We Suck Young Blood

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One of the terrors of writing on the depredations of government is that of seeing one’s metaphors become flesh. When Lysander Spooner .wrote of the government being “like a highwayman,” surely he did not picture federal agents blockading the road and seizing money from American citizens; yet, money laundering laws now allow them to do just that. Likewise, one doubts that the thousands of pundits and frustrated taxpayers who have referred to their elected rulers as “bloodsuckers” never imagined that the enforcers of the legislative will would accost them in order to forcibly extract blood.

Yet, in a number of states, this is now the case: the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently ruled that police officers could force suspected drunk drivers to give blood, in order to bolster evidence collected through notoriously unreliable breathalyzers. The New Jersey Supreme Court went further, ruling that officers who used “extreme force” (inflicting permanent physical damage) on a DUI suspect were authorized to do so, and thus immune from prosecution.

Combine this with, as Reason’s Radley Balko reminds us, the U.S. SupremeCourt decision from a while back that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional, and it is conceivable that those checkpoints will soon include the extraction of blood from every motorist passing that way – with, if one is unwilling or unlucky, a bit of extreme force to boot. Which brings to mind another old image, in danger of incarnation: “a boot, stomping on a human face – forever.”

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