A good friend, former law enforcement, sharp as a razor, and eminently reasonable, shared this yesterday. It’s a solid condemnation of those who are engaging in “safe-at-home” virtue signaling while accepting or even condoning the very real carnage and destruction going on across the country. A simple Google search also offers numerous lists of stores damaged or destroyed by the rioters (here’s the Twin Cities list (268 and counting)).

I understand his anger. Being outraged to the point of expressing social media support for corporate gestures, but failing to voice outrage for the death, mayhem, and destruction being carried out, with near-impunity, by people who I bet have virtually no actual interest in addressing the causes of the George Floyd tragedy, is really weak sauce.

When I look at that list of injured and killed law enforcement officers, I feel the same anger. I also feel something else: sadness that good police officers are being harmed because of something that bad police officers did. By extension, I feel the same sadness that good citizens: peaceful protestors caught up in (often orchestrated) riots, those who own and work at businesses large and small, and average citizens who were unlucky enough to cross paths with the the violent assholes using the Floyd killing as an excuse to hurt people, break things, and steal stuff.

This is the price of simplistic partisanship, the cost of blind solidarity. When the law is such that it’s nigh-on impossible to prosecute law enforcement officers who do bad things, it’s certain that bad things will continue to happen. When bad cops (while I don’t truly know how “bad” the officer who killed George Floyd was, it’s reported he had eighteen complaints on his record, and we have the simple proof of an indifference so callous that it suffocated a compliant man to death) are shielded behind a “blue wall of silence” by their good brethren, it’s the latter that suffer. In reputation, in increased job difficulty, and, now, in collateral injury and death.

Similarly, when people outraged by a bad act turn a blind eye to ensuing bad acts, because the perpetrators of the latter happen to be on their ‘side,’ they and theirs suffer the consequences. People locking themselves in their homes, afraid to venture out, and afraid that the violence might land on their door step. Shop owners seeing their livelihoods destroyed. Shop employees losing their livelihoods because they’ve lost a place to earn a living.

The lesson is simple in realization, if uncomfortable or difficult in execution: Don’t tolerate bad shit, especially if it’s from your own side of the fence. Draw a line between the good and the bad, and excise the bad from your ranks. Loyalty (or a blind eye) to those bad people may avoid friction in the moment, but it doesn’t buy you anything good in the long run.

To those who have chosen to serve the public as law enforcement: Changes are warranted, they’re necessary, and they’re part of how we both resolve the current troubles and reduce the chance of them happening again. Embrace them now, and be part of the solution, or see them imposed from without, apart from your input and assistance, with no abatement of the anger and resentment felt by minority communities towards your profession. Your blue wall, and your unions’ shielding of the worst among you, makes your jobs harder, and puts you at greater risk. You will serve and protect better if you clean your house.

To those who love Big Daddy Government, realize that the absurd number of laws we have, many of them picayune, contribute to the problem. While George Floyd’s alleged offense (passing counterfeit money) isn’t piddling, he should not have been killed for it, and we need only recall that Eric Garner was killed because he was selling untaxed, loose cigarettes. Politicians have long treated the poor communities as revenue centers, increasing the adversarial interactions those communities have with the police, and thus increasing the chances of an interaction going horribly wrong.

To those who think that tolerating or condoning violence is going to get you what you want: You lose many potential allies, people who have had their eyes opened to the structural issues that foster incidents like George Floyd’s death. You breed justified resentment in people who’d normally be on your side. Sure, you may feel a tingle of victory if we finally get reforms in things like qualified immunity (a phrase you may have only recently heard, but that we libertarians have been thumping about for years), but are you willing to look at the cost? Can you look at the list of injured and killed police officers, officers wholly uninvolved in the triggering event, without feeling sadness or anger? Can you look at destroyed and burned out businesses and shrug off the enormous human cost of that carnage?

Finally, to the community leaders, prominent voices, and the press, I quote Ben Parker. With great power comes great responsibility. Colin Kaepernick, you’re getting it wrong, again. Condoning violence may stoke the fires in those within your ranks, but the fear you’ve instilled in countless Americans who’d offer support for reforms is going to hurt your cause and only breed further animus. You serve as the exemplar of what not to do. Many black leaders are denouncing the violence, recognizing how counterproductive it is. If your voice is one people hear, join them, and work towards the right solution rather than the wrong one.

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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