The BLM movement, which has emerged as the “voice” of the George Floyd protests, has chosen to embrace the mantra “Defund The Police” as its remedy to the problems and factors that have resulted in unjustified killings of civilians by law enforcement. As I recently discussed, it’s a sloppy slogan, with different people offering different interpretations.

In a world where people of different viewpoints were willing to have a reasoned discussion, this sloppiness would not be such a big deal, but in our world, those willing to converse across the aisle are shouted down by the absolutists, on both sides. There are indeed some who want to abolish police departments entirely, and while they may not be many in number, they’re loud enough to be heard by those who consider themselves on the side of “law and order.” The loudest of the latter use the existence of the former to assert that there’s no reasoning with a movement that has made such an extreme demand its centerpiece, and they manage to deter the less strident among their ranks from considering what the less strident on the other side are saying.

In other words, the usual “screaming past each other” that makes news editors happy but doesn’t get us anywhere.

Meanwhile, some people are trying to actually enact some reforms. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has introduced a bill to prohibit no-knock warrants, and Congressman Justin Amash has introduced a bill to end Qualified Immunity. Both bills very specifically address practices and standards that have shielded bad cops and reckless/dangerous law enforcement behaviors and activities without (as of yet, at least) being larded up with junk laws and special-interest suck-ups. Spoiler alert: They’re both libertarians.

The Defund The Police movement, on the other hand, apparently mostly wants the money:

What we do need is increased funding for housing, we need increased funding for education, we need increased funding for quality of life of communities who are over-policed and over-surveilled.

This, despite the fact that per-student public education spending has nearly tripled in constant dollars, and America now spends more per student than any other major developed country. Throwing more money at education without structural reforms isn’t going to make things better. Ditto for housing, which is a problem born of other “helpful” measures like rent control and excessive zoning restrictions. As for over-surveillance – that should be addressed by reducing the number of laws on the books and ending the policing-for-profit atrocity that’s at the heart of the excessive confrontational interactions between blacks and cops (itself a product of politicians’ endless lust for money).

Taking money away from police departments without instituting structural reforms (that I’ve detailed repeatedly on this blog in recent weeks) isn’t going to make things better either. Just as moving money around hasn’t improved education, problems between the black community and police aren’t going to be addressed merely by a money-shift.

Meanwhile, Trump signed an executive order to advance some other reforms. While there’s only so much that can be done via this path (federal level, non-legislative), it seeks to improve use-of-force training, improve management of the homeless and street addicts, establish a national tracking database of bad cops, and limit the conditions under which a choke hold can be used. While these are decent measures, the problem lies in what’s not being addressed.

Not mentioned in Trump’s EO is the qualified immunity matter. In fact, that’s been deemed a non-starter by the White House, and that’s a shame. Ditto for police unions, which are the other big obstacle to bringing bad cops to heel. So, we’re getting some marginal reforms (training and education efforts, absent changes to the things that absolve bad behavior, are more about CYA showmanship than about real fixes) that may make marginal differences at best.

The Democrats have their own bill. It includes Trump’s measures, ends qualified immunity, and scales back the militarization of police departments. All good.

But, it also spends more money.

Sigh.

BLM leadership, Democratic leadership, and pundits from all over that side of the political aisle are folding in all sorts of socialistic and ‘green’ demands, seizing the opportunity to fulfill their wish list. Rahm Emanuel is smiling somewhere.

Double sigh.

Meanwhile, good cops have gotten the message: You’re going to get abused, just suck it up. Bad cops aren’t going to get singled out, because now all cops are the problem (even if they’re black). Criminals and sociopaths have been granted carte blanche to maraud, if they are of the correct identity group.

Triple sigh.

On both sides of the issue (not that I’m granting legitimacy to the blue-wall and status-quo side), we see the usual groupthink – as in thinking in terms of groups, not individuals. Excepting the database to identify bad cops, the measures are focused on all cops. Yet police officers are individuals, just like the rest of us, and we’d get better results if we think of them as individuals and address the problem by focusing on individuals and not an “en masse” monolith. Change the things that shield and enable bad cops, and harm good cops via guilt-by-association.

Tribalism is hard-wired into our DNA, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get past the “all cops are bad” and “all blacks are victims” reductivism. We are tribal because expulsion from the tribe, millennia ago, would greatly reduce the chance of survival and procreation. That’s no longer the case, but the wiring remains. So, let’s harness that. Expel the bad actors from your tribe, whether they be cops or criminals. Don’t defend them because they are “of yours,” but instead consider them as individuals whose place in your tribe should be determined by individual behavior, not “black” or “blue.”

Alas, it’s already clear that this is not to be. Once again, we are witnessing in real time the corruption of a movement in pursuit of OPM and the greens’ & socialists’ (but I repeat myself) wish list. The moment has been seized by people with their own agendas, who subordinate addressing the causes of the George Floyd, Eric Garner, and Breonna Taylor killings to their long-unrequited wish lists. It’s now about power, punishing the other tribes, taking other people’s money and property, and demanding everyone bend the knee.

Bend the knee, not in support of measures that might prevent the next Breonna Taylor or George Floyd death, but in groveling deference to leaders with other agendas.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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