So last week “America’s sweetheart” Reese Witherspoon’s husband was arrested because he was driving while drunk. Bad. Badbadbadbadbad. You get no argument from me there.
But Reese herself was arrested as well. Why? She got out of her car. Not only that, but when the police officer told her to get back in the car, she drunkenly 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 was putting 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 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 had 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 seems to notice.
When T and I were driving around America and Canada for more than three months in 1992, we were pulled over in Louisiana. T 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. And they 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 hadn’t been 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 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. One evening we had just come from Lincoln’s 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. 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 someone.
The driver stopped and got out. Turns out she was police. She asked T’s friend if he had a problem, in that intimidating American-cop tone. “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?” 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. This 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 stopping this cop from driving 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. People 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.”
Reese Witherspoon didn’t stay put and she voiced her admittedly drunken anger when she was being 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 that they will find it in their hearts to forgive her, so she will
remain “America’s sweetheart”, the kind of girl who would never do anything as shocking as talking back to a cop.