One of Lily Tomlin’s best characterizations on the Laugh-In show was Edith Ann. Tomlin, dressed like a child and sat in an oversized rocking chair. She always began by saying “My name is Edith Ann, and I don’t have to say nothin’ if I don’t want to.” Then she delivered a short monologue and when she ended she said, “..and that’s the truth!” and blew a raspberry. You can see her work on Youtube. It’s still funny!

What isn’t funny is people who avoid prosecution and justice by “taking the Fifth” or refusing to answer questions on the witness stand when under a felony indictment. The Constitution should not be used to shelter the guilty.

For some background, one of the five separate parts of the Fifth amendment guarantees a defendant’s right to avoid answering questions. This right has been abused many times and very publicly at high governmental levels recently.

Just so you know, I am fully aware that James Madison and the Supreme Court in subsequent rulings intended to protect the innocent with this clause, while unintentionally protecting the guilty right along with them.

We have an adversarial court system, with prosecutors on one side and defense attorneys on the other. It is standard practice for both sides to frame their questions in such a way as to add validity to their side of the case. Questions in court are prejudicial by design. It only makes sense that the innocent should have some protections guaranteed in a court room setting, but the object of any court proceeding should always be to arrive at the truth justly and expeditiously. If the questions, either from the prosecution or the defense, are prejudicial, the person to whom the questions are directed should be able to ask that the question be re-asked in a non-prejudicial way as many times as necessary to get an unbiased question. Or a judge could just do that.

Everyone should be required to give an honest answer to an unbiased question in court. It does not serve justice to let people swallow their tongues to avoid the truth.