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User Journal

Journal Journal: What to do if you are confronted by the police

As a general rule, here is what to do if you are confronted by the police in the US:

1. Try to ascertain why they want to talk to you before answering anything. Remember that they are allowed to lie to you to get you to say things and that they are probably not just being your friends when they strike up a conversation. When they have their uniforms on, they are working. When they are working, they are generally not fucking around, unless they are at the donut shop. Therefore, they are probably talking to you for a reason. Unless you are 100% sure that they are not after you, you should probably avoid talking to them if at all possible.

2. If you cannot conclusively ascertain that they are not after you, then you should politely decline to talk to them and then excuse yourself (don't ask for permission to leave). A scripted answer might be: "Sorry, I can't talk now. Excuse me, I have to be going." You then leave.

Under no circumstances should you try to outwit the police or talk your way out of situations. 99% of the time, you will simply dig yourself a deeper hole and you will regret it later (when talking to your court-appointed attorney 3 minutes before your preliminary hearing). More criminal cases are lost because the defendant (i.e. you) won't shut his fucking face than for any other reason.

3. If they tell you that you cannot excuse yourself, ask to leave. Say something like, "I can't talk now, I'm going to leave. Can I go?" Or if you simply try to leave and they tell you that you cannot, ask them "Are you asking me or are you telling me?" These are not magic words, but they help you to ascertain whether your interaction with the police is mere chit-chat from the local jack-booted fascist thug, or whether they are actually interested in you much as the bull prisoner is interested in the fresh meat at the hoosegow. Also, if they tell you that you cannot leave, there are significant legal implications. You are in custody, though you may not be under arrest at that point.

4. If the police will not let you go (they are "telling you") then you should absolutely and immediately shut up. Say nothing _at all_ from that point forward. Giving your name is ok. So is saying "I want to talk to a lawyer". Anything else could create problems for you, even an answer (verbal or not) to something as simple as "Is this your car?"

5. If they ask for permission to search something, do not give it. If they want to look through your wallet, do not give it to them. Make them take it from your pocket. If they want to open your car, make them get the keys out of your pocket -- do not give them the keys.

They will never ask you "Can I search your car for drugs?" They will ask "you don't mind if I look in your car, do you?" They will do it casually and conversationally. They have obtained consent from hundreds of drivers before and they know that you are likely scared out of your mind or at least somewhat intimidated (especially after they shine lights in your face, bark at you demanding ID and papers, etc.). They know how to make you do the things that they want you to do -- i.e. waive your rights so that they can root through your things without a warrant or try to extract a confession from you.

Do not play lawyer with them. Don't tell them that they need to get a warrant. They know that. They know search and seizure law much better than you think. They can manufacture exigent circumstances more easily than you can imagine. "Plain view"? They know all about it. If they take your keys out of your pocket and open your trunk, there's not much you can do about it anyway. Arguing with them will just make them more annoyed. It is far, far better to sit there quietly and to let them go about their business.

Also, please remember that they have searched hundreds of cars. There is not a hiding place that they do not know about. They will find your bag of dope or your vial of crack if you let them search the car.

They have the upper hand in experience, training, psychology, etc. You are totally unprepared, and your best defense is the intellectual equivalent of "going limp" at a civil disobedience rally like abortion protestors or anti-globalism people have done for years. Just shut your brain down and play dead. Give them your name. Say "I want to talk to a lawyer." That is it. I cannot emphasize this "do nothing" strategy enough.

6. You will get some version of the great lie at some point: "Just tell me what is going on and I'll go easy on you." Horseshit and double horseshit. The cop is trying to extract a confession and he is lying to you to do it. Cops don't make deals. The D.A. does. Keep your dumbass mouth shut.

7. There are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes it might pay to try to talk your way out of something. Unfortunately, you are stupid and scared and you frequently don't know why the cops are after you. It's even worse if you do know why they are after you.

Your body is probably so jacked up on adrenaline at this point that your brain is completely shut down except for good ol' "fight or flight" and breathing and circulation. Your digestion has actually probably stopped. You are totally unequipped to try to talk yourself out of things and you are totally unequipped to know when such a strategy might pay off. Do the safe thing instead. Shut the fuck up and ask for a lawyer.

Here is a brief summary:

1. If cops want to talk to you, refuse politely and excuse yourself.

2. If the refuse to let you leave, stop talking.

3. If they ask you to do something, ask them "are you asking me or telling me?" If they are "telling" you, then politely do any physical activity that they request (i.e. "get in the police car" or "hold out your arms"). Do not do things such as "show me where you keep the dope" or "open your trunk for me" or "give me your keys".

4. If they refuse to let you leave and they are questioning you, give them your name and ask to speak to a lawyer. Then shut up and say nothing further. If they continue to question you, simply say "I want to talk to a lawyer" and stay quiet.

Finally, some people will tell folks not to be scared when they deal with the police. That is bullshit. Unless you called them, they are probably talking to you because they want to put you in jail. You should be scared shitless. You should be so scared that you'll actually have the balls to (1) stay quiet and (2) politely refuse to cooperate. It's hard. Cops are trained at getting people to talk and getting them to consent. It's classic social engineering and psychology. Don't be stupid. Be quiet.

At this point, I'm just rambling and whining, but it makes my job incredibly difficult when I meet with someone and they have already confessed to owning the drugs that the cops found in their car and that they admitted that they let the cops search the car. It's over at that point, people. Johnny fucking Cochrane can't help you after you confess.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Submit to /. 2

The button used to send posts to /. is titled "Submit". I find this to be an uncomfortable assertion of dominance by this website.

Even if you are a Troll or if you are posting a witty, flame-filled rejoinder to an ignorant ass, you must still "Submit". This is clearly an attempt to impose a class-based hierarchy which places ordinary visitors at the bottom. The elite (the moderators and corporate owners of the site) thereby gain a subtle psychological advantage with every post that reinforces the notion that they, not the readers, are in charge of this site.

Ask yourself: Would I willingly "Submit" to /.? Would I kneel and lick the boot of the editors? No!

Please join my campaign to get /. to change "Submit" to "Post". Fight the establishment of a caste system on the internet!

User Journal

Journal Journal: BJH is married to Tubgirl

BJH, while not admitting it, is clearly romantically involved with Tubgirl. The nature of this relationship is not at all clear to me yet, but I will meditate upon the issue for a time to get to the bottom of it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pennsylvania law requiring ISPs to block websites 3

There is currently a law in Pennsylvania which requires ISPs to block child pronography sites that are on or which can be accessed through the ISP's network. An ISP that receives a notice from the PA Attorney General and which does not block access to that IP or to that domain, is subject to a $5,000 fine and/or a misdemeanor conviction for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can rise to the level of a felony.

This was discussed at /. recently. What is new is that I am considering mounting a legal challenge to the law, and it would be helpful to have support from other ISPs in Pennsylvania as well as individuals. I have made inquiries in other forums, and I will continue to do so. /. provides a uniquely large audience of potentially concerned or affected folk, however.

I own part of a very small ISP. I am relucatant to put the name up on /. for fear of the /. effect disrupting service to our users (all 2,000 or so of them). I also fear that publicity related to this suit will be damaging to our business and (thereby) the ability to put food on the table for the other owners and our employees.

For the record, I am against child pornography. It is unimaginable to me that anyone could be "for" it. I oppose the sexual exploitation of children vehemently. I am perfectly willing to cooperate with the authorities if one of the users of my ISP posts child porn to one of my servers.

On the other hand, it is disturbing to me that the Attorney General of PA has the authority to cause ISPs around PA to block websites by either IP address or by domain name. Here is why:

1. IP addresses (unique numerical identifiers of computers attached to the internet) are finite and they are a scarce commodity right now. This is a serious concern, and it may lead to the adoption of IPv6, ultimately. As it is, the shortage of IP space requires conservation by users of IP addresses.

ARIN, which assigns IP numbers or "IP space" to internet service providers (ISPs), requires that people use their IP space as efficiently as possible. This results in a practice known as "virtual hosting" whereby one unique IP address has one physical server which has numerous website domains attached to it. ARIN frowns on IP-based webhosting, which leads webhosters of any consequence or size to use virtual hosting.

My personal webserver has one IP address (example: bound to it but using that one number, it hosts seven differently named websites (www.example1.com, www.example2.com....www.example7.com).

Because of virtual hosting, there are servers that have one IP address which host hundreds or thousands of websites. Blocking access to that IP address prevents ISP users from viewing perfectly innocent content on that server at a different domain. Visitors to the non-offending websites have no idea that there may be offensive content at those other sites. A visitor to www.innocentsite.com has no way of knowing whether www.childpornexample.com is hosted on the same server using the same IP address.

The innocent user and the innocent site are prevented from engaging in perfectly legitimate communications through no fault of their own. This disrupted communication could be commercial, recreational, or political. The worst part is that it is unlikely that the parties would be able to understand or find out why they can no longer communicate.

2. Domain names are identifiers made up from common words or numbers, such as aol.com or yahoo.com. Domains can contain webpages of millions of people. Businesses such as Yahoo provide webspace to users for free. These users are permitted to put up websites for a variety of reasons on the website at the domain (i.e. http://www.portalexample.com/userjoeschmo/). If a user puts up a site containing child pornography on that website, an ISP in Pennsylvania may be required to block the entire domain name (or at that IP address, as discussed above). Again, huge amounts of perfectly innocent communications will be disrupted, and the cause will not be apparent.

3. There are ways for individuals to view web content even if a website name or IP number is blocked by an ISP at the request of the PA Attorney General. There are sites which simply serve as intermediaries -- they are often called anonymizers.

An anonymizer works in the following manner: A user visits an anonymous surfing website such as exampleanonymizer.com. The user sees a web-based form at exampleanonymizer.com that looks like a web browser address bar. He enters the website address that he wishes to view. The remote server causes a program to run which fetches the desired content from the remote site and the redisplays it for the user. In essence, the anonymizer program "surfs" to the forbidden site and then makes the content available for the user to see, but there is no indication to the user's ISP that he has retrieved content from a forbidden site.

This sort of service easily circumvents the desired content-blocking goal of the PA law. A PA-based user never has to actually and directly visit a forbidden site in order to be able to obtain access to its content.

Programs to facilitate this sort of remote retrieval of websites are free and easily obtainable. They also completely and totally thwart the entire mechanism of the PA law.

In the meantime, those who seek access to child pornography and those who wish to provide it to others are in no way being stopped from doing so. Admittedly, this law may protect some innocent people from accidentally viewing this content, but even this is unlikely to do much good. Harmful material continues to pour through the internet in the form of SPAM (unsolicited commercial email) which pushes child porn and other horrendous filth into mailboxes of unsuspecting and unwilling recipients.

4. Follow-up on the sites which the PA Attorney General requires to be blocked may turn out to be quite ineffective. It is highly likely that the operators of child pornography sites will move their websites to new web hosting companies frequently. It is standard policy of reputable web hosting businesses to refuse to host illegal sites, such as child pornography sites.

Will the PA Attorney General provide PA ISPs with information that child pornography websites have moved to new hosts and that the old IP address or domain name which had been blocked should now be unblocked? It is illegal for anyone to try to view child pornography sites, so ISP staff are essentially forbidden from checking to see if the offending content is still there. In order to avoid breaking the laws against possessing child pornography, ISP staff would be forced to rely on the Attorney General's office to tell them when it is ok to lift an embargo on a banned IP address or domain name.

In conclusion, I believe that the law functions as an unconstitutional restraint on the free speech rights of innocents. The law is not narrowly tailored to address the concerns that it should be addressing. It is the functional equivalent of having the police throw hand grenades into crowds where they see someone picking another person's pocket -- there is enormous collateral damage that is entirely unnecessary.

The PA law harms innocent parties. Both providers and consumers of perfectly innocent content are being harmed right now by the enforcement of this law, and they do not even know that this is happening. Commerce, access to helpful information, entertainment, etc., are all being disrupted right now, and those aforementioned innocent parties have no way to know why the can no longer reach particular websites.

The investigation, apprehension, and punishment of child pornographers is unquestionably an important goal of society. Unfortunately, the manner in which the PA legislature has chosen to pursue this admirable goal is an irresponsible and dangerous way to approach this problem. It would be more effective to pursue individuals who can be connected to the set up and maintenance of child pornography websites.

Unfortunately from the perspective of the state, this will require international cooperation, actual police work, and money. It is far easier to interfere with innocent communications of wholly innocent people and businesses and to threaten innocent ISP owners and staff with felony charges.

For the record, this law has not been used against my ISP yet, but it might be. I know other ISP owners who have received requests and who have complied with them. This is a current and very real problem right now.

Please consider helping. Please contact the EFF to make a financial contribution to protect electronic speech. Let them know that you are willing to be a plaintiff as well. If you have a VISP with PA customers, you will need to comply with this law. Also, other states will notice this law in Pennsylvania and some will adopt similar versions if it appears to be "working". This is coming to your hometown sooner than you think.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Information on the Second Amendment

Regarding the recent discussion on /. about gun rights, there was an excellent website on the Second Amendment which contained all the significant cases as well as an exhaustive list of law review articles on the Second Amendment, both from pro and con gun rights perspectives. This is a matter of great personal interest to me, and I wanted to make the resource available to other /. readers.

The site, 2ndlawlib.com is no longer available, or else is available only intermittently. Try using the Wayback Machine to view it. You should also try the original site from time to time to see if it is back up and running. The Wayback machine is unfortunately very slow.

If you want to do some serious reading about the topic, you cannot do better than to read through this site.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Friends, Foes, and Freaks 2

I never really fooled much with the friends, foes, fans, and freaks stuff -- just basically ignored it. As it turns out, I have a few of each now. Just one "freak" though -- have to work on that.

I have no idea why I have been named friend, foe, freak, or fan by someone else, but to everyone: thanks for at least reading my comments. I generally try to avoid trolling, but because I almost never post as AC, I sometimes get modded that way. I have karma to burn, so there's no reason to hide from my opinions.

In any case, thanks for being interested enough one way or the other to mark me friend, foe, fan, or freak. If you think I'm an insufferable ass, please feel free to visit the journal from time to time to let me know.


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