I have a general fear and disdain of the police, which has steadily intensified as I aged—from being stalked by a cop when I was in high school to understanding the ideology behind the police state (thanks Foucault) and the psychology of those people who, for some assinine reason, want to make a career out of moralistically policing other people and their actions. Not to mention the fact that my fear became inculcated into mind mind and sometimes manifests in random dream states after reading Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues. Do I need to even recall the two NYPD who managed to weasel their way out of jail time for raping a woman last year? (Of course, it's totally protocol for police to escort a drunk woman into her apartment, get naked, save for that infamous condom, and "cuddle" with her in bed. How nice of them.)
My fear and disdain of the police and of the police state in general has now reached a critical level akin to paranoia after reading about the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, in which they legalized unwarranted strip searches. As explained by Glenn Greenwald at Salon,
"prison officials may strip-search anyone arrested even for the most minor offenses before admitting them to the general population of a jail or prison, even in the absence of a shred of suspicion that they are carrying weapons or contraband.... In essence, the Florence ruling grants prison officials license to subject every single arrested individual entering the general prison population to humiliating and highly invasive strip searches (that’s 13 million people every year, with hugely disproportionately minority representation), based on the definitive police state mentality — one that has been applied over and over — that isolated risks justify the most sweeping security measures. This policy has been applied to those arrested for offenses such as dog leash laws, peaceful protests, and driving with an expired license."
This ruling, which legalizes a clear invasion of individual privacy (the conservative position on "invasion of privacy" greatly confuses me), is terrifying. (Here my mind flashes to those horrifying jail scenes in Stone Butch Blues...anyone else?) In a piece for Policy Mic, Shanoor Seervai concisely articulated the ramifications of this ruling:
"In addition to violating an individual’s right to privacy, this creates a culture of fear and insecurity in a country that already has the world’s highest incarceration rate in absolute and per capita terms. The number of Americans in prison has tripled since 1987, but the number of criminal offenses has not fallen as a result."
Rachel Maddow broke Florence's case down on her program Monday night:
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While Jon Stewart actually had Florence's lawyer, Tom Goldstein, on The Daily Show (to talk about the ruling as well as the impending ruling on Obamacare).
Anyone else FREAKED OUT?