The Freeware Hall Of Fame

United States Myths - and their realities

By Rey Barry

"No Man is Above the Law"

Feel-good bullshit. Most public prosecutors, police chiefs, and high ranking officials are above laws they commonly enforce, make, or interpret. For example few things are as rare as someone in those posts being arrested for driving under the influence.

Many do it. When a patrolman stops their weaving vehicle, as a professional courtesy he drives or accompanies them home and there the matter ends.

Members of the US Congress and state legislators are similarly cut generous slack when their personal conduct jumps a legal fence.

While it's not beyond possibility that a high ranking member of the Washington bureaucracy or important staffers would be prosecuted for victimless crime, it happens only if there's political motivation behind it, or the press happens on it.

The illegal use of recreational drugs is common in Washington, as it is in the higher circles of state government.

Law enforcement doesn't want the heat that comes with prosecuting the powerful for minor felonies or misdemeanors. Taking political heat is above and beyond the call of duty and usually earns the opposite of a commendation. They get a reputation as too rigid to rely on or promote. There's always the threat the embarrassing enforcer will be eased out of his job.

At various times and places in the US only two crimes were sure to be prosecuted when the powerful committed them: spying and treason. Nothing else was certain. That's changed just a little. Today all murders and wrongful deaths are expected to be prosecuted as well.

This was not true even as recently as 1923, President Warren Harding's era. Investigating a possible murder was optional then.

Harding's widow, Florence, had ample motive, means, and opportunity to poison him and was widely suspected of it. Nonetheless, law enforcement backed off and left the question to posterity. We the posterity can read the details here and more reports on this Google search.

Today, whether to follow up on crimes less than murder and wrongful death is a call made by department higher ups or the first law enforcers on the scene. They decide whether the powerful are or are not above the law.

It would be absurd to change that. As Dickens rightly noted, "the law is an ass" and unless we want to be ruled by an inflexible ass we must have intelligent human intervention.

Choose another?

Introduction - How these myths began
"The US separates church and state"
"Justice will triumph"
"We have self-government"
"You cannot be forced to incriminate yourself"
"Americans have free speech"
"Americans have free radio and TV"
"Corporate political contributions aren't bribery"
"The best is yet to come"
"Abner Doubleday originated baseball"

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