Driving Blind: Leftovers and Updates

Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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26 Responses

  1. Pinky says:

    I know that Maureen Dowd isn’t worth reading, so I’ve given up reading her even from the occasional “this is so stupid you have to read it” links, but for some reason I clicked on it anyway. And I’d forgotten just what a fool she is. If a person could be the exact opposite of a syllogism, it’s her.

    The worst thing is, I can’t blame you. You labelled it clearly. Why did I click on it?Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Pinky says:

      Her predecessor was Anna Quindlen. Dowd was a step up for the editorial page there. The Times is not the Washington Post. The Post knows how to identify talent and put it on the op-ed page.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Art Deco says:

        Looking over a list of the Posts’ columnists, I don’t think of many of them as being particularly influential. They’re not the freak show of the NYT, but I’m a little surprised at how few of them are quoted by the left, right, or whatever. I’d love to see some kind of analysis of who the opinion-makers really are. I know it’s going to be ideologically segregated, but I hadn’t considered how many of them really are 100% online.Report

  2. NewDealer says:

    I wonder how much of our desire for constant interventionalism is a result of leaders/politicians/pundits not wanting to be another Neville Chamberlain or America Fister-Isolationist.Report

  3. Cletus says:

    Did anyone else just watch the SCOTUS render the 5th amendment null and void?Report

  4. George Turner says:

    Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy posted on it.Report

    • Cletus in reply to George Turner says:

      “…any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances.” Robert H. Jackson, Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49 (1949)

      For legalists, Jackson’s comment comes in the form of an opinion written mostly as a dissent. The full comment paragraph reads less helpfully.

      “Amid much that is irrelevant or trivial, one serious situation seems to me to stand out in these cases. The suspect neither had nor was advised of his right to get counsel. This presents a real dilemma in a free society. To subject one without counsel to questioning which may and is intended to convict him, is a real peril to individual freedom. To bring in a lawyer means a real peril to solution of the crime because, under our adversary system, he deems that his sole duty is to protect his client — guilty or innocent — and that, in such a capacity, he owes no duty whatever to help society solve its crime problem. Under this conception of criminal procedure, any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances.

      If the State may arrest on suspicion and interrogate without counsel, there is no denying the fact that it largely negates the benefits of the constitutional guaranty of the right to assistance of counsel. Any lawyer who has ever been called into a case after his client has “told all” and turned any evidence he has over to the Government knows how helpless he is to protect his client against the facts thus disclosed.

      I suppose the view one takes will turn on what one thinks should be the right of an accused person against the State. Is it his right to have the judgment on the facts? Or is it his right to have a judgment based on only such evidence as he cannot conceal from the authorities, who cannot compel him to testify in court and also cannot question him before? Our system comes close to the latter by any interpretation, for the defendant is shielded by such safeguards as no system to law except the Anglo-American concedes to him.

      Of course, no confession that has been obtained by any form of physical violence to the person is reliable, and hence no conviction should rest upon one obtained in that manner. Such treatment not only breaks the will to conceal or lie, but may even break the will to stand by the truth. Nor is it questioned that the same result can sometimes be achieved by threats, promises, or inducements, which torture the mind but put no scar on the body. If the opinion of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in the Watts case were based solely on the State’s admissions as to the treatment of Watts, I should not disagree. But if ultimate quest in a criminal trial is the truth and if the circumstances indicate no violence or threats of it, should society be deprived of the suspect’s help in solving a crime merely because he was confined and questioned when uncounseled?

      We must not overlook that, in these as in some previous cases, once a confession is obtained, it supplies ways of verifying its trustworthiness. In these cases before us, the verification is sufficient to leave me in no doubt that the admissions of guilt were genuine and truthful. Such corroboration consists in one case of finding a weapon where the accused has said he hid it, and in others that conditions which could only have been known to one who was implicated correspond with his story. It is possible, but it is rare, that a confession, if repudiated on the trial, standing alone, will convict unless there is external proof of its verity.”

      A lot of what Jackson said so prophetically did not come to pass. Lawyers routinely let their clients talk to the police, often with the lawyer present in the room, and fail to tell their client to assert 5th amendment, shut up and stop talking no really for the love of Glob STOP TALKING.

      Numerous people have been convicted and even sent to death row on the basis of false confessions gained through coercion. Some of them have been proven innocent later through DNA evidence or other research by groups like the Innocence Project. Daniel Taylor was in police custody at the time of an alleged murder, but police extracted a confession anyways. Jessie Misskelley, a mentally borderline-retarded individual, was coerced and fed details for a confession by police that put three men in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. The Central Park Five are another incredibly recent case of proof that confessions were gained through abuse by police.

      Even today we see the issues come up in courts. Instead of asserting his right to remain silent and letting his lawyer raise the important issues in a bare bones and factual matter at trial or in court documents, George Zimmerman has given 7 wildly different accounts of the shooting of Trayvon Martin to police. Each of the contradictory accounts is admissable as evidence against him. His differing stories should, under the circumstances, be enough to convince a jury he is lying. Had he simply kept his big mouth shut until the trial, his lawyers would have an easier job and his chance of acquittal would be much higher.

      The ugliest truth is that the police are never your friends. They are never just trying to rule you out as a suspect. That’s not their job. Their job is to gather evidence for the prosecutor’s office with the end goal of putting you in jail as one more notch on the prosecutor’s belt, to be held up as a conviction-rate statistic when they run for DA or are up for election. They really don’t care if you are innocent and won’t shed a single tear if they convict an innocent man.Report

      • zic in reply to Cletus says:

        Their job is to gather evidence for the prosecutor’s office with the end goal of putting you in jail as one more notch on the prosecutor’s belt, to be held up as a conviction-rate statistic when they run for DA or are up for election. They really don’t care if you are innocent and won’t shed a single tear if they convict an innocent man.

        While I admit that this does happen, I’m discomforted with suggesting it’s a truth universal. Things are not that simple, and all law enforcement is not that corrupted.Report

        • Cletus in reply to zic says:

          It’s very simple. The job of the police is not to establish the truth. It is to “solve” cases, close the books and get enough evidence to the prosecutor’s office to reach a conviction or plea deal.

          The only time they have an interest in establishing your innocence or ruling you out is if there are multiple suspects and they don’t want to waste time on the ones less likely to be convictable. If you are their target, their job is to get you to hand over something incriminating in order to convict you. We have an adversarial system and they are your adversaries, Full Stop.

          If it sounds like I am accusing them of corruption as a blanket statement, I am not. At the same time I am definitely saying that when they tell you they are interested in your innocence, or trying to rule you out as a suspect, or if they tell you that all you have to do is tell them what you know and everything will be fine, they are lying. They are trying to get you to incriminate yourself, because that’s their job, and one of the tools in their arsenal is the false statement. If they can get something that sounds like a confession it will be believed, and jurors will often take false confessions as if they were the word of Jesus Himself. Jurors will even believe a false confession despite knowing that it was coerced.Report

  5. zic says:

    Would anyone ask how many kids a male writer should have? Would we ever have a debate about how a man’s chores as a father diminished his ability to be an artist? Only in his role as provider, I think.

    And you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll get a bigger advance then she will, no matter the quality of the writing.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to zic says:

      Yeah, I would! Considering one of my favorite writers forgot how to end his story because he adopted a kid (and spent years raising the kid by himself!)Report

  6. LeeEsq says:

    I think that philosophy is often Euro-centric because most of the secular philosophy in the world was written by Europeans or people influenced by Europeans. A lot of the non-European philosophy is more heavily linked to religion. Jewish philosophy is linked to Judaism, Arabic philosophy to Islam, and Asian philosophy to one of the Dharmic religions. This means that a lot of non-European philosophy is more likely to be read in different departments than the philosophy department.

    Another problem with the heavy links of non-European philosophy to religion is that you need more context to read it in many cases. Maimonides makes more sense when you have a good grasp of Judaism. I’m pretty sure that you need relatively deep knowledge of Islam to understand many of the Arabic philosophers.Report

    • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I’ve noticed an increased interest early Islamic philosophy among American philosophers recently, particularly on problems of first philosophy (I read this just yesterday).

      Also, someone should alert the author to the existence of Graham Parkes.Report

  7. Kolohe says:

    “(note: pay more attention to what he doesn’t say).”

    He’s not saying it’s aliens…so it’s aliens, isn’t it?!Report

  8. zic says:

    Just so’s you know, Ethan, it makes me very happy every time I see that flying car pop up into the night sky, a signal that there’s some interesting reading ahead.

    Thank you.Report