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Bad Cops and Liberal Conversations

The end of moral authority.

By Will Offensicht  |  September 13, 2011

Al Gore recently did conservatives a huge favor when he explained how liberals get what they want.  They pound and pound and pound away until they "win the conversation."

Once they've swung public opinion, it doesn't matter what laws conservatives pass: Americans are independent enough that if people don't agree with a law, they won't obey it.  At that point, the law might as well not be there.

We see this with speeding laws and laws against drugs.  Very few drivers agree with the posted speed limits, so most drivers speed most of the time.  The prohibitionists lost the conversation about drugs, so the fact that they're illegal doesn't affect many people's behavior very much except for the unlucky few who get nabbed.

When we discussed the unhappy fact that more and more police officers are being killed from ambush, we speculated that extra-legal behavior by police officers might be one of the causes.  This triggered a discussion.  One reader argued:

A more objective view of this trend would point out that the "pushing back" these thugs are doing is based on liberal lies. As with the London rioters, the American lower class has swallowed the liberal lie that the upper class has held them down. They're not "pushing back" for any of the same reasons you support - they wouldn't even understand your argument if it was presented to them. They're "pushing back" against the capitalist pigs that steal their money. That is the kind of "pushing back" you're supporting here, not a pushing back for freedoms and liberties.

The Entitlement Trap

The liberals won the conversation on entitlements several generations ago.  They've sold the idea that people are entitled to consume a great many costly resources such as food, clothing, shelter, and health care merely because they're alive.

Welfare recipients don't have to work or even think about working, they don't even have to be citizens apparently, all they have to do is exist and they're "entitled."  Although the Tea Party managed to elect enough fiscally conservative members to Congress to get the discussion about spending on the table, they haven't managed to get anyone to talk seriously about cutting entitlements.

Our reader is correct that people who feel entitled to something they haven't got seem to be more willing to turn to crime than people who believe they need to earn whatever they want.  That's the old conflict between those who believe There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAFFL) and those who'd rather run the country on Vote For Me - Free Lunch (VMFL).

Welfare recipients have been voting VMFL for decades and still feel deprived; liberals argue that this shows how selfish rich people are in not wanting to share however much of their earnings other people decide is appropriate.  Conservatives argue that there is no limit to demand once people get anything for free.

Another reader pointed out that policemen have lost respect due to defects in the education system:

Further erosion of the respect for policemen occurred in another setting, the classroom. Children are allowed to backtalk a teacher early on and it is no surprise that later on in the classroom they cuss the teacher. There is little the teacher can do as she will be sued for harming little johnny or Susie's self respect by correcting them. Fight eventually break out and guess who is called in, that's right, the police. They are viewed by the students as the enemy and disrespect evolves from there.

In teaching that there are no moral absolutes, teachers have undermined their student's respect for all authorities - parents, politicians, pedagogues and police included.

There are beginning to be rumblings from the parents of today's grade schoolers that they wish their own parents would act more like adults and take responsibility for their wants instead of shuffling the debts off onto them.  This movement hasn't gotten a conversation going and therefore can't win the conversation yet, but there might be hope.

Outlawing God

Moral relativism isn't entirely the fault of the educrats; our courts chimed in, too.  Most schools used to have the Ten Commandments posted on the wall in the hall and I remember schools where they were posted in every classroom.

Those who seek to ban religion from the public square have sued to have such materials removed from classrooms.  Find Law discusses the arguments from a case that was decided in 2005: Stone, the Court held that the "[p]osting of religious texts on the wall serve[d] no ... educational function," and found that if "the posted copies of the Ten Commandments [were] to have any effect at all, it [would] be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments." 449 U. S., at 42. In each case, the government's action was held unconstitutional only because openly available data supported a commonsense conclusion that a religious objective permeated the government's action.

The Court ruled that the Ten Commandments "served no educational function."  They were banned because a student might "read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments."

In ascribing a purely religions nature to the Ten Commandments, the Court overlooked the obvious fact that "thou shalt not kill" and "thou shalt not steal" are the basis of civilization.  The lowliest jungle tribe, the meanest street gang, know that we shouldn't kill each other and or take each other's stuff.

Aren't schools supposed to teach kids how to behave?  What could be more educationally essential than "thou shalt not steal"?

The Commandments also forbid adultery.  If politicians such as Spitzer and Weiner had added "don't mess with each other's women" to their personal rules of conduct, their careers might have worked out a bit better.

What, we ask, is wrong with students meditating on thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, and thou shalt not commit adultery?  Could it be that some of the cop-killers simply haven't been told often enough that killing is wrong?

Unconstitutional Government

Another reader pointed out that a great many plainly unjust things cops do fall under one of the many flagrantly unconstitutional laws our elected leaders pass:

Ultimately, the real culprits in these flagrantly illegal examples - civil forfeitures, most blatantly - are the SOBs who create such federal laws that empower themselves to seize your property without conviction, and judges who do not stand athwart these traitors yelling STOP. Any law that allows this behaviour is explicitly and undebatably unconstitutional.

If cops got in trouble for abusing citizens, they'd do it less.  As it is, it's more or less open season on citizens who're perceived as not being able to "lawyer up" and fight back.

The Tea Party speaks about restoring the constitution.  So far, the left hasn't even admitted that the Constitution is up for discussion.  We have to get into a conversation before we can win it, but at least the opening moves have been made.

The conversations about moral relativism, respect for authority, and constitutional checks and balances must be won if we're to pull back from the precipice we're skirting.  Our thanks to our readers who pointed out additional root causes for the ambush attacks on cops - which, let us be clear, we repudiate and abhor whatever the underlying reason.