SYNDICATED COLUMN: Every Policeman Is A Licensed Rapist

This week, you can read my column, or watch it!

Strip-Searching is Legal and Democracy is Dead

The text of Justice Kennedy’s majority is cold and bureaucratic. “Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” he writes for the five right-wingers in the majority of the Supreme Court.

There’s no looking back now. The United States is officially a police state.

Here are the basics, as reported by The New York Times: “The case decided Monday, Florence v. County of Burlington, No. 10-945, arose from the arrest of Albert W. Florence in New Jersey in 2005. Mr. Florence was in the passenger seat of his BMW when a state trooper pulled his wife, April, over for speeding. A records search revealed an outstanding warrant for Mr. Florence’s arrest based on an unpaid fine. (The information was wrong; the fine had been paid.) Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in Burlington and Essex Counties, and he was strip-searched in each. There is some dispute about the details, but general agreement that he was made to stand naked in front of a guard who required him to move intimate parts of his body. The guards did not touch him.”

“Turn around,” Florence later recalled his jailers ordering him. “Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.”

A court motivated by fairness would have declared this conduct unconstitutional. Fair-minded people would have ordered the New Jersey municipality to empty its bank accounts and turn them over to the man it humiliated. Everyone involved—the police, county officials—ought to have been fired and charged with torture.

Not this court, the U.S. Supreme Court led by John Roberts. Besotted by the sick logic of paranoia and preemption that has poisoned us since 9/11, it ruled that what happened to Albert Florence was perfectly OK. The cops’ conduct was legal.

Now “officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor.”

If you get arrested at an antiwar protest, the police can strip-search you. If you’re pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, as was the plaintiff in this case. For setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Humiliation is the law of the land.

The Court heard examples of people who were strip-searched “after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.” They considered amicus briefs by nuns and other “women who were strip-searched during periods of lactation or menstruation.”

Body-cavity searches are now legal for anyone arrested for any crime, no matter how minor. As of April 2, 2012, finger-rape is the law of the land.

Think it won’t happen to you? 14 million Americans are arrested annually. One in three Americans under age 23 has been arrested. It happened to me a couple of years ago, for a suspended drivers license. Except that it wasn’t really suspended. I was lucky. My cops weren’t perverts. They didn’t want a lookie-loo at my private parts.

How did we get here? Preemptive logic.

Saddam Hussein is a bad man. He hates the United States. What if he has weapons of mass destruction? What if he used them against us, or gave them to terrorists who would? Can’t take that chance.

We don’t need evidence in order to justify bombing and invading Iraq. We have fear and the logic of preemption.

The logic of preemption flails, targeting anyone and everyone. A single plane passenger sets his shoes on fire. He never came close to causing real damage, but now everyone has to take off their shoes before boarding a plane. Infants. Old people. Veterans whose limbs got blown off in Iraq. Everyone.

Can’t take chances. What if your toddler is a member of Al Kidda?

The logic of preemption is indiscriminate. What if terrorists are stupid enough to use phones and emails to plot their dastardly schemes? We’d want to know, right? In the old days before 9/11, officials who suspected a person of criminal conduct went to a judge to obtain a wiretapping warrant.

Now we’re paranoid. And the government is power-hungry. So government officials and their media lapdogs are exploiting our fear and paranoia, openly admitting that they listen to everyone‘s phone calls and read everyone‘s emails. Can’t take chances. Gotta cover all the bases.

What about the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures? Quaint relics of a time before the police state. Like the Geneva Conventions.

Here comes Justice Kennedy, amping up the perverse logic of preemption. Responding to the nasty cases of the finger-raped nun and the humiliated women on their period, Kennedy pointed out that “people detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.” Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, was pulled over for driving without a license plate. “One of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93,” he wrote, continuing with the observation that San Francisco cops “have discovered contraband hidden in body cavities of people arrested for trespassing, public nuisance and shoplifting.”

No doubt about it: If you search every car and frisk every pedestrian and break down the door of every house and apartment in America, you will find lots of people up to no good. You will discover meth labs and bombs and maybe even terrorists plotting to blow up things. But who is the bigger danger: a drug dealer, a terrorist, or a terrorist government?

This summer will be ugly. Cops will arrest thousands of protesters who belong to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is fighting corruption and greed and trying to improve our lives. Now that police have the right to strip and molest demonstrators, you can count on horrible abuses. Cops always go too far.

Note to people about to be arrested: pop a laxative before they slip on the flexicuffs.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather live in a country that respects rights and freedoms more than the paranoid madness of preemption. In the old America where I grew up, we lived with the possibility that some individuals were evil. Now we face the absolute certainty that every policeman is a fully licensed finger-rapist.

(Ted Rall’s next book is “The Book of Obama: How We Went From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt,” out May 22. His website is

9 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Every Policeman Is A Licensed Rapist

  1. This legal basis of this country is FUBAR.

    That is militarist speak for F’d Up Beyond All Recognition.

    When the militarized police say shut up all they want to see is elbows and assholes. Really. They really just want to see assholes. And play with them. And put things in them. Really.

    All that remains of the state to respect is its weapons and its willingness to use them.

  2. The very purpose of this ruling is to further terrorize the general public. To cow them into quiet submission. In the past when you were part of a peaceful protest in which you intended to get arrested, you were efficiently processed and sent on your way. Now, you’ll be anally probed and otherwise violated. Why? To get you to stop protesting. To make you a nice obedient consumer who defers to corporate authority. Martin Sheen can think about that when some officer is ramming his fingers up his anus, simply because he took part in an anti-nuclear demonstration. Think that won’t happen? Martin Sheen’s humiliation would be a nice marketing took to keep everyone else quiet and obedient. If they can violate Martin Sheen, and violate him legally, imagine why they’ll do to some anonymous protester.

    In the end though, I’m glad. Americans deserve to get violated at this point. Every last beer belly sports fan moron and every Long Island hausfrau deserves it. They welcomed the corporate-run state in with open arms, so now they can suck it up and reap what they’ve sown. Fat American slobs deserve no less.

  3. Over the years, I have grown accustomed to shrugging off hyperbolic cries of “Police State.” You hear it alot when you live in one of America’s tiny liberal islands.

    But now I’m pretty certain that I’m asking for trouble just by posting this comment here.

  4. Ted,

    The social conditioning is complete. You can find the YouTube video yourself of a four-year-old being skin-searched by TSA agents while a whole line of adult men and adult women just stand there while it happens. I don’t want to play the old man card, but there was a time when someone doing that to a kid, regardless of the polyester uniform he was wearing, would have gotten him a beating of such severity that he could end up in the hospital because of it.

    Now, we all tweet in mild annoyance. I wonder how soon al Qaeda will do its next major terrorist incident. And I wonder what will happen then. Forced DNA samples from everyone? Mandatory fingerprinting and biometric scans? New York City already has roving X-Ray machines (and do you want to bet any large sums on how safely and well trained the people running those machines are). I’m just amazed how easily people gave up all their rights. It’s almost like, for about 30 years, the entire progressive end of the spectrum kept settling for a centrist because he was the lesser of two evils. But I know can’t be it, because settling is a really good strategy. Wouldn’t want to vote in a real monster when some milquetoast bureaucrat will run a kinder, gentler labor camp with kinder, gentler methods of executing you. Lethal injection really is much more civilized than firing squad or beheading.

  5. When the Neo-Cons talk about Freedom, they do not mean literally the Bill of Rights as most people might understand them. They mean the Right to chose between what our Oligopolies may produce, such Beta, VCR, DVD, etc. The right to choose where you shop, till you drop. The Right to choose to watch on the Oligopoly TV Network among various Corporately sponsored Sports, killing alligators, loggers, or extreme mayhem to the human body. You can buy your favorite Corporate food with a nice heaping helping of Pink Slime.

    You may say what you want, and write what you want, but if you actually try to challenge the Corporate elite, or the 1%, expect their lap-dog politicians to pass more laws restricting your ability to do so.

    Now if you try to assemble and the assembly is not for a Corporate Sports Team, but say an Occupy Wall Street Demonstration expect to be pepper sprayed.

    I can visualize some politically connected shifty Corporate Suit selling portable anal and vaginal examination devices to our Police. There will be generous Government Loans to the Manufacturers of these vital security devices. A Traffic Stop, no need to take you back to the station, drop your drawers and bend over. Just hope the Police know the difference between the Portable Anal, Vaginal Examination Device and a shot gun. You will probably be billed by the Police for the portable colonoscopy.

  6. Not to make light of this dreary news, but a thought occured to me this morning.

    The humiliation factor.

    Suppose your body looked better naked than did the bodies of those trying to humiliate you. Wouldn’t this form of psychological attack backfire and make them feel insecure?

    OWS needs to recruit some bodybuilders…