Kurt  Schlichter

If you think a twenty-something ought to be tossed in federal prison for 35 years because he tried to download some musty academic journal articles without permission, you are a lot things, but a conservative is not one of them.

You might be relieved to know that Aaron Swartz, one of the internet geniuses behind RSS and Reddit.com, will not be imprisoned for a third of a century. Unfortunately, that’s because the fragile young man hanged himself after the United States attorney prosecuting the case generously offered him the alternative of pleading guilty to a felony, paying a crippling fine and going to prison for six months.

I guess we can all rest easier knowing he’s no longer a looming threat to the American way of life.

This is a disgrace. We should be ashamed that this is happening in our name – and conservatives should take the lead in putting a stop to it.

If this was an isolated case, that would be one thing, but the explosion of new and ridiculous federal crimes, compounded by prosecutors who have lost all sense of perspective and are not held accountable, puts every American at risk. As law professor Glenn Reynolds, the legendary Instapundit, has observed, most Americans commit several felonies a day. They just don’t know it, and that’s simply unacceptable in a free society.

Part of the reason is Congressional laziness, where the folks paid to debate, consider and make laws simply delegate away their responsibility to bureaucrats in federal agencies who issue idiotic regulations with the power of criminal statutes. This is how it came to become a federal crime, punishable by a fine and prison, to jailbreak your own smartphone.

Seriously - jail for jailbreaking. When did our criminal justice system become an enforcer for giant corporations? If you have a dispute with a customer, you sue him – you don’t send the cops to haul him off to the slam.

Kurt Schlichter

Kurt Schlichter (Twitter: @KurtSchlichter) was personally recruited to write conservative commentary by Andrew Breitbart. He is a successful Los Angeles trial lawyer, a veteran with a masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and a former stand-up comic.