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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When Will We Get It?

When Will We Get It?
©2015  Ross Williams


Cops killed someone else last week, this time a woman in Texas.

Her offense?  She mouthed off during a traffic stop.

Why was she stopped?  She changed lanes to get out of the way of the cop car — which was undoubtedly defying posted speed limits, as they virtually all do — and she was pulled over for her failure to signal that lane change.

The cop gave her a warning, and commented that she seemed "irritated".  Well, duh, she was pulled over for trying to get out of the way of the arrogant cop — who had appeared to be speeding his way to some important business elsewhere … apparently not, since he had time to pull her over and write out a warning.

Ooh!  Sass!  Cops don't like sass, and they will go out of their way to manufacture an arrestable confrontation when a free citizen in our free country uses the First Amendment in the way it was designed to be used: to backtalk the government and its agents.  And this cop followed the police-state script to a T to manufacture an arrestable confrontation.

First he ordered her to put out her cigarette.  He had no cause to do so.  He had no cause to do anything other than get his arrogant ass back in his car and arrogantly drive away to arrogantly harass the next motorist he encountered.

When the woman refused to put out her cigarette he ordered her to step from the vehicle — again, having no cause to do so.  He informed her that she was being placed under arrest … despite having committed no crime.  Mouthing off is not a crime; smoking a cigarette in one's own vehicle is not a crime.  The cop had no cause to prolong his interaction with the woman.

When she refused to budge, he threatened to drag her out, which constitutes assault.  He finally pulled his stun gun and threatened to "light her up" unless she complied.  This move is otherwise known as "assault with a deadly weapon".  The cop, without cause and under color of authority, threatened a citizen with a weapon that has been known to cause permanent injury and fatality. 

The dashboard camera shows her finally emerging from her vehicle, where he orders her to the side of the road.  Verbal confrontation continues off-camera, as does — apparently — excessive force during the illegal arrest, if we are to believe what the woman says about having her head slammed into the ground.

The woman was ultimately taken to jail where she died three days later, a plastic garbage bag wrapped around her neck.  The official report calls it suicide, and it may very well have been.

However, the point that no one is willing to mention is that this woman should never have been jailed in the first place.  She committed no crime.  To the degree that failure to signal a lane change is a crime, the incident was finalized on the roadway with the issuance of a warning; her traffic "crime" was completed.  What followed after was a total fabrication by the police force: as with Eric Garner, the cops push, harass and goad a citizen until the citizen mouths off … as citizens are fully entitled to do.  Once mouthing off occurs, the cops escalate.  With Eric Garner, it escalated to his death on a New York City sidewalk during a chokehold; with this woman, Sandra Bland, it escalated with her probable suicide death in jail.  Both deaths caused by the police for a citizen's rightful act of mouthing off.

What cops refuse to comprehend, and what government officials in general refuse to acknowledge, is that citizens have the right to mouth off … with impunity … under all circumstances.  The primary purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the right of a citizen to say what he wants — to and about his government or its agents —to the government's face or behind its back — without the government being able to do one damned thing about it.  Yes it's rude.  That's the cost of a free society.

Furthermore, what "law and order" types routinely fail to recognize is that there would likely be significantly more in the way of both "law" and "order" if our government in general and our police forces in particular were to cease attempting to recreate the gestapo in order to attain law and order.  Government bully tactics lead inexorably to smart-mouthing and worse.  In the absence of government bullying, there wouldn't be as much rudeness because the government wouldn't be inspiring it.

The biggest scold, though, belongs to those minorities who see the government as the securer of all things good: the minorities.  Sandra Bland was a black woman; her arresting officer was hispanic — it was Texas, after all.  Both blacks and hispanics disproportionately view the government's role as an in-yer-face institution, ensuring that other people conform to a set of "proper" behaviors.   The ultimate power of the government to accomplish this beneficence lies in the multiple layers of uniformed and armed police forces to impose the necessary compliance.

The only thing is: most of the improper behaviors our minorities would want our government to eliminate from others are called "freedom".  Indianapolis pizzerias must have the same freedom to not cater gay weddings as black motorists or street peddlers must have to mouth off at the cops harassing them. The moment we use the bully power of the state to impose on pizzerias is the moment we justify cops manufacturing confrontations with citizens.  And when government agents with guns get involved, people start dying.

So … IS the government the Great Protector some wish to believe it is?  Or is it just an opportunistic bully?