Why Do Conservatives Always Side With the Cops?
By Anthony Gregory • Monday July 27, 2009 9:45 AM PDT •
The unpleasant incident in Cambridge, where a police officer arrested a professor after mistakenly thinking he was an intruder in his own home, has unfortunately become a national issue dominated by the question of race. But race need not have anything to do with it. I see this as another example of police abuse in our increasingly authoritarian country.
Conservatives are used to talking about the government as being tyrannical, socialist, and oppressive. When John Ashcroft was being confirmed for Attorney General, Ted Kennedy mocked him for his belief that the 2nd Amendment was meant to ward of tyranny, since in the left-liberal’s mindset, the democratic government can never be tyrannical.
But here’s the interesting thing. If the government is tyrannical, then so must be the police forces, which constitute the enforcement arm of the state. If taxation is oppressive, it is only being carried out under threat of imprisonment and fines, which are administered by the police. If gun control is tyranny, and it most certainly is, then the officers enforcing it must also be acting tyrannically. It is impossible to have Big Brother and a benign police force.
If a police officer mistakenly enters a private home without permission, on a good faith misunderstanding that he is there to protect private property, I would certainly not react rudely. But this standard should apply to non-officers of the law, too. Under the natural law, we all have the same rights and limits on our behavior. If a concerned neighbor came into my home thinking something was amiss, he’d be a good-faith trespasser, and I’d similarly treat him with some charitable respect.
However, being rude to someone for being in your home without your permission is not a crime. Depriving someone of their liberty, even for a few hours, is a crime. Arresting someone in their own home for being rude to you is an unjust act. The police officer acted tyrannically, no matter how belligerent the professor was in his own home. (Yes, I know he followed the cop out and continued to yell, but that’s not an arrestable offense, either. The officer should have driven away.)
Unfortunately, many on talk radio have jumped to defend the police, insisting that if you are rude to police, you get what you deserve, and if you are obedient to them, you will get along fine. The latter is not always true, of course, in our increasingly militarized police state, where grandmas and little kids are being tasered, handcuffed and beaten; where generally non-threatening people are shot in the back and rounded up in staggering amounts to fill up the government’s cages.
“My home is my castle” is a central value in a free society grounded in property rights. If police and bureaucrats can enter your castle freely, the free society is gone. When Cory Maye defended his home against an intruder, he was sentenced, at first, to the death penalty—all because the intruder was a cop. This is all backwards. Police do not have any rights under natural law than anyone else does. If some normal American broke into Maye’s home—or a cop’s home—regardless of his reason, and was shot dead, it would be a tragedy but few people would want the protector of his home to be executed.
This overall attitude is the attitude of a statist, and it is a double standard reeking of moral relativism. The law is unchanging and it applies to all of us, regardless of what uniforms we are wearing.
It will be impossible to combat Obama’s plans to erect ever more socialism and authoritarianism so long as so many opponents of his regime have a fetish for police power. As Mao said, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. That gun is typically holstered next to a taser on the belt of an officer of the law. Their enforcement of unjust laws is a key part of the problem. So long as so many Americans consider rudeness to a cop to be an arrestable offense, we will never have our sweet land of liberty.