Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Putting Down the Dog


A “malum in se” is something that is inherently evil, in and of itself. It’s wrong no matter who does it or why. Assault, rape, robbery, kidnapping and murder are all “malum in se.”  These  examples of malignant  aggression are wrongs because they do great harm, even irreparable harm to some innocent person(s).
A “malum prohibitum” is something that’s wrong because we SAY it’s wrong. Things like not wearing your seatbelt, smoking marijuana, jaywalking --- these are not inherently evil acts. They harm no one. They are wrong because we SAY they are wrong – sometimes we say so arbitrarily and capriciously. Sometimes we say so maliciously.
Where we run into serious trouble is when we confuse these two categories of “offenses.”  When you treat a “malum prohibitum” like a “malum in se,”   you’re reacting to conduct that harms NO ONE, as if it were conduct that were inherently harmful to someone,  treating jaywalking, or marijuana-smoking AS IF it were MURDER..
When you treat a “malum in se” like a “malum prohibitum,” you’re treating conduct that is inherently harmful to someone as if it did no harm at all to anyone; you’re treating MURDER as if it were jaywalking.
This is our current state of affairs.

Police officers nationwide  commit “malum in se” against persons who have committed a “malum prohibitum,” and in too many cases that “malum prohibitum” isn’t even an illegal act, but merely something the officer doesn’t like.  It’s only “wrong” because the officer SAYS it’s wrong. This is the very definition of “arbitrary and capricious.” Perhaps it’s “wrong” only because he or she is in a bad mood, or abuses steroids. Maybe it’s “wrong”  because he just doesn’t like you  -- you’re black, or brown or red or yellow, or you are weak, disabled, elderly, poor, homeless, mentally ill, or a child. Perhaps the “wrong”you fail to show sufficient deference to satisfy the officer’s inflated ego.
In response to the “malum prohibitum” --- whether real or imagined --- the officer then inflicts one or more “malum in se” on his the “transgressor.”  If you jaywalk, smoke marijuana, or fail to wear your seatbelt, the officer may assault you, rob you, rape you, kidnap you, and/or murder you.
And when  the officer commits these “malum in se,” the prosecutors and judges treat the officer AS IF the “malum in se” were merely “malum prohibitum.”  They treat MURDER as if it were merely jaywalking.  Indeed, the courts commonly give police officers less punishment  -- if ANY --for a “malum in se” than a non-police office receives for a petty “malum prohibitum.”
This is not justice. It is the antithesis of justice.
It’s a situation that is intolerable, and it must be changed immediately.
By whatever means necessary.

                                     For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.

There was a time, not too long ago, when a Black man dare not look a White man in the eye, or look at a White woman at all., for fear of being lynched.  A Black man had to be mindfully deferent, had to address EVERY White man politely and in hushed tones, and carefully remembering to call him “sir.” No matter what the provocation, no matter what the outrage might be, protest, argue, raise your voice or appear in any other way “uppity,” and you might find yourself, beaten, hanged or burned alive.
Whites were a special class of citizens who had extra rights compared to Blacks.
This is fundamentally the exact situation we all now find ourselves in with regard to police officers, but most especially if we are perceived of by that officer as being physically, socially, economically or politically weak, vulnerable, defenseless: if we are non-white, if were are elderly, or a child, if we are small, female, physically disabled, or mentally ill.  Because police officers are bullies, and bullies are, in their secret hearts, abject cowards, police officers target most those whom they perceive as helpless.   (Only the worst  coward  --- or the biggest liar ---could be armed to the teeth, with a club, pepper spray, taser and pistol, and still claim to be  put “in fear for my life,” by an unarmed person  who is running away  from them.)
Police officers are now a de facto “special class” of citizens with extra rights compared to the rest of us.
The 14th Amendment of the Constitution states, in relevant part: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The “equal protection” clause requires states to provide ALL people under its jurisdiction with EQUAL protection of the laws.  A state may not provide SOME people with more than equal protection than others, or with LESS  than equal protection.
There are  numerous cases of police officers enjoying impunity for conduct which would send the average person to prison. This in effect established police officers as a special class of people, with EXTRA protection of the law, in direct contradiction to the 14th Amendment.
Think not?
Try this simple test:
Shoot someone in the back as they run away from you, then claim “self-defense” in court. See what happens.
For the average person, “self-defense” is an affirmative defense, which means that the burden of proof is on the person claiming self-defense.  You may use a degree of force NECESSARY to protect yourself, and no more.  If someone throws a punch at you, you may punch them in return. But if they go down and are no longer an IMMINENT threat to you, you may not then throw a second punch. The fight is effectively over. That second punch makes YOU the new aggressor.
Generally, you may use lethal force in self defense when you REASONABLY believe that you (or another person you may lawfully protect) is in imminent danger of grave bodily injury or death. One operant term here is “reasonably.” If you are, for whatever reason, deathly afraid of people who wear striped ties, that does not permit you to go around shooting anyone who is wearing a striped tie. Being a coward does NOT grant you a license to murder.   If you claim you shot someone because he had a gun and that gun turns out to be a cell phone, it will be YOUR burden to convince us that you REASONABLY mistook that cell phone for a gun. You can't shoot some just because they have SOMETHING in their hand. You have to REASONABLY believe it’s a gun AND that they intend you (or someone else) harm with it.
For police officers, however, the burden of proof is reversed. When they commit homicide, they are presumed to have acted in self-defense, just because they say so. It’s up to the victim – or the victims family- to prove otherwise.  Police are held to a different standard than non-police.
Having DIFFERENT laws for different classes of citizens, or different standards of proof  for different classes of citizens is a blatant, prima facie violation of the 14th Amendment.

"Deacons for Defense," the movie.

Black men, by arming themselves and standing together, revealed KKK members for the cowards that they were. More than once the KKK came to burn a cross or bomb a church only to wet their sheets and run for cover when met by armed and determined Deacons for Defense. Cowards can be vicious in gangs, but when the tables are turned, their aggressive faux  “courage” evaporates faster than alcohol on a hot stove. 
There’s a lesson there, I think.  It's a lesson that some of us learned in having to deal with schoolyard bullies. There's only ONE effective way to do that, and you know what it is as well as I do.  It isn't running to tell Teacher. It isn't complaining to the bully's parents. It isn't having the school board pass rules against bullying.  And it certainly isn't reasoning with the bully, or begging and pleading for him to stop taking your lunch money.
You have to stand up to the bully.  
You have to punch the bully squarely in the nose and knock him on his ass. Individually or as a group, you have to make it more painful for the bully to pick on you than to not pick on you. Once the bully takes a good, hard fall, that's usually the end of his reign of terror. 
And not before.

We will never stop police violence by going to court. At BEST we can sue – if we can afford the legal expenses (while the police officer is provided a lawyer at no expense to the officer) – and hope to win a judgment someday.  But that judgment will not be paid by the offending police officer, but by the police department, or the city or town – which means by all the taxpayers living there.  The offending police officer will get a paid vacation and probably not even be fired.
But some debts cannot be paid with money. No amount of money can “compensate” you for the loss of a loved one.  It’s a de-humanizing insult to even entertain the notion.
Some debts can only be paid in blood.

 The police are now the KKK and all the rest of us regular folks are the “uppity negras.”
Unless we want to live in permanent terror, keeping our eyes averted, being cringingly obsequious in word, tone and manner, we might do well to think a lot less Martin Luther King, and a lot more Nat Turner.
Someone recently said to me that that there is no difference between a (violent) police officer and a rabid dog.
I disagree.
Rabies is not the dog’s choice.
I’d feel sad about putting down the dog.

 Liberty & Justice.