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The Case Against Cops
One June 5th, 1989, Associated Press photographer Jeff Widener captured what would become arguably one of the mast famous pictures of the 20th century. Immortalized forever on the film of a Nikon FE2 camera, “Tank Man” depicted a young, unknown student standing with reckless abandon in front of no fewer than four 36 ton Type 59 tanks on a cross walk in Tiananmen Square, China. His simple act of rebellion resonated internationally, touching the hearts of millions of people who recognized his courage, resolve, and the audacity to request change from an oppressive, dictatorial regime. His name is unknown, but he was speculated to be a 19 year old student of a Chinese university who was most likely later shot for daring to stand up to the Chinese State. Whatever remains of this brave young man, his spirit of optimism in the face of oppression is a symbol of hope for millions of people who suffer under totalitarian regimes. Unfortunately, citizens of the United States of America don’t need to look across vast oceans to find a similar oppression slowly creeping in to overcome liberty. Our own Tiananmen Square Type 95 tanks loom ubiquitous around every corner under the flag of “Law Enforcement Officers.”
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I come from a small, conservative, Christian town in the middle of northern California; a land where old family values mean you still call anyone older than you mister or missus, family owned farms dot the landscape, and everybody knows your name. And in Small Town, USA, there are two fast and sure ways to upset everyone:
1) Suggest the military might not be perfect; and
2) Suggest that cops are corrupt.
Ignoring the first point for today (I can only write so much offensive material at once), I’d like to first start off by saying I don’t think all cops as individuals are corrupt. Certainly, I don’t even argue that the majority of them are, individually, corrupt. Rather, the institution wherein a corrupt State gives power to a select group of volunteers to enforce arbitrary and naturally unjust laws is corrupt. So please, if you have any objection the my following musings, please, please, PLEASE do not suggest I am some sort of BLM fanatic, a cop-hater, or that I want all poor people to be shot in the “unrestrained violence and misery” that would result from a complete privatization of our “security” forces. Also, if you have a problem with what I say, instead of finding my grandparents and complaining to them, or to my parents and suggesting they didn’t raise me right, come to me, and I’d be happy to have a discussion with you.
My small town, like many, many others from the purple mountain majesty of the Rockies, across the fruited planes, and all the way to the old Oaks of the South, value certain things that you lose in the busy, bustling metropolitan cities around our country; things like being able to leave your door unlocked at night, the ability to fully trust your neighbor, the influence of religion, and the appeal of everyone knowing everybody else. To the citizens of these fine small towns, these attributes mean only one thing: safety. More accurately, the equal a sense of safety. And who better to foster that sense of safety than police officers, right?
Roughly 240 years ago, the fledging USA had just declared victory against the English Monarchy. “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” declares our preamble. A few short years before that, Thomas Jefferson wrote, in an effort to justify the war to King George, the Declaration of Independence insisting that all men were endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (which may also be called property). Jefferson, along with the sentiments of a great percentage of the American colonials, felt that King George had not only violated their rights by instituting oppressive taxation without adequate colonial representation, but had also did not recognize the authority of the colonists to adequately protect themselves against violations of these rights through egregious legislation like the two Quartering Acts, Writs of Assistance, no right to a jury, and the omnipresence of Royal soldiers to police the streets to provide law enforcement for King George. Roughly 128,000 deaths later, the US said good-bye to the subterfuge, taxation, and law enforcement of the English Crown.
Americans young and old herald this war as the most pure manifestation of liberty since Easter morning, 33A.D. Such veneration do We the People have for our Founding Fathers that you can’t turn on the TV without hearing a pundit say such and such would please the founders, or such and such would have them rolling over in their graves. Through disciplined study of religion and philosophy, the Founders molded the teachings of Jesus, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Paine into an elegant system of limited, decentralized government that protected the common man from the machinations of a large, tyrannical, authoritarian state. Yet in their wisdom, such incredible wisdom idolized by nearly everyone, the Founding Fathers included no provision for the creation of a State-provided (read also as funded) law-enforcement system. In fact, the first official police force in the US was not instituted until 1838 in Boston – a full fifty years after the ratification of the US Constitution. Had the Founding Fathers completely neglected the safety of the entire citizenry of their new country? Certainly not!
In fact, the Founding Fathers viewed the safety of American Citizens as the most important result of the Revolutionary War and instituted a policy so incredibly unique to the American system of government: the Second Amendment. Rather than looking at all the ways in which the Constitution is meant to protect the citizens from the State, suffice it to say, the Founders recognized the need of Americans to deter the encroachment of the Federal State on the powers delegated to the states and localities. So, as if by mandate from God, they codified the inherent right of each and every citizen to self-preservation, expressed as the right to keep and bear arms. Gone were the days of relying on the State for protection. The new, radical system of government enumerated in the Constitution recognized the rights of the citizenry to private property, and recognized their right to defend it, by deadly force if necessary.
There was further reason for the Founding Fathers not to include provisions for the institution of State law enforcement. They recognized the immutable natural law which postulates that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Since the institution of the first police force in 1838, we have seen the number and magnitude of laws grow exponentially, and become wildly more intrusive. Consider that there are over 20,000 federal laws alone regulating the use of fire-arms. In the 1980’s, an attempt made to codify every federal law was incomplete after over fifty volumes of 23,000 pages each were created. As it stood then, there were over 1,150,000 pages of written federal law, with many more laws still not codified, and a plethora of state and county laws as well. With over one million pages of written law, surely these strictures provided to us by the State were written to benefit us and keep us safe, right? If only.
The law is written to convict people of behavior that is either malum in se, or malum prohibitum. From the latin meaning “evil in itself,” conduct described as malum in se is wrong because the conduct is inherently wrong, like murder or theft. Again turning to the writings of the Founding Fathers, actions and behaviors that infringe upon God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are malum in se, and warrant an appropriate response by authority of the Second Amendment. Using the second amendment for context, if someone has broken into your domicile with murderous attempt as evidenced by the brandishing of a weapon, you are justified to similarly and summarily use a weapon to repel any attack, even if it ends in the death of the first aggressor. The first aggressor’s conduct was malum in se, and, if laws must be written, they must be written to protect individuals against said behavior. This is distinguished from conduct considered malum prohibitum which is behavior that is wrong because it is prohibited, and only because it is prohibited with no regard for the inherent nature of the behavior. Tank man’s behavior in Tiananmen Square was wrong according to the Chinese State. It was malum prohibitum, because the Chinese State forbade him from doing it. It was not behavior malum in se, because, as our Constitution would stipulate, all men have the right to peacefully assemble; that is, they have an inherent right to pursue happiness. One would expect that if police are provided through socialistic design, that is, money is taken from the citizenry and redistributed to law enforcement agencies, then surely they must be there to protect us from behavior that is malum in se, and not malum prohibitum?
The state of Ohio has laws that allow policemen to bite dogs if they think it will calm the dog down. The state of Virginia does not allow a woman to drive down Main Street unless her husband is walking in front with a red flag. You can be penalized for singing off-key in North Carolina (who among us can be found innocent in the eyes of that law?). If you’re a woman who appears unshaven in public in New Mexico, the police are allowed to use force against you. These are just some of the many laws the State has passed in order to keep us safe, or so they say. To add insult to injury, not only do they not let you sing off-key in North Carolina, Connor Compassion isn’t allowed to feed the homeless without State approval; Francine Frugal could be arrested for collecting rain water on her own property; and 10 year old Lucas Lemonade has to shut his lemonade stand because he doesn’t have the proper business permits. These, too, are laws the State has passed for our supposed benefit. So numerous are the number of federal, state, and local edicts that it is estimated that the common citizen, despite what may be an upstanding reputation, commits at least three felonies a day.Yet we are told it is our duty to follow these precepts under some obligation to a social contract we didn’t inherently agree to. I’m reminded of the New Testament Pharisees who lorded over the laity a ridiculous collection of orders and obligations too numerous to follow and then suggested the citizenry were too evil to be able to follow the law.
Noted French economist, Frederic Bastiat, took the words of the Declaration of Independence and expounded upon them in his magnum opus, “The Law.” His short, but powerful work of only 75 pages argued that rights do not exist because of laws, but, rather, that laws exist to protect rights. All men, being endowed with a natural right to life, liberty, and property, as contended Bastiat, also have a natural right to protect those rights. Thus, he surmised, that any just law enforced by any just government must only be instituted to protect the natural rights inherent to man. But in the hands of power, the law begins to limit and destroy the very thing it was designed to protect. Man is not allowed to pursue his happiness if he happens to sing off key in North Carolina. Man is unable to collect rain water on his property through the abuses of the State. The corruptions of our State don’t end there.
“Piss Christ” is a 1987 photograph by American Photographer Andres Serrano which depicts a plastic crucifix submerged in a jar of the artist’s urine. The federally subsidized National Endowment for the Arts gave Serrano $20,000 in compensation for the work.
The federal State provided Planned Parenthood, the institution notorious for its excessive use of abortions and organ-harvesting market, subsidies totaling over $528 million in 2014 alone.
In 1996, Madeleine Albright was asked by 60 Minutes host, Leslie Stahl, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” This question, prompted by military action in Iraq over supposed weapons of mass destruction, resulted in the 60 Minutes segment winning an Emmy Award. Albright, future Secretary of State and US Ambassador to the United Nations at the time, responded, “We think the price is worth it.”
In 2008, the federal State used over $1.4 million in taxpayer money to study the “social milieu” of male prostitutes in Vietnam.
Taxpayers spend millions of dollars a year funding the lavish lifestyles of politicians including complete sets of crystal stemware, golden toilets, and countless, costly junkets among numerous other abuses.
The federal State has spent over $150 million dollars studying the response of fish injected with cocaine, monkeys fed meth, rabbits given LSD, and mice subjected to morphine. Tens of thousands of animals were slaughtered through these experiments on the tax payer’s dime.
In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service, the agency of the State responsible for collecting pelf, became even more infamous when it was discovered that they had illegally targeted conservative and religious groups filing for tax-exempt status.
In July 2015, an Oregon administrative court ruled that private business owners, Melissa and Aaron Klein, owed the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries $135,000 plus interest after they refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Frequent, well-publicized, and media-supported attempts to infringe upon the citizenry’s second amendment rights are made.
These examples, as well as countless others, should leave the reader with no doubt in their mind that our government, local, state, and federal, is fundamentally corrupt and has abused the power of their office in order to create laws that infringe upon the citizenry’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thus we’ve arrived to the problem with police officers.
There are many among us who think that police officers comprise a security agency implemented for protection of the common man against the unjust intentions of the wicked among us. They are glorified by many as if they are the brave student standing tall in Tiananmen Square, protecting us from the oncoming onslaught of Type 95 tanks. But to call police officers a “security” agency already neglects what they actually are: a law enforcement agency. Police officers, as the law enforcement agency, make up the militant arm of the domestic aspect of the State. They are given power by the State to enforce, with deadly power, all of the laws and decrees of the State. It isn’t the responsibility of law enforcement officers to pick and choose which laws they enforce. By their nature, by their creed, by their Oath of Honor, they are expected by the State to forcefully incentivize with the same vigor a man to stop singing off-key in North Carolina, and a man murdering his neighbor in Detroit. To ask a law enforcement officer to only enforce the laws he wants, or which benefit him those most, purport that law enforcement officers are above the law, when they aren’t, right?
First introduced in 1974 following Supreme Court rulings in Garrity v. New Jersey, and Gardner v. Broderick, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) is comprised of no fewer than 10 statutes to protect law enforcement officers from personal investigation and prosecution arising from allegations of misconduct. The statutes range in varying degrees of egregiousness from allowing law enforcement officers to run for office, to allowing officers to know the names of their accusers and nature of the accusation(s) before ever being questioned, to the State not being allowed to inform the public if their “public servants” are under investigation, to restricting all investigations to occur when the accused officer is on duty, unless there are “exigent” circumstances. Not only are law enforcement officers not called to a higher standard than the citizenry, they aren’t even called to the same standard. Law enforcement officers are able to operate at a decidedly lower standard than the public because law enforcement officers serve the needs of the State, and therefore receive the ample protection of the State. Why, any breach of conduct is initially justified as “just doing my job.” When Officer Jeff Payne demanded nurse Alex Wubbels allow him to violate suspected criminal Marcos Torres’ constitutional rights by getting a vial of blood without consent, RN Wubbels refused. She was violently removed from the scene and detained though she was simply following hospital policy. The officer, clearly in the wrong, tried to assuage the incoming PR storm by insisting he was just doing his job. Fortunately, due to the high profile nature of the case and numerous videos floating all over social media, Officer Payne was fired, and his supervisor was demoted from Lieutenant to Officer. How can an institution that claims to protect and serve operate under legal protections the common man isn’t afforded? Why, to even do their job appropriately, they have to break the many tiresome malum prohibitum laws you and I are expected to follow at gunpoint. As an anecdotal example, one of my friends, who happens to be a law enforcement officer, suggested to me that law enforcement officers were the only people who would break every traffic law there was just to get to a victim in his or her hour of need.
Your Honor, I rest my case.
But, is it even their duty to assist a citizen in his or her hour of need?
We need to look no further than the Supreme Court case of Castle Rock v. Gonzalez, and the D.C. Court of Appeals case Warren v. District of Columbia to recognize that law enforcement officers are not a security agency.
Between June 22 and 23, 1999, Jessica Gonzalez called police four separate times accusing her estranged husband Simon of violating the parameters of a court-issued restraining order and taking his three children outside of visitation hours. Because of Jessica’s occasional leniency of the stipulations of the restraining order, police took no action. Around 0320 on June 23, Simon engaged the law enforcement officers in a shoot-out at police headquarters where Simon was killed. During a search of his car outside, law enforcement officers discovered the corpses of his three daughters. Ms. Gonzales sued the department for breach of duty, and, in the ensuing legal battle, the Supreme Court of the United States ultimately ruled that law enforcement officers have no constitutional duty to protect individual citizens, or even to uphold the restrictions of a restraining order…
Early in the morning on March 16, 1975, the home of four women, including plaintiff Carolyn Warren was broken into by two men who forced one of the women to perform oral sex on the first aggressor while the other aggressor raped her. Hearing the screams of the assaulted woman, two of the other women called 911 requesting help as their house was being burglarized. The first call, logged at 0623, resulted in four police cruisers being dispatched to the scene. Only one law enforcement official knocked on the door, but left when no one answered the door. Watching from the roof they had crawled onto after escaping out a window, the two women not being assaulted again called 911 at 0642 and crawled back inside, but the request to “investigate trouble” was never dispatched to any officers. Believing police had arrived at the scene, the two women attempted to help their roommate who was being assaulted. The two aggressors took three of the four women (the fourth was a young daughter) back to their own apartment where they proceeded to spend the next 14 hours raping, beating, and forcing the women to engage in sex acts upon each other, and engage in the other depraved demands of the kidnappers. After suing the department for breach of duty, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement officers have no constitutional duty to protect individual citizens.
But why should they? Law enforcement officers are not a security agency, they are a law enforcement agency. They have no constitutional duty to protect individual citizens because, not the least of which, the entire institution is unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers were intelligent in their design to keep security in the hands of private citizens, instead of using a mercenary service provided by the same State that they recognized was the biggest danger to personal liberty.
The War on Drugs should be another indication that police are not here to protect, but are here to enforce. And, with plentiful Civil Asset Forfeiture laws, are here to make money doing it. One might ask, if cops are truly here to protect the average citizen, why do law enforcement officers only make an arrest for the malum prohibitum crime of buying and selling marijuana after the transaction has occurred? Why not arrest the drug dealer before he inflicts his “damage” to another citizen? Simply put, it’s because all the money they collect during these arrests and raids goes straight back to the department. Apparently, the offenders then learn to never ingest a plant again by being repeatedly raped in iron cages. Not only does the money used in the exchange get usurped by the law enforcement agency, any property they have even a suspicion was used in the creation, proliferation, exchange, or implementation of a crime can be taken, via force, by the State. Then, in a disgusting bastardization of the American legal system, the victims of civil asset forfeiture bear the burden of proof, rather than the presumption of innocence, to prove to the State that their property wasn’t involved in whatever schemes law enforcement purported. It should also be mentioned, the process by which this appeal takes places in exceedingly convoluted and the State bears no responsibility to inform the accused citizen of how to navigate the process. In fact, over 80% of people never get their stolen property back, even if they were found innocent! And, as for the law enforcement agency, should the complainant be smiled upon from above and get their property back after a false accusation? They were just doing their job. Further proof of a system that allows a corrupt institution to operate at a lower legal standard than the citizenry.
We must also make a mention of the negative incentives of law enforcement agencies to function. Whereas in the free market, invisible signals allow consumers and producers to come to mutually beneficial exchanges to increase the quality of life of the people, law enforcement has no such feature. The State tells law enforcement what to do, not the markets. Shoot, the public doesn’t even tell their public servants what to do. The free market brought us innovations like ADT because people put a premium on safety. Law enforcement and the State gave us over 1,150,000 pages of law to follow to line the pockets of the State. One of the most egregious malum prohibitum laws makes it illegal for a citizen to drive without wearing a seatbelt. If a law enforcement officer makes a traffic stop because he had reasonable suspicion someone wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, the officer pulls him over, cites his or her offense, and fines the offender. In a cruel twist of economics, all the money plundered from enforcing an unjust law goes straight back to the citing department. Can you imagine?! What happens when the soft-ball team needs new uniforms? The current amphibious tank has a few too many miles on it? The amount of enforced traffic laws goes up and so does the income of the department. Even better for them, they aren’t abusing their job. Au contraire, they are doing their job well – enforcing over 1,150,000 million pages of law. Even worse, law enforcement agencies have no incentive to actually solve the violent crimes that most citizens would actually appreciate assistance in. Federal grants and subsidies are often granted based on solve rates. Low grade B&E, traffic violations, and so on are much easier to solve than prostitute murders or homeless drug offenses. Cops actually have an incentive to ignore those hot-button issues because they get more money from the State when they appear to be better at their job. The old adage, “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” never hurt a law enforcement agency and actually helps to line their pockets. Why are most crime ridden areas among us also the poorest? It isn’t the wealthier communities that “need” law enforcement, but the majority of law enforcement efforts are concentrated there.
This increasing power of the State to control your life is exactly what the Founding Fathers were afraid of – this is the type of degradation of society they fought against. One may tell the degradation of free society by the increasing powers of law enforcement. The Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act of 1981 is a federal law that allows the military to assist local law enforcement agencies with equipment, training, and intelligence. The 1033 Program of 1997 allows for the transfer of military surplus supplies and weapons to local law enforcement agencies, free of charge – all the way from drones, to helicopters, weapons, and even miniature tanks. The Los Angeles police force have asked the federal government for a submarine. In Cobb Country, Georgia, the police force own an amphibious tank. In the small town of Ripon, California, the local police force, among other things, owns an ultra-light reconnaissance aircraft for air patrol. One can only imagine Ben Franklin who said, among other things, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” rolling over in his grave.
“Conservatives” lambast liberals for advocating big government policies that tighten the State’s control over your life and over your wallet. Yet, in the height of hypocrisy, conservatives are the most ardent supporters of law enforcement agencies. They support in spectacular fashion the militant arm of the domestic branch of the State. They support the very thing they denigrate and ridicule liberals for but are too myopic to realize their folly. Somehow, through all the corruption of the State, the immoral things
it forces us to do, the unethical ways it uses its pelf, the violations against our liberty, and the unjust laws it passes, conservatives venerate law enforcement agencies as some ethereal entity that transcends all of the evils the very State it works tirelessly to support! Conservatives, if not Libertarians, should be the first among us to advocate for sweeping, complete reform of the institution of law enforcement through privatization.
Murray Rothbard, in his essay “Privatize the Police,” which can be found at the Mises Institute, makes the economical case for privatizing the police. His economic and moral defense of the idea is without fault and has no crack in its logic in which some dissident can find a foot hold. I’m not going to provide an economic analysis of the arguments for the privatization of police. Should you desire one, seek out Rothbard’s article and the Mises Institute. Anything I say would be a poor iteration of one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. The Founding Fathers also provided an economic alternative to law enforcement in the Second Amendment. You have the right to protect yourself, should, God help you, you ever need to use it.
I’ve been accused of pushing an impossible utopian agenda in a sinful society. Evidently, my accuser’s answers to controlling the corruption of the State is with…more State; more laws to limit behavior, more laws to protect law enforcement. Each day we provide more support to law enforcement, we become more dependent on them and their benevolence, should they chose to offer it. The Law Enforcement Action Partnership was originally founded by a group of law enforcement officers who recognized that the Drug War was counterintuitive and was doing more harm than good to the fabric of our society. Since then, the organization has come to recognize all the ways in which laws are unjust and how enforcing those laws means supporting a totalitarian regime. Wonderfully, many cops have been so conflicted by this cognitive dissonance that they’ve left the police force – the most wonderful thing a law enforcement officer can do. Each time someone becomes a police officer they remove themselves from other areas of productive employment. Hopefully they can find gainful employment weaving a richer, more brotherly thread in the fabric of society. Unfortunately, they also leave behind other law enforcement officers who operate with fewer qualms about the progressive enslavement of free people through violent means – cops who are more likely to use brutal force to compel citizens to follow the edicts of the State.
The impossible dream is the belief that law enforcement and the State can better provide for the security of a free people than the market and free people themselves can. Rather than concede to the State and law enforcement agencies a monopoly on liberty violations, I will continue to advocate for the abolition and subsequent privatization of law enforcement. If you believe in a free society, if you argue that our State has been corrupted from the intent of the founders, if you believe the Founding Fathers were justified in engaging in a bloody conflict with the English Monarchy over issues such as these, if you believe that all men are endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and if you believe that the purpose of law is purely to protect you, citizen, against aggressions against these rights, you have no choice, in fact you have a human duty, to oppose, respectfully, law enforcement agencies.
Jeff Widener’s 1898 photograph captivated the world with his portrayal of an unknown student standing in front of the law enforcement agency of China. He did not depict selfless police officers in stalwart defense of your liberty against the machinations of the evil. Here in the United States, we recognized that the student was using his voice for liberty, yet we choose to hide behind our “democracy” when it is our own State violating our liberties. Who do you choose to idolize? Who do you choose to resonate with? Are you the brave student fighting tyranny? Or are you a mouthpiece for the tanks?
Give me liberty, or give me death.
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