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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Michael Brown And The Conservative Inconsistency

...By and large, conservatives favor limited government because they believe that power is prone to corrupt the individuals in government who wield that power. For the conservative, you don’t avoid tyranny by putting a king with no bloodlust on the throne. You avoid it by removing the throne’s ability to extract blood. This is why, for example, conservatives oppose gun control legislation—because they believe that a government that can forcibly disarm its citizens will eventually use that power to oppress its citizens.
But if you believe that individuals in power are maliciously trying to confiscate the weapons of law-abiding citizens, why is it completely outside the realm of possibility that an individual in power would maliciously use his weapon against a law-abiding citizen? When this principle of “power corrupts” is the driving force behind a conservative’s approach to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, why are so many conservatives unwilling to apply it to those who enforce many of the government’s laws? In the days since Michael Brown’s death, we’ve seen video footage of police firing teargas onto people’s private property (language warning). We’ve heard reports of police arresting journalists who were not engaging in any illegal activity. If power seems to be corrupting those charged with keeping the peace during the recent unrest in Ferguson, why do some conservatives refuse to consider the mere possibility that a police officer may have been corrupted by power in the event that sparked the unrest?
The answer is, I think, quite simple. For many conservatives, especially those of us living in nice, comfy suburbs, it’s hard to apply the “power corrupts” doctrine to law enforcement because we’ve never seen corrupted enforcers of the law. We’ve never been wrongly arrested. We’ve never witnessed our children put in jail based on the false reports of police officers. We’ve never seen our neighbors beaten or tazed without cause. And in the extremely unlikely scenario that a police officer drove into our neighborhood and murdered our unarmed friend in cold blood, we cannot possibly fathom a scenario where the justice system wouldn’t be on our side and where that police officer wouldn’t spend the rest of his life in jail...

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