I will admit right now that I’m a very bad libertarian. I AM a libertarian and think that in any dispute we should come down on the side of individual liberty.
You can get me to swoon by saying “taxation is theft” in just the right voice (ask my husband. He knows.) I’ve mumbled about financing services with lotteries.
But I do think there is a place for both the army and the police in our society. Seriously, now. To believe there isn’t, or that we can do without is the equivalent of believing Marxism will make men into angels. We’re not that deluded, are we?
Both Dan and I have/had relatives in law enforcement, and both of us have heard discussions and followed law enforcement enough to be uncomfortable defenders of the police force at times.
For instance, I was once kicked out of jury by the defense lawyer for pointing out that no, rounding up the “usual suspects” is not unfair. Most shootings for robbery are a case of known wolves, and few people jump straight from being angelic school boys to full frontal armed assault. (Or any kind of assault, really.)
(I also once got taken out of a jury for pointing out — quoting PTerry — that all babies look like Sir Winston Churchill. On second thought I should give lessons on how to get out of Jury Duty, except I wasn’t even trying, just being me.)
We need police, unfortunately, for the same reason we need the army. There are bad actors out there, and no matter how peaceable, peaceful and inoffensive you are, someone/some country is going to try to hurt you. And yeah, sure, I GET my more militant libertarian friends saying everyone should defend him/herself. In theory that’s great and a super idea, but guys, some people shouldn’t have a gun. And I’m not talking about the mentally ill, I’m talking about people too blind to know what they’re shooting at or similar impairments. And then there are the too young, too old and too stupid. And people who don’t understand they have to protect themselves. And, and and….
It’s all fine and dandy to say “Too bad, strike them off” but that’s not realistic. Realistically if each person has to hire a protection service, you end up with dueling gangs.
But the police is an uncomfortable solution, because it has the power of government behind them, and while it works for the people it doesn’t always remember that.
This week brought both the news of someone killed during a swatting, and of a young officer killed on the outskirts of Denver.
There is this thing they do in Colorado where they have massive processions and funerals for officers fallen in the line of duty. It is as it should be. It’s important to understand the debt of honor owed to those who fell doing a difficult and often thankless job.
When a Colorado Springs Police officer on his first week (I think) of work got shot in the face for what he thought was a routine traffic stop (the guy in the car was escaping from the scene of a murder and thought he was caught) the funeral disabled North Nevada for hours, and since it was near our house at the time, I took the kids out to watch the hundreds of police cars from everywhere in Colorado.
Because it’s right and meet to honor those who fell doing a difficult and thankless job. (Even if traffic is treated as a cash cow by city officers. Never mind. The kid was doing what he should be doing to keep the streets safe, since the guy he stopped WAS driving erratically.)
But it’s a knife’s edge. When you have sheep dogs, some will lose their minds and bite the sheep.
The Denver police department apparently ran a burglary ring in the seventies. The new craze for militarizing the police and for the police treating every house-call like they’re entering Fallujah is a problem. Yes, I know, in the swatting, the man made suspicious gestures. You know what? Someone breaks my door down, I’m not going to stop and ask if they’re the police. And as someone who HAS been threatened with swatting (who on our side hasn’t been? When we were renting between houses, our insurance agent refused us rental insurance because I’m a conservative blogger, so vandalism, arson and swatting are all risks. (Frankly this surprised me. I never thought it was a serious risk. Wonder what statistics she was looking at)) I get terrified at the idea of the door being broken down and the stupid cats running out and being lost/run over/eaten. I could see me getting up to check on a cat, or to tell them to not let the cat out, and being shot.
And sure, the police should do a lot more checks, particularly when the SWATTING call is over the top.
OTOH as the shooting while responding to a complaint of a domestic dispute proves, sometime the risk is real, and police officers do have to protect themselves.
There is a knife edge. Go too much on one side and you’re risking your life. Go too much on the other and you’re killing innocents, and being used as weapons by bad actors.
Again, I want to make it clear most police officers are decent, hard working people. Do you get the occasional thuggish brute? Sure. You get them in every profession where you give people power. You screen, you try to eliminate them in training, but you know, humans being humans one or two will slip through. Eliminating them is like eliminating the very rare man who is disposed to rape. Can’t be done.
The problem is this: the last administration simultaneously armed the police to the teeth and instigated the population against the police.
This is a familiar playbook. Almost all revolutions from the left started when law enforcement over-reacted. I have a private theory (somewhat proven by sound recordings released a few years ago) that Kent State was the work of agent provocateurs trying to use that playbook.
It didn’t work, but if the left abandoned things that don’t work they’d have discarded Marxism decades ago.
So we got the whole myth that police (many of them people of color) are stone cold racists, shooting minorities for no reason.
And the police became defensive. As you would, if some of your colleagues around the country were shot merely for being in your profession.
In Colorado, a couple of years ago, a couple of police officers got killed by stepping into traffic on the highway, while responding to an accident.
So now we’re told we have to move two lanes over, which frankly makes it more likely to get more accidents and causes untold resentment. When you cut a four lane highway down to one (one for the accident, then two for police officer protection) there’s a whole lot of shoving and slowing and confusion going on. Add to that that all this is done in the GLARE of lights so bright they’re probably responsible for the accidents to officers, because at night they blind the drivers for minutes.
It also causes resentment.
Which brings us to today. We went to Colorado Springs yesterday to deal with a lot of accumulated business. We still do our personal banking, most of our health stuff, and such in the Springs, because we’ve patronized some establishments for 20 years and don’t feel like finding new ones. Also, younger son lives in the springs, and we decided to have a leisurely dinner with him, and then stay over night.
We knew there was a funeral for the officer, closing I-25 at 8:30. It was on signs all over the highway.
So we got up really (REALLY) early (as in, husband is napping now) and headed North to get ahead of the procession. We made a mistake. We were so early, and doing such good time, we got off the highway to grab a diner meal. We were done at eight and tried to get back on the highway… and the entrances were all closed.
Every single access to I-25 was blocked WELL ahead of the announced 8:30 time. (They were actually not supposed to start till 8:45, but were supposed to close at 8:30.)
There are a ton of people who work in Denver. Some tried to argue. The police all had that look of “tough. You’ll suffer for what you did.”
I get it. Look I GET IT. They’re hurt. Law enforcement is one of those professions where the only people who GET you are those in the same job, and you think of them as brothers. And when one of you is killed, you want to punish “all them bastages” which translates as “everyone else.”
But it’s like the “pull over two lanes to ensure safety.”
All you’re really doing is making a whole lot of people resentful, because they won’t get to work on time and will spend a ton of time on the road. (The alternate routes were chockablock and we finally got home an hour ago. In our case it was stupid and blame it on “we needed coffee and some kind of food and made a poor decision.” If we’d continued on we’d have saved three hours. BUT a lot of the people caught in the mess with us have no other choice.)
It loses sympathy for the police. It disgraces what should be a respectful and solemn occasion. And it avenges itself on people predisposed to be on the side of law enforcement.
All of these are bad.
It’s no big deal in our case. We were on vacation, this was a jaunt, and the only inconvenience (I know. GRAVE inconvenience) was making this blog late and delaying husband’s nap. BUT for many people it ruined their day, set their teeth on edge, and made them predisposed to believe the police don’t care.
This us versus them mentality will lead to trouble.
I get it. I really do. I understand both sides. It’s a side effect of the job itself. Except for the intentional provocateurs trying to set sheep against sheep dogs, it’s a delicate balance and sometimes it fails.
But because of the intentional provocateurs, both sides are predisposed to misunderstand and pre-judge each other. And this will end very badly.
I want to honor men who fell doing their duty. And I want their comrades to understand that the rest of us have lives that have to go own around the ceremony, that the rest of us not only didn’t shoot an officer, but WOULDN’T shoot an officer, and are per-disposed to believe most police officers are the good guys with no more rotten apples than any other profession. Punishing everyone just because they’re not on the force is… daft.
If you’re going to publish you’ll close a major highway at rush hour, at 8:30, don’t close it at 8:00. There is no point stopping people’s commute. They’ll get up half an hour early to accommodate the procession, but only *ssholes would resent that.
However if you say one hour, then close half an hour earlier, you’re being the prepotent *sshole and messing with people because you CAN and because they’re not of you.
THAT will only play into the hands of the idiots who hate all policemen, and those who want to use the police as the trigger point to bring about their “socialist utopia.”
If you need the place closed from 8, then say so.
Be mindful of the people you serve. Just like most police officers are decent, so are most people who aren’t police officers.
Presumption of hatred on both sides will only lead to hatred.
And standing at each other’s throats will only please those who wish to bring civilization down.