Thursday, December 12, 2013

Of Policemen and Court Stenographers

Take a quick look at these articles from my local newspaper. Do you notice anything interesting about them?
I do.
In the first article I count sixteen instances where either the police or the affidavit they filed are cited, and eighteen in the second article. I don’t see one instance in either article where the defendants or other eyewitnesses are given an opportunity to present their side of the story. Why is this?
Do the defendants have any right to be heard? I hear you say no, a human being was beaten. He’s in the hospital and unable to work. There is no doubt who beat him. So who cares what the defendants have to say? This reminds me of a famous trial from long ago:
The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked.  "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death. (Mark 14:63-64)
I’m not equating a bunch of inebriates with the sinless Son of God, but isn’t there a biblical principle being violated here when only one side of the story is presented?
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. (Prov 18:17)
Though nowhere stated in so many words in Scripture, one can hardly argue with the stated custom of the Romans:
It is not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has an opportunity to make his defense against the charges. (Acts 25:16)
So why is there no interest shown in the other side of the story in Lansdale’s newspaper of record?
OK, you say, but this is a newspaper article, not a court of law.
To which I reply, how many people will bother to find out how the defendants respond in the court trial? How much of their testimony will The Reporter include in its account? If the paper gives thirty-four times as much weight to the policemen’s testimony that it gives to the defendants’, will the defendants have been given a fair trial in the court of public opinion? If not, does it matter?
I heard about this assault a few minutes after a Christian brother told me that on Sunday morning as he was driving to a worship service he was detained by a policeman, who ran his paperwork through the system and then told him he needed to slow down.
Let’s take a look at this all-too-common situation. He was traveling on an almost empty road, one recently opened and so well paved, which could easily and safely accommodate a lone car at 70 mph. My miscreant brother was doing something in the 50s, inconveniencing absolutely no one, putting absolutely no one in danger, and so causing no one any harm.
Yet he was stopped and detained by a policeman. While he was allowed to continue having lost only his time, had he not been properly obsequious, he would have been given a ticket.
Put another way, a man whose salary is extracted from taxes and who, as a member of a labor union, can go on strike and prevent anyone from providing what true service he does provide for less payment (and does so at all times by virtue of taxing money from people who might otherwise use that money to buy the services of another), has the discretionary power (and the approval of society) to extort money from people who have not endangered or even inconvenienced, let alone injured, anyone.
You say the government owns the roads and so can dictate the terms under which people use them. To which I reply that that “ownership” is a function of taxation, eminent domain, and armed enforcement, which are what they are: violations of the property rights of the less powerful by the more powerful. If you say that the more of these things a society has the better off it is, then we have no basis for conversation: your side is winning, and I hope you enjoy your victory. But if God agrees with you, I would say heaven will be better than hell only because it lacks flames that do not consume: at least “our God is a consuming fire.”
Let’s take the notion of broad discretionary police power over those who have harmed no one to the incident at the bar, even the official version of which shows the dangerous level of injustice our society is willing to tolerate.
In act one, Richard Noboa’s car “nearly hit a Lansdale police car” as he backed out of the bar’s parking lot; had the police car belonged instead to a Mundane, the driver would probably have considered Noboa a jerk and left it at that. But being policemen, the occupants of the car—I find it strange, though consistent with propaganda practice, that they are never named, though the “perps” are—took it upon themselves to chase down the driver and detain him. That a man with glassy eyes and a down zipper would have been driving with less than his full skill set is true, but it is also statistically probable that he would have made it home without causing an accident.
In act two, the policemen conduct a sobriety test, which Noboa fails. Having established that Noboa was in no shape to drive, the police could have gone to the bar and urged members of his family to drive him home. One of the policemen could have offered to drive the car himself. Or they could have confiscated the car keys and either given them to someone who could pass the sobriety test or taken them to the police station five blocks away and promised to give them back to Noboa when he was sober. These are but three of the options a Mundane could have exercised.
Instead, in act three, they “attempted to place Richard Noboa inside the vehicle.” Did they do so calmly and gently? Or, knowing they could do so with impunity, did they “give the goddamn motherfucking spic what he has coming to him”? I don’t know. But is there no reason to ask if the beating were a reasonable, if not excusable, response to the treatment Richard Noboa was undergoing? Unfortunately, our intrepid reporter Michael Goldberg doesn’t tell us the “perps’” side of the story, so unless we hunt them down, we are left to conclude that it doesn’t matter what they were thinking—they beat up a police officer.
Again, tax-fed labor union members in uniform abduct a man who has to that point not harmed anyone, presumably to begin a process that will cost that man thousands of dollars and time in jail. There is good reason to at least ask whether they were treating the man decently at the time. The course of action they were taking, however prescribed by law it may be, was more violent than others that were available to them (and that would have been the only options available to Mundanes).
Add to this the editorial slant of The Reporter, which always favors big government: the police are part of the government, and what they say is not to be questioned. We need them today, so the saying goes, to protect us from the likes of Richard Noboa; we need to reinforce their legitimacy in cases like this because they will need popular support when they go after gun owners, hemp growers, Bible thumpers, or whoever the next bogeyman is.
And their version of reality is not to be questioned. This doesn’t concern you?
It may well be that the men who beat the policeman attacked without provocation. Certainly the Noboa family gives little evidence of being good neighbors. If so, they deserve to make restitution for his injuries, his medical care, and his time off work. But don’t bet that that will be their punishment: expect rather that the taxpayers will be forced to pay to incarcerate the assailants as well as to recondition the policeman. That is, the best we can expect from the current “justice” system is injustice. More important, though, is the likelihood that innocent people have been, are currently, and in the future will be railroaded into similar “convictions,” first in the court of public opinion and later in the “real courts.” (Can you say, “Jim Crow”?)
Note that we already have tax-paid agents—that is, agents whom we have no option to not pay—whose job it is to arrest people whose actions have harmed no one: not only those who drive illegally but those who grow certain plants (including otherwise legal plants), or produce or trade or consume certain substances (again including otherwise legal substances), or visit certain voluntarily produced Web sites. If “what’s yours is yours” does not operate in those cases, what logic or precedent stops those agents from arresting people who own, read, or teach from the Bible?
Once such people are arrested, the “journalists” of the mainstream media will dutifully parrot what the police tell them, rarely if ever allowing the accused to defend themselves. Then the court system will sentence them to unbiblical punishments. And when, dear brother in Christ, it comes to be your turn, your neighbors will read the paper’s one-sided account, nod in agreement, and turn to the sports page.
The famous anti-Christian skeptic H. L. Mencken wrote, “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
I have nothing good to say about a man who would drive drunk. But I find the system supposedly designed to protect us from such as him to be much more dangerous in the long term.

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