The GOP has for decades positioned itself as the party that’s “tough on crime.” Of course, we’ve always known that folks who smokes crack suffers a lot more than someone who robs thousands of people of their retirement savings. So there’s always been an ideological inconsistency.

It has played out again in the Virginia Assembly. The Virginian Pilot editorial page makes the same point I have vis-à-vis red light cameras: If red light runners deserve privacy, why don’t other criminals?

In an exercise of ideological inconsistency and hypocrisy, members of the House of Delegates have all but killed the program. Unless a compromise is reached before the General Assembly adjourns, the “photo red” systems will go dark July 1 in about a half-dozen localities in the state, including Virginia Beach.

Residents around the commonwealth, as they vote in this year’s legislative contests, should remember the names of those lawmakers who sided with lawbreakers – and against the police officials and others endorsing the cameras. Del. John Welch III of Virginia Beach is among those who’s spoken out most vocally against the technology.

The opposition came primarily in the House of Delegates, where ill-defined constitutional and privacy concerns trumped a pragmatic and promising traffic safety measure.

…When these politicians take to the stump, Virginians need to ask:

Do you support your local police? Then why did you disregard their best advice? Law enforcement officials, including Beach Police Chief A.M. “Jake” Jacocks Jr., begged lawmakers to extend the 10-year-old pilot program.

…Do you think cameras invade privacy? Well, what’s so “private” about a public street? Motorists caught by the cameras jeopardize themselves and others. Their individual choice to break the law has implications for society at large. Hence, there’s an obvious public interest.

If those cited for civil violations should be able to face their “accuser,” as some photo-red opponents claim, what about the cameras at convenience stores, ATMs and elsewhere? In the latter examples, the cameras often are the only surviving “witness” to a crime of fraud – or even murder. Lawmakers aren’t suggesting that evidence be excluded; why are they getting all atwitter over the red-light cameras?