Dudley Do-Right and Deputy Dove

"Obtaining a suspect's name in the course of a Terry stop serves important government interests.' ~ Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

The Terry stop is named for a 1968 Supreme Court decision in which the court ruled that police may detain someone for a 'reasonable suspicion' of wrongdoing in order to gain information. No probable cause need be latent. Under Terry, the detainee must identify himself at the request of police officers. The 2004 version of the Supreme Court Monday upheld Terry by ruling 5-4 against Larry ' Dudley ' Hiibel, a Nevada rancher. Hiibel was detained by Humboldt County Sheriffs Deputy Lee Dove and ordered to identify himself after a report of a possible domestic dispute. Hiibel, maintaining he had done nothing wrong, refused to produce identification and was arrested for a multiplicity of offenses, only one of which stuck--delaying a peace officer. He was prosecuted and fined $250.

The details of the case are chilling. At one point, Hiibel's 17-year-old daughter was wrestled to the ground. She was charged with resisting arrest--a charge that was ultimately thrown out in court. It seems resisting was the only charge against her. Thus, her father argued, she was resisting 'arrest' for a nonexistent charge. Dudley 's charge stuck, however, thus forcing his valiant journey through the legal snake pit of our God Blessed, free country. Should any doubt remain, Dudley 's odyssey has surely extinguished any fallacious notions of Nevada as a libertarian enclave.

The implications of the case are chilling. Officers of the state now have a doubly reinforced precedent to stop anyone, anywhere for anything. Imagine the broad parameters, both legitimate and not, encompassed by 'reasonable suspicion'! How easily reasonable will be battered into submission by unreasonable. All any statist thug with a badge must do in order to ensure compliance is falsify his 'suspicion' in order to gain compliance from his hapless detainee. Walking your dog at a late hour? That is certainly suspicious. Ambulating through your neighborhood whilst sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with an anti-establishment screed? Suspicious as hell, Buddy. Need a haircut? Showing a couple days growth of beard? You may appear to the overly zealous badge man as a homeless type. Highly suspicious, that. Not to mention the abundant examples tinged with racial themes. There is now literally nothing stopping the 'protect and serve' crowd from detaining you based on the flimsiest, or most patently false, of pretexts.

Predictably, the law enforcement side argued such broad parameters are necessary for the rooting out of terrorists. Ah, terrorists: The new bogeymen for the rampant, unchecked aggression of the Police Statists. The drug kingpins of the world owe you a debt, Mohammed. Dudley Hiibel, leaning against his pickup in the Nevada outback, smoking a cigarette, must surely have appeared as a feverish Islamic fanatic to the overcharged Deputy Dove. Cowboys and Islamic fundamentalists share many of the same physical traits, apparently. Or maybe it was the cigarette. Or maybe it was just that Dudley had the bald-faced temerity to question the authority of an out of control, fascist swine who is self-righteously enamored of his God-given (just ask him), Supreme Court-sanctioned power over private citizens. Deputy Dove reminds me of the officers on 'Cops,' who, when asked why they chose to be a policeman, humbly profess a duty to community and fellow man. Just once, I would love to see one of them give the honest answer: 'Because I was picked on as a child, and this is my opportunity to exact my revenge on the world. I have the power now, and I intend to use it to my best advantage. Anyone who questions me will be dealt with severely.'

Those who deny the existence of the encroaching police state will surely grant the jackboot crowd a 'reasonable suspicion' stop and duly cooperate. After all, they are 'not doing anything wrong.' To these weak-kneed sheep, I ask this: If you are free of wrongdoing, why should the police stop you in the first place? Does it not strike you as at least odd that someone who, like yourself, is wholly innocent of transgression, would be detained by the police, and forced to identify himself? What constitutes 'reasonable suspicion' to you, and will you recognize it when the thugs stop you for your 'paper check'? When the jackboots crash through your front door at 2 a.m. under 'reasonable suspicion,' what then? Will you remain in support of such tactics? It's all in the name of keeping us safe from 'terrorists,' right?

Maybe it's just me, but it seems state-sponsored terrorists like Deputy Lee Dove are a much more immediate threat to what remains of our battered liberty than any bomb-throwing fanatic. People like Deputy Dove thrive on the existence of fanatics, yes. But if every terrorist extant on earth were eliminated tomorrow, the fascists would only have to manufacture another, undoubtedly more grave, threat to our 'American way of life'--a new bogeyman du jour to trot out and ensure the compliance of a wooly-headed, ovinely inclined populace.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

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Matthew Bryan's picture
Columns on STR: 10

Matthew Bryan resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada. A college dropout, he claims no qualifications other than a fervent desire for self-sufficiency and a peaceful existence, free from governmental intrusion. His patient, understanding wife regularly goads him into high-pitched, libertarian rants--just for practice. They have two cats and a dog.  His blog can be viewed here.