Monday, June 30, 2008

Killing You So You Won’t Die

Hypothetical question: say I’ve got a loaded gun, safety off, finger on the trigger, and aimed at your head or chest. (Reminder to those of you who’ve forgotten high school biology: the head and chest regions are where humans store their “can’t survive without them” internal organs, which is why gunshot wounds to the head or torso are more likely to cause fatalities than similar wounds to arm or leg.)

Then, while I’ve got you in this ominous context, I say “Don’t move or I’ll kill you, because it’s my job to protect you from bodily harm.”

Here’s my question: which of the following two responses most closely mirrors your own?

a) “Thanks, Jennifer! I’m both respectful of and grateful for your selfless willingness to do whatever it takes to keep me safe, up to and including shooting me in the head. It’s like you’re John Wilkes Booth to my Lincoln, only in a good way;” or,

b) “Jennifer, that self-contradiction is enough to qualify as ‘psychopathic lunacy,’ a trait which I don’t like to see in anyone even carrying a gun, let alone aiming it at my vital organs.”

If you answered “B” then you lack sufficient respect for modern American law enforcement.

Check out this SFW disaster-pr0n photo essay from the flood-devastated Midwest. Most of the entries show fury-of-Nature, wrath-of-God type images of overflowing rivers and a chode-of-God tornado, but there’s also a wrath-of-cop scene if you scroll down to the second shot from the bottom: two police officers, obviously pissed off, one aiming a gun through the windshield of a pickup truck while his partner prepares to smash the passenger-side window. (You can’t see the driver behind the glare off the glass.)

The caption reads: “An angry resident that tried to drive around a security checkpoint is stopped by one police officer, right, while another tries to break his window to extract him in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, June 16, 2008.”

There’s more details to be found in this story, which gives the pick-up driver’s name as Rick Blazek. He wasn’t some felonious out-of-towner looking to loot a deserted neighborhood, but a man merely wishing to return to his home. The guns and the checkpoints were there to prevent this, for Blazek’s own good:

Police twice caught a man in his flood-damaged home before the property had been cleared by city inspectors. But Rick Blazek vowed to return — even if he had to sneak behind bushes.

"Once I'm in there, I'm not coming out unless they have handcuffs and leg shackles," he pledged Sunday at a checkpoint where authorities were limiting access.

That's what happened Monday when officers pulled Blazek out of his pickup after he tried to run a checkpoint. When he allegedly bumped an Iowa state trooper with the truck, police drew their guns, broke a window on his vehicle and wrestled Blazek out. He was charged with assaulting an officer.

Blazek was among thousands of flood victims frustrated by authorities' decision Monday to cut off access to flood-damaged homes because of safety concerns.

A loaded gun pointed in the right direction is all it takes to transform a sincere concern for public safety into a menace to same. And it makes me suspect, as I sit here in my apartment on the second floor of a high-ceilinged building, that if imminent floods ever inspired a local evacuation, I’d probably be one of those stubborn holdouts who hunker down and refuse to leave.

It’s not that I’d mind leaving my home and all worldly goods for a couple of days (I do that whenever I take vacations). But I don’t want government agents later telling me “For your own safety, you can’t go back until we grant permission,” because then I’d say “If you wanted to keep me safe you wouldn’t point that gun at me,” and whatever happens next is bound to be depressing. But done to keep me safe, the cops will assure all who ask.

I support gun rights, except for this: if you point a loaded gun at somebody, you forfeit the right to say “I’m acting in that somebody's best interest.”

29 Comments:

Blogger Michelle In Ga said...

How can he prove he isn't a looter?
Seriously. If the guy even had id
on him, extra cops from the next town over might not know the adresses that they're guarding.
And then this dumbass may get
himself stuck, and have to rely
on already stretched thin resources to bail him out of his own stupidty.

No sympathy here.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

The man's an adult, Michelle. Why not let him decide for himself if he wants to take the risk? If you don't have the freedom to make the wrong choices, you don't have freedom at all.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Officer said...

Oh God,
Here's another backseat driver offering her completely ill informed, off the cuff, childlike, naive, advice on how law enforcement should be handled.
Go on a few ride alongs with police officers before you tell them how to do their jobs. They can't let him go in because if he does get stuck, and they don't come for him he will sue and win. Seriously Jennifer, I hate to start with the name calling but you're losing touch with reality and becoming like Bill Mahr, Rosie O'Donnell and Al Franken They used to be funny, but then developed a god complex. Please stick with the humor, you have such a gift for it.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

They can't let him go in because if he does get stuck, and they don't come for him he will sue and win.

That is indeed a problem, but the solution is to remove the legal bubble-wrap from society and let the words "at your own risk" mean something in our vocabulary again. This Blazek guy was already in his house twice before with no problem ... except the problem of police who wouldn't let him stay there.

Frankly, if I had a flood wipe through my whole neighborhood, I too would be willing to take on some risks in hopes of salvaging whatever I could from my worldly possessions.

Please stick with the humor, you have such a gift for it.

Thank you. But I do think it's funny, in a horrible, "oh God what's happening to my formerly free country" sort of way, that if my neighborhood were to be flooded out and I decided to stay home anyway, the cops would shoot me if I don't leave the area, and insist it's for my own safety.

You there, Officer: I have no problem with you wielding your authority to protect people from other people. The problem comes when you're willing to imprison or kill me to protect me from myself.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous officer said...

We have more freedoms then any other human being on this planet! However even Spiderman would paraphrase by saying "With great Freedom comes great responsibility" unfortunately many of us have not shown great responsibility, therefore at times it is necessary to curtail some of those very freedoms. Don't blame the authorities, blame the ones who abuse these freedoms.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Dave-o-ramA said...

Not to be contrarian, Jennifer, but the officer didn't pull the gun to protect the resident. He pulled it in response to resident's reckless actions. Frankly in this case the officer showed more restraint than I might have. Bump me with a pickup while I've got a gun and there's a possibilty he'd get shot.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Not to be contrarian, Jennifer, but the officer didn't pull the gun to protect the resident. He pulled it in response to resident's reckless actions.

The officer was manning a checkpoint solely to keep the man away from his own home, presumably for the man's own good. The police had no business doing that. More importantly, Blazek wouldn't have been near the checkpoint anyway if he hadn't already been twice evicted from his own place.

However even Spiderman would paraphrase by saying "With great Freedom comes great responsibility" unfortunately many of us have not shown great responsibility, therefore at times it is necessary to curtail some of those very freedoms. Don't blame the authorities, blame the ones who abuse these freedoms.

Certainly freedom comes with responsibility. But how do you figure that ties in to the case at hand? You're denying a man the freedom to go to his home because -- what? Where's the failure of responsibility here? You're the one denying Blazek the responsibility to make his own decisions about which risks he's willing to take.

And what's this nonsense about "police caught" him in his own home twice before? Unless he was harming others by being there, it wasn't anybody else's business that he was.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

Here's another domesticated thug offering his completely egotistical, out of line, knee-jerk, toe the line advice on how stupid citizens are.

Hey Barney Fife, why not treat people like adults and let them decide how much risk they want to take, or are you just another paternalistic cop who thinks we average folks are lucky to tie our shoes in the morning much less make choices about the risks we want to assume?

You cops are always so full of yourselves, so sure that you know what's best for the rest of us. Why don't you go taze an 8 year old or something and leave us alone.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Matt L said...

Cops and floods make an ugly combination. How about making the guy sign a waiver saying he won't sue if he gets into a situation requiring rescue.

With great freedom comes great responsibility.

True. In this case Blazek should be responsible for his own safety.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Hey Barney Fife...risks we want to assume?

Unfortunately many times after doing just that, the same guy will sue them for not preventing him/her from causing themselves injury. Makes little sense.

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They can't let him go in because if he does get stuck, and they don't come for him he will sue and win.

Advice to Police Office. To quote you: "Here's another backseat driver offering his completely ill informed, off the cuff, childlike, naive, advice on [the law]."

Dude ... you are cop. You are not an attorney. Cops love to give legal advice. Here is a law cops should know - practicing law without a license is a crime.

So first off - the guy would not win such a lawsuit. That's an urban myth used principally to bash attorneys and promote restrictions on one of the last bastions of citizen power - to access our courts.

Having said that - I agree with you. I cringed when I read this story by Jennifer, because I suspect that I am more of a libertarian than she is. But this is not the right cause to take up - Jennifer.

I just happened to be in Iowa on a case last week and flew into Des Moines, and then flew through St. Louis on the way back and saw the flooding from the air - it was amazing. I also found myself at an airport bar in St. Louis next to a sleep-deprived and very cranky FEMA worker, who was bitching about what complete FUBAR the situation was and how levies were still giving out.

So it's a question of degree, but two points Jennifer.

First, you would have no problem with the police barring someone from running into a burning apartment building (at their own risk making their own adult free choice), because it's not his/her choice to put the firemen at risk, who are obligated to attempt to save those in the buildng.

So that covers the road block, which is a choice the police probably do not make - they just enforce.

Now as far as the gun-play is involved, dave-o is right. It's simply not a good idea to assault a police officer with a deadly weapon (truck), which is what the guy did here.

Now both of these things are questions of degree. The relative danger of the flood situation and the seriousness of the assault on the officer, but this is not a scenario from which to draw guiding principles. This is a situation where you role the video-tape and deal with it on a case by case basis.

Maybe the authorities were overly cautious as to this particular neighborhood. Maybe the police (understandably or not) did overreact to an honest citizen in this particular case, but if that is so, you cannot generalize from such an isolated incident. Because in both cases, legitimate government action is at issue.

So then all you are doing is bitching about one case, which is like saying we should throw out the presumption of innocence because a guilty man was set free. Every system will be imperfect because it is run by human beings - you do the best you can.

- Tom

Hartford, CT

6:25 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

I cringed when I read this story by Jennifer, because I suspect that I am more of a libertarian than she is.

Ooooo. More of a libertarian? Well I suppose that's debatable. One thing is sure though - you aren't the most tactful libertarian going - not unless you really like the taste of your own toe jam. ;-)

7:57 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

First, you would have no problem with the police barring someone from running into a burning apartment building (at their own risk making their own adult free choice), because it's not his/her choice to put the firemen at risk, who are obligated to attempt to save those in the buildng.

I'd have no problem with barring children from a burning building (yes, there are For-The-Children exemptions to my notions of freedom). And I would certainly not advise any adult to run into such a building either.

But on the other hand: suppose you're willing to risk running back in, because you want to remove money, your novel manuscript, or some other irreplaceable item. I still say the risk is yours. And while I can understand a legitimate authoritarian desire to keep you out of the building, if they go so far as to draw a gun and say "Stop or I'll shoot," it stops being "for your own good" and instead becomes a Cartmanesque "Respect my authoritah, or I'll kill you myself!"

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And while I can understand a legitimate authoritarian desire to keep you out of the building, if they go so far as to draw a gun and say "Stop or I'll shoot," it stops being "for your own good" and instead becomes a Cartmanesque "Respect my authoritah, or I'll kill you myself!"

Well I think perhaps you are taking a little license with what the cop was doing (but then I did not see the videotape). If an officer is standing in front of a truck and the driver gives him a nudge - isn't that a threat? A threat with a deadly weapon?

I would assume that's why a gun was pulled - to answer the threat. Not to make the point: "You'll let us protect you or we'll kill you."

If the message is "I'm happy to run you over if you keep doing your job and standing in way," I will grant to you that the officer can decide to stop doing his job. But self-defense is generally an acceptable response, even for the police. And assaulting a police officer is generally something that gets you arrested.

- Tom

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another way of looking at this is that it seems you want the police officer to exercise discretion in who gets through, when it's not his job to exercise discretion.

Adults should be allowed to risk their lives if they choose to do so - you say.

But what about the people whose job it is to risk their lives to save people who wittingly or unwittingly put themselves in danger?

Big storm coming up - dangerous seas. People are warned and instructed not to take sailboats out. But Mr. Danger says to heck with that and ends up in rough seas holding onto a plank. Same for Ms. Safety who, through no fault of her own, does not get the warnings.

So should the Coast Guard divers risk their lives for Ms. Safety and say "screw you" to Mr. Danger, because he exercised free choice to risk his life for a thrill? Because right now they don't exercise that discretion and try to save them both.

So when you block people from danger zones, you are not only protecting them, you are protecting those who are called upon to risk their lives to save them. Now I'll agree that if one runs past you, you don't shoot them in the back, even though that action might save a rescuer.

On the other hand, if you do your job and block someone from a danger zone and they take a baseball bat - shove it in your chest, push you back and lift it as if to say "move or I'll take a swing..."

Then a police officer will protect himself (gun perhaps) and arrest the guy (smash through window to get past locked door.)

But it all comes back to the point that keeping people from danger zones is not just for their protection.

It's like saying - "I'd rather risk death on a plane than go through the hassle of security checks." Ummm .... it's not just about "You."

Perhaps you let a little narcissism slip into your analysis.

No worries ... it can happen to the best of us.

- Tom : )

7:28 PM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

Tom, allowing government bureaucrats to decide the levels of risk we are allowed to assume is the backbone of every abridgment of liberty we despise.

Should you be able to risk addiction to cocaine, heroin or marijuana? The government says no so those drugs are illegal. Should you be allowed to risk the various hazards of alcohol? Sure, as long as you are older than some arbitrary age set by those same bureaucrats.

Every time we turn around some batch of politicos are trying to tell us we can or can't accept certain risks in life. I am getting sick and tired of it.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Tom, allowing government bureaucrats to decide the levels of risk we are allowed to assume is the backbone of every abridgment of liberty we despise.

Absolutely. And here's a fun tangential fact: Tom, if you live in Connecticut then perhaps you know who Robert Jordan is? If not I'll refresh your memory: ten years ago he wanted to be a police officer in New London. But his application was rejected because of his score on the intelligence test. Too dumb? No, he was too smart. His IQ is about 125 -- well above average, but no genius by any means -- and New London PD said they don't want to hire such smart people, for fear they'll get bored and quit. A judge upheld the police decision; cops, when hiring, are allowed and even encouraged to discriminate against intelligent folks in favor of the none-too-bright.

This, incidentally, makes my IQ at least 30 points higher than that of the smartest cop in the state. But rather than be allowed to decide for myself what risks I, personally, will take regarding my own safety, you think a gun-toting authority figure with a C-minus brain should make the decision for me, and be empowered to arrest or even kill me if I disagree with his decision?

And they also get to decide whether someone like me, or Rick Blazek, should even be allowed to do something as simple as be in our own homes?

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caveman - my bro -

I am glad that you brought up drugs - because they should be legal.

First, the argument that they create secondary risks or harm to others - to the extent that this argument has any factually legitimacy at all (in the context of many other freedoms that do the same thing- sloth?) does not come close to justifying or off-setting the costs of prohibition --- gangs, violence, crime, flooded courts and prisons, widespread corruption, lack of proper treatment and monitoring of quality of the product etc...

And Jennifer - you are making my underlying point when you refer to CT police officers' IQs.

It doesn't do any good to bitch about these guys carrying out society's laws and policies. If you expect them to use their IQs to exercise discretion in deciding when enforcement matches the loftier philosophical purpose of the law and when it does not, you'll be disappointed.

Can government legitimately quarantine areas for the general safety of the populace or the protection of the general populace's precious property items (not just to protect the individual against individual choice) - in some cases yes. Now I may agree with you that we should whittle those cases down by 90% with better guidelines for the police who enforce them.

But these are the choices that the educated citizenry should make - and that's where you should pick your fights.

When I read your article and cringed, it's because I expected the rejoinders by the police officer and dave-o and that if I chimed in, I would be defending their points.

We don't blame Serpico for doing his job and arresting the bookie or the drug dealer. We blame the pols who make the laws.

- Tom

5:10 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

We don't blame Serpico for doing his job and arresting the bookie or the drug dealer. We blame the pols who make the laws.

I blame them both. I'm not impressed with someone who does immoral things and then says he was just following orders. Would you say the same 150 years ago about police enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act by returning runaway slaves to their masters? "Don't blame the patterollers for doing their job and arresting the folks helping slaves escape to Canada -- blame the pols who made the laws."

I blame both. Adults should take responsibility for their own actions, even the adults with IQs low enough to qualify for a police badge.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

I'm not impressed with someone who does immoral things and then says he was just following orders. Would you say the same 150 years ago about police enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act by returning runaway slaves to their masters? "Don't blame the patterollers for doing their job and arresting the folks helping slaves escape to Canada -- blame the pols who made the laws."

Immoral? What if their idea of the morality of their actions is different than yours? Perhaps their idea of morality is to uphold the oath they swore. What makes your take on it any more valid than theirs?

11:17 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

What makes your take on it any more valid than theirs?

You could ask the same question about agents of any vile government: who's worse, the Gestapo fulfilling their oaths to rid Europe of the Jews, or the lawbreakers hiding Jews from the same? I lean toward a Hippocratic view of morality: first, do no harm to another.

Nobody could've prevented the flood which hit Rick Blazek's house; that was an act of God, and caused enough suffering already. Then Acts of Men made it worse for him. (Remember: the scene at the checkpoint didn't occur until Blazek had already twice, been forced to leave his house.)

11:29 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

You could ask the same question about agents of any vile government...

Vile? But that, too, is a moral judgement. Again, I ask you, what makes your moral judgment on the matter any more valid? I'm sure the Nazis thought they were doing the proper thing by attempting to rid Europe of Jewry, as well as five or six million other "undesirables" they slaughtered. In fact, they thought they were preventing harm. But what constitutes "harm," who is to decide it, and how is it to be decided? And again, why is your determination in the matter, or that of anyone else, more valid than the next person's?

As for Rick Blazek and "the acts of men" making things worse for him - well, it was a "state of emergency" and I'm sure the government and its agents thought they were preventing "harm" to the interests of the whole by insisting that this man "respect their authority" ie., by maintaining order and the government's control of the situation.

We assume - or would like to assume - that the government has our best interests at heart and is there to promote "the general welfare." So it may be - but that is not its first priority; that is only the justification that it offers for its existence. Government's first priority is to maintain its existence, power and control. And as a general rule it not only maintains it but seeks to expand and augment it. Government is first and foremost for the government and those who are in it.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

I'm sure the Nazis thought they were doing the proper thing by attempting to rid Europe of Jewry, as well as five or six million other "undesirables" they slaughtered. In fact, they thought they were preventing harm.

Indeed they told themselves they were acting virtuously, as did the old slavehunters. I'd imagine it's easy to commit atrocities, if you convince yourself the people you're attacking are not actually human beings.

American police haven't gone quite that far; they still think we're more-or-less human, but we're mere "civilians" in their eyes, which means we're all potential criminals, nowhere near as trustworthy as the bricks in the Blue Wall Of Silence.

As for Rick Blazek and "the acts of men" making things worse for him - well, it was a "state of emergency" and I'm sure the government and its agents thought they were preventing "harm" to the interests of the whole by insisting that this man "respect their authority" ie., by maintaining order and the government's control of the situation ... Government's first priority is to maintain its existence, power and control.

Exactly my point. The only ones they're out to protect and serve are themselves. When they forced Blazek out of his home those first two times, they probably laughed about it with their colleagues over donuts and beer that night. Dumbass civilian wanting to salvage what he could from his life? HA! We showed him better than that.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Exactly my point. The only ones they're out to protect and serve are themselves.

Well, probably not the only ones, but certainly they and/or the government come first.

...,they probably laughed about it with their colleagues over donuts and beer that night.

Possibly...but probably not. I should imagine they were kept too busy for that for quite a few days. In any event it's usually unwise to attempt to literally read people's minds. But yeah, I find myself agreeing with your assessment of their attitudes.

I'd imagine it's easy to commit atrocities, if you convince yourself the people you're attacking are not actually human beings.

It's even easier I should think, if you convince yourself that what you are doing is not an atrocity. But atrocity is a perjorative term and therefore a moral determination. Again, what establishes the validity of that determination?

I pose the question rhetorically for the most part - you needn't deal with it, if you don't wish to extend the effort at this time.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

pejorative (sigh)

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you say the same 150 years ago about police enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act by returning runaway slaves to their masters?

No. I would not compare the two, and you have moved beyond the premise of my argument, which (if you go back and look) was that legitimate government action is at issue. So you cannot then rebut my argument by references to historical instances of illegitimate government action.

Ours is really just a technical disagreement - Jennifer. I could have chosen to avoid it altogether because it is a minor and technical point of logic. But then ... it's our first disagreement, and I wanted to see how you handled it. ; )

You have conjoined police action taken in response to an assault on a police officer with police action undertaken with the underlying purpose of protecting the individual who is the object of the police action. It provides dramatic emphasis for you distaste for the law at issue, but it nonetheless also involves a logical deception, a slight of hand.

Your resorting to this could have been conscious, subconscious or careless indifference. Regardless of which it was - it is harmless when employed for good or benign causes. But I have to deal with these tactics on a daily basis in my battles against real evil, and so my spotting it and reacting to it is just instinctive for me at this point.

I hope you do not mind the friendly jousting.

I noticed an earlier reference by you to the Matrix. Did you know the Directors/Producers required the cast to be able to explain the Matrix in auditioning for the parts? I'd be interesting in hearing your concept of the Matrix. I'd spring for drinks/eats - no strings. Just one high IQ to another.

- Tom

2:39 PM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

Jennifer, the problem you are having with smartass is some people see morality as an absolute; "first do no harm", "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", "harm none other, let that be the whole of your law".

Others have, to paraphrase Martin Blank, "a certain moral flexibility". They think that morality is up to majority vote. If the majority think Jews need to be concentrated then it's moral. If the majority think that blacks should be slaves, it's moral.

Once the majority view changes then the morality changes. If the majority says pot is evil then pot sellers get an 8 by 8 room with three meals a day. When the majority thought booze was bad it became immoral and when they changed their minds it was moral again.

Poof, it's a kind of magic. But it beats having to deal with that pesky moral compass, you just go with the herd and let them decide what is right and wrong.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

You have conjoined police action taken in response to an assault on a police officer with police action undertaken with the underlying purpose of protecting the individual who is the object of the police action.

This reminds me of a time when I lived down South and was talking to some male friends or mine; I forget what, exactly, we discussed but at one point I said "I'm gonna kick all y'all's asses up one side of the street and down the other, and there's nothing you can do about it because you can't hit me because I'm a girl bwa ha ha."

Obviously, I was joking. But if I really had tried causing physical damage to those guys, it would be insane to expect them to think the rules "a man mustn't hit a woman" should still apply.

And the idea that cops are sacred inviolable creatures doesn't apply, either, when they're forcibly removing the likes of Rick Blazek from his home and then refusing to let him back.

I don't, actually, want to live in a society where guys run around bumping cops with their trucks at checkpoints. On the other hand, the majority of those checkpoints have no goddamned business existing in the so-called Land Of The Free.

As for the idea that hurting a police officer is worse than hurting a "civilian" -- Over at Reason magazine, and their blog Hit and Run, the journalist Radley Balko has a depressingly huge number of stories about police making unannounced middle-of-the-night raids and being mistaken for criminal home invaders by just-awakened homeowners who defended themselves with a handgun or shotgun. And these people are currently in jail awaiting trial, or even sitting on Death Row, because the prosecution successfully pushed forth the same credo you're pushing: Cops are inviolable. It is never ever right to do anything which hurts them, circumstances be damned."

Hell, I've posted on this very blog about undercover cops who expect to be obeyed without even showing their badge ... and innocent citizens get in trouble yet again, for refusing to believe the word of a random stranger on the street that "I'm a cop. Fear and obey me."

But I'm drifting off topic. Point is, I don't have a hell of a lot of sympathy for a cop who gets grief from a citizen after obstructing that citizen's rights.

But I have to deal with these tactics on a daily basis in my battles against real evil,

How exactly do you fight evil? If it's in the guise of a cop, I'd suggest you fight evil rather than commit it: say, worry about murderers and rapists rather than pot smokers and poker players. I remember an unbylined blurb I wrote for my old paper: just after the announcement that Hartford's murder rate had skyrocketed in the past year, the cops did a 24-hour crackdown ... which netted several arrests for marijuana possession. Meanwhile, violent crimes are happening elsewhere in the city. But at least the mayor can brag about how the cops are making more arrests!

And the blurb I later wrote about Bridgeport, a city with high rates of murder and rape and robbery and other serious crimes ... so the cops bravely raided a bar filled with unweaponed people who were playing a game of poker and betting money on the outcome. Ooooh, I feel safer already.

This whole idea that police are worthy of extra respect by virtue of their jobs: yeah, I agree in the rare cases where their jobs actually involve protecting the innocent from the predatory. Cops who go after murderers deserve respect. Cops who go after American citizens like Rick Blazek in their own homes, or make us go through police checkpoints during our daily routines, or enforce immoral laws which cause far more harm than they ever prevent, do not.

I'd be interesting in hearing your concept of the Matrix.

Similar to many nanny-state laws (oh, I'm clever): sounds as though it makes sense at first, but falls apart if you think through the implications and consequences.

Take the Matrix dreamworld, for example: how does my dream existence correspond to my unconscious body, if at all? If I think I'm a housewife with three children, does that mean my physical body actually went through three pregnancies? Is my husband in the Matrix their father in reality, or are women artificially inseminated at random? If my dream-self decides to assault your dream-self, does that have consequences for your physical body? Or does it work in reverse: your physical body develops a problem, which manifests in your dream self somehow?

Too many unanswered questions.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

Jennifer, I have to agree with you. Cop worship would be simply embarrassing in a police state but in a nation that is supposed to be a free country it is disgusting. Treating cops like some kind of self sacrificing heroes when they are simply tax collecting bureaucrats whose jobs rarely call upon them to draw their guns is inane.

In this nation on average one cop per state per year dies while performing their "duties". When you look at that on a per capita basis being a cop is one of the safest jobs you can get. Garbage man are far more endangered and more useful to society. If cops stopped doing their jobs most of us wouldn't notice the lack of pot head busts and speeding tickets. How long do you think we could go without garbage men?

6:05 PM  

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