Instapundit rightly slaps down a reader who wants to give carte blanche to cops:
If there is one thing about your political views that drives me nuts, it’s your seeming animosity towards law enforcement. I understand that much of what you highlight are honest to God abuses of power, some of a very serious nature. (Some are just bad mistakes.) But I think you ignore one salient fact – cops basically deal with dangerous assholes. You and I don’t, typically, deal with such people on a regular basis, so we have to be careful how we judge policemen. Maybe the officer was wrong to mention rape, but how many self-righteous (and guilty) jerks whip out their cell phones and start giving cops shit? A lot, I’ll bet. They can’t afford to take a kumbaya approach to dealing with people, you know? Perhaps you should cut them some slack.
Well, I’m happy to cut people slack in cases of, say, mistaken self-defense where it’s an honest mistake. But the things I flag are abuses of power, pure and simple. We don’t have titles of nobility in this country, and when you have a badge and a gun you should behave better than the average schmuck, rather than having a license to be a jerk. I’m always surprised that people find this controversial.
The reader is absolutely wrong. Police should be given absolutely NO slack whatsoever. If they are going to enforce the law effectively, then they must be more law-abiding than the average citizen. Instead, they are little more than a licensed gang of armed criminals whose lawless behavior is overlooked because it is in the interest of the state. Fortunately, there are some law enforcement officers who are capable of rising above their bureaucratic profession, but it is not hard to observe that most police have more in common with the “dangerous assholes” of the criminal minority than they do with the non-criminal majority of the population.
The fact that police forces tend to be made up of corrupt and undisciplined individuals has been seen throughout history. Soldiers are seldom considered to be society’s elite, but even inexperienced second-line military units make police units look like a collection of gutter riff-raff in comparison. In strategy games like ASL, for example, police units are usually represented by conscripts, which tells you all that you need to know about their professionalism, effectiveness, and morale.
I don’t know if bad men are drawn to the job or the strains of the job makes good men bad. But regardless, the ethic of “badge makes right” is a legal, moral, and ethical non-starter.