Farewell to the Fifth

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Next time you get pulled over by a cop – or stopped for absolutely no specific reason at one of those random “sobriety checkpoint” – you might want to remember the following laugh line: It’s called the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which reads, in part, that “No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

It’s a laugh line, because, like, so many of the other amendments to the Bill of Rights, that “godamn piece of paper,” as George W. Bush referred to it, pleading the Fifth – that is, declining to assist the authorities in your own prosecution – has become a sick joke.

Cops now have the legal authority in Texas (though not the right) to forcibly extract blood from you in order to use that blood as evidence against you in DWI cases – which are of course criminal proceedings.

An appellate court recently affirmed the legality of this practice – and bet your bippie it will be expanded to a State Near You soon.

Refuse to take a Breathalyzler or decline to perform the trained monkey act by the side of the road (perhaps because you’re not coordinated even when sober and probably a lot less so under pressure and in the glow of a policeman’s flashlight) and you may find yourself thrown down across the hood of a squad car while some random cop jams your body with needles in order to get the blood that will then be used as evidence against you at your trail.

Oh, but he will be Trained!

A “compressed” version of the same program taken by blood techs – phlebotomists, in medical jargon – will be the curriculum vitae of these state-sanctioned Draculas.

Feel better now?

The badge-lickers out there will see no trouble here, either. After all, if you’re not driving drunk, why, what have you got to be worried about? Cops would never use force against an innocent person. The lab people don’t make mistakes, either – not even every now and then.

And, of course – drunk driving is a bad thing!

So whatever means necessary… .

Keep in mind – this is Texas. Home of “pro freedom” Rick Perry, et al. If this goes down in Texas, how long do you suppose it will take for the rest of the country to follow the leader?

It makes me shiver with dread to see just how close to the abyss we really are. The Masses have become sickeningly compliant authority worshippers of the early-Soviet or 1920s Weimar German type, not just ready but eager to submit to anything demanded of them by the state. And who often bristle with fury when the occasional sentient citizen dares to raise an objection. Such a person is either a soft-headed “liberal” (if the objector is a badge-licking “law and order” Republican type) or (if the objector is the liberal), the person raising those pesky questions is (naturally) opposed to safety … or someone who favors drunk driving.

Both types don’t understand – possibly, they are not capable of understanding – that neither “safety” nor “getting drunks off the road” – or whatever the rationale du jour happens to be is the point. Or the purpose. The thing at issue is the concept of empowering cops to physically hold you down and draw blood from your body against your will – to be used as evidence against you in a criminal proceeding – which is to obliterate another basic tenet of the late great tradition we used to call the rule of law.

They also don’t understand that it never stops with just the one “bad thing” they are trying to combat. That once the principle is established in law, the practice becomes commonplace. Because after all, once you’ve ceded the argument, you have no argument against any future – usually more and more totalitarian – measures that are introduced. The ends justify the means… any means, eventually.

Dalworthington, Texas police chief Billy Waybourn let slip a most revealing comment. He said: “The Constitution says we can do it… the law says we can do it… and it would be an injustice not to pursue … to change that behavior any way we can.”

Any way we can.

There you have it, in straight-talkin’ Texas Totalitarian Ah-ahm-The-Deecider English.

“Getting dangerous drunks off the road” is a sideshow. The carneys running the show understand it’s no more the real issue than the random stop and frisks we’re now routinely subjected to when traveling (and even when not) or the indefinite detentions of anyone the government wishes (with or without waterboardings) are about “fighting terror.”

The issue is teaching the people to Obey and Submit. To condition them to supinely accept random and arbitrary authority. To get them to by into the idea that anything the government does, at any time and for whatever reason (or no reason at all) is acceptable. To give the enforcers of the aforesaid another “tool” to intimidate and coerce. In this case, even people who haven’t had a drink – ever – and know they’re not “drunk” will be more malleable since they also know the police can subject them to a stick n’ poke as well as a cop n’ feel – just because they can. Any way they can.

So long as it’s in the name of “keeping us safe,” we’ll play along, too.

Most of us.

And if you’re not guilty of drunk driving?

Sorry about that, John Q. Be sure to hold that bandage against your elbow for at least the next 10 minutes.

Have a nice day.

Reprinted with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.

Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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