Letter to the Editor - 2005 turning into a terrible year for civil liberties in SF

January 28, 2005


  Wasn’t Bush II enough? Do we look like gluttons for punishment? If you haven’t noticed yet, 2005 is shaping up to be a terrible year for civil liberties in San Francisco, no thanks to our local “leaders.”

  Before the new year even commenced, several members of the Board of Supervisors had already announced a plan to disarm ordinary San Franciscans, part of a trend of only allowing law enforcement officials and people living in “red states” to own guns.

  With the gun-grabbing measure on hold until the next election, the Board was apparently eager to do something to erode freedom before November: Last Tuesday, they passed Supervisor Alioto-Pier’s legislation to impose fines starting at $100 for smoking outdoors in a park (didn’t care to put that one to the voters, did you?). Of course the city will first have to pay for a bunch of new signs, but that doesn’t matter since there’s so much extra money in the budget this year and all the potholes in the streets have already been filled (not!).

  Not to be outdone, Supervisor Ma wants to enforce curfews against San Francisco youth by fining owners of video game parlors (up to $750 per offense) for not checking I.D.s to make sure their patrons are over 18 during restricted hours.

  Meanwhile, back at the D.A.’s office, Kamala Harris is seeking a life sentence under “Three Strikes” – something she said she would do only for serious offenses – for Charley Charles. His crime? “Illegal” possession of a handgun. Yes, Charles committed the horrific act two decades ago of setting his son on fire, but he served his time for that crime, and had good reason to want a gun for personal protection since someone already tried to impose vigilante justice by trying to kill him on the street.

  Now the latest word is that Supervisor Peskin has come up with the brilliant idea of confiscating the cars of people who’ve solicited prostitution. Never mind that the city’s Prostitution Task Force found that enforcing and prosecuting prostitution crimes is ineffective, unpopular with residents, and a waste of resources (see http://www.bayswan.org/1TF.html ). All this, and it's only January.

  Are there any local officials who actually care about preserving what's left of a free society enough to stand up against these civil liberties violations? This would be a good time for Mayor Newsom to show some of the courage he demonstrated around this time last year by allowing same-sex couples to legally marry. If the Statue of Liberty were able to show up at City Hall, she wouldn’t be holding up a torch – she’d be holding a veto pen.


Outreach Director, Libertarian Party of San Francisco
3531 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-7932