The long arm of the law…

19 09 2012

So yesterday, serendipity took me to this blog entry on Sound & Noise: Young Persons Called to Private Grand Jury for Owning Books

At the time, I was attracted to read it by the very idea that people could still be sought out by the police in a so-called democracy, simply because of what they read. I say “sought out” – I really mean “presumed guilty and hounded with guns and pointy things”. (My British birth makes it hard not to use down-playing euphemisms.)

After a suitable period of tut-tutting and head-shaking, I moved on – once more reinforced in my decision at having chosen to live NORTH of the 49th parallel. And then I read the following article on Aunty Beeb: BBC News – Why British police don’t have guns.

It’s an oft-repeated debate, regarding the unarmed UK police forces. But one line in particular seemed to be the crux of it. And underlined my frequent unease when I’m in the States:

Arming the force would, say opponents, undermine the principle of policing by consent – the notion that the force owes its primary duty to the public, rather than to the state, as in other countries.

I don’t for one second doubt that the vast majority of policemen the world over are motivated by nothing more sinister than the desire to help their communities prosper by reducing the threat of wrong-doers. But at the end of the day, “wrong-doer” is defined by others, and when those others are not held separate and accountable from the political engine of State (let alone Church!) they can easily end up as unwitting puppets.

Don’t take the local bobby for granted – no matter which country you’re in, they have a shitty job and they’re doing it the best way they can, for you!




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