POLITICS OF FEAR
WHERE THE DINOSAUERS ROAMED
EXTINCTION OF THE HUMANIST LAWYER
Years ago, when I first started my law practice, there was turmoil, civil unrest, protest, looting, shooting, and semi-public fornicating. The old guard was stricken with apoplexy and the youths didn’t give a shit. However, most people seemed to get along. There were a third of a million soles in prisons and the people seemed concerned about each other. A war on poverty was raging, but we lost that war while we started another one. Curiously, the fat cats didn’t seem too upset losing the war on poverty. However, Viet Nam was an entirely different matter. The ignorant elite, who viewed war like a sporting event, bemoaned the fact that we lost the war in SE Asia because we didn’t bomb the country back into the Stone Age. Never mind that some parts of that country were there already. These dumbshits had no inkling of foreign policy except that we must win no matter what, even if it destroys the country in the process. For them it was survival of the fittest, not the species, but the individual. Of course, wealth made them fit. Communism was the biggest danger and it had to be defeated by any means available. Anything that threatened their wealth was deemed communistic. And, communists were in Viet Nam and had to be driven out or they would attack San Francisco. We still have a group of rulers who always push for war to solve everything. At least it keeps the peasant’s minds off of their hopeless situation.
Other than the music, one of my clearest memories was that the police, although not too understanding of all the change, tried to help people, not murder them. The highway patrol was called the “Courtesy Patrol.” Officers took intoxicated persons home rather than lurk in the bushes to bust them and subject the victims with loss of jobs, stress, expense, and break up of families, all in the name of justice (privatization). There was much research about causation of crime, policing, law enforcement and community relations, all of which is currently ignored. In fact, I considered asking the University for a refund because what I learned about crime became ignored and obsolete with the simplified brainless punishment model. Nothing mattered but image and the public show for locking people up.
In judging school, I was taught that the job of a judge is to project a favorable image and to be fair, not to generate revenue. Now, it is all about the money. The judiciary has become shills and pimps for the corporate masters who have managed to gain monopolistic powers in the “justice” system. Corporations sponsor symposiums, seminars, conferences and other meetings for judges and justice system employees. The rank and file citizen doesn’t stand a chance.
One of the most unique innovations based upon research of the time was implemented by Lakewood police. Officials studied research regarding riots and violent protests and how the arrival of police often fueled the situation rather than helped it. So, the cops were put back into the streets and were told to inter-react with the people. Lakewood even replaced the uniforms, which by then were associated with oppression, not justice, with blazers. The blazers had a badge or insignia. All parties worked together to better the community. There was a sense of community and spirit of co-operation in the legal community. Now, everything is based upon a Darwinian survival model. It is a dichotomous atmosphere where there are either winners or losers. The idea of a continuum of ideas and remedies was abandoned. Cops and prosecutors tried to prove that there were tough, not caring. Most universities abandoned their programs in corrections, replacing them with “criminal justice” which translated into how to imprison the most with the least amount of cost or effort. That changed in the 80’s. It became everyone for himself. Community spirit was destroyed. This was war. Defense lawyers became the enemy.
Efficiency was the new god of the justice system. The system was designed to extract guilty pleas and abolish trials, except if a prosecutor thought he needed publicity. Common law safeguards were all but abolished in order to process more cases. Mental health problems became criminal and the mentally ill were dispatched with bullets by ignorant fearful police. The process resembled the Nazi concept of ethnic cleansing and the weeding out of so called “sub-humans.” “Weed and seed” was implemented in minority neighborhoods along with broken window policing. The result was a practical use of “shock and awe” developed by the military to use against insurgents. This is all presented by the police and press as one grand sporting event ala the Roman arena.
Additionally, fear reigned supreme. Most was irrational and based upon ignorance. Unlike the conscientious objector medics who risked their lives for their follow soldiers in war zones, modern police wait until danger has passed or they react with gun blazing obliterating any possible threat, no matter how insignificant. They expect the worse. The do not have the ability to think in terms of a continuum. They shoot first, and think later. Police recently murdered a teen who opened the door with a screwdriver in hand. They were told that the teen was mentally disturbed. They yelled at the teen, and, when he didn’t obey, they killed them. That’ll teach a mother to call the police to quiet a child. Rather than question the decision-making, justified the murder by stating that the police followed procedures, as though these rules came from Mt Sinai. There is no question of whether the response was reasonable. Even in the Middle Ages, justices were known to say that one should not shoot a mouse with a cannon. It would appear that thought in these areas have retreated, not advanced. I believe that this is a result of ignorance and frustration, conditioned in the more simple people by the mechanics of a culture of fear. People don’t assess probabilities. If something is even remotely possible, it exists. Just like the young officer demonstrated in the end of the movie, “Crash,” the well intentioned young officer killed his black passenger because he misinterpreted a movement or gesture out of fear. We have to teach people that every situation isn’t a threat.
So, here I sit, at the verge of extinction, like the dinosaurs of old. My professional career has been a decade’s long joust with windbag windmills of the simpletons who have captured power by reducing complex system to dichotomous alternatives, requiring reaction rather than thought. If there is a miscreant, it is the fault of the person who has to take personal responsibility. It is not the fault of an efficient system based upon delusional free market principals. The power structure will not admit error. This is especially true of the right who lack the capacity to think about complex solutions to problems. In that world, the defective “O” ring causing the death of astronauts would be solved by a free market. Research showing criminogenic areas could be ignored. The free market would replace the projects and people there could raise themselves out if they had any ambition. I just don’t seem to adapt to the new thought. I can’t subscribe to the era of social Darwinism. I have little patience for stupidity and it decreases with age. I prefer to live in a society as part of a community, not part of an ongoing battle.
I believe that there are more dinosaurs out there. I think that we need to make ourselves heard. We need to call the press on its fear mongering which is causing good men like police officers respond out of fear rather than logic. We need to question the wisdom of TSA screening at airports in order to display an impotent government trying to convince the people that they can handle the unrest caused by the massive redistribution of power to an elite. We, unlike the dinos, don’t need to become extinct. We can do something about it. All we need to do is starting seeing, start thinking and start teaching others, and start caring. We need to interact rather than text each other. Most of all we need to care.
- Posted in: constitutions and laws