Kevin Bailey, 22, got into a fatal shootout with Solon, Ohio cops the other day. It all began over a minor traffic violation – failure to signal before changing lanes. Once he had Bailey pulled over, the cop claimed he “smelled marijuana” – and it went bad from there. Bailey took off, ran off the road and – as the cops closed in on him, fired his gun at the cops. The cops were better shots and Bailey was killed at the scene.
Naturlich, the cops are portrayed as “heroic” – and have been exonerated of any wrongdoing.
Arguably, it was actually heroic – if foolishly so – for Bailey to have attempted to get away from the costumed enforcers who ultimately killed him. This will shock some readers, no doubt. Having been conditioned from youth to reflexively kowtow to authority (however constituted) they instinctively side with authority whenever there is a confrontation. But, consider: What was Bailey’s initial crime? Had he done anything to justify being waylaid by costumed enforcers? Oh, yes – a “law” was (allegedly) ignored. But who did Bailey harm by not using his turn signal before changing lanes? Obviously, the answer is – no one. Yet this was – is – sufficient pretext for costumed enforcers to begin a “harass and collect” traffic stop. (Which, by the way, now entitles the costumed enforcers to forcibly take a DNA sample as well as perform a strip search. Before you have been convicted of anything. The Supreme Court has ruled both measures to be “constitutional.” See here and here.)
If we lived in a free country – one in which people were free to go about their business without being stopped and fleeced at gunpoint by costumed agents of the state – Bailey would never have been stopped in the first place.
And if he’d never been stopped, the next escalation of the situation would not have happened:
“Is there anything illegal in the car?” Officer Steven Davis asks. “There ain’t no weed?”
“I’m getting a whiff of it out here.”
Bailey apparently had “weed” – or had recently smoked it. Or perhaps had a prior conviction for the victim-free “crime” of having/smoking/selling “weed.” Like many people (especially black people) Bailey probably knew that “I’m getting a whiff of it out here” is cop-speak for “you are about to be arrested.”
At this point, Bailey no doubt began to feel The Fear. He knew what was on deck. That this would not be just a piece of payin’ paper for him. Imagine yourself in his shoes. Two armed and costumed flunkies of state authority are about to forcibly pull you out of your car, throw you face-down onto the hood of their state-provided vehicle, then roughly cuff and roughly stuff you into its back seat area for a trip to the clink. Perhaps you have a “record” – previous convictions for non-crimes involving the possession/use/sale of arbitrarily illegal “drugs.” You have already been in a state cage – and did not like it. You are desperate to avoid being put back into one. . . .
A second cop shows up and Bailey is “asked” – that is, ordered – to exit his vehicle. It is midnight at the oasis. Time’s up. Fight – or flight.
Or: Submit & Obey.
Bailey rolled up his window and took off. Just before doing so, he texted his mother: “I love you, I’m gone . . . I’m not going back to jail.” Within minutes, Bailey would in fact be gone.
I don’t countenance Bailey’s firing on the cops. But arguably, he was acting in self-defense. He was being pursued by armed and hostile men, determined to kidnap him and put him in a cage. He hadn’t done anything – in terms of causing harm to another human being. Most people would agree that had the men who shot Bailey not been costumed men, Bailey would have had every right to do as he did. To attempt to get away from them.
So why, pray, does it become wrong to attempt to get away – to resist – when the armed accosters are costumed?
And, the reverse.
So, it is ok – “legal” – to drink beer, to have beer in your possession, even to make beer. But it is not ok – that is, it’s “illegal” – to consume/possess/grow pot. The former is socially and legally sanctioned, the latter not.
It is purely arbitrary.
Rights, however, are not arbitrary. They apply universally. Bailey had the same right as a costumed enforcer to be left in peace, free from threats of physical violence directed at his person. They had no more right to waylay him at gunpoint than he had a right to do the same to them (or anyone else). Special outfits do not confer special rights. Nor do those not wearing special outfits have inferior rights (or no rights at all).
This is a simple ethical concept but very difficult for most people to accept – having been conditioned to never think in terms of rights but only in terms of “legal” and “illegal.”
The difference in perspective is everything.
We no longer have the right to be left in peace the moment someone with a costume and a badge believes we have done something “illegal” – because we no longer have rights.
It does not matter – that is, it is no “legal” defense – to point out that the “illegal” act has not caused any harm to anyone. Anything – literally, anything – the state decrees to be “illegal” is, by definition, sufficient “legal” pretext to vitiate our rights.
This will not change until people – enough people to make a difference – have an ethical epiphany and instinctively as well as intellectually recoil from the use of force against people who haven’t done anything to anyone.
Until the only law that matters is: Live – and let live.
Throw it in the Woods?