Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Right to Privacy vs. Right to Life

In Randolph VT, there’s a story from that News Service That No One Quotes Anymore, about a confrontation in a public library last June 26th.

Brooke Bennett, age twelve had gone missing the day before and it was feared that she had been kidnapped. There was a possibility that she had used a public computer in the town’s library to arrange a rendezvous with someone she had met online.

A newly passed law requiring libraries to demand court orders in such cases was set to be enacted on July 1st, but was not yet in effect. The library’s policy was to require one.

So on that June day, in the first critical 24 hours after Brooke went missing, police had to wait eight hours to obtain a search warrant, because Judith Flint, a bureaucratic librarian chose to enforce library policy over the life and well being of a twelve year old girl.

Brooke’s dead body was found July 2nd.

It’s hard to say whether or not that eight hours would have made the difference between life and death. I would argue that the expectation of privacy is lessened on a public computer, particularly if criminal activities were involved. The genuine need for haste to save the life of a child should have superseded any expectation of privacy the patrons of that library should have held.

Other librarians applauded Flint for standing up to the cops. Your estimation may vary.

James Taranto called his story: Judith Flint: Heroine or Jerk?

He concludes:
Here is a case in which police searching for a missing girl were forced to waste precious time because a bureaucrat, acting on her own authority, said "Show me the paper" instead of "How can I help?" Judith Flint is no heroine.


I agree.

Hat tip Best of the Web Today
Cross posted at Say Anything

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