My friend Frank Callahan recently mentioned “tater salad” in responding to a post on Houston County Carries Concealed. Now if you think tater salad is potato salad, you’d be wrong. “Tater salad” stands for a concept that our Founding Fathers knew well. The full explanation of tater salad is found on YouTube. Here is the link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neUaSTSKFZc
If you put your finger on that link, I doubt anything happens, but newspapers are getting pretty sophisticated, so give it a try.
Now that you’ve watched the video, or decided to take my word for it, here is the main lesson learned from tater salad. You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. It’s inviolate. It’s absolute. It’s inalienable (or unalienable if you are Tommy Brightman). Unlike Iran, North Korea or Uzbekistan, where they feel empowered to beat the truth out of you, we don’t allow such behavior. Sure, our cops are entitled to use a little subterfuge on occasion, but they can’t beat you with a bag of oranges (which supposedly doesn’t leave a mark).
Your right to remain silent carries with you all the way through a jury trial. The Government can’t even comment on you invoking your right to remain silent in the trial. Mr. Prosecutor can’t say to you, on the stand: “Why didn’t you tell the police this story at the time?” That would be an impermissible comment on your right to remain silent. Now if the prosecutor is smarter than the average bear, he might ask, “Who did you tell this story to and when?” You might answer that you told Aunt Irma, to which the prosecutor can say, “So the only one you told is Aunt Irma?” That is permissible, but to then later point out that the PoPo wasn’t on your list would be a Constitutional violation.
On a routine traffic stop, when the officer says “how fast were your going?”, you have the right not to answer, although the policeman didn’t read you your rights since you’re not in custody (an important fact many people ignore). The misinformed cop, thinking you’re a speeder, can then do what he has to do, but you, you’re mum. Chances are, you’re going to try to talk your way out of the ticket by explaining that 1) your speedometer must be in error, 2) the sun was in your eyes and you didn’t see the speed limit sign, 3) his laser must not be calibrated correctly, or 4) that you’re in hurry to speak at the Policeman’s Ball. When all those fail, he gives you the ticket, but alas, you had your say.
Just because you have the right to be quiet doesn’t mean that you have the ABILITY to keep your mouth shut. You just can’t help it. You are going to tell your story and they are going to have to listen. And that is tater salad.