Monday, April 22, 2013

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Miranda Warning!


This will be an unpopular way of thinking. So be it.

I know that it has been a reality for a while now, but I had not been aware until the last week that the government could "legally" choose not to provide the Miranda Warning to a U.S. citizen if the information it was seeking was not going to be used in court.

To be sure, there are times when the public would consider its interests served by not requiring authorities to tell a suspect that they have the right to remain silent. But what are the broader implications for the American citizens of the future, not guilty of any crime other than opposition to the status quo, or the rare(?) cases of mistaken identity or unjust interrogation?

If you don't have the right to remain silent, interrogators will feel much more justified to use whatever force they deem appropriate to get you to talk. If you don't have the right to avoid compelled self-incrimination, why should the police stop interrogating you, even when you insist that you are innocent? Granted, sometimes we all want to make somebody talk, but how much power are we willing to cede to the government to make us talk when we don't want to, or when we truly have nothing to say?

Most government officials are not out to quash opposition using any means necessary. Most police officers truly do want to serve and protect the citizenry. But, checks and balances are there to keep potential abusers of power honest and accountable. We don't know today who might take advantage of the many loopholes we've incrementally provided the government of tomorrow to "deal with" voices of discontent.

You may say, "the government should rightfully have this power, if they're questioning somebody (using whatever methods they deem appropriate), that person probably deserves whatever treatment they get," or you might say, "the government can look into my life however closely they want... who really has any privacy in this day and age anyway," or "who am I to question a decision made by the Supreme Court?" If that is really how you feel on this issue, the dormant activist in me would say that you're a sheep, and the ghost wolf is on the prowl, all dressed up in the shepherd's clothing that we the people have wrapped around it.