Friday, April 15, 2005

Tell the rabble to be quiet

This seems worrying: CALGARY - A website critical of Calgary's police chief and his senior managers has been shut down, after the chief used a rare legal tactic to seize a computer from a private home. Chief Jack Beaton obtained a civil court order this month to enter the home of a civilian police employee and seize the computer. Russ Brown, a legal expert at the University of Alberta. A sweeping gag order issued at the same time prevents anyone from talking about the case or reading documents related to it, which have been sealed. CBC and other city media are arguing against that order. Russ Brown, a legal expert at the University of Alberta, says the method Beaton used "is the most extraordinary civil remedy that can be issued pretrial." Beaton says he isn't able to discuss the case. However, Ald. Craig Burrows, who sits on the police commission, says Beaton acted properly. "I think any time you go after the morale of a service or the morale of a city that takes pride in its service, the chief has a right to act," Burrows said. "I'm afraid we live in a culture today where you can say anything you want about people, as negative as it is, and you don't think you can be held accountable. I think our chief is just basically ensuring that, moving forward, if you're going to say something that's going to affect the reputation of the service and officers, you have to have evidence to support that claim." Does the good alderman realize the terrible precedent this would seem to set? Any speech that negatively affects the morale of any public institution, in any way, should be shut down? Jeebus. If the site in question (www.standfirm.biz and its continued form at www.code200.com - so far as I can tell, the very names aren't doubleplusungood, not yet) is actually libelous, or injurious to public safety, then it might be justified to muzzle the operator. Lacking evidence of that, it seems Beaton's gone a bit Captain Ahab, with the Calgary municipal government as accomplices. StandFirm/Code200's mission statement doesn't seem to make him look much better than is obvious: First of all, this is who we are not! We are not a bunch of disgruntled cops looking to sink our Service. We are not a group of whiners or rogues; we are not trouble making misfits, criminals, or mental cases that are bemoaning our fates. We are the people that protect other people. We are the police, the communication officers, the administrative staff and other police service members and employees that have either been victims of tyranny, politics, harassment, bullying, racism, constructive termination, etc; or we know someone who has. We are the friends, family, colleagues and supporters of these victims, and we are here to provide moral support, comfort, legal resources/referrals, first hand knowledge and advice on how to deal with certain predicaments that members and employees may find themselves in. We have traveled these paths and are here to offer insight and knowledge. As things stand...sorry, bucko, Google's cache (ahem) routes around your thug tactics. And, interestingly, its server farms aren't in Canada. Neither are those of Archive.org's Wayback Machine. Funny thing, that. Remind me how well these publication ban things work, in such circumstances? (Via NealeNews.) UPDATE: Well, dang. Captain Ed said it better, three two hours earlier. Good to see our American point man on it right away...

1 Comments:

Blogger Kobayashi Maru said...

I think of Beaton more as Captain Queeg (Caine Mutiny) than Captain Ahab. Nice post. Still waiting for more news out of Calgary...

4/23/2005 10:10:00 PM  

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