Cop Violence on black people.

in police •  6 months ago

A quick thought on protests against cop violence on black people (and the recent protests in the NFL, led by Kaepernick):

Some conservatives like to pass around a graphic that claims 97% of violence on black people is committed by other black people, that only 2% is committed by cops. Because cop violence is so small, the protesters are somehow hypocritical. Assuming this figure to be accurate, it misses the point. In fact, the figure is completely irrelevant to the discussion on the whole.

Ultimately, we are discussing law here. And as such, we need to discuss the legitimacy of the police force involved, regardless of how large or small their actions are.

Where does the authority of law come from? At least in the West, it comes from reciprocity: that the law will protect you and that promise is immutable in exchange for obedience to the law. For many blacks, such reciprocity does not exist. They are not treated with deference but rather suspicion. White people and cops, however, do tend to have a more deferential relationship. This is clearly not a reciprocity, and as such, the law loses some of its authority. This point alone justifies some of the protests.

Further, it should be noted that my above argument does not depend on the level of violence. There could be no violence whatsoever, or even more whites attacked by cops than blacks, and the argument does not change. The point is the reciprocity and the uniformity of interactions between the agents of the law (cops) and the subjects of the law (everyone, including cops). If there is no reciprocity, if there is no uniformity, then the law loses its authority, which leads to legal anarchy.

19th Century French liberal Frederic Bastiat once said:

"When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law."

The protests surrounding the cop violence matter are making exactly this point. The law has lost its authority, and as such we must choose between obeying an illegitimate law or obeying a moral code of justice for all.

Edit: in the interest of clarity, I want to be specific: I take no position on either side with this post. My opinions on the matter are my own. This post is just a humble contribution to clarify the issues around which the discussion is occurring

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We all have red blood in our veins, we are all going to die and the worms eat us. We must reflect because we are all human beings, whether we are white or black.