Picture America at that time: Vietnam, the streets and campuses exploding in riot, and a new social ethos that was willing to blame a racist white establishment for the crimes of this nation's increasing population of criminals.
In the 1960s, the Supreme Court became activist to the hilt. The most obvious of these cases was the famous Miranda ruling from Arizona, in which a criminal was allowed to go free because he had not understood his rights, not understanding the English language spoken by the arresting officer. His subsequent confessions were thrown out. The Court spoke of the "forbiddeen fruit" of evidence gathered by overzealous officers who "failed" to inform criminals that they were being searched just before they discovered their weapons, their drugs, their evidence. A police officer who found evidence of crimes was unable to make the case unless he had probable cause ahead of time to find the evidence.
In "Dirty Harry", a character (Andy Robinson) based on the never-caught Zodiak killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area at that time, goes on a murder rampage. Eastwood catches him at Kezar Stadoium. A little girl is lying in a hole some place. She has a limited amount of air left. Eastwood knows the guy did it. We know it. God knows it. The scene is worth watching in light of Abu Ghraib and the concept of the "ticking time bomb" theory of interrogation that the terror era has brought upon us.
Eastwood knows that if the man is arrested and booked, he will not talk, hiding behind a lawyer, and that the girl will suffocate. He applies a little bit of torture to Robinson, the Scorpio killer. What he wants is to know where the little girl is, so she can be saved. Scorpio wines about having rights and wanting a lawyer. Eastwood extracts the information from him. The girl, however, has died before she can be found by the cops.
Eastwood is confronted by the D.A., who tells him not only that the killer had rights, but that he will walk as soon as he is healthy, and he has brought in a Berkeley professor to detail to Clint how he violated the criminal's rights and, in essence, is worse than the Scorpio killer.
The end? We've all seen it a million times on TBS's "Movies For Guys Who Like Movies." Eastwood gets his man. He receives zero gratitude from the authorities. Millions of ordinary American citizens appreciated him in theatres and TVs since then, however.
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"