Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I Can't Breathe, Either

I Can't Breathe, Either
©2015  Ross Williams



A sputtering war against law enforcement and governmental authority in general was given a little unnecessary prodding last year.  It's taken me a while to synthesize the mess into what I think is now a cogent scold upon the folks who are feeling all smug about themselves.  Which is to say, the legal establishment, the police, the liberal nanny-statists, and in one notable example the racial minorities, … virtually all of those feeling wronged in some way by what's going on.

I can't remember how many times I've had to say this and yet it doesn't sink in: using law to "solve" a "problem"  does one of two things, and usually both:
1] it creates a new class of bureaucrats to nose around in everyone else's business;
2] it creates a new class of criminal needing punishment from the legal system.

What good is a law if there is no penalty for violating it?  Ergo, violators will be prosecuted.  That makes people into criminals.  In order to determine if there are violators of the law, a group of people need to be given the job of determining if the citizenry is properly conducting their affairs.  This means creating a group of governmental busibodies.  It doesn't matter what the law is.  The Obamacare law created around 45 million criminals overnight, just a year ago.  That is the number of uninsured Americans who defied the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance by midnight on the last day of 2013.  Not buying health insurance is against the law — the law which is enforced by the IRS, by the way, not that Obamacare is a tax or anything.
What happens to a society where much, if not most, of what a person does is, or potentially is, in violation of some kind of law or other is that the society becomes criminalized.  Not having health insurance is a crime.  Letting your dog out the front door in the morning without staking it down is a crime.  Buying cigarettes in one state where the tobacco taxes are low to sell for a profit in the next state where the tobacco taxes are astronomical is a crime.  Not wearing a seat belt and doing other genuinely stupid things is a crime.  Yes, stupidity is a crime — we have guaranteed the criminality of 100% of the population.  The more police or other government agencies are used to enforce these laws upon people, the less respect people will have for the government … and the policing forces of that government.

The less respect people have for the cops and the government, the more likely it will be for the deranged loonies to start picking off individuals within the government.  I said in an essay relating the Congressman Giffords shooting in Arizona that the ones who created the landscape for this sort of stammering insurrection are those who are whimpering about being targeted by the loonies.  And I mentioned that it's difficult to tell who's a loony and who isn't because what the loony says is largely correct.

If TSA doesn't want people criticizing them as sexual abusers and forcible pornographers, then they should stop groping old ladies and pornoscoping the rest.  If the IRS doesn't want people flying airplanes into their offices for being excessive and highhanded, then they should stop being excessive and highhanded.  It's extremely difficult to tell who deserves sympathy when loonies take out the people abusing their authority in this country.  …in this FREE country where you are not permitted to be searched without a warrant [it is the warrant which identifies the reason, and therefore the reasonableness, for the search] and where we are required to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around.

This means quite a lot of crime we now solve will necessarily go unsolved.  But what's the alternative?  The alternative is to treat everyone as a criminal — which is pretty much standard procedure for government in America today.  Think about the last time you were pulled over for doing 43 in a 35 [or in my case, it was doing 43 in a 25 in a little pissant speedtrap town a few miles north of me, where I was maybe going 19 because I had been stuck behind a slow diesel pickup hauling a cattle trailer for the previous 2 miles.  My daughter was late for her girl scout bowling event and even she was griping about being delayed by this truck crawling down the road.  But in order to fight the ticket, I'd have had to take her out of school and her mother was not amenable to that.  "Just pay the fine!  Why does everything have to be an issue with you?"]

Rather than just writing the damned ticket — deserved or otherwise — and being done with the encounter in about 45 seconds, what do the cops do?  They recite a list of activities and movements you are not permitted to make, and if you make any of them you will be placed under arrest or at least have a gun shoved in your face; you'll have the cop's face in your face in any event so he can sniff your breath; you are checked for seat belts and passengers ditto; your insurance is checked; your registration is checked; your license plate is "run"; your name and social security number and/or drivers license number is "run".   This process takes up to twenty minutes, and it must be done [they say] because "don't you realize how many criminals are caught in routine traffic stops?!?"

Yes, a handful, maybe a whole three-digits' worth nationwide each year … out of probably a few hundred million "routine traffic stops".  Do the math on that.  Is it worth treating several million Americans like criminals [many of them multiple times] in order to catch a few hundred shoplifters and check kiters?  The Constitutional answer, of course, is no.  But citizens are treated worse than criminals, actually, because much of the indignity of a traffic stop is not permitted in a maximum security prison without reams of signed permission slips that the traffic cop doesn't have.  Sadly, our legal thinkers believe large parts of our Constitutional rights apply only to criminals or criminal suspects, and merely being pulled over for crawling through town behind a cattle carrier because Deppity Fife was not up to his quota doesn't earn me certain of my rights.  It would make it too difficult for the cop to do his job.

Here's the thing: governing a free people is supposed to be difficult.  If governance is easy, the next stop is tyranny.  Crack a history book.  There is no government, ever, in the history of mankind, which started out by imposing hardships on the ability of the government to govern where that government, by increment, over generations, failed to make it easier to govern until it could govern at will and thereafter become a dictatorship.  In democracies like Greece, or democratic republics like Rome, this process took between 200 and 300 years.  We are right on schedule.

Among the scheduled activities predicted by the history books is increased armed conflict directed at the law enforcers in the increasingly tyrannical society.  Sure enough, there've been a handful of loonies shooting cops recently.  I'm not surprised.  Not in the slightest.

I take that back: yes I am.  What I'm surprised about, though, is that it took this long; I was anticipating a galvanizing event to inspire cop-targeting several years ago.

In July of last year, a fat black guy with multiple health problems [and an arrest record mostly for doing what he was stopped and questioned for, but who was otherwise "law-abiding"] was stopped and questioned by New York City cops for selling single cigarettes on the streets of the Big Apple.  Selling loose cigarettes — "loosies" — is illegal.  …because tobacco is highly taxed in New York State [$13/pack, I've heard; not carton … pack], and if someone from da Bronx were to, say, take a cab over to Joisey and buy, say again, a few dozen cartons of cigarettes for the modest price of $50 because New Jersey's tobacco taxes are significantly lower, and then bring them back to NYC and sell individual smokes at a dollar a stick because the customer doesn't have the $13 it takes to buy a pack … that's called "black marketing".  You are not paying the New York taxes in your commercial transaction in New York, and that is illegal.

It is also free enterprise in any nation based on freedom, but that no longer includes us here in the US.

At any rate, Eric Garner, the fat black guy with multiple health problems, was selling loosies when he was approached by cops … like he had been many times before.  The cops repeatedly told him they were not arresting him, but they continued to pester him regardless.

Why?  If the guy isn't going to be arrested, then … cops … here's what you do: leave him the hell alone.  Selling loose cigarettes is illegal regardless of their source and he could have been arrested for it, but the cops made a decision not to do so.  But the cops couldn't leave it at that.  Garner, who'd been arrested multiple times for "black marketing" loosies was irate about being pestered and he mouthed off at the cops.  The boy's got a First Amendment; mouthing off is permitted, and … cops … if you're going to be increasingly in the faces of the public for violating any of the bazillion laws there are to enforce, you'd better expect to hear quite a bit of citizen jawing.  Just a head's up.

 After Garner started mouthing off the cops attempted to calm him … by touching him and pushing him [albeit gently at this point] to the side and "out of the way".  Of what?  Who knows.  Was it necessary?  Not at all.  It was a situation created completely by the cops who were "not going to arrest him" but yet somehow couldn't manage to leave the guy alone.

At this point, Garner began "resisting".  Resisting what?  Being pushed around by cops … which they are not permitted to do when they are not making an arrest; Garner was therefore not committing a crime by "resisting".  You cannot "resist arrest" unless you are being arrested.  At almost all other times there is no enforceable requirement to cooperate with the police.  The police on the scene were constructing a confrontation out of whole cloth.

At this point, the cops attempted to subdue Garner … for "resisting"  what the cops had no business doing in the first place if they were not going to arrest him for selling loosies … and they subdued him by using a choke hold.  A choke hold is a type of maneuver used in professional wrestling [where it's called a "sleeper" hold] and its street-fighting homage where you lock your arm around someone's throat from behind tight enough to cut off circulation to the head and the guy passes out.   Only in Garner's case, a fat guy with multiple health problems, it caused him to go into cardiac failure and die.

His last words were "I can't breathe," which was technically false since he was talking, but someone having a heart attack from the unnecessary physical ruckus created by cops abusing their power and deliberately creating a confrontation … we can forgive a dying man his mistaken impression.

Garner was killed by the cops, and for no good reason.  Tax collection.

Do I really need to spell out the lessons to be learned here?  Do I really need to question why, when the history books are chock full of examples and when one example is from the infancy of our own nation itself, anyone in this country needs to have those lessons spelled out for him … again?

The more laws you make the more law-breakers you make.  Some laws are necessary for a society to operate smoothly and the government must exercise its power to enforce them; other laws are only necessary for a government to exercise its power and don't, in themselves, make a society operate manifestly more smoothly; they simply create a criminal class which it typically becomes fashionable to pillory, usually for the purpose of extracting their money.  These laws exist solely to make the government more powerful.

When the laws whose purpose is to make the government more powerful overtake in perceived importance the laws which make the society operate more smoothly, the people begin to get agitated.  When enough people are agitated they start throwing things — first, usually, are unkind words, followed by anonymous sticks and rocks, and then non-anonymous sticks and rocks, and then bullets, and then worse.

Seriously, crack a history book.  Our country was founded as a more or less direct result of ridiculously excessive taxes on various consumer goods starting famously with tea, and the refusal of a group of malcontents to pay them.  Ridiculously excessive taxes on tobacco?  Malcontents refusing to pay them?  Ridiculously excessive [to the point of being psychotic] taxes on health care?  And 45 million refusing, as of midnight, December 31st 2013, to pay them?  Stop me if you've heard this one before.  This cannot end well, and I amazed that so many people can't figure that out for themselves.

We have seen bullets and cars used as projectiles lobbed at cops just in the last month, taking a few cops' lives, all emanating from this [and another, still procedurally abusive, but markedly different] event.  I've said it before: tolja so.

This other event occurred maybe 25 miles from my house, in the month following the Eric Garner travesty.  And sadly, it is the one that is galvanizing the stammering insurrection.  This is sad, because it is inarguably the one event that the cop, himself, was largely justified in doing what he did.

In Ferguson Missouri, two black male youths boosted a handful of crap from a convenience store/gas station one night last August.  Extremely minor petty theft.  The clerk called the cops with a description.  Later that evening, a white cop saw two youths walking down the middle of the street.  The cop [in his car] approached and told the kids to move to the sidewalk.  The youths mouthed off — which they are permitted to do, frankly.  It appears to have been at this point that the cop noticed that the two were a match to the shoplifters, down to the unique color of their socks, and that they even were carrying the very items that were reported stolen.  The cop retreated and called for backup and while waiting, the youths approached the cop [still in his car] reached through the window to grab the cop's gun and one [reportedly] informed the cop "You're too much of a pussy to shoot me".  A struggle ensued, the cop won the struggle [finally, after getting beaten in the face and shot in the hand by his own gun], and one kid was shot … multiple times, when once would arguably have sufficed; this kid was killed.

Here's a hint to any petty thieves who don't want to die for a crime that would net a $200 fine.  If you're going to boost crap, don't walk down the middle of the street afterward.  If you're going to walk down the middle of the street afterward and a cop tells you to move to the sidewalk, say, "Oh, yeah, sorry" and then do it.  If you can't find the sidewalk as requested, don't show him the stuff you stole.  If you must show him the stuff you stole thus making him request the assistance of other cops to come arrest your stupid ass, don't saunter over to his car before they get there and compound your future problems by trying to boost his gun while demeaning his masculinity.  Why does this need to be explained?

The pathetic thing is, this event — constructed by the youthful thieves and not the cops — is being cited as a "Civil Rights Moment" by the activists who have not yet emerged from the 1950s.  I've heard comparisons of the use of police force in Ferguson to that used in Selma.   … because the blacks in Selma obviously poured gasoline all over themselves, set themselves on fire, and then started bawling when firehoses were used to put them out.  Being washed down the street was just a side-effect.

Race-baiters demanded the criminal prosecution of the cop, and everyone from the locals to the feds is falling in line to do it.  The St Louis Country prosecutor, though, Bob McCulloch [in the six-degrees of separation game, I stand at two; Wall-Eye Bob is the friend of a former boss of mine] refused to do his job of looking at the credible evidence and declining to prosecute; he washed his hands of responsibility and referred the matter to a grand jury.  But McCulloch didn't use soap; he entirely forgot [or ignored] what he ever learned about the grand jury process in law school.

The purpose of a grand jury is to determine if there is enough positive evidence of criminal wrongdoing that could be taken to trial; a grand jury is a one-sided event by its nature.  That's why grand juries are not public.  A grand jury is not to compare and contrast the positive evidence against the exculpatory evidence, nor to provide reasonable doubt.  Those are matters for the defense attorney to handle at trial.  McCulloch's grand jury was, in effect, a closed-door trial with McCulloch acting as defense attorney despite his duty to prosecute.

Despite this prosecutorial misconduct, there was no crime committed by the cop that could be prosecuted.  McCulloch needed to pull on his big-boy pants and make that decision himself without punting to a circus grand jury that he was ringmaster of.  The only evidence suggesting there was a crime was provided by the other petty thief.  All eye witnesses and all physical evidence deny his claim that the pair were innocently attempting to surrender themselves for shoplifting and were instead attempting to mug an armed cop.  When you do that, you'll likely get shot, and one of them did.

However, there are lessons to be learned here, as well.  Chief among them is that when you have too many laws and too many interactions between citizens and cops [or between citizens and other bossy, intrusive, self-righteous officials with impunity and, typically, insufferable smugness], … even if the cop is justified in this one incident, far too many people are going to be remembering the 100 other incidents where the cop or other official was simply being a self-important asshole, and they are going to refuse to give the benefit of the doubt, let alone believe the evidence.  They will, instead, as they've done in the aftermath of Ferguson, construct themselves a tidy conspiracy theory holding that the physical evidence was fabricated, and all the witnesses except the other thief lied.  And then they'll use this conspiracy theory to justify rioting and burning and looting and wetting their panties in public.  …or to get out of college finals a half a continent away because they are just too "traumatized" by a kid who tried to mug a cop being killed in the effort.

This is a "cry wolf" moment for our form of governance.  If we are to be a free people, then the government must leave us the hell alone in virtually all circumstances; stop making excuses to pester the people.  Because if you can stop, then when the government does deign to pester us for one of the remaining valid reasons they are permitted to pester, the chances that anyone, let alone whole demographics, will fly off the handle in exaggerated response will be virtually nil.  However, cops [and other bossy, etc officials] pester citizens routinely, and for everything from selling individual cigarettes in the face of moronic taxes to seat belts to licenses for selling homemade cupcakes to too much toothpaste in your carry-on to health insurance to a dog that pees on a neighbor's tree.  As a result, I'm sorry, but people are bound to not be terribly sympathetic to the government position when incidents such as Ferguson happen.  The Ferguson cop was correct, but many people don't want to hear it, and therefore they won't.  They are simply too fed up with the rest of the government bullying to listen.  And I don't blame them; I'm fed up with it, too.

But the final scold goes to the very people who are the most critical of the government and their enforcers in these [and a handful of other recent] events.  These people are the idiot liberals, the ones who irrationally, without any supporting evidence and whole libraries full of proof to the contrary, believe that government is a valid means of fixing social predicaments and particularly, with respect to these incidents, they are the minorities in our nation.
Need airline "safety"? have the government treat everyone like a terrorist until they prove they aren't.  Want toys that don't choke babies? have the government design toys.  Tired of seeing people die in car wrecks? have the government force people into seat belts.  Don't want people making snide comments about your ethnicity? have the government create politeness guidelines the breaking of which is seen as a violation of the "civil right" to be uninsulted if you are a racial or ethnic minority.

One question, folks … how in the hell do you think the government can do these wondrous and magical things?

The answer is: force.  If people do not voluntarily comply with the reams of rules put out by our governments, they will be forced to comply.  In either event, the use of force is either manifest or threatened.  People with guns, or bossy people in suits holding laminated ID badges who can call the people with guns, will make you do what they tell you to do whether you want to do it or not, whether it's any of their business or not, whether they are allowed to or not, and whether we were designed to live like that or not.  It will always, always, always boil down to the folks with guns forcing you to do what they tell you to do.  It doesn't matter if it's some guy trying to make a buck selling loose cigarettes to beat an outlandish morality tax, or some arrogant kid who boosted a QuikTrip trying to beat down the guy there to arrest him for it, it's people with guns using force.

In the nation we were intended to live in, only a very very very small fraction of that force is legitimate.  Stopping petty thievery, yes.  Stopping street peddling, no.  But when you insist that the government solve all our problems, even problems that really aren't problems, the way you liberals have, the government will stop seeing the necessary distinctions between these circumstances, and they will treat them all identically as even you are now realizing, as just another opportunity to use force to make people do what they say.

I did not want the government to solve all these problems, because I know that the government's only method of solving problems is to turn a whole lot more of us into criminals that need to be forced to obey their stupid rules.  YOU are the ones who wanted the government to solve all these problems; the use of force — which you are now whining is "excessive", which it often [but not always] is — is a direct result of YOUR demands.  Not mine.

YOU did this.  Don't forget that.