The power of ideas:
DIY: End the Police State
Posted on March 20, 2012.
Do a simple thought experiment: what’s the difference between “theft” and “taxes?” Between “a fine” and “a ransom note?” Between “arresting” and “kidnapping?” Nothing. The person aggressed-upon was no-less harmed.
It doesn’t matter where the aggressor works or what attire they wear – individuals are responsible for their actions. Badges don’t grant extra rights. The sooner we each internalize that, the sooner things change for the better. But at the end of the day, the problem isn’t the police – the problem is an idea.
To stop having Oscar Grant’s and Kelly Thomas’s – we each just need to replace a bad idea – that some individuals have the right to coerce others – with a better idea – that no individual has the right to coerce others.
Yes, there are “bad cops” – but that doesn’t mean all police are bad. True, they’re “bad” in the sense that they steal your money to “serve you” – but so does everyone else who works for a government agency or as a government contractor. (Perhaps that includes your mom, who teaches at the local middle school, or your best friend who got a research grant from the CDC, or your cousin in the Marines. Ooh-rah!) I focus on policing because its the enforcement arm of a criminal organization, which exists due to an idea. A bad idea. And fortunately bad ideas can always be discarded for better ideas.
Individuals working in law enforcement might mean well, but their good-intentions are always overshadowed by the perverse incentives that say it’s ok for some to use force. One can’t fix a monopoly that claims a “legitimate” right to use force with more funding or through calls for greater transparency.
To truly change things we must each realize that no one has authority over us. Once you treat those with badges the same you would me or a neighbor the systematic violence ceases. Such an idea has far-reaching implications.
Many today have been led to believe the idea that some strangers in suits in an old marshland have the right to dictate every minutia of their lives. And that some strangers more-local can do the same at an even more microscopic level. And that other strangers – friends of the first groups – have the “legitimate” right to use force if they’re not obeyed. Huh!?
Shed the idea that “just doing my job” is acceptable. It’s not. The actor themselves is responsible for their actions, not text on paper, not some stranger far-away who says certain actions permissible, and not some tyrant more local who ordered the same. When individuals purposefully hurt others, as did Charles I. Newton, employee of the NH Drug Task Force and Robert Roche, employee of the Oakland Police Department, they should be outed and held accountable.
But don’t stop there, don’t be content with calling-out individual aggressors. Instead, be proactive. Delegitimize their violent institution by choosing not to grant them authority. See through the charade and think for yourself. Ideas have consequences!