On Militarization of the Police and Riots

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On Militarization of the Police and Riots

by baldilocks

Ear­lier today, I wrote this on Facebook:baldilocks

Con­ser­v­a­tives need to learn the dif­fer­ence between con­strained and uncon­strained vision of pol­i­tics, polit­i­cal strug­gles, and life phi­los­o­phy in general.

I see all too many con­ser­v­a­tives in my time line who think that some of us are advo­cat­ing anar­chy because of our wari­ness of the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of police forces around the coun­try (as recently demon­strated in Fer­gu­son MO).

Seri­ously, are some of you so lim­ited in your think­ing that you are unfa­mil­iar with mod­er­a­tion? Or is every­thing one extreme or another?

One can be for law and order while being, at the same time, alarmed by local police forces tak­ing over the role and equip­ment of state and fed­eral armed forces.

The same per­sons are often unable to grasp the mag­ni­tude of insti­tu­tional and soci­etal mis­sion creep – the mag­ni­tude of change, a change in the works long before her­alded by change’s most infa­mous booster.

As a kid, you’re (pos­si­bly) taught a sim­ple con­cept: obey the law, and you won’t get arrested. And the law is usu­ally clear and easily-​learned. If the sign says “no park­ing”, you can’t park there. You can look up the legal code; to avoid get­ting arrested, you just have to fol­low those written-​down rules.

But the “fail­ure to obey a law­ful police order” mis­de­meanor on the books in most places seems like a for­mula for trou­ble. The law is largely intended for sit­u­a­tions like, “back away from the acci­dent scene” or “don’t touch that” or other cir­cum­stances where a civil­ian could inter­fere with police business.

It’s the only law that Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Wes­ley Low­ery and Huff­in­g­ton Post reporter Ryan Reilly could con­ceiv­ably be charged with break­ing when they were hand­cuffed and taken into cus­tody Wednes­day night; both were released with­out any charges. Sud­denly the law isn’t nec­es­sar­ily what’s writ­ten down or posted; it’s what­ever the guy with the badge, gun, and hand­cuffs says it is. To avoid get­ting arrested, you have to obey the guy with the badge, and his def­i­n­i­tion of a law­ful order is up to him and his colleagues.

What many can­not grasp is that nearly all of our gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions – from fed­eral to local – have embraced the uncon­strained vision, as demon­strated above. This is also known as chaos, and I can’t see any dif­fer­ence between the insti­tu­tion­al­ized chaos ticks infest­ing our system(s) and the riot­ers, loot­ers and arson­ists of Fer­gu­son, MO – except that prac­ti­tion­ers of the lat­ter are more hon­est in their bar­barism than the former.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2009; the sec­ond edi­tion in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

by baldilocks

Earlier today, I wrote this on Facebook:baldilocks

Conservatives need to learn the difference between constrained and unconstrained vision of politics, political struggles, and life philosophy in general.

I see all too many conservatives in my time line who think that some of us are advocating anarchy because of our wariness of the militarization of police forces around the country (as recently demonstrated in Ferguson MO).

Seriously, are some of you so limited in your thinking that you are unfamiliar with moderation? Or is everything one extreme or another?

One can be for law and order while being, at the same time, alarmed by local police forces taking over the role and equipment of state and federal armed forces.

The same persons are often unable to grasp the magnitude of institutional and societal mission creep–the magnitude of change, a change in the works long before heralded by change’s most infamous booster.

As a kid, you’re (possibly) taught a simple concept: obey the law, and you won’t get arrested. And the law is usually clear and easily-learned. If the sign says “no parking”, you can’t park there. You can look up the legal code; to avoid getting arrested, you just have to follow those written-down rules.

But the “failure to obey a lawful police order” misdemeanor on the books in most places seems like a formula for trouble. The law is largely intended for situations like, “back away from the accident scene” or “don’t touch that” or other circumstances where a civilian could interfere with police business.

It’s the only law that Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly could conceivably be charged with breaking when they were handcuffed and taken into custody Wednesday night; both were released without any charges. Suddenly the law isn’t necessarily what’s written down or posted; it’s whatever the guy with the badge, gun, and handcuffs says it is. To avoid getting arrested, you have to obey the guy with the badge, and his definition of a lawful order is up to him and his colleagues.

What many cannot grasp is that nearly all of our government institutions–from federal to local–have embraced the unconstrained vision, as demonstrated above. This is also known as chaos, and I can’t see any difference between the institutionalized chaos ticks infesting our system(s) and the rioters, looters and arsonists of Ferguson, MO–except that practitioners of the latter are more honest in their barbarism than the former.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!