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Three things without links

Just a few quick points pertaining to recent political discussion and language:

I got a call from Rasmussen recently, and told the automated pollster that I thought Our Only President was doing a great job, and that I felt strongly about that. Now, that is not exactly descriptive of my feeling—I am not exactly disappointed, but he hasn’t made me chuckle every day, either. But (1) I don’t mind misleading Rasmussen, who has no intrinsic right to know my precise opinion, and (b) I am aware that the results of these polls will be used for political purposes, and for my political purposes, it is better if the results are presented as Our Only President having high approval ratings. Similarly, I said good things about every proposal, action or inaction of my Party in the Legislature (hah!) and bad things about every proposal, action or inaction of the other Party (well, sure). When you read the report of this or any other poll, keep in mind that the citizen respondents in a democracy are political actors with agendas of their own that may just possibly outweigh their responsibility to give pollsters correct information.

On another topic, can we just be clear that Mirandizing someone does not grant them any rights at all? Any person has exactly the same rights whether they are Mirandized or not. Mirandizing them just informs them of their rights. If, for instance, it were later found that a Mirandized suspect was not entitled to legal representation, the erroneous statement on the Miranda card would not be held legally binding. And if a suspect were not informed of a right to counsel, and were in fact deprived of a right to counsel, the courts could (and do) hold that they still have that right. I should correct the above statement, though: we have held that one of the rights people (not citizens, people) have in this country is to be informed of their rights, so while Mirandizing them doesn’t grant them any new rights, it concretizes a right they are held to have.

I do wish news writers would not refer to people as missionaries unless there is some evidence of actual missionary work. Actually, I’m not sure that I like the idea of the press referring to the people in as missionaries at all, unless they are entitled to it by some formal authorization from an established institution. In the case of the Haitian baby-snatchers, it seems obvious that referring to them as missionaries is taking their side in a case where facts are very much in dispute. Alleged kidnappers sounds harsh, but would be nearer objectivity. American citizens arrested for kidnapping might work for me. Dunno. I’m not absolutely convinced that it would be accurate to describe the orphanage business as missionary work even if there was, you know, an actual orphanage, but in the absence of an orphanage, I’d certainly try to avoid the loaded term.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


"And if a suspect were not informed of a right to counsel, and were in fact deprived of a right to counsel, the courts could (and do) hold that they still have that right."

All you need to do there is insert "and if the state admitted to in fact depriving the suspect of the right to counsel, and if the state admitted that none of the numerous exceptions to the right to counsel applied". Because in fact the state routinely does not admit to either of those, and the courts can (and do) in that situation side with the state. I admit to being somewhat mystified as to why the state ever does admit screwing up the Miranda warnings or refusing access to counsel, since the state suffers no sanctions when they lie about it.

…the state suffers no sanctions when they lie about it
Alas, often when the state does suffer a sanction, it is in the exclusion of evidence which leads to the infamous “released on a technicality”. Not that I'm knocking that sanction—it's just inexplicable that law enforcement still so often violate that law, particularly when the consequences are so bad. Even the routine recording (audio and video) of interrogation of suspects doesn't seem to have done the trick.

And as far as exceptions to the right of counsel go, that's more or less my point, that Mirandizing somebody does not, in fact, grant them those enumerated rights, and if it is decided that this particular person is not entitled to counsel, then having Mirandized the person doesn't change that at all. Nor, if the person is Mirandized and beaten until they spout whatever lies the torturers want to hear, does the Mirandizing have some magical effect of making the torture not hurt so that the victim really can keep silent. It's not magic just because people deliver the lines on television.


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