Last week Reese Witherspoon’s husband was arrested for driving drunk. But Reese was arrested, too. Why? She got out of the car! Reese v. the police — guess who won? America is a police state and nobody seems to notice, or mind.
(05-06-2013, updated 07-15-2018) Last week Reese Witherspoon’s husband was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Bad! Bad-bad-bad-bad-bad! You get no argument from me there. But Reese was arrested, too. Why? She got out of her car! That’s not all. When the cop ordered her back in the car, she told him she had a right to stand on American soil. Gasp! The horror! How dare she!?! And it didn’t stop there. No sirree! When the cop put on the handcuffs, she asked him . . .
. . . if he knew who she was!!!
This got her arrested for verbally assaulting a police officer.
It was all over the news all week, and Reese Witherspoon went on talk shows to apologize as profusely as I’ve ever seen anyone apologize. She had had one glass of wine too many; she was incredibly embarrassed and very sorry; she couldn’t believe she had behaved that way; she has cops in her family; she works with police all the time, etc.
This is one of those things I will never get used to. America is a police state and nobody even notices!
When T and I drove around America and Canada for more than three months in 1992, we got pulled over in Louisiana. By then T and I had known each other almost a year and we had lived together for seven months. So he told me that whatever happened, I was to stay in the car and keep, my, mouth, shut. When he got back in the car, he told me we were pulled over because he was speeding. Which was hardly true–two miles over the speed limit. They had asked him where he was from, where we were going, how come we had so much time for a vacation, how he made his money, etc. It’s a good thing I wasn’t there during this interrogation, because I would have told the cop that it was none of his business after the first question, and that would have landed us in the county jail. In what other kind of countries do you think the police can randomly interrogate you on the street like that? America is a police state!
In Washington, D.C. we visited one of T’s college friends, who was working at the Holocaust Museum, which was not yet open at the time. His job was cataloging photos at the Holocaust Museum photo archive. One evening we had just come from the Lincoln memorial–you know, the giant statue of Lincoln in a chair, the guy who said:
Anyway, we were just walking across a little road around the memorial, on a zebra crossing, when a car that was parked to the right of the crossing suddenly backed up and almost hit T’s friend S. So he yelled “Hey!” and slapped the back of the car. A totally appropriate reaction, in my view. If only because it made the driver stop, thus preventing him or her from killing or at least seriously maiming S.
The driver stopped and got out. Turns out she was a cop. She asked S if he had a problem, in that notoriously aggressive American-cop tone everyone in the entire world knows from movies and TV. “You’re damn straight I have a problem, lady! You almost drove over me. Don’t cops learn to look in their rear view mirror anymore?” That’s what I expected him to say. But no. “No, officer, there’s no problem. I’m sorry officer.” And everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the woman left it at that and got back in her car. Without apologizing.
I was aghast. S was an educated guy, whose job at that time was cataloging pictures of what happens when people in uniform get too much power. And he just backed down, apologizing almost obsequiously for making the mistake of stopping this cop from running over him. And when I voiced my shock, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s just the way it is. You don’t ever talk back to a cop”.
So forget about this being the land of the free. Forget about freedom of speech. This may technically be a democracy because folks vote, but the authoritarianism surrounding those in uniform is no different than in any dictatorship. In this country you can be stopped for any reason and interrogated about anything, and everyone thinks this is perfectly normal. All someone has to do is wear a police uniform and tell them to stay put and they will say, “Yes, officer; whatever you say, officer; thank you, officer; have a nice day, officer.” Americans’ respect for authority is so extreme that you’ve given away your freedom and you don’t even know it. You just repeat the automatic refrain — you live in the best country on Earth — without ever really asking yourselves if that is even remotely true.
Wake up! America is a police state!
Reese Witherspoon didn’t stay put and she voiced her admittedly drunken anger when she was clasped in irons for no good reason, and now she is down on her knees, not only apologizing to the police, but to the American people, hoping they will find it in their hearts to forgive her, so she will remain America’s sweetheart, the kind of gal who would never ever do anything as shocking as talk back to a cop.
I’m thoroughly disgusted.
(This post was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “Reese and the Police”, 05-06-2013)
- Header image: public domain
- Lincoln memorial quote: mine