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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001115.txt from 2002/06

From: Mark Gresham <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Music vs. drug testing
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 14:01:47 -0400

Bill Hausmann wrote:
> At 11:04 PM 6/29/2002 -0400, you wrote:
> >So, I guess not letting the police search my car without just cause meant I
> >was hiding something, right Bill?
> >
> >Guilt by innuendo. Sheesh.
> You have to admit it looks suspicious to a normal person. You may have had
> other reasons, of course, including proving a point to them after they
> stopped you without cause, but on the surface it DOES look like you are
> hiding something.

This is where I have to weigh in with a personal experience:
Some years ago, I was driving an older car which had problems with a
failing gas gauge. Trying to reach a gas station, I completely ran out
of gas at a point where I was able to roll the car into a convenience
store parking lot (one without gas pumps) and park it in a normal
parking space. I went into the store briefly, to explain the situation
and ask the clerks not to have the car towed, to which they immediately
and cordially agreed. I left the store and started down the road
recalling a gas station but finding it was permanently closed; so I went
back to the convenience store to use the outside pay phone and call
someone for assistance. As I was talking on the phone, a voice behind
me asked me, "Sir could you please turn around and stop talking on the
phone?" I turned around, phone still at my ear to find myself facing a
uniformed policeman and three squad cars with blue lights flashing --
five uniformed officers in all.
The one in front of me questioned me and I explained what happened and
what I was doing, while another went in to question the clerks, coming
back and saying everything as ok, nothing had happened there.
At which point, the officer beside me turned around and said to a solo
cop in a squad car, "His story checks out." At which point the solo
policeman in the squad car stomped on the gas angily and tore rubber
speeding out of the parking lot.
The uniformed policman turned back around and explained that the angry
cop had assumed I'd probably robbed the convenience store, when in fact
absolutely *no* crime had even taken place. He'd decided that because
I'd gone in, spoken with the clerk at the register briefly, the went out
and started on foot down the road that it looked "suspicious" so I must
have been guilty of "something"; he'd not even bothered to go into the
store to see IF any foul play had taken place.

(I'm reminded of when I once heard someone say, "Well, if they weren't
guilty, the police wouldn't have arrested them in the first place."
Yeah, right.)

The fourth amendment isn't there to protect criminals, though
criminals' lawyers have used it to get them off the hook more than most
of us would like to see.
Instead, it *is* there to protect *innocent* citizens from people who
would allow their paranoias ("looks suspicious to a normal person") to
override warrantable cause.
The very idea that an objection to possible violation of 4th amendment
protections is by itself sufficiently "suspicious" to warrant the
suspension of those protections with regard to the objecting party is an
incredibly dangerous circular argument that smacks of some familiar
20th-century dictatorships, not rigorous Constitutional law.

Mark Gresham, composer
Lux Nova Press
LNP Retail Webstore


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