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Ear to the Ground

Say ‘Hi-Ho!’ as They Strip-Search You

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Posted on May 26, 2012
cliff1066™ (CC BY 2.0)

A self-portrait of Kurt Vonnegut.

Reflecting on his arrest with Kurt Vonnegut while protesting apartheid outside the South African consulate in the early 1980s, David Lindorff, founder of the news blog This Can’t Be Happening, says he and the author might be treated differently if they were arrested today. —ARK

Dave Lindorff at CounterPunch:

I got to thinking that thanks to the latest outrageous 5-4 decision by the US Supreme Court (supported fully by our Constitutional law-teacher President Barack Obama and his Solicitor General), which says it is now perfectly okay for police to strip-search innocent people picked up on any charge — even a traffic offense or a leash-law violation, or alleged failure to clear a warrant for a bald tire — had Kurt and I been busted for the same kind of protest today, we’d “know” each other much more intimately. For example I’d probably know if Vonnegut had hemorrhoids, and he’d know about a patch of skin discoloration on my balls.

Is this a great country or what?

But seriously, we have really reached a pretty grim point when the court that is supposed to be protecting our rights under the Constitution, and the president, who is supposed to uphold and defend that document, collude in saying that once a person has been taken into custody by police, she or he really has no rights. The 4th Amendment about being “secure in your person”? Forget it. The cops can now strip you, grope you, check your butthole and humiliate you all they want, even if you are innocent of any charge. And by the way, they can lock you up with hardened convicts and hold you after they do that, until you get a lawyer or post bail. No “cruel and unusual punishment”? Well, I think most people would agree that getting stripped and intimately searched by some leering cop when you hadn’t done anything would qualify as punishment, and it certainly is cruel, so the Eighth Amendment is in the toilet too. (We already knew the First Amendment — the one about freedom of speech and assembly and the right to petition over grievances — was toast. Just ask Mayor Mike Bloomberg or any of the other mayors who ordered the brutal crushing of dozens of Occupation encampments over the past half year.)

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