is facing hard time. Fifteen years in prison the sort of
sentence typically handed out for crimes such as second-degree murder
and rape. Frobes crime?
a traffic stop.
speeding in Lindenhurst, Illinois, Frobe attempted to document the
event, including the conversation between himself and the traffic
cop. After all, the cop was recording him and the cops
video/audio record of the traffic stop could and probably would
be used as evidence against Frobe in court, if Frobe decided to
contest the speeding ticket. Moreover, Frobe was out in public
where the courts have ruled there is no expectation of privacy,
period and the cop who pulled Frobe over is a public
official, performing his official duties.
But in some
states, they that is, the cops see themselves as a
protected class, entitled to special privileges, including a legal
double-standard that says certain laws apply to us but not to them.
This includes audio and video recording of them performing their
(cough) duties which in a truly masterful display
of Orwellian Newspeak and doublethink they equate with eavesdropping
and for which they will try to slap you with a felony
and destroy your life.
what happened to Frobe, from the actual audio recording of his traffic
yes, Ive been
it recording all of our conversation?
what? You were eavesdropping on our conversation. I did not give
you permission to do so. Step out of the vehicle.
The happy malevolence
the sadism of the cop can be detected merely by reading
the transcript. You can imagine how Frobe probably felt at
Frobe was handcuffed,
carted off to jail and charged under state law with felony eavesdropping,
which could lead to a prison term of fifteen years. He is now in
the position of having to spend a large sum of money on legal representation,
and meanwhile, his life is in limbo. Until the nightmare ends, he
must endure every moment imaging the prospect of spending possibly
a third of his life among the OJs and Scott Petersens of this world.
His life is effectively ruined even if he is ultimately vindicated
by the courts.
The law, written
for obviously different purposes (ironically, to protect unwary
citizens who have had their phones tapped by investigators) is being
used as a brutal tool of intimidation against ordinary citizens
such as Frobe or you and me who dare to question the
absolute, unaccountable authority of cops.
of a felony conviction ruinous to a persons reputation,
their ability to find or maintain employment let alone the
prospect of being sent to prison, possibly to live for years
among violent thugs certainly gets the job done.
already a big, hairy thumb pressing down one side of the scales
of justice. In court, the word of a cop is considered almost holy
writ,merely by dint of his being a cop. Meanwhile, the word of a
citizen is essentially worthless. Even if the citizen is a person
of unimpeachable character. The cop says the citizen did (or said)
x. The citizen disputes this. Whose version will the
We all know
And we also
know that cops can be corrupt, lying thugs. The video and audio
evidence of this is irrefutable. YouTube has become a sort of public
forum for revealing the actual conduct of some cops, in a way that
cannot be denied or explained away by such bromides as he
was resisting arrest. A recent, horrid example being the case
of the homeless schizophrenic who was literally beaten to death
by a gang of cops; the incident was fortunately recorded
and its clear thanks to the video
evidence that beat-down was egregiously unjustified;
a murder, in plain English.
Which is precisely
why some cops and some states are so determined to
use any tactic, including the threat of a decade or more in prison,
to keep what they do off the record and unaccountable to anyone
other than themselves.
had audio and they had video on me, but Im not allowed to
do it (record) to them, Frobe said later. Im in
a private car on a public street and its a public official.
Why shouldnt I be able to record whats going on to prove
my innocence? he asks.
In law, there
was once a precept known as malicious (or criminal) intent. This
was an essential attribute as far as defining any given action as
criminal. Eavesdropping laws, for example, were written to protect
people from having their private conversations recorded (absent
a court order) without their knowledge or consent, for purposes
of using those recordings against them whether in the context
of a court proceeding or otherwise (such as blackmail).
Where is the
malicious/criminal intent in the case of a citizen documenting his
own arrest? How, in any way, is the citizen perpetrating a harm
against the cop?
clearly, is that the harm at issue is the harm not merely
of possibly revealing that cops are not always saints (and sometimes,
worse than devils) but, more deeply, of taking that big hairy thumb
off the scales of justice. Of equalizing things between citizens
A video or
audio recording means its no longer John Qs (legally
worthless) word against the legally near-unchallengeable word of
A video recording
of a cop berating (or beating) a citizen especially if it
gets out on YouTube well, we cant have that. It undermines
respect for The Law.
have repeatedly thrown
out arrests of citizens based on this twisted misuse of eavesdropping
statutes, declaring them unconstitutional violations of the First
Amendment, among other things. But that hasnt prevented endlessly
insolent police departments in Illinois and Maryland and elsewhere
from continuing to threaten people with arrest and imprisonment
the mere prospect of which is sufficient to cow most people
into abject, cringing submission, since for most people, even the
thought of being charged with a felony, no matter how legally unsupportable
and even if it will ultimately be thrown out, is a chilling prospect.
precisely whats wanted: Fear and submission.
The Law is
irrelevant not just what the courts rule The Law to be but
right down to the core of it, the Constitution of the United States
itself. It is effectively null and void. Authority does what it
wills because it is Authority.
precedent for this was set at the national level by The Chimp, who
brazenly deeeecided he was not bound by any law and would
rule by decree. It was called executive order or executive
privilege and the public blithely accepted it. Now
it is routine practice, performed casually by The Chimps successor
and every Little Chimp on down the line.
It will take
a few brave souls such as Louis Frobe, willing to put themselves
in harms way in defense of a principle, to put an end to this.
If it is even possible to still do so at this late hour.