A comment by Jasan, in reply to my “News From a Blue State” post has prompted a reply that I would rather post here. Jasan basically pointed out that –“it doesn’t prevent the mother from calling the cops – it prevents the mother from using the evidence she heard listening in on the second phone line as evidence in court.” While technically this is true, in some jurisdictions calling the police with such a tip would actually be worse than not calling them; because any leads that occur based on illegally obtained evidence can invalidate the case. But that is really not the point.
It is a ridiculous proposition to believe that an individual has a right to privacy when talking to a minor. A parents job is to protect their child, to the best of their ability, from the kind of negative external influences that are possible in just this kind of circumstance. Its freggin hard enough to protect you child from the filth that is available through modern mass communications. Now to take away the only tool that parents have to bring legal action against those who would do harm to those same children.
For 200 years we have made the conscious decision to protect a child from harm, even when it sacrifices their rights in the short term. We do this to give them a chance to develop into adults who can make their own sound decisions. Then we let them succeed or fail based on those decisions… but to protect a child’s “privacy” at the expense of their safety; before they even have the experience or mental capabilities to intelligently use those rights; is the very definition of irresponsible. Following this same logic, we should let the children stay with the adults they want to live with. Even if a court has decided that their drugged up, abusive, sexually molesting parents are unfit. Hey, the kid has a right to freedom of association. Or if a 9 year old wants to screw a 55 year old, well then who are we to stop them. How about giving 4 year olds guns? The parents shouldn’t have any say in such things, right?
The rights I have listed above are actually directly protected constitutional rights; unlike the implied constitutional interpretation that the “right to privacy” is. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in implied constitutional rights and I even support the “right to privacy”, but if we are fundamentally able to restrict the rights of children that are expressly defined by the constitution then why in the world would we protect an implied right.
I remember the big hoopla that conservatives (blame the parents not the guns) and liberals (blame the parents not the kids) made about the Columbine Massacre because the parents did not pay attention to the actions of their kids. There have been a half a dozen cases where “Columbine” like attacks were thwarted by parents listening in to telephone conversations. If this ruling were in place in those circumstances then the police could be prepared to stop the kids, but they could not bring any “attempted” charges against them (i.e. They could charge them with possession of a weapon on school property but not for attempted murder) because the tip they used to identify the threat was obtained illegally. In fact in some jurisdictions ALL charges would have to be dropped because of how the evidence was obtained.
This same ruling has dramatic ramifications to other forms of communication. It effectively states that (although you can monitor the actions of your kids on the Internet) you cannot reasonable expect to get police protection if you discover that a pedophile has been talking about picking up your kid during school… and even if the police decide to watch your kid they CANNOT LEGALLY STOP the pedophile before he does anything illegal.
More than one person has already pointed out that it is generally totalitarian regimes that pursue the rights of children over the protection of children and the rights of parents. Things like the Hitler youth did this because its so easy to TAKE ADVANTAGE of children and exploit them to their own ends. No, this ruling is ridiculous in the extreme. It does huge amounts of damage to those that would work to help children; and in doing so creates a bastion of safety for pedophiles in the very homes of the children that this ruling is suppose to help.