Liberty Weeps over Ferguson and New York

Liberty Weeps over Ferguson and New York


Last night’s decision over Eric Garner in New York after what happened in Ferguson has left the United States in more turmoil than the nation has experienced in years, maybe even decades. I tossed and turned much of the night, unable to sleep, angry and sad.  Liberty, what I hold most dear, weeps.


Much will be said about this over the coming years, but I believe it comes down to this. In order for people to respect the law, both the laws and those who uphold them must be respectable.


The law in the US is no longer worthy of respect, having criminalized human behavior to an insane degree and those who are to uphold the law have turned into a militarized force that is entirely too focused on intimidation and domination rather than “to protect and serve;” obviously this is not true for every person involved in enforcement. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post (here), no other country incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than the United States, a dubious gold medal we’ve held since 2002. Over 7 people are incarcerated out of every 1,000. The US has about 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the entire world’s prison population!


While I understand the pain and frustration, the violent protests and broad accusations of racism detract from the very real issues and often harm the credibility of those accusations raises questions over their validity. We do have very real problems in the US, and it seems to me they have reached a point at which they can no longer be ignored, but history has shown that these are best resolved by principled dialogue. The US was founded on deep respect for individual rights and a passionate desire to limit the power of the government. Respect for an enforcement of individual rights by definition prohibits any racism in the law. Individuals are still free to be bigoted jerks, but no law can fix that. Only a just society can provide fertile ground for enlightenment of the ass.


As a nation we’ve stumbled along and not gotten things right many times, but the trajectory was at least in the right direction. We used to have credibility in our role as the global defender of liberty! We used to be a nation that fought for what was right and we weren’t so easily scared, so willing to give up responsibility for the empty promise of security. Fear has led to an increasingly militarized police force and a mind boggling expansion of what is deemed “criminal,” which has placed this insane, perverse, over-arching enforcement of “law” above basic human respect. It needs to stop, but if any nation on earth is capable of reversing this horrible course, it is America.  She can once again become the land of the free and the home of the brave.