Thursday, August 14, 2014

Unnamed Cop/Michael Brown Fight - And Social Norms

A recurring thought I have had, since I first heard about the killing of Michael Brown by an unnamed Ferguson, Missouri cop is:

The confrontation wouldn't have occurred, if the police were not enforcing victimless, petty "crimes."

Others are thinking along the same lines.'s Ed Krayewski penned this gem:
"America's various polities pass laws that demand cops police what used to be understood as harmless (selling loosies) or at-your-own-risk (walking in the street) behavior, these encounters will continue, especially among poor and marginalized communities, whom these laws tend to effect and in whose communities they tend to be more strictly enforced." from "Some Thoughts on Ferguson, Newark, State Violence, Insurrections, and Democracy"
Apparently, Michael Brown and his friend were jaywalking. According to Brown's friend, they were instructed in some manner to get out of the street, then the cop started to drive away. But apparently, the two friends did not move quickly enough, because the cop reversed his car to confront the two about leaving the street.

Now, I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there that think a "young punk" deserves to be slammed to the ground for disrespecting authority. But respect is earned, and it is not by being a petty dictator forcing petty victimless "laws." Respect is learned, when one is respected, and one is taught to respect others - in a respectful way.

As far as I have heard, the two dominant versions of the incident quickly diverged. Brown's friend said that, when the cop had reversed his car back to their position, he swung open his door so swiftly that the door hit the friends rebounding and hit the cop. The "official" version is that the two nonsupercitizens slammed the door against the cop.

The friend claims that the cop pulled Brown into the cop car and threatened to shoot Brown. The "official" version claims that Brown attempted to seize the unnamed cop's gun.

The friend and other witnesses claim that Brown was shot multiple times while he had his hands up. The "official" version obviously claims something else.

I used to be a big proponent of police enforcing petty "laws." I used to be a big "there aught to be a law" kind of guy, and cheered when cops confronted those littering, speeding, or being general assholes.

I loved it when Mayor Rudy Guiliani was clearing the NYC streets of drug dealers and "illegal" gun possessors by enforcing victimless license plate "laws" and other moving "violations." But I also believed at the time that the government should be locking people up for the victimless "crimes" of drug dealing or exercising their 2nd-Amendment-enumerated right. (And yes I know that drug dealers do sell poison, but the Drug War actually encourages more dangerous drugs - look it up.).

It all comes down to this: Should we allow government agents to force victimless "laws" with  violence? Should we allow government agents to lock people up for victimless "crimes," allowing the cops to commit the violent, forceful act of imprisoning the petty nonlaw breaker? There are a myriad way of getting people to abide by social norms without turning those norms into ordinances, statutes, and "laws" that are backed up with the force of government agents.

Oh, yeah. If you believe in the nonaggression principle and freedom in general, then the answer to the last couple of questions is an absolute NO.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments, suggestions, and ratings.

Real Time Web Analytics