If your morning routine is anything like mine, you were listening to Fox & Friends talk about “Coffee with a Cop Day” much of the morning.
It got me thinking…
As regular readers are well aware, I’ve had some adverse experiences with law enforcement over the course of my life. Some of those were due to my own unwise actions, some were solidly in what might be described as grey area, and some were outright crimes committed against me.
You might describe ways of dealing with such events, as a spectrum.
On one end of the spectrum is full on hostility toward the entirety of the institution.
There are plenty of reasons to do this, not the least of which is, it’s popular today. The Democrat Party and the media will be quite happy if you treat cops like garbage, and say terrible things about them. Making those people happy is a good way to avoid slander, assault, lawsuits, and false criminal allegations being made against you. You’re terribly unlikely to be called a “rat”. You won’t be banned from social media for doing it. Even the cops themselves won’t bother you. In fact, being hostile toward police might even keep help to the cops at bay for people who are involved in unlawful activity, because the police might become concerned about the allegation of “harassing an accountability activist”.
Indeed, cop hatred, no matter how vitriolic, is one of few areas in which “Freedom of Speech” is still respected in the United States.
I engaged in that strategy for a long time. I might even go so far as to say that I was one of the best at the art.
Then, one day, I was walking home from a friend’s house late at night. I heard some men angrily yelling, and some women crying. I went to inquire as to the distress of the damsels, and to make a long story short, the men and the women both attempted to attack me.
I retreated until I could retreat no more, drew my revolver, and demanded they back off.
They were drunk, and one of the males said “You’re not gonna shoot me bro, you’re not a cop” and he advanced on me with the gun pointed dead at his chest.
I had gone through this scenario a thousand times, in my own head, at the range, and even, I am sort of embarrassed to admit, in the mirror. I told myself that I was ready to kill if I had to. Part of me even thought it might make me feel powerful.
I was definitely ready to end this guy’s life, and I made the decision right then that I would pull that trigger before my assailants came within arm’s reach of my gun, because I could not risk one of these nutcases gaining control of the weapon.
But I did not feel powerful at all. I felt terrified.
So many things went through my mind so fast. I wish I could think that quickly in everyday life. I remembered every inflammatory thing I had ever said. I imagined what the cops I had been bashing online would say, when they found me with a smoking gun in in my hand, mere feet from a corpse, on Main Street.
I knew the laws of my home state of New Hampshire. We are a “stand your ground” state. I knew I had the beginning of the altercation on video. I knew local businesses probably had security cameras which would back my version of events. I knew I had retreated, even though I didn’t legally have to. I knew I was outnumbered. In short, I knew that I could legally pull that trigger right then and there before he took another step, and I would be cleared of wrongdoing.
I also knew that I had been a drunken fool too many times in my own life, to punch this idiot’s ticket, and feel good about it.
I realized I had precious few seconds to make that life changing decision, as my assailant was less than 20 feet from me. This maniac kept walking toward me like I was pointing a squirt gun at him, and I remember thinking to myself that I was more pissed off about this guy making me kill him, than I was about the assault he intended to inflict.
I drew the line in my head “he puts his toe past that spot, and I’m gonna have some explaining to do”.
Then the police showed up.
No matter how right you are, seeing those police lights while you’re pointing a gun at a guy is terrifying. I went through a very unique combination of lethal terror, and blissful relief.
I thought, “Either these guys are about to shoot me, or they’re about to save my ass, and the suspense is killing me.”
If you’re reading this, it means they saved my ass.
Not only that, but they were incredibly cool about it. They knew I was scared, and they made a point to put me at ease. They looked at video of the incident, took the most aggressive assailant to the drunk tank, and gave me back my revolver.
Like you, I lack a tail, but if I had one, it would have been between my legs as I walked the rest of the way home. I felt dumb about the stuff I had said about cops.
To say my perspective began to change after that night, would be the understatement of the century.
I’ve sort of inched along that spectrum ever since.
Recent experiences have been substantial stumbling blocks along that path. I’ve seen some good people end up on the wrong side of the so called justice system as of late. I have come to know what a truly corrupt government looks like, and discovered just how terrifyingly similar it looks to one with integrity, in the eyes of the casual observer.
In the words of an American statesman named John Hay, “The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.”
I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice as to what lessons I would learn about the night I had to pull my gun. It seemed clear as day to me that my cop hatred was immature and misguided. If I was going to continue my career as a commentator on the pressing issues of our time, I would have to reform my views, and bring my commentary into alignment with this newly acquired wisdom.
Recent experiences left me with more difficult decisions to make.
I’ve been out of jail for less than two years. Good men who I shared a cell block with won’t be home for a long time. The Department of Homeland Security came dangerously close to calling my very conception of the truth, a terrorist threat.
Keeping the cops at a safe distance, could easily be deemed a prudent decision.
On the other hand, people who want to do things that matter do not always have that option. If you want to be one of the good guys, you have to know the bad guys will lie about you, and they won’t be nearly so shy about talking to cops. If you are a threat to the status quo, then the chances of somebody trying to hurt you are substantial, and if you’re going to be left standing there with a smoking gun in your hand, feet from a corpse on Main Street, it might be wise to get acquainted with the guys who are going to clean up the mess.
So, after a great deal of careful deliberation, I came to the following conclusion. Time will be the judge, as to its wisdom.
Law enforcement is an institution of power. In an age such as the one we find ourselves in, all such institutions are high value targets for the enemies of order and decency. If good people abandon those institutions, they will be controlled by the wicked.
If we let that happen in our towns and cities, a glimpse of what that future looks like, can be found in Charlottesville. The police of that city were abused and treated like garbage. When they did their jobs they were called racists, and made to fear for their own futures. Something tells me there are a few people in this audience who can relate to that feeling.
Kessler had other demonstrations in that city before our arrival in August. The cops did their jobs, and arrested the Leftists who broke the law. The lawyers and judges set those criminals free, and the politicians hassled the cops over what should have been laughable accusations of brutality and civil rights violations. Unfortunately for the cops, and ultimately, for us, the regular people of that city did not have the cops’ backs. So, for them, it was anything but laughable.
By the time we showed up, they had already been beaten into submission. “Risk defaulting on my mortgage for some Nazi jerk who’s gonna call me a pig and walk away from this mess? Forget that!”
Can anyone honestly say they blame them for feeling that way?
With that in mind, the events which unfolded that weekend hardly seem so bizarre. Heroes were imprisoned, criminals celebrated. The cops, notably, were no better off, and last I checked there was a “mass exodus” of officers from that city’s police department. Surely all who abandoned those posts were men with some conscience remaining, and I shutter to think who will replace them.
It has been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing. That is what happened in Charlottesville, and that is what will happen in your city too, if every adverse experience of yours causes you to abandon the institutions of power. Power abhors a vacuum, and you should too.
For those reasons, and others, it is with the requisite disclaimer of caution that I give my full and enthusiastic endorsement to Coffee with a Cop Day. Most of you will read or listen to this after that spot on the calendar has passed, but unless evil has completely overtaken your jurisdiction, it’s not too late to make a powerful friend.
There are people who will say this is dangerous, and you would have to be a fool to argue with them. I found out the hard way that even obedience to the law won’t keep you out of a jail, much less a courtroom. As things get worse, normalcy itself is all but outlawed, and that can make it difficult for normal folks to remain in alignment with the opinions of the legislature. But I once had an adversary who said “We cannot choose to be safe, only powerful” and while I hesitate to give this foe any credit, dude had a point. We have no safe path, and thus our choice is not whether or not we engage with law enforcement, but how we do so.
We can make enemies of power, and hope against all odds that each of us individually escapes their mortal glance, or we can undertake the dangerous work of spreading the truth, to the people whose opinions matter most.
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