Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Immorality of Sting Operations (and the State)

Kevin Carson writes, "The very existence of 'sting operations,' by which law enforcement personnel solicit illegal activity — in other words, perform acts which are illegal on their faces in the course of their official duties — speaks volumes about the nature of the state and its laws" — State Law Breakers. Mr. Carson continues:
    When the first professional police forces were created in London and New York in the early 19th century, they were regarded as simply hired functionaries who got paid to perform the same “posse comitatus” functions (preserved in the archaic practice of “citizen’s arrest”) within the competency of all citizens. The proposition that professional police be granted special status over and above that of their fellow citizens would never have been tolerated.

    I’ve never understood the logic by which someone in uniform can commit an act that’s defined as illegal by statute, in the course of a sting operation, without themselves breaking the law. If it’s illegal for a citizen to offer drugs or sexual acts for sale, or to solicit their sale from others, how is it legal for a cop to offer to buy or sell drugs from a citizen?
A seven-year-old post of mine hit on this theme — Crime Prevention Incompatible With Anglo-Saxon Law. This ten-month-old post does as well — Criminalizing Immorality. So does the Henry Adams quote on this blog's sidebar: "In no well-regulated community, under a proper system of police, could the Virgin feel at home, and the same thing may be said of most other saints as well as sinners."

Catholic Moral Theology seems to me opposed to sting operations, as would St. Thomas Aquinas.

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Blogger Impossible Black Tulip said...

The Church is definitely be opposed to it but its a tough pill for many to swallow. Still, we can never will (and in this case actively goad someone) into doing something evil. And of course we can never do something evil ourselves.

November 8, 2013 at 6:08 AM  

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