Jacob Sullum

The timing of the indictment is also suspect. BetOnSports has been in business since the early 1990s, but the Justice Department waited until this summer, coincidentally, less than two weeks after the House voted to ban online gambling and shortly before a Senate vote on the same bill, to announce its charges. Carruthers has been one of the most visible opponents of the ban, urging Congress to legalize and regulate the business instead.

There's no need to speculate about political motives in the case of Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana-seed dealer and vocal anti-prohibitionist who was nabbed by the long arm of American paternalism last year. Karen Tandy, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, described Emery's arrest as "a significant blow" against "the marijuana-legalization movement," bragging that "drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."

Like BetOnSports, Emery's online seed business had been operating openly for more than a decade, with minimal harassment from Canadian law enforcement authorities. In the United States, which is seeking his extradition, he could face a life sentence.

If an executive of a U.S. media company were arrested in Beijing for violating a Chinese law against "subversive" online speech or in Tehran for creating "indecent" Web content viewed by Iranians, Americans would ask what right these countries have to impose their illiberal policies on us. Sadly, our government is giving people in other countries good cause to wonder the same thing about the United States.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jacob Sullum's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.
©Creators Syndicate