An Open Letter to the Police

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The time has come for you to make a choice. You must choose where you stand. You must take a stand and decide what society you wish to live in. Do not tell us that you follow orders, we dealt with that one decades ago. We don't want to hear that policies are set far above you, by those with more power than you. They have no power without you; you are their power. Without your willing participation, they are nothing more than miserable creatures, talking to the walls in overly decorated rooms. You convert their statements into physical actions. You decide which orders to follow, and from whom. It is your call.

We know why you joined the force. You wanted to protect the weak and the innocent from the strong and vicious. You desired a society where justice is done, the guilty punished. You abhor the use of violence against women and children. You wanted to stand for good, protect those who need protection. Are you doing this now?

Have you noticed the decline, over the past few decades, in public regard for your profession? When I was growing up, the friendly police officer was a part of our neighborhood. Children aspired to grow up to be policemen; the job was respectable. Seeing a police officer nearby meant safety. Today, citizens are fearful of you. When you drive by, they shudder — the innocent as well as the guilty. A policeman in close range no longer is resassuring. Citizens today worry that they will be assaulted, be electrocuted, or in other ways be harmed by their former public servants. Children worry that they will raise suspicions. Your job has changed from keeping the peace to enforcing various arbitrary, bureaucratic dictates. Have you wondered why?

You are the hired muscle of a small group. You no longer work for us, but for an alliance of businessmen, politicians, and bankers. They are determined to make society over in the vein they wish to see it. You are their muscle, their enforcer. This is why the public no longer respects you, but rather fears you. It is why your ranks have become full of sadists uninterested in the tasks that motivated you to join the force. It explains the orders you have been receiving.

Perhaps, though, you are thinking that the men you take orders from know best. Look around you. Is our society better than it was 50 years ago? Are we better off? Are we a more moral society? Take a drive down any of our highways in your cruiser, but this time, rather than looking for speeders, take a good hard look at what you see. Count the billboards advising drivers to part with their hard-earned money for a small thrill. Notice how much of our economy is simply entertainment — playgrounds for grown-ups — designed to take away the boredom and disillusionment we all feel. How many psychiatric offices will you see? How many people stream in and out of those offices each week, perfectly healthy, except that they need a vial of pills to get over the pointlessness of their lives? Can a healthy society ever be one in which most adults take anti-depressants? Will you see the obese people lining the sidewalks? After your drive, study what has happened to our food chain, and how the government has influenced it.

 

As you drive, notice the traffic patterns. Don't use your lights, drive as the rest of us do. When I question the need for government, I am often referred to roads as a prime example of the good done by government. Drive through a metropolitan area, if there is one in your jurisdiction, and observe the traffic patterns. Ask yourself if government has done a good job with the roads. Are the cars moving and merging in ways that seem safe? Are the roads designed to serve the driving public, or do they seem designed to facilitate the movement of weapons first, to make access to major corporations easier second, and the safety and comfort of the public a distant last concern?

Ask yourself what it would feel like to drive down that road as a civilian. Notice that, when you aren't in the mindset of giving orders, driving becomes a matter of being given orders, almost constantly. Signs direct you, under threat of physical violence, to move in certain ways. Is a healthy society one in which citizens receive constant orders and threats? In a decent society, would every sign indicate "Prohibited"? Drive the speed limit for a time. Do you feel quite sure that going faster would be unsafe?

People move in constant fear of, quite by accident, violating some rule or other, and suffering a penalty at your hand. When you issue a ticket, who is enriched by the fine? Is it you, or is it the faceless bureaucrat who issues your orders? Are you punishing evil behavior, or a simple inability to follow the many arbitrary and contradictory rules? Why should you spend your time taking money from a man who drives safely, but in excess of a number posted on a sign, and delivering that money to men who spend their time planning mass murder?

The men you serve have had their chance; the world we have today is the one they have delivered. Have they done well? Theirs is a world in which some are forever rich at taxpayer expense, others are forever poor due to regulations preventing them from improving their lot.

You are not a leader. You are not a CEO, and you will never be paid as one is paid. You will never be granted access to the ruling class; your assigned lot is to remain forever hired muscle. You are working class, what OWS calls the 99%. Why do you serve those whose lot is different? You work hard and want a peaceful world; they start wars and collect their bailouts. Why do you choose to protect them?

Speaking of OWS, they have been cleaned out of the park. Men like you were ordered to remove them; ordered by a Wall Street billionaire. How much of his money was made honestly? My guess is none of it. He lives on bailouts, and demands that you and others like you use violence to eliminate anyone who calls him on it. Right or wrong, do you think they should have had the chance to speak? Do you think it was correct to order the use of weapons and SWAT teams against peaceful protestors? How did you feel when that took place in other countries — why is it any different when it takes place here?

It is time for you to consider where you stand. The government is force, not eloquence, not reason. The symbol of government is the barrel of a gun — a gun you hold. The government has allied with carefully selected men — not with you — to siphon wealth from the rest of us and award it to the selected ones. They regard you as the unthinking, uncaring tool of their desires. They will rip us off, trample on our rights, and you will carry it out, all without gaining a thing for yourself. Will you prove them right? Or will you stand against this? Will you join us in calling for a free market, one where some participants do not get bailed out while others get regulated into oblivion? Will you join us in calling for freedom? Or will you help them to keep their boot directly over our throat? You are one of us, not one of them, do not continue as their deluded tool. Return to your mission of protecting the innocent from the depredations of the strong — protect us from government by bailout.

Joshua Katz, NREMT-P [send him mail], is the Legislative Director and Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut. A graduate student and college instructor, his areas of interest include mathematics, logic, non-linear dynamics, philosophy of mind, and the use of the synthetic a priori.

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