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We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore

Many Americans today fondly remember The Andy Griffith Show, the popular television series that spanned eight seasons from 1960 to 1968. The television show captures the sentiments of a generation and the nostalgia of another, and it represents what law enforcement could be. 

The show is still especially popular today among conservatives in America, who fondly recall sweeter times and the traditions of a bygone era. The show stars Andy Griffith, the widowed sheriff of the quaint little town of Mayberry, North Carolina. Griffith is the charming and charismatic sheriff who nearly always does right by his community. He’s an exemplary citizen and role model who respects his neighbors and leads by example, and he makes people laugh all the while. 

Unfortunately, the truth about modern law enforcement in America is far more sinister, yet the politicians are more than happy to exploit the sensibilities of their enemies who remember the good old days back in Mayberry.

Have you ever considered how convenient it is for the Left, and for government in general, that "conservatives" and Republicans broadly consider law enforcement their allies? The benefits are manifold: the state can blame their opponents for their own failed policies and abuses of power; they can use their opponents’ own allies to force them into compliance, and even to quell or preempt rebellion; they can vilify their opponents for the wrongdoings of their officers; they can further their own political agenda through officers disguised as their opponents’ allies, whose disguises even afford the tyrants a friendlier and more familiar disposition. For these reasons and innumerable others, there is nothing more un-American than the people who worship the police (and standing armies for that matter).  

Regrettably, even my own father has confessed to me that, as a career law enforcement officer, he was perfectly willing to disobey the Constitution in order to obey a direct order. He's even gone further to claim that, in such cases, it is the responsibility of the judge to figure it out and to effect justice. 

Of course, the flaws in this train of thought are many: in such cases, the officers stand to absolve themselves from any responsibility for their actions; they place all of their faith in a politically-motivated judicial system; and they stand to suspend the individual's liberty, even on the suspicion that the order is illegitimate or unlawful. 

It is always and everywhere the obligation of every officer, and of every agent of government, to uphold and enforce the law of the land, and to accord with the public interest. This means rejecting unlawful orders, even at the risk of losing one's job. After all, those officers are ultimately accountable to the public, the law, and the Almighty who will cast the final judgment on their character, their integrity, and the life they led. 

Police officers like to claim that they’re public servants, that they go after "bad guys" to "serve and protect" the community; but from their point of view, they can't help but see "bad guys" everywhere they go. As they see it, their primary tool is the hammer, and the public looks like a bunch of nails. 

In modern America, law enforcement officers are trained to view the public as their enemy; they’ve come to believe that they are accountable not to the Constitution to which they explicitly affirm their allegiance, but to their supervisors, their captains, commissioners and mayors. Truthfully, as far as the officers see it, they’re accountable to whatever keeps them on the public payroll, and whatever keeps them on track for their pensions. As far as they're concerned, they're not in the business of enforcing the law or serving the public; according to them, the public is responsible for respecting them and their commands, for paying their bills and funding their retirement. 

Insofar as they're "enforcing the law", most officers know just enough about the law to be dangerous. In most cases, however, the officer operates at the behest of his supervisors, or otherwise from his own misguided conscience or misconceptions. It's for this reason that so many police officers have grown comfortable with certain phrases to bail themselves out of disputes with the public. 

They'll threaten to throw people in jail for disagreeing. They'll tell people to "take it up with the judge." They'll claim that they're "not going to argue with you", and yet they insist that they are right; and if you dare to reference the law, some officers will exclaim, “I am the law!” All the while, they claim that they’re “just doing their jobs.”

Public service has long been in steep decline: once a humble occupation, it has since formed the basis of further subjugation. Whereas public servants were previously regarded with suspicion or disdain, whereas they were formerly held accountable to the public, they have since developed a sense of superiority over the people. 

Public service ought rightly to be just as the name suggests. Thomas Jefferson famously proclaimed about public service, "When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property." As such, he is accountable not to his supervisors nor to the political whim, but to the public and to the Constitution to which he's pledged his allegiance. 

Regrettably, however, instead of serving the public, police officers generally treat them with contempt; and officers often act with impunity to boot. 

On the one hand, they claim to be proud Americans, but they’re perfectly willing to betray their fellow Americans, and to enforce orders diametrically opposed to American principles and the state’s very Constitution. In truth, they’re not as ambitious about being good Americans as they are set on looking the part, keeping their jobs and cashing their checks. 

Since World War II, the police state has developed into a virtual paramilitary force, and my own father has even described his career in just these terms. He sincerely believed that law enforcement qualified as a paramilitary force. 

The true American understands that these forces are anathema to the jewel of the public liberty; that our republic and our freedoms can endure only so long as the public remains skeptical and vigilant toward its government; that a decent society is born of respect and family values, from reverence for life, liberty and property, not from heavy-handed government seeking continually to bring the people into conformity. 

By all accounts, it appears that Kurt Vonnegut may have been onto something when he stated in a 1987 interview that, "my own feeling is that civilization ended in World War I, and we're still trying to recover from that.”


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