Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gang Violence

When crime peaked in the late '70s through the '80s, we moved as a society to address that through more aggressive policing.  A large part of Clinton's first term was tied up in a "crime bill" that is sadly remembered more for an early example of ginned up right wing nontroversy: Midnight Basketball.

As we arrested everyone who was evenly marginally criminal, crime rates dropped.  They are exceptionally low right now.

But we have gotten to a point that the police have become a focus of violence unto themselves.

I've weighed on the NSA and CIZ spying and torturing scandals enough, but I will reiterate that I find their abuses troubling, but not existentially so.  The NSA has a record of that phone call you got from your friend who was visiting the Pyramids.  Not great, not a huge deal.

But the continued use of extra-legal violence by the police in this country is a real problem.  It has a real impact on people's lives, but many of those people are of a darker hue than Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and the Libertarian Left.

There are good cops out there, but the problem today is not the "corrupt" cop taking bribes on the beat.  It's the cop who thinks this is Baghdad circa 2005 and he needs to use lethal force.  It's the cop who thinks he a praetorian and everyone should bow down before his will.

We've turned the police from public servants to public intimidators.

It has to stop.

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