As Flying observes, “It’s hard to read this case any way other than that Fleming was arrested falsely.” Indeed. The actual charge that was brought—“breach of peace”—was a pathetic afterthought, an effort to paper offer a gross violation of the law with a catch-all pseudo-violation. “After all,” Flying asks, “how could it have been breach of peace for Fleming to do something that he was perfectly within his rights to do? It’s equivalent to someone being arrested for going 50 in a 55 mph speed limit zone and then being arrested for not breaking the law that led to the arrest.”
Adding insult to injury, the sheriff’s office reportedly demanded that Mr. Fleming agree not to sue them in exchange for having the charges against him dropped. Flying concluded that the sheriff’s office ought to have issued an apology, not an arrest warrant.
The charge was an absurdity, an assault on Mr. Fleming’s good name and an insult to all aviators. An apology was what the sheriff’s office should have issued, not an arrest warrant. True. They should then have fired anyone involved in that sorry case of justice miscarried.
Does this make your blood boil? It should. In July, it was an innocent glider pilot who was summarily arrested, jailed, and forced to forgo his right to redress. Tomorrow it might be an innocent housewife who committed the non-crime of snapping a picture of the local constabulary at work or an artist who committed the non-crime of sketching a bridge or some other municipal subject or a student who committed the non-crime of taking out too many books on a sensitive subject from his local library.
The capricious intrusion of the state into our daily lives has become an intolerable nuisance. The question is whether we have the collective will to stop it before it blossoms into something even worse.