"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely
overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common
enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when
once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their
liberties to the first external or internal invader."
Let's play a game! Its called Good Cop/Bad Cop. You see if you can identify the good and bad cops from these pictures! Well no, not really, but take a look at a few images with me.
First, a more recent one, which should be familiar. This is used as an image of a brutal mean cop abusing power:
Aside from his holding the gun sideways, this guy is doing everything right. He's protecting his partner from a mob, his finger is off the trigger. He was undercover in a "rally" and got identified, so the guy on the ground started attacking him. He and his partner took down the guy and the crowd got ugly, so this guy is ordering them back. The gun is sideways probably not out of habit but because gangsta rap-riddled street people probably identify that with danger more than handling the pistol correctly. Good Cop.
Lets look at another cop:
Here we have a police officer kicking a restrained person in the head. Maybe she's mouthing off but she's sitting and has already been cuffed. That's a bad cop. There's nothing she could have done to justify a boot to the head, as satisfying as it might have been, depending on how she's talking. Bad cop.
This one? A cop shutting down a national park walkway during the "government shutdown" last year. He's a Forest Service officer, putting up a barrier. Here's another:
Each of these law enforcement officials are following orders to close off open areas not due to a lack of funds - they're being paid and working - and not because the areas are unsafe without police. They're being told to do it because it was meant to generate negative publicity and help the press portray the government shut down as awful, painful and an act of depraved evil by Ted Cruz.
It worked with some people - to this day I know leftists that call him 'crazy' and so on. But it wasn't being done for any valid law enforcement purpose. Blocking off the completely open WW2 memorial to vets in wheelchairs was an act of a jerk, not reasonable law enforcement. And the cops that carried this out? Bad cops.
Here's an older pic. Its a police officer who ordered a large group of people to leave, and they refused. They resisted being picked up. He was outnumbered and surrounded by others. So he pulled out the pepper spray as per training and police procedure to subdue them and take them in. It looked bad on camera to have the fascist pig hosing down beloved peaceful Occupy members who didn't resist, but the fact was, they were breaking the law, resisting arrest, and refusing to cooperate. So they got the spray. Good Cop.
And one last one. This 400 pound giant refused to be arrested. He simply defied the cops and said he wasn't going in. How much he was influenced by the news full of riots and protests against cops is unclear but he was resisting arrest, even if not violently. When you're that big you don't have to be tough.
In the ensuing struggle, he died of a heart attack - not due to a choke hold, but as you can see, the hold is called a "seatbelt hold" and is permitted by the NYPD; its supposedly less dangerous to employ. This guy was in awful shape, so how long he had without the struggle is unclear. If he'd lived, nobody would even know about the arrest. So good cop?
There's more to this story: these cops were only doing this (and there were
quite a few of them, including a black woman supervising officer)
because of a crackdown related to a recent ordinance passed by the New
York City government. This guy was guilty of the horrific crime of
selling single cigarettes on the street.
And when you sell them
that way - usually obtained from highjacked/stolen cigs or from Indian
reservation stores - the NYC government doesn't get their several
dollar-a-pack tax. This arrest only took place because the city wanted its blood, and they got it in this man's life.
WHAT WE WANT TO IGNORE
See, there's something going on behind the scenes here that isn't being discussed in the news or many places. Its an important something, too. Its one of those things that is the root cause but is uncomfortable or unwelcome to think about. We all know it, but since it gets in the way of a political position or ideal, then we pretend to ignore it or think otherwise.
Its like during the bailouts of huge banks and corporations in 2008. TARP, we were told by pundit after news anchor, after talking head, after politician, that we couldn't simply let CITI and BankAmerica dangle, that they had to be protected. When the banks die and you're left without your retirement, well tough. But these megacorporations have to survive, they are "too big to fail."
Why? Well the argument went like this: they're so rich and hire so many people, and are such a significant portion of the US economy that if JP Morgan Chase folds, that would collapse the economy. This, we were told, by many people who at the same time would insist that "trickle down" is a lie, that the Laffer Curve is trash, and that rich people can be taxed massively without harming jobs or the economy.
They understand the problem with their arguments, they know better, but they argue against it anyway because they hold to a certain economic ideal that appeal to them emotionally and all their friends agree, so it must be true.
In the same way, everyone knows something basic about government: if it gets too powerful, too big, and too all-encompassing, it becomes tyrannical and destructive. Everyone knows this, even the biggest big-government socialist. They draw the line different places but we all know it.
And we also all know, deep down, that every incremental step of power, regulation, and law that the government encroaches upon our liberties and lives, the more power law enforcement must necessarily have to impose that power upon us.
Government only exists as an exercise of power. It is force, it is out of the barrel of the gun, ultimately. Government can be a tremendous force for good and productivity, progress and benefit. But it only does so if it has the power to do so, if it has the money and the means to engage its power toward these ends. And every single dollar and bullet of that power the government has means less power to the individual person, the community, the local people.
Law enforcement is carrying out the will of an ever-increasing monster with billions of tentacles reaching out further and further. If they go too far, often if not most of the time, its because they're being pressured and directed to by their bosses.
For every "free speech zone" there's a cop arresting people for expressing their freedom of speech in the "wrong place." For every city ordinance against smoking, there's a cop writing someone up for smoking in the wrong place. For every regulation against trans fats, there's a law enforcement official reporting on a restaurant serving the wrong food.
Each new law that passes, each regulation, each rule, each executive order, each new court ruling represents a restriction of your liberty, its true. But it also represents another bullet in the magazine of the police officer who is just out there to enforce the law. And sometimes that means they're directed to go out and enforce bad laws in bad ways. Like "shutting down" an open public space, or choking out a guy for selling cigarettes.
When you read about some little kid being shut down for not having a license to sell lemonade, that law enforcement individual is being a jerk, but he's being a jerk because he's being forced or at least told to by someone higher in authority.
And that power we've incrementally given more and more and more and more of to the government, centralizing it increasingly away from us, our input, and our ability to act to restrain it by accountability, votes, and pressure, inevitably and absolutely results in more abuse by law enforcement officials.
There's a reason cops were given military surplus starting with the Clinton administration. There's a reason they're getting more and more tools to limit our freedom and make their lives easier to "catch the bad guys." Its because there are more, and more, and more bad guys every day added to the rolls simply by doing what they've always done. Every new law means one more thing we can't do that the cops have to stop us from doing.
So bad cops? Yeah. There are bad cops out there. But too often, they're bad because they're directed to be by who we put in power with our votes, hoping for more goodies and more things to be "fixed" by the right law, the right guy in power, and the right regulation. For our own good. And people don't really seem to want to think about that.