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Civic Responsibilities VS Civil Liberties

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posted on May, 9 2008 @ 10:21 AM
First some background:
Last sunday night/monday morning a woman was the victim of a serious sexual attack and as a result is still in hospital.
It happened at the bottom of my road, so for obvious reasons I don't want to link the story - however if anyone on my friends list wants the details I'll be happy to send the link via u2u.

From talking to various people (you know how the grapevine works) it seems that the woman was attacked from behind and knocked unconscious.
She was then sexually assaulted (raped?) and beaten some more.

A truly awfull crime.

I live in a small seaside town, and crimes of this nature are very rare.

All this week, a serious crime team has been conducting house to house enquiries, and are now completing questionnaires for males of a certain age group, and asking for a DNA sample.

So today, they knocked on my door and informed me of what they were doing, asking my permission to enter my premises so they could ask me some questions (a standard questionnaire) and take a DNA swab.

My first question before allowing entry was whether the DNA sample would be destroyed after the crime had been (hopefully) solved.

It then occurred to me that even if my sample was kept on file, I have nothing to hide, and that the positives in helping to catch the criminal outweigh the negatives of the police holding information about me.

And there's the crux - at what point does civic duty outweigh civil liberty?

For me personally, it was a no-brainer.
Do everything I can to help catch this vile sub-human, even if it means my details are held, and not destroyed.

BUT, I know there are people who have flatly refused to help by giving a DNA sample, simply because of a misguided principle of civil liberty.

IMO these people have put themselves before the greater good, and are pretty selfish.

I understand their position, but I cannot in any way condone it.

If a person wants the protection of the law, then where do they draw the line with regard to co-operation with law enforcement officers?

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:11 AM
I think you just experienced the ultimate liberty v. security dilema. A situation that happens right in your back yard makes the issue more concrete than some debate of hypotheticals.

Obviously, if the police are going door to door asking for DNA, they don't have many leads or possibly any witnesses and are trying anything to limit their list of potential suspects. I think in this particular situation it is purely a personal decision and you made give the DNA so that the police can eliminate you and limit their search by at least 1 potential suspect.

I don't think your question of weather or not the sample would be destroyed was out of line in any way though. You decided to help the greater good by allowing the sample, but want to make sure your liberties are protected in the future by not having your DNA in some database for eternity. By being sure that your sample is destroyed after the fact, you are hopefully giving what you can for the public good, but also still preserving your liberty.

On the flip side, I can also empathize with those that choose not to submit a voluntary sample. Where does one draw the line? Yes this event happened on your street. But would you be as willing if the event occurred 2 streets over, or in the next town, or 1000 miles away? Would you have felt as willing or obligated to contribute to the greater good in those situations? And please don't just answer with the "I have nothing to hide, so what difference does it make" response. Its not what you have to hide, its what you would prefer not to lose in the future...liberty.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:25 AM
A topic that weighs heavily on the conscience, Budski my friend.

I think your judgement is accurate up to a point. While the "greater good" is a concept that I broadly agree with, I think it comes at a price.

Would we sacrifice fundamental freedoms for temporary security?

In this specific case, I would have done the same as you. It doesnt matter to me whether someone holds my DNA or not... what are they going to do with it anyhow? Clone me?

It all boils down to whether or not you consider privacy of your DNA to be a sacrosanct principle to you individually. There are several freedoms I would not give up regardless of the context: Habeas Corpus, Free speech, Suffrage etc. My DNA "privacy" is not one of them.

However the more fundamental question here is:

Why give them your DNA if you are (presumably) sure that you did not commit the rape in question.

Anciliary point: we know what could have prevented this incident... the woman ought to have been armed with a pistol or taser. Sorry, couldnt resist it! I wonder when the results of that debate will be out.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:30 AM

Originally posted by 44soulslayer
However the more fundamental question here is:

Why give them your DNA if you are (presumably) sure that you did not commit the rape in question.

This is the point I would adhere to. Response to officer: I know that I did not commit the crime, I have no reason to prove to you my innocence since it should be presumed. If you have evidence to believe I did commit the crime then I will release DNA upon court order.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:31 AM
I for one would be very hesitant to let them swab me, probably to the point of being confrontational.

Last time I checked we were innocent until proven guilty. That doesn't mean we have to prove our innocence when the cops have no leads.

For those that would submit, what is your limit? Would you have let them search your House? Car? Person? Anytime theres a crime at the end of your road?

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:34 AM

Originally posted by 44soulslayer

However the more fundamental question here is:

Why give them your DNA if you are (presumably) sure that you did not commit the rape in question.

The more quickly they can rule out the innocent, the more quickly they can catch the perp is my view.

They obviously have some kind of DNA evidence, and I think that with crimes of this nature it's common practice - just think how quickly sutcliffe would have been caught with this.

Those who refuse to provide DNA or to submit to the questionnaire may merit further attention in the eyes of the police.

This also isn't just ANY crime - it was a horrible, violent assault and rape.
The woman is still in hospital

Would I consent if someone had been mugged? No.

But this is a very serious and heinous crime.

I have no problems whatsoever with giving a sample.

As far as the pistol theory goes - how would that help if she was knocked out from a blow from behind?

I really hope they catch the guy quickly, and that the woman recovers from this horrible ordeal.

[edit on 9/5/2008 by budski]

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:40 AM
reply to post by budski

Ah the pistol comment was flippant. Who knows the details though, perhaps she had clocked him and he still managed to overpower her and attack her from behind? Maybe an armed bystander could have helped? I dont particularly want to debate this all over again, we've pretty much dueled to the death on it haha.

As for the DNA expediting the investigation... yes, I suppose. But this DOES lend credence to the rather horrible "Guilty until proven innocent" school of thought, wouldnt you say?

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 11:48 AM
I suppose in other countries it would - but my dealings with the police have (apart from one cop) always been pretty good.

I even have a couple of mates in the local station.

I try to help however I can - within limits.

Basically, I have a little more faith in the police than the average ATSer - maybe that's because I'm in the UK, and maybe it's because I see them as people with a necessary job to do.

A job which sometimes needs our help.

As it happens, they were very polite and said they could come back another time, did I want to have a think about it (because I asked about the DNA) and basically just did their job, with no drama.

If they had taken a more aggressive approach, then I may have thought twice about it - but I would still have given them what they wanted, simply because this kind of crime is abhorrent.

For me, that's what it comes down to - I could be helping get a piece of scum off the streets a little bit quicker.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 12:00 PM

Originally posted by budski

For me, that's what it comes down to - I could be helping get a piece of scum off the streets a little bit quicker.

I fail to see how grabbing everybodies DNA, in the neighborhood, will get the scum off the street quicker. Chances are he (the scum) is not from the nieghborhood and if he is, he sure isnt answering his door when the cops come with thier swabs.

This still implies that we are guilty until we prove ourselves innocent.

[edit on 9-5-2008 by ATruGod]

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 12:01 PM
reply to post by budski

I think if I had been placed in your position, I too would have complied by providing the sample. BUT, that would not have made me feel any better about whether down-the-road that sample might be used inappropriately.

Therein lies the true problem. Decisions like the one you made would be a no-brainer if there were credible protections from any possible future misuse of such DNA samples.

It's unfortunate there isn't more of a push to ensure such protections.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 12:03 PM
I'm unsure as to whether I can use the FOI act to check if it has been destroyed when the enquiries are over - but I think that this is a road I'll probably go down.

If they haven't, I'll sue their ass - the consent form was very clear about the destruction of the sample.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 02:52 PM
Considering that the Federal Government is establishing a DNA data base from anyone who is arrested, no matter what the crime, I believe that yes the 'sample' you provided will be destroyed.......only after the information is entered into the database.

I would of refused.........if I was a suspect then they can arrest me and talk to my lawyer. Otherwise there is no reason to provide a sample.

It sounds as if they thought you were a person of 'interest'.

posted on May, 9 2008 @ 03:03 PM
LOL - not at all - I know for a fact they've been asking everyone male between 16 and upwards on 2 streets.

Unless we are all persons of interest...

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