One of the recurring problems many lovers of liberty – especially we “more radical” free-market anarchists have is how we view police officers. Cops. In the light of the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, let us look more generally at them.
How we should view, and relate, to the police, often comes up when we hear about something like this. In Oakland, an off-duty California Highway Patrolman came to the aid of a woman whose phone was stolen and she was being harassed – and physically attacked – by a couple of young teen hoodlums. For his efforts, he was attacked and beaten – and choked unconscious – by a mob of 13-14 year-old teen thugs. We like to think that all police are like this: willing to risk life and limb to help others. But we know that is not the case.
Too many cops are nothing more than tools of the powers that be: and thugs in their own right. They are the muscle (and the guns) behind the growing tyranny of government at all levels. From the local township constable and country county deputy to the urban-area sheriff’s officers and metropolitan police, the State Police (or Patrol or whatever) to the polished goons of the FBI, DEA, BATFE, and other, more shadowy agencies of the FedGov. Too many are so eager to “enforce the law” that they think it is okay for them to break the law – not just the civil law, not just the Constitutions, but the moral law as well.
Indeed, it often seems that the vast majority of police officers are, at best, “honest cops” that might stay bought. Corrupt, abusive, sometimes murderous, sadist, power-hungry and power-grabbing monsters in human form. From the local code enforcement officer levying fines of thousands for having the wrong kind of vegetation (or none or too much) in your yard. To the Deep State operatives who forment protests and hatred between groups. And too many seem to be moral, if not physical, cowards. And some sick ones seem to get genuine pleasure from their abuse of others – physical, mental, and more.
But then, we hear about some (unidentified) guy like this CHP officer, who seems to believe that police exist “To Serve (People and Society) and Protect (People and Property).”
Or the officer who is injured rescuing stranded motorists on a snowbound highway, or pulling people out of flood waters. Or even stops a murdering gunman in mid-rampage. (Well, ending the rampage.)
Indeed, I am sure all of us can name a few police officers who are admirable in almost every way. Except perhaps for the fact that they are part of, and support, a corrupt institution. An evil institution. Although they may be good in some ways, they are STILL bad because they not just tolerate evil among their number: they protect it and enable it – and the evil men and women who do it – by at least their inaction. And all too many act as apologists for those who are abusive, corrupt, and without discipline and morals.
Is it a surprise that they are tarred with the same brush as the dirty cops?
The situation is compounded (and some would say originated) with the organizations themselves. Police in the Fifty States (and virtually the entire planet) today constitute a standing army occupying their jurisdictions. Whether that hand is easy and light or harsh and hard, it is NOT something that free people should have to endure. That there are “good people” (relatively) in those institutions does not help, for it perpetuates the fundamental wrongness of the entire concept. Not just of police, but of coercive government in toto. Yes, there are those who will proclaim loudly that police exist for the good of society, and of the community.
Let me finish with two quotes, including the one at the start of this commentary:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”C. S. Lewis
And this one, swiping a quote from a commentary by Paul Rosenberg:
I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.George Carlin