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July 11, 2013

Lois Lerner Embraces Theory That The Process Is The Punishment

Patterico found an important Lerner quote from 2011:

1 March, 2010 – IRS officials start targeting organizations with “tea party”, “patriot”, and “9-12;" in their names.

27 June, 2011 – Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Operations, learns of the inappropriate targeting. She initiates an audit of the office involved, but the targeting continues.

17 November, 2011 – Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Operations, tells Businessweek that receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS is a “behavior changer.”

Incredible. Patterico is taken with the fact that she admits this to a magazine; if this is the sort of thinking she brags about to a national news magazine, one can only tremble at what she's holding back.

In America -- in any free country -- you are supposed to be free from punishment and compulsion unless you are found guilty of some misbehavior through Due Process.

But Lois Lerner doesn't like that idea. Instead, she embraces the notion that people can and should be punished and compelled into acting the way she prefers, not after Due Process has found them blameworthy, but before anyone even thinks to file charges.

She's decided that the process itself can and should be a tool of state coercion. She doesn't need a finding from a legal tribunal to impose burdens on freedoms and to compel what she considers "correct" behavior -- she'll serve as judge and jury herself, and impose the punishment of a "thick questionnaire" as a tool of "behavior change."

Prisons -- "reformatories," they were once called -- exist, in theory, to change the behavior of the inmates therein. And even a free people admits that some people must have their behavior changed by state coercive power... but only after such persons have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers of a felony.

But that limits the pool of persons subject to "behavior change" to an unacceptably small number. Lois Lerner wants to make that pool as large as possible, and impose her regime of behavior change on anyone she comes across she thinks is in need of her moral instruction.

And I'm sure she thinks she's doing substantive good. As CS Lewis warned:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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posted by Ace at 12:18 PM

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