You were once the youngest organism on the planet. But at the same time you’re also as old as life itself, an unbroken line of cell divisions stretching back 3.5 billion years.
This quote is so representative of the issues that divide our country.
Q. You criticize the Miranda ruling, which gives suspects the right to have a lawyer present before police questioning. Shouldn’t people, who may be innocent, have such protection?
A. Suspects who are innocent of a crime should. But the thing is, you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.
This exchange comes from a published interview with an Attorney General of the United States and a former prosecutor. It could have been written this week. Instead, it’s thirty years old. The question was posed to Edwin Meese in 1985.
A prosecutor, of all people, should know that abuses of the law by police and the legal system are common. Innocent people have routinely been railroaded in a zeal to hold someone, anyone, accountable for crimes. The police have a long history of deciding on a suspect and then making a case, rather than letting the evidence lead to a suspect.
Mr. Meese was strongly criticized for his words at the time, but he also had plenty of defenders then and since. The United States has a strong authoritarian streak that sounds very appealing until people see how wrong it can go when put into practise. Why do we keep going in so many circles before we figure out that the extremes are detrimental to ourselves?
If you watch the video carefully you can catch a couple of glimpses of me babbling to the students.
Fantastic Beatings and Where To Find Them