I have been asked in relation to various things how I can profess to be a browncoat as it were, and yet still work in law enforcement. Whether by Firefly fans using those terms, or simply by those wondering how I can work within the system. A number of recent news and other events has brought this to my mind & this post was percolating as I cooked dinner tonight.
Stories like ColtCCO's battle with a Tennessee agency to have his sidearm returned to him... Or that of this Maryland gunowner facing a completely illegal and inappropriate police raid and questioning for the crime of buying ammo for a gun "they" don't know about... or the recent SWAT raid based on bad drug intel where they shot the mayor's dogs in front of his family...
Stuff like this has numerous people angered, including me - at the increasing police-state mentality of many locations, and of the militarization of many agencies... Of how law enforcement is being employed to target gun owners, political foes and those with unpopular agendas.
The sad truth is, many of these acts are not particularly uncommon these days. Partly it is a change in our cultural outlooks, too many movies and TV shows influencing our lawmakers, police officers, judges and citizens in terms of what we can expect and allow of our agencies. It is also a case of the gradually eroding belief in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, individual liberties and self-determination in sacrifice to the altar of "the good of society".
So - how can I work within this very system? Well, a number of reasons lead me to believe that this is not only a good choice for me, but continues to be a calling of honor and service to society.
While my wife (and others) would certainly call a lot of my outlooks politically and socially "conservative", the one key belief I hold and always have is that of individual freedoms and freedom of choice. Not so liberal as that of the "as it harm none, do as you will" creed of the Wiccans - but I definitely believe that as the framers of the Constitution intended people should be free to follow their own paths and to have minimal government intrustion into their private lives. The role of government (and by extension my belief in the role of law enforcement) is to serve as a mediator and keeper of the public good when those lives interact with others. Hopefully as minimally as possible, but as our population and society grows, and the world shrinks, these interactions are more common than they were 200 years ago. So - I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Libertarian - I'm something with elements of both and my own thoughts thrown in. Which I think is actually a lot more common that any label can say.
A second part of my beliefs is that of protecting and helping others - those who cannot do so for whatever reason. Even Mal had rules on his ship, and the Independants certainly weren't calling for a society of anarchy. The fact of the matter is, humanity is at its root a predatory species. And no matter how much we have learned to cooperate and coexist as civilization has grown, as long as there are men there will be those who prey upon others. Whether from greed, envy, lust, or simple cruelty there will be those who take what is not theirs to have - property or life. And whether battling them on the individual level, as I currently do; or on a national level, as the military is called upon to do, I feel this is a cause worth fighting in order to prevent that slide into anarchy. As others have said better - there are sheep and there are wolves & society needs sheepdogs to protect the one from another.
But what of the fact that many of our agencies (and I won't deny mine at times unfortunately) have become those tools oppressing or threatening others? Have we reached the point in this country that working as a cop has now made one a brownshirt instead of a browncoat?
I feel we are at a critical point in this country and by extension in the direction this world can take. Our government and society have changed in ways never intended by the original framers, and it is up to this generation and the next to steer these changes in the direction we want.
No, America is not perfect by any stretch - but it beats the alternatives. And a republic is not the perfect form of government, but again it's the best we have at the moment.
And our role as browncoats right now I think is to learn to use this system and get things back on course.
Sure, there are plenty of those who are of the mind that the only way things are going to improve is by refreshing the "tree of liberty" - that only an armed revolution is going to protect us from the next wave of a tyranical government, be it the UN black helicopters or something closer to home. Fortunately i don't think we are at that point yet & I hope that isn't what it takes.
And on the other side there are those who feel it's not worth the effort - either things aren't that bad yet (in which case I argue your grasp of "bad"); or that it's so far gone that we can't fix it. But those jackbooted governments we all keep talking about have always counted on one thing in their takeover - the general apathy of the populace, including those that they will use to enforce their will. Be they facist, communist, or whatever other label you choose far more people throughout history have lost their rights, liberties and lives through gradual erosion than rapid events.
Instead, let's not be apathetic. Be involved. For some this is as simple as researching and voting - not the party line but actually knowing your candidates at all levels. Because that city councilman today will be running for something bigger down the road, and their past will be an indicator of their future. For me, it involves working and teaching within my agency.
Because, getting back to the point of the post, I am a police officer. I like my job. I'm good at it. And to many on all sides of the spectrum, I symbolize by my existence the oppression of "the man/the system/call it what you will". So, I can either fulfil their preconceived notions and play that role, or I can rise above that.
I know I'm not perfect by any stretch - but I do my best to do what's right. I respect the rights of others, even when I have to arrest them. I train new officers at the most crucial stage of their career, when they are first learning how much power we have trusted them with to take other's freedom and even their life if need be - to show them not only by word but by example what ain incredible responsibility this is, and how you have to live up to it each and every day.
I do the same in the other aspects of my job. In the courts - where I fortunately have judges and attorneys on both sides. who know that I will display integrity and honesty, and treat my cases accordingly. And in my agency, where I believe that I and others like me can over time return this mentality to being that of the common, instead of the uncommon.
I don't say any of that to brag about myself, but to explain how I have chosen to implement my beliefs into those of my calling and hopefully have it spread beyond just me.
Because I think we can make these changes - not overnight but over time. Like every journey, it starts with one step - and I have started mine. As opposed to accepting the status quo, I am doing my part to see that my children and others can return to a country where the police are someone who helps, not frightens. Where the government trusts the citizens. And where these ideals can freely spread to others around the world.
There is plenty more I can say on this, and it already has three or four other rants bouncing around my head that I will spare everyone from for now. But I will leave you with this, paraphrased from Gladiator:
There is a dream that was the United States of America. Let us make it real again.
Just a few ramblings from a confused guy. Former military, former cop. Husband. Father. Student. Role playing gamer, on intermittent weeks. Avid reader. Internet addict. Small "l" libertarian. Too many others to mention. The views and opinions expressed herein are my own, and do not reflect those of any official agency or government or species. Names have been changed to protect the guilty; God protects the innocent as a matter of course.
“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”
"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds
Thursday, August 14, 2008
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I too am in a j-o-b that is somewhat anti-browncoatish; better to help than to harm, and I get to influence (i.e., slow down bad) legislation from time-to time.
A person can either deal with or avoid irresponsible folks one-on-one, or you do it for a living, I guess...
Thanks for doing what you do.
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