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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"The Rule of Law"

This morning at aout 2:30 AM I was awakened by a sound like someone running a lawnmower right outside my window. I looked out and saw a police helicopter hovering about half a mile away, right over the centre of Cardiff, its searchlight casting -- for faults in the clouds of delusion? It stayed there until about 3.

I would guess the copter may have kept, oh, say 100,000 people awake for that time. Can you imagine if you or I, and not The State, had tried this stunt? We would have been shot out of the sky -- even if we had some urgent reason for being there, say, we were searching for a missing child. Of course, if our child was missing, we could beg The State to send up its helicopter -- and it might or not. But notice how far this is from "the rule of law." You or I are never permitted this acivity, no matter the circumstances, while The State can do it whenever it declares it to be "necessary." Different rules apply to our masters than to you or me.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Gene.

    Can you imagine if you or I, and not The State, had tried this stunt? We would have been shot out of the sky"

    Are you sure? A British police force isn't exactly flush with weaponry, let alone the sort to knock a helicopter out of the sky. And anyhow, having been living in Cardiff for a couple of years now, police helicopters have been more rare than private ones (which is by no means to imply that a helicopter in the sky is a regular event).

    Of course, if our child was missing, we could beg The State to send up its helicopter -- and it might or not.

    Well if the police didn't have a helicopter in the first place, the answer would necessarily be in the negative! And anyhow, 'beg' is a bit strong: if a situation was such that a police helicopter was indeed suitable to look for a child, yet wasn't put into action, and the child ended up worse because of it, the outcry would be enormous.

    But notice how far this is from "the rule of law." You or I are never permitted this acivity

    By 'this activity', do you mean, fly a helicopter in the early hours of the morning? And if so, is your position that a person should be able to, if he so wishes - or what?

    As for the underlying point -- the police obviously aren't above the 'rule of law' generally. Surely you would recongise a fundamental difference between the workings of the police in a mature liberal democracy compared to (say) a communist state?

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  2. In Los Angeles, police helicopters overhead are a near nightly occurrence.

    Once I bought a 5 foot curtain rod for my loft. It was dusk and, after the purchase, I was waiting in the Home Depot parking lot for my ride.The curtain rod was in a box and was placed in a large black bag.I guess it could have looked like there was a rifle in the bag.

    Suddenly, a police helicopter appeared. It circled around me and my area of the parking lot at least a half dozen times. I fully expected to get taken out.

    My ride then arrived, and I fear they got her license plate and she is now on some Terrosit Watch list for frequenting with a curtain rod buyer.

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  3. CR wrote:

    "By 'this activity', do you mean, fly a helicopter in the early hours of the morning? And if so, is your position that a person should be able to, if he so wishes - or what?"

    That the same rules about doing this should apply to all.

    "As for the underlying point -- the police obviously aren't above the 'rule of law' generally."

    So, if I suspect a policeman is smoking marijuana in his house, it would be OK for me to do a 'no-knock' raid, break down his door, shoot his dog if it barks at me, and make a citizen's arrest?

    "Surely you would recongise a fundamental difference between the workings of the police in a mature liberal democracy compared to (say) a communist state?"

    I have never been in a "mature" liberal democracy. No nation governed by either Tony Blair or George Bush can be considered "mature," IMHO.

    CR, do I know you?

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  4. "Surely you would recongise a fundamental difference between the workings of the police in a mature liberal democracy compared to (say) a communist state?"

    "I have never been in a "mature" liberal democracy."

    That's just hyperbolic. When the East German police force was completely reformed upon German unification, was all the trouble entailed done for nothing? I'm almost inclined to do a vulgar Hegel - 'well, it's easy to criticise...'

    "No nation governed by either Tony Blair or George Bush can be considered "mature""

    Hmm... it isn't individual leaders that constitutes the maturity of a system. Moreover, isn't Bush likely to be losing an election soon? (And if he isn't: well, maybe you can find a way to elect another electorate...)

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  5. By the way, I do not contend for a moment that the US or UK is just like Soviet Russia -- just that way are moving away from the idealized theory of a "mature" liberal democracy and towards the Soviet model with great alacrity.

    I will present more evidence of this in a blog post tomorrow.

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  6. CR wrote:

    As for the underlying point -- the police obviously aren't above the 'rule of law' generally. Surely you would recongise a fundamental difference between the workings of the police in a mature liberal democracy compared to (say) a communist state?

    Why do you say this? Maybe things are different in Britain, but here in the US there is a thing called the "blue wall of silence." Cops never testify against each other for brutality etc.

    You talk about an "outcry" if the police do or don't do certain things. Yes, that's true to an extent, but the point is that there is definitely a double standard. Police can get away with a heck of a lot more before the "outcry" really affects them, than a private citizen can get away with.

    Also, George Bush can't run for office again. After FDR they changed the Constitution so that US presidents can't serve more than two terms. (It had been customary since George Washington stepped down voluntarily, but FDR went longer than two terms.)

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  7. So why was it there? Any state employee offical statement, news, gossip, conspiracy theories?

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  8. Two tales, both from the current issue of Reason Magazine:

    A court in Germany recently blessed the police strip-search of a 16-year-old girl who was entering a soccer stadium to watch a game. Police claimed they picked her because she was so inconspicuous, and such characters often cause trouble. Yeah, right, I bet her breasts and butt weren't too inconspicuous!

    A US bar owner is on trial for videotaping police whom he believed were harrassing his patrons, facing felony charges.

    Look, I grew up in a law enforcement family, and if I got in trouble, as soon as the police saw my name they just let me go.

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  9. For those like CR who are gullible enough to believe the State's fairy tales that the rule of law applies to its officials, try this out.

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  10. Very true, Gene.

    When the first professional police forces were introduced in the early-mid 19th century, they were simply understood to have the same powers of thwarting crime as the ordinary citizen: no more, no less (e.g., the power of citizen's arrest). No special privileges.

    But now it's a crime to defend yourself against a cop who invades your home, unnanounced, without a warrant. And one of the most widely used methods of enforcing vice laws (sting or entrapment) would in a just world be considered an act of fraud aimed at inciting crime: rightfully illegal for anyone.

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