April 02, 2005

Search and seizure in action

Submitted to the Register-Mail last Sunday:

Last week, you printed an article titled ``Drug sweep at ROWVA negative''. Results aside, I was quite disappointed to learn of the circumstances of the search. According to the article, the search ``was not triggered by any specific knowledge of drug activity at the school.''

I won't dispute the fact that this is technically legal. It has been repeatedly demonstrated in our courts that minors do not benefit from the protections offered by the U.S. Constitution. The superintendent did indeed have the legal ability to spring such searches on his students.

That's not to say I think they're legitimate.

How can any ROWVA teacher now keep a straight face when teaching that in this country, our Fourth Amendment protects us from arbitrary search and seizure? That police need to demonstrate cause before they can get a warrant to search your property? Seen from the eyes of a 16-year-old, an intrusive locker search---when the searchers themselves admit you've done nothing suspicious---starts to look an awful lot like a bunch of redcoats going through all the houses in the village, fishing for contraband.

Either we are doing a poor job at teaching our kids about their fundamental liberties, or else we are doing an excellent job at teaching them that freedom is something that looks good on paper but is too impractical to actually do more than pay lip service to.

Published verbatim in today's paper, aside from introducing a grammatical error.

"Terrorists think they can attack us with conventional weapons? Listen up, Osama: I don't care how long you plan, I don't care how far you go, there's no way you can kill more Americans with your guns than we already do with our own." --Lewis Black

Posted by blahedo at 4:53pm on 2 Apr 2005
Comments
I wonder if we are ever going to get our civil liberties back. I was taught in grade school about the Bill of Rights. I was taught to be proud of our freedoms, and then came the war on drugs to show up how easily these right can be taken away. We now have the War on Terror that seems to have made even speaking of those rights unAmerican. Neither of these Wars on Nouns have a way to end and neither are doing any good. If you are going to talk about rights violation and children, don't forget DCFS and its sister organizations in other states. DCFS has no checks on its powers. No one has any way to even review what they do. In many cases regular courts have come head to head with DCFS and lost. Ask Kelly about what they can do that normal agencies are not permitted to. Posted by lee at 10:13am on 4 Apr 2005
Just to pick a further nit: you ended it all with a dangling preposition. Granted, that usage is gaining acceptance, but STILL...*grin* Posted by Kim K. at 10:32am on 6 Apr 2005
Augghh. Ending sentences with prepositions was already common usage for centuries before a bunch of stuck-up busybodies with too much time on their hands decided that we shouldn't do it. I refuse to bow to the tyranny of 19th-century grammarians. Posted by blahedo at 11:17am on 6 Apr 2005
I quite agree with Don in this. I am moving away from the grammar prescriptivist stance, mainly because following prescriptivists too much resembles relying on Microsoft Word for grammar instruction. I have heard people advising to avoid using "which" for any reason, partly because it confuses Word. I don't want our rules of grammar limited and defined by what we can program a computer to parse. Mind you, I am not opposed to using computers in linguistics; I just don't want them to be the masters. Posted by lee at 11:01am on 7 Apr 2005
Good letter. Posted by Kimmitt at 4:32am on 8 Apr 2005
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