The people's voice of reason

The New Gestapo

Right now, in the United States Senate, the Sword of Damocles is hanging right over our heads. Keep an eye on it. Don’t let it drop and chop our heads off.

It is Senate Bill 1134, labeled as the “Back the Blue Act of 2017.” It was introduced by Texas Senator John Cornyn and co-sponsored by our newly appointed Senator Luther Strange.

This is a frightening piece of legislation that gives police and all other “first responders” near absolute immunity against legal action for almost any wrongdoings they commit while on duty—just like the dreaded Gestapo of Nazi Germany. It will serve to entice rogue police officers to be even more abusive than they are now.

Imagine being pulled over for a real or imagined minor traffic violation, or just because the patrolman assumes you look “suspicious,” getting yanked out of your car, tasered, beaten, and cuffed. Now imagine having no legal recourse to charge him with abuse if you have done nothing to warrant such treatment.

In addition, this same bill makes “assaulting” a lawman a federal crime punishable by a mandatory two to five year sentence. “Assaulting” is very loosely defined, including any form of “resisting” by the accused, which could be any form of self defense against excessive and abusive actions by an officer. If in possession of a “weapon” (any kind) and even if never used, the accused could face 20 years.

The bill no doubt arose from the plethora of recent shootings of police officers and occasional panicked suspects violently resisting arrest. Yes, officers have sometimes been abused, but if one checks out the statistics, the abuses committed by officers outnumber the ones committed against them. The great majority have been against people who were either completely innocent or guilty of very trivial offenses.

With the laws we have now, the police already have the upper hand. Penalties for resisting and disobeying are already severe. But when the police commit crimes against people, they usually get off with much lighter penalties and sometimes none at all. We already have some of our laws structured to imply that the lives of certain people (like policemen) have higher values than the lives of other people. If this bill passes, this disparity will escalate to the extreme, just like with the Gestapo. Citizens will be severely punished for the tiniest infractions, and law enforcers will have carte blanche to violate them any way they please with little or no fear of reprisal. Since this bill treats certain people differently from others and gives them special privileges, it is patently unconstitutional.

I certainly understand that law enforcement officers have tough jobs. Much of the time, the work can be very boring and unrewarding. I also understand, with perhaps one or two exceptions, that the incidents of officers shooting suspects were justified; they were usually faced with armed assailants about to shoot them or were in the process of shooting innocent people.

But in the more routine incidents, abuses by law enforcement have become much more frequent. Now more than ever, our police are becoming less like peace officers and more and more focused on duties that generate revenue—pursuing ordinary citizens for traffic violations and minor and often victimless offenses at the expense of protecting us against serious crimes like robberies, burglaries, and vandalism. With unconstitutional laws already on the books like civil asset forfeiture, many of the cops themselves are becoming robbers. This bill will only exacerbate that trend.

America was founded upon the doctrine of equal justice under law. No person deserves privileges that others do not have. If a person violates another person, the law should apply equally to everybody. The penalty given to a citizen who violates a policeman should be no different from the penalty given to a policeman for violating a citizen. If anything, the police and others in authority should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one. If a policeman finds himself with nothing legitimate to do, his job is to stand by and do exactly that—nothing.

This dangerous bill must be stopped before we become subjugated like galley slaves.

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