If it is reasonable – justifiable – for a cop to base every interaction with a citizen on the presumption that the citizen might be a threat to his “safety,” isn’t the reverse all the more reasonable? That a citizen should assume the worst when confronted by a cop?
After all, a cop is known to be armed – and not merely with a gun. He possesses the authority of the state and with it, a far more relaxed standard for using gross and disproportionate violence against a citizen. He can do things to you legally – without fear of repercussions that no ordinary citizen would dare to do – and to which, moreover, the ordinary citizen is legally obliged to submit.
Is it not enough to make a citizen fear for his safety?
You are driving along, on your way home. You glance up in the rearview and notice there is a big white sedan just inches off your bumper. Cops do this for a reason – to intimidate a prospect.
Then all of a sudden, flashing strobe lights and loud sirens – the purpose of which is also to intimidate. To instill fear.
But you do know – having read about it last week – that another armed stranger subjected another motorist who’d apparently done nothing more than commit a minor moving violation to repeated forced anal probing, forced enemas and a forced colonoscopy. You know, moreover, that this was not an isolated, one-time incident (see here) but rather, has become a fairly common practice (affirmed by the Supreme Court, which has ruled that citizens are subject to strip searches – at the discretion of the cop – after having been detained for almost any “violation,” including minor traffic offenses).
Your mind rolls over the YouTube videos you saw the other day. The Tazerings, the head-kickings, the slamming of slightly built, middle aged women into concrete benches.
You wonder: am I going to be next?
It is absolutely reasonable to be afraid of cops these days. To dread them, in fact.
Far more so than for them to be afraid of us. They represent an increasingly lawless, unaccountable authority that does just what it pleases to anyone it likes. Hardly a day goes by without an absolutely appalling case of egregious over-use of force cropping up on YouTube or LiveLeak. These videos give the lie to the stories cops used to tell – and which were hard to contest – that their victims “resisted” or (lately) presented a “threat” to “officer safety.” Instead, we see the truth: Video doesn’t lie. The spectacle of a fellow citizen being cold cocked by a cop three times the victim’s size – and for no justifiable reason. Just because he can.
We are powerless in the face of this authority. One need not even violate a law to become the object of law enforcement. Merely to be out in public is enough to put one in peril of any random cop’s bad mood. Or outright sadism. Of late, they openly state that “the law” doesn’t matter (as, for example, in the case of people held at gunpoint who did nothing more than openly carry a firearm in full compliance with open carry laws in their state; see here). Cops do whatever they like – and we are expected to Submit & Obey.
Yet they are afraid of us!
We are expected – no, legally required – to be supine and accepting. To give them the benefit of every doubt – even to the extent that it places our own lives or those of our families in extreme jeopardy.
It is laughable – and pathetic- at the same time. These “heroes” – quaking in their body armor, high-capacity, military-grade semi-automatic pistols strapped to their hips – shivering with trepidation at the prospect of dealing with an argumentative soccer mom, scrawny teenager or senior citizen who refuses to “comply.” These beefy tough guys stewing in steroids – with their buzz cut hair and dark sunglasses who see “threats” everywhere.
One almost feels sorry for them.
Of course, these alleged “threats” to their “safety” are really nothing more than less-than-immediate deference to their authority. That’s what arouses their ire, these sad little big men.
And women, too.
It ought to be the other way around, of course. Cops – those charged with enforcing the law and endowed with the legal authority to use force – should be afraid of citizens. Or rather, they ought to be afraid of the consequences of abusing their authority. They ought to be obliged to give us the benefit of every doubt. To put their “safety” at risk, if need be – for the sake of ours.
Is that not, after all, what “heroes” are supposed to do?
But of course, they are not heroes. They are enforcers. Members of the most violent gang in the country. It is a hard thing to come to grips with, intellectually – after a lifetime of immersion in fairy tales about serving and protecting. But our guts have long known the truth of the thing. Who among us feels safe when they see a cop car inches off their bumper? Or a cop, period? Who invites them to their home? Wants them around? Feels comfortable in their presence?
Our minds are finally catching up with our guts.
More and more of us are coming to realize that any interaction with a cop could be a life-changing (or even life-ending) experience. That it is in no way paranoid to harbor the fear – given what’s happening all around the country – that any of us could be next.
As this dawning awareness percolates, I expect pushback. Because you can only push people so far. When someone’s scared – and for good reason – unpredictable things can happen.
Cops, more than anyone, ought to understand this.
Sow the wind – reap the whirlwind. . . .
Throw it in the Woods?
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