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‘I don’t care if they are shot themselves’

Today is the funeral for Officer Jared Francom, the Ogden, Utah, police officer killed last week in a shootout with Matthew David Stewart at Stewart’s home. Five other police officers were injured in the gun battle, as was Stewart. The reason police were at the scene? Stewart was suspected of growing marijuana for personal use. His father said he used marijuana to treat his severe depression.

As you might guess, my take on the incident is a contrarian departure from the fervent celebration of the sacrifices made by the thin blue line. To that end, let me quote Herbert Spencer who, when told that British troops were at risk during their latest uninvited venture through the Khyber Pass, replied, “When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.”

Yes, that’s harsh stuff, but I think that Spencer’s argument that human beings are moral actors who have to shoulder the consequences of their choice to support imperialist adventures can just as easily be applied to the actions of police officers who willingly don badge and gun to enforce immoral laws against consensual activities. British troops in Spencer’s time were volunteers, and so are police officers in modern America. Nobody forced them to take the job, and they have a responsibility to consider the moral consequences of their actions.

Spencer believed that wars of aggression would be less likely if men considered the justification for each war before donning uniforms, and it’s just as likely that intrusive laws would be harder to enforce if people thought through the laws for which they’d act as muscle before pinning badges to their chests. It would be equally helpful if bystanders would refrain from automatic accolades for soldiers and cops, just because they decided to serve the state.

Even when the folks in uniform are courageous, they deserve praise only when their efforts are in a good cause.

So, for now, I’ll reserve my strongest sympathies for Matthew David Stewart, whose life is now essentially over, whether he ends it in prison or strapped to a gurney. After all, he was defending himself and his property in that battle, even if his cause was as doomed as that of the Afghan army in 1878.

Posted in Police Conduct, Submission to the State

11 Comments

  • When it is demonstrably clear that the laws against using marijuana are creating more death, destruction, and ruined lives than the use of marijuana itself, the government has lost its legitimacy.

    No victim, no crime. No victim, no crime. No victim, no crime.

  • Well said, J.D.

    Nobody forced [cops]to take the job, and they have a responsibility to consider the moral consequences of their actions.

    Unlikely ever to happen, this. Most cops, their rhetoric of “protecting and serving” notwithstanding, became cops in the first place only because they are zoologically unqualified for or incapable of gainful private-sector employment. For this reason they will blindly obey any and all orders given them (except, of course, an order to disarm themselves and disband as a professional organization). Adhering to moral standards that would lead them to refuse to obey immoral or unlawful orders would only result in their unemployment, an unacceptable possibility for a people whose own lack of intelligence or moral fiber makes their options in life very limited.

  • J. D.,
    I agree completely and I hope you will submit what you have written as a letter to the editor of the Ogden Standard Examiner and the Salt Lake Papers as well.

    All the over blown attention this has gotten – the governor ordering the flags at half staff, the enormous procession to the cemetery, the LDS Church sending a “General Authority” to speak at the funeral – all this just condones and supports the aggressive stupidity of the war on drugs. Even if one supports marijuana use being illegal (and I don’t) sending twelve men on a military-style attack against one man, in the middle of the night because he might be growing marijuana for personal use is – the English language has no words to describe this level of stupidity and evil.

    If anyone should end up “strapped to a gurney” it should be the idiot power freak who authorized this mission.

  • Thanks, folks! The post has been submitted in OpEd form to several newspapers. I don’t have high hopes, though; questioning the sacrifices of Our Boys in Blue is a bit too far outside the box for your average newspaper editor.

  • It’s not that I “don’t care” if the home-invaders are shot- I sincerely hope they are. I wish that every single drug raid or other kind of government-sanctioned violation of property rights would result in some or all of the invaders’ deaths.
    What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?“- Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

  • Henry, whether or not marijuana is harmful is beside the point. If you want to drink draino or sulfuric acid, that is absolutely your right and no “law” can make it a crime.

    The argument that the “war on drugs” is somehow more harmful than the substances those “laws” supposedly protect us from is a bogus argument, and sidesteps the ultimate question:

    WHO OWNS YOUR LIFE?

  • J.D. Tuccille, for whatever it’s worth, this article will be linked in my next edition of The Price of Liberty. I’ll suggest it to a few other places I know of as well. We all need to say this, loud and clear.

  • Mama,

    Please do link the blog post. I’d like my sentiments to be shared.

    I’ve heard back from one newspaper that the OpEd version of this post is under consideration. I’ll let everybody know if it gets published.

  • J. D. – I use the link and a small blurb on my page. Those who wish to read the article must click and visit your blog. I wouldn’t dream of publishing the whole thing without permission. 🙂

    Take a look later this afternoon and make sure what I’ve done is ok with you.

  • Mama,
    I’ll certainly look, but that sounds perfect — I can’t imagine having any objections to your link. I’m so glad you found the post worth linking!

  • I couldn’t have said it any better. Beautiful!
    Yes, the funeral was a bit much. I thought it was for a Seal involved in the killing of Osama…

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