Wednesday, April 1, 2015

For Da Police

On Tuesday the unicameral was near-unanimous in support of a symbolic resolution giving police a pat on the back.        That was sweet of them, to be sure; and of course the resolution was drawn up in reaction to the latest controversy involving Senator Chambers.       Ernie's statement, for the record was an intentionally provocative statement in response to the sort of culture war tree pissing bill that has actually been historically rare in Nebraska, conservative as it indeed is.  A senator from the Sarpy County suburbs introduced a bill that would legalize concealed guns in bars & liquor serving restaurants, invoking ISIS & the 'radicalized world situation' as rationale.  It was precisely the sort of absurd, asinine, Merica Fuck Yeah statement (which again is comparatively rare in Nebraska government) that Ernie Chambers has always loved to pounce on with pungent reminders of real problems faced by real people, and he did indeed do his thing here. Bringing up tensions between the black community and police may seem irrelevant in this case but then what is 'relevant'  in the face of absurdity anyhow.  The truth is that there is indeed social privilege involved in an environment that not only encourages white male 'heads of household' to LARP as petty Lancelots but passes laws to support this childish fiction; and Chambers statement was again a deliberately brutal reminder that the government of a free people has real duties in the real world.

At any rate there is of course no actual contest between people who support the police and people who oppose them.  If those who theatrically support the police take pleasure in being more righteous than Others that deep down even they know aren't there than I suppose there's no stopping them. But of course only a tiny handful of dogmatic anarchists reject the utilitarian need for law enforcement; and of course it goes without saying, ( I know I say nothing radical here but only what people already know) that acknowledging the practical need for police does not in any way require a presumption that police are exceptionally virtuous.  Police work is not exceptionally dangerous  ( Thus not exceptionally heroic if one buys into that perverse reasoning) and there are few outside the jobs themselves who would suggest that plumbers electricians or dentists are entitled to admiration even though society does indeed require such skills.  People rob houses and people made of the same mischievous human stuff have to go catch them. There's an obvious 'Watching the Watchman' problem at work here.  And though democracy is theoretically designed to balance the practical need for authority with the dangers of authority it's quite clear that the balance is not yet ideal.  It simply does no good to wish police to be noble through force of will; and it is downright perverse to get a vicarious sense of power through identifying with someone else's civil authority and calling this duty.
I would like to close here by saying that even if one does think that the police are overwhelmingly good guys and that claims of institutional racism are overblown, even dangerous; well, I am not one to make a god of populist intuition.  To endow 'common sense' with infallible powers of determining truth is itself a defiance of common sense.  Inherent reasoning skills can and must be polished through education.  Even so I would go so far to say that our baseline powers of human reasoning are hardly weak, and that the reason that different communities perceive police as a positive or negative force it because of perfectly accurate perceptions of whether the police have been a positive or negative force upon their communities.  To put it more simply,  police are despised in places where it is not 'believed'; but factually known, that they have caused more harm than good.  One may say that you need only do nothing illegal and thus have no reason to fear the police.  Very well, yet in communities where the police are generally reviled; well, of course there's no such thing as criminality being general to any community.  Since society is nowhere near as racist as us liberals carry on and since you of course or no racist I'm sure you'd agree that in not even the most notorious urban neighborhood will one find vast rings of hoodlums eternally stealing the same wallet from each other like a line of cartoon food chain fish.

There is indeed a close relation between pharisaic shows of being pro-police and fantasies of shooting down terrorists in the Applebee's parking lot.  Both delusions are based on the presumption that people outside one's own social group are far more brutal and feral than any creature recognizable as human has ever been.  It is based on the presumption of being exclusively righteous and pure in a world full of devils; a world where only the brave violence of long, strong, big tall manly men (like oneself, naturally) can protect the small flames of decency from the savage human default.  If such a worldview is not based on racism per se; then it is a close enough sibling of racism to be the same moral poison.

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