Last week, Paul sent me a link to a youtube video depicting a young man attempting to record a video, asking a police officer a polite question about unwarranted raids. The officer immediately placed the man in handcuffs, using the specious charge that he was “interfering in a police investigation.”
This was obviously an abuse of police power, but it was also stupid. The cop knew he was on camera – but behaved like an individual drunk on power who seemed to forget that his antics would quickly be posted to youtube. You can watch the video here:
The frequency of public recording of police abuse of civilians with no apparent justification is increasing. It is so common today it’s become almost normal background noise. It is also escalating. Sometimes it is unjustified trampling of civil rights of individuals for no reason besides a demonstration of power. Sometimes it includes violence against private citizens, sometimes death. Ill state again, it is an escalating problem.
A listing of examples in the body of this article would be redundant. A simple Google search for the phrase “police abuse” will provide anyone interested with up to today proof of this case. The purpose of this article is not to vilify the police. Cops are not another species, they’re just people doing a job. Some of them are your neighbors. That’s where this gets interesting. The cop who tazers your grandfather into a heart attack has a wife, and a kid, and the kid goes to school; maybe even sits in the same math class with your kid.
At this point, some screeching imbecile will pipe up and accuse me of suggesting retribution against police officers or their families. I strictly oppose violence, and in fact one of my biggest objections to organized feminism is it’s adherence to, and reliance on violence. Do not think for a millisecond that retribution against police officers or their families is acceptable.
I have made several arguments that our society is accelerating towards a police state. In Indiana – the state’s supreme court ruled on May 13 2011 than people have no right to resist UNLAWFUL police entry to their homes. I continue to hold that America is rapidly becoming a totalitarian, closed society. Towards that outcome, uniformed employees of police departments certainly play a major role. And we return to the problem of families and communities. How does an individual reconcile membership in an organization whose activities are increasingly totalitarian and brutal, with membership in the community being brutalized? For that matter, despite my own repudiation of violence as a political tactic, a cop who brutalizes the sons of his neighbors must eventually find those chickens coming home to roost.
Many police officers and police organizations have publicly supported the climate of accountability a camera-equipped public creates. Individuals employed in the job of uniformed officer don’t generally have a natural desire to beat up on unarmed citizens, but an “us-versus-them” mentality can lead to a culture of bullying among some cops. The cellphone-camera world we find ourselves in can greatly diminishes this tendency. And, It must be observed that in some communities a climate of mutual trust and respect exists between civilians and police. Public demonstrations of support for the police force in the city of Vancouver following the city’s recent Stanley Cup riot are a clear demonstration of this, and reflect the professionalism and leadership of the VPD. However, some cops – apparently don’t get it, or aren’t willing to address the fact that as police officers, they’re government employees, paid for by public taxes. These cops have apparently forgotten than when they take off their uniforms and go home, the families and loved ones they return to are the very same people being brutalized.
From a logical point of view, police officers might be motivated to avoid behavior contributing to an emerging totalitarian climate. As a uniformed and armed representative of a state which has abrogated the humans rights of it’s populace, an individual serving the role of enforcer of the state’s power risks alienation from his community, as an object of scorn and censure. For larger metropolitan centers – this possibility is diminished by the natural public anonymity of life in a large city. However, if the trend of unwarranted police violence against citizens continues to rise, cops may have considerably more to deal with than mere censure.
A system of law, with a constitution on which all other social institutions stand was never perfect, but it was a pretty good system. A culture built on a framework of legally inviolable human freedoms is our society’s alternative to resolving disputes by killing each other. It’s the innovation which sprang out of the enlightenment of the 18th century. Sadly, we have, as a society – forgotten why those legally enshrined freedoms were so important, and we are going to have to learn that lesson again, the hard way.
When human beings are brutalized in a society which lacks a legal framework for redress, a population will develop alternative forms of redress. Retributive violence is, in my opinion, a very bad option – to be avoided – but it is a probable outcome of the dysfunction and abrogation of legal and political redress of grievance.
Presently, men as a demographic in western society are increasingly marginalized, disenfranchised, abused and extorted by western institutions of government, education, employment and law. Ongoing escalation of this is a principal driver for the continued growth of the men’s right’s movement.
It’s the opinion of some men’s rights advocated – including myself – that ideological feminism, the doctrine driving this escalated apartheid against men is not a real social movement, but a cultivated tool of economic and political elites – for the purpose of creating a totalitarian society. This hypothesis is developed and defended in several separate articles on AVFM .
Police forces enacting unneeded violence against individuals, and abrogating the civil rights of individuals are an academically obvious element in the move from an open to a closed society. In the social climate increase of police abuses, it may only be cultural momentum and memory of a society respecting human rights that currently forestalls the emergence of a culture of brutal vendetta. An obvious fracture to our social foundation took the form on June 16 of a man who, after years of brutalization by the family court system, set himself of fire in front of a New Hampshire courthouse.
I’ll be the first to admit that while the posthumously obvious depth of Thomas Ball’s pain and anger is no surprise to me as an MRA – his answer, which was to douse himself in gasoline before publicly self immolating – this self-facing destruction was unexpected.
According to the Thomas James Ball Wikipedia article which – at the time of this writing some individuals are attempting to have deleted: “Just before 5:30 on the evening of June 15, 2011, Mr Ball doused himself with gasoline and set himself ablaze. After the fire was burning, He refused help from several nearby men. “
Ball made no sound while he was burning. A witness described “I saw a man standing on fire. He walked around a little bit, walked on to the grass, collapsed on all fours and literally sat there and burned.” 
Mainstream media have completely failed to address this event with the gravity it deserves, and in the very scant reporting on the death of Thomas Ball, have characterized him as a villain rather than the victim of a flagrantly dysfunctional and corrupt family court system. This is deliberate, and also, deeply stupid. Its the equivalent of a small child plugging his ears and singing “la la la la la” when confronted with uncomfortable news. Taken across the culture of the mainstream media, it is indictably irresponsible. Pretend that Thomas Ball was a single example of a bad crazy man, Yeah, that’ll make the problem go away.
Mr Ball, before deciding to extinguish himself in a gasoline fire wrote a detailed account of his abuse in the system of the courts, and outlined a rational imperative for venting his understandable rage onto those he saw as his tormentors. It should be understood that Mr Ball was not alone in his pain, and men victimized by the family courts are common.
Returning to the issue of police trampling on the rights, and sometimes the bodies of citizens in the communities they serve, this trend is one which might be assumed to find natural limits in a world of cell-phone cameras. The informal public oversight of police conduct provided by a populace equipped with network capable video capture devices can facilitate a climate of utmost professionalism by police – as was the case during 2010′s winter Olympic Games in Vancouver BC. During the games, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association fielded several hundred trained legal observers who videotaped and journaled many of the police’s interactions with event fans as well as protesters.
I was one of those observers, and with a few very minor exceptions – the police were exceptionally professional throughout the games, even in stressful situations of potential conflict between protest organizations and police or Olympic event organizers.
Unfortunately, some police and even police departments react to the informal public oversight of a camera-equipped public with a complete disregard for civil rights, or legal mandate as law enforcement.
A practice by police officers of arresting or detaining private citizens taking pictures or video of normal objects such as tourist attractions or notable architecture seems to be escalating. Without substantive laws or reasons to prohibit public photography, this rising trend is hard to characterize as anything except systematic public intimidation by police.
Undoubtedly, some people will be cowed and intimidated by such policies. Some people, on the other hand, are temperamentally unsuited to control by intimidation. Almost everyone has a cellphone camera, or a device capable of capture and upload of high quality video. Abuse of the public by law enforcement officials averse to accountability is very shortly going to force one of several outcomes.
The first and most obvious is that cops abusing civilians without a plausible reason will find their communities increasingly hostile while not wearing that power-conferring uniform. Its the badge, gun and uniform that gives a man or woman in uniform the power so carelessly indulged. A rotten cop is just a rotten human, armored by temporary power of that uniform. What happens when a police officer who brutalizes the public find his child refused at school, his commerce refused in local business? What happens when brutality is re payed to the family of a brutal police officer?
I’ll state this explicitly. I abhor and condemn violence in any situation besides immediate defense against injury or assault. This is a bad outcome to be avoided.
That the apparent tendency of police to abuse the public may have such consequences to members of police forces in their civilian lives suggests strongly that philosophy of an advocate for men’s rights; is natural fit for uniformed employees of police forces. The men’s rights movement is a nonviolent political movement criticizing the marginalization of male identity, and opposing the growing legal cementing of a violent totalitarian state. Gender quotas and affirmative action aside, cops doing the heavy and dangerous job of real police work are still mostly men.
Suppression of the rights of individuals, and abrogation of human rights has a real, and immediate consequence to individuals employed in police forces. If you wear a uniform and beat on, pepper spray, tazer or otherwise brutalize the citizens who are your neighbors – some of them will, inevitably repay that brutality to you, or to your families.
I say again, this is a bad outcome, and I do not support violence.
Police – as a culture will have to do one of two things. They will have to de-escalate the trend towards brutalizing the public, or, they will have to do their jobs wearing masks.
The increased use of SWAT tactics and armor for police duties performed a decade ago by officers in standard non-armored uniforms seems to point towards the mask-wearing alternative. This is a bad trend.
It’s bad, because if police continue to escalate abuse of the public, and dehumanize themselves with body armor and masks, identification of police by the public as fellow citizens -as fellow human beings, will become a relic of the past.
In cinema, writers and producers use costumes employing masks to de-humanize the bad guys. This serves the purpose of making their killing palatable for a G-rating entertainment audience.
In George Lucas’s original Star Wars – hundreds of white-armored and masked stormtroopers are killed, and as far back as that film’s release in 1978, nobody minded the slaughter.
Cops brutalizing the public in face-masked riot gear will protect the identities of those individuals. It wont protect them from a brutalized public with no more legal recourse, and only force in reply.