I put together a YouTube version of last week’s AlterNet piece. Enjoy.
Scott Morgan and I were honored to discuss 10 Rules for Dealing with Police with Judge Andrew Napolitano. (Air Date: Nov 29, 2010.) Here’s to hoping the good judge gets a new show soon. I watched it; I loved it; it’s right on the … Continued
I’m not sure I remember the last time I read anything as utterly cringe-inducing as this New York Times report on the Supreme court’s new decision allowing strip searches of absolutely anyone who gets arrested and taken to jail for any reason. There are at least a half-dozen different passages in this thing that make me wanna tear clumps of hair out of my head.
Bear with me if you dare to behold the perverted madness of the most esteemed judges in the nation.
“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Kennedy wrote, adding that about 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails.
This right here is where the problem begins: the jailing of a jaw-dropping 13 million people every year, all of whom have to be stripped naked for their own safety, of course.
A nun was strip-searched, he wrote, after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration.
Awesome. Yeah, nothing promotes public safety like strip-searching a pacifist nun.
Justice Kennedy responded that “people detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals."
But not usually, though. More often they turn out to be…minor offenders, guilty only of whatever minor thing they were arrested for, if they even did that. And what the hell does strip-searching have to do with it anyway? Since when is the difference between a jaywalker and a serial killer determined by looking in somebody’s butt?
He noted that Timothy McVeigh, later put to death for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was first arrested for driving without a license plate.
But they didn’t find fifty pounds of fertilizer in his underpants, did they? Seriously, what on earth does Timothy frickin‘ McVeigh have to do with this?
“One of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93,” Justice Kennedy added.
Again, what are you talking about? Did he have the 9/11 attacks hidden in his ass? This is all just a bunch of insulting irrelevant nonsense that has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether we should strip search people for frivolous shit like breaking traffic laws.
Justice Breyer wrote that there was very little empirical support for the idea that strip-searches detect contraband that would not have been found had jail officials used less intrusive means, particularly if strip-searches were allowed when officials had a reasonable suspicion that they would find something.
A valiant effort from Breyer, but it is apparently a waste of time to demand evidence of an actual public safety purpose to be served by searching the junk of 13 million people every year, or to suggest that one needs to have "reasonable suspicion" of any particular threat before poking around down there. Keep in mind that the only thing all these people have in common is that a cop somewhere decided to arrest them for something.
In a concurrence, Chief Justice Roberts, quoting from an earlier decision, said that exceptions to Monday’s ruling were still possible “to ensure that we ‘not embarrass the future.’ ”
I’ve never heard the phrase "embarrass the future" before, but I can’t think of a better time and place to introduce such a concept. It’s as if somewhere deep in the subconscious mind of the Chief Justice, a little voice is screaming that this is all completely sick, embarrassing, and insane.
Update: I added a couple words to the first paragraph to make it clear that this applies specifically to people who are taken to jail. I should have been more clear about that. It’s not like they’re gonna strip search you on the side of the road for any minor offense. The idea is to prevent people from smuggling things into jails, which is understandable for violent crimes, but not minor infractions. A better way to address these kinds of safety concerns would be to stop arresting so many people for so many petty reasons.
Legendary journalist, Cato Instutute Scholar, Flex Your Rights Beautiful Testimonial Writer, and all-around Badass of Freedom Nat Hentoff was selected among "the 100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years."
That reminds me: I need to send him a new 10 Rules for Dealing with Police DVD. I’m not sure if he’s got a working player yet, but he’ll certainly appreciate it.
I’m not saying that blindly. Mr. Hentoff’s an analog kinda guy. He’s so analog that when I sent him a pre-release review DVD, he didn’t watch it. Instead, he requested a copy of the screenplay — via snail mail!
So if you ever see this, Mr. Hentoff, Mazel tov!
Here’s the latest clip from our new YouTube series, How to Deal with Cops. Hopefully you’ll find it interesting even if you think you already know the answer. Enjoy.
Check out episode 3 of our new YouTube series How to Deal with Cops. Flex Your Rights Associate Director Scott Morgan discusses his latest article "5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search (Even if You Have Nothing to Hide)."
Do you know what your rights are when a police officer asks to search you? If you’re like most people I’ve met in my eight years working to educate the public on this topic, then you probably don’t.
It’s a subject that a lot of people think they understand, but too often our perception of police power is distorted by fictional TV dramas, sensational media stories, silly urban myths, and the unfortunate fact that police themselves are legally allowed to lie to us.
Read and share full article here.
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You’ll see that we created a new “How to Deal with Cops” video log (vlog). This is for all of you who want to become more intelligent know-your-rights advocates. Here Scott Morgan and I will address current events and discuss topics not fully covered in our full-length videos, BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters or 10 Rules for Dealing with Police.
So whether you like Facebook, Twitter, or good old-fashioned email — please watch and share our stuff with all your friends.
Courts have tended to support a strong and vibrant First Amendment. Its protections are far-reaching and give you great freedom to express your views loudly and publicly.
But before you make your voice heard, you want to be prepared in case your peaceful protest turns confrontational.