We've seen it in the movies, some of us in real life. When an individual becomes hysterical, he often stands and screams. It's unpleasant to be around and may be embarrassing for the person involved, but in and of itself it's not particularly harmful.
When politicians become hysterical, however, the rest of us suffer. And right now, California politicians--their anxious eyes fixed on the next election--are positively aquiver over crime.
Take, for example, the state Senate's overwhelming passage Thursday of a bill by Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia), which would allow policemen to randomly stop and search vehicles for illegal firearms if local authorities have declared some sort of crime "emergency." These searches, which would not require probable cause or reasonable suspicion, would only be allowed at night. This makes perfect sense, since the actions contem-plateed here are of the sort best undertaken under cover of darkness.
What doesn't make sense to us was the reaction of Sen. Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward), chairman of the chamber's Judiciary Committee. During the debate over the Davis bill, Lockyer told his colleagues that he voted for the measure in committee, even though he believes it is unconstitutional and is likely to be killed in the Assembly. He went on to say, however, that he would abstain from voting on the Senate floor because, given the current climate of public opinion, he was afraid to openly oppose any law whose sponsors had decided to call anti-crime.
"When you start in a free society searching people's cars without cause--just doing it because you know there is a general safety problem--we should all as free Americans worry about that," Lockyer told the Senate over his shoulder as he dashed for cover.
When you're right, you're right.