America, The Land of the Free ?
As the 4th of July rolls around. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on our freedoms and what this country was based on. Europeans think Americans are stupid. They literally have tv documentaries that showcase America’s bizarre outer edge eccentricities. DWI field tests (walking a 18 heel to toe tightrope exercise and holding one’s foot in the air for 30 seconds without being able to use your arms for balance) is a concrete example of American lack of intelligence. No other country in the world uses these foolish tests to determine if someone is intoxicated except Great Britain and already their scientific peer review community has rejected the lack of scientific validity to these “tests”. The fact that one American jury after another across the country convicts someone on the basis of these “tests” is proof Americans are not thinking smart. Yesterday I tried a case in which my client was asleep in a private marina in his car and by the time the police got there his car was turned off. Yet he was given the circus tests, they could not prove whether or not he was drinking a nightcap in the car (meaning his alcohol level at the time he took a breath test did not reflect whether or not he was intoxicated when the police arrived), nor could they prove he was operating the vehicle (driving) for its intended purpose on any reliable testimony , and lastly he was not in a “public” place yet the jury convicted him anyway and in a swift 30 minutes. Dumb ? Sure, all this does is encourage people to risk driving home because pulling over and doing the safe thing will get you convicted. You would think the prosecutors would be smart enough to realize this public policy import but we can’t even give them any intelligence points either.
It really frustrates me that in America, “liberal” is a dirty word. Every American by definition should be liberal, we founded this country on the liberal notions of freedom and that freedoms should not be intruded upon. Yet in today’s age, our lawmakers continue to take away our freedoms (you can’t even drink alcohol in a parking lot with the car running). Live and let live unless one does harm to another is the definition of being a liberal. Yet, we have lived since the 1960s in a political time frame obsessed with regulating everything (eg. 7 words you can’t say on tv). For example, in Sweden there are no limits on words that can or cannot be said on tv and their court fines are scaled to one’s income. Here, court costs and fines (as in DWI cases) are dished out regardless of one’s ability to pay. I have a Swedish friend whose whole graduating class took a field trip to a natural spa and everyone (men and women) jumped in naked with no one being offended or concerned at all. Here, that would be on CNN Headline News and everyone would be arrested. America is NOT the land of the free. One out of every 5 people in te world incarcerated are Americans (more than in most 3rd world countries, and you just thought you were afraid of getting thrown in jail in Mexico?) America will regulate you to death and restrict every freedom you thought you had. I am proud to be an American. I am just sad to see that it not the land of the free as it was envisioned to be since the Declaration of Independence. On an intellectual plane we have turned into the laughing stock of the western civilized world. Texas (one of the largest textbook buyers in the US and hence many states follow their choices and curriculum leads) continues to fight the teaching of Darwin evolution in science textbooks and now Intelligent Design (world was created in 7 days, really ?) has equal space. The Christian conservatives have even managed to remove Thomas Jefferson from the history books as a great revolutionary leader because he coined the phrase “separation of church and state” to be replaced by Calvin Thomas and other religious leaders. Freedom of thoughts, ideas, beliefs ? Hardly.
I am doing what I can to change this tyranny as a criminal defense lawyer and defender of constitutional and statutory rights, but change must come from within: voters, jurors, judges, elected politicians.Hence, my current report card. You can’t change the world until the world is ready for change. We are long overdue. We need to get back to the visions of our forefathers who fought British tyranny and created a free country where rights are king. Time for us to start appreciating the meaning behind “liberal”. “Conservative” has turned into a modern doctrine that excuses the usurpation of freedom, liberty and progress.
Post note on Freedom when it comes to getting fair trials on breath test cases : Unbelievable. Here is the official position of the International Association of Chemical Testers and the federal government as stated in the position paper of Feb. 2009 of the National Safety Council Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs as pertains to releasing the source of breath test devices:
"It is the position of the National Safety Council Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs that access to the Source Code of the software of an evidential breath-alcohol analyzer is not pertinent, required, or useful for examination or evaluation of the analyzer's accuracy, scientific reliability, forensice validity, or other relevant characterisitics, or of hte trustworthiness and reliability of analysis results produced by the analyzer. These matters can be and have been fullyl assessed and examined by mulitple other well established and recognized methods and procedures in common use worldwide; and many other adequate and appropriate means exist to challenge evidential breath-alcohol analysis results."
Right, how about I program a breath test device and refuse to ever release its source code. Seriously ? Why would anyone ever blow into the machine ? Until the source code of all breath test devices are revealed and subject to peer review no one can get a fair trial. Yes, hard to believe we are living in Nazi controlled conditions in 2010 and we call this country America.