Michael H. Smith     

Presumption of innocence
Your papers please!  This image, of the submachine gun armed border guard, was seen in many spy thriller movies but is now commonplace on American highways.  Most accept it without complaint. I do not. The other evening I had an appointment in Orange, Virginia (about 25 miles away from my home in Greene County.)  Almost there I realized that I had forgotten my wallet.  It was too late to turn around so, weighing the possibility of arrest and detention for failing to have my internal passport, I proceeded to my psychological counseling session with Dr. Cessna.
Sure enough, on the way back there they were.  I was far enough back in the long line of cars to be able to make a U-turn and escape by another route.  Rather than elation at my thwarting of the "law" I resent that here, in this supposedly free nation, we must fear mass arrest each day, for doing nothing more than simply going about our business on the highways.  As a result I do my business on the highways less and less.
The very next evening I WAS stopped by the Stasi within a mile of my home -- the second time in as many weeks.  The State Polizei now extend their dragnets to back roads to ensnare us scofflaws who avoid them on the main roads.  This is the fourth time in a year I have caught in the dragnet so I have developed a routine.  When he gives back my license and says politely but firmly, "Your papers are in order, you may go now!"  I say "Thank you, Comrade." None give an indication that they hear or understand.  They are trained either to ignore -- or get used to their new titles.
Friends who grew up under Hitlerism and Stalinism together in separate "eastern bloc" nations agree that Amerika is heading in that direction.  Some call me "liberal" for challenging this abuse of authority and some call me a "kook" for suggesting that we are becoming a police state.  Once the assumption of the presumption of innocence is lost-- we already are!
Who is crazy here -- Comrade?

Michael H. Smith

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