All right – this is a difficult issue to tackle. Still, it is an important one. So, if I go off on a tangent – please, comment and re-focus me!
The G8/G20 event cost over 1 Billion dollars in ‘security’ costs. Many people complained – yet, though I thought the figure high, I did not complain because I thought that if the people in positions to know thought the security costs were that hight, I was unwilling to double-guess them. In no way ought this event have been turned into a showcase for ‘unlawful people’ – if that was going to be the cost of upholding the rule of law, I was willing to pay the bill and not grumble (too much).
I am, if such a thing can be said to exist, a ‘pro-law libertarian’: it is my deeply held conviction that it is only through the rule of law that our rights can be respected and our liberties can be exercised.
I take a poor view of each and every individual who breaks the laws – even ‘bad laws’ (two ‘wrongs’ do not make a ‘right’), provided citizens have a recourse through their ability to lobby to change or otherwise get rid of ‘bad laws’. Even living in a totalitarian state, (though young) I thought that leaving everything behind and running away (not so bravely) was preferable to taking the law into my own hands: it would take a lot, including absence of any other course of action, to get me to break the laws or to condone others to do so.
Having explained my philosophical bend, I also ought to explain my attitude towards the police (and, yes, I am volunteering with the Ottawa police because I think cops ought to be ‘the good guys’).
Police officers occupy a very unique position in our society: they are the ‘Agents of the State’ whom we entrust with upholding the rule of law in our society. As such, they occupy a position of trust unlike those of most other people in society: trust which has to be continuously earned by their behaviour, because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate. (Yes – I still have the nightmares…)
Unfortunately, ‘the police’ have recently been entrusted with two completely different goals: one is to ‘uphold the law’, the other is to ‘maintain order’. These two tasks are not necessarily in ‘extreme’ opposition to each other – but neither are they completely congruous with each other, either!
Example (from the past – to keep the current tempers even):
A large number of militant anti-Israeli protesters sees an Israeli flag in the window of an apartment and threaten to break into the building to get rid of it (presumably looting, or at least ‘damaging’ the building in the process). The police, ‘in order to maintain public order’, illegally enter the apartment and remove the ‘offensive’ flag in order to appease the mob which is threatening lawless violence.
These individual police officers chose to break the law, in order to ‘maintain public order’, instead of waiting for law-defying individuals to break the laws, then arresting them in order to uphold the laws of the land!
That is only one such example where the police chose to ‘maintain public peace’ rather than to ‘enforce the laws of the land’: had they enforced the laws, they would have waited for individuals to damage the property, then and only then arrested these individual lawbreakers and brought them to justice.
We have also seen a parallel to this in Canada, when a lone pro-Israeli protester (not breaking any laws) faced a large number of anti-Israel protesters in Alberta: the police threatened the lone, law-abiding, not-violence-threatening individual with arrest in order to ‘not provoke’ the violence-threatening (and thus law-breaking) mob because the law-abiding man’s ‘presence’ was a ‘provocation’ and thus a threat to ‘public order’. (Sorry, I can’t find the link – if you can, please, do so in the comments: yet, this is so common, most of us are aware of many parallel incidents!)
George Jonas (a fellow escapee from a totalitarian police state) phrases his observation of the role the police in our society are increasingly choosing to play:
‘The only group exhibiting Canadian-style restraint was the police. They cast a calm eye on the pandemonium, took a balanced view and chose no sides between people trying to exercise their rights and bullies trying to prevent them.’
These occurrences are not isolated: over and over, in much of the ‘free world’, we have seen police preferring to aid law-breakers (who are ‘difficult-to-handle’) in oppressing the population… instead of upholding the laws of the land.
Just consider the going-ons and race-based policing in Caledonia!!!
So, how does this relate to the G8/G20 situation – and the ‘split’ on the ‘right’?
In how the people usually considered ‘little-c-conservatives’ perceive what happened and how we evaluate the role the police played…
Let me first get a few things off my mind: it was idiotic to hold the G20 meeting in the middle of downtown of Canada’s largest city. Ensuring the security of the participants was going to be a nightmare. It was a situation where just about every possible outcome was going to draw serious – and ‘warranted’ – criticism. In other words, it was likely to be a ‘no win’ situation…
The police who were entrusted with the task of providing security for this event were in an unenviable position: ‘ensuring security’ necessarily put them into conflict with their primary role – that of ‘upholding the laws’!
Because ‘ensuring security’ meant the police were responsible for preventing any law-breaking which would result in ‘breeches of security’ at the summit.
However, the actual and proper role of the police is to uphold the laws: this means that they are only permitted to intervene AFTER a law has been broken!
How can a person (or collection of persons) possibly prevent a crime – when they are, by law, permitted to intervene only after a crime has been committed?!?!?
(Continued in ‘Part 2’ and ‘Part 3’)