Chad Perrin: SOB

21 March 2007

Do you know your rights? Which way do you lean?

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 02:22

Reason editor Radley Balko, aka “The Agitator” and one of my favorite sources of news these days about the unreported excesses of representatives of our government, always has a good spin on things to offer. Tonight I discovered that, in a post titled Do You Know Your Rights?, he linked to an interesting quiz.

I normally hold myself aloof from these quiz-meme things, but this one really caught my eye, and I definitely think it’s worth spreading around a bit: Think you know your rights during police encounters?.

Like The Agitator, I got seven out of eight. I missed a different question than him, though. You can read about why he missed what he missed, but overall I think that as written the question really leads to the answer the quiz expects rather than the one Radley Balko chose.

My error was in choosing the wrong answer to the question of whether a police officer can arrest you for failing to identify yourself. I found the intended interpretation of the question opaque at best — does this mean in a routine traffic stop? What about if you’re under investigation for something? Is there some kind of weight of evidence, or even “probable cause”, involved in this question? Does the question relate to a random stop-check on the street as you walk down a sidewalk somewhere? How exactly is the question meant to be read?

I believe my interpretation of the question — where I didn’t try to second-guess, and finally just decided to take the phrasing exactly at face value — was the interpretation the quiz writer should have expected from people taking the quiz. With that interpretation, I answered the question correctly. The quiz writer’s interpretation of what (s)he wrote is apparently at odds with mine.

I recommend taking the quiz. Afterward, you’ll get your scoring, but you’ll also get an informative explanation of each of the correct answers and why they’re correct. This will also, as with me, provide indications of why you got the questions wrong — and whether your answer was actually correct as you understood the question. In general, it’s an excellent teaching tool all by itself. The video they’re hawking might be an even better one, though. I don’t own it, and I’m not getting paid to say this — but while I normally just skate on by such advertising, I might be convinced to consider this one seriously before discarding it because I have other bills to pay first. That, or I’ll take a pass on movie night at some point and get the DVD instead.

While I’m posting a quiz, I’ll link to the World’s Smallest Political Quiz too. It’s another that I rather like. I’d like a somewhat more comprehensive test more, all else being equal, but the very simplicity of this test actually aids in keeping it honest and accurate. It’s pretty difficult to shoehorn bias into something so straightforward and brief, and the meaning of each question is very clear (with the possible exception of a couple things that could be misinterpreted, I think, only if you really want to). For my part, I’ve taken this quiz about a dozen times over the last six years, and have never once scored anything other than a perfect libertarian 100/100 score.

1 Comment

  1. I didn’t do so hot on that test, but I’m keeping the results to myself (mainly ’cause I didn’t do so hot!).

    Is there some kind of weight of evidence, or even “probable cause”, involved in this question?

    It didn’t used to be the case that you could be arrested simply for failing to provide your name. But a 2004 SCOTUS ruling on a case out of Nevada expanded police powers during a so-called “Terry stop”. In that case, a motorist was arrested for refusing to identify himself on demand. The Court ruled that refusing to identify oneself did not fall under the 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

    Comment by Brian Martinez — 21 March 2007 @ 10:06

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License