Public Humiliation

In Murphy v. Florida, Thurgood Marshall wrote: “If the general atmosphere in the community or courtroom is sufficiently inflammatory, the community can be so influenced against the defendant as to impeach the indifference of jurors who displayed no animus (prejudice) of their own.”

This is a very good explanation of the reason police shows must make sure they avoid targeting individuals. I was one such target on a local “COPS” show. Ahh, now you think I’m a criminal! Well, not really. Actually my court case hasn’t started (although Fox and Cox Cable Channel 8, in the local On Patrol show, have aired my arrest to their viewers). As the TV show COPS states: “All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, your living room isn’t the bench.

So the next time you sit down to watch Santa Barbara’s finest use the color of authority to humiliate their suspects, ask yourself: Is this a police force reaching out to a community, or a violation of someone’s constitutional rights and their privacy? – Steven C. Reynalds


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