Anarchy And Entropy In Minneapolis

The looting and rioting was the outgrowth of the news that police had killed yet another man, except the man was a killer himself, and then killed himself as the police were about to arrest him. It doesn’t take much to light a tinder box, especially one where you get free stuff. Well, free for looters. Whoever had it before had to pay for it, but if you make up stuff about how people you don’t know are undeserving or evil, it all becomes magically fine.

Then the Minneapolis police came and someone in the crowd decided to engage in mostly peaceful protest.

As the replies to this twit show, it was quite the invitation to joy and schadenfreude. There was exuberant joy at the violence done to a human being for no other reason than his job. No, there was no particular reason why this cop deserved to be hit from behind by a metal trash can lid, but he wore a uniform, which made him part of the police gang, and so he was a fair target to the mob and paid the price.

Perhaps the least scrutinized aspect of the Jacob Blake shooting is his walking away as two cops pointed guns at him and ordered him to the ground. Resisting arrest has been turned into a meme by cops yelling “stop resisting” while beating a guy. But when these officers, guns drawn, ordered Blake to get on the ground, did he think this was an optional choice on his part? Did he suspect he had the right to ignore their commands and walk away if he didn’t feel like doing it?

For a very long time, and often in excruciating detail, police misconduct, excessive use of force, lying and racism have been harshly criticized here and elsewhere, and with damn good reason. But, and this is a huge “but,” as bad as cops have been and can be, this does not lead to the conclusion that they can be ignored at your leisure and randomly harmed for being cops.

The insanely idiotic notion of abolishing cops* suggests that the time of police authority is over. It’s largely based on the lie that cops are slaughtering black folks on the streets by the thousands, when the number of people killed by cops is infinitesimal. None of this addresses that wrongs committed by cops are wrong, but that these wrongs don’t translate into police officers no longer having any authority to do their job or being an acceptable target of physical violence. We don’t get to decide as individuals to personally “abolish police” by ignoring their authority or attacking them when we feel like it.

Aren’t the cops just regular people, just like us? Why do they get to treat people like dirt? Why do we have to do what they say but they don’t have to do what we say? Why shouldn’t cops be treated with the same disrespect and violence with which they treat others, particularly black people?

Yes and no. They are “just like us,” meaning they bleed when they’re cut and they fall down when a metal object is thrown at their head. They are “just like us” when they make bad decisions. They are “just like us” when their bad decisions demand condemnation, and if things work as they should, termination and prosecution when warranted.

But their job isn’t like our job. Their job includes certain authority that ours does not, including the power to use force when appropriate. We don’t get to do so, not because cops are inherently better people than anyone else, but because we, as a society, have determined that it is in our mutual interest to have an agent of the government with the authority to enforce the law, to intervene in our lives and to use force to back up their orders.

Ironically, the concept behind police, the need for someone to control others by force, appeared in so many of the woke fantasies. Remember Mizzou prof Melissa Click calling for “muscle”? At CHAZ, guys with guns sat in beach chairs as the transitory Utopia had the highest murder rate ever? In Portland, a guy wearing a “security” vest beat a driver unconscious. In each instance, the role of cop not only persisted, but was in the hands of people less capable, less concerned about anyone’s welfare but their own, less prepared to restrain their worst impulses of violence, than most cops.

Even if “law,” the protection of civil rights, must prevail over “order,” the limitation of freedom, no functional society exists without the exercise of authority over those who would harm and destroy, and these people exist.

Yes, the police have earned the enmity and disrespect of a significant swath of Americans by their cavalier, abusive, deceitful and violent treatment of people. And the institutions we’ve created to address their misconduct have largely failed to do so, making the “comply now, grieve later” mantra an empty promise. The need for effective reform is manifest, not that any of these passionate idiots on the street has a clue how that could be accomplished.

But this cannot be the alternative, to try to walk away or to hit them from behind. Or to burn and loot. Or for one group of outraged citizens to seize the streets, the peace and the safety from other citizens who have every bit as much right to exercise their freedom to enjoy the peace and quiet of their lives without being harassed at dinner, woken in the middle of the night or threatened for not complying with the mob.

*Before anyone does this, there are a million permutations of what this means, every apologist trying to put their own spin on it to make it not seem as batshit crazy as others. Except there is no accepted meaning, and many call for exactly that, abolishing police, or neutering them in some infantile fantasy. Unless you’ve been elected galaxy brain for the movement, keep your views to yourself.

17 thoughts on “Anarchy And Entropy In Minneapolis

  1. Guitardave

    That mantra…”the alternative of bad isn’t always better” is showing itself to be all to true. Thou i hate to be the prognosticator of doom, my gut keeps telling me…

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s not that I want to be the wet blanket at the beach party, but it won’t get better until the insanity ends.

      1. Guitardave

        When it comes to being a wet blanket, with all the shit that’s been going on, I don’t think i can absorb another drop.
        On the upside(?), I’m certain there will come a day, long after we’re dead and gone, of course, that you and others who now fearlessly speak the truth to this insanity will be recognized and appreciated. But until then, as a hack songwriter once said, this is your prize…

  2. John Regan

    Right. “Comply now, grieve later” is too often – as in, “almost always” – an empty promise. This is crucial.

    You and I look at the video of Jacob Blake ignoring two officers with their guns drawn, pointed at him, and at first it seems he must be insane and, you know, what does he expect?

    But then we have to recall that he’s been through our “due process” before, learning what it really is and not what we’re always told it is, and he knows lots of other similar stories, and so he decides he’s going to take his chances on the street and not wait to tell it to the judge.

    Now he’s paralyzed and I’m sure “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” is all over the twitters because that’s so terribly clever. But other than here on SJ I don’t see too many suggestions that maybe the legal profession and judiciary are implicated in all this unrest and violence.

    But I don’t like to just point fingers. So for discussion purposes, and at the risk of being accused of being “simplistic”, and not that I’m necessarily committed to or invested in any of these, I propose: [Ed. Note: Deleted.]

    Previous proposals of mine have not been well received, of course, but maybe all the chaos expands the range of acceptable discourse!

    1. SHG Post author

      On the one hand, I admire your restraint, knowing just how far you can go over the edge. But try to focus on the point without using my blawg as a platform for your ideas. I trust you understand what I’m telling you.

  3. John Barleycorn

    “Insanity” isn’t that what white shoe laws firms specializing in public relations are for?

    Or you talking about buying Pinkerton stock?

  4. Richard Parker

    Shakespeare knew; Shakespeare knew everything.

    “If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

    Everyone take a deep breath and go home. We will have an election soon.

  5. B. McLeod

    How many people really pay careful attention to legislation in their state? A whole bunch of proposals hyped by Wisconsin’s governor had been introduced but were stalled. Blake may well have been unaware that none of that stuff passed. He might have been under the impression that all he had to do was work his Barney Badass routine, and the cops would have to de-escalate and let him go.

  6. Lee Keller King

    A modest proposal – Perhaps we should experiment with “police free” zones and let the people there police themselves?

    Oh. Wait. We tried that in Portland. Never mind.

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