A preface: everything contained herein will strictly adhere to the nonaggression principle; that is, an ethical aversion to the initiation of force or fraud against one’s rightly held boundaries. This does not, however, preclude killing or other uses of force in the name of self-defense, and anyone claiming it does is damaging any authentic interpretation of it. If you equate nonaggression to nonviolence, you’ll misunderstand almost every point in this argument. If you think one can be aggressive in the terms outlined in this paragraph – initiation of force or fraud against someone’s rightly held boundaries – and still maintain good ethical standing, you’re wrong, and it really is that simple. Please evaluate why you feel that someone’s boundaries should be violated, and realize how wrong you are. Because you’re wrong.

War on Cops: Law-Enforcement Deaths by Gunfire Up by 150% This Year | Baton Rouge Latest Battle in Obama’s War on Cops | The war on cops: The big lie of the anti-cop left turns lethal

Reading headlines like this lately makes it seem pretty bleak out there for a cop in America. It seems as if everyone’s gunning for them, and in droves. Seems as if the world is gunning for cops, and that their lives have never been at greater threat. I want to ask though… why is that a problem?

Let’s establish something: cops are aggressive, disrespectful, and egregiously life threatening people. They walk around with weapons on their belts, lethal training in their minds, and badges on their costumes that means they don’t mind using either if a civilian disobeys the government’s orders. And the government’s orders are many. John Stossel’s Illegal Everything did a great job of highlighting this, and in the description on Fox News, goes into some detail…

With the government adding more than 80,000 pages of rules and regulations every year, it’s no surprise that regular people break laws without even trying. Like the little kids who open lemonade stands and get shut down by police. Or the small businessman who spent six years in federal prison for breaking Honduran regulations (and, to make it worse, the Honduran government said he didn’t). Or the family in Idaho who can’t build a home on their land because the EPA says it’s a wetland (only because a government drain malfunctioned and flooded it).

There’s also a decent read from a couple Englishmen who read about some absurd laws in America called “You Can Get Arrested for That”, and in its description on Amazon, it outlines some pretty absurd forms of lawbreaking. It reads, “Did you know that in the United States it’s illegal to: Fish while wearing pajamas in Chicago, Illinois? Enter a theater within three hours of eating garlic in Indianapolis? Offer cigarettes or whiskey to zoo animals in New Jersey? Fall asleep in a cheese factory in South Dakota? Englishman Rich Smith discovered these little-known laws during a great American crime spree that took him from coast to coast in search of girls to kiss (it’s illegal to kiss for longer than five minutes at a time in Kansas), oranges to peel (which the law says shouldn’t be done in hotel rooms in California), and whales to hunt (unlawful in Utah).”

Now, it may come as a surprise that I bring up such minor crimes as examples of police using lethal force, but if anyone has spent a cursory amount of time reading information from this website, or websites like it, they’ll no doubt have heard the script read one or more times… Violating the law triggers a series of consequences for the breach, starting with a penalty, then threat of further penalty should the first not be adhered to, then physical force, and kidnapping should the further penalties be ignored, and death to those who resist past that point. And that’s just the more petty laws that exist, as some laws cut right to the kidnapping and assault or the killing if breached, or worse, actively resisted. Not to mention the host of people killed by the cops who were not committing a crime. Even Yale professor Stephen L. Carter agrees with this premise. In a letter to The Atlantic, he wrote this.

Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff – or the SWAT team – or if necessary the National Guard. Is this an exaggeration? Ask the family of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a decision to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. That’s the crime for which he was being arrested. Yes, yes, the police were the proximate cause of his death, but the crackdown was a political decree. The statute or regulation we like best carries the same risk that some violator will die at the hands of a law enforcement officer who will go too far. And whether that officer acts out of overzealousness, recklessness, or simply the need to make a fast choice to do the job right, the violence inherent in law will be on display. This seems to me the fundamental problem that none of us who do law for a living want to face.  But all of us should.

Is this righteous? Well, I assert that the basis for the ethical use and judicious treatment of one’s own property is that it’s distinctly their property. Further, anyone else claiming the right to decide how that property is used must first discuss it with the property owners, barring an instance where that property is being used to violate the right of another (I.E.: the classic: your right to swing your fist ends at my nose). I’d further assert that everything the government gains, it gains by force, not consent and contract, and therefore is not legitimately owned, or by extension, policed. If this sounds absurd, consider the legal penalties for failure to pay tax, or to cede almost any property almost immediately, when they request it (Or just read my article on how the US government is economically enslaving you). This will tell you all you need to know about the legitimacy of “their property.”

This is why I called police officers disrespectful earlier – they certainly don’t respect your property rights, or your sovereignty. They can seem civil, and even downright charming, like those “heartwarming” stories of officers riding skateboards for youth outreach, laughing with urban kids, or helping needy families through tough times. In the end, however, if you don’t follow the edicts of the state, they will be violent, and if you resist, they will kill you.

So while some would argue the unacceptability of force on law enforcement, and others, still, would argue against threatening, harming, or killing a cop before that cop has verifiably done something similar to someone, I assert that a LEO’s duty is to enforce the edicts of a body representing centralized coercion, and that the basis for this coercion is in claims to property and people they have no right to control in the first place. In order to make an ethical claim that someone owes you their obedience, they must be knowingly interacting with you on property you have a rightful claim to. Cops don’t have, or even attempt to obtain, that kind of claim, nor do they have to. The Supreme Court ruled that it isn’t their job to protect you, but to enforce laws, and because of this, whenever they do something later found to be unethical, their normal defense is not even rooted in ethical concerns. Rather, it says they were “doing their jobs” and that “you should obey the law, then you won’t be in this situation“.

So that leads to the logical conclusion that if you see an officer in commission of their duties, you should also see someone threatening the lives of anyone they cross, regardless of the ethical concerns presented in holding that position. You should see an unethical person, committing unethical acts, and ultimately backing their chosen employment with the penalty of death to anyone who disagrees, and is willing to defend that disagreement, and even some who aren’t, but are still caught in the jaws of this system. So why don’t many see it?

There is violence inherent in the state, and it’s visible all around us. Every government sign on a road, every agency or organizational insignia on every “official document”, every regulation, every mandatory program, and every statist uniform, is a threat of death; every law a lifted gun. Those in government positions would be pleased if you ignored this, because it makes their jobs easier if people don’t think about it. So often, this ignorance goes unchecked, so let’s dive in a little.

In John Carpenter’s “They Live”, John Nada is a law-abiding, union-working, tax-paying citizen who minds his own business trying to scrape up a great future from the bottom up with the almighty power of A Hard Day’s Work. He believes firmly that as long as he keeps his nose clean, and his back in his labor, he’ll see a prosperous future. He’s out of work because his trade dried up in a previous town.

When he travels to the city, in search of a job, he can’t find legit labor, so he takes under the table work from a unionized construction job. There, he meets Frank Armitage, who has a more cynical outlook on life in the modern world. He muses “the steel mills were laying people off let and right. They finally went under. We gave them a break when they needed it. You know what they gave themselves? Raises.”

This fictional movie was already touching on the systemic injustice inherent in modern society better than most documentaries do. But Frank isn’t ready to take the blinders off. He still wants to believe that if he walks the white line, he’ll make it in the end. Nada tells him that the white line is in the middle of the road. “The most dangerous place to walk.”

But a bearded man on the television interrupts normal programming to deliver a message of apocalypse and enslavement, over the frequency the TV normally operates at. In it, he states “They have created a repressive society, and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests on the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into a trance. They’ve made us indifferent to ourselves – to others. We are focused only on our own gain.”

Nada then finds that the man behind the broadcast is in a nearby church producing strange glasses he found in a hollow wall, and when the police come to tear down the local encampment of homeless people he had been staying with, they attack the church as well, and leave it burned and hollow. They didn’t see the hollow wall though, and he absconds with a box of glasses. He uses the glasses to find that, behind society’s veneer of openness and honesty, there’s manipulation, and a constant message of consumption and obedience coming from its controllers, which he finds are inhuman beasts with ugly faces. He fights with Frank to get some support, and they both invade the institutions in charge, and destroy the mechanisms providing the illusory safety he’d been betrayed by. This reveals to the world the vile creatures next to them that they’d failed to see all that time.

So why is this relevant? Well, in society, there are certain things that have been burned into the minds of the average member of the populace from the day they were born. One of these things is authority. If you see something, say something. Just say no. Tell an adult, and if you can’t find one, talk to a cop. They’re friendly, and will stop the bad people.

We see news broadcasts, television shows, movies, and other media, where smiling, courageous Officer Friendlies will be doing something good for the community, and You Should Join Them, Too! It’s nonstop – a crime happens, IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, RIGHT NOW (or at least one that looks an awful lot like yours), and the brave agents of government are there to help. Then, be sure to see the latest buddy cop movie, where constitutionality and ethics don’t matter, because they caught the villain, and that’s what counts.

This creates an image of unfaltering humanity, where it matters not what they can do, or what they actually do, only what we want them to do. And we’re made sure to want them to do a host of things we’d never consider doing on our own.

This correlates into officers’ duties. I don’t know how many times I’ve come into contact with someone who refuses to acknowledge or even discuss the ethical nature of a LEO’s actions (or a troop’s, but that’s for another article) because they were “following orders” or “doing their jobs”. Well, I can hardly think of another profession with this get out of jail card. So let’s look at what their job is. In Trey Goff’s article, “The Authoritarian Origins of Policing in America”, he writes:

SWAT teams conduct approximately 80,000 no-knock raids per year. Even though America only consists of 5% of the world population, we have almost 25% of the world’s prison population. We have 725 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, which is the highest in the world. The world average is 145 per 100,000 citizens. Nearly 2.2 million Americans are behind bars. Theracial disparities within our system are even more appalling. Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population. Five times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites. Civil forfeiture laws allow police officers to take all of your physical belongs under any “reasonable suspicion” of any criminal activity. You then have to sue the police and prove your innocence to get your belongings back. You will be lucky to receive 75% of everything they took from you, if you are able to win the lawsuit.

Let’s be clear: they chose this job, and all its trappings. They saw videos and heard stories of what it was to be a police officer, and they signed up. Then they got orders to do things, and did them. Why remove the moral responsibilities associated with these choices? I’ll say this… I don’t see a whole lot of room for infantilizing the cops for the sake of argument. If you work foodservice, and your manager tells you to contaminate someone’s order, I don’t think you could make a good case for giving customers food poisoning because you were doing what you were told. If you were a mechanic, I don’t see a whole lot of room for acquittal for using faulty parts because you were told they needed to be used anyway. If an officer feels what they do is unjust, they can do what anyone in this position is capable of doing, and say no. They can even quit! It amazes me – the level of cognitive dissonance in those who would never be okay with a similar mentality in any other profession or from any other sort of person discounting truly awful behavior on the part of LEOs because they’re doing their job. A similar mentality was aired at the Nuremberg Trials, and not given the light of day, but somehow it’s acceptable here? I don’t think so. Neither does Carey Wedler, who made a great case against recklessly using the phrase “just doing their jobs” in this video.

If we are to have a truly free society, we need to acknowledge the evils in this one, and either replace them with better alternatives, or replace them with nothing. If this happens violently, even seemingly at random, I see very little ethical concern there, if any. Jeffrey Tucker said things in two separate pieces that resonate here:

Security is not the most essential function of the state; it is the most dangerous one, the very one that we should never concede lest we lose all our freedom. The night watchman is the biggest threat we face because it is he who holds the gun and he who pulls the trigger should we ever decide to escape. Allowing the police force as the essential exception to a voluntary social order is like allowing a cancer cell as the single invader in a body. Once it invades, it cannot be contained. It has to be killed for the person to survive. This is why skepticism of the police, even fundamental opposition, is so important. If doubt spreads, the ground shifts beneath our feet. If the conviction that the state cannot even perform its most “essential” functions at net benefit to us evaporates, the rest of the great services that the state provides comes into question too.

Minarchism Found Dead at Ferguson

Bastiat tried to get people to think hard about what was happening and how the law had become an instrument of plunder and violence, rather than a protector of property and peace. If the law itself is not just, the result is social division and widespread discontent. The relationship between the rulers and the ruled becomes distorted, and a sense of systemic injustice pervades the culture. Bastiat observed this in horror in his time, and it’s a good description of our own:

The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

Further, and most poignantly in our time: “Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim — when he defends himself — as a criminal.”

How Bastiat Explains the Police Problem

The truly uncomfortable thing for many will be admitting that, in order to do this, some people may feel the need to take up arms in defence of their natural liberty, and that those arms may be used to kill all manner of thugs, which oftentimes includes police officers. Yes, they’re human. They have human emotion and a human capacity to feel. So one can only wonder why this is their chosen profession among a sea of others, if it comes with such cumbersome and unwieldy ethical concerns. And in the end, how is is more acceptable for them to constantly threaten us all with the universal gun of the state, than it is for us to shoot back?

Some cite the social contract, as if living in a society means total capitulation to its demands is compulsory for an ethical lifestyle to be established. If it is not obvious by now, that argument is trash. Nobody chose to be born, and it is the right inherent to all people to alter their circumstances of living to suit their liberty. Being born in this society, or any other, does not give those “in charge” any more or less credible a right to that person’s life than if that person had been born anywhere else. If one chooses, then, to fight the cops’ claimed right to their property, or more severely, their life, it is not, and cannot rightly be considered, unethical. Some others cite that this is a job for the judicial system, and that, to avoid the US (or any other place) devolving into a “wild west” scenario, we should simply allow the justice system to run its course. This may be sufficient, but first, it will have to stop creating so many ways for cops to get off scot-free, usually with administrative leave, or as many cynically refer to it, paid vacation. It’s this sort of thing that inflames tensions. As another writer on Liberty.me, Winter Trabex, put it:

If the courts will not correct the police, if the legislature will not correct the police, if the police will not correct themselves, then finally, at long last, people will decide they have had enough. Then, and only then, will the paranoia of every officer be justified. Citizens who wanted nothing other than to live their lives in peace will burn down precincts, overturn police cars, and kill officers. All the while, even in the midst of a law enforcement collapse, they will fail to understand that they bring their miseries upon themselves.

When it comes down to it, no matter where a person lives, no matter which political masters presume to run his life for him, every person would sooner engage their own lives in the dangerous hazard of combat rather than allow themselves to be trampled upon time after time. Rather than carrying weapons, police officers merely need to mind their own business to ensure their own safety. Unfortunately, the officers who disgrace themselves and their uniform do not appear to understand this.

As a result, it appears to be only a matter of time until distrust of police officers becomes so widespread that no one will call 911 when a robber is nearby, or when an accident occurs. Rather than fearing for their own safety, people will learn to defend themselves. This will be the difference between a homeowner cowering in the basement when a criminal is nearby to a homeowner loading up a shotgun, ready to face whatever may come. The homeowner with the shotgun will give a single reason for defending himself.

“I don’t trust the police.”

Obviously, I’d rather this didn’t happen. In a free society, we’ll still need protectors for the weak, and I think an orderly redistribution of current defense capabilities to more ethical standings would be widely preferred to rivers of blood, and years of darkness – I know I’d choose the prior route if given the options. I only mean to state that, when it comes down to it, people have the ethical right to defend themselves from unjust force, and that if the cops represent that force, I see no ethical concern in treating them differently to any other aggressor, and possibly ending their lives, in the same, final, kind of way they consistently threaten to end ours. To engage in cop killing. I think if  we want a free society, we must start killing these ethical boogeymen, that prevent people from getting legitimate justice anywhere, and often protect those chiefly responsible for some of the most long-enduring, best-protected injustices committed.

When people think of evildoers, they often picture shady, cloaked figures in dusty hallways of dimly lit wherevers. I think they’d do much better to understand that, if people are truly honest, they’ll mark the den of villains at the entrance to the local courthouse or jail, and not because of the people in chains, but because of the people who signed up for a job that has the capacity to put us all in chains if it wanted to. From the little girl operating an unauthorized lemonade stand to the seasoned serial killer, we’re all at the same risk, and if that doesn’t sound the death knell for freedom, I don’t know what does.

My suggestion? Maybe exacting some vengeance for the dead freedom isn’t as far off from what’s normally considered ethical as people might think, and there may come a day when people decide that the tree of liberty is thirsty. Let’s not automatically vilify anyone who does something that seems dark. I think that, if anything, this piece is my plea for sanity, and my statement of understanding that peace is a beautiful end goal of any movement, but there might be people who get in the way of that, and in the end, those people are the threat. Not necessarily a cop killer.

This piece is now open for debate. I’ll use whatever format is reasonable with whoever wants to come try to prove me wrong. It is CC0 license, but I would love credit if you crosspost.