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THE MIRANDA OATH

Dreamed 1998/2/24 by Chris Wayan

It's in the next century. I'm on the first ship to Uranus. The mission was radically redesigned at the last minute after input from the crew. Planners expected the mission to be so stressful that a lot of the crew would crack, so the ship was built to be jammed with backup personnel--and backups to the backups.

But the crew, after a long Antarctic simulation, concluded that the crowding over such a long trip (a couple of years?) was itself the cause of much of the stress, and they insisted on reducing the crew till the ship felt spacious, even luxurious. Instead of backups, each crew member swears five or six oaths to fulfil specific mission goals. Not simply to do their job or do their best, but to fulfil them--no matter what.

The one I remember is: "I swear to walk in Miranda's Chasm." The grand canyon on the moon Miranda is the deepest in the Solar System; it's one of the prime goals of the trip. In the dream, Miranda has a nearby twin; the two moonlets swing tightly round a common center of gravity, like a miniature Earth and Luna around the sun.

It's a strange trip: feels like the ship is crowded with ghosts--the crew not sent? Or the oaths that take their place?

You can feel them. The power of commitment. The Miranda oaths.

NOTES IN THE MORNING

SOME DAYS LATER

Now I wonder if the dream was weakly psychic. Not long after it, the papers reported that US Supreme Court had reconsidered the Miranda Rule, requiring police to tell suspects they have the right to remain silent and get a lawyer. Cops had sought to allow some confessions by suspects "accidentally" not told their rights; human rights groups argued that this would encourage trickery, threats, even torture to coerce confessions.

As in my dream, the court upheld Miranda--cops can't merely "try" to remember to read you your rights, they must do it. No excuses.



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