and global statement, certainly.
But: Is it
nature of the job. It is to enforce the law. By definition. It is
not to protect any specific individual you or me
from harm. It is certainly not to serve other than as automata
who . . . enforce the law. Whatever the law is, it must be
enforced. The cop will tell you so himself. He is merely doing his
job and his job is . . . to enforce the law. Period. The
law is the law. We have all heard it. It does not matter whether
the law is itself outrageous, or simply stupid. He may even freely
But he will
nonetheless enforce it. He is required to enforce
for a moment.
In a doctrinal
way, the cop is exactly like the people who were rightly
strung up at Nuremburg after WWII, who stated truthfully
that they were just following the orders issued by the lawfully
constituted authority. They were not merely thugs. They were duly
appointed thugs. They did not do the awful things they did at
random, on their own nickle so to speak. They were told to
do it agreed to do it and went ahead and did it. Any
questions they may personally have had about the rightness or wrongness
of what they were doing were put aside.
And it is no
great leap to go from abusing your fellow man in a small way to
doing it in a big way. The principle of the thing is what matters.
And the principle is now very well-established indeed.
The rest is
merely follow-up. A cop who will pull a gun on you for refusing
to wear a seatbelt will do much worse when the time comes.
When he is ordered to.
When the law
So, what sort
of man volunteers for such work? Who chooses to enforce the
law whatever the law happens to be?
is must be a thug. A person who is both unthinking
and brutal. But worse than merely a thug. Because
a mere thug beats you up because he wants your money or just
for the pure sick joy of it. But what sort of person does the same
things because hes told to do them? Who does them,
even when he personally may not want to? When he has doubts about
the rightness of the thing? But who is nonetheless willing to literally
kill a fellow human being over it if the law tells him he
for a moment in a cops shoes as distasteful an exercise
as that may be.
You are told
to man a safety checkpoint at which it will be your
job to threaten everyone who happens to be on that particular road
with lethal violence if they do not stop their vehicle, produce
identification and submit to an interrogation as to their comings
and goings. These innocent people who have
given you no reason to suspect them of having done anything wrong
must submit to your orders, must obey your commands. If they
passively decline to do so if they merely assert their ancient
right as human beings to be left in peace you will apply
force. You will bash open their window if they decline to roll it
down. You will drag them through the window if they refuse
to comply with your orders to exit the vehicle. If they in any way
attempt to fend off your brutal, unprovoked assault you may
You are told
to break up a protest even though the protestors
are entirely peaceful and merely exercising their right to air a
grievance. Yet you join the thug scrum, with billy clubs and truncheons.
You are ordered
to kick in the door of a private residence and drag the occupant
out of his bed at gunpoint because this person is alleged
to be in possession of a substance the state has arbitrarily declared
to be illegal.
You will shoot
him to death if he resists.
You spend several
hours each day manning a radar gun, issuing your fellow human beings
stiff fines you know many of them cannot afford, which will place
a great burden on their ability to pay the rent or put food on the
table for their families, for conduct you yourself do routinely
(e.g., speed) and which you know perfectly well to be
harmless. But if they object, you will pile on.
What sort of
person signs up for such work?
is merely a small sampling of countless scores of similar examples
were all well-familiar with. A cops work is to arrest
and cage people who do not obey the law. Nothing less. And their
human rights be damned. If they object, if they resist, the cop
has license under the law to assault them.
It is a fair
summary as awful as it may be to deal with it, emotionally
It is simply
not possible for a morally decent person to choose this line of
work or at least, to continue in this line of work,
having come to grips with the nature of the work. Because it is
a line of work that requires the surrender of ones humanity.
Of the thing that makes a human being other than an animal. That
is, your ability to choose to do the right thing and to do
To become a
cop is to give that up. To become an enforcer. To do as you
are told. To become a sadist, if need be.
If the law
so commands it.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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