Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 502, January 18, 2009

"Politicians must be taught, in no
uncertain terms, that the only real
way to economically "stimulate" the
Productive Class is to stop stealing
their fucking money!"

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Cops. What good are they?
by Paul Bonneau
1.paulbx1 -+at+-

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Interesting that Neil has also been thinking of police thuggery lately, although his solution had a bit of a pollyannish aroma to it. After all, how can one expect the ruling class and their enforcers (with maybe a few exceptions) to embrace policies inimicable to their interests? One might as well wish for reform of government schools. Ain't gonna happen.

It's not Andy's Mayberry any more, if it ever was. But today, sheesh. We have two simultaneous phenomena making the picture very stark. First and most obvious, the militarization and "thuggification" of the police, along with ever more laws that give them the color of legality for their thuggery. Second, the propagation of video cameras in phones and a means of distributing the videos—youtubes on the Internet—which makes that thuggery ever more visible and disturbing to the formerly unaware. Sure looks like things are going to come to a head, soon.

Police work used to command (strange choice of words, eh?) a certain amount of respect, but it has gone into disrepute lately. Maybe that is inevitable. An acquaintance of Eastern European origins explained that in his former homeland, police were universally scorned. After all, they can literally get away with murder, and other less serious crimes. This being so, their profession naturally attracts more than its fair share of bullies and lowlifes. Police forces are usually fonts of graft and corruption, and undermine the same laws they enforce on the rest of us (e.g. "war on some drugs"). And on and on. As Brendan Behan put it, "There is no human situation so miserable that it cannot be made worse by the presence of a policeman."

Now, when you see a critique of cops on internet forums, usually someone pipes up with the defense that "every profession has its bad apples". Certainly true; but most professions don't let those bad apples kill you and get away with it.

Lately I have performed a little "thought experiment" that I recommend to all of you. It is this: Think up every instance in your life, where you were helped by a police officer. I don't mean generalizations such as "keeping public order" which are debatable, if not completely laughable. I mean being personally helped.

I'm 58 years old. I can think of only a single example in those 58 years. I owned some property out in the boonies, and found one day someone had been dumping trash there. I dug through it and found some of his junk mail. I went to his home about a mile down the road and knocked on his door. No one home, so I left a note telling him to get his crap off my property. In two weeks there was no action, so I took the junk mail I found down to the county and gave it to a cop. He must have read the guy the riot act because my property was cleaned up the next time I was out there.

Of course, this was a low-population, rural county. City cops often wouldn't bother helping you if someone stole your car and you could tell them where it was.

Anyway, that was it (note, that's not to say I couldn't solve the problem myself, but it did make the solution easy). That's all the benefit cops have made for me in my entire life. Balance that against—well, you know. Paranoia every time you see a cop in the rear view mirror. Just a general climate of oppression. A few episodes of bullying. Some folks here have had a lot worse—time in jail for no good reason, beatings, who knows what else. My problems can't match that, but personally, cops have been a huge negative for me. They are a huge negative for everyone. Two million Americans are in jail for no good reason, and cops put 'em there.

Are there no good cops? Well sure, just as every profession has its bad apples, every profession has its good ones too. Of course, there apparently aren't quite enough good ones to stop the police profession from shielding the thugs. And even at best, cops are still members of the parasite class, living off money stolen from taxpayers. I'd like to say more good about good cops, but in my opinion the best will quit and find an honest occupation. No cop is good when he pulls you over to tell you you were going 5 over. Every cop, good or bad, is always looking for something to throw you in jail for; that's his job. If we still had laws on the books making it illegal to shelter escaping slaves, most cops would be looking to catch you doing that too. "It's the law," is all they need to know. Even if they wanted to wink at enforcing evil laws, they'd worry about losing their job even more, and do what their boss tells them to do. Most laws that cops enforce are evil; and to me, that makes the cops who enforce them evil.

People need to learn to say, "I don't need the state's help. I don't need cops. I don't want cops. I can handle any problems I run into myself; and if I can't, oh well! Doesn't matter in any case because 'when seconds count, a cop is minutes away.' With no cops, at least I won't be thrown in jail for no good reason." Go ahead, say it out loud. Feel it in your bones. Throw off years, decades of propaganda about "your friend, the cop". And go out and buy a gun and take responsibility for yourself. It is uplifting to experience.

Meanwhile, we still have thuggish cops. What to do?

Personally, I drive the speed limit. That is easy for me because I'm old, and old people drive slow. So I avoid the most common case where cop thuggery can be triggered (and just in case, I carry a digital voice recorder in the car). Then, I carry a gun, often openly. And even when it's concealed, I live where carrying a gun is common. I'd be willing to bet that has at least some deterrent effect; bullies don't like to risk their own hide after all. I also do not live in a big city. Small-town cops tend to be more like decent human beings because in little towns, word gets around if you are being a jerk of a cop. You might not like the shunning behavior that results. Hell, in small towns, cops even wave at you. And where I live, in Wyoming, there is a tradition of minding your own business which I think helps too.

It's clear there is no legislative fix to cop thuggery. Bad cops will keep killing and tasing and shooting innocent people until that behavior starts to have a cost. And I think with the internet and the spread of concealed carry, and more and more people getting fed up, that will start to happen. The bad apples won't just get a paid administrative vacation after they shoot someone; instead, they will be dead.


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