LEASHING THE MAD DOGS
Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
Recently, you have probably read a spate of justifiably angry Internet commentaries and watched some truly shocking and sickening videos reporting on and recording the scandal of the ever-increasing instances of senseless, sadistic rogue police brutality throughout the United States. Being provided with a badge, a gun, and a para-military uniform has apparently become a license for their holders to run amok—intimidating, threatening, terrorizing, assaulting, even killing innocent citizens. Disquietingly, most of the thuggish culprits in the episodes that have received widespread publicity seem to have suffered little or nothing in the way of punishment that fits their wrongdoing—certainly nothing anywhere near the punishment mere “civilians” would have received for the selfsame misbehavior.
There are several reasons for this appalling situation.
First, police forces seem strangely reluctant to purge from their ranks, on their own initiatives and in thoroughgoing fashion, the brutal, the sadistic, the semi-moronic, and the other degenerate creatures who somehow contrive to join “the Force”—apparently, from the Dark Side—in order to acquire badges and guns wherewith to lord their misbegotten “authority” over other people, even unto killing them.
Out of charity, one does not want to conclude that policemen in large numbers lack sufficient personal honor, integrity, and sense of duty to act on their own accord to clean out their own stables. Yet, the fact remains that wielding the shovels would not require the labors of Hercules, because the hard-core undesirables are relatively few, and surely are readily identifiable (especially, after all, by police trained in the latest techniques of “profiling,” reading aberrant facial expressions and body language, and so on). So, after some notable examples were made within the ranks—and, even better, within the higher echelons of command—the problem would be largely attenuated, if not eliminated. But, as far as is being reported, no such self-policing is apparently taking place—or, if it is, it is being rapidly outpaced by new eruptions of rogue police brutality. The adage “physician, heal thyself” is seldom heeded among the police, even though nowhere else in society is its application more needed. Crime seems to be unabated, even accelerating, among the supposed crime-fighters themselves!
Second, if personal honor, integrity, and sense of duty do not impel the police to police themselves, they have little other incentive, because they earn few institutional rewards for doing so and especially suffer even fewer punishments for sitting on their hands. In the face of mounting reports—documented with photographic evidence—of increasingly revolting instances of rogue police brutality, one searches in vain for numerous examples of systemic accountability swift, sure, and severe in nature. Where are the well-publicized investigations, arrests, indictments, prosecutions, convictions, and above all stiff sentences for the perpetrators? For such bestial misbehavior, “civilians” would already be behind bars. But, instead of dishonorable discharges and felony convictions, all too many rogue policemen still tote their badges and guns, looking to accost new victims.
Third, the absence of strict, or even any, accountability is no accident. The only plausible explanation for why these excesses are occurring simultaneously all over the country—with ever-increasing frequency, intensity, animosity, ferocity, and even perversity—and are going largely unpunished, is that the Establishment wants things this way. The Establishment does not consider these incidents to be abuses of office, but simply exercises of power. And the more ordinary and widespread these incidents become, the better. Because, simply put, the Establishment hates common Americans’ freedoms and wants to eliminate them. And not only the freedoms, but common Americans themselves, too, if they resist.
The Establishment desires, encourages, facilitates, protects, and covers up rogue police brutality—lawlessness under color of law by the supposed enforcers of the law—because this official misbehavior separates the police as a whole from the citizenry by the barrier of mutual animosity, and links rogue policemen and the Establishment with the common bond of criminal complicity.
If rogue policemen are encouraged and empowered to oppress the citizenry with physical violence, they will imagine themselves to be, not the people’s servants, nor even the people’s social and political equals, but the people’s absolute superiors—a “master class”the members of which can do almost anything they want, as long as they are careful to “follow orders” from above.
This situation, of course, is inconsistent with the “democracy” the Establishment keeps praising, and at odds with the “Republican Form of Government” the Constitution guarantees to every State. But the Establishment does not want “democracy,” in the sense of political and social equality between public officials and common citizens, let alone a “Republican Form of Government” in which We the People are the sovereigns and public officials their servants. The Establishment wants a “government” the powers of which derive, not from the consent of the governed, but from the caprices of the governors. It wants a “government” not limited to the “just powers” to which the Declaration of Independence refers, but capable of exercising all conceivable powers. A “government” with total power over, but no accountability to, the people.
One key method to achieve this result is to render as many policemen as possible the Establishment’s willing tools. If rogue policemen are not punished for their oppression of the general public, they—and others with similar inclinations—naturally will be loyal to the Establishment that protects them, not to the people they persecute. Granting immunity from punishment is not just a reward the Establishment bestows for rogue policemen’s past misbehavior, however, but also a means of inciting and controlling the perpetrators thereafter. For once rogue policemen have terrorized the citizenry, they find themselves estranged from the community—even despised as enemies—and therefore have nowhere to turn but to the Establishment. All too often, crossing over to the Dark Side of the Force is a one-way street.
The purpose of separating rogue police from the people and tying them to the Establishment in what amount to criminal conspiracies to suppress civil rights is to exercise extreme social control. That “the government” does next to nothing about the brutality of its own police—notwithstanding that such misbehavior occurs openly on a widespread basis—engenders fear among the citizenry. Long continued, it spawns a feeling of helplessness, which soon evolves into resignation and apathy, which results in acquiescence in oppression and even the psychopathological state of “identification with the aggressor.”
Persecution of those who actually demand their rights—coupled with random crack-downs on other, completely innocent people who somehow “step out of line” or simply “talk back”—demonstrates that no one is safe, and thereby deters dissent and opposition, let alone active resistance. The very randomness, senselessness, vindictiveness, and limitlessness of these lawless attacks—the lack of protection for the citizenry—the victims’ inability to engage in self-defense (usually mislabeled as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing justice”)—and the unavailability of timely and meaningful redress in the courts and legislatures pressure more and more people into sheepish compliance with the three rules of contemporary socio-political subordination: “Know your place!,” “Keep your mouth shut!,” “Do as you are told!”
Except in its frightening scope today, rogue police brutality is nothing new in America. Years ago, in chronically dysfunctional cities such as New York, heated demands for “citizens’ review boards” arose, especially from minorities who believed—and not without good and sufficient reasons—that they were being singled out for repressive treatment. Such of these boards as now exist are not widely enough operational to deal adequately with the current epidemic of rogue police violence. And, at best, all such boards are only ad hoc, makeshift solutions to the problem. There does exist, however, a better, because a constitutional, answer—an answer that would be of unassailable authority, ubiquitous applicability, and undoubtable efficacy. That answer is revitalization of “the Militia of the several States.”
During pre-constitutional times, no professional police forces existed in the Colonies and independent States. Sheriffs, constables, and other minor officials were few in number, limited in authority, and without much assistance unless they called out the posse comitatus. The major institutions for law enforcement and social protection, “settled and regulated” by numerous statutes, were the Militia. These were supremely powerful establishments, because they enrolled almost every able-bodied free man in their communities from 16 to 60 years of age, and required them to be fully armed with their own firearms, and to train on a regular basis. Moreover, because of their composition, they were quintessentially republican, and even democratic, institutions. No one worried about suffering systematic, unredressable brutality from rogue Militia oppressing the citizenry on behalf of corrupt special interests.
Today, the same would be true. The only institutions the Constitution explicitly recognizes with authority and responsibility “to execute the Laws of the Union” are “the Militia of the several States.” No sheriffs, constables, police forces, or other officials—with the exception of the President of the United States, upon whom the Constitution imposes the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”—have such, or even any, constitutional status. And the President is “Commander in Chief * * * of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States”—which plainly points to the forces he should employ to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Moreover, “well regulated Militia” are the only establishments the Constitution recognizes as “necessary to the security of a free State.” (Representative Ron Paul, please take note.)
So, on constitutional principle, State and Local police forces should be turned into sub-units, or otherwise placed under the jurisdiction, of the revitalized Militia. They would remain “professional” forces, in that they would be paid for their work. They would retain distinctive uniforms and exercise authority assigned specially to them. And, to the extent that they performed their duties properly, they would be entitled to promote their own unique esprit de corps. But they would always be subject to close scrutiny by, would be responsible to, and would be controlled by We the People directly.
This arrangement would prevent, or at least minimize, the problem of rogue police brutality.
For, inasmuch as the Militia consist of We the People, they would never overlook, tolerate, or excuse such brutalization of themselves, their families, friends, neighbors, or co-workers.
This arrangement would also guarantee real accountability, which requires sanctions for misbehavior. Rogue policemen would find themselves subjected to Militia discipline, which would be swift, sure, and severe. And rightly so. No one needs to have the law more stringently executed against them than those who have been entrusted with badges, guns, and police powers—simply because they are in unique positions to misuse those powers; they are exposed to strong temptations to do so; and they can inflict great, even irremediable, damage on their fellow-citizens in a very short period of time if not deterred and, when deterrence fails, punished.
Moreover, Americans are now witnessing—and suffering from—what happens when police forces are not subject to real accountability. Americans have been the guinea pigs of the Establishment’s experiment with the creation of a para-militarized police state, and are now all too often victimized by the Frankenstein’s Monsters the Establishment has created and set at large. Therefore, in the future, police accountability must be made a priority, as matters of both individual self-defense and social survival.
So here, patient readers, is yet another timely, compelling reason to revitalize “the Militia of the several States.” Even the most persistent advocate, however, tires of bringing so many owls to Athens. The need to revitalize the Militia is so obvious, the benefits so self-evident, that after a few iterations and examples the argument becomes trivial. But for those nay-sayers who complain about the supposed difficulty of actually doing it, one can only add that the task will be easy, compared to continuing to live—if in the future common Americans who “step out of line” are even allowed to live—under an increasingly manic and even maniacal para-militarized police state.
the decisive question still remains: How many people have to be pushed
around, falsely arrested, beaten, tazered, or even gunned down in
the streets before enough common Americans finally take action to
end this insanity once and for all? The leashes with which to restrain
the mad dogs you hold in your own hands. You have only to use them.
© 2007 Edwin Vieira, Jr.
- All Rights Reserved
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Edwin Vieira, Jr., holds four degrees from Harvard: A.B. (Harvard College), A.M. and Ph.D. (Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), and J.D. (Harvard Law School).
For more than thirty years he has practiced law, with emphasis on constitutional issues. In the Supreme Court of the United States he successfully argued or briefed the cases leading to the landmark decisions Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, and Communications Workers of America v. Beck, which established constitutional and statutory limitations on the uses to which labor unions, in both the private and the public sectors, may apply fees extracted from nonunion workers as a condition of their employment.
He has written numerous monographs and articles in scholarly journals, and lectured throughout the county. His most recent work on money and banking is the two-volume Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution (2002), the most comprehensive study in existence of American monetary law and history viewed from a constitutional perspective. www.piecesofeight.us
He is also the co-author (under a nom de plume) of the political novel CRA$HMAKER: A Federal Affaire (2000), a not-so-fictional story of an engineered crash of the Federal Reserve System, and the political upheaval it causes. www.crashmaker.com
He can be reached at:
Yet the decisive question still remains: How many people have to be pushed around, falsely arrested, beaten, tazered, or even gunned down in the streets before enough common Americans finally take action to end this insanity once and for all?