Liberty Under (Friendly?) Fire

Filkins-Do-Not-Resist

After a recent assault on a New Jersey beach, it is becoming even more clear that we have too many police in this country. A well-known fact is that we lock up more people in the United States than any other country, but the reasons why have not been entirely clear. One of the main reasons has been the failed war on drugs, a nearly fifty year debacle that has led to a near police state and the jailing of countless numbers of people whose only crime has been to seek an escape from the tedium of daily life.

Under multiple administrations, local police in this country have become increasingly militarized, using surplus military equipment donated or provided with generous subsidies to local police by the Department of Defense. This has led to deadly SWAT team raids, often on innocent bystanders, leading to increased tensions between the populace and the police, particularly in minority communities, which are disproportionally targeted by these police raids.

Misunderstanding of the origins of this problem has led many people to believe that the motivation behind these police activities is racism, but as can be seen by the assault on the beach above, white people are caught up by these Gestapo tactics as well. Assault by police on white victims does not play into the national media’s narrative of widespread racism and so often goes ignored. The alleged victimhood of minorities in this country is also one of the few remaining sources of power for the Democratic party, which is otherwise bereft of ideas, as the Dems must keep large portions of the population dependent on government in order to stay in office. The combined propaganda power of the mainstream media and Democrats keeps nearly half of the population of this country entranced by outdated and misguided ideas.

This is not a recent problem, although it has certainly worsened over the past fifty years. I recently watched the movie Vanishing Point, in which the protagonist, a car delivery man named Kowalski, is targeted by police for attempting to run a car from Colorado to California in record time. His only crime at the start of the film is speeding, which given his history as a race car driver was not likely endangering anyone. In general, speeding is a victimless crime, only becoming dangerous when combined with distraction for the driver. Unfortunately, speeding is something that is quite easy for police to measure and prove in court, in contrast to driver distraction due to cell phones, eating, or putting on makeup. Anyone who spends any significant time driving will know that driver distraction is much more dangerous on our roads than speeding, yet it largely goes unpoliced and unpunished because doing so is challenging, and our police generally do not like challenges, only going after ‘low-hanging fruit’.

So, this goes back to my hypothesis at the start of this essay, that we have too many police. We are in a situation, and have been for decades, where there are too many police, and for police departments to fund their activities they must target and ticket large numbers of people who are generally minding their own business and not harming anyone. These activities are often defended by people (who do not know any better) under the auspices of the need to reduce crime. The fact that crime rates are at all-time lows goes ignored and underreported. The mainstream media needs stories of crime to generate ratings, and politicians need the illusion of crime to justify passing more and more laws. There are now so many federal laws that they are not countable.

Having an uncountable number of laws had led to a situation where almost anyone in this country has committed a crime at some time or another, usually unwittingly. This means that given enough time and resources, a prosecutor digging through any of our lives could probably find an infraction that could land us in jail. Most people do not have the resources needed to defend themselves when faced with this kind of power of a prosecutor and will take a plea, admitting guilt mainly to make the pressure go away. Western society used to recognize this as a tactic of run-away authoritarianism used in communist countries. The 1970 movie The Confession offers a frightening and thought provoking look at these tactics of the state and remains must-viewing for anyone who wants to understand what is happening in our society today.

The ongoing Russia-collusion probe by Robert Mueller is a good example of the dangers of unfettered prosecutorial power. An even more disturbing example from the UK is the recent arrest and secret prosecution of activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, in England for attempting to report on an Islamic child molestation (grooming) trial. Not only was he arrested and thrown into prison for 13 months alongside Islamic criminals, almost ensuring his death in prison, but the judge issued a gag order against the media of any reporting about the imprisonment. Multiple web articles about the episode were promptly taken down by the subservient media, under fear that they would similarly be imprisoned for supposed “incitement”.

While I am not here to defend the tactics or opinions of Tommy Robinson, of whose history I am only recently becoming informed, there is a famous quote that I am reminded of: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This quote has largely been attributed to Voltaire, although the origins appear much more recent. Regardless of the true origins of the quote, it has become a clear and succinct statement of the defense of liberty, one of the cornerstones of the French Enlightenment and of the founding of the United States.

What has happened to liberty in the West? It is a still-revered principle that is under assault by runaway police and prosecutors. These people have been given power by an uninformed populace with the misguided mandate to “reduce crime”. The assault on liberty is cheered on by the mainstream media, in search of ratings, and politicians, in pursuit of more power. Whether or not we will be able to preserve liberty, a cornerstone of Western democracies, is a problem that is increasingly coming into question. Only by becoming more informed and embracing the ideas of our founders will we be able to preserve their legacy for future generations.

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