Offensive foul

So one particular dog-shooting incident has been getting a lot of attention, thanks to the diligent efforts of Radley Balko.  And instead of brushing it off like tens of thousands of other similar incidents, the Columbia MO police department has been forced to recognize that The Internet Remembers Everything.

This would seem to call for an entirely meme-based fisking.  For example, Chief Ken Burton would seems to be wondering: “How do I shot web in the face?  It looks like it might be a pit bull and it’s coming right for me!”  But every time I sit down to write up a gleeful concoction of old meme and police-brutality puns I get too depressed to finish.

See, these particular dog-shooters kicked down that particular door on a Drug War warrant, and the vast majority of righteous indignation on this here big truck has been directed against the War On Some Drugs.  But that ain’t the problem, Sparky; at best that’s proximate cause.  If we were to take the Drug War and all of its violent histrionics (or is that histrionic violence?) away tomorrow, we’d still be left with a thundering herd of police officers, prosecutors, and judges with hyperaggressive “us vs. them” attitudes backed up by offense-oriented small-unit tactics, techniques, and procedures.  (Or if you’re superstitious about tools: ZOMG THEY HAZ TEH EBIL BLAK RIFLES!)

Five’ll get you twenty that they’d find some other reason to kick down doors.  Paramilitary policing is still dead sexy on TV, and damned if it isn’t a great way for municipal politicians and assorted apparatchiki to pound their chests about how “tough on crime” they are.  They’ll go hunting the sinister scourge of illegal immigrants, or the shadowy spectre of unlicensed poker games, or the mordant menace of dog-fighting rings that don’t happen to be sanctioned by the National Football League.  Or maybe they’ll finally decide that anyone who owns a Gadsden flag must be a domestic terr’ist, even if the flag-owners don’t know it yet.

Somewhere in here I should point out that I’m not tarring all, or even most, police officers with this particular brush.  The vast majority of my encounters with The Law have been positive, and since counterexamples like this one are so spectacularly gruesome the “cops are thugs” hypothesis is a perfect candidate for confirmation bias.

The problem isn’t the War On Drugs*.  The problem isn’t patrol rifles, Class III vests, or Kevlar helmets.  The problem isn’t SWAT teams per se.  The problem is that we’ve decided that police ought to be engaging in offensive operations against private citizens as a matter of routine.


* Well, this problem isn’t the War On Drugs.


8 Responses to “Offensive foul”

  1. May 13, 2010 at 21:09

    I’ve watched that video. And when I was done sobbing like a baby – I WANTED TO FUCKING KILL EVERY ONE OF THEM.

    The completely overblown, arrogant, testosterone-fueled, insanity of the whole thing smacked me upside the face like a big bag of fresh, wet dog shit. And it smelled a lot worse.

    And when it was done – husband, wife and child sobbing and terrified on the floor surrounded by armored thugs. Dogs screaming as they suffered or died without comfort. House filled with the sound and smell of gunfire. Lives torn apart – maybe never to be completely healed again – the fucking bastards charged the PARENTS with child endangerment.

    I really hope that there is a special place in hell….

  2. 2 Calvin's mom
    May 14, 2010 at 04:41


    And, pray tell, what has this done to the kids’ impressions of police officers and authority figures? Do you think any of these kids is even for one minute every going to see a cop in a positive light again?

    We are supposed to teach our kids that the police are the “good guys,” and those you trust if you are in trouble or need help. It’s essentially a trust bond. Too many incidents like this are souring that trust, further exacerbating the “us vs. them” mentality on both sides.

    • 3 Not Sure
      May 14, 2010 at 18:37

      Police? Trust? Yeah, right.

      Only someone who’s been living in a cave for the past forty years would think it to be a good idea to call the police for help- of any kind. Anyone who’s paid the least attention knows that the odds are, no good will come of it.

      • 4 WeedNemesis
        May 14, 2010 at 21:01

        Eh, depends on where you are. I live in Columbia and the only city cop I trust is my cousin. Out in the county where I grew up I wouldn’t think twice about calling the law for help. I’ve known a lot of the deputies for most of my life. So it all depends on your situation.

        • 5 Not Sure
          May 14, 2010 at 21:54

          Fair enough. I have a friend who’s a cop, and I’d trust him with my life. But trust some guy I don’t know, just because he has a badge? Not so much.

  3. 6 aczarnowski
    May 14, 2010 at 07:25

    While the pain and suffering caused to the family is obvious and heart breaking, the summary execution of the dog(s) is also telling. A domestic dog is the epitome of trust and dependence on humans. Kick in the door and cap the four legged dependents seems to be standard operating procedure for SWAT teams these days. A pretty obvious example of tribal inhumanity that.

  4. May 14, 2010 at 09:28

    The problem isn’t ….


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