Did you know that the penalty for speeding is death?
It is something to think about as we head into the Farce of July and the sickly celebration of the freedoms we lost a long time ago. Among these, the right to not be shot to death in the streets over traffic offenses.
A couple of years ago, the nine Judge Dredds who quite literally are the law – by dint of decreeing what the law is, as opposed to what the Constitution actually says – ruled (a most appropriate term) that if a speeding motorist flees from an enforcer of the law, that enforcer is empowered to execute him. (News story here.)
Back in ’04, a Memphis, TN law enforcer named Vance Plumhoff tried to pull over a white Honda driven by the now-deceased (via-Plumhoff) Rickard for the egregious offense of driving with one headlight out. Rickard attempted to flee – a not unreasonable act these days, given forced enemas and anal probes (also ruled “constitutional” by The Nine Dredds), the planting of drugs and trumping-up of evidence, wood shampoos, Tazerings and so on.
A chase ensued.
Eventually, Rickard’s car was cornered – and even though all that had transpired thus far was some illegal high-speed driving – by both parties, it’s important to point out – when Rickard “refused to surrender,” Plumhoff fired his gun at him three times.
This frightened Rickard.
For unfathomable reasons, he imagined his life to be in danger. He thus hit the gas and attempted to get away – whereupon Plumhoff emptied his semi-automatic pistol’s magazine (12 more shots) into the bodies of both Rickard and his passenger, both of whom were rendered immediately “compliant” – and very dead. Of a piece with the summary execution of Miriam Carey – do you recall? – who was gunned down in living color and with her baby in the passenger seat, just a hop skip and a jump away from the den of the Nine.
And, of course, Philando Castile – executed by a law enforcer named Geronimo – who “feared for his safety” after Castile explained he had a legal firearm (and permit) on his person. Castile didn’t even commit a moving violation. He was pulled over because the enforcer thought he looked like another person who had apparently committed a robbery.
Postmortem, Rickard’s daughter sued Scharfuhrer (sergeant) Plumhoff for using excessive force. The Nine ruled not so. Scharfuhrer Plumhoff acted “reasonably,” they concluded.
Herewith the reasoning of The Nine, in the words of America’s very own Roland Freisler, Samuel Alito:
But what constitutes a “grave public safety risk”? Pretty much whatever the law enforcer says – no, believes – it is.
We live in the Era of Officer Safety, an offshoot of the broader Safety Cult.
A moment’s hesitation or questioning of barked orders amounts to “resisting” and a “threat” to “officer safety.”
It is more like a challenge to their authority – which is the real issue, never spoken but understood by everyone.
Note that in this Plumhoff vs. Rickard case, as in so many similar cases, no one was harmed. Except of course for Rickard. According to Alito and the Nine, the possibility (however theoretical) that “someone” might have gotten hurt constitutes sufficient justification to kill the offender.
This means you. And me.
Unless you are one of the Unicorns who never “speeds” – and so never “poses a grave public safety risk” – as all “speeders” do, we are constantly assured.
In my own state of Virginia (and several others) it is “reckless” driving – by definition, under the law – to drive even 1 MPH faster than 79 MPH. Even when the posted limit is 70, as it is on many Virginia highways.
Of course, 81 on the highway (posted 70, everyone driving at least 75) is as “reckless” as Rachel Madow is feminine.
And yet, the hapless victim faces the Hobson’s choice of pulling over – and being cow-belled with what are arguably “excessive bails and fines” – forbidden by the Constitution but approved by the Nine – or doing the not-unreasonable thing and attempting to get away, per Rickard.
Either way, the sentence could very well be . . . death.
There is a very real threat to our safety posed by law enforcement, which has all-but-been-given official license to kill for whenever they ululate the magic words, Officer Safety.
It is not merely tempting to hit the gas and make for the next exit ramp, it is arguably reasonable. But then you have become a “grave public safety risk.”
It is interesting to note that it is never considered a “grave public safety risk” for the state’s praetorians to speed nor to let loose a fusillade of gunfire in public. Apparently, it is impossible for a law enforcer to drive too fast, or recklessly. And the state’s praetorians always hit what they’re shooting at. Yes?
Rickard’s hapless passenger, for instance.
Judge Dredd is no longer a comic book character. His signature line – “I am the law!” – is now our officially approved reality.
Enjoy the Fourth Farce. Hopefully, in the safety of your home.
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