Monday, December 17, 2007

This is Giuliani Time: Take it up the rear for Rudy!

"Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."

-- Rudy Giuliani

In a large series of articles in the Inquirer today, Mark Faziollah reports on various police agencies in the Greater Philadelphia area that regularly strip-search every citizen they arrest, regardless of whether there is any probable cause for such an invasive search.

Although these searches are totally illegal, up until this past October, the city of Philadelphia had continued to make people arrested for the most trivial reasons strip, bend over and cough. For this reason, the sixth poorest city in the United States, with an obscene murder rate to boot, is facing paying out millions of dollars in law suits:

The Inquirer: "Lawyers for the inmates, fresh from securing a $7.5 million settlement agreement in a similar suit in Camden, say as many as 60,000 Philadelphia inmates were wrongfully strip-searched during the last three years. They are seeking $15 million. The city called the number 'patently unreasonable' because Philadelphia was 'struggling to maintain basic services to taxpayers [bend over Philadelphia],' and argued that the number of people illegally strip-searched was no more than 20,000."

Gosh, that's a lot less. I feel so much better now.

Even though the courts have ruled again and again from California to New York that blanket strip-searches are illegal, many municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey still strip-search anyone and everyone that comes into contact with the police; from a guy with a $120 in parking tickets to a Marine Sergeant who was double parked. In the case of Marine Sgt. Kareem Cox, an Iraq vet, he was arrested by part-time duty police officer in Darby, Tina Selimis, who testified in another lawsuit brought against her for going too far with strip searching random people off the streets, that she had strip-searched 100 people in just two years."

Devon Sheppard, who was arrested, strip-searched and locked up for attending a rock concert in Harrisburg which had no park permit, says of her experience: "I'm sure there are places where this happens regularly. I just didn't think the United States was one of them." Well, get used to it Devon, it does. But don't worry if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear. Do as Rudy says and cede to lawful authority, like officer Selimis, a great deal of discretion about what they do.

In the cases of these blanket strip-searches the excuse is the War on Drugs. In the case of the NSA's blanket wire tapping of every call and e-mail in the United States, it's W.'s War on Terror. In both instances, most Americans are perfectly fine with it (they've got Christmas shopping to do) until it happens to them.

Rudy for Prez? And we all thought W. was bad!

Remember, when Hitler went after the Commies all the good Germans said they had it coming. When he went after the trade unionists, the Good Germans said they had it coming. When he went after the Jews, homosexuals and Gypsies they all had it coming, too. When he finally came after the Good Germans, there was no one left to protect them.

Keep that in mind if we get Rudolf the red faced fascist as our next president. Here's a guy who presided over a New York City police department that went Medieval on the lower income people of New York. From plunger rapes in police station bathrooms, to seizing the vehicles of people only suspected of drunk driving, to him personally lowering the entire weight of the prosecutorial system on a one man who had the audacity to challenge the fairness of his traffic-light speeding cameras.

I'm hoping most Americans are going to be able to see through Rudy's noun, verb, 9/11 facade, but all anyone has to do these days is call someone a drug dealer or terrorist and all bets are off. People will balk if asked to present ID to purchase something at the Christmas checkout line with their credit card (a policy designed to protect them from fraud) but when it comes to signing over all the Bill of Rights in the name of the War on Terror, they're more than happy to do it.

Almost three thousand Americans were killed on 9/11, so people naturally feel that anything the government has to do to prevent this from happening again is worth it; but don't seem to see the much clearer and present danger of dying from a fire arm. That particular element of the Bill of Rights is sacrosanct. More American have died from gun fire since the Kennedy administration than all the Americans who died in all the wars of the twentieth century, but don't confuse them with the facts.

Rudy is our man: Render onto Rudy what is his, remember to cough, but whatever you do, don't cross him.


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