Flexing Your Rights

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

The civil liberties advocacy organization Flex Your Rights has a new video coming out next month called 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. Here’s a trailer:

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25 Responses to “Flexing Your Rights”

  1. #1 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Curiosty is definitely piqued.

  2. #2 |  Adam | 


  3. #3 |  omar | 

    Flex Your Rights is an amazing set of videos. There’s something about seeing and hearing the interactions between citizens and police that taught me how to exercise my rights far better than any reading ever did. Every time I talk to the police, I visualize and emulate what I saw in those videos.

  4. #4 |  Marty | 

    the Flex Your Rights stuff is pretty good. this looks like it could be as good or better- I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Isn’t flexing your rights a crime?

  6. #6 |  Matt I. | 

    I’ve definitely been waiting for them to come up with a follow up to their excellent original video.

    Unfortuantely, unless you have video recording equipment set up in your car, it is going to be very difficult to prevent any kind of abuse, falsified reports, or planted evidence. When you combine this with the fact that the judiciary is staffed at every level with pro-state, anti-liberty judges – the Supreme Court is about to nullify Miranda rights (Florida v. Powell), already threw out the challenge to the Illinois asset forfiture law (Alvarez v. Smith) and are fully expected to do away with the exclusionary rule should that ever come before them – It makes nearly all atempts to excercise your ‘rights’ useless.

    The time to flex our rights was a few decades ago. I really do not believe that the system will change through any kind of legal methods.

  7. #7 |  JS | 

    Matt I., sad but true I’m afraid. The bottom line is If you attempt to assert any rights in an encounter with the police and they don’t like it the constitution isn’t going to leap out of its glass case and throw itself between you and a tazer or club, You’re going to get beat, tazed or arrested. Hence that saying, so popular among police “You can beat the rap (an admission that you didn’t break any law) but not the ride (we’re still going to take away your liberty and put you in a cage because we can.)”

    For all practical purposes the only rights you have are what the guys with the guns allow you to have. The idea that we have rights is pretty much a fiction, one that seems to serve the purpose of keeping the people from rebelling against the loss of their rights.

  8. #8 |  William | 

    The Youtube popup ad on the video says, “Become a Police Officer Online!” No thanks.

  9. #9 |  phillyjim | 

    A funnier version of this video has already been done:


  10. #10 |  MG | 

    Was that Clay Davis’ lawyer?

  11. #11 |  ka | 

    I hope this video is a little more professional than the last. I also hope that every example used isn’t of a druggie trying to keep from getting arrested. And finally, I hope it doesn’t contain a bunch of profanity. Basically, I really liked the last video, but can’t show it to any of the teenagers I know without getting into trouble with their parents.

  12. #12 |  cApitalist | 

    “For all practical purposes the only rights you have are what the guys with the guns allow you to have. The idea that we have rights is pretty much a fiction, one that seems to serve the purpose of keeping the people from rebelling against the loss of their rights.”

    I disagree. Regardless of others’ respect for your rights, they exist. Regardless of your own knowledge of your rights, they exist. Rights are properties intrinsic to your humanity and as such no jackbooted enforcer of the state can deprive you of them. The state can, and frequently does, transgress them, but so long as you draw breath, they can never take them away. The Bill of Rights and Constitution grant you nothing. They are (broken) promises by the (broken) state to refrain from aggression against its subjects. This distinction is not just semantic. A man who asks another to be granted his freedom is in a weak and subhuman position. He who demands respect for that which he already possesses strikes fear in the hearts of tyrants.

  13. #13 |  John Jenkins | 

    If any you follow cApitalist’s advice at your next traffic stop, I would appreciate it if you let me know what nightstick tastes like. I’ve always wondered.

    The simplest way to deal with police officers is this: don’t be a dick, politely decline to answer any questions other than your name and address, and don’t give them your consent to search anything.

    Other than that, there’s not a lot you can do unless you want to stage a one-man rebellion. That won’t end well.

    The time to screw with cops is on the witness stand, not in the street.

    Also one of those guys appears to be committing the crime of being a Browns fan. He should be jailed for contempt of football until he purges the contempt by choosing to support another team.

  14. #14 |  J.E. Andreasen | 

    To Mr. Jenkins, re: Mr. cApitalist’s comment…

    Mr. cApitalist is factually correct regarding the nature of Rights. Mr. Jenkins correctly points out that “government” agents will not, in practice, recognise these inherent Rights. That is the nature of any State (institutionalized aggression propped up in paralytic myths).

    However, ultimately, Mr. cApitalist is correct; for freedom to survive, we must bellow “NO” and be willing to back it up.

    The enemies of Liberty fight us for poor pay; their daily ration and a rough guarantee to go home nightly to violate tomorrow anew.

    By contrast, lovers of freedom fight for their children, their grandchildren, etc. If they are imprisoned, if they are tortured, if they are killed; is of small consequence.

    There is simply no contest in this battle of wills; and the enemies of liberty know it in their bones. That is why they are increasingly, mindlessly violent. They have sinned mightily against their fellow man and KNOW a harsh tribunal is just beyond the bend.

    Human liberty will prevail. It is in our DNA. It is in our Souls. Only tactical considerations remain.

  15. #15 |  JS | 

    You are right cApitalist. Rights are granted by our creator I think the declaration of independence reads. I guess I meant in a practical sense, like being able to exercise rights. I believe we’re supposed to have them but in America today we aren’t allowed to exercise them.

    And J.E. Andreasen. I hope you’re right about human liberty prevailing. I really hope you’re right. I don’t see any future but more and more trampling of our rights, more police state, more oppression of human liberty and I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

  16. #16 |  John Jenkins | 

    I so hate these kinds of arguments, but here goes: the natural state of man is one of bondage. It is only recently (post-enlightenment) in that long history that the concept of rights has gained any real traction and a significant portion of humanity has been anything one might consider objectively free. Look around you. People vote for greater government interference in their lives virtually every time they have the chance. People are content with what they have and don’t want to rock that boat. The small minority of people who care about freedom don’t have a hope in hell of influencing that until a lot more people feel government’s fist on their throat, and that day is not today.

    All the philosophy in the world doesn’t much matter when you’re staring at the barrel of a gun. You will die, no matter how free you think you are, when the guy on the other end pulls the trigger. All the philosophy in the world won’t save you. Real life is not an Ayn Rand novel.

    As much as you might like to derive your rights rationally from your status as a human being, that’s complete horseshit. In a state of nature, you have no rights. You have what you can defend and nothing else. Your belongings and your life are subject to the attention of those stronger than you. Philosophical justifications of rights bounce up against reality pretty hard before a sovereign exists, unless you are one of those people who believes that people are just saintly to one another in the absence of someone to enforce agreements.

    The problem with government is not that it exists, but that it has too much attention to spare (i.e., it has too many agents) and too many things to attract its attention, too many bad laws. So the question comes up, what do you do when one of those agents casts his bored gaze upon you? You can be boring and polite, in which case he will go away because he gets nothing from bothering you, or you can be a jackass and agitate him, in which case he gets the rush of calling in his friends and kicking your ass. You pick, but I promise you, absolutely, your recitation of your rights to a pissed off cop will not do you any good, so you are better off not pissing him off in the first place. Sometimes there is nothing you can do anyway. I am sorry if that is your first time figuring out this is an unfair world.

    So in the end, you’re left with the rule of law. The tacit agreement that we are to be governed in accordance with rules over which we have influence and by which the government must be constrained. The strongest of those rules, we call rights, and in this country, we took care to write them down in a Constitution. You may not be aware, that along the way, people who claimed to be working to improve our rights decided that they had the power to interpret them in a way unchained by the actual words of that Constitution. In that moment, the concept of the Constitution and the rights it protects were destroyed, because if you can interpret away the words one way, you can interpret them away in the other. So, if you believe in the rule of law, you are left with a choice: you can become violent, hurting other people as well as yourself, or you can try to roll back that enormous error. You don’t want to go out and kill police officers, or anyone else for that matter, who does not directly threaten you. You want to change the law. You want to argue in favor of better laws. Sometimes, we win small victories, and when we do, we can point to the results (always favorable) in justifying our cause. When we argue against the drug war, the argument for freedom doesn’t carry any weight, but when we show how much it costs in terms of money and lost lives, that carries weight. Are we to then betray those arguments by going to war with people who disagree with us? Will we truly win the hearts and minds of other citizens that way? If you believe it will work here, then why has it not worked in Afganistan and Iraq? You don’t win hearts and minds by killing people, threatening them, or being a dick. Ghandi and King both understood that, and what did they do besides liberate a billion people from bondage?

    Do I like dealing with police officers? No, but I understand the extraordinary power that they wield and I know the place to deal with them is not in the place where they are strongest. Those are the tactics you’re talking about. Don’t fight on your opponent’s terms, if you can avoid it.

    As to other things, have you seen a soul? Can you measure it? What gene exactly is it that expresses itself in love of freedom? Overwrought rhetoric is the last refuge of the unthinking, so I don’t expect you to answer, but I do expect you to pick up a bat and go down to the police department and live the lie you’re preaching, because, after all, it “is of small consequence” were that course of action to turn out badly for you.

  17. #17 |  J.E. Andreasen | 

    Mr. Jenkins,

    A couple clarifications of my position:

    First, it is of little consequence to the freedom-fighter if (HE, himself or SHE, herself) comes to harm to secure liberty for their children, grandchildren, etc. That is WHY they strive.

    Second, I am no constitutionalist. I never signed the Social Contract. In my view,the rule of (positive) law is a self-serving fraud. Indeed, the state itself is a myth, created and maintained by men intent on aggression, seeking risk reduction for their acts.

    A few people always rise beyond their Killer Ape ancestors’ reach, standing upon the shoulders of others who did the same. In my view, Man is a duality; a beast with a divine spirit. Were it otherwise we would all be long gone, either in blood orgy or dead of boredom an mediocrity.

    Each decent man has his limit. I pray not to ever see mine, but am resolved to what must result, if it comes.

    And haberdashery, shiny badges, and clipboards do not help define who is a criminal.

    As to your snide attacks, please feel free to lick your master’s fist (or nightstick) and tell yourself that your wet ankles are toasty warm.

    If your grandchildren become free-riders on the backs of those that refuse, at long last, to be further enslaved; consider it a gift.

    With that, I end my unintended hijack of this worthy thread.

    Thank you for your patience, Mr. Balko.


  18. #18 |  Andrew Williams | 

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  19. #19 |  Guido | 


  20. #20 |  random guy | 

    Im not sure if it was their’s but I remember a similar video my ELPS teacher showed in high school. It always seems that these videos are intentionally funny at parts. Even though I take the subject seriously there were parts that were pretty lol-worthy.

    My favorite bit was some of the what not to do section: some guy gets stopped by police who want to search his book bag, and he just sprints off camera. Very funny, but it probably didn’t end well.

  21. #21 |  Mo | 

    I hope this video is a little more professional than the last. I also hope that every example used isn’t of a druggie trying to keep from getting arrested. And finally, I hope it doesn’t contain a bunch of profanity. Basically, I really liked the last video, but can’t show it to any of the teenagers I know without getting into trouble with their parents.

    The second guy in the video was an innocent, black art student that was accused of vandalism while waiting for the bus.

  22. #22 |  straightarrow | 

    The courtroom need not be the last resort for justice. It is just the last peaceful resort. I don’t know about others, but I will go as far as it takes. When I am abused, it ain’t over until I say it’s over.

    That is the way our grandfathers and some of our more courageous fathers lived and kept the abusers at bay. It worked, begging from your knees does not. My children deserve better example from me and the better conditions it would bring if there weren’t so few of us who believe that way. If there weren’t so few of us who believe that way the problem wouldn’t even exist.

  23. #23 |  straightarrow | 

    As for “how a nightstick tastes”. I knew a man, now long dead of natural causes who didn’t beat the ride. Two officers nearly beat him to death on the way to the station house. Every few blocks the tired officer would trade places with the driver and the driver would get in back and continue to beat on the skinny little handcuffed guy.

    After the first go-round, he warned that they didn’t want to do anymore. When they did, he told them to get all they wanted now because it wouldn’t always be this way. They did.

    Within four years, both officers had eaten 00 buckshot, I do mean eaten, both facefuls. Wonder how that tasted.

  24. #24 |  Andrew Williams | 

    The ‘teaser’ seemed pretty uninformative: the lawyer promised to give lots of specific info, but no tidbits.

  25. #25 |  pligg.com | 

    Flexing Your Rights | The Agitator…

    Can’t wait to see it….