Thursday, July 03, 2003

An attack on the King's soldiers is an attack on the King!

For those of you who thought that was an antiquated philosophy or simply a throw away line from a swashbuckling movie, think again.

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy I found this post which links to this news story.

To sum it up a man received a sentence of life imprisonment for spitting on a police officer, even though he could have only receieved 1 year in prison & a $3,000 fine for the alledged wife beating that instigated the police contact in the first place.

Now personally I would have liked the guy to receive a stiff sentence for assaulting his wife. Actually I would have much preferred for the wife to have shot him the second he attempted to accost her.

Putting aside the man's character or alledged lack thereof, we are left with this simple truth spoken by the legislature & affirmed by the courts - the lives, safety, convenience & reputation of any employee of the government is worth more than the life, freedom, or integrity of any individual citizen.

Now I am by no means pro-cop. The 'thin blue line' that protects society from criminals is not our police officers but our citizens themsleves. (The blue line being the firearms said citizens use between 80,000 & 2,000,000 times a year to prevent crime). But to be completely fair I estimate (& by no means scientifically) that 5 to 10% of cops are really good people, 5 to 10% of cops are really bad people, with the remaining 80 to 90 % lying somewhere in between. Which pretty much is consistent with my views of society as a whole: there's a minority at either end with the majority someplace in the middle.

My problems with the police are not based on an unrational distrust of their characters. Rather it is a distrust of the system in which they operate. One of the problems with that system is perpetuating the belief that a police officer, or any employee of the government for that matter, is a protected & privileged class. The above news story does nothing to change my view that this is inherently wrong.

Granted, there are some rational arguments for making spitting or otherwise imposing bodily fluids on another a serious offense, what with the AIDS & other diseases which can be transmitted by bodily fluids.
But in no way should government employees receive special protection. & despite any risk of contamination I fail to see the logic in having harsher penalties for spitting on someone than beating them up.
This man would not have received a life sentence for spitting on his wife. In fact he could only get a year for beating her up. The life sentence was imposed solely because it implied a threat to an agent of the government. This in & of itself is wrong. If a person who is employed by the government is the victim of some form of unjustified abuse or assualt then his attacker should receive a harsh penalty, but no harsher than if he had attacked an accountant, or construction worker.

It seems though that 'equal protection of the law' is more endangered than the phrase that opened this post.

No comments: