|Feb. 18th, 2008 @ 07:34 am the police vs. the people|
|Note that I wrote the subject line only with contrast in mind, but it works equally well with another definition of "versus", which summarizes my view of the situation.|
First let me say that if it sounds in this blog like I'm biased against cops, that's because I am, and hugely so. If you find that hard to understand, put yourself in my shoes for a while. I've never (as an adult anyway) taken any action I think should be against the law. By the standards of my own system of ethics (which is if anything overdeveloped) I have always been a model citizen. Yet I am constantly in violation of the law. For most of my life the primary threat I've had to deal with has been the police.
The great majority of criminals are not out to harm you physically or in an ongoing fashion. They just want your money and property, and anything else is a means to that end. It sucks when that happens, but you deal with it and life goes on. In sharp contrast, the police aren't happy with my money and property, although they'll happily take that too. They also demand my freedom for an indeterminate time, but that's not nearly enough: your newly minted criminal record will do its best to ruin the rest of your life. Certainly it's not going to improve it.
"So what," you might say. "You'll sure be glad if there's a cop around when you need one." Not that there's likely to be, but do you think that makes me more favorably inclined toward the police? Of course it doesn't - it has the opposite effect. I pay these sick taxes so I can finance the salaries of people who keep me under constant threat, and on top of that I'm completely at their mercy if I'm ever victimized. And you can't call the cops when your illegal possessions are stolen, so you're banished to an extralegal universe where there is no structured way to settle disputes. Let me tell you, this sucks.
One morning in college, my next-door neighbors woke up and discovered a large quantity of their illegal possessions had disappeared the night before. There is no feeling quite like the mutual suspicion that envelops everyone when something like that happens, mixed with the uncertainty about what each person might do. Suddenly people who you had thought of as friends are at best acquaintances. You can buy insurance against your regular possessions vanishing, but there is no insurance against this outcome except firearms and the will to use them. And since the police-enforced black market multiplies the value of all illegal possessions by a large multiple, people tend to assess their loss in financial terms, and to react proportionally.
This isn't what I'd meant to write about at all when I started this post - I intended it to be a brief lead-in to something more about police. But that's all the time I have for this morning so I'll get to the main point on another day. So this is all to provide some context: if day after day after day, for thousands of days on end, one uniformed group is constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to steal your freedom - for, in your opinion, NOTHING - see how fondly you feel about that group by the end, regardless of any other virtues they may possess.