A couple of days ago Sunil Dutta, a LAPD police officer and professor of Homeland Security at Colorado Tech University, wrote an article for WashingtonPost.com entitled: ‘I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me‘. I say article, but it is in essence a rationalised and intellectualized threat of violence against anyone in existence that disagrees with him or disobeys him (I sincerely hope he doesn’t have children. God help them if he does).
He talks in relation to the Ferguson, Missouri horrors and declares:
“It’s not the police, but the people they stop, who can prevent a detention from turning into a tragedy.”
Continuing with his assertion that it is members of the public who resist that cause tragedies and not his heavily armed brethren, he states:
“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
Only a person who believes that his powers as an officer of the law to demand obedience of other people for a short period of time under threat of violence are unquestionably morally justified, would ask a question as ridiculous and condescending as that.
Logically, it is as if he is the father and we are his son. The father believes he has the moral right to punish his son for not obeying him, which is why his son’s resistance to obeying his demands seems so perplexing. It is not difficult to do what I say, reasons the father, and my son knows what will happen if he doesn’t, so why does he act so unreasonably, so foolishly, and resist? He hates it when I spank him or lock him in his room, but it’s his own damn fault! If he just did what I told him, then he wouldn’t get hurt. In the father’s mind, the physical pain his son suffers from being spanked by him is the same as the pain suffered by touching, say, a hot stove. Simply an inevitable negative consequence of an unwise action.
Mr Dutta deploys the same logic. If you do such a thing as unwise as refusing to “cooperate” with a police officer’s demands, then you will suffer negative consequences such as being pepper-sprayed, thrown to the ground etc. In Mr Dutta’s mind, his moral authority is simply a fact of reality. Resisting his orders is like touching a hot stove. Pain is inevitable.
I’m your father. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.
I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.
Mr Dutta’s reasoning and indeed his belief in himself as a pillar of virtue in society, however, is based on a false premise: his legal right to use force and even deadly force against anyone, derived from his moral right to do so, which itself is premised on the supposed moral sanction supposedly granted to the entity known as the State by ‘the people’.
The only ethically justifiable use of force is in defence of person and property, which is to say using force only in defence of person or property is the only way to allow the use of force in society in a way consistent with a universal ethical principle. I may use force to defend myself or I may contract someone to do it for me. State police are not contracted by the individuals in society, we are merely forced to pay for the ‘services’ they impose upon us, which we have no choice but to use since the State prevents others agencies from providing such services. Even if I contracted Mr Dutta to use force on my behalf, that would grant him the right to use force only against those individuals that present a clear and present danger to my person or property; it would not grant him the right to police the world and everyone in it. Which means if he tried to use force against an innocent person (which is what police today do when they conduct “field stops”), then that person would have the legal right to forcibly resist his aggressions (an act which today gets you pepper-sprayed, tasered, beaten or shot).
There is more to be said in order to fully cover the immorality of the State, but to do so here would lead us too far astray. I’ll simply note that all theories aimed at proving the morality of the State and thus supposedly justifying its legal right to use force against everyone within a certain geographic area have been debunked by great thinkers, such as Murray Rothbard, Frederic Bastiat, Frank Chodorov and Ayn Rand. Sadly, relatively few people are aware of their works, but I think this is slowly changing.
Mr Dutta goes on to helpfully advise that if you are being harassed or bullied by a cop, then you should simply defy your human nature by suppressing your instinctive ‘fight or flight’ mechanism when someone violates your person, and try to go limp or play dead like some sort of small mammal.
“if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment. Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt. Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life. Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately. Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you. We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.”
A “serious threat” seems to be anything with a pulse, which includes household pets, and how comforting to know that the cop kneeling on your neck, pepper-spraying you or shooting you in the head hasn’t been so rash as to presume you are guilty of anything. So Mr Dutta’s advice amounts to this: let the cop do what he wants to you and with you, however inconvenient or unjustified, then later simply sue the police and the very same system that allows men to violate your liberty will correct itself and magically undo the physical and/or psychological harm it caused you by paying you some money (if you win your case against the cops, which you almost certainly won’t).
After this he explains how difficult and stressful it is to harass and harm innocent people on a daily basis, and appeals for the ungrateful, selfish public to have more empathy for the men with all the guns.
“You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you. Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive? For you, this might be a “simple” traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter. Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns. Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is.”
For HIM each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter! What about the innocent person being stopped by a man with a gun who is as jumpy as hell because he thinks you could be a murderer or an armed fugitive? Don’t make our job more difficult, says Mr Dutta. Sit perfectly still, do not be alarmed or have any kind of emotional response whatsoever. Be totally calm and compliant regardless of how unjustified or inconvenient it is to be stopped and forced to show your licence or reveal your identity or destination. Do not feel aggrieved, humiliated or angry at the indignity of being forced to obey the orders of a sociopath or dangerously deluded man wearing a uniform. Do not feel or say anything unless asked to say something. Just continue to breath and sit perfectly still, and you won’t get hurt. How hard is that?
Mr Dutta claims his views do not reflect that of the Los Angeles Police Department, but I can’t help wonder how many other police officers (and indeed ‘professors’) hold the same or similar convictions as Mr Dutta. How many police officers find themselves nodding in agreement with Mr Dutta’s sentiments as they read his article?
Mr Dutta believes he has the right to make anyone obey him under threat of violence at any given moment simply because he wears a badge and a uniform and ‘the law’ says he can. Imagine a man who believes he has a special hat that gives him the right to rape women whenever he wants, and that his right to do so is proven by the rules written on a piece of a paper he carries in his pocket. A man with these delusions would be rightly considered a danger to society and detained indefinitely in an institution.
What does it say about American society, then, that a man as dangerously deluded as Sunil Dutta is a college professor and a law enforcement officer of 17 years? I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Jiddu Krishnamurti:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
That American society is so well-adjusted to men like Mr Dutta that it allows them to become the sole protectors of people’s liberty and college professors is a sign of its sickness.
In Mr Dutta’s mind, the problem is ‘out there’ in society in the unreasonable and foolish way people react to police officers simply going about their ‘duties’, but in reality the problem is in the minds of police officers and professors like him. It’s in the minds of mothers and fathers who spank their children, the minds of abusive wives and husbands and anyone who believes violence can be used for good. Perhaps Mr Dutta is a victim; a victim of violent parenting and of State schooling. But victims can easily become predators in societies today where the only ‘protector’ of people’s liberty is the State, which tells its agents they have the moral right to use deadly force and sends them out into the world armed to the teeth.