While I have some sympathy for our agents of law enforcement confronting the fact that the rate of violent crime has fallen about half in the last twenty-five years, a reality that gives rise to the fear of being summarily sent to the ranks of the unemployed, agency response has to be judged as totally unacceptable. The answer to less crime being committed should not be to define more behaviors as crimes.
Crime is an injury inflicted on another person, a one-off event that cannot be prevented. All our agents of law enforcement can hope to accomplish is to validate the event, impose restraints and prevent a recurrence. That’s a tedious process involving the preparation and filing of complaints, investigation and meticulous documentation. Which is probably why many a LEO prefers observation and suspicion and acting on gut instincts. Besides, there’s the reality that a significant portion of the population is going to be easily intimidated by periodic reports of violent incidents that the LEOs themselves initiate. When you come right down to it, a culture of obedience is fairly easy to maintain.
But, it is morally repugnant. If the Bible is correct, and free will is man’s most precious attribute, then coerced obedience flies in its face.
So, what are we to make of the show of force during the recent visit by Earl Carter to report on his doings in Washington? Five law enforcement agencies made an appearance at the College of Coastal Georgia campus. In addition to the Sheriff and the Glynn County Police, the State Police, Campus Police and City Police all made an appearance, lest the citizenry become unruly and irritated by being lied to again and again.
As noted, I have some sympathy for the historically well-founded fear that a falling crime rate will result in the ranks of law enforcement being reduced. However, this fear in no way justifies our agents of government converting normal behaviors into new crimes or, even worse, going into the “protection” or “security” racket.
“Safe and secure” has a nice alliterative ring to it, but as Benjamin Franklin pointed out, albeit somewhat indirectly, security is the antithesis of liberty. To be “safe and secure” is to be either tied down or locked up, not at liberty to go about as one pleases.
The culture of obedience has lulled us into being compliant with official directives, rather than relying on the complaint to address and correct impediments to our well-being. And, to a certain extent, this pacification of the populace has been achieved, rather ironically, with an assist from car culture. Strapped in their cages, the licensed operators of automotive vehicles, having consented to being detained on a whim, are the next best thing to a totally secured population. In comparison, pedestrians and bicyclists are loose canons.
Although the effort to extend law enforcement jurisdiction over inoffensive behaviors such as perambulation or sitting on a park bench be demanding evidence of a certified birth or citizenship papers has been derailed by the courts, the LEO desire to maintain the appearance of being on the job will doubtless prompt a continuation of the effort to render the populace compliant.
Odd that “Mother, may I” is so popular with people who have so little use for mothers or fathers, for that matter.