Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Our Rights Do Not Disappear Because a Cop Has a Bad Day

 An excerpt from the closing paragraphs of When All Else Fails:

Government agents have a job to do. In their first instance, their job is to project our rights and implement justice, not to trample our rights and thwart justice. When government agents choose to do the latter, they exceed any putative authority they might have. When government becomes the enemy, we may protect ourselves. Our rights do not disappear because senators voted to ignore them or because a cop is having a bad day.

            Some government agents sometimes take on dangerous jobs for our benefit. Cops assume a great deal of risk, though not as much risk as lumberjacks, farmers, fishers, roofers, truck drivers, or construction laborers.[iv] Congresspeople, generals, and presidents take on tremendous, stressful jobs with great responsibility. Their decisions are momentous, and they deserve high degrees of moral risk. Judges often have difficult decisions to make. 

 But, at the same time, we each possess an inviolability, founded on justice, which forbids anyone from violating our rights. Government agents take on risk, but they also take on greater than normal moral responsibility to protect rather than violate our rights. How dare government agents do any less? And if they do dare to violate our rights, then they, not we the innocent, should suffer the consequences.