“Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverbs 31:9 NLT
“There is no such thing as justice – in or out of court.” Clarence Darrow, 1936
My little “Webster’s Pocket Dictionary” defines ‘justice’ as 1) moral rightness; 2) fairness; 3) the administration and procedure of the law. It is normal with any dictionary to list the most commonly used, and most important definition first, followed by any others in descending order.
For a criminal justice system to truly fulfill its obligation to all members of the society it serves, it must first, and foremost, exhibit a moral rightness. Criminal justice should be about what is best for the people it serves and ALL of those involved, including those accused of a crime, must be the recipients of that consideration.
Clarence Darrow’s statement is likely not true in every instance, but I cannot think otherwise when I consider the case of David Hayden and his family. David himself did not receive justice IN court, and the list of those who did not receive justice OUT of court is long: His wife Leigh, and their children, Tyler, Sam, and Henry; David’s employees and their families; David’s customers; the banks that held David’s mortgage and business loans; the businesses which supplied David’s company with the materials it required to operate; those companies that provided health insurance for David, his employees, and their families; the tax collecting agencies, local, state, and federal. There are probably more but that is quite a list as it stands and I believe I have made that particular point.
There will be those who will not, do not, care what explanation David offers. The fact that he received a twenty year sentence and his business and family were devastated as a result, provide testimony to that fact. Some who have followed his ‘letter’ in these ‘Chronicles’ will agree with all that has been done. There will be others who feel that David’s guilty verdict is justified, but that the sentence was too harsh. Still others (and I say this because this scenario was suggested to me by a friend of mine) might think that David’s real crime was in the use of Peer To Peer software (P2P) to ‘pirate’ copyrighted material and he should have been found guilty of that charge instead, still receiving jail time. There might be a few who agree with me and have taken the position that they are ALL wrong. I am praying for that last group to greatly outnumber all others.
David Hayden broke the law. He did, in fact, break several laws. Or did he? If our government had been acting in a responsible manner and doing its job of serving and protecting its citizens, David would have not been able to break ANY law. If David did, in fact, break any laws, then he did it with the knowing cooperation of the same government that then arrested him and caused all of the devastation mentioned earlier to occur.
First, let’s take a look at the laws that were broken, and examine HOW David was able to break them in the first place. David was arrested and charged with distribution of child pornography. On the surface, this sounds absolutely horrible. Indeed, intentional, purposeful, and knowledgeable distribution of child pornography is a HEINOUS crime and needs to be dealt with harshly, especially when it is done in a manner to profit from the sexual abuse of innocent children. But David is not guilty of that, and there was evidence to support that contention offered in court with the testimony of the lead investigator who arrested David in the first place. So how did he come to be charged with such a vile crime? As everyone who uses P2P knows, and the number of American citizens who do this numbers in the TENS OF MILLIONS, when you set your computer to ‘search’ for certain movies or music, many times it is left to do its work and you go on about your life. As your folder fills up with search results, those files that you received are then available for someone else to receive. In other words, if you have searched for the first Harry Potter movie, anything that has turned up in your computer as a result is now available to anyone else looking for Harry Potter as well, so it is possible that subsequent searchers may ‘receive’ the material from YOUR computer. Only when David took the time to go through and clean out all of the ‘crap’ (as he so eloquently put it), or move what he was looking for to another folder, did it become unavailable for sharing. That is the nature of P2P. The unfortunate nature, I might add, because anyone using this software could be sharing illegal material without even knowing it was there in the first place. This is not rocket science. It is technology today, and it is technology our CHILDREN use. It is technology that is abused, and it is technology that enables the furtherance of illegal activity with the full knowledge of the United States Justice department, thereby making them culpable. At the least, they should have been indicted as co-conspirators with David, since his ability to commit the crime was absolutely impossible without the involvement of the federal government. There are laws on the books of every state in this country that hold an individual liable for criminal prosecution if they knowingly and willingly fail to stop and render aid to someone in need of emergency assistance. The federal government has failed to stop and render aid to its citizens by allowing these websites to continue to operate 1) Whose main purpose is to ‘pirate’ copyrighted material without paying for it and 2) In the process of providing one illegal service, allow the proliferation and transportation of unwanted, harmful, and illegal material to enter the homes, computers, and lives, of American citizens, with children included in the numbers of those receiving this material.
What about David’s attempts to download copyrighted materials without paying for them in the first place? Is that not a crime as well? Absolutely, but it was not something David was charged with. But was he really guilty of THAT? I say that he was not, and I will offer this by way of explanation: David followed the example of millions of other Americans. It was a poor example to follow, but that is another issue. The real issue is this: As evidenced by the numerous reports generated for Congress and different government agencies, it is a well-documented and undisputable fact that the United States government knew that this software was being used 1) For the illegal pirating of copyrighted material in the first place and, 2) that there was an extremely high degree of probability (not POSSIBILITY – PROBABILITY) that searches for the copyrighted material would turn up unwanted and illegal material in the form of pornography and, sadly, child pornography as well. The same arguments hold true for these second ‘charges’. The United States government is culpable in each and every case where a citizen of this country is charged with committing a crime such as this when the websites operate with the full knowledge, if not the tacit approval of, the United States, so if David WERE to be charged in this manner, the United States would have to be indicted as a co-conspirator.
Well, we cannot indict a country, so who is responsible? Whoever heads the FCC? FTC? The attorney general? Those are probably good places to start. Then proceed from there and include every member of Congress who has received any of the reports that have raised these issues and taken no action to shut down the offending sites. The sad, sad truth is that hundreds of fine, well-meaning, hardworking American men and women have somehow lost touch with what serving their country means. Providing these avenues of destruction for misguided, but ALSO well-meaning and hardworking American citizens to wander down should be something that happens in error, NOT with the full knowledge of the government. Pull the plug on sites that promote illegal activities or cannot properly screen ALL of their content. Prisons are full of people who can attest to the fact that the United States government can do pretty much whatever it wants, so ‘we can’t do that’ cannot be a defense. The citizens of this country (and yes, David, you ARE still a citizen of this country) have a right to demand protection from unwanted and illegal filth invading their homes, and those elected to serve the citizens of this country are charged with providing that protection. Standing idly by while lives are needlessly destroyed should NOT be an option open to members of Congress, or to the FCC, FTC, or the attorney general of the United States and his Department Of Justice. Remember, Mr. Holder, what the word “JUSTICE” should mean in the first place.
If we wish to operate in a strictly black and white world, then everyone should be happy with what has happened to David, Leigh, Henry, Tyler, Sam, and the many others. But is that the wise course to follow, and should that be the one we DO follow? Would it not be better for everyone concerned to apply moral rightness to matters where we are searching for justice? If the answer to that is “Yes”, and I believe it can be nothing else, then we must re-evaluate what has been done to David Hayden, his family, and the very long list of other people and businesses that have been impacted by this INJUSTICE and this moral OUTRAGE.
Maybe David was right. Maybe we ALL need to heed the words of Sheriff Andy Taylor when he tried to teach Barney Fife, “When dealing with people, sometimes it’s better to go less with the book and more with the heart.”
If there is anyone out there who can do anything at all to help David and his family, please contact David at the address provided at the end of Part 5 of his ‘letter’.