Recent weeks have been filled with clashes between police and protesters, raging rioters and fleeing law enforcement. Since a policeman’s role in the George Floyd incident lit the match of chaos, the cry of “defund the police” has been an easy one for protesters to latch onto.
I have to wonder about the psychological impact of such a slogan. Do those who demand the defunding of the police subtly begin believing law enforcement should be abolished altogether by whatever means necessary? If so, does this slogan begin justifying violence against the police?
That seems to be what is unfolding before our eyes. In early June, reports of police officers injured or assaulted in riots stretched from New York to California. Nearly two months later, such assaults continue, with Seattle reporting injuries to nearly 60 of its law enforcement officers over the weekend, with “one officer… taken to the hospital for a leg injury caused by an explosive.”
With news like that, it’s no surprise that Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best is concerned about the safety of her officers. On July 24th, Best released the statement shown in the Tweet below:
It seems that the hands of Seattle police have been tied. No longer do they have the authority or tools at their disposal to maintain law and order. “Simply put,” Best explains, “the legislation [from the City Council] gives officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.” Because of this Best announced an “adjusted deployment,” refusing to “ask our officers to risk their personal safety to protect property without the tools to do so in a safe way.”
I can’t say I really blame Best. She’s thinking of the officers under her and trying to ensure their wellbeing. Yet at the same time, it’s frightening to hear police are being ordered to stand down, to know they may not be there if we call for help, to see that law and order are no longer valued or maintained.
What happens when law and order are relegated to the dustbin? Sure, there’s the obvious consequence of potential bodily harm, but we also must recognize that a detrimental change in the fabric of our society is taking place. Founding Father Samuel Adams explains:
Whatever laws are made in any society tending to render property insecure must be subversive of the end for which men prefer society to the state of nature, and, consequently, must be subversive of society itself.
In other words, the state of chaos into which we are descending – a state in which police officers can no longer protect property or individuals – is one of a dissolving society that no one will care to live in.
Adams continues, implying that a law is not a true law when it is made without “public approbation.” Speaking in regard to the colonists’ lack of representation in Parliament he noted,
This seems to be the language of nature and common sense; for if the public are bound to yield obedience to laws to which they cannot give their approbation, they are slaves to those who make such laws and enforce them.
We, of course, are in a different situation. Like it or not, the residents of Seattle and other locales have elected the leaders who are dictating what police and individuals can and cannot do. If citizens feel those laws are contributing to the eventual obliteration of society, then one of their only recourses is to try to elect leaders with different views.
That’s a hard thing to do. Perhaps that’s why many other voices are starting to murmur about another way around the chaos, namely, the idea of moving to other states or areas with leaders who value law and order. These citizens “prefer society to the state of nature,” and as they increasingly experience a debased society, they’re pondering the idea of coming together with others to rebuild the society of peace and order that we used to know.
The good thing is that such a development shows there are still a few individuals out there with common sense. The question is, what will happen to the rest of the country when their last strands of common sense take their leave to gather together in a few select parts of America?
Flickr-Anthony Quintano, CC BY 2.0