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The Drift toward Despotism
Too many of our rulers and their enforcers reflexively see the citizenry as a threat.

Capitol Hill police respond to the Miriam Carey incident, October 3, 2013.

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Mark Steyn

At a time when over 4 million people have had their health insurance canceled, it’s good to know that some Americans can still access prompt medical treatment, even if they don’t want it. David Eckert was pulled over by police in Deming, N.M., for failing to come to a complete halt at a stop sign in the Walmart parking lot. He was asked to step out of the vehicle, and waited on the sidewalk. Officers decided that they didn’t like the tight clench of his buttocks, a subject on which New Mexico’s constabulary is apparently expert, and determined that it was because he had illegal drugs secreted therein. So they arrested him, and took him to Gila Regional Medical Center in neighboring Hidalgo County, where Mr. Eckert was forced to undergo two abdominal X-rays, two rectal probes, three enemas, and defecate thrice in front of medical staff and representatives of two law-enforcement agencies, before being sedated and subjected to a colonoscopy — all procedures performed against his will and without a valid warrant.

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Alas, Mr. Eckert’s body proved to be a drug-free zone, and so, after twelve hours of detention, he was released. If you’re wondering where his lawyer was during all this, no attorney was present, as police had not charged Mr. Eckert with anything, so they’re apparently free to frolic and gambol up his rectum to their hearts’ content. Deming police chief Brandon Gigante says his officers did everything “by the book.” That’s the problem, in New Mexico and beyond: “the book.”

Getting into the spirit of things, Gila Regional Medical Center subsequently sent Mr. Eckert a bill for $6,000. It appears he had one of what the president calls those “bad apple” plans that doesn’t cover anal rape. Doubtless, under the new regime, Obamacare navigators will be happy to take a trip up your northwest passage free of charge. That’s what it is, by the way: anal rape. The euphemisms with which the state dignifies the process — “cavity search” — are distinctions that exist only in the mind of the perpetrator, not the fellow on the receiving end. Fleet Street’s Daily Mail reports that this is at least the second anal fishing expedition mounted by local authorities. Timothy Young underwent a similar experience after being fingered by the same police dog, Leo, who may not be very good at sniffing drugs but certainly has an eye for a pert bottom. At the time of Mr. Young’s arrest, Leo’s police license had reportedly expired a year-and-a-half earlier, but why get hung up on technicalities?

Messrs. Eckert and Young may yet win their cases. But one notes that the Supreme Court has dramatically circumscribed Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure when it occurs at America’s border, and post-9/11 the “border” has been redefined to mean anywhere within 100 miles of the actual frontier. Many European countries are not 100 miles wide in their entirety. A hundred-mile buffer zone from Belgium’s northern border, for example, would be well south of the southern border and deep into France. But Deming falls within the 100-mile Fourth Amendment–free zone, and so, I note, between the seacoast and the Quebec border, does the whole of my own state of New Hampshire. It would be prudent perhaps for Granite Staters to affect a loose-buttocked saunter when strolling around the White Mountains.

Of course, even with millions of canceled health-care policies freeing up medical staff, it is unlikely that the authorities could ever give the full Deming PD treatment to the bulk of the populace. Perhaps that’s why Americans do not seem to get terribly exercised by these cases. There are over 300 million people, and the chances of Leo taking a fancy to one’s own posterior are relatively remote. Yet tyranny is always capricious, and the willingness of police and compliant doctors and nurses to go along with it ought to disturb a supposedly free people, no matter how comparatively rare it may seem.



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