Department of precrime

Barack Obama has some troubling ideas on fighting crime:

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a — is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

(Emphasis mine.)

Much of this is standard pablum. I can’t help observing that Obama has been president for four years; if he has ideas for using outreach to fight crime, why isn’t he doing it already? And then there’s the ignorant/dishonest call for gun control. But what this about “catch[ing] violent impulses before they occur”?

It’s hard not to see this as sinister. Barring time travel, how is this to be accomplished? Gossip? Pervasive real-time surveillance? Psychological profiling? Is there any interpretation of this that is consistent with a free society?

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