(NaturalNews) If you have something critical to say about your government, which is a fundamental right under the founding principles of the First Amendment, don't make your comments in Palm Beach County, Fla., because such criticism is likely to get you a visit from a local deputy.
In an outrageous attack on the Bill of Rights, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said April 29 that he will use $1 million in funding provided by state legislators to form "prevention intervention" units for the purpose of "avoiding crime," according to The Palm Beach Post newspaper. Think "Minority Report," the 2002 film starring Tom Cruise and Colin Ferrell in which a special police unit is sent to arrest people before they commit crimes.
"Every single incident, whether it's Newtown, that movie theater, or the guy who spouts off at work and then goes home and kills his wife and two kids - in every single case, there were people who said they knew ahead of time that there was a problem," Bradshaw told reporters in a press conference. "If the neighbor of the mom in Newtown had called somebody, this might have saved 25 kids' lives."
Again - it's all for your own safety.
According to the sheriff, his teams would respond to citizen phone calls to a 24-hour hotline by paying the "perpetrator" a visit to refer them "to services, if needed," the paper reported.
'Stopping crime before it happens'
From the Post:
The goal will be avoiding crime - and making sure law enforcement knows about potential powder kegs before tragedies occur, Bradshaw said. But the earmark, which is a one-time-only funding provision, provoked a debate Monday among mental health advocates and providers about the balance between civil liberties, privacy and protecting the public.
Bradshaw said his is the first proposal of its kind in the country. He said he wants to showcase it for the rest of his state and model it after his gang prevention and pill-mill units.
Already the sheriff is readying his hotline and working on public service announcements to encourage local citizens to rat out neighbors, friends and even family members who might have, god forbid, a disparaging comment about their government.
The goal, Bradshaw said, won't be to arrest people (because you can't arrest someone - yet - for an opinion) but to bring these misguided individuals help before there is violence.
"As a side benefit," the Post dutifully reported, "law enforcement will have needed information to keep a close eye on things."
And there you have it - the real reason for this program. Enter the encroaching police state here.
"We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he's gonna shoot him," Bradshaw said. "What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, 'Hey, is everything OK?' "
How about it hurts the Constitution, sheriff?
State Republican Sen. Joe Negron, who was behind the push to fund this initiative, said he "got assurances from the sheriff that this is going to be done in a way that respects people's autonomy and privacy, and that he makes sure to protect against people making false claims."
Oh. Well, then, no problem. He got "assurances." I wasn't aware the Constitution was up for negotiation.
This is not a 'mental health' issue
With good reason, a number of folks are extremely concerned about this initiative (though to be fair, Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican, hasn't signed off on the legislation yet).
"How are they possibly going to watch everybody who makes a comment like that? It's subjective," Liz Downey, executive director of the Palm Beach County branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told the paper. "We don't want to take away people's civil liberties just because people aren't behaving the way we think they should be."
No problem, Bradshaw says. His trained staff will be able to separate out the difference between a messy divorce or neighbor dispute and, say, someone really complaining about their government.
This is not a "mental health" concern and you should be offended that the Post tried to insult your intelligence by framing it as such. Are people who criticize the government mentally unsound? The formation of this special unit makes it appear as though Sheriff Bradshaw thinks so.
What this issue is really about is privacy and free speech, specifically the right to speak your mind without the fear or threat of being harassed by authorities. As an American citizen, you have the right to say, "I hate my government!" without being visited by cops.