Absurdity on Patrolby Butler Shaffer, LRC Blog
Feb. 12, 2013
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There is nothing humorous or whimsical about people killing - or threatening to kill - other people, no matter who the targeted victims might be. Peace and the sanctity of life are at the very core of the libertarian philosophy. But as the Christopher Dorner drama continues to play out in southern California, the political establishment in general, and the police system in particular, celebrate their absurdity. If someone had murdered three people, and the killer could not be located, a token report might appear on a TV newscast - perhaps segued in following a news story about a celebrity divorce. But the killing of members of the police force - particularly when allegedly carried out by a former cop - sends the entire system to DEFCON 1; a maximum alert, with all other policing functions temporarily cut back; schools closed or given additional security; highway checkpoints set up. A few police officers over-react by gunning down pickup trucks - one with two women in it delivering newspapers - and, while no one was killed in the process, questions arise as to the stability and/or training of some police officers. In a state of panic brought on by this former cop, the LAPD announces that it will reopen the proceeding whose outcome is the basis of Mr. Dorner's grievance. At the same time, the establishment announces a $1 million reward for Mr. Dorner's capture.
The state operates on the same principle that allows the playground bully to torment his victims: fear of injury - or worse - to be inflicted should the bully not be obeyed. But Mr. Dorner has let the police force and the establishment demonstrate to all just how weak-willed bullies are when confronted head-on. As I watch this bit of burlesque going into Act III, I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau's comments following the night he spent in jail: "I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all remaining respect for it, and pitied it."