Police Privilege

The St. Louis County grand jury decision last week in the Darren Wilson/Michael Brown shooting case was an affirmation, not of racism or corruption, but rather of privilege – police privilege. By “privilege” I mean the actual dictionary definition of the term, not the incoherent meaning it has when paired with adjectives such as “white” or “male”. “Privilege” is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” The police are that very group of people who have been granted (by the state) a special right. It is the right to wield lethal force and never bear responsibility for its indiscriminate use.

When the state grants a monopoly privilege upon anyone, cops, courts, or cronyist corporations, it will be abused. This really should not be surprising to anyone. Honestly, ask yourself, if you were granted the right to engage in any behavior without any risk of repercussions, would you really not maybe test those limits just a tad here and there? And then maybe a bit more. And then a bit more. Until eventually one day you felt so entitled to this “right” you couldn’t imagine functioning without it. That is the nature of the state. It corrupts normal behavior by removing all negative feedback until even saints become sinners. Almost every societal ill can be traced to the actions of some group acting in accordance with the legal privilege granted to them by the state (police shootings of the innocent, subpar public schools, traffic deaths on public roads, inequality fostered by the Federal Reserve, limitation of competition through licensing or outright monopoly grants, etc).

The police and their apologists claim that cops couldn’t possibly do their job if they had to second-guess every decision. Yes, much better to act on instinct and hope for the best. If wrong, oh well, better luck next time. If police and police departments were fully liable for their actions somehow I suspect they would be much more prudent in how they carried out their duties. The implementation and use of non-lethal methods to subdue people would become the new standard in police work. Yes, Michael Brown was not a candidate for upstanding citizen of the year award, but his crimes were certainly not worthy of death.

So the real injustice here is not that an arm of the state found another arm of the state to be innocent of any wrongdoing (wow, I’m shocked), but rather that hundreds (if not thousands, oddly, statistics are poorly kept on such deaths ) of innocent men, women and children of all races are gunned down by police officers every year.  And no, that is not to say all cops behave this way, but for every bad apple there are many more that pretend those rotten apples don’t stink. This lack of internal accountability only serves to aid in the metastasization of consequence free behavior.

Unfortunately the protestors (the peaceful ones, the violent ones are beneath contempt) have the right instinct but have totally misdiagnosed the disease. They are saying these police shootings are racially motivated. They cite as proof the broad racial disparity in the statistics that show blacks are more likely to be arrested, incarcerated or killed by police than whites (adjusting for demographics). So does that mean those who shout “racism” will be satisfied if the proportion of blacks arrested, jailed or killed by police falls to the same level as whites? If 5% of black suspects are killed by cops will it no longer be considered racist as long as 5% of white suspects are also killed by cops? As it stands today if a cop kills a black person the proximate cause is always assumed to be racism. This assumed cause then supposedly justifies greater outrage in contrast to a cop killing a white person. That attitude is abhorrent. It is an equal tragedy in both cases. Saying racism is the most egregious thing about police brutality is like saying the worst thing about a deadly poison is that it tastes bad. The ‘why’ of the death is immaterial. All that matters is that the state says such deaths are always ‘legal.’ As long as they remain legal there can be no feedback to bring such practices to an end.