I was thinking of the Cory Maye case the other night, wondering how people believe this sort of stuff happens. I mean, even Balko–who started the whole movement (and I want to take nothing from him for that)–doesn’t seem to be able to connect dots.
I wanted to stress that we shouldn’t be thinking of Officer Jones as a villain. We should be thinking of him as a victim.
That’s just utter bullshit.
And do you know why? Because what is happening to Cory Maye didn’t "just happen." It was caused to happen. Officer Jones decided that how people manage their own affairs, to include chemicals they put in their own bodies, was somehow his business. Officer Jones decided that he would gather an armed force dressed in paramilitary gear and break down doors without any knowledge of who might be behind them or what private activities might be taking place. Officer Jones did all this, most obviously, to further his career as a 4th generation police officer.
So, in essence, rather than adopt the valuable role of a circumspect and responsible public protector and servant, he chose a far easier path to prestige and recognition. He chose the path that criminalizes peaceful people who engage in a popular, mutually consensual behavior. Since it’s popular, there’s a lot of it. Hence, there’s a lot of "criminals." Hence, there’s a lot of opportunity for whipping up a bunch of problems where there really aren’t any, in order to gain a lot of attention and prestige. Officer Jones wanted to advance, but rather than doing so by producing values that don’t harm others in the process, he was willing to advance himself by risking the lives of people doing nothing to harm anyone else. And, where these people aren’t killed in defending themselves and their property in a late-night, covert-ops raid, they’re then convicted in court, imprisoned, and the rest of their lives ruined. And it’s all so that people like Officer Jones and his ilk get to feel worthy, big, and important.
So, uh, yes; I question the hell out of people’s motives. Do you know why? Because good and evil aren’t ambiguous. The values necessary to live a human life are not a mystery. The virtues that are the part and parcel of pursuing the values necessary to live a human life are perfectly available to anyone honest enough with reality to recognize them.
Ayn Rand once wrote that "man is a being of self-made soul;" and while I don’t believe in a benevolent God, neither do I believe in a malevolent Satan. The good is all that is necessary and essential to man’s life in terms of values and honest actions in pursuit of those values. The evil is that which seeks to destroy these values or to parasitically live or advance an unearned life by feeding off of the values produced by others.
Evil exists only in the actions of human beings.
I really don’t understand this propensity to excuse people who chooses to actively destroy someone else, their property, their livelihood, or their freedom for the express purpose of "doing a job," which is to say, to advance themselves. To me, this is the absolute incarnation of evil. Man created evil. The only sort of evil that exists.
Jones was pure evil where it really counts, his other "virtues" notwithstanding, and I’m glad his plan to advance himself by destroying the lives of others turned out exactly the opposite. Sometimes, we get a little true justice here and there.
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What difference would it make how many abominable laws were passed if nobody was out there to enforce them? Which is worse? One is distant from us, but is the intellectual root of evil. The other is right on top of us, but is a mindless tool. Two sides of the same coin, one can't be without the other. The yin and the yang.
"I really don't understand this propensity to excuse people…"
In Balko's specific case it's because he has a goal of gaining a certain respectability as a pundit. That means catering to the general delusion about the inherent benevolence of armed government employees.
I don't begrudge police officers enforcing abominable laws with nearly the anger I have for the cretins who create them. Neither do I see anyone making their creds busting proles. Shit happens. It must not be allowed to consume Cory Maye, though.
Gary — if we boiled your position all the way down to the bottom, you'd be standing at the defense table arguing that they're only doing their jobs. We know authentic monsters in the twentieth century who attempted that rationale. Do cops in America have to go to those lengths before their own responsibility for their own decisions becomes personally attributable to them?
I say, no.
They should find work that doesn't involve destroying harmless peoples' lives.
When they put their hand to the machine, they're responsible.