Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What? My thoughts on the whole strip search ruling

I used to believe I had nothing to fear from laws and decisions like this strip search decision the supreme court made recently. After all, I am a law abiding citizen! What do I have to fear?

But what I am learning is we are all not quite as law abiding as we think. For examples you can check out technically, that's illegal, or think about the times you might have gone over the speed limit, ran a red light by accident, parked in the wrong spot, or crossed the street without waiting for the walk sign. I had at first thought it was only intended for those about to be sent to jail, but read in a NYTimes article that a man was strip searched twice based off of incorrect data concerning an unpaid fine (it had been paid). Read the whole article, two thirds down the first page for more examples- including a nun- on just how minor the infractions can be.

In thinking about this ruling, I did a Google search using "technically illegal NYS" and found a number of things I didn't know were considered illegal...I also found this post: DNA Databank: Adultery, Being Loud In Church, and Fortune Telling Now Crimes That Give the State the Right To Your DNA - Runnin' Scared
I double checked the referenced laws and as far as I can tell the blogger has it right.

I have not yet read the actual law, but I have heard that Arizona recently put in the books a law that makes being obscene or obnoxious online illegal. These kinds of laws might have once started with noble intent, but through rewording and such become so broad that otherwise lovely people could be breaking the law.

I read that one of the justices defended his decision for the strip search ruling by saying one of the terrorists from 9/11 had been ticketed for speeding two days prior (see the NYTimes link). But the problem with saying this is two fold, one it implies the terrorist would have had a "how to be a terrorist" memo tucked up his tush, and two it seriously implies that police should therefore strip search everyone they ticket because anyone could be a possible terrorist. The potential profiling issues start to pile up pretty quickly from there.

If the police decide to do a search, why does it need to be a strip search? A long time ago in another lifetime (aka active duty) I was assigned the exciting job of being the bad guy during base exercises. For one of my assignments, I was specifically directed to allow myself to be caught because the inspectors wanted to see the arrest process. A young female security forces airman performed an extremely thorough search without removing any of my clothes. The only way I could have had a weapon hidden was if I had swallowed it and intended to gag it up later, or tucked it up my tush. Even through clothing it was clear she was doing everything possible to find weapons. (If I remember correctly, I had a fake something or other tucked into my then shoulder length hair that was braided up- she found that one right quick).

If a suspect is known to be violent or you know, has a mile long history of arrests, maybe just maybe it would be appropriate to do more than the type of search I experienced. But that is not as I understand it, how the ruling was worded. Please, if I am totally misunderstanding this ruling, let me know.
Because as I understand it now?
This ruling scares me.

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