Thursday, December 11, 2014

Creeping Tyranny, Eric Garner And The Criminalization Of Everyday Life

So many people are missing the real theme that lurks behind the Eric Garner Story, and unfortunately, it is this "real story" that really matters and reveals where we are in the march into the Tribulation. The two stories below make the case:

We all know politicians love their tax revenue. But is it worth risking killing someone over a few bucks?
That's what happened to Eric Garner in Staten Island in July. He was confronted by the NYPD for selling loose cigarettes for 75 cents on the black market — a crime for which he had been repeatedly arrested in the past.
Garner, who was passively uncooperative but did not resist officers with force, ended up dead. It was all caught on tape. An officer grabbed his neck to take him down and squeezed for several seconds. The city medical examiner described this as a “chokehold.” Perhaps it would not have been enough to kill a person in good health, but Garner suffered from several medical conditions, including asthma. He complained repeatedly, each time more quietly, that he could not breathe, and then he finally stopped breathing. The city medical examiner ruled that neck and chest compression from the arrest was the cause of Garner's death.

The crime of selling “loosies” was not considered a serious one in the past. Many corner stores in New York City once sold them quietly upon request. But former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's cartoonish anti-tobacco crusade changed that and everything else. Smoking in public places was banned. Punitive taxes and a legal minimum price of $10.50 were imposed in an effort to push prices ever-upward, so that a brand-name pack of 20 cigarettes now costs as much as $14 in New York City.
As a result, the illicit sale of loose and untaxed cigarettes became more commonplace. Lawmakers had turned every non-wealthy smoker into a criminal, and police made it a priority to curb this criminal creation of political meddling.

The hyper-criminalization added to the pressure on every good cop to become a bad one. Police are expected to use some force when arresting even passively uncooperative suspects. And in New York, they are instructed in the “broken-windows” strategy of policing, by which even minor offenses are vigorously enforced.

But cops who turn no blind eye do not mix well with meddling politicians whose nanny-state legislative initiatives intrude ever further into victimless private behavior.
Enough people die in police confrontations already — justifiable and otherwise. But New York's crusading politicians have discovered a way to maximize the number of needless tests of their cops' restraint and common sense. Their excessive preoccupation with snuffing out citizens' private decisions made it inevitable that an Eric Garner would eventually die, and surely he will not be the last.

The thing that strikes me as most important about the Garner case is how stupid the reason was for arresting this guy: he was being busted for selling single, “loose” cigarettes in order to evade heavy taxes on tobacco products. Basically, he was arrested for doing something that, in a previous era, thousands of people would have been doing in New York on any given day: selling goods on the streets of the city without any particular permission. It’s a low-grade form of entrepreneurialism.

But not in the nanny-state New York of today. In a city where everything is taxed and regulated and you can’t put trans-fats in your food or buy a soda that’s too large, it makes perfect sense that they would harass a guy for selling cigarettes on the streets without permission. After all, they’re bad for people. Somebody might die.
This case is a reminder that, as Twitter user Bill Hobbs put it, government is force, and more government equals more force. Government is not a benevolent authority working bloodlessly behind the scenes to ensure seamless social harmony. Government is a guy giving you orders about what you can’t do—with a gun on his hip, handcuffs at the ready, and a muscular arm to wrap around your neck if you resist.

We should remember that whenever the police use force, there is the danger that they will kill someone, whether through malice, poor judgment, poor training, or sheer accident. From time to time, they’re going to shoot the wrong person or wrestle a guy to the ground without knowing that he has serious health problems and can’t survive this kind of rough handling. That is one good reason (among many) to make sure that police are only authorized to interfere with someone whose actions are a threat to the lives and property of others, and not just to enforce some dumb, petty regulation.

The contradiction of the left is that they want to inject government into every little aspect of our lives and mandate that the police confront us all the time over everything—and then they scream when some of those confrontations go wrong. In this way, they are not only hoping for a new series of contentious, racially charged killings. By extending the reach of government and the omnipresence of police power in our lives, they are creating the conditions that make those cases inevitable.

The picture below probably covers the idea best:


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