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That’s Entertainment?!

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Actor Steven Hill, 94, passed away on August 23, 2016.  He was known to millions of Americans as the thoughtful “moral keystone” of the longest running law and order program in TV history.  He was the chief prosecutor, Adam Schiff; of “Law & Order“, which ran for 20 years, from 1990 to 2010, and lives on to this day in re-runs and spinoffs.  It has been said that year round, somewhere every day, an episode of Law & Order can be seen on TV.

Mr. Hill and the entire cast acted superbly and convincingly in a well written, well produced series that appeared to the public as very authentic, and very entertaining.  But, in that appearance of  authenticity, is to be found the great danger and tremendous damage done by this show to society at large; by its massive, routine distortion of what our rights actually are, and how to exercise them when the police are encountered.  The series, week after week, year after year, for more than a generation, in ongoing re-runs, has conditioned us to the point of brainwashing our minds into total ignorance about, and non-use of, our two most important constitutional rights; the right to remain silent, and the right to consult with a lawyer before talking to the police.

As fully detailed in “A Toast to Silence“, “Law & Order” made a mockery of the Miranda warning, completely ignoring, when not openly criticizing, the right to remain silent before and after the Miranda warning is heard, especially during that critical time when we are not under arrest, but in the presence of a police officer, and for those who had lawyers during interrogation, portraying them as useless.  It conditioned an entire generation, and the previous generation who grew up watching “Dragnet” and “Columbo”, to think that arrest was to be feared, that cooperation was beneficial and would avoid arrest, that interrogation by the police any time they are encountered is inevitable, required, will continue until guilt is admitted by the person interrogated, and that the right to silence begins with the Miranda warning, and not before that moment.

It is no surprise that these are the rights most under attack and distorted in this popular series, and its many spin-offs.  These rights are the main targets of the police because your talking, not remaining silent, is how the police get virtually all of the strongest evidence against you; the words that come out of your mouth, without which the police are quite ineffective at proving your guilt, and they know it.  This is why they are trained to stimulate the fear of arrest, use deception and misrepresentation about your rights, and with a large and growing catalog of lies, skillfully disguised as casual conversation, which they label “cooperation”, fool you into giving them the evidence they use against you in Court.  All of this vividly and repeatedly shown in this “entertainment”, week after week, year after year, non-stop.

The main reason Law & Order type programming succeeds is because no one suspected or arrested keeps silent; they talk when they don’t have to, even when their lawyer is present; they won’t stop talking.  We just can’t seem to be able to forget the First Amendment right to free speech, and just shut up, as the Fifth Amendment allows, when we meet the police.

The cops take advantage of this flaw in the human condition, very well helped along by this “entertainment”; media driven misinformation and deception.

It should not take long to undo this damage; it can be done by simply remembering that “ Law & Order” was and is entertainment only.  Despite its authentic appearing portrayal of police encounters, reality is quite different.  What the real world police do can only be done if you let them do it to you by your not being quiet, not putting the Fifth Amendment’s absolute right to silence to work for you.  The police may have all the trappings of power — guns, badges, handcuffs — but you have the greater power — the real power — the constitutional right to silence.  All you have to do, without fear of arrest is calmly and politely use it at the right time and in the right way.

The timing and police news climate couldn’t be better to start using the Fifth Amendment.  The pendulum is starting to swing back against police power, and their now very public abuse of that power.  Many big city police departments are being exposed for the across-the-board abuses to which they have long subjected our minority communities nationwide, thanks to the report of the U.S. Department of Justice on the Baltimore Police Department made public mid-August 2016, and the ever-expanding use of police dash cams and body cameras.  Increasing numbers of Judges are seeing and correctly dealing with the great disparity in what these cameras record and reveal, in contrast with what they hear in an officer’s sworn testimony about the same event.  The image of the always credible, truthful and always to be believed police officer is finally starting to crumble.  The combination of video recording and the exposure of police departments covering up for dishonest and abusive officers, will help undo the damage done to our thinking about police encounters by the entertainment of “Law & Order“.

The shortest and surest path to undoing that damage is to simply stop fearing arrest, and do not talk to the police.  The only exception is the requirement that you identify yourself and exit your vehicle if asked or directed by an officer to do so.  After that, the Fifth Amendment right to silence says you can remain silent, and not give any evidence against yourself (not say anything).  Tell the officer you are choosing to be silent, not taking any test, then stop talking, and don’t change your mind, no matter what the cop says or does.  The most he can lawfully do is arrest you, and take you to a judicial officer where the cops’ power ends; at the Courthouse.  Prosecution of people is supposed to be hard, by constitutional design, for the government.  We can and must stop making it easy for the government by simply stop talking to the police.  If you want to see real entertainment, watch what happens when you call upon the Fifth Amendment, at the right time, place and in the


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