Has anyone else noticed that between the Garner case and the Ferguson case, the Ferguson case is the one that has generated the most ongoing outrage? The reason for this, I think, is that the Ferguson case was not caught on video, which allowed race hustlers like Sharpton and Holder to give credibility to the most wildest accusations: Wilson shot a man with his hands up… Wilson shot a man in the back… Wilson stood over Brown and executed him. We knew within a week or two the salient facts. The DA also knew the salient facts, but rather than stand behind them, kicked it off to the grand jury, which told us what reasonable people already knew. In the Garner case there was video. It allowed us to witness a tragic scene, but it also precluded baseless accusations about what had happened. If it had not been on video, we would have heard that the police actually used a garotte on Garner; another witness would have told us that one officer pulled out a chainsaw and attempted to cut off Garner’s head right there on the spot. Holder and Obama would have lapped this up eagerly. Liberals would have believed every word of it.
Indeed, the availability of video to set the record straight can only spell doom for agitators and community organizers. Why, then, would Obama call for cameras to be placed on police officers across the country? By the end of this essay, you should be able to figure out what I think.
The videos I saw left some points ambiguous as far as the actual headlock goes. Given only the videos and the coroner’s report, I would have at least indicted the officers (all of them). However, I believe in a trial it would have been shown that the officers had no intention of actually killing Garner, but, as I said, the video is ambiguous enough (in my estimation) to leave that question open.
To me, the more pressing issue is why Garner was targeted in the first place. And I don’t mean the fact that he was black. Here again, the videos are ambiguous. In one place I hear onlookers saying that Garner had tried to breakup a fight. In another place, I hear it asserted that Garner is being arrested for selling unlicensed, untaxed, cigarettes. Both assertions might be true.
A lot of the focus seems to be on the fact that Garner was black, continuing the narrative that there is a nationwide holocaust being perpetually perpetrated on blacks by law enforcement (… by Republicans of course… never mind the fact that both Ferguson and NYC are firmly and thoroughly LIBERAL. See if you can spot that insinuation in this article, here.) What about the continuing erosion of all of our freedoms as governments at all levels steadily criminalize even the tiniest behaviors and enforce laws with extreme heavy-handedness? Ladies and gentlemen, this twofold problem concerns every American, not just the black ones.
- For example, when a SWAT team descended upon an Ohio farm in a quest to stomp down on the nefarious crime of selling… raw milk, the story hardly made the news. A SWAT team. I mean, seriously. For the illegal selling of… milk? You can be quite certain that if an accident had happened and one of those officers pulled the trigger and someone died (just like Garner seems to have been accidentally killed), folks like Obama and Holder wouldn’t have batted an eye. After all, raw milk is a public health issue–just like tobacco use. This isn’t by any means the only time that this sort of thing has happened. See here and here, for example.
- Or, how about the (white) man in Minnesota who was thrown in jail for failing to pay a citation issued for not completing the siding on his house?
- Let us not forget the fate of Jose Guerena, who was gunned down in his own home, apparently waking up to a chaotic situation and seeking to defend his family? He would be shot some 20 times; he himself never managed to fire a shot. As far as I know, Al Sharpton never offered his services to Guerena. Obama and Holder said nothing. Was it because Guerena wasn’t black? Was Guerena, in fact, a ‘white hispanic‘ and therefore did not provide the necessary fodder for generating national rage?
- In 2011, acting on a ‘tip’ that a house was ‘messy,’ a social worker enlisted the services of the police to enter the residence of a homeschooling family in Missouri, which led to the tasering of the husband and striking the wife. Because of a tip… that a house was messy. Give me a break. This generated no national controversy.
- Strangely, Miriam Carey was black, and still didn’t catch the attention of the race hustlers. (Perhaps it was that it was on video, and couldn’t be inflamed more than the video itself justified.)
There are, of course, many instances of heavy-handed police activity. It is often over the top and often it results in the death of someone. The incidents often involve minor ‘crimes.’ The actions are carried out by governments at all levels–state, local, and Federal. By focusing on the race aspect, the more important truth, that the United States is incrementally moving towards being a full-blown police state where every aspect of our lives fall under the scrutiny and micromanaging of the government, is overlooked.
Many people do not understand the dynamics created by involving the government in affairs, especially in contrast to private initiatives. For example, in a recent blog post, I called attention to the coercive powers of the government as opposed to whatever influence evil rich people like the Koch brothers might have, and the point had no significance whatsoever with one of the commenters. No matter how powerful folks like Soros or the Koch brothers have, they will never have the ability to send armed men in to legally enforce their will. They will never be able to confiscate the property of dissenters, either via direct seizure or through the US tax code.
When you involve the government, you necessarily bring to bear the threat of force. Force, by the way, that can be legally applied, but except in rare circumstances, cannot be legally resisted.
You can be sure that whatever well-meaning intentions were behind the banning of raw milk, no one suspected that it would lead to SWAT raids. The elected officials in Burnsville, MN likely didn’t anticipate that their “property maintenance issue” could lead to one of its citizen’s incarceration. The folks in Missouri who passed laws protecting the welfare of children didn’t consider the possibility that the law could be used as a blunt instrument by whispering neighbors and nosy social workers.
The do-gooders who allegedly wish to limit tobacco use didn’t think of the arresting powers that came along restricting the distribution of it in New York city. I say ‘allegedly’ because of course in this case at least the problem was in part that it was untaxed tobacco… Tobacco products provide the state of New York with big dollars–$4.35 a pack, and New York City grabs another $1.60 on top of that. That’s almost $6 in tax revenue, and by the law of unintended consequences, provides a huge incentive for people to sell unregulated cigarettes on the street. In other words, Garner would probably still be alive today if this huge ‘sin tax’ wasn’t present, and the money involved (from the perspective of the government) wasn’t so significant. It is precisely because there is so much tax revenue involved that the government itself has an incentive to use force to enforce the tobacco laws. And all force is potentially lethal force.
In my recent blog post on Ferguson, I hinted at these concerns, calling the police to task for going to these lengths. It is worth quoting that section in full:
The instances of police brutality seems to be on the rise, and police officers seem to have taken the adage, “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6?” to heart. Society has given them a pass in many ways because of the dangerous job that they have. But part of that job is upholding constitutional rights. That means that there are certain risks and responsibilities that come with being an officer of the law in our country that other countries don’t have to be concerned about. That is to say, we certainly could better preserve officer safety more concretely if we disarmed every American and allowed the police to have their complete way with the citizenry. But that’s not the way of freedom. If a police officer cannot operate as though the civil liberties of the people he serves are as sacrosanct as his own life, he really ought to get out of the job.
The problem is really quite simple: you cannot multiply laws and regulations endlessly, no matter how minor and relatively insignificant those laws and regulations may be, without bringing to bear the coercive powers of the state. Indeed, it is precisely because so many of these issues are ‘minor and relatively insignificant’ that the problem is as acute as it is, for it means that a police presence becomes necessary in ever expanding situations–including ones that are minor and relatively insignificant. And remember–while they are legally allowed to apply force, the citizen is not legally allowed to resist it. I have heard it said that the average person commits three felonies a day. Add to this now the wide range of other ‘crimes’ that come from the vast network of codes, regulations, etc, state, local, and Federal, and it becomes clear that incidents of police brutality must increase in frequency because cases of police involvement are increasing in frequency.
It is inevitable. It is unstoppable. No additional laws will help. Indeed, they would only add more places where coercion may be deemed legally warranted, and you would not be legally allowed to resist it. It is not because the nation’s police force is filled with crooks or bad men. It is simply a question of the law of averages, compounded by the anti-personnel vehicles provided to local police agencies and the natural desire of police officers to NOT DIE while enforcing the INFINITELY INCREASING number of laws; and, as I said, society tends to give police officers a pass because of this. We’ll never be able to eliminate tragedies at the hands of law enforcement. Accidents will always happen.
The solution is straightforward and simple: vastly reduce the number of laws and regulations that are on the books, state, local, and Federal. I mean, really slash their number, so that they really only pertain areas of truly legitimate ‘public’ concern. For example, murder, theft, extortion. Not milk or tobacco or unfinished siding on a house. Only by reducing the number of pretexts that conceivably require police powers can we reduce the number of ‘accidents.’
But even as I say this, it is clear that this ‘solution’ itself implies a greater problem: the very tendency to create endless laws and regulations in the first place. In my aforementioned Ferguson piece, I argued that the ultimate solution to their police brutality problems (if indeed they were race related) was for the citizens of Ferguson, who are predominantly black, to take over the political reins in their town, and seek to have a police force that consisted of black officers in proportion to the rest of the populace. Presumably, since all of their police problems in Ferguson are because of white racism inflicted on black people, and always without justification, a predominantly black police department would end all the problems. And there was nothing the white citizens could do to stop the black citizens, if they wanted to do this. But the bottom line is that the solution is ultimately political.
The same is true in this case.
Now, the party of intrusive, over-reaching government in America is the Democrat party. Truly, there is no intimate area of human conduct that a liberal believes the government shouldn’t be involved in. Worst of all of them are the Progressives, who are on a quest to perfect society of EVERY. SINGLE. THING. that ails it. Because they often fail to implement their goals locally, they are constantly pushing issues up the chain, from local community to the county, from the county, to the state, from the state to the Federal government. And of course, from the Federal government to the International community, via the United Nations. Every layer higher it goes, the harder it gets to engage in self-government, and the harder it is to reverse infantile and perverted intrusions into the nooks and crannies of human behavior. That these are in fact infantile and perverted intrusions is often only discovered after awhile, when it is much harder to reverse. (Think: Prohibition.) The spirit of perfecting society is often well-meaning and well-intentioned, but since liberals cannot convince enough of their fellow men and women to go along voluntarily with their sincerely intended schemes, they feel compelled to legislate as much of it as possible.
Ironically, liberals themselves are often offended by cases of police brutality and other government abuses. They are oblivious to the fact that they are actively engaged in creating the conditions for these abuses to occur in the first place.
The first practical steps in reversing the situation, then, is twofold:
- completely repudiate liberalism
- resist Progressives and progressive thinking with all of your might.
A third practical step can be offered to the good citizens of New York City:
- do not elect as your mayor known, open communist sympathizers.
I mean really. You kind of deserve whatever you get when you do that as far as I’m concerned.
Unfortunately, the spirit of liberalism (or, ‘perfect-society-ism’) is not at all confined to the Democrat party. It permeates the Republican party, as well, and can even be seen within conservative thought. It is precisely for this reason that for many years now I have characterized myself as a “Constitutionalist Libertarian.” If the goal is to secure our freedoms and liberties, it is not enough to keep the properly Federal issues at the Federal level and the state issues at the state level and the local issues at the local level. Obviously, that is a huge first step; if the citizens of Burnsville, MN don’t like the idea that their code requirements can actually have the effect of leading to their incarceration, it is far easier to reverse such a thing if it is implemented and enforced locally, rather than Federally. One also has to be prepared to live in a society with blemishes and ‘untreated’ issues… like, messy houses, or houses without (God forbid)… siding.
I was an elected official in my own town, and I watched for two years as even the ‘Republican’ members of the board passed innumerable rules and regulations, even going so far on occasion to characterize their action as ‘progressive.’ Obviously, the nanny-state advocates on the board could be expected to think that way, but the Republicans? Alas, it is so, and not, I’m afraid, only in the town I had been living. Almost certainly, none of them every considered the possibility that their well-intentioned efforts to perfect our small town could lead someday to the incarceration, or even deaths, of some of the citizens. There was no ‘blemish’ they were not willing to address, and that attitude can be found throughout America, in communities large and small, in groups liberal and conservative.
To take one more example, I live in Wisconsin which is presently controlled by Republicans at every level as far as the state government goes. Yet, there is no call at all to reduce and cut back on the laws and regulations that are inflicted on the citizenry; presumably, this is because the citizens want those laws and regulations! For example, consider this list of licenses required by the state. Here are some excerpts:
- Christmas Tree Grower
- Dating Service
- Ginseng Grower
- Grease Processor
- Honey Processor
- Maple Sap (for syrup) Processor
- Seed Labeler
- Mobile Air Conditioners Repair
Uh, Christmas Tree Grower? Grease processor? Really? If I could summarize this list, and perhaps expand the argument to all the lists in Wisconsin and other states, the bottom line is this: if all you want to do is sit on your couch and watch TV and draw a paycheck from an employer, the government will pay you hardly any mind. The minute you want to do anything else, great or small, the government is going to make you go through hoops and monitor you. No one can imagine that a regulation regarding the growing and sale of Christmas trees could lead to someone being arrested and/or killed in the quest to enforce it, but that is precisely the nature of the “perfecting every nook and cranny of human society” beast.
Until this mindset is completely changed, you can expect even more intrusions into the private affairs of citizens, and ever more tragic incidents such as what we saw happen to Garner. America was founded on the principle of self-government, and at the beginning this fundamentally referred to individual self-government. We have lost our way, and the consequences are inevitable. Assuming we continue down this path, you can pretty well count on a near-complete loss of liberties and freedoms.
Whether or not a citizen is white or black is an irrelevant sideshow. At present, we are all destined for enslavement… and that, by our own hands, and (always) in the name of the ‘common good.’