Sunday, November 22, 2009

Guns for Hire

In the Old West, young men with fast hands and no scruples could make a living hiring themselves out as private enforcers. It didn't matter what they were enforcing; matters of justice were irrelevant to the business of enforcing. With the general lack of peace officers spread over large areas, these young men filled the power vacum and became, defacto, the law.

One hundred and thirty years later, those young gunmen with no scruples have become respected officers of the court. They still carry guns, but they wear blue uniforms and a shiny badge. What are they hired to do? Whatever the law tells them to do, no matter how wrongheaded. Their mantra is that they are Law Enforcement, not Peace Officers.

Whatever the law says, that is what they will enforce. There are easy examples: arresting peaceful people who have inhaled smoke that they law has proscribed, even though they have hurt no one and damaged no property. Arresting people who choose to pay for their sexual pleasures. Arresting people by setting speed traps. Arresting people for not wearing seat belts. They live to arrest. It really does not matter what the law is.

Because of this, and because there are literally thousands of laws that one can violate without even knowing it, the police have become feared and hated. A wonderful Youtube entitled "Never Talk To The Cops" includes a presentation given by a former cop who said he merely needed to follow someone in his car long enough...they WILL commit a crime for which he will pull them over, legitimately, and begin the process of interrogation in order to ticket or arrest them. This is scary: when a cop believes there can be no such thing as an innocent citizen, then it is understandable that they would feel free to push, prod, threaten, and harrass you because, after all, you HAVE DONE SOMETHING. You just don't know it yet.

The response to this point of view is that cops are the ones that rush to the scene of accidents, put their lives on the line when responding to robberies, and help find and arrest murderers. My response: not quite. Yes, they rush to accidents...but it is the EMTs who provide the life saving care. Yes, they rush to scenes of violence, like robberies, but it is rare that they arrive in time to do anything about it except take down information and write up a report. Ditto for murders. I don't mean to belittle the importance of their contributions to solving crimes, but let's not make their contribution out to be more than it really is.

Few of us will experience violence in our lives. Those of us who do will find the cops generally are not there to do anything except take the report. On the other hand, we are all, daily, confronted by the very real possibility of being arrested or ticketed for violating one law or another, few of which are designed to protect life and property. The fines generated will fund some government body, and a cop will get another notch in his career belt. We, on the other hand, will have to deal with the fines, the increased insurance rates, and the public record.

In this day and age of innumerable and unknowable laws, Law Enforcement Officers are NOT our friends. They are the enemy. Tell your children.

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