Slattery opened his mailbox. Inside was a letter from the Precrime Division. He rushed inside his apartment and opened the envelope with trembling fingers. The letter read:
Dear Mr. Slattery,
The Precrime Division has determined that you are about to commit a crime. Because you have not yet committed this crime, you will not be arrested and imprisoned.
We assume that being notified that we know you are either planning or will impulsively commit a crime in the near future — and that you will be the obvious suspect should this crime occur — will be sufficient to deter you from committing the crime.
If for some insane reason you still commit this crime, we feel PreCrime is still an awesome idea since we’ll already know who probably did it, so we’re still better off than if we didn’t have PreCrime in the first place. Plus, the mere existence of PreCrime has prevented 90% of serious crimes from occurring, thus saving countless lives.
So don’t commit the crime.
The Precrime Division
Slattery tore up the letter and threw it into the trashcan where it was efficiently consumed by nano-trash-bots. “Well shit,” he said, “I guess I won’t commit this crime, and also my civil rights haven’t been violated as they would have been if this were some bullshit libertarian dystopic nightmare fantasy!”