The Rule of Law vs. Rush to Judgment

Bronsonby Jerry Richardson   8/16/14
In the early days of America, especially in the “wild” West, vigilantism was used in attempts to achieve justice, and maintain peace; often in areas where there was little if any official law enforcement.

But, vigilantism has a dangerous flaw:  It does not operate under the rule of law.

We hear that term bandied about quite often lately, but what exactly in America does The Rule of Law (TROL) mean?

Many will perhaps answer that it means that people are to be governed by laws and not by men.  But don’t men have to make laws?  Sure, so how can we separate government of laws from government of men?  Answer: It isn’t easy.  James Madison perhaps stated best the difficulty in The Federalist Papers:

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
—James Madison, The Federalist Papers, Federalist No. 51, (Kindle Locations 4460-4463).

One of the major dangers of vigilantism is that it is not, in Madison’s terminology, obliged to control itself.  Vigilantes often rush to judgment, and get it wrong. Result? Innocent people get killed or otherwise unjustly punished.

Federalist No. 51 contains a famous essay on the US Constitutional principal of checks and balance in government; this is often referred to today as the separation of powers.   As most of us know, this principal has never worked perfectly; but those of us who are friendly to the US Constitution, as opposed to ignoring it, believe that the principal of the separation of powers in government is better than any other possible formal-distribution of governmental powers.

America’s rule of law heritage traces back directly to The Magna Carta (The Great Charter) signed by King John of England, under duress, in 1215.  Article 39 is especially pertinent to the concept of American rule of law, TROL:

“39. No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised [to deprive, especially wrongfully, of seisin (the legal possession of a feudal fiefdom)] or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”  —Magna Carta

Actually TROL is an ideal and is not always properly accomplished, but it is, nevertheless, the best-known attempt in history, I think, to avoid arbitrary justice. Is there a conceptual connection between the separation of powers (of the government) and TROL?

I think that a type of separation of powers is embedded in our trial-by-jury system. As I see it our trial system operates using three primary principles:

  1. Impartial rules (written law) for the behavior of the governed and a refereed process (judges) are established and maintained to oversee the application of the rules. In TROL, the management of the rules is paramount.
  2. No one person or agency is mandated to function as both judge and jury. This is a type of separation of powers.
  3. There must be no rush to judgment. A formal process is required to provide ample time to be carried out so as to avoid, to the extent possible, mistakes and injustices. Rules are meaningless if there is not sufficient time to correctly apply them.

We have witnessed, during President Obama’s administration several instances of blatant rush to judgment by him.  Two especially prominent occurrences have been:

  • The Henry Louis Gates affair culminating in the infamous White House
    “Beer Summit.”
  • The Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman shooting followed by trial of Zimmerman (in which Zimmerman was found not guilty by reason of self-defense).

President Obama’s meddling-contribution to a racially super-charged atmosphere that surrounded the criminal investigation and also later surrounded the murder trial of George Zimmerman was especially detrimental to race-relations in the entire nation and personally damaging to George Zimmerman.

However, I think, the biggest culprits of rush to judgment in the Zimmerman affair were none other than the good ole MSM (Main Stream Media).  From the start, almost instantly, prominent members of the MSM proceeded in outright propaganda-fashion to convict Zimmerman, in the media, of murder; moreover to convict him for a murder that many in the MSM were painting as an act of white-on-black racial hatred.  White-on-black racism is a favorite narrative for most progressive news propaganda agencies.

Numerous MSM members trumpeted their quickly-manufactured racial-hatred narrative; with various versions of themes such as: White Man Shoots Unarmed 17 Year Old Black Kid.” Initially the NYT referred to Zimmerman as “white” but when it later became public knowledge that Zimmerman is Hispanic, the NYT began to refer to Zimmerman as a “White Hispanic.”  Of course, they just had to get the word “white” into their narrative, and cover their initial deceptive misreporting.

The prize for most egregious propaganda-reporting during the Zimmerman affair has to go to NBC. NBC produced a news segment that used audio-clips in a way that made the Zimmerman shooting of Martin appear to be racially motivated.  Here’s what NBC ran:

“The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, ‘This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.’ “   —Smearing Zimmerman

However, in a subsequent internal investigation of the news segment (well after the damage to Zimmerman’s public image had been done) resulted in the firing of a producer who was involved. That investigation, and others, revealed that the following was the actual content of the audio-clips:

“But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, ‘This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.’ Then the dispatcher asked, ‘O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?’ Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, ‘He looks black.’ “   —Zimmerman’s actual comment

NBC and other MSM agencies stumbled all over themselves in their haste to prove that George Zimmerman was a racist murderer.  Rush to judgment is a cancer of unfairness that can grow in any society if not resisted by fair-minded people.

What causes this cancer?

Justice is a prized end-result that many people will go to great lengths to see-done if they believe (rightly or wrongly) that they or someone they support is being treated unfairly. But in an effort to see justice done, sometimes people resort to injustice.  It starts when we are children on the playground: “That’s not fair”!  And then sometimes justified or unjustified, youthful violence follows. The management of justice is not a simple process. Note: That is the understatement of this article.

I’m sure you are aware of the serious rioting (replete with looting and vandalism) in Ferguson, Missouri.   Will this usher-in another case of rush to judgment?  President Obama seems to be currently saying sensible and reasonable things about the riots:

[August 14, 2014] I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson,” Obama said in a news conference. “There is never an excuse for violence against the police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. … There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail.”  —Obama on Ferguson

Numerous black citizens in Ferguson have called for “justice” for Michael Brown.  Michael Brown’s mother asked for “nonviolence” in addition to “justice” for her son.  She is to be commended for asking for “nonviolence.”  In additional to her individual comments, the Brown family has issued a written statement:

“The family said in a statement: “There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.”  —Family Statement

Regardless of who knows what at this time, or regardless of who thinks they know; justice requires a calm and nonviolent environment, or it is easily perverted.

I am concerned about the modern understanding, or rather what I believe to be a lack of understanding, of “justice” in America.

I am concerned about the concept of “justice” held by a group called African-American activists.  They are definitely a powerful wannabe influence group on President Obama relative to events such as the Ferguson riots.  Here’s a reported description, from NBC, on what African-American activists want from President Obama relative to situations such as Ferguson:

“…African-American activists…want to see the president, in his speeches, directly connect the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, both black men, to police brutality and persistent racism. Obama has generally avoided both subjects.”    —What African-American activists want

This is a statement that is completely consistent with the actions and rhetoric we have seen from the Obama administration, from Democrats, and from most progressive blacks.  Everything that the previously listed left-wingers don’t like has to be tied to “persistent racism.”  This is why we continually see the “race card” being played.

In the issued Brown-family statement the phrase “the execution style murder of their child by this police officer” fits perfectly with the standard narrative expressed above of “police brutality.”  It is possible that the police shooting of Michael Brown was an “execution style murder.”  I seriously doubt it; and I claim that it certainly is unknown at this time.

President Obama, Eric Holder, and the rest of the Obama administration have encouraged the narrative of racism—a narrative of persistent and wide-spread white-to-black racism, never mind any obvious black-to-white racism such as the knockout game.  By so doing, Obama has made it more likely that we will have additional Ferguson-like happenings.  He has also made it extremely unlikely that under his watch it will be possible to have any bipartisan approach for solutions of the problems of racism (black as well as white).

I am concerned about the understanding of “justice” when there are calls for “justice for Michael Brown.”  The statement implies that there has been an injustice committed against Michael Brown.  Perhaps that is true, I simply do not know.  But I claim it has yet to be determined in a manner required by law.  One of the most important protections of TROL is our legal principle that, standing before the law, any person is innocent until proven guilty.  Proven is the operational necessity. Let’s not go down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole where it is “Sentence first – verdict afterwards.”

The most famous icon for justice is a blindfolded lady (a statue) holding a pair of scales.  The blindfold symbolizes impartiality before the law—the law is no respecter of persons—and the scales symbolize the necessity of weighing pertinent items (proving them) in order to be able to achieve a just determination of guilt or non-guilt.

Please don’t misunderstand; I certainly respect anyone expressing grief for the loss of a life, especially the life of a loved one.  But, I think justice will only be possible in the Ferguson situation if there is justice for both Michael Brown and Darren Wilson (the police officer who shot Michael Brown).  There cannot be justice if there is “justice” for only one of the two.  That concept of “justice” is not really justice; it is a call for vengeance or punishment, but not a call for justice. Consider this chant heard in Ferguson:

“A couple of dozen protesters began marching, chanting ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ and ‘What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!’ ”—Ferguson, Missouri

A request for justice is always proper. But justice in muddled, real-world situations, such as in Ferguson, cannot be obtained on the double-quick, cannot be accomplished according to a formula of do it and do it now—in other words justice cannot be properly served in a rush to judgment atmosphere.  Is that what we have in Ferguson?  I fear that.  Let’s hope that cool heads prevail.

What has to be sorted-out in a very calm, legal, and methodical manner is whether Darren Wilson was properly doing his duty as a police officer when he shot Michael Brown.  Was Officer Wilson shoved into his car by Brown as has been claimed; and did Wilson fire because he feared for his life?  The fact that Brown was unarmed (had no firearm) is in no sense an irrefutable proof that he could not have been posing a real threat to the life of Officer Wilson.  Strong-arm crimes including murder are far from uncommon.

“Police have said 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon.

“At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times.”  —Inside the car

Certainly, if the shooting turns-out to be, in police parlance, a “bad shoot,” i.e., an unjustified shooting, there should be just punishment, and the terms of that punishment should be decided, according to law, by a judge and jury.

As a boy who grew up listening to radio and later watching cowboy shows (westerns) on TV;  I am fully aware of how tragically wrong a group of vigilantes can be about someone’s assumed guilt—they can be completely wrong whoever they are and whatever color they are.

Vigilantes were often portrayed, I think with reasonable accuracy, as a group of angry, liquored-up men who were determined to drag someone out of a jail and hang him because of what they “knew” he had done.  Thankfully, in most episodes, there was a courageous marshal who was willing to risk his life—for the rule of law—to stop the lynch-mob and thwart an alcohol-anger-induced rush to judgment.

One of my all-time favorite westerns is Hang ‘em High (1968) starring Clint Eastwood.  His character Jed Cooper was hanged by a group of vigilantes who mistakenly thought he had stolen a herd of cattle.  Though Jed Cooper was hanged, he survived, and it was clearly seen later that he was not guilty of stealing the cattle—he had bought them.

As the vigilantes were preparing to hang him, Jed Cooper tried to reason with them to go and check-out his story. They refused and hanged him.  They were busy men, angry men, men in a hurry, men who would not pause and question their hang-him-immediately decision. Their actions were clearly a rush to judgment, and those actions later cost them their lives when justice, in the form of recently-badged Marshal Jed Cooper, finally caught up with them.

On the MSM scene today, the problem is not liquored-up cowboys; the problem is ideologued-up editors and journalists whose rush to judgment can be appropriately labeled as a rush to narrative.

Do we need a religious-like revival of factual journalism in America?

© 2014, Jerry Richardson • (4008 views)

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39 Responses to The Rule of Law vs. Rush to Judgment

  1. Glenn Fairman says:

    excellent

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    As a Clint Eastwood fan, I’ve seen that movie, and will note here the important point that Eastwood’s character is rescued by a judge (or some other law officer), who then hires him to find crooks (including those who wrongly hanged him) — but for proper trial, not vigilante justice.

    As for why black activists and the synoptic media invariably rush to judgment in such racially charged cases, it’s really quite simple. The activists do so because they’re professional race-baiters, and the newsliars (who as liberals are inclined to react reflexively to interracial crime anyway) because they always believe the activists no matter how many embarrassments result.

  3. Anniel says:

    Jerry, Thank you again for an excellent article. I once saw Jesse Jackson up close and personal doing a “collection” tour in Chicago where he totally dissed the head of an organization, whom he had known for years, simply because she was white and of no further use to him. His personal behavior was revolting in so many ways, but what stunned me was the heavily armed goon bodyguards who go with him. He travels in a fleet of Lexuses with at least four guards to protect his precious hide at all times, with another four or five always going ahead to scope the territory. Everyone in the area is afraid of him as he comes in to get his money and media attention, and he will ever rush to judgment for his own ends. The MSM always aids and abets him and his ilk.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I saw ole Jesse about thirty years ago give a talk at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo. He tried the same schtick in Japan that he uses in America and it didn’t work with the Japanese.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The Japanese don’t have much room for racial political correctness (partly because there’s virtually no racial diversity). So Jesse the Jetstream’s whole basis of operation (as a professional race-baiting blackmailer and con man) is meaningless there.

  4. Libertymark says:

    On Obama’s malfeasance/nonfeasance and collusion with the MSM on this and the two other instances cited, what more would we expect from the community agitator of the US? Three times he had the opportunity to quell and instead three times he used the opportunity to incite.

    Obama is no accidental tourist here, he is in it to win it and each of his actions, like this one (signaling that he blames the police) are malice aforethought to undermine the civil society. Fundamental change, indeed.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks for that great article Jerry.

    We shouldn’t rush to judgment if we don’t have to. That’s what we have our plodding court system for. But C. Edmund Wright points out in Ferguson and the Changing Attitudes Towards Cops that the default judgment for conservatives is not to automatically stand with the police, which is the historic and reasonable position.

    First, let me state the obvious (which will not be obvious to libertarians, for one): There are more than two positions in this Ferguson case. The only choice isn’t between being a race-grievance monger or a reflexive law-and-order supporter.

    With the regular race grievance mongering of the Jesse Jackson types, it’s understandable to want to take the opposite position by default. But, unfortunately, the police agencies across this country are leaving behind the idea of “protect and serve” and are becoming militarized. And, far worse than that (for there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a SWAT team) is that the police are increasingly taking an “us vs. them” view of the public.

    I noted this phenomenon several years ago (usually being on the cutting edge of thought) and took a lot of flack for it on Facebook from the reflexive “law and order” conservatives at the time. But I was right then and right now. Everything Wright says in his article is true, and then some. Police are stepping over the line of “protect and serve” and are becoming hostile to the public which they dismiss.

    There could be many reasons for this change of attitude, including:

    + Politically correct pressure applied to them that doesn’t allow them to do their jobs.
    + A court system stacked against them and in favor of the criminals.
    + They’ve inhaled the Kultursmog like everyone else and the rank and file person in the United States, let alone a police officer, is not as moral as they used to be.

    I favor the latter reason. As Annie mentioned on her medical article, the “self-esteem” movement could be partly responsible for the decreased quality of medical competence. I couldn’t agree more, other than to say that “self-esteem” is just one of the ways the populace is being dumbed-down. Has anyone noticed that other factors (gender, race, etc.) are often taken into account when hiring other than competence?

    And what I believe that Kultursmog consists of that effects police work is an elitist attitude. It has been noted by Mr. Kung, Theodore Dalrymple, and others that the “caretaker” class of the Left (and it’s hard to come out of college these days without being a Progressive of some type…including of the “libertarian” type) – although they profess great “care” for the poor – in practice couldn’t give a rat’s ass about “the poor.” That is, the more you set yourself up as the elite in this Progressive paradigm that others need your expert caretaking, the more you dismiss that other as a mere underling to do to as you will. The attitude, I grant you, may be subtle but it plays out in things such as the IRS going after conservative groups. There was much more than politics involved in that. It shows a hostility to normal rank-and-file Americans (which is the very definition of the Tea Party).

    Police are, frankly, becoming bullies. And this insight in no way stems from me having smoked dope and hung out in Haight-Ashbury. I’m not anti-cop. We must teach our children respect for police officers. But this is becoming a dicey situation these days as the police officers are becoming distant to the sympathies needed to protect and serve the public. And they are becoming militarized. Kevin Williamson has an excellent article in this regard: Looks That Kill. It’s worth a read.

    And note that my arguments (at least to my mind) are calm and reasoned. There is absolutely no need for libertarian hyperventilation to make the quite conservative point that government, and government officials, can become too big for their own breeches. Libertarians add little to nothing to this conversation because for them all government restraints are said to delve into areas best left to the citizen. They cannot make even the subtlest distinction. And without making subtle distinctions, there can be no wisdom. (I, for one, am quite glad to have government restrain violent rioters, thieves, arsonists, murderers, extortionists, embezzlers, assassins, abortionists – if only – and organized crime.)

    That’s not to say that in this Ferguson case that the cops did anything wrong. I don’t know. But I am stating that my own default position is not longer to assume that the cop did right. That’s a shame, perhaps, but I think that’s also reality.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One minor point I’d add is that the race-baiters’ reaction is every bit as reflexive as the law-and-order reaction. That’s why there are at least 3 sides, the third being those who actually study the evidence.

      I used to be something of a law-and-order type myself. I suspect this began to change when I read about what really happened at Ruby Ridge, though Janet Reno’s Waco mini-holocaust (which, appropriately, occurred on the anniversary of the beginning of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising) was a significant shock to any such reflex reaction. Still, I’m probably more pro- than anti-police. To protect ordinary people from predators, we need hunters of predators. (Either that, or we need to allow people to hunt predators themselves — which anti-police liberals oppose. “To be kind to the tiger is to be cruel to the lamb.” But not the lambs that have their own guards, as the elites do.) But we also need to bring back the basic rules of conduct that the bobbies (or peelers) of Sir Robert Peel learned.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Still, I’m probably more pro- than anti-police. To protect ordinary people from predators, we need hunters of predators.

        I agree, Timothy. And sometimes that puts us in between and rock and a hard place when the cops are sometimes as bad as the bad guys.

        But not being a libertarian, I don’t think the solution is to have no cops (the natural end to the “no-coercion” belief). Being a conservative, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the solution is to have good cops and then to teach our children to respect them and to live their lives as good citizens.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          That “rock and a hard place” is exactly what many people face in the urban ghettos. A lot of them have apparently decided to side with the predators. No doubt sometimes it’s because of personal links, but the victim/grievance industry also encourages such attitudes.

          One way to get good cops is to train them using something like the Peel rules (adapted perhaps for the difference between the US and pre-Victorian London).

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      the “self-esteem” movement could be partly responsible for the decreased quality of medical competence

      For several decades there has been a negative correlation between the quality of public education and the teaching of self-esteem in schools.

      We have reared a couple of generations of people who are poorly educated, yet have an inflated opinion of their knowledge and abilities. This is a dangerous combination.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        And the two problems are linked; it’s no surprise that people who think they already know enough don’t tend to learn more. (In fact, this is the basic problem with Islam, ever since some medieval imam decided that they already knew everything that Allah would permit people to know.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        And one of the downsides of the “self-esteem” movement is that it tends to create little monsters. As Dennis Prager often notes, studies done in prison find that prisoners generally have a higher “self-esteem” than the general population.

        That makes sense if you consider what “self-esteem” actually is: it’s self-centeredness. And if all that matters (are you listening Objectivists and libertarians?) are your own feelings, then the importance of the feelings (and rights) of others are lessened or don’t matter at all. Therefore there is nothing inherently good about “self-esteem,” no matter what you call it.

        A little humility, a little recognition of man’s innate bent-ness, is in order.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          And one of the downsides of the “self-esteem” movement is that it tends to create little monsters.

          You have hit an important point here. I do not think it is a coincidence that one hears of so many Libertarians among the young today, whereas forty or fifty years ago they weren’t even a pimple on a gnat’s ass.

          To my mind, the Libertarian movement should have a subtitle which would read, “The Right to Become a Monster Movement”.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            To my mind, the Libertarian movement should have a subtitle which would read, “The Right to Become a Monster Movement”.

            Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Mr. Kung.

            Wait…on second thought, I indeed would. Any movement that sees no difference between Israel and Iran, who dispenses with the unborn as “a woman’s right to choose,” who is for the flooding of our country with illegal aliens, who is for the flooding of our country with illegal drugs, and who repeatedly cannot put two rational thoughts together without the use of bumper-sticker slogans, is indeed outside the bounds of normal civilized society.

            “Little monsters,” indeed. You have to wonder how many of these “libertarians” are little more than grown-up juveniles. Most adults with children do not want their neighborhoods flooded with drugs, pornography, and all the other social ills that make a community little better than a cesspool. “I will” seems to be the dominant influence, with no thought to, or respect for, the fuller implications of their willful ways.

            Just because the Progressive/Leftists and Establishment Republicans have veered toward a totalitarian nanny state in no way — in absolutely no way — legitimizes the extremist creed of libertarians. The conservative lens is more than enough to fashion a corrective. But libertarians are, by and large, at war with conservatives believing the same kind of rot about conservatism that the Kultursmog at large has infused into the Progressive mind. No doubt this is why you call libertarians “the Bolsheviks of the Right.”

            In my opinion, Libertarians are just another type of liberal. And from the standpoint of Progressivism vs. libertarianism, I will at least concede that your rank-and-file lower-tier Progressive has a moral framework for his beliefs which is something lacking in libertarianism. This Progressive framework of moral beliefs may be flawed and/or over-emphasizes some aspects (such as environmentalism), but they do envision a sort of social utopia. For them, the little evils (cigarettes, recycling, air pollution) are the moral framework and is missing a stance on the big evils (or rather they indulgence in them). But at least they have a framework.

            What do libertarians envision? At the end of the day it can be no less than anarchy, no matter what kind of spin they put on it. They say – and often – that government has no right to tell us what to do. Well, sometimes it does, and for good reason.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              But libertarians are, by and large, at war with conservatives believing the same kind of rot about conservatism that the Kultursmog at large has infused into Progressives. No doubt this is why you call libertarians “the Bolsheviks of the Right.”

              Libertarian theology is based on a “theory” which can be articulated nicely like many other “theories” which may appear to be logically tight, but have little to do with reality.

              One can have a theoretical war plan which looks beautiful on paper, but may be so removed from the facts once the actual fighting starts that is would be lunacy to follow in complete detail.

              All “theoretical” political movements which do not allow for human experience and human nature are doomed to fail and potentially damage millions in so failing.

              The reason conservatism is the most sensible political system is because it recognizes some basics on human nature and learns from human experience. It takes note of what works and moves slowly to change political systems or institutions, knowing that actions have consequences, some of which are not predicted.

              Constitutional Conservatism does not push for large government, whatever lies radical Libertarians may spread in this regard, but wants to find the best balance between liberty and security which can be found at a particular time and place. That is what our Constitution is about.

              That does not mean perfection in this matter will be found, but it does mean the possibilities of tyranny and anarchy will be minimized.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                That does not mean perfection in this matter will be found, but it does mean the possibilities of tyranny and anarchy will be minimized.

                Well said, Mr. Kung, particularly the part about no perfection. I do believe this drive for utopia (whether a socialist environmental one or an atomized free-for-all triumph-of-the-will one) is shared by libertarians and the Left. There is little to no appreciation by either for limits or human nature.

                And reading through that Goldberg thread on “Libertarians Lite” (or whatever it’s called), several people pointed out that Reagan said that libertarianism was the heart of conservatism.

                First of all, Reagan was not Moses. He was fallible (perhaps Moses was as well). It’s likely (as with many conservatives) he had an idealized version of libertarianism in mind, and not as it actually is.

                That said, I would agree that there is a vital core of “libertarianism” inside of conservatism. It is that part of us that values liberty over security. When it comes to motorcycle helmet laws, for instance, I’m for the right of the rider to not wear one…along with a law that would restrict damage claims should that rider get in an accident and sustain head injuries. (Would libertarians go for this stipulation? I doubt it. They simply want what they want and damn the consequences.)

                This impulse for freedom is very vital to conservatism. Without it conservatism will veer toward little more than what we see amongst the Establishment Republicans — a vapid, heartless, headless instinct simply to forward the status quo as long as it benefits them.

                But although vital, that impulse for freedom is just one ingredient. It is like the leavening agent in bread. But only a fool (or libertarian) would want to make a meal of yeast.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              On specific issues, libertarians are very often right. This is why I consider myself a conservative with a libertarian bent. But they reflexively reject any role for government (and any limitation on their appetites other than their own decision). And that’s why I remain a conservative, not a libertarian.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I, too, agree with certain issues which Libertarians find important, but I cannot cast my lot with a group of, by-in-large, shallow thinkers who appear to make fetishes out of simplistic slogans and have little capacity for more than formulaic thought.

                When the Titanic is sinking, one does not try to make points quibbling about the faulty design of the ship and the fact that the captain should have steered 2 points to starboard instead of to port.

                One gets down to dealing with the situation as it is in order to avert a catastrophe.

                Today’s Libertarians’ quibbling is doing nothing to help stop the ship from sinking. If anything, they are down in the bilges with the Left, hammering away at the bolts which hold the ship plate together.

    • Jerry Richardson says:

      Excellent insights Brad! Thank you.

      My personal view toward police activities is a view expressed by Ronald Reagan: “Trust but verify.” IMO we simply should not vest blind-faith in any governmental agency. I won’t.

      I am not a great student of American Revolutionary affairs, just a very interested student; but I do know that anything that resembled a “standing army” on USA homeland was verboten to our founding fathers. They clearly understood the danger because they had suffered from that very experience.

      Could we reach a point where our police forces amount to a “standing army”? I think we could. And I think that would not be good. Why? Because I believe in the wisdom of the founding-fathers’ fundamental concept of ultimate-defense of our nation:

      A concept that is supported in the 2nd Amendment–an armed militia composed of armed free citizens. I do not wish to vest the ultimate defense of our nations in the power of our police forces, however valuable I concede them to be. The greatest incentive for defense, I believe, is the desire to protect home and family.

      Yes, I know that in order to effectively preserve the peace our police-forces must be armed sufficiently to counterbalance the arms (weapons) of thugs, rioters, and other disturbers. Certainly, let’s arm our police forces properly.

      But the traditional term, “peace officer” must mean something more than just being someone who is better armed than a thug. Our police forces should be (must be?) well-trained in the meaning and the importance of the constitutional rights of US citizens; and our police forces must be thoroughly instructed that their first-priority, their primary duty, is the protection of the rights of innocent US citizens.

      I have not, and will forget, that during the Katrina hurricane in New Orleans, citizens were stripped of their 2nd Amendments rights to keep and bear arms; and this during a crisis situation where private citizens very-much needed self-defense. Thugs were everywhere.

      Citizens (in New Orleans) had had their constitutional rights taken away, all because a Democrat Mayor, Ray Nagin decide it would be so: “No one will be able to be armed. We will take all weapons. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.” It’s as if he had decided: We don’t need no “stinking” Constitution.

      I am an advocate for no “rush to judgment” where justice is concerned, but that absolutely includes not rushing to a conclusion that the police, or any other governmental agency is always right.

      “Trust but verify.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I suspect that few communities need well-armed police. The states should have them available for dealing with riots or other major forms of disorder. Even SWAT teams probably could be a lot rarer than they currently are. The increasing abundance of such paramilitary forces leads inevitably to their increased use, even in situations where they aren’t needed. This is exacerbated when some people seek to use SWAT teams as a murder weapon by making false calls. (Militant liberals like to do this to their conservative enemies.)

        Britain used to rely primarily on the equivalent of the militia (such as the “hue and cry” after major criminals) acting in support of the handful of law officers (such as the county sheriff or bailiff). They also had private police in London, which occasionally led to abuses such as the infamous Jonathan Wild, thief and thief-taker. (He kept lists of the thieves who worked for him, making a mark for any who crossed him. If they did so twice — hence the term double cross — he would turn them in.)

        Incidentally, one important role for the militia in the antebellum South was for dealing with slave rebellions and runaways.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Could we reach a point where our police forces amount to a “standing army”? I think we could.

        Oh, I totally agree, Jerry. And for all intents and purposes, those militarized units of the IRS, etc., are an illegal standing army. They should be disbanded immediately.

        Our police forces should be (must be?) well-trained in the meaning and the importance of the constitutional rights of US citizens; and our police forces must be thoroughly instructed that their first-priority, their primary duty, is the protection of the rights of innocent US citizens.

        Ditto. And take note than many colleges do not teach any American history. The Left is trying to wipe out the memory of America. And they are doing a good job of it. We can say to each other the idea of “unalienable rights” and there will be a clear understanding — we share the same lingo. But that notion may have no meaning to someone brought up in the state religion of Leftism. The idea that there are duties and responsibilities of human beings above and prior to the law makes no sense to a materialist/atheistic/secular culture. There are only the dictates from above. And I was going to say “there is only the law” but this is not true. The law is as fungible as a piece of rubber these days.

        Citizens (in New Orleans) had had their constitutional rights taken away, all because a Democrat Mayor, Ray Nagin decide it would be so: “No one will be able to be armed. We will take all weapons. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.” It’s as if he had decided: We don’t need no “stinking” Constitution.

        I remember having a below-the-article conversation with either Deroy Murdock or Kevin Williamson. I forget which. But it was an article stating that it was a terrible idea for conservatives to go around with this idea of “the liberal plantation” (which had been popularized by Allen West, among others).

        And yet New Orleans showed how the Democrats had turned the primarily black population there to little more than dependent children. That is the end goal of the Left. And, sorry Deroy, I’m under no obligation to not state the plain truth. And if it helps people’s racial sensibilities, the same thing is happening to white people. It happens to all people eventually who become indoctrinated into the nanny state which promises to protect them. The price paid for that is being an alive, vital, and free human being.

        And note (for those who may be lurking) that I didn’t read this out of one of screwball Ron Paul’s books. It’s a basic conservative principle.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Brad – my theory is that the police are becoming more hostile to the public as a consequence of the growth in government power. For as the laws become more unjust (e.g. forcing a baker to do a wedding cake for a gay twosome; making possession of 10 rounds in a magazine into a felony) those who enforce and administer those laws must either become corrupted or resign. When it becomes the job of law enforcement to take a man to jail for dumping dirt on his own land (this happened in America) or for making a joke about Nelson Mandela (this happened in Britain), the only people willing to take on the job of enforcing the law will be the progressively more brutish sort, culminating finally in a dictatorship served by a KGB or Gestapo.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I think you make a valid point. There is also the fact that policing has become more federalized due to the federal government sticking its nose into State and local matters in an ever increasing manner.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        There is also the important difference between sheriffs (who are elected by, and accountable to, voters — usually at the county level) and police chiefs (who are appointed by mayors, and in big cities those are almost always liberal Democrats). Perhaps in many places the police come to reflect the chiefs (and probably the deputy sheriffs reflect the sheriffs).

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Excellent points.

        • Jerry Richardson says:

          Timothy…thanks for pointing this out.

          This is an important distinction. Police are not only under the official command of the police chief who is under the mayor. They have a real, or implied, obligation to support the chain-of-command, in others words, keep quite.

          Sheriffs, on the other hand, are directly elected and hence answerable to the people.

          Many Sheriffs in the nation have pointed out that they have a duty, because of their oath of office, to uphold the constitution. As a consequence, many of them have refused to support gun-grabbing laws that they perceive (correctly I believe) to be unconstitutional. Cheers for them!

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Yes, sheriffs tend to be opposed to gun prohibition, whereas police chiefs tend to favor it because they’re appointed by liberals. Note that David Clarke, the Milwaukee county sheriff who defeated the massive Bloomberg campaign against him (which was also supported by the party leadership), was opposed by . . . a police lieutenant.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Brad – my theory is that the police are becoming more hostile to the public as a consequence of the growth in government power. For as the laws become more unjust (e.g. forcing a baker to do a wedding cake for a gay twosome; making possession of 10 rounds in a magazine into a felony) those who enforce and administer those laws must either become corrupted or resign.

        I certainly do believe, Nik, that as we ratchet over to a statist mentality, that the “new normal” does include forcing a baker to do a wedding cake for a homosexual twosome. And it’s not just the mayors who think this is normal. Your rank-and-file police officer will see this as normal as well. Didn’t someone here (Patricia?) mention a Facebook post by a police officer who bragged that he’d be glad to confiscate people’s guns? Well, at least the fellow was being honest. He shows what is out there behind the mask.

        And that’s been the point I’ve been screaming from the top of the proverbial blog for some time now: The culture has significantly changed. It’s no longer enough for conservatives or Republicans to suppose that if they just move this lever a little this way, they can achieve a conservative victory. It’s what I tried to get into the brain of Michael Reagan when I had the chance to talk to him.

        It’s also what I tried to get Andy McCarthy to understand regarding the NSA. Although their snooping of personal data is indeed problematic, the real problem is that the bureaucracy at large is infused with Progressives. And this mindset has an entirely different idea about right and wrong, law and order, and just integrity itself.

        I believe that this, ultimately, is the largest part of the problem. But as I was just mentioning to Mr. Kung on another thread, the average American has become a flabby thinker in terms of moral issues, if they think at all. Too many people don’t even have a basic grounding in right and wrong and simply then do as they are instructed.

        I’ll admit there could be a sort of natural selection working as you say. I don’t doubt this is a factor, for what I have often said about statism (and this is something I have read as well) is that when you concentrate power in the state, the most unscrupulous will tend to fill those positions. And if they are filling the positions of the mayors and police chiefs (who now have whole mechanized divisions to play with, for Christ’s sake) then this will have a great effect on the beat cop as well, whether through the weeding out process or just by example.

        Also, in a statist culture it becomes automatic to identify “the good” with whatever directions are coming from the state. It becomes a habit of thought. This is why I am not just a sideline advocate of the Christian religion but wholeheartedly advocate for its authentic observance. The “morality” (such as it is) that comes from the state is going to be inherently politicized (that is, corrupted and corruptive). I wish to God Jonah Goldberg would get over his stupid fling with libertarianism, because we need intelligent and moral men to make the case for a morality unattached to the state. The man who wrote “Liberal Fascism” understands this as few do. So I’ll keep busting his ass over at NRO once in a while and maybe he will come around.

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    First of all, Reagan was not Moses.

    And even Moses was not God. He was merely a messenger. More importantly, Reagan was still a politician and the words of politicians should ALWAYS be received with some skepticism. Particularly, when they are one-liners taken out of context by people who wish to push an agenda.

    As regards the so-called modern Libertarian movement, I believe a certain number of the loudest proponents of the theory are, in fact, Leftists who wish to move it as far left as possible and make ridiculous statements so as to insure those mushy-minded yutes who think they are clever believe that conservatives are the enemy.

  7. Jerry Richardson says:

    There is one additional point that I really need to stress that I didn’t work into the article:

    My advocacy for no “rush to judgment” does in no way, in no way, imply that I condone foot-dragging, delayed justice.

    I consider it inexcusable that our legal system can properly and correctly–while fully protecting the accused person’s rights–convict a vicious, brutal, premeditated murderer, and then irresponsibly allow him to avoid his just punishment for 2o odd years, at times, by allowing him to continue, on and on, making slick-lawyer, beat-the-system appeals.

    That does NOT, in any way, support the principle of no “rush to judgment.” It does not further the cause of justice. On the contrary, it facilitates a particularly cruel type of injustice. It imposes a second injustice upon the family of the victim. The first injustice was the brutality of the murder. The second injustice is having to wait and wait and wait and wonder if ever the murderer of the loved one will be required to pay the just penalty for their heinous crime.

    Avoiding “rush to judgment” is not so much a chronological thing; it is more of an act of making sure that sufficient evidence has been marshaled to make a proper judgment.

    Avoiding “rush to judgment” is NOT an excuse to delay proper justice.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Got it!

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Yes, they used to handle such cases in a matter of months — from crime to execution (in the cases of Charles Guiteau and Giuseppe Zangara, for example). But they still got the results as right as their more limited science enabled them. It would take longer today (due to the time needed for such forensic tests as DNA analysis), but a year or so would be quite sufficient if we had a truly functional system of administering justice.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The American legal system is renown, worldwide, for many things, including its high cost, length of time it takes to conclude a case and the impunity with which frivolous cases may be brought against anybody for most any reason.

        Over thirty years ago, a comparison was made between Japan with a population of about 120-125 million and the USA with a population of about about 230-240 million. As I recall, Japan had something like 60,000 lawyers and the USA had something like 800,000, i.e. the USA had about 7 x more proportionately. And I don’t think things have improved.

        As I recall, trial lawyers, as a group, are one of the top 3 contributors to the Democrats. And I guess they spread the wealth to the Republicans to some degree as well. It keeps their business booming.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s a great article by Kevin Williamson on the general subject of Ferguson: Who Lost the Cities?

  9. Timothy Lane says:

    Michael Baden performed a second autopsy on Michael Brown Sunday at the request of the Brown family. He found that Brown was hit 6 times, not at close range — and none of them in the back (contrary to what Brown’s friend and fellow robber said). Brown was hit 4 times in an arm and twice in the head (one at the very top, one in the forehead). At least some of the hits in the arm went through into the body, which means that Brown’s hands weren’t up at that time. There’s still no good explanation for why he was shot 6 times despite being unarmed (though if he were advancing on the policeman, that might be enough, assuming it took 6 shots to bring him down), but it appears that much of the anti-police hysteria was based on a lie (and much of it is done by out-of-town activists, in essence professional rioters).

  10. Timothy Lane says:

    Rasmussen has a new poll out that finds that a majority of blacks want Darren Wilson convicted of killing Brown, as do 17% of whites and 24% of others. Of course, every such person has already rushed to judgment, ignoring any further evidence. Most are probably reacting as if the racial identities of Wilson and Brown are the only facts that matter. Hopefully, some are merely too stupid to realize the implications of what they want. But this is a good example of what identity politics and media dishonesty and bias have done, just as they did in the Zimmerman/Martin case. What this does to the country is irrelevant to these ghouls.

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