The Death Penalty for Traffic Infractions

Thanks to commenter Matt who came up with this example of a cop who murdered a motorcycle rider because he refused to stop. I could quote from that article, but it’s better to read the whole thing, because you must understand the underlying logic; how the decision is essentially mandatory by the court and perfectly logical. It made exactly the correct decision, given the premise and logic of the state and police forces.

You see, nobody — certainly not those intelligent judges — would dispute various facts.

  1. There was no high speed involved.
  2. The police car ramming the motorcycle (twice) was a greater danger to the rider, the officer, and other vehicles than was the motorcycle’s improper passing maneuver.
  3. The event for which the police car rendered chase had already past, so presented no further danger to anyone else.

The federal appeals court ruled items 1 and 2 irrelevant, even though true. Yet, it’s item 3 that holds the potential of this being a just killing; i.e., the motorcyclist is currently (i.e., right now) engaging in activities that present a real and present danger to others, within the context of what’s going on (a busy roadway) and less violent alternatives (setting a moving roadblock a-la the OJ chase) to keep others clear are impossible or would take too much time. This is all within the scope of any intelligent man or woman to think through the possibilities — if reverence for human life were paramount.

But there’s nothing in that article (I didn’t read the opinion) to suggest that point 3 was even considered; and that’s key, because it exposes the very nature and logic of the state. The Big Lie is that this is all for your protection. There’s some indirect truth to that, in that traffic citations are purported to positively affect future behavior. I think it’s dubious, but it doesn’t really matter in this argument.

There’s no question that the "dangerous event," so characterized, had already past. If there ever was any danger to anyone else, it was past. Perhaps the rider would have continued on and similarly endangered others. Maybe; maybe not. Maybe it wasn’t much of a danger. And maybe a citation would have motivated the rider to endanger no others that day, assuming he did in the first place. Maybe; maybe not, and that’s if he would have anyway.

The cop had the discretion to recognize the event had passed, and to let it go. He again had the discretion to stop the chase once he realized the rider wasn’t going to stop. Instead, he chose to pose a far greater danger to other motorists by giving chase and twice ramming the motorcycle, the second resulting in the rider’s murder at the hands of the cop.

But that’s all irrelevant, too. Because once the patrol signaled to pull over, and once the rider ignored it, an age-old logic of force was set in motion, and that logic says that once the state issues an order there must ensue immediate submission to that order. If there is resistance, then the level of force increases and the standard is no longer mere submission, but utter unconditional surrender. By this stage in the chain of logic, force will be applied up to the point of surrender, or until the subject is dead, whichever come first.

It can be no other way; otherwise, you are not dealing with the state. The line between state and anarchy is a very fine one, and it’s all contained right there.

The court could have saved a lot of time with just a paragraph.


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2 Comments

  1. Greg Freeman on September 28, 2007 at 05:49

    Rich,

    This guy got the shaft too, thought it wasn't a traffic infraction. He was trying to carry $59,000 through an airport and got robbed by customs:

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/27/immigrant.money/index.html

  2. Matt on September 28, 2007 at 18:38

    Your article "The Final Penalty Is Death" you linked to reminds me of a quote from the movie The Terminator…

    "Listen and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop until you are dead."

    …except that the violence of the state isn't fictional.

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