Donít Make Me Feel Safe
It has been
said and I agree that the typical person (i.e., the
person just trying to get through the day, do their thing) has more
to fear from a cop than a (non-official, non-uniformed) criminal.
a reality check.
my mid-40s and so far have not been robbed at gunpoint
by an ordinary criminal. But I have been robbed at gunpoint literally
dozens of times by cops, who have a license to rob me. Cumulatively,
the total Ive had to stand and deliver
in the felicitous phrase of the appropriately named highway robber
of yore comes to thousands of dollars, over the past twenty-something
years. Its dressed up, of course in order to make the
cop feel better about himself and what hes doing (hes
just keeping us safe, etc.) and also to douse the rage of his victim
by getting him to accept whats done to him as something other
than it is.
a robbery at gunpoint.
I have committed no crime, properly speaking. I have caused
no harm to anyone. Yet I am molested by a guy in a uniform
with a gun on his hip because he has noticed I am not wearing
a seat belt, or because my vehicle does not have the requisite tax
stamps upon it, or because my velocity is greater than the velocity
posted on a sign. It may not be any of these things. It may
be simply that I happen to be on a given road at a given time. I
and all the others who happen to be on that road at that
time are forcibly compelled to interrupt our journey, roll
down our windows and submit to a roadside inspection-interrogation,
with the implicit threat of lethal violence if we fail in the slightest
way to Submit and Obey.
It does not
make me feel safe. Does it make you feel safe?
I do not especially
fear louty-looking thugs approaching me on the street. Im
not a tough guy, but I am a bigger than average guy and I
usually carry a big gun. If the thugs come at me, I am reassured
by my physical capacity to resist and defend myself and also
by the fact that the law is still (for the moment) on my side, should
I be forced to defend myself. I know I have a shot, at least. It
may not be a fair fight (what fight is?) but at least I can fight.
I cannot fight
Officer 82nd Airborne. Which is why he scares me a lot more
than a crew of street toughs. Not because hes bigger or tougher
than me. But because it does not matter how big and tough he is
or how big and tough I am. He has the entire weight
of the state behind him. Legions of toughs and the full apparat
of the system are on his team. The toughest, roughest Navy
SEAL or Hells Angel stands as much chance against this juggernaut
as Pee Wee Herman does of becoming the next UFC heavyweight champ.
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Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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