Friday, May 22, 2009

Rampant Police Violence
How Many Kicks to the Head Does it Take?
By BEN ROSENFELD; May 18, 2009

Excerpts - Countless people in this country live amid an epidemic of police violence. ...rampant police abuse is creating a widening gulf of mistrust between police and the public they putatively may help explain why someone...would run from police...

On the police side, the failure to prosecute assaultive officers only exposes responsible officers to danger by an incensed public robbed of any reasonable hope for official accountability. John F. Kennedy famously warned: “Those who make peaceful protest impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

But who could expect responsible local government action when the federal government sets such an atrocious example?

...William Brandeis, a wiser Supreme Court Justice than most, observed: “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself.” (Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)).

Unless we are willing to apply consistent legal standards, we will only spin further to the edge of our moral compass, and will find ourselves putting down ever more justifiable rebellions by ever increasing excessive force.

Each extra-legal kick to the head which does not jar us to our senses becomes one more intolerable exception to democracy. We only get so many exceptions before we simply cease to be.