Land of the Free

Make sure you visit Balko's place and watch the SWAT team video.

Share this

It's distressing to watch,

It's distressing to watch, particularly because there is no obvious solution. The typical person watching it probably goes red with murderous rage when the dog is killed, or when the owner realizes that the dog has been killed. Our emotions have a function, and the function of the rage is to kill the attackers, in this case the police. That's what's supposed to happen. That's the natural, normal, just outcome of this class of event (home invasion with bloodshed). Someone comes in, kills family member, is killed, order is restored. The just outcome is prevented by the overwhelming power of the state, which has made it ever safer for well-armed, well-protected government-sanctioned gangs to storm into homes and heedlessly kill the occupants. So instead of killing the intruders, the homeowner and supposed defender of the family drowns in his grief, helpless to lift a finger.

The police invaders, experiencing invasion after invasion going off without a hitch, adapt to the situation and lose any sense that they are doing something wrong. The sense of right and wrong may be inborn but it also needs to be cultivated by making an example of violators. If someone escapes punishment for a prolonged period, he loses the sense that what he is doing is wrong.

The classic effective way to restore order in the face of rampant criminality is through judiciously and effectively applied violence. However, that can't be done, because the government is simply too powerful and solidarity among government agents too strong. The man can't be blamed for failing to avenge his dog. He may have a right to (not to say that the dog has rights, but he has rights as an owner), but he simply has no ability to. If he tries, he'll die.

The hope that it can be done through voting seems to me dim. Even an ideally wise voter who has devoted an enormous amount of time educating himself about current affairs needs to consider many different factors when selecting a politician, of which correcting police behavior from above is only one and maybe not the most vital one. And most voters are unwise and ill-informed to begin with. Politicians are apt to be voted in or out based largely on specific, easily-understood issues such as his view on abortion and his ability to grab pork for his district.

Nothing can be done at this point. In the USSR it took the collapse of the state to (partially) set things right (and not all that right, as it turns out). All that can be done at this point is to helplessly watch, and suffer.

I'm more optimistic. Alcohol

I'm more optimistic. Alcohol prohibition ended, and that required an amendment to the constitution. Ending pot prohibition will be difficult in other ways - pot use is less widespread and acceptable than alcohol use was, and the prohibition has been in effect longer - but videos like this, I hope, will have some effect on public opinion. I expect pot to be legal in my lifetime - if not throughout the entire United States, than at least everywhere but the Bible Belt.

And of course, the war on drugs is yet another reason for libertarians to distance themselves from conservatives and instead ally with some on the left. Think about how many conservatives are passionate about maintaining the status quo drug policy compared to progressives. I don't think I've ever interacted with anyone left of center who fully supports the drug war, while I've met many right of center folks who do.

Legalizing pot may reduce the

Legalizing pot may reduce the raids. But it may just change the pretext - plenty of other drugs, and plenty of other pretexts to enter a home and shoot the dog.

Any leftist wants to march against the drug war, I'll be cheering for that march, even though I can guess that the leftist also favors the latest bill expanding government. If drug war advocates attack leftists marching against the drug war by accusing them of supporting socialism, I won't be so easily fooled by such an obvious ploy to undermine resistance to the drug war.

Any conservative or independent or democrat wants to march against the health care bill or whatever new government expansion or takeover comes next, I'll be cheering for that march, even though I can guess from general polls of Americans that a large fraction of the marchers also favor tighter controls on immigration. If advocates of that government expansion attack conservatives and independents and democrats marching against it by accusing them of racism, I won't be so easily fooled by such an obvious ploy to undermine resistance to government expansion.