It was nearly 20 years ago that I optioned a script called I.D. REQ.The script was about, what I considered, the horrific tactics of the FBI Strike Force as they waged their war against organized crime.
Their tactics involved torture, smear campaigns, manipulation of the press etc. Their point wasn't so much to illicit confessions as it was a way of getting suspects to implicate or name other suspects.
The final result being few arrests but a nice long list of names. this mode of intelligence gathering resulted in some well publicized cases: A priest's home getting battering ram raided at dawn; a former school principal put "on the circuit" for 8 days until she gave up her confederates. (The circuit is a method of transferring a prisoner from jail to jail until the paperwork is so befuddled he can't be traced - thus they can be held without charge or right to counsel.)
Of course, like in all my film scripts, there was a dog.
I'm not bringing up an old project out of boredom.
I went to europe for over a decade. When I left this sort of police practice was still considered deplorable.
In Europe I was outraged as the British eroded their citizens basic civil rights, including the right to silence and the right to be free from fear of torture. Their despicable campaign for "Smart National Identity Cards" has constantly been thwarted.
When I left America my Social Security card was emblazoned "Not To Be Used For Purpose Of Identity". I had to get a new one. That familiar slogan is missing.
I see that the government and the craven no longer find deplorable torture, right to counsel.
Brutal cops who shoot down 5 year olds armed with water pistols, or shoot 13 year old unarmed thieves 32 times now want to twist the law to claim street gangs are terrorists.
There used to be, maybe there still is, an annual street festival in Silver Lake. They closed off Sunset Blvd. and the blocks were filled with Hispanics, Asians and Gays - the main members of the community. It was great.
One year I happened to be walking behind two cops. Both totally WASP. They were shouting at each other about how much better it would be if they just opened fire and started mowing down the crowd.
Only they didn't say crowd, they used every pejorative term imaginable. My companion was a lawyer.
This was LAPD. This is the type of man who should be sighting and dealing with his fantasy of terrorists? It appears that they are not noble men but craven men who can only deal with the violence before them with their own more brutal brand of violence. A brutality that will affect us all.
I used to be considered extremely right wing. I believe in freedom. I think that justice is an illusion that can only be deceptive and never fair.
Now, to me, the new right seems to be made up of the old comic book style Communists: Seeking to control the way we think, trying to bomb us into following their religion with tacit government approval. Scoffing at others religions, burning books and rewriting history to suit the present are, what I was taught, the tools of a cowardly totalitarian government that was to be feared and destroyed.
Ronald Reagan, whom I disliked, believed that. In his fear he started us down that path. We become what we most fear and hate, has been proven throughout history.
I was thrown into this tract of thought, not by TV. I don't watch TV. I have a dog. But by my plight and the plight of a friend.
To take a job my friend was asked to release all criminal, credit and medical records. And of course, to take a drug test.
To what end? To protect what? A company? A corporation now has the right to pre-judge whether a man i=might be a criminal, might steal?
Men who's sole moral repute is based on what they have convinced the world to buy from them? The convicted swindlers, the scoff laws are to sit in judgement?
What of those days when a man might commit a crime and appear in front of an employer and speak of atonement and repentance and be given a second chance? Clearly, they are gone. The age of the bullet and the discriminatory laws is upon us.
I'll survive. I always have. I fear how many of you won't. T.S. Elliot: Not with a bang but with a whimper. Preston Sturges: These workers are your family to be trusted and cherished and cared for. They're not machines and when you forget that they're human, when you cannot grieve with them, rejoice for them you are no longer a member of society. You certainly are not fit to be an employer.