Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Okay, so I'm reading about the Florence strip-search and jail case. And I'm thinking, "Please let the guy be white, so this isn't just police racism." No such luck. Mr. Florence is black. In a BMW. Has a BMW dealership, in fact. So, cops stop black people in a BMW, for "speeding." No citation given to wife, who was driving. (WHY WERE THEY STOPPED IN THE FIRST PLACE?). Cop does check on the car. Finds old unpaid ticket, after what is basically a fishing expedition.

Mr. Florence is handcuffed, strip-searched TWICE, jailed for a week with no bail (HE'S A FLIGHT RISK! NO BAIL, BECAUSE HE ALREADY SKIPPED ON A TICKET!). Finally sees judge. Is able to prove that in fact HE PAID THE TICKET! On time. Police just failed to record the payment. Whoopsie daisy, sorry, fella. Have a good day.

Exactly the same thing happened to me, Dec. 2010, except no arrest and strip search. Got notice of failure to pay ticket that had, in fact, been paid. Had to send copy of cancelled check, had to get notarized statement, all because the state is too busy to recognize when citizens do what the state forces them to do. It happens all the time. The state is remarkably incompetent, and indifferent to the consequences of that incompetence, given that if YOU make a mistake the consequences are enormous.

You'll want to watch this excerpt from one of best movies of all time, Brazil. Four mins, watch it through, please.

Now, the Supreme Court case is about the strip-searching. I'm afraid, on that narrow question, the court got it right. If (IF!) you are going to put the guy in jail, for a week, for a nonviolent traffic ticket (which he had actually already paid, but never mind for a minute, suppose he hadn't), then you HAVE to strip search him. It's the logic of domination and humiliation in the prison system. The strip search is a consequence of the dangerous security situation in the jail where the state is choosing to hold this person. In jail, you lose the presumption of innocence.

The real questions didn't come up in the court case. Why did police stop a black couple just because they had a BMW, and then searched for something, anything, to nail the guy. Then why send him to jail, with no way out, for a week. And why not keep better records, if the stakes are really this high? If failing to pay a ticket is worth a week in jail, away from work and family, what should be the punishment for failing to record a valid and timely payment for a ticket? Shouldn't it be symmetric?

The REAL question, then, is why all our sensitive leftist friends put so much faith in a state that routinely does the sorts of things described above. I bet (paraphrasing Edmund Burke) it's because you fall out only with the abuses, and think that the thing itself is good. The THING! The thing itself is the abuse!

Why do you people love the state so much? It doesn't love you.


Anonymous said...

Isn't the problem more simple than this?

Monopolies provide poor service and people assume that the state must have a monopoly over protection services.

Doc Merlin said...

They love the state so much, because they can't individually do anything about it. Hating it would be horribly depressing.

I guess its like Stockholm syndrome.

Anonymous said...

FYI, we need the State to protect us from predators in the private sector. Of which there are many.

This has been simple answers to simple questions.

Miracle Max

Eric said...

"Kennedy also said people arrested for minor offenses can turn out to be 'the most devious and dangerous criminals.'"

People who drive can also be dangerous and devious, as can broccoli eaters or those who've relaxed their fashion sense enough to wear hoodies.

Should those groups be strip searched too?

Anonymous said...

Hi Miracle Max,

The predators in the private sector have never killed tens of millions of people.


Anonymous said...

Hi RMV. I think you have to consider the threats posed by private v. public in their national context. The USG isn't killing millions of people here (though it has scored some points in less fortunate countries), so it is a less threatening option than, say, the govt of Syria. In Somalia a state of some type looks better than what they have now.

Miracle Max

Anonymous said...

Non-sequiter is a non-sequiter.

Bringing a less-than-fully-reasoned-out argument against the market system into a discussion about the extreme excesses of the state seems odd. Unless, that is, you're asserting that the predators in a market system somehow necessitated a response by the state that included an arrest and week-long detainment for a non-violen traffic ticket.


Anonymous said...

Yes, if one thing is true, it's that "leftists" love unchecked police authority.

Anonymous said...

Au contraire, all good lefties decry the excesses of the national security state, including the local fuzz. No market predator(s) justify their actions. Unfortunately it's something of a package deal, though my side tries to separate the good (e.g., social insurance) from the bad (dumb wars).

regards, Miracle Max

Doc Merlin said...

Miracle Max:

If by "decry" you mean help establish the system that allows it to operate, then afterwards complain about the monster that was created, then yes.

As libertarians say, every crime ultimately has horrible penalties attached. So, simply, don't make things illegal if its not worth doing horrible things to someone for that act.

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