Recent events have prompted a thought. So who needs constitutional rights? Seems like a stupid question right, so why ask? Simple, at no time in my life have people been more willing to take them away from others! Ya, others, take mine away and I will fight to the DEATH!! But yours, well who cares, thats your problem… And before someone tries to make this a left / right thing, it happens at both ends of the spectrum – its all about who’s cow is getting gored. Restricting or removing someone else’s right(s) appears to be acceptable, if it is not you, your family, or someone you know. Otherwise, have at it, freedom be damned! It is a disturbing trend; one we can only hope is an aberration that will pass. Sadly, I am not so sure.
Freedom is Precious!
It was 25 years ago the sanctity of our personal freedom was drilled into my brain. My supervisor and mentor Sgt. Van Midgley made it clear that short of taking (or saving) another life removing or restricting their freedom was the most life altering action I could take as an officer. Doing so should be done with the utmost care. It became the mantra of my career as an officer, supervisor, then commander coloring every interaction with the public – it holds true to this day.
Lets be clear, we are not talking violent felonies, but misdemeanor crimes. Whenever a citation could be issued it was, only when there was no better or possible solution was someone’s freedom so critically restricted. It was always the LAST resort. Then came “mandatory” arrest for various misdemeanor crimes. Subsequent to legal action arrests were made “to avoid law suits”. It became acceptable to book someone as a means of “protection”, either themselves, or the public at large. You see arrests to avoid media attention. Prosecutor’s arrest people and book them for no other purpose than to “prove” they are an equal opportunity prosecutor ALWAYS with the local news around and an election coming soon. But, hey, that is what you get when those making the laws believe removing someones freedom is “safer” than allowing situational management, or this thing called discretion? And yep, WE put them there, and keep putting them there. We get the government we elect, hopefully we will wake up some day. Add to that a media and enthralled public who LOVES to see officers fail, and politicians grandstanding, it makes me wonder if it will ever change.
Its not a COP thing!
Before all the haters out there make this a cop thing, it absolutely is NOT. All those people clamoring for protection against the evils of government seem only interested in “their” protection. Decrying the governments removal of their rights, they are quick to remove someone else’s. Or sadly, killing those who they believe represent the government for doing nothing but wearing a police uniform. This latest issue with the Nurse in Maine is another example. Talking to an associate, a staunch defender of his right to self protection, he stated “what makes that bitch think she can infect the planet”. Come on, infect the planet? Ya, I get it, he is just like the myriad of Morons that post in Social Media, clueless for the most part, but it is more indicative of the norm than it should be.
Its on TV it must be True?
The same people who correctly decry media exaggeration and distortion of gun crime buy into the media’s reporting of Ebola?. Somehow the media has suddenly found ethics, reports only the truth, and there is no agenda? Spend just a few minutes watching the news and many anchors have demonized this women, mostly as a means to further a political agenda (often theirs) or drive the media machine. What facts exist indicate she showed no elevated fever until being treated to a couple hours of intense interrogation. All of a sudden her forehead is hot and she is a risk to America? Sounds more like she pissed someone off than presented any real threat. Lets get a clue people, more people died falling over last month (probably texting at the time) in this country than ever had Ebola. There is ONE remaining Ebola patient in the COUNTRY! All else are cured, and the only two that were infected IN America were treating the guy that brought it here. Somehow this warrants removing everyone’s (except yours of course) freedom for 21 days just because they came from West Africa? Or heaven forbid you gave up a part of your life to try and stop this Virus where it actually IS a crisis? Sorry, no zombies this week, nor is the world ending soon, put the TV remote and or video game controller down please and rejoin the real world.
Instead, the neighbors are up in arms, politicians grandstanding, talking heads flapping away, it would be amusing if it was not so frightening. We have become a country afraid of our own shadow willing to restrict freedom because of that fear. Our fear, driven by media reporting is supposed to dictate what we do? At the same time we are afraid to protect others looking to secure the same freedom we enjoy? That should ring a bell, it is EXACTLY what has driven tyranny throughout history. The ability to take away the rights of others due to fear and propaganda is a recurring theme. Coupled with the unwillingness to take action to protect others rights has resulted in incalculable human suffering. One can only hope this changes, because if not we just may get a real crisis, one that a 21 day quarantine will not stop.
From the Oppressor to the Oppressed
Fifteen years ago another mentor Clint Smith said something I remember to this day. In the middle of my police career he told me to “always keep an open perspective, because unless you die as a cop you too will be a civilian some day”. That idea translates everywhere. Being quick to remove someone else’s freedom only insures the removal of yours , maybe sooner than you think. And yes it applies to ALL freedoms, not just the ones you like the most. The next time you rush to judgement, especially based on media portrayal of the “facts” ask yourself if you would be just as willing to have your freedom removed based on the same “facts”.
We would be wise to remember this country was founded on the premise of the protection of individual rights from government. And it is all of them, at least those enumerated in our Constitution, not just the ones you like. Remember that the next time you decide your fear is more important than my freedom!