These days it's hard to keep up with all the stories
about official government misconduct and police brutality. So
what is it that makes so many "law enforcers" treat
the rest of us like vermin to be stomped upon? If ours is a "servant
government," as the Founders stated, why is it that those
in positions of power act so much like our masters?
It is both easy and appropriate to blame the individual
megalomaniacs who abuse their power, but the world has never had
a lack of nasty people. So why is it that symptoms of a police
state seem to be showing up more and more often in this country?
A major cause is something which probably wouldn't occur to most
people, and which most people don't want to hear:
They treat us like we are their slaves, because
we treat them like they are our masters.
When people so often play the role of obedient serfs,
bowing to authority and unquestioningly doing as they are told,
it should come as no surprise that those doing the commanding
and controlling will begin to treat the rest of us as inferiors.
When we humbly treat "law enforcers" as our superiors,
instead of our employees, it's no wonder they start to acquire
god complexes. Our own behavior and words tell them that we ACCEPT
their dominion over us, and that we CONDONE the oppressive and
degrading treatment we receive at their hands.
Consider the example of a routine "sobriety
checkpoint," where the police stop all traffic on some main
road, to ask everyone if they have been drinking. How does the
exchange usually go? (Since the police have a habit of doing them
right in front of my house until all hours of the night--complete
with blazing spotlights illuminating the inside of my house--I
can tell you exactly how it goes.)
Several guys with badges are standing around, directing traffic,
herding people around like sheep. A driver is stopped, and rolls
down his window. The cop walks up to him, and asks the driver
if he has been drinking. The driver politely says, "No, sir."
While asking a few other questions, the cop turns on a flashlight,
and shines it around in the car. If nothing government-unapproved
catches his attention, he lets the person go.
(Heaven forbid that there be a firearm, or even a gun case,
in plain view in the car. Even if it is owned and possessed "legally,"
the officer will almost certainly question the driver about it,
detain him even longer, and likely will want to inspect the gun.
In other words, the "law enforcer" will again treat
the person like a criminal by default, and the citizen will have
to prove his innocence.)
With very few exceptions, the recipients of such indignities
accept them as necessary, maybe even noble. When treated like
criminals for no good reason, most Americans respond as timid
peasants, implicitly condoning their own subjugation. But what
would happen if the people really did view the police as "public
servants," instead of public masters?
If the cop saw himself as a servant of the people, and respected
the Constitution (the Fourth Amendment in particular), he would
refuse to participate in the stops at all, and either get reassigned
or fired. Randomly hindering people, interrogating them (even
briefly), and snooping in their car for anything suspicious--
when you have no reason to suspect them of committing any crime
to begin with--is the act of a totalitarian fascist, not a Constitutional
protector. One who took seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution
would refuse to violate it, regardless of what "laws"
the politicians might spew out.
(Once upon a time, cops were called "peace officers,"
implying that their job was to enforce peace. Now they are called
"law enforcers," implying that their job is to enforce
the will of the politicians--i.e., the "law"--whatever
the law happens to be, and whether the law is conducive to peace
and justice or not.)
Now consider the question of how a driver who viewed the cop
as his servant might act differently. How would it go if the victim
had a little righteous indignation at the inconvenience and implied
accusation of such a random stop at a "sobriety checkpoint"?