Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | December 9, 2014

Raining Blue Piss

I have close relatives who are cops. Between them, they’ve served in all capacities (patrol, SWAT, detective, undercover, juvenile, homicide, etc.) in over a half century of law enforcement experience.

I understand and empathize with cops, but we’ve taken our legal system way too far, and it’s put our law enforcement officers in an impossible position.

Most cops are good people, but they believe fictions about the system that they uphold. And they didn’t become cops only for good reasons. Only certain types feel attracted to carrying a gun, at will telling people what to do, and daily embracing the power to kill. In fact, it takes a certain type to think that killing even makes sense as a problem resolution method rather than as a declaration of having come to the end of sense.

There’s a saying that cops are quite familiar with: “Some people just need killing.” Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But clearly, for a given person who might or might not need killing or incarceration, we resort to violent methods too quickly, invest far too little in finding non-violent ones, and do nothing to solve the root problems that led to a need for killing or incarceration in the first place. So, when we do kill or incarcerate someone, we literally do it in ignorance born of failure.

Someone complained to me recently that “people are labeling all cops bad.” I don’t think that intelligent people are doing that. Criticizing the “justice” system that cops serve as agents for is not tantamount to an attack on every agent. Nor does criticizing the system and its agents mean a personal attack on the people whose job it is to act as agents. I have close relatives who won’t speak to me because my criticism of our “justice” system offends them, but they fail to make those distinctions, and so they blame me for transgressions that I’m not committing. I see similar confusion in most complaints lately against criticism and protest over the oppressive juggernaut that our “justice” system has become.

Bottom line, with only 5% of the worlds population but 25% of the world’s prisoners, (see this 2008 NY Times article — and the incarcerated population has only grown since then,) in what way have we not become a fascist state conducting slavery as an institution? Cops are the new slave traders, our increasingly privatized penal system the new plantations, and the 1% with their corporate minions the new slave masters. And we condone it. We legalized it.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of laws on the books, most of which we have no clue about. Lawyers themselves can’t keep track of it all. 70% of Americans have committed a crime that would warrant incarceration, according to Douglas Husak in his excellent 2009 book, Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law. That’s a huge potential slave labor pool that the state can dip into at will. As Stephen L. Carter explains in an astute Bloomberg View article, “Law Puts Us All in Same Danger as Eric Garner,” if a cop decides to detain you for selling a “loosie” on the street, your right to freedom immediately disappears regardless of your innocence or guilt. And if you protest or resist, the officer of the law can kill you with virtual impunity. Anyone. For selling a cigarette.

When they’re pissing on your head and calling it rain, don’t stand there — move aside. Stop listening to them. And call it out for the lie it is.

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