Friday, September 25, 2009

A prayer for the police officer

via Financial Times:

“You must leave the immediate vicinity regardless of your purpose,” police in full riot gear told protesters over bullhorns about an hour into the march.

It's tough being a cop. It's particularly tough being a cop in any community with a lot of inequality. This is because property can be heavily concentrated in the hands of a few owners, and yet the police officer's job -- indeed, the government's job -- is to defend property rights. Under conditions of great inequality, this puts law enforcement in the unenviable position of policing distressed communities in the name of "law and order" -- which inevitably means the ordering of the many under the law of the few.


Anonymous said...

On what grounds do you think most cops have a problem with this?

JRB said...

The question presumes "most cops" enjoy sufficient critical awareness of their functional role in society -- counter to their official one -- that any participation can be construed as complicity.

In my experience, such awareness develops after years of experience, with the benefit of an active mind. The same trend can be observed with military personnel as well.

To the degree that anyone discovers their sacrifices have been made under a false pretext (in this case, "justice"), they often have a problem with it. Whether or not they reach this point depends, in part, on how we engage them.