promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Posts Tagged ‘rights’

Meet Miranda: ‘You Have the Right to …’

In liberty and rights on May 10, 2010 at 12:20 am


There has been much to do lately about so-called “Miranda rights.” Specifically,  when they should be read and who should be read them. 

The truth is, there are no such thing as Miranda rights. There is the Miranda warning as established by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona.  

Miranda, once read, does not magically entitle a suspect with rights as in “the right to remain silent” and the “right to an attorney.” Rather, it simply recognizes privileges already established in the U.S. Constitution — specifically the Fifth and Sixth Amendments which guarantee suspects “the Assistance of Counsel” and from being “Compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” 

Actually, the purpose of the Miranda ruling wasn’t to protect suspects at all: it was to protect evidence obtained by law enforcement so that it may be admissible in court. Chief Justice Warren, delivering the opinion of the Court, said: 

“More specifically, we deal with the admissibility of statements obtained from an individual who is subjected to custodial police interrogation and the necessity for procedures which assure that the individual is accorded his privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution not to be compelled to incriminate himself.” 

Miranda also provides a “public safety” exception where officers may question a suspect without first obtaining a waiver if they believe a person to have “information that could help save a life, prevent serious injury, or neutralize a substantial threat to property.” This exception was recently employed by officers interrogating New York car bomber, Faisal Shahzad.  

But Miranda doesn’t apply only to U.S. citizens. All arrested persons, before being interrogated, are read the Miranda warning. The Supreme Court ruled that “persons suspected or accused of a crime” should be read the safeguard. Likewise, the Constitution refers to “any person” and “the accused.” In some states, suspects who are not citizens are read additional warnings such as “If you are not a United States citizen, you may contact your country’s consulate prior to any questioning.”  

Chief Justice Warren explained the Court’s conclusion: 

“Today, then, there can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves.  

We have concluded that without proper safeguards the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual’s will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely.” 

So when we’re talking about reading terror suspects their “rights,” it’s important to remember that these aren’t actually rights, but warnings to protect officers and, most importantly, evidence obtained. Miranda is merely a safeguard put in place to ensure the rule of law and promote justice.

You vs. the ‘greater good’

In sovereignty on September 23, 2009 at 4:33 am

Nazism, Fascism, Socialism and Communism are simply different “isms” based on the philosophy of collectivism. The so-called “debate” that rages today between conservatives and liberals, right vs. left, Democrat and Republican, is simply a distraction which feeds off of these labels and their emotional associations. In reality, all differences stem from two different philosophies: collectivism and individualism.

Collectivism, as stated above, has manifested itself in totalitarian regimes. It is the idea that the group is more important than the individual. And, if necessary, the individual should be sacrificed for the “greater good.”

In contrast, individualism stresses independence and self-reliance while opposing most external forces on one’s choices, whether by society, or any other group or institution. Individualists, such as myself, do not believe in the force or coercion that collectivism proscribes. Instead, we hope to “shape” society by persuading and appealing to the intellect of others — having faith in their reason and charity.

An example of this is seatbelt law. While the collectivist uses the force of law to protect others, the individualist allows for the free choice of the individual — having faith in her reason.

Affirmative action is another example. While the well-meaning collectivist, once again, uses force to create a fair work environment, the individualist allows for the free choice and charity of the employer. The individualist believes only true charity is voluntary and that a free society creates such charity.

While individualists and collectivists may be at odds over how to best shape society by moral means, they are alike in their intent. For both collectivists and individualists care deeply about themselves, their families, their friends, their communities, their country and human kind as a whole.

Sometimes, a collectivist will tend to view the “rugged individualist” as callous and elitist, caring only for herself. In reality, this is the case with objectivism, as touted by Ayn Rand. Objectivism is at odds with altruism (the unselfish regard for others). Individualism is not. Just as there may be collectivists who are self-absorbed, so may there be individualists who are self-absorbed.

I am an individualist because I am an altruist. For me personally, the two are inseparable.