Here’s a story for you. It’s the story of a cop. The story of an undercover drug enforcement officer to be exact. Imagine him inside of a criminal organization having gained the trust of the drug dealer who sells to him. The cop’s job is to get the drugs off the street and arrest the people selling it. He’s worked very hard to get this deep into the organization and has literally risked his life.
The drug dealer is actually an ordinary sort of fellow. Flush with cash from his drugs he acts the part of a rich man. He has a nice house, nice car, and a boat he absolutely loves. After months of planning the final phase of the operation is about to go down. The two head out to sea on the boat and anchor. They get out the rods and beer and settle in. The Coast Guard wave and smile as they go by. The drug dealer feels smug. He’s just fishing, having a nice weekend. He looks the part, acts the part, heck, he really is the part. He’s a regular guy despite is unsavory profession. After a few hours the sun sets and the light from another boat can be seen heading their way. Not the Coast Guard this time but rather it’s their contact with a hull full of cocaine bricks. The transaction goes off without a hitch. It’s all recorded, though the bad guy isn’t aware of this.
Suddenly the Coast Guard boat is off their stern, then another on the starboard, and other port. He has nowhere to go and doesn’t even try. Everyone is arrested. He’s read his rights but decides there isn’t any reason not to talk, he knows he’s been caught and that’s that. He knew it would happen someday. Then, he learns that as part of the case his boat, his beloved boat, is going to be seized as part of the ill-gotten gains of his crime. He weeps…not the boat! Darn cops!
There there is the case of Eric Garner, killed in who died on Staten Island after two police officers confronted him about selling loose cigarettes. It was a crime for which he had been stopped before. Normally, they would write him a citation and let him go. He would pay a fine and that would be that. Something changed though. Police commanders were being questioned hard weekly by their superiors about how well officers were or weren’t cracking down on this problem of untaxed cigarette sales. What had made them so hot about it? It seems business owners had complained. The money they thought should be theirs through legitimate, taxed sales of cigarettes was going to men like Garner. Criminals making a buck by not playing by the rules. They complained and complained hard to the city council and they told police they had better enforce the law. Darn cops!
Then there’s Bob. He’s on his way to work. He commutes about 50 miles one way into the big city to work in an office building there. He starts early so he leaves his home early. The time is about 4:00 am. It’s a quiet morning. He’s literally the only car on the road as far as he can see. He passes an officer parked at the side of the road. The overheads come on and Bob is pulled over for speeding. Bob is a mature older man, the car is in good working order with new tires, insured to the hilt, it was a divided freeway, the road was dry and as mentioned, it was empty. But Bob got a ticket. A few minutes after bob pulls away Jan gets a ticket for not wearing her seat belt. Darn cops!
There are those who feel strongly that the cops are in the wrong.
Complaints about cops kicking in doors for “plants” and seizing property and money under civil asset forfeiture abound. What a nasty piece of work that cop must be to arrest someone for drugs and take his beloved property. After all, our above criminal, as stated, is a regular guy. He’s not violent. He’s never hurt anyone nor has he ever had to hire muscle to do his dirty work for him. He just sold something to someone who wanted it and was willing to pay for it and used the earnings to buy himself a few nice things. Selling cigarettes is a non-violent act. Taxes could be levied and paid as part of a citation program. No need to lay hands on a person for that. The driver of the car wasn’t putting anyone in danger by going over the posted speed limit. The woman and her seat belt harmed not a soul.
In each of these cases the cop gets the blame.
Why he does is understandable. He’s the face and the hands of the law. He’s the one out there putting the handcuffs on, writing the reports, and testifying in court. He builds the case and executes enforcement action up to and including arrest. The case is then turned over to another part of our legal system, the courts.
The courts are just as bad as the cops according to some.
The judge hears the case. The lawyers all have their say. The witness take the stand. The jury deliberates. Guilty. How could he not be? Come back in two weeks for sentencing. Why two weeks no one knows because the sentence is a forgone conclusion, it will be no less than two years in jail, a $100,000 fine, and forfeiture of assets associated with the commission of the crime. Darn Judge!
The judge, that heartless bastard, doesn’t even take into account that Bob has never had a ticket or that he won’t be able to make his mortgage if he has to pay for a ticket. Don’t worry, says the judge, the bailiff will help you set up a payment plan. Bob is out the $500 fine as well as a day’s wages. Darn Judge!
The judge is just as bad as the cops.
Time for a bible verse!
Yes, sometimes the bible can be quite instructive.
“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” – Luke 6:43-44 43
There is a third part of the legal system. It’s a part that almost always seems to get overlooked, forgotten, given a pass. It is really an amazing feat to be honest that this group can do so much damage and harm yet when it comes down to it the cops and judges get the lion share of the blame. This part of the legal system is the corrupt tree with corrupt roots.
Behold! The Lawmaker.
The root and branch of all this trouble is neither cop nor judge, it is the lawmaker. That is your city council members, your state legislators, your senators, your representatives. They sit in judgement and pass sentence before a crime has ever been committed when they decide what behavior you should and should not do and what mandatory sentence you should get for that crime.
It is they that point the officer in your direction and they that order the sentence to be pre-determined.
Imagine for a moment the Eric Garner case.
Let us play a game of pretend.
Close your eyes and put yourself in the shoes of the officer. You wear the badge, have the gun, you are authorized by the city or state to take enforcement action and you have sworn an oath to do so. There is Eric Garner, looming over 6 feet tall and a few hundred pounds. You walk up to him. You come to his chest and are forced to look up to make eye contact.
“Good morning sir. How are you?”
“Have a great day now.”
“Thanks.” and off you go.
It went down this way instead of with Garner dead and a cop scared for life because in our imaginary world the lawmaker never made the law that lead to the contact. You see, if you don’t want your police do something it’s very easy to make that happen. They only have authority over the laws and if there is no law concerning a behavior then the police have no authority to take action.
When there is no law that tells a judge that someone who sells drugs must spend at least two years in jail then the judge is able to weigh the totality of the circumstances and with humanity and prudence do just what his title implies, “judge”. Of if the behavior isn’t illegal he’ll never see the person in the first place for there is nothing to decide.
You can tell a cop all day long that drugs should be legal and that civil asset forfeiture shouldn’t be legal and he may well agree with you but that’s not his job, his position in society, his oath. His is to faithfully execute the laws and so is the judge’s.
Something is wrong with the law and someone needs to be blamed for it.
In the end it really is up to us to do something about this. It’s my educated and studied opinion that this will never happen by blaming the police. There are two reasons for this. First, they aren’t to blame and people know it. Though some may not agree the majority still see the police as doing the job they were hired to do and see the law-breaker as being at fault. If only they didn’t break the law they never would have been in that position in the first place. With good law there is credence to this point of view. However, since most people likely don’t see the difference or fully understand the burden on liberty law takes, they will not think beyond this and will not consider a law to be bad or a criminal to be blameless.
The second reason is that being a police officer is hard, dangerous, and necessary. It is the job few want to do and even fewer can do. Police departments around the country must sort through hundreds of applicants to get just one who is qualified. That one must pass a test, both physical and written, must be interviewed by a panel, pass a background investigation and polygraph, must pass a psychological evaluation, and a medical examination, then they must successfully complete the police academy, field training, and their probationary period. Once that is done they have earned the privilege of making little money to deal with the people society doesn’t want to deal with and to take the abuse, even bodily injury and death, those people are known to dish out. That on top of the psychological impact of seeing victim after victim.
Most people know this about the cops and when they hear people criticizing them for enforcing drug laws, tax laws, speeding laws, whatever it is, they tend to take the officer’s perspective and not the criminal’s. Picking on the cops is a dead-end. In like manner picking on a judge is also because even though many places elect their judges few really know who they are. So few vote in judicial elections that judges tend to remain and where judges aren’t elected they are appointed, most often for life.
The ax must be laid to the root!
“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” – Matthew 3:10 10
The lawmakers, collectively, are the problem.
One of my favorite quotes from Atlas Shrugged goes like this, “The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”
There is a movement in America known as “The Liberty Movement” and it’s wonderful. It is made up of people who love liberty and study it out. Though those of us in the movement do not always agree on each and every iteration of principle we are all working toward the same end. That end is the free agency of man; his right to choose for himself the course of his life; the protection of unalienable rights as the supreme law. Those rights should be the root of the tree and all laws made should be the trunk and branch of liberty. It is no accident that a massive tree, the Liberty Tree, stood as a focal point of the American Revolution and no mistake that Thomas Jefferson used this metaphor when he wrote to William Stephens Smith:
[T]he people can not be all, & always, well-informed. the part which is wrong….will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13 states independant 11 years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.
Going one last time to the bible we find it starts with two trees. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Law is the first tree and liberty the second. If the Founding Fathers set up our system well enough to be fool-proof then we have it within our power to correct this and to do so without the blood Jefferson invokes.
To do this we must begin with changing out minds on one simple thing. We must stop saying things such as, “drugs should be legal”. At first that may sound like a perfectly acceptable phrase to you. Indeed you might be saying in your mind, “but they should be legal!” The problem with such a phrase is that it implies that the law is the ultimate arbiter of our behavior. To say it that way implies that the government gives or takes away permission to act in a certain way. That is exactly the other way around. We give the government permission to act or not act a certain way. Our very language has become corrupted with the corruption of the state!
The default state of all behaviors which do not infringe upon the rights of others should be liberty. If this were so then the police would be of no worry to any man but the one who violates his brother’s rights. Then we would all agree that such a man has earned punishment.