Police sure are crazy in Baltimore, huh? Trick question! Police are crazy pretty much everywhere -- including Canada, as I've previously discussed. In fact, relations between the police and the general public have gotten so out of hand that, in some ways, you could argue that it's taken on all of the major characteristics of a war. We talk about that on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
#5. War Doesn't Always Mean Constant Violence
When you think of war, the image that pops into your head is probably something like World War II or Vietnam, with violent battles just constantly raging all the time. On those grounds, what's currently transpiring between police and so many of the people they've been tasked with protecting doesn't really qualify. Sure, there's been unrest in a lot of areas, but it's not an ongoing event that's encompassed the entire country or anything.
That's not how every war works, though. Case in point: The United States was at war with the Soviet Union from the end of World War II all the way through to the early '90s, during what we've come to know as the Cold War.
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It ended only after a war without fighting was deemed too lame for the x-treme crowd that ruled the '90s.
We never engaged in full-scale combat, but that's only because, at the time, it would have meant massive nuclear strikes on both sides. Everyone annihilates everybody. It's called the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, and it's the only thing that kept us safe during those years.
Thanks, nuclear hellfire!
Sure, there were skirmishes that both sides had a vested interest in, like the Korean War or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but those incidents were few and far between. For the most part, it was just a constant state of mistrust between the two sides. If there was any direct fighting, it was done through espionage and propaganda.
In this context, what's happening between police and the public is very much like a war. Is there espionage? Sure, in that most of the incidents of police brutality that have made the news recently did so because someone, without the knowledge of the officers involved, was shooting video. Is there propaganda? Your answer to that probably goes a long way toward determining whether you'll buy into this idea at all. On that note ...
#4. There Are Two Clearly Defined Sides
What I meant by that propaganda stuff is that there are people in this world who, no matter how much video evidence they see to the contrary, will never believe that the police have become at least somewhat of a problem. Hell, even those videos have explanations. "He had a rap sheet a mile long." "He used drugs." "You don't know what police go through." "Don't run and the police won't chase you."
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Also, no direct eye contact, please.
The list goes on and on. It's easy to chalk it up to racism, and that's a fine explanation in a lot of cases. There's more to it than that, though. Be it because they've had a personal relationship with a friendly cop, have been the beneficiaries of the type of community service police are supposed to provide, or any number of other reasons, some people are just never going to believe that an incident of police brutality was the result of wrongdoing by the law enforcement official in question.
I don't think I need to prove that with links and sources; just consult your local Facebook news feed for all the evidence you could ever need.
You'll be sad you did!
While we're on the subject, though: If you are one of those people and you find yourself constantly bemoaning the fact that public opinion is coming down against the police, remember that your favorite argument works both ways. People shouldn't run from the police if they don't want to get shot/tased/choked? Well, maybe the police shouldn't shoot/tase/choke people just because they're running. There'd probably be a lot fewer riots if they could adhere to that fairly basic rule. Handing out justice is not their job. We have an entire legal system in place for that very purpose.
#3. Taxation Without Representation Is A Problem
You're familiar with the term "no taxation without representation," right? It was basically the idea that kicked off the American Revolution. British laws like the Stamp Act called for people in the original 13 colonies to pay taxes to a governmental entity that didn't represent them in any way. Next thing you know, we're throwing tea off boats and all hell breaks loose.
Think about the ecosystem!
If people are having their hard-earned money taken, they want to know that it's going to do something that will ultimately benefit them. Along with roads and a group of people willing to put out fires, a police force that keeps you safe from anarchy and mayhem is one of the basics. We're supposed to take those things for granted, because we know we've paid in the necessary tax dollars to keep them going. Sure, our kids go to terrible public schools and getting someone to come out at 3 a.m. to deal with the bat that somehow invaded your apartment is a total nightmare, but at least you've got money for the bare necessities.
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Getting this monster out of your living space should be a necessity.
Well here's the thing: Poor people pay taxes too. A disproportionate amount compared to rich people, in fact. And that's really what this is about. I get that all of the recent incidents that have attracted public interest have involved white cops and black victims, but you're out of your mind if you think people in poor communities in places where there aren't necessarily a ton of black people are immune to law enforcement shenanigans.
For example, Billings, Montana ranks pretty high in the per-capita police brutality rate according to this study, which probably explains why, according to this report, residents who live on the "South Side" feel like police have less of an interest in keeping them safe compared to people who live in "The Heights." That's a state where the largest minority groups (which I accept sounds like a weird thing to say) are Hispanics/Latinos (5.2 percent) and Native Americans (4.4 percent). In case you're wondering, the other 90.4 percent definitely aren't black. In fact, they make up just 0.8 percent of the population. Nevertheless, there's Billings, danger zone red, on that map of states with the highest incidents of police brutality.
Way to exceed expectations!
I'm getting off track, though. The point was taxes. If you're poor and have a job, you're paying them. So let's say you live in a community that feels like it's being victimized by police brutality. Those places exist -- again, those riots wouldn't be happening otherwise. It isn't brought up a lot, but the people in those communities are literally paying the salaries of the police they've come to fear.
How long is that going to hold up? It's taxation without representation of the highest order. If you pay a cop's salary, then that cop should keep you safe. If they don't, you've got American history on your side if you decide to revolt.