Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Frickin' laser beams

Ah, the Patriot Act once again is keeping the world safe for democracy. This time, prosecutors are using it in an effort to imprison a New Jersey man for 25 years and fine him $500,000 for using a laser pointer.

Yes, you read that correctly: Apparently we have so completely and thoroughly vanquished crime in this country that we now have the time and money to use anti-terrorism laws to try to lock up a guy for a quarter-century just because he was aiming a light beam at some stars to entertain his 7-year-old daughter.

Several other incidents involving airplanes and laser beams have been reported recently, and the lasers can temporarily blind flight crews, so people should certainly be discouraged from pointing them in the air haphazardly. It's clear that federal authorities want to make an example of this guy, but why not just fine him a few hundred dollars instead of trying to put him behind bars until his daughter is in her 30s? Plenty of murderers end up serving less prison time than prosecutors are seeking to give this man.

This is ridiculous on so many levels.


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