Heroes ... Not

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by Eric Peters EricPetersAutos.com

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Cops are the enemy.

A harsh – and global – statement, certainly.

But: Is it true?

Consider the nature of the job. It is to enforce the law. By definition. It is not to protect any specific individual – you or me – from harm. It is certainly not to serve – other than as automata who . . . enforce the law. Whatever the law is, it must be enforced. The cop will tell you so himself. He is merely doing his job – and his job is . . . to enforce the law. Period. “The law is the law.” We have all heard it. It does not matter whether the law is itself outrageous, or simply stupid. He may even freely confess it.

But he will nonetheless enforce it. He is required to enforce it.

Consider that for a moment.

In a doctrinal way, the cop is exactly like the people who were – rightly – strung up at Nuremburg after WWII, who stated – truthfully – that they were just following the orders issued by the lawfully constituted authority. They were not merely thugs. They were duly appointed thugs. They did not do the awful things they did at random, on their own nickle – so to speak. They were told to do it – agreed to do it – and went ahead and did it. Any questions they may personally have had about the rightness or wrongness of what they were doing were put aside.

Orders are orders.

And it is no great leap to go from abusing your fellow man in a small way to doing it in a big way. The principle of the thing is what matters. And the principle is now very well-established indeed.

The rest is merely follow-up. A cop who will pull a gun on you for refusing to wear a seatbelt will do much worse when the time comes. When he is ordered to.

When the law demands it.

So, what sort of man volunteers for such work? Who chooses to enforce the law – whatever the law happens to be?

The answer is – must be – a thug. A person who is both unthinking – and brutal. But worse than merely a thug. Because a mere thug beats you up because he wants your money – or just for the pure sick joy of it. But what sort of person does the same things because he’s told to do them? Who does them, even when he personally may not want to? When he has doubts about the rightness of the thing? But who is nonetheless willing to literally kill a fellow human being over it – if the law tells him he must?

Place yourself for a moment in a cop’s shoes – as distasteful an exercise as that may be.

You are told to man a “safety” checkpoint at which it will be your job to threaten everyone who happens to be on that particular road with lethal violence if they do not stop their vehicle, produce identification and submit to an interrogation as to their comings and goings. These innocent people – who have given you no reason to suspect them of having done anything wrong – must submit to your orders, must obey your commands. If they passively decline to do so – if they merely assert their ancient right as human beings to be left in peace – you will apply force. You will bash open their window if they decline to roll it down. You will drag them through the window if they refuse to comply with your orders to exit the vehicle. If they in any way attempt to fend off your brutal, unprovoked assault – you may kill them.

You are told to break up a “protest” – even though the “protestors” are entirely peaceful and merely exercising their right to air a grievance. Yet you join the thug scrum, with billy clubs and truncheons.

You are ordered to kick in the door of a private residence and drag the occupant out of his bed at gunpoint – because this person is alleged to be in possession of a substance the state has arbitrarily declared to be “illegal.”

You will shoot him to death if he “resists.”

You spend several hours each day manning a radar gun, issuing your fellow human beings stiff fines you know many of them cannot afford, which will place a great burden on their ability to pay the rent or put food on the table for their families, for conduct you yourself do routinely (e.g., “speed”) and which you know perfectly well to be harmless. But if they object, you will pile on.

What sort of person signs up for such work?

The foregoing is merely a small sampling of countless scores of similar examples we’re all well-familiar with. A cop’s work is to arrest and cage people who do not obey the law. Nothing less. And their human rights be damned. If they object, if they resist, the cop has license under the law to assault them.

To kill them.

It is a fair summary – as awful as it may be to deal with it, emotionally – even intellectually.

It is simply not possible for a morally decent person to choose this line of work – or at least, to continue in this line of work, having come to grips with the nature of the work. Because it is a line of work that requires the surrender of one’s humanity. Of the thing that makes a human being other than an animal. That is, your ability to choose to do the right thing – and to do it.

To become a cop is to give that up. To become an enforcer. To do as you are told. To become a sadist, if need be.

If the law so commands it.

Read the rest of the article Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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