I read someone's IM profile this morning, which describes how she was sitting outside smoking up when a patrol car drove by and she said FUCK YOU PIG as it went by. I'd read it before, but this time it started to bother me. We both go to the University of Chicago, which employs one of the largest private police forces in the country. The University of Chicago Police Department exists solely to protect us and the University. These people are willing to put their lives on the line for us, and here's this person cursing them simply for driving by, making sure no one is raping and murdering her. What cause does she think she has to say something like that?

Why do some people hate the police for doing their jobs? A police officer's duty is to enforce all of the laws, regardless of whether s/he agrees with all of them (up to a point, of course). A law against smoking marijuana, while it may not accomplish what its creators intended it to accomplish, certainly doesn't violate any fundamental laws, and so it's not up to the individual officers to decided whether or not to enforce it. To blame the police officers for enforing a law you don't like is to blame laywers for fairly representing defendants or plaintiffs you find distateful. It opens the door to anarchy, to a society in which the only laws you have to obey are the ones you agree with, which tell you to act in a way you'd act in regardless. It would be a society in which you're obliged to pay your employees even if they refuse to do the work you hired them to do.

Why did she curse the police car? The police didn't make the law, the legislature did. Why didn't she say FUCK YOU SENATE or FUCK YOU HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES or just FUCK YOU CONGRESS or FUCK YOU US GOVERNMENT? What about FUCK YOU VOTERS, who'll be damned if they'll support anyone who would let my generation do what so many of them did when they were younger? How about FUCK YOU CHRISTIAN RIGHT, who are always happy to force their narrow, intolerant worldview onto all of us as if we really think the way they do, but we won't realize it without a good stiff dose of Christ? With so many people responsible for the laws of the United States, there's no excuse for blaming the people who didn't play any part in outlawing cannabis.

Admittedly, she was high at the time :o still, that's no excuse.

Did that policeman, or any policeman in fact, make the law? Of course not. Is it up to them whether or not to enforce it? Again, no; it is what the state pays them to do, and if they ignored it they could be subject to sanction, dismissal, or worse. Is shouting "FUCK YOU" at an individual police officer going to make even the slightest ripple of change in the system? I say a third time, for the love of God, no.

Why, then, do those of us whose lifestyles are in breach of the laws these people enforce, feel more violently towards the enforcers and not the ones who should be held accountable for these laws? I can't speak for the train of thought of someone I don't know, but simply speaking for myself, I know that I have harbored distasteful and even violent thoughts towards police officers. Still do, in fact. I'd like to think that I've matured past the point of shouting; it gives me less credibility if for some reason I am forced to prove my sanity. But whenever I see those stupid blue flashing lights on the side of the highway, or have to stand in line at the convenience store in front of a uniformed officer, well... I get chills. I feel uncomfortable. Stoned or sober, it doesn't matter.

One obvious argument is that they are soldiers on the opposite side of a stupid, but high-stakes war. If you were part of the American Revolution, or the WWI French Resistance, you probably realized that the redcoats/Nazi stormtroopers weren't the ones that made the decision to fuck up your country. You might even realize that if they took your side, or just took themselves out of the fight, military protocol would demand that their own men kill them. Still, you fought them, or hid from them... and you certainly didn't like them. There is no room for sympathy in war.

But I think a more daunting and philosophical explanation is that in our minds (my mind, anyway), these men and women are traitors, robots. They cannot POSSIBLY believe in the validity of all the laws they enforce. And I know that this does not apply to every single police officer out there, but many of them pursue their job with a single-minded power-mad sense of authority. There is a subconscious (or maybe, in the worst cases, conscious) belief that the badge they wear gives them power over EVERYONE who doesn't have one. Some of the ridiculous, inane questions I have been asked by Mass. State Troopers, just for driving 73 in a 65.... but I digress. The point is that these people are PUBLIC SERVANTS. SERVANTS, as in SERVE and PROTECT. And really, I have to wonder how many cops out there keep that outdated slogan in the back of their head while performing their duty. When an officer detains me on the street and tries to bully me into answering irrelevant questions just because I look like a punk stoner kid, well... how is he serving or protecting ANYONE?

I am not an anarchist; anarchy is, in my opinion, a completely indefensible political/social position. I agree that a proctoring system of armed public servants is NECESSARY for a stable, safe society. But we are PEOPLE, not robots, and so are the proctors. When their stated role is to "serve and protect", and 90% of the enforcing they do REALLY doesn't fall under those categories by ANY reasonable stretch of the imagination, well... I have lost respect for that individual, and can no longer, in good faith, consider him or her a rational, functional member of society....

When I was growing up, I listened to a lot of Rage Against the Machine. Being an impressionable young man, I tried really really hard to hate the police, the pigs, the fuzz.

As I have become more comfortable with myself, however, I can't hold it in any longer. All the police I have met are lovely, and very reasonable people.

Two times police have come to a loud party I was at, only to sit down for 10 minutes and have some lemonade and a chat. Another time we were having a drunken bonfire on a wasteland in the middle of Sheffield, when prompted by residents, a fire engine and the police came. The firemen (love them too) looked slightly unimpressed by the size of our fire, expertly put another log in just the right place, and gave us an extinguisher. I talked to one of the cops about holiday plans. Then they left.

Really the police in this country (the UK) are fine. They don't even have guns. When I told that to my Bolivian friends they said incredulously 'well why does anyone do what they say?!?'

I think other people feel the same way. I saw Dizzee Rascal last week. He was evidently about to sing a song about fucking the police or something, and started out "who here likes the police" and the crowd all screamed back 'we do!' and cheered. I think he was a little thrown.

And then there was this tale of the protest outside the Drax Power Station in Selby this week. Everyone was very sensible and nice to each other. The protesters even made a statement to the papers praising the police's mature and gentle attitude. And how often does that happen?

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