|The war on drugs, the war on child pornography, the war
on child molesters in daycare centers, the war on terrorism. All
popular causes. All worthy causes. All causes with which key
decisionmakers (legislators, prosecutors, or judges) overidentified.
The result, predictably, was evil.
No member of Congress wants to be seen as being "soft
on crime." Crime legislation takes on the look of a poker game.
If one party proposes, as a sentence for a particular crime, five years
with no chance of parole, the response of the other party is likely to
be, "We'll see that and raise it to ten years!"
Postal inspectors in Project Looking Glass needed to justify
their existence. "Don't just sit there, find some consumers of child
pornography." What region will produce the most convictions?
Which inspector will get the next promotion?
The daycare center cases of the late 1980s became modern-day
witchcraft trials. Accusations of child molestation spiralled.
Few had the courage to come forward and defend the accused, for fear that
they too might be charged with molestation or condemned by an outraged
citizenry. True believers intent on proving the accusations suggestively
interviewed children--and, in the process, made the children their victims.
Today, the cause is a war on terrorism. A worthy
cause, but one that already has claimed innocent victims and is certain
to claim more.
This is bleak. What might reduce the frequency and
severity of evil?