Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Another False Dichotomy

There is a false dichotomy between the Brown and the Garner cases.  Brown was clearly a drug addled and or not to bright strong arm thug with a history of using his size to intimidate people. That said we can’t be absolutely sure the police officer wasn’t abusive in his manner and tone when he told Brown and his companion to get out of the .middle of the street. I have no doubt that Brown’s criminal behavior and inclinations contributed to the tragic escalation to then occurred, I can't be certain that the police officer’s attitude wasn’t a contributing factor. Neither can we be certain that police cynicism from dealing with countless previous Michael Browns is unjustified or none contributory.

In contrast the Garner case grew out of “Atlas Shrugged” like absurdities. New York State and New York City have raised and raised and raised the so called “sin taxes” particularly those on cigarettes to such absurd and punishing levels that the city has become a smugglers paradise. Some 60% of all cigarettes are bootlegged in. But rather than reducing tax rates to discourage smuggling and actually increase revenue they have upped the ante on absurdity by not only outlawing the sale of single cigarettes but turning local law enforcement into revenuers enforcing such foolishness.

Not content at having collected taxes at the distribution and retail levels they apparently see the sale of single cigarettes as commerce beyond their reach for taxation. It therefore must be made illegal and such a heinous crime as to warrant violent arrest as opposed to simply issuing a summons.
So what if Garner had a series of petty arrests?   He wasn’t guilty of anything other than filling an economic niche for which there was a demand. A demand created by the state’s and city’s absurd levels of taxation.

Apparently this was not the first time Mr. Garner had been subjected to this kind of petty harassment and for whatever reasons he had had enough. The police clearly over reacted and tragedy ensued.
If amongst all of NYC's myriad problems, enforcing this kind of stupid law is a high priority for the police, then they clearly have too many cops, with too much time on their hands and a badly skewed perspective of what their jobs should be.

I fully recognize the need for police in our society but I will never believe that they are all some heroic bastions of virtue.  They are people like any other and possessed of both virtues and vices, and arguably subject to vice and the temptation to it by the very nature of their power over ordinary citizens.  We have enough real and serious crimes in our cities.  The last thing we need is for the police to be manufacturing them simply to pump up their arrest statistics.

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