Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

The Watchdogs Get Distracted By T-bone Yet Again

It can never be underestimated how much the US media, driven by profit motive and not ethics, can fail to see the point in a story that they are reporting simply due to the fact that the real point is not the point that gets ratings. I’m a little behind the curve on this story as I am across the pond and my access to US news (and Internet connections) is infrequent. Nonetheless, with regard to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates and the “beer” diplomacy engaged by the administration, it would seem that a significant matter has been lost in the chatter. As always, Christopher Hitchens has the real thread of the matter at hand and I have to second and third the point that he makes in his editorial on the matter that (regardless of his color) Gates’ constitutional rights were infringed upon. The media has utterly failed to see this in a post-racial fashion—surprise, surprise. And moreover, we as a people, have been so saturated with police shows and crime dramas, lauding all police everywhere as heroes, defending a fictional right of the police to do what’s necessary to fight crime that we have rolled over when it comes to what they have no right to do.

About nine months ago, I posted an important lecture from an excellent lawyer on how to deal with the police. It is simple. Do not talk to the police. If you are guilty do not talk to the police. If you are innocent it is even more critical that you DO NOT TALK to the police! They are not on your side, no matter how much they assure you they are. It is their job to clear up the facts of the case, through evidence, not hearsay, and not your obligation to help them. You’re merest utterance can and will be used in court against you—a mistake of the facts, a matter of confusion, the police getting wrong what you said. You have the right to remain silent and you should. Personally, if the house belonged to Henry Gates, I think he would have been better suited simply not talking to the police. It’s not to say that you don’t have the right to speak your mind on your on property, but you are better served by letting your rights speak for you. When a police officer asks you anything about your person, your belongings, your occupation of a certain house, ask them what is their probable cause for asking. Or, better yet, say nothing! They cannot insinuate a crime—well they might, but what would sound better in front of a judge?—The suspect was testy and or belligerent? Or, the suspect said nothing? You have rights. Trust yourself to them. Do not talk to the police.

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