Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007
proposal targets citizens' individuality and freedoms
7, 2007 -- Before the legislature even gets started, there's
a brewing storm over a new proposal to allow police to seize
DNA samples from anyone arrested for a crime.
It wasn't too many years back that calls in Washington for
a national identity card caused a fierce opposition among
libertarians and conservatives, particularly radio talk show
hosts. Outbursts rang about a "new world order"
and generated dozens of conspiracy theories. The Rev. Pat
Robertson even wrote a book titled, "The New World Order."
In the late 1990s closer to home, the administration of Gov.
Jim Hodges got in hot water for allowing a company to buy
drivers' license images of South Carolina residents. After
a huge outcry about privacy, that practice was stopped.
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Then came September 11. A lot of concerns about privacy seemed
to go out the window as the federal government passed the
Patriot Act, allowed snooping of telephone conversations and
e-mail, and jailed people without due process of law.
In the fear over terror, Americans lost their innocence -
and some of their freedoms. Now with this bipartisan state
Senate DNA proposal, South Carolinians appear to face more
On paper, the plan to take DNA samples from anyone arrested
makes some sense. It will allow police to generate a big database
of people who get in trouble with the law. In turn, that could
help curb crime. And, as some senators say, it may help innocent
people establish their innocence.
But at what cost? Once your identity is taken away, it will
be hard for you to get it back.
The state already has a DNA database of more than 67,000
individuals, most of whom are convicted felons. To add more
personal and private information to the database - especially
from people who have not been convicted - seems to take too
much away from individual citizens. What's to prevent, for
example, the government from deciding to sell the data in
10 or 15 years?
Not only does this proposal seem dangerous from an individual
liberties standpoint, but it is chock full of constitutional
and political problems. Lawmakers would be advised to go slowly
on this one.
* * *
Gov. Mark Sanford's annual campaign to lose friends and reduce
his influence in the legislature started early this year.
In the months leading to the start of a legislative session,
Sanford and GOP legislators again took pains to highlight
how they're part of the happy Republican family. They downplayed
past run-ins and said they were looking forward to a productive
Just after the November election, for example, House Speaker
Bobby Harrell noted voters re-elected Sanford, which told
him "they wanted him to stay governor and I take that
to mean they want us to work with him, and we intend to try
to do so."
But what a difference the start of the session makes. In
rolling out a $6.5 billion executive
budget plan, the governor shot himself in the foot with
this rhetoric at the front of his 264-page proposal:
"During this past legislative session, when the state's
economy continued to improve and hundreds of millions of unanticipated
new taxpayer dollars poured into state coffers
commitment of many House Republicans to a spending limit pledge
went out the window."
House Speaker Bobby Harrell got pretty upset: "It makes
me think that all the effort I put in the last three or four
months toward a more congenial relationship has been in vain,"
he told The Post and Courier. "If the goal is to lower
the rhetoric and work together, writing something like that
in this very important document does not help at all."
Bottom line: Look for another Sanford publicity stunt
in the General Assembly in coming months to make a frosty
relationship even frostier.
Send your comments to Andy Brack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for
here for more.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
1/4: What a dumb sentence
To the editor:
I have a hard time believing that anyone would write the
12/31] about the upcoming legislative session.
"Here's a look at a real reform agenda that could make
a big difference in the lives of most people in South Carolina
if politicians were courageous enough to embrace it:
Education: Perhaps the best thing to get South Carolina out
of the cellar is to not do anything for awhile and give existing
ideas a chance to mature."
We have waited 22 years for Dick Riley's Education Improvement
Act ( with accompanying sales tax that continues on to eternity)
to improve education as he promised it would. How many more
decades do you recommend we "not do anything" and
"let our educational stew simmer awhile"?
-- Hugh Campbell, Hartsville
Restructuring body is good idea
To the editor:
Good idea [Commentary,
12/31] on having a standing restructuring committee.
I would take it a step farther and expand it to one which
continually looks at the performance of all of state government.
We are talking about restructuring because the governance
model of 1895 is viewed as obsolete, but we have to consider
that todays governance model will likely become obsolete
as well. As such, restructuring should be viewed as both a
means to an end more effective governance and
a continual process. Changes that are made now based on todays
needs may need to be re-changed as our state and its needs
-- Earl Capps, Summerville, S.C.
- 12/28: Read
cheap drinks bill again, Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith,
- 12/26: Need
to work on education reform, Jim Kappler, Anderson,
- 12/24: Holding
breath on legislative season, Chip Brown, Conway,
- 12/22: Voting
changes needed, Anne Demuth, Charleston, S.C.
- 12/13: Cell
phones making her livid, Brenda Sweat, North
- 12/11: Thoughtful
piece on voting by mail, Jay Ragley, Columbia, S.C.
- 12/11: Other
voting ideas, Earl Capps, Summerville
- 12/10: Thoughless
column on voting, Ken Fanning, Florence, S.C.
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