January 10, 2005


I liked this line: In Baton Rouge, La., in 2003, authorities trying to find a serial killer took swabs from 1,200 white men who drove white pickup trucks, but the dragnet did not yield a suspect; a black man was later arrested using other investigative methods

"Lessee, swabs from 1,200 white men who drove white pickup trucks? Check.
Swabs from 1,200 red men who drove red pickup trucks? Check.
Swabs from 1,200 yellow men who drove yellow pickup trucks? Check.
We're getting closer, here, I can feel it! Subpoena the Blue Man Group!!"
posted by Floydd at 11:08 AM on January 10, 2005


"My feeling is why wouldn't you want to use the quickest method to track this guy down," Marino said.

Geez comments like this make me want to go lick the white crud off a battery terminal. Police cameras in every room of everyone's house recording 24X7 with tapes archived for seven years would make a lot of crimes quickly solved. Better yet with modern GPS and cellular networks we could probably track everyone's movement 24X7X365 just by forcing them to wear a tracking device and keep a record of where they've been when forever. As a bonus, and to cover costs, we could ticket people for speeding ala speed cameras. Federally probably cost less than SDI if we made people buy the transmitter-tracking device.

Do we really want to do everything possible to make the police department's job easy?

Mayor Curley was this a required program to attend school? If so totally unacceptable. I'd bet the nature of mission creep makes misapplication somewhere in the future almost a given.
posted by Mitheral at 11:12 AM on January 10, 2005


Glad I read this. I've never given much consideration to the 5th Amendment (being Canadian and all), but the right to avoid self-indictment always seemed a little... unseemly to me. I mean, really, what do you have to fear if you're innocent? Popculture has led me to equate "taking the fifth" with "guilty as sin". It's an odd right, one that appears to only protect the guilty.

Seeing this made me do a little digging on Find Law into the history of the right, and discover that it's a key differentiation between the accusatorial and inquisitorial forms of justice. It's effectively a protection of the presumption of innocence (which should have been apparent to me, but wasn't). Just shows how deceptive appearances can be.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2005


My main concern is the extension of this program to make it so that everyone who wants a driver's license is required to give a DNA sample.

Anyone thinking this is a good idea should see Gattaca for one potential scenario.

Nah, I'll be keeping my DNA, thanks.
posted by fenriq at 11:15 AM on January 10, 2005


As Cape Codder that shared some of the same social circles as the murder victim, my heart goes out to her daughter and her extended family. But when the DA got on the nightly news promising to keep a close eye on anyone who did not willingly surrender their Constitutional rights, well something started to smell fishy and it's not the Wellfleet oysters. Thankfully, the ACLU is getting involved (link to shitty local paper, will only work on 1/10/2005).
posted by McGuillicuddy at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2005


Dear Ghostinthemachine--the 5th has a great history behind it and is now taken for granted and thus readily dismissed as not necessary. In sum: if you are not required to testify against yourself, then they can not torture a confession out of you.

Earlier, you be required to confess if they were to put you to death or find you guilty...to make this easier, they tortured those alleged to have been guilty...in N.England, the "pressing" of Puritan times was a method used. If you refused to confess, they would pile stones on your chest. If you confessed, the torture was let up and your estate would be taken over by the state. If you refused to confess, your goodies went to your family and you went to your death.
Now it is assumed taking the 5th is merely hiding from the truth. No. It is a safeguard to protect against state torture.
posted by Postroad at 11:21 AM on January 10, 2005


Mayor Curley was this a required program to attend school? If so totally unacceptable.

No, it was optional. But it was opt-out. I brought home the materials about it and my dad was appalled and signed the slip excusing me from it.

As my folks relate it, the suggestion was that if you wouldn't permit your child to be indexed, you basically wanted them to be abducted or left dead and unidentified.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:22 AM on January 10, 2005


Whoa, wait a minute. They're not doing this to find out who may have killed her, but to find out who had sex with her "within hours" of her death. Unless the crime suggests rape/murder, they're seeking a witness, not a suspect. And they're going to DNA for it?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:27 AM on January 10, 2005


I'd be a lot less worried about this allegedly voluntary program if it weren't for this bit in the ACLU press release (WTH? A .doc? Alas, no Word on this end ...) :

Police have the legal authority to ask people to submit to voluntary DNA swabs, so long as no one is required or coerced in any way to provide such a sample. Officers seeking samples in Truro, however, reportedly have been confronting people in public settings, asking them in front of other people if they are willing to do their part to help solve a heinous crime, and giving them little time to decide. Moreover, both police and the District Attorney have made public statements suggesting that anyone who refuses will, in effect, become a suspect in the case.

Yikes. Well, I think if this were to happen in my locale I'd cheerfully hand them my business card and tell them they were welcome to come around to my address any time of the day or night and get a sample ... provided they were accompanied by a duly signed warrant.
posted by kaemaril at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2005


(WTH? A .doc? Alas, no Word on this end ...)
Abiword will open it.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:50 AM on January 10, 2005


I like when the police find killers and all, but I wouldn't want a permanent record of my DNA stuck in the interconnected web of police databases just because I lived near some poor soul who was done in.

If I were one of those 790 men and I was a hundred percent certain that that the results would not be kept, I might warily come forward to help them nab my nasty neighbor. I go in, they run the test in front of me while I enjoy a snack and beverage, they evaluate the results right there, and they lock me up forever burn the results right in front of me and just keep a note that I didn't match the killer's DNA. Or have a third party (observed by someone like the ACLU or Gandhi or someone) run the test and just let the police know whether I'm a match. It's not good to be in the police computers for even a second.

As for the police scrutinizing guys who don't offer their DNA, well, that's inevitable. The police have been scrutinizing all 790 of them, including at least 789 innocent men, for three years, and they will keep scrutinizing all of them until they narrow it down. Maybe they should be able to solicit tests, but only of the sort that doesn't make your DNA one of the search strings every time there's a crime in America for the next fifty years.
posted by pracowity at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2005


PinkStainlessTail: Indeed. As will wordpad (on my windows laptop) and OpenOffice (on my linux desktop) but why on Earth use .DOC? What's wrong with good old HTML or - in the extremis - PDF? Yuck. .DOC gives me a bad taste :)
posted by kaemaril at 12:04 PM on January 10, 2005


I mean, really, what do you have to fear if you're innocent?

You have to fear the police forcing a confession out of you.

You have to fear the police keeping you for an extended period, grilling you and grilling you, and preying on your growing fatigue and confusion until you confess, or at least admit that maybe you *did* do it. This is distressingly common.

If you give your DNA, you have to fear that the lab will misuse it. They might make an honest mistake and mismatch. They might use your DNA to create a match that doesn't exist; just matching your sample to itself and lying about the testing process.

You have to fear your own statements being used against you, being taken out of context, being twisted into admissions of guilt.

You have to fear that statements you give freely and cooperatively will be used as a basis for a warrant to intrusively search your house or other things. At which point it's entirely possible that the cops will plant evidence that isn't there, or willfully misinterpret evidence, or otherwise frame your ass right into prison.

You have lots and lots to fear if the cops and prosecutor think you're guilty, irrespective of your actual guilt.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:05 PM on January 10, 2005


pracowity: There's surely a difference between you pragmatically suspecting they might look at you anyway if you don't volunteer and them out and out saying it as a very strong incentive to "voluntarily" help them out? Sounds like coercion to me.
posted by kaemaril at 12:07 PM on January 10, 2005


My main concern is the extension of this program to make it so that everyone who wants a driver's license is required to give a DNA sample.

and

It's not like I plan on committing any crimes where my DNA can be used against me, but I do worry that this kind of thing encroaches on our civil liberties and rights.

OK, but how? We're all civil libertarians here, and this Truro methodology is troublesome, but:

How is putting your fingerprints, your picture, or your DNA into a database an infringement of your rights against self-incrimination, or any other right? All these concerns seem to me akin to the gun lobby's claim that any restriction on gun ownership is going to lead straight to a total ban and firearms.

Technology is enabling governments and corporations to gather, hold and analyze an ever growing amount of data on individuals. One benefit of this is that it's a tool to solve crimes. To the extent it has the potential to be misused, let's work on putting in adequate safeguards, because the genie is already out of the bottle; we're not going to put an end to the compiling of databases.

As a devil's advocate argument, I'd say: why not require blanket national IDs including photos, fingerprints and DNA, with a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used. It sounds like some of you are planning to commit crimes at some indeterminate time, so you're worried, but why wouldn't a law-abiding citizen want to have themselves fully documented in this way?

It's easy to paint a scenario (Gattaca?) in which this kind of information becomes grotesquely misused, but our Western societies have enough checks and balances to keep those from becoming reality. The bigger challenge is probably be to keep some Podunk sheriff (like the police chief in Truro) from misusing the information, but that's not a reason to steer clear of exploring the concept.

ON PREVIEW: to ROU_Xenophobe's points, you've got all those things to fear without a DNA database. In reality, if you happened to be innocent but in the wrong place at the wrong time, a DNA database could save your ass, as proven by the various death row cases reversed by DNA evidence.
posted by beagle at 12:15 PM on January 10, 2005


beagle: As a fellow Devil's advocate I'd just like to say: What checks and balances? :)
posted by kaemaril at 12:23 PM on January 10, 2005


I'd say: why not require blanket national IDs including photos, fingerprints and DNA, with a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used.

And you'd trust the same people who brought you COINTELPRO, The Tuskegee Syphillis Study and the Secret War in Cambodia to keep "a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used"?
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:27 PM on January 10, 2005


As a devil's advocate argument, I'd say: why not require blanket national IDs including photos, fingerprints and DNA, with a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used.

Because the controls will fail. Because you'd be making it easier for the police and prosecutors to make up bogus evidence -- if I know what your fingerprints are, or what your DNA profile is, then I know exactly what I need to plant, or tell lies about, in order to at the least get a warrant to search your house.

to ROU_Xenophobe's points, you've got all those things to fear without a DNA database

Yup. My argument is against voluntarily cooperating with the police generally, not just against DNA databases.

When they're investigating crimes, even crimes against you or your family, the police are Not Your Friends. Always assume that they're looking for a pretext to put you in prison.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:36 PM on January 10, 2005


How is putting your fingerprints, your picture, or your DNA into a database an infringement of your rights against self-incrimination, or any other right?

Unreasonable search and seizure. This is akin to suggesting that you no longer need search warrants to search people's homes. After all, they should have to help out with investigations as part of being a good citizen, right?
posted by oaf at 12:38 PM on January 10, 2005


My best friends and I are all Truro summer kids; I still spend four months a year there. Our little police force is utterly out of its depth with this high-profile unsolved murder, and from the Times story I gather they're running with a suggestion from the FBI on this DNA-roundup stupidity. My friends from there agree that we wouldn't let ourselves be swabbed if we were there now to be asked.

They're supposedly just looking for a witness - for one thing, as far as I've heard the semen's the only evidence that the killer was male - but it's hard to imagine that they're going to somehow find yet another guy that was sleeping with Christa but who two years of investigation in a very small and gossipy town hasn't already brought to light. So they're really just fishing to see who'll refuse, so they can claim to be making progress on the only case that's ever had Truro PD mentioned in two New York Times front-page stories.
posted by nicwolff at 12:39 PM on January 10, 2005


beagle: ...with a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used.

This is where you lose me.

Regardless of what standards for the use of national identification are created there is no guarantee that those standards will remain in place. If a national database of citizens in created I have no doubt that it's use will eventually take forms inintended by it's creators.

Social Security numbers come to mind. When created in 1936 assurances were made that the numbers use would be strictly limited to the Social Security Administration in order to track an individuals contribution to the fund -- clearly, that is no longer the case. Until 1961 not even the IRS could use them for taxpayer identification, now they are used for everything from drivers license numbers to employer id's.

I see no reason a national identification card would not be co-opted, in time, to a variety of unforseen uses. Aside from the fact it just smells wrong. I didn't sign on to live in a country where my 'papers' (containing a little chip with my DNA, health records, criminal history, driving history, credit history, educational history and religous preferences) can be demanded by any podunk little law enforcement agency who happens to have a crime or two to clean up.
posted by cedar at 12:43 PM on January 10, 2005


PS. your second link notwithstanding there haven't been "dozens" of nudists at once at the nude beach near Ballston since the seventies. It's a national park and the federal Park Rangers patrol on ATVs enthusiastically writing tickets to topless women.
posted by nicwolff at 12:52 PM on January 10, 2005


While we're all exercising devil's advocacy here:
As a devil's advocate argument, I'd say: why not require blanket national IDs including photos, fingerprints and DNA, with a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used.

Is your social security number on your driver's license? Mine's not, but I had to ask that it not be.

Over time, the one thing we've seen technology do is make complex information more portable and reproducible. Having a DNA record on file anywhere will will become a liability once it has a commercial value. And it will have commercial value. It's god's actuarial table. I h'aint seen gattaca, but I understand this is the gist of that film.

The identity theft you've seen to date is nothing but simple document shuffling. Wait for v2.0.
posted by Pliskie at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2005


ROU_X, just want to make clear that my statement ("what do you have to fear if innocent") was rhetorical, representing what is likely the majority reaction to this type of situation, because it's a question I hadn't really delved into before.

Asking for a DNA sample is the same as being required to prove you're innocent, rather than being presumed innocent. It doesn't help the police as much as it hurts the public.

And again, this isn't even a search for a killer. It's an attempt to ferret out a reluctant witness.

(on preview: as for the digital records angle... another aspect of digital records is their vulnerability to corruption. What happens if your digitally-filed DNA is somehow altered to match that of a pedophile, for example? Compare this with how difficult it is to correct mistakes in your credit file, for instance, and the potential for very, very bad mistakes is incredible.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:07 PM on January 10, 2005


Regardless of what standards for the use of national identification are created there is no guarantee that those standards will remain in place. If a national database of citizens in created I have no doubt that it's use will eventually take forms inintended by it's creators.

That's the National Rifle Association argument with respect to gun ownership restrictions, do you all agree with that one?

The fact is, the database already exists, at least in distributed components that are easily cross-referenced, your picture is in it; for a lot of us our fingerprints and maybe retinal scans are already there; we're just talking about adding DNA.

Suppose this had stopped the 9/11 attacks? Essentially the failure of intelligence there is the failure to connect the dots, to put the pieces of the database together somehow.

I believe Tony Blair plans to introduce a British national ID card system (minus DNA, I'm sure) -- how's the civil liberties debate going over there, anyone?

And you'd trust the same people who brought you COINTELPRO, The Tuskegee Syphillis Study and the Secret War in Cambodia to keep "a strong set of controls on who has access to the information and how it's used"?

Let's add Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo to that list. Sure, every society has law enforcement and other elements that cross the line, but as long as the People stay vigilant, the abberations will not become the rule. Sooner or later, the right side wins in these situations. They just indicted Edgar Ray Killen.
posted by beagle at 1:16 PM on January 10, 2005


Can they use the DNA they have, from the person who left semen at the scene, to get more information? What can we find out from DNA, anyhow? Could they analyze it and find out the race of the man, his age, hair color? It seems to me that then they'd be looking at a much smaller pool of potential matches than the entire male population of the town, to the point that those few being asked to provide samples would really be suspects. (Once alibi was ruled out and such, of course.) Don't get me wrong, it's still scary invasive -- just seems to me that they could make it less scary.
posted by xo at 1:22 PM on January 10, 2005


Man, what a bunch of nut jobs on this thread. No offense to nut jobs. But wow!

First of all there is no "constitutional right to anonymity".

Fingerprints have helped us, as a society, way way more than they have hurt us. Corrupt police are going to be corrupt w/ or w/o DNA evidence. Finger prints and DNA are a balm to the innocent and a bane to the guilty.

If you don't trust your government, then go find a country where you do trust them. Generally, the government has stricter controls and more oversight than the killer(s) of this woman and countless other victims.

Sexual predators, and this appears to be one, are not going to stop once they get going. But hey, unless you're a woman, you've got nothing to worry about.

Metafilter: Don't tell.
posted by ewkpates at 1:24 PM on January 10, 2005


I believe Tony Blair plans to introduce a British national ID card system (minus DNA, I'm sure) -- how's the civil liberties debate going over there, anyone?
Many of us (Daily Mail readers excluded, obviously :) ) are not keen on the idea. Especially as - and this is chutzpah this is - they want us to pay for the privilege of owning a card that's legally mandated! 85UKP was the last mooted figure I recall. Which is what, about 150 dollars about now?
posted by kaemaril at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2005


If you trust your government you deserve your government.
posted by kaemaril at 1:28 PM on January 10, 2005


A problem with allowing dragnetting as enabled by mandatory finger/dna/retina printing is it can create suspects. EG: innocent bystander passes through the crime scene where vicious crime occurs the day before the crime is committed leaving all sorts of DNA trace lying around. IB doesn't have an alibi for the day of the crime nor an "explanation"[1] of why he was ever at the crime scene location. Out comes the microscope on IB's life. Which even if you have nothing to hide can be stressful as hell and heaven forbid you have a joint in your house or something. If IB fits the profile (white truck/white man in this case; bet there ain't many false positives there) it'll be even worse. Ever gotten nervous because a police car was following you as you were driving down the road? Imagine if that went on for three months rather than three minutes. I've seen it happen and if you can't laugh it off it ain't pretty.

Creating suspects is bad also for anyone who wants the criminals to be caught as well because it wastes police resources.

nicwolff: It's a national park and the federal Park Rangers patrol on ATVs enthusiastically writing tickets to topless women.
This is just wrong. How does any law allowing men to go sans-top and not women past constitutional muster in the USA? Even our weaker charter has invalidated these kinds of double standards.

kaemaril I can't believe my proposed user pays catch a release program had any basis in reality!

[1] see how we've exited the innocent until proven guilty mind set and are now asking the IB to prove his innocence?
posted by Mitheral at 1:32 PM on January 10, 2005


First of all there is no "constitutional right to anonymity".

Of course not. With probably cause, you can be compelled to give fingerprints or DNA, which seems appropriate.

But is just giving away your fingerprints or DNA smart? Generally, no; doing so is not likely to be to your benefit whether you are guilty or innocent.

If you don't trust your government, then go find a country where you do trust them.

I can't think of any country where I'd trust police and prosecutors. At least not when it's my ass on the line.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:39 PM on January 10, 2005


beagle-

how about innocent 'till proven guilty? As someone else pointed out it would be extremely easy for law enforcement if everyone had chips implanted to track everywhere they go. But that's wouldn't make cutting work much fun, would it?

I'm against this, because history has shown that these things tend to get abused. My data, my DNA belongs to me and I should have absolute rights over who gets it, barring a certain circumstances. The individual should come first.


for instance, we have a running, quiet battle with my step daughters school, because on the permission slips for field trips, the ask for health insurance info. we don't give it (it's none of there damn business), they get snippy and it's be suggested by others that this could be grounds for social services dropping by to see if we're properly taking care of the child.

also, we had to find out from our child that there are cameras in the classrooms and on the school buses.

and then there was the random drug search by police offers and dogs one day, which, once again, we found out by the child, NOT the school.

this school was voted one of the ten best charter schools in the US.

It's this quiet, constant, usurping of power that frightens me. Citizens in the US are slowly, but surely being treated as cattle, rather than individuals.

As for your point to ROU_Xenophobe, a simple DNA test once he was part of the investigation would suffice. There's no reason why, in that situation, that it HAS to already be in a database.

I'm betting that once this is in a database, the insurance companies, banks, car dealers, real estate agents and all sorts of other people will start using the information for their own purposes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:46 PM on January 10, 2005


Brandon Blatcher: No, they won't, because they won't be legally entitled to it. Of course, congress will have had concerns about privacy so will have blocked all but federal access ...

At least, until some powerfully-placed politician sitting on a committee receives a hefty backhander from a corporate lobbyist, and starts making noises about how unfair it is that insurance companies have to do all these checkups and stuff when the federal government is just selfishly hoarding all that harmless data! Data they could be putting it to the benefit of all by allowing insurance companies access to it ...

Why, just think of how much money the insurance companies will save... money they can pass back to their customers as savings ...

/slippery slope slippery slope ...
posted by kaemaril at 1:58 PM on January 10, 2005


beagle: That's the National Rifle Association argument with respect to gun ownership restrictions, do you all agree with that one?

Your confusing the difference between requiring registration for a potentially deadly piece of property with requiring registration (in the case a national registry) for simply being alive.

ewkpates: First of all there is no "constitutional right to anonymity".

No, but there are several that protect use from illegal search and seizure, from having our privacy invaded without due cause and from having restrictions placed on our travel between states.

Undoubtedly you are correct about the usefulness of fingerprinting and DNA -- however, I would rather see it applied to those who are established to be a threat to order rather than anyone who happens to live in a jurisdiction a crime is committed, or in some trendy little town unable to muster the resources to handle a high profile murder (doesn't MA have some sort of state BCI that could lend a hand?)

As far as your "love it or leave it" argument goes, go piss up a rope. Don't you have some commies to kill or something? It is far more patriotic to vocally protest the erosion of civil liberties, even at the risk of being portrayed as a paranoid zealot, than to sit passively by while two hundred years of enlightenment is flushed down the shitter by those convinced that the state, in order to protect the public, is entitled to trample the rights of the individual.

If, in fact, you feel that way may I suggest that you move to a country more in line with your perception of liberty -- Saudi Arabia, N. Korea and several African nations have made notable strides in managing the criminal elements within their societies.
posted by cedar at 2:11 PM on January 10, 2005


kaemaril: EXACTLY RIGHT
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:17 PM on January 10, 2005


Think of it this way: Giving one's fingerprint is like giving one's name. Giving one's DNA is like handing over a diary. Much more information in the latter, which has no relevance to the crime, but can still be used against someone ad infinitum.
posted by piskycritter at 3:55 PM on January 10, 2005


Fingerprints have helped us, as a society, way way more than they have hurt us. Corrupt police are going to be corrupt w/ or w/o DNA evidence. Finger prints and DNA are a balm to the innocent and a bane to the guilty.

Has anyone asked for the outright removal of fingerprinting as a law-enforcement tactic? No. Your suggestion that it's one or the other is therefore irrelevant.

Clearly you know very little about your country's law enforcement history, which is littered with stories of over-zealous (occasionally racist or classist) agencies "making evidence fit" in order to convict a suspect. This would be made only easier with a large-scale database of "evidence" to draw from, where easily convictable men and women are ushered away with nary a whimper. This has already happened countless times before in America; there's no need to make it harder.


If you don't trust your government, then go find a country where you do trust them. Generally, the government has stricter controls and more oversight than the killer(s) of this woman and countless other victims.

People like you make moving America towards a police state easier every day. Your logic is also laughable--well, it would be laughable if the sentiment itself wasn't so frightening. The government should be given even more control of your lives because they have better regulatory systems than killer(s)? Uh huh. Ok.

Sexual predators, and this appears to be one, are not going to stop once they get going. But hey, unless you're a woman, you've got nothing to worry about.

Don't cloak your assailable idiocy in feminist garb. It makes the actual feminists amongst us look bad. Thank God I'm not an American. I can't fathom some of you people.

That's the National Rifle Association argument with respect to gun ownership restrictions, do you all agree with that one?

I don't think they're the same at all, unless you're specifically referring to their argument that any ban on guns will result in stricter bans on guns (or the possibility of that outcome). If that's all you're talking about, then yes, I agree that's likely what would happen. Then you have to debate whether or not that is a good thing.
posted by The God Complex at 4:09 PM on January 10, 2005


Sorry, I meant to say fingerprinting or DNA-collection (since both are somewhat relevant to the discussion), not just fingerprinting.
posted by The God Complex at 4:10 PM on January 10, 2005


TGC - I am an American and I can't fathom some of our people. But the fact that men in Truro are willing to freely submit to DNA testing is probably driven by an honest hope that they somehow will help solve a brutal murder in a small, close knit community. Just trying to explain the local's rational, I can't explain or apologize for ewkpates' ilk.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 7:15 PM on January 10, 2005


It was a little rash anyway--there are plenty of people here who fall into the same boat. I was just honestly quite surprised by the comment.
posted by The God Complex at 7:49 PM on January 10, 2005


My my my. I loved this "...the government should have even more control of your lives..."

Riiggght. Say to quietly to yourself, "I'm not crazy". Repeat. In a mirror, if possible. Let me know what a finger print database has done to "control your lives".

I'm also a fan of this: "It is far more patriotic to vocally protest the erosion of civil liberties... while two hundred years of enlightenment is flushed... [by those] convinced that the state... is entitled to trample the rights of the individual."

"Rights" is a nebulous concept to so many people. I'd like to clarify that the "Rights" you get in a republic are in EXCHANGE for something, namely allegiance. No, rights aren't free. No, you don't have them everywhere in the world.

Anyone who doesn't want to register with the State, defend the State, fund the State, and obey the laws of the State, is welcome to leave. The State is your friend. It won't put you in jail without a trial, it won't stop you from expressing your views (especially if you have alot of money) and the State won't let people from other States beat you up and take your stuff.

All those on this thread who have been wrongly imprisoned based solely on finger print evidence, please say so. Likewise for those wrongly imprisoned on DNA evidence.

Everyone else shut your cake holes. I love you, I want you in my country, but I've gotta say that individual nutty citizens, in groups and alone, have done us more harm than elected officials, social and government institutions, and jack booted police thugs put together, ever could.
posted by ewkpates at 7:03 AM on January 11, 2005


ewkpates - do you really think the police don't occasionally force a confession out of people that are totally innocent?

Really?

Tell that to the Central Park 5.
posted by bshort at 7:50 AM on January 11, 2005


Another case of mass DNA testing is in Charlottesville, where the search for the serial rapist led the the Charlottesville PD to seek DNA samples from 195 black men and 2 hispanics. Most complied, although a couple of U.Va. students complained (namely Steven Turner (google link) and Michael Townes) leading to the ten men not complying to eventually sue the city (which is still in progress, I think).

So yeah, as far as I'm concerned, any mass testing of DNA is going to be a problem, but any testing where it's motivated by race more than other factors is where you get into the really, really scary parts.
posted by thecaddy at 9:33 AM on January 11, 2005


Man! bshort! Totally! And the police shoot people, and they manufacture evidence, and! my favorite! they conspire with criminals to break the law!

Count the number of police that are crooked. Now count the criminals.

Now remember that the argument here is "Should we allow the State to collect DNA records?". The answer isn't, "No, because some police are crooked." Nor is the answer, "No, because some people are falsely accused."

Come on, people!
posted by ewkpates at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2005


This link tells you more about the UK laws about DNA collection - since the 1984 PACE act it is apparently legal for the police to retain DNA when collected from someone 'suspected of having committed a "serious arrestable offence".' which is a significantly wide dragnet.

I myself have had my DNA registered in the database due to youthful indiscretions and have had my application for removal turned down by the Chief Constable. I haven't commited any criminal activities for some time and have no intention of doing so but I still dislike the information being available somewhere.

Frankly it gives me the heebie-jeebies.
posted by longbaugh at 11:13 AM on January 11, 2005


I vote we clone longbaugh.
posted by ewkpates at 11:34 AM on January 11, 2005


You and every other lonely heart out there ewkpates...
posted by longbaugh at 12:20 PM on January 11, 2005




posted by ewkpates at 12:47 PM on January 11, 2005


(sob)
posted by ewkpates at 12:47 PM on January 11, 2005


the "Rights" you get in a republic are in EXCHANGE for something, namely allegiance. No, rights aren't free. - ewkpates

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - the founders of the United States of America
posted by nicwolff at 6:53 PM on January 11, 2005


To take up where nicwolff left off (and thanks, nic -- that was exactly what I was thinking):

The State is your friend. It won't put you in jail without a trial

Ha! Does the name "Padilla" ring a bell? Arresting a US citizen, within the US, and proposing to detain them indefinitely without charge or access to an attorney, based on secret evidence which they won't disclose?

Everyone else shut your cake holes.

This seems to be ewkpates' ideal of what a government should say...
posted by Vidiot at 8:43 PM on January 11, 2005


See? See? You should all be arrested.

My point is not in the face of Jefferson's (who I adore), which is a philosophical point... my point is an pragmatic one.

If you don't have anyone who will fight for your rights, that is pragmatically the same as not having any.

I'm not saying the State is Perfection. The State makes mistakes. But the rules of the State favor you, whereas the rules of criminals do not. Occasionally criminals are helpful (Robin Hood), occasionally the State is wrong.

I know I'm alone now on this thread. I also know that 10 years from now you'll all be whining that you don't want the government to have you NeuroPsychological Response Personality Inventory on file. Oh Waaaaa.
posted by ewkpates at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2005


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