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Life Imitates Westlaw Natural Language Searches:

As I noted in a 2002 post on this blog:

About 10 years ago, when WESTLAW came out with its "Natural Language" search facility, I decided to enter the question, in the Supreme Court decisions database:

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

The answer my friend, was Terry v. Ohio, which lawyers recognize as the case where the Supreme Court upheld the right of police officers to stop and frisk (in some situations) suspicious-looking characters.

From a UPI story from yesterday:

Police in Long Branch, N.J., say an officer who stopped Bob Dylan in response to a suspicious person call did not recognize him....

"Dylan was really cool about the whole incident," [Sgt. Michael] Ahart told CNN, adding Dylan had been seen looking into the window of an area home up for sale prior to the incident.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

ruuffles (mail) (www):

The answer my friend, was Terry v. Ohio, which lawyers recognize as the case where the Supreme Court upheld the right of police officers to stop and frisk (in some situations) suspicious-looking characters.

Does that include detaining the character until they verify his identity? The officers took Dylan to his trailer to get his passport.
8.16.2009 6:48pm
Old Useless:
"The officers took Dylan to his trailer to get his passport."

Once the officers noted that the passport had been correctly painted brown they let Dylan go.
8.16.2009 7:18pm
santa monica (mail) (www):
Come on guys. Not any reference to "I shall be released" yet!?!
8.16.2009 7:48pm
PeteP:
"Dylan was really cool about the whole incident," [Sgt. Michael] Ahart told CNN"

Proving once and for all that Bob Dylan is in fact NOT a Harvard Professor, even though his writings have been the subject of more college courses that any Harvard professor alive today.
8.16.2009 8:09pm
PeteP:
"Come on guys. Not any reference to "I shall be released" yet!?!"

Any day now.
8.16.2009 8:17pm
AdamS (mail):
I guess the cops don't need you there (and they expect the same).
8.16.2009 8:26pm
ArthurKirkland:
I wonder how this episode would have developed had Mr. Dylan -- whose reported conduct consists of walking along a public sidewalk without incident -- had chosen to decline the officer's "offer" of a ride in a police vehicle.

A better officer could have overcome her lack of familiarity with popular culture -- and current events in her jurisdiction -- by engaging in some research about Mr. Dylan's story (simple call to the station?) and thereby avoided inconveniencing an innocent citizen who apparently wanted to spend his leisure time visiting Bruce Springsteen's former home instead of sitting in the back of a police car.

I also find it remarkable that Mr. Dylan's colleagues were required to produce a passport. It should have sufficed for someone on the bus to take a look at Mr. Dylan, turn to the officer and say, 'yes, you fool, that is Bob Dylan whom you have bothered.'
8.16.2009 8:34pm
Ken Arromdee:
A better officer could have overcome her lack of familiarity with popular culture

I really don't want police officers changing their reactions depending on whether the guy they're confronted with happens to be a celebrity they recognize.
8.16.2009 8:38pm
SuperSkeptic (mail):
I wonder how this episode would have developed had Mr. Dylan -- whose reported conduct consists of walking along a public sidewalk without incident -- had chosen to decline the officer's "offer" of a ride in a police vehicle.

Taser then cuffs, with a side of knee-to-the-back.
8.16.2009 8:40pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
Obviously, one of the rare moments when Dylan was lucid, as opposed to walking around as if he had been walloped flat-in-the-face with a two-by-twelve.
8.16.2009 8:41pm
Lyric Critic:
Sunday Song Lyric:



How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

8.16.2009 8:51pm
ArthurKirkland:

I really don't want police officers changing their reactions depending on whether the guy they're confronted with happens to be a celebrity they recognize.


I don't want police officers detaining and transporting citizens for no proper reason. And if they stop to question an innocent citizen, and that citizen provides information that is easily checked, a call to confirm the information seems the least a competent officer would do.

I agree that freedom from substandard police conduct should not hinge on celebrity.
8.16.2009 8:58pm
BRM:
DOes his passport say Robert Zimmerman?
8.16.2009 8:59pm
Kevin Murphy:
I would think that (wiki) Kolender v. Lawson 461 U.S. 352 (1983) would be germane. Mr. Lawson has his own site, including oral argument recordings.
8.16.2009 9:13pm
ArthurKirkland:
Bob Dylan bedevils some fans during concerts (along the 'aspires to note-for-note recreation of recordings on stage' continuum, Dylan occupies the point farthest from the Eagles and boy bands), but his voice has been among the most lucid in the English-speaking world for a half-century.
8.16.2009 9:14pm
Fedya (www):
For some reason, I'm reminded of The Simpsons' take on it:

Grandma: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
Homer: Seven!
Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
Homer: Rhetorical, eh? Eight!
Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
Homer: [incredulous] Do I know what "rhetorical" means?!
8.16.2009 9:39pm
Fedya (www):
but his voice has been among the most lucid in the English-speaking world for a half-century.

I wouldn't use the word "lucid", considering the way he moans his way through songs.

Frankly, I consider him one of the most overrated singer/songwriters out there; perhaps second only to Bruce Springsteen.
8.16.2009 9:40pm
ArthurKirkland:
There have been many fine singer/songwriters of the past half-century -- from Jim Croce to John Fogerty, Carole King to Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder to Paul Simon, John Lennon to Paul McCartney to Keith Richards to Mick Jagger -- but I can't think of anyone ahead of Springsteen or Dylan in that line.

Which may have something to do with Dylan's desire to visit Springsteen's boyhood home. His earlier field trips apparently involved John Lennon and Neil Young.
8.16.2009 9:57pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Tangential question: what does "blowing in the wind" refer to? Most people seem to interpret it as, "listen to the wind blow and you'll find the answer," but I've always thought it meant to blow into the wind -- as in a futile gesture (see also: spit into the wind).
8.16.2009 9:58pm
subpatre (mail):
Eugene Volokh asks: "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?"

Dylan never resolved that question. While wandering about in Blood On the Tracks, Bob pondered:

Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair.
She was thinking about her father, who she very rarely saw,
Thinking about Rosemary and thinking about the law.
But, most of all she was thinking about the Jack of Hearts.
--LR&JoH
As Bob took another toke, he knew the question was complex, it was like Tangled Up in Blue, ya know.
8.16.2009 10:02pm
jellis58 (mail):
I too always think of that simpsons scene when I hear anything about Bob Dylan.
8.16.2009 10:02pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Sean O'Hara:

Tangential question: what does "blowing in the wind" refer to? Most people seem to interpret it as, "listen to the wind blow and you'll find the answer," but I've always thought it meant to blow into the wind -- as in a futile gesture (see also: spit into the wind).

Nah. Read it as "gone viral" and you'll have a sense of how it sounded back then.
8.16.2009 10:07pm
A Law Dawg:
Frankly, I consider him one of the most overrated singer/songwriters out there; perhaps second only to Bruce Springsteen.


Couldn't agree more, as to both.
8.16.2009 10:26pm
Dave N (mail):
For those of you who read James Taranto's Best of the Web column in the Wall Street Journal (and I know there is crossover since he has linked to the VC), his headline would be:

Life Imitates Westlaw
8.17.2009 12:04am
Pendulum (mail):
"Frankly, I consider him one of the most overrated singer/songwriters out there; perhaps second only to Bruce Springsteen."

Who cares how he's rated? He's bloody talented. I don't know his catalog inside and out, but songs like Mr. Tambourine Man, It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), Ballad of a Thin Man, Hurricane, It's All Over Now Baby Blue, and Masters of War, to name a few, are fantastic pieces of music.
8.17.2009 12:05am
CharlieBK:

Does his passport say Robert Zimmerman?


I'd assume his passport says Bob Dylan, since "Bob Dylan" isn't a stage name--he legally changed it from Robert Zimmerman in the early 60s.


I guess the cops don't need you there (and they expect the same).


He's going back to New York City; I do believe he's had enough.
8.17.2009 12:06am
Dave N (mail):
or

Life Imitiates Westlaw Natural Language Searches.

Either way, I thought I would give Taranto's daily column a shout-out for those here who do not read it online--as I suspect EV does.
8.17.2009 12:07am
DiversityHire (mail):
I wonder if the police officers would have recognized Willie or John Cougar? In the latter case I think a good tasering would be in order.

In answer to another question, I'd say Willie is a step above Dylan. Plus, I don't think he's ever sued anybody for allegedly naming a computer language after him.
8.17.2009 12:15am
Richard A. (mail):
Pendulum,
In "The Hurricane", Dylan got the facts of the case wrong, including a reference to a "district attorney," when there is no such office in New Jersey.

And then there's the fact that Ruben Carter rewarded his supporters for his release by beating up the woman who organized the effort and promptly getting convicted again in a case where the evidence was overwhelmingly against him.


Bob dropped the Hurricane immediately afterward and - to his credit - never again wrote a political song.

But that one is hardly to his credit.
8.17.2009 12:17am
ArthurKirkland:
That a list of a half-dozen Bob Dylan songs could be offered without mentioning Like A Rolling Stone, Blowin' In The Wind, Knockin' On Heaven's Door or The Times They Are A-Changin' illustrates vividly the depth of the man's catalog.

All Along The Watchtower, Tangled Up In Blue, My Back Pages and It Ain't Me, Babe would have made my representative list, too, but I do not quarrel with Pendulum's selections.
8.17.2009 12:29am
Leo Marvin (mail):

"Dylan was really cool"

Yeah, I'm sure they totally grokked each other. They probably smoked some righteous weed and rapped about some really heavy shit.
8.17.2009 2:00am
eyesay:
Other brilliant songs “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “With God on Our Side.”
8.17.2009 4:03am
BGates:
Richard, what the hell are you talking about?
8.17.2009 5:31am
jtdavies (mail):
Imagine the conversation:

Dylan: I'm Bob Dylan. I'm a famous singer
Cop: Then let's hear you sing
Dylan: [Mumbles some lyrics that wander around the tune]
Cop: We'll need better proof than that

I think the world would be a better place if he was a songwriter instead of a singer/songwriter.
8.17.2009 8:22am
Terry Schmerry:
Meanwhile, in news from New York....

Carter v. City of Yonkers (summary order) (2d Cir. August 13, 2009):
Defendants-Appellants P.O. Raymond Montero, P.O. Brian Menton, P.O. Keith Olson, and P.O. John Traynor (collectively “Appellants”) appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Smith, M.J.) entered after a jury verdict finding in favor of Plaintiffs-Appellees Tremaine R. Carter and Michael Fresella (collectively “Appellees”) on their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleging unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment....

On the special verdict form, the jury indicated its findings that Appellants searched Plaintiffs' car or persons or photographed their faces without consent, and that they “conducted an unreasonable search or seizure by searching [Plaintiffs'] cell phone[s], searching [their] person[s] beyond a pat-down, or by taking photograph[s] of their bod[ies].” We have little difficulty concluding that these findings establish a Fourth Amendment violation. The extensive search of Appellees, their vehicle, and/or their cell phones, along with the photographing—whether alone or in combination—went well beyond what was permissible under a Terry stop.... The law in this regard was clearly established and it was not objectively reasonable for Appellants to conclude otherwise....


(Emphasis added)

H/T Fourth Amendment blog.
8.17.2009 9:06am
Joseph Slater (mail):
To live outside the law, you must be honest.
8.17.2009 10:23am
Michael A. Koenecke:
I am reminded of this very funny video:

http://tinyurl.com/cbuhum
8.17.2009 10:27am
tom swift (mail):
The guy's a fossil who looks more like road kill than a celeb. It would be unreasonable to expect the police to make a reliable visual identification.
8.17.2009 11:20am
tom swift (mail):
Now, if Westlaw search could do something with "'60s roadkill misidentified as creepy old coot seen peering into windows," I'd agree that useful progress was being made.
8.17.2009 11:22am
SeaDrive:
Brilliant lyricist. Not much of a composer.

I infer from his success that he was also compelling on stage, but I wouldn't know, first hand.
8.17.2009 11:27am
Fub:
Sean O'Hara wrote at 8.16.2009 9:58pm:
Tangential question: what does "blowing in the wind" refer to? Most people seem to interpret it as, "listen to the wind blow and you'll find the answer," but I've always thought it meant to blow into the wind -- as in a futile gesture (see also: spit into the wind).
I think Jerry Jeff Walker covered that thought long ago. Caution: Link text may not be worksafe if your boss is a, well, whatever.
8.17.2009 11:48am
Can't find a good name:
Richard A.: I'm not sure why you say that Dylan never wrote another political song after "Hurricane." I am far from an expert on Dylan, yet I can think of at least two political songs just on the Infidels album alone off the top of my head.
8.17.2009 11:59am
Paul A'Barge (mail):
Absolutely priceless! LOL
8.17.2009 12:13pm
ArthurKirkland:

The guy's a fossil who looks more like road kill than a celeb. It would be unreasonable to expect the police to make a reliable visual identification.


Mr. Dylan was walking along a public sidewalk without violating a law, causing any disturbance or generating any genuine risk. Regardless of whether he looks like roadkill, is a celebrity, was awarded a special Pulitzer citation and an honorary Princeton degree, provided invaluable inspiration for a generation, made millions of lives more enjoyable, is worth tens of millions of dollars, resides in the area, is a brilliant social critic or a dullard, was walking in the rain, was looking for Bruce Springsteen's former home, released yet another #1 album a few months ago, was dressed in finery or sweatpants, has received essentially every honor available to an American musician, or simply wanted to find an ice cream bar, it strikes me as none of the police officer's business. He was inconvenienced without justification in what purports (often ostentatiously) to be a free country.

That the police officer steered him into the back seat of a police vehicle for no legitimate reason is bad enough; he appears to have consented. That she was daft enough, however, not to recognize that the word of Mr. Dylan's entourage (provided from the tour buses he described, parked outside the hotel at which he was staying) was enough to properly identify Mr. Dylan -- that she nonetheless required inspection of a passport -- causes me to question her competence, and in particular her familiarity with the rights of American citizens.
8.17.2009 1:07pm
autolykos:

That the police officer steered him into the back seat of a police vehicle for no legitimate reason is bad enough; he appears to have consented. That she was daft enough, however, not to recognize that the word of Mr. Dylan's entourage (provided from the tour buses he described, parked outside the hotel at which he was staying) was enough to properly identify Mr. Dylan -- that she nonetheless required inspection of a passport -- causes me to question her competence, and in particular her familiarity with the rights of American citizens.


When I was a kid (and I'm not that old), we used to hear about what a terrible place the Soviet Union was, because any police officer could stop you on the street even if you weren't doing anything illegal and require you to produce a passport.

As Mr. Dylan would say, the times, they are a-changin'.
8.17.2009 3:15pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
ABC News, as quoted by Just One Minute, has some important caveats. I've read the story, but it seems to have expired between my reading it and trying to link it.

- - - Begin quotation from JOM - - -

. . . Dylan was not confining himself to the sidewalks and folks in the neighborhood were troubled (per ABC):


When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a "For Sale" sign on it, the home's occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard, Long Branch Police said. One of the occupants even went so far as to follow Dylan as he continued on down the street.



Finally, who says that the police are only responsible for possible criminal activity? Dylan may have been a confused old man who was having a mild stroke, or had slipped in the rain and hit his head, or was a hit-and-run victim - the non-criminal possibilities are endless. Back to ABC:


"We see a lot of people on our beat, and I wasn't sure if he came from one of our hospitals or something," Buble said.



She asked for identification, but Dylan said he had none. She asked where he was staying and he said his tour buses were parked at some big hotel on the ocean. Buble said she assumed that to be the nearby Ocean Place Conference Resort.

"He was acting very suspicious," Buble said. "Not delusional, just suspicious. You know, it was pouring rain and everything."

Come in, she said, I'll give you shelter from the storm. Hmm.

Ms. Buble is a hottie, but I wish she had used the word "erratically" in place of "suspicious" - I suspect it would convey her actual meaning in a less inflammatory way.

- - - End quotation from JOM - - -

There's more at the link. Also, the ABC story seems to imply that both policemen had heard of Bob Dylan, they just didn't think the bedraggled geezer (my description, not ABC's) they were talking to looked likely to be him. Old and/or crazy people who claim to be famous people they've never even met are not exactly rare, and policemen have to deal with them now and then. It was not an implausible supposition in the circumstances.
8.17.2009 4:43pm

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