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!