McClellan, We Hardly Knew Ye

Here's an object lesson for you: When you get too used to breaking the law, don't have a stroke when somebody finally calls you on it.

Remember a couple of weeks ago there was this big uproar about some "pedophile webmaster" named Jack McClellan who was coming to make his home in California? All the NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) crowd got up in arms about it, and a couple of Santa Clarita attorneys even went to court to get a temporary restraining order to keep this guy away from local children.

Of course, it's not as if McClellan has ever actually been convicted of child molestation, or stalking kids, or even possession of child porn; he just had a Web page that listed, with pictures, what he thought were good places to observe kids - which a bunch of people interpreted to mean "good places to find kids to molest" ... which type of website - guess what? - even if that's what others used it for, isn't a crime. (Should it be a crime? Maybe. If so, somebody should pass a law. Until then ...)

So anyway, the right-wingnuts and the media managed to create such a lather about this guy that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Melvin Sandvig, on Aug. 3, granted that temporary restraining order, and even went far beyond what the attorneys had asked for: He ordered McClellan to stay at least 10 yards (30 feet) away from every child in the state of California.

Now, admittedly, California has a fair amount of open space, but this order would prevent McClellan from traveling down any city street, shopping in any store, eating in any restaurant, and probably living anywhere except the middle of the Mojave.

In the adult industry, we call that a "zone-out." And when a city tries, by ordinance, to do that to the city's adult retail businesses, it's against the law, and the ordinance is invariably struck down.

But apparently adult businesses have more legal protection than (completely legal) kid-watchers, because Sandvig's ruling wasn't struck down on the basis that the order was incredibly overreaching; it got tossed because the judge allowed the "temporary" restraining order expire only after three years, rather than the 22 days such an order is supposed to last, absent an additional hearing to determine whether the order should be extended, should be turned into a permanent injunction ... or dropped altogether.

Hence, the L.A. City Attorney's office determined that even though McClellan had violated the TRO, they couldn't prosecute him because the order itself was unlawful, since it ran in excess of the 22 days it legally could run.

But now, according to the L.A. Times, Anthony Zinnanti, one of two attorneys who got the original restraining order, said the city attorney deliberately misinterpreted the judge's order to avoid a legal battle with McClellan.

"I am completely outraged," Zinnanti said. "They dropped the ball... They were scared to lose the case. I will do everything I can to keep Jack McClellan away from children, because the city attorney can't."

The news story didn't report what if anything Zinnanti said he would do to "keep Jack McClellan away from children," but that's not the point.

The point is, some of the "good citizenry" of Southern California are up in arms (possibly literally) because they can't seem to find a legal way to keep an admittedly creepy guy from looking at their kids. Not touching them. Not following them around. Not taking U.S. v. Knox -type clothed "child porn" pictures of them. Just looking at them.

And I've gotta say, "just looking at them," and even posting on the Web the locations where he looked at them, is what we folks who've read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four know to be a "thought crime" - you know; the type of thing the wingers all claim shouldn't be a crime when some of their flock go out and rough up a few gays for no other reason than that their preachers said it was okay to do it the previous Sunday.

But the trouble is, what with Bush declaring some people captured in Afghanistan and Iraq to be "enemy combatants," and once so branded, able to be deprived of all human rights (not to mention all rights under the Geneva Conventions) until Bush gets good and ready (if ever) to give them back to them, some of the wingers have gotten the idea that they can trounce on anybody's rights just because they don't like the way that person thinks.

So even if I (or anybody) don't particular care for a guy like McClellan, who calls himself a "pedophile" even if he hasn't molested anybody yet, it's good to know that there are still a few people around who are willing to say, "I don't care how much you don't like the guy and how much what he says scares you; he's still a citizen and you can't use the awesome power of The Law to fuck him over just because you feel like it."


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