May 24, 2013

IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER POST ABOUT TRUE THE VOTE SUING THE IRS AGENTS WHO HARASSED IT, READER BLAINE MILLER WRITES:

I believe you have a bit of hypocrisy here. Your comment on the thuggish campaign of Barack Obama in 08 and then you highlight a story of True Vote going to sue the IRS employees. Granted the IRS scandal is outrageous but suing the IRS employees is intimidation, pure and simple.

There’s no equivalence here. Punishing someone for wrongdoing — which is what True The Vote is doing — is not the same as punishing someone for political opposition, which is what the IRS was doing.

UPDATE: Reader Douglas Hufnagel writes: “Isn’t intimidating government thugs exactly what we want? Shouldn’t we use any methods possible to absolutely crush those who would attack us with such blatantly illegal methods?” I wouldn’t go so far as an “any means necessary’ approach. But accountability does matter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Rod Sanders emails:

To the idea that suing the individual IRS employees is intimidation:

Maybe it is. But it is, nonetheless, the correct reaction.

There seems to be the idea among many government employees that invoking the ‘I was only following orders’ argument somehow magically insulates them from their bad behavior.

If the people on the ground are held much more accountable for their actions, it may become harder for those calling the shots to use them as foot soldiers in their political games.

A moral individual would refuse to follow an order that is illegal or unethical. Most, if not all, of the front line employees involved here did not refuse. In fact, they likely agreed with the goal.

They shouldn’t get off just because someone like Lerner called the shots.

Indeed.

MORE: Reader Andy Freeman writes: “If the IRS employees were ‘just following orders’ then they’ll be willing to document said orders and testify in court as to who gave them.” You’d think.

Plus, a longtime reader emails:

Since I am a federal employee please don’t use my name if you quote me.

In my branch of federal government I am reminded via mandatory annual training that I can be held individually accountable both criminally and civilly for violations of the law. So I reject that these lawsuits are intimidation. They are the proper response and a reminder of the law.

It is not bullying to hold people accountable.

No, it’s not.