Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Achtung! You've Been Selected

Civil liberties simply don't matter anymore. We don't have any that the police are bound to respect. We don't have any that can't be set aside in the name of protecting us against terrorism. A few weeks back I wrote about Gore Vidal's reminding us of the true nature of American society, to wit, a police state basically. The possibility of running afoul of some gendarme with a chip on his (or her) shoulder 0grows increasingly more likely if you are a person, like me, likely to be self-assertive when dealing with these people. I can tell you, the thought of being hassled by cops is not far from my mind every time I see either a cop or a pseudo cop. Have you noticed how many of the latter seem to be around? Next time you're out and about just notice how many uniformed dudes, most packing 9 mm, are out there. It's not just the official police departments, but all the miscellaneous security guards and semi-official officials. Hell, here in Oklahoma, the frigging park rangers carry weapons!

But to the point. Two stories caught my attention lately in this area. First, this one from the NY Times. The Obama administration is supporting the crack-brained, dangerous idea endorsed by such worthies as John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and most of the rest of the Republican party that terrorism suspects be deprived of their Miranda rights. The exception is required because "interrogators needed greater flexibility to question terrorism suspects than is provided by existing exceptions." What a crock! This is the administration, once again in the flame of its courage, bending over for the rabid right. Listen, you make one exception to the Miranda rule, you will have to allow a hundred exceptions. Since when is a person's right to be informed of their rights determined by the nature of their offense? Well, brothers and sisters, since now. (I have to note here that Glenn Beck, of all people, is in favor of the Constitution in this matter. He actually opposes the idea.) I'll have more to say about this later.

The second item was this narrative I read a little while ago by one Marcia Alesan Dawkins. Here it is:

“You’ve been randomly selected for a search.” These are the words I heard as I was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon my return from a recent trip to Canada. The hourlong experience was harrowing—I was asked questions about where I was born, whether English was my first language, whether I had credit cards or cash, what I do for a living, why I was traveling, where I had gone, how my traveling companion and I knew each other, and what I was carrying in my pockets, purse and luggage. I was forbidden to stand, place my hands in my pockets, make phone calls and use the restroom without asking for permission. All of this I took in stride because I figured that it was being done in the interest of national security. Certainly, an hour of my time is well spent in helping to ensure the safety of my fellow citizens.

Does this bother you as much as it does me? An hour? "Randomly selected?" I mean WTF? I really don't think comparisons being made with Nazi Germany's routines are overdrawn. I can guarantee you "the interest of national security" would hardly motivate me to take a gross violation of my civil liberties "in stride." Yep. I don't know at what point I'd become "uncooperative," but it would be well before an hour had elapsed. Why should I have to answer a bunch of questions for some uniform as the result of a "random search"? Where the justification for a violation of civil liberties this blatant? Show me in black and white. Yep. This is why I would have been arrested.
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