As a police officer or a member of law enforcement, the idea granted to them is ‘service’ to the public. The slogan of the police used to be ‘To Serve and Protect’, but it has been changed to ‘Community Commitment’. Being servants toward the safety of the people, the police are lauded for the acts they do to protect us. The praise is proper if the extent of law enforcement action was fulfilling the roles as they are viewed: protecting individuals from criminal activity, arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating those who violated individual rights. However, what must be looked at is whether or not those assumed views about law enforcement are correct.
There are a list of ‘crimes’ that individuals have been targeted for prosecution by the police, resulting in fines, imprisonment or death; examples include: driving above the speed limit, selling raw milk, collecting rain water, feeding the homeless, sodomy, not wearing seat belts, selling single cigarettes, among other things. To the apologists who say ‘those laws are not enforced regularly’, we must state ‘that these laws exist in the first place’. Even if these laws are not regularly enforced, they remain on the books as valid; that they are selectively enforced shows in itself that they are not held as true harmful actions insasmuch as actions that can be deemed punishable when wanted. Assault and battery gets charged almost every time, while not wearing a seat belt isn’t sought as much. Law in such a case is a pragmatic tool to shape non-aggressive behavior. The lesson with such laws: do not perform an act, or are obligated perform an act, otherwise the legal use of force from the State will force compliance; even if you are not harming someone, you still better obey.
An extension of the issue regarding these laws’ existence is how they are enforced. If you put yourself as an individual in society, what would be done If you are under suspicion of having a small amount of marijuana?— you could have a no-knock raid in the night where your family is terrorized by armed men who come in, kill your dog, restrain your family, potentially shoot you – all actions are rushed to ensure you didn’t flush the drug; driving just fine, but had a single beer with dinner?—a drunk driving checkpoint catching all traffic will ensure your non-reckless driving continues to not harm anyone, and that you will be fined greatly to pay for all the harm you did not cause. The law, however, was broken.
Once in the system, if you cannot provide your own defense and are not an attorney yourself, a court-appointed attorney will be assigned. This individual, because of workload, will only be able to dedicate a few minutes to your case. In order to minimize punitive harm, that attorney may advise you to take a plea deal, as paying fines is less problematic than jail/prison time. Such a course of action is also easier and quicker for the public defender swamped with cases. Its effect upon you can be life-altering in how you could be fined, to having a loss of liberty or even life.
One may say ‘I don’t commit ‘criminal acts’ so I’m not affected’. (outside the fact that it is really a statement of ignorance of the full reach of the laws – see the list of punishable offenses aforementioned) You still feel the effect. Victimless crimes make victims of us all, more indirectly than directly.
A license is an allowance granted by the State to say you have permission to conduct an act. Have a stylist who you trust and have had no problems with? – if she didn’t get the new license, then your history and trust with her is irrelevant. If you want to pay someone who is not associated with a taxi company for transportation, then there are companies for you, such as Uber or Lyft. However, there are those who block or want to block those non-State licensed services. Blocking the competition for rides, ensures that licensed taxis are the sole car transport. If the business/individual does not have the approved license, you do not have the option of associating/conducting business with those you deem worthy of your patronage.
Who pushes for licensing? – those vested interests, such as other, established stylists and taxi owners, for to make others have to pay that license fee, means that there is an extra cost of business to keep out competition – if there are licenses to still be granted, that the cap has not been reached. Who enforces licensing laws? – the police. Licensing laws by their nature prohibit individuals who are part of an exchange, from participating in the exchange; this is achieved by the legal use of force of the State.
Furthermore on victimless crimes that regularly get prosecuted, a brief look at prostitution and drugs. Any work is an exchange between individuals who agree to terms, and for the requested actions to be completed for one, the other will get paid. This is the same regardless if it is one with a strong back hired to dig a ditch, a surgeon to remove anything from a tumor to excess skin, or for a prostitute to commit a sex act. One pays the other for an act to be performed. To paraphrase George Carlin: selling’s legal; having sex is legal; why isn’t selling sex legal? The answer is because those in positions of authority did not want prostitution (and pornography during the ‘social purity’ movement during the late 1800s) legal, and used their authority to put legal restraints upon the options of individuals.
Why is the use of some drugs illegal? It began in the early 1900s with the racism against the Chinese, Mexicans and blacks; the Opium Exclusion Act of 1909 targeted the opium that was smoked by Chinese immigrants, but not the opium that was ate or injected – such as was done more by whites; marijuana was made illegal because the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics [forerunner to the DEA] said marijuana was smoked by ‘negroes, Hispanics, jazz musicians and entertainers whose satanic music seduced white women.’ Prohibition [of alcohol] began with a desire for bettering human character, particularly with a religious fervor toward godliness; it was eventually repealed. The implementation of prohibition set the framework for criminal activity; the continued prohibition of other drugs is similarly increasing criminal activity. Instead of the mafia, there are drug cartels.
Some of the criminal activity is under the guise of legality: civil forfeiture is theft by the State, whereby an individual has to prove (at their cost) that what was taken by the State, was legally acquired. The State does not have the [moral] right to steal one’s property; it grants itself the authority to steal legally. Companies who profit from drugs remaining illegal, and law enforcement whose budgets are heavily funded to fight ‘the war on drugs’ have a vested interest in keeping drugs illegal. These vested interest in government and private organizations work together to use the force of the State to limit options and force participation – if it was not for the State being involved, any other group acting the same would be prosecuted for racketeering.
The slogan is ‘Community Commitment’ because of for the sake of the community, the individual is damned. This has even been legally formalized in cases such as Warren v. District of Columbia "...a government and its agencies are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen...", and Lynch v. N.C. Department of Justice "Law enforcement agencies and personnel have no duty to protect individuals from the criminal acts of others; instead their duty is to preserve the peace and arrest law breakers for the protection of the general public."
However, you can be conscripted into helping the police. If you refuse when ‘asked’ you will be committing a crime and can be punished. This is currently limited to state law, but you can be arrested for not assisting the police – when ‘requested’ – in 46 of the 50 states.
When is the help needed (legally required)?—at the officer’s discretion. In a similar manner of when some actions are deemed crimes and punishable by law for causing ‘public harm’, so too can inaction be deemed punishable by law. Why are some drugs illegal and others not?—that is at the legislator’s discretion, including the discretion of those pushing racist agendas decades ago. Why are some sex acts illegal?—that, too, is at the legislator’s discretion, including coupling religious interpretations regarding sex with law. Sodomy was a felony for much of United States history. The police enforce the laws.
That the members of the police seek to be ‘good and dutiful’ public servants is irrelevant, for good intentions are irrelevant. Though manslaughter is not as malevolent in intent as murder, the fact that another is killed (outside self-defense) remains the same. That the police officer signed up to protect individual rights is irrelevant when enforcing laws and prosecuting people for not violating another’s rights.
Some people may have problems with the act of sex being exchanged for money, or for sex outside the goal of procreation. However, what concern of that third-party’s opinion is it to the individuals who are directly involved (actually having sex)? – why should the beneficial exchange be denied because one not partaking the act, doesn’t like the act? Similar questions remain of a third-party’s interference dictating one’s choice, when there are no acts of rights violations being committed. This includes drugs, alcohol, gambling and anything else that does not violate another’s rights; entertainment was (as is) affected by regulations from back in the social purity movement to the FCC today.
Defenders of the prohibitions state the illegal acts are associated with actual rights-violations, such as theft to pay for a drug habit or human trafficking for prostitution. However, theft and slavery are the actual violations of rights, and would still be so if they were associated with other reasoning for the acts, such as a thief wanting the newest electronics or forced labor for textiles. There are no calls (properly so) to stop people from upgrading to the newest phone, or from purchasing new shirts because those intent on violating rights may do so to achieve their ends.
This is not up to majority opinion. Majorities change over time. If at one time a society mandates that acts cannot be allowed, then at another time the new-composition society can mandate that some acts must be committed. Shall we bring back the ruler’s ‘first night’ right? Is it right to be required to refuse service, or legal requirement to serve a gay couple?—either way, free association is still denied in the way a license denies the participating parties from pursuing their own choices. Is it the morality or legality that changes over time with respect to issues such as abortion, capital punishment, slavery and other issues? – the morality is unchanged, but the legality changed. There were laws mandating the return of escaped slaves. It was legal to be immoral and own slaves. Community commitment without individual rights is the embracing of the laws of the status quo, and the status quo was created by those pushing their opinions influenced with their prejudices toward others, toward acts, and to their own vested interests – with the force of the law.
If the police and law enforcement are truly wanting to protect individual rights, then it is by the act of not following many of the laws that have been put in place, and to work toward the repeal of these laws. Frederic Bastiat stated “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” Laws that go beyond protecting individual rights, are no more than opinion with a gun… and legal force. Those laws were created to institutionalize racist, religious and vested interests; should they be followed?
Whether you like it or not members of law enforcement, this is the situation you are in with us, the individuals in society: enforcing victimless crimes, making us individuals the victims of you.
Will you choose to be legally immoral, or morally illegal?