[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]
One must be cautious not to judge the merits a blog site by measuring the apparent intelligence and moral character of its commenters. Heaven knows the commenters right here in our little corner of the blogosphere can occasionally wander pretty far afield, to understate the matter considerably. But I have to say I was shocked, and not in the Casablanca sense but genuinely so, to read some of the comments on a post over at the Reason website.
As I wrote Monday on NRO’s the Corner, Reason blogger Brian Doherty took liberties in lifting a quote from an earlier Corner post, with his readers being led to believe, either through his own carelessness or dishonesty, that I take a cavalier attitude in protecting constitutional rights if it comes at the expense of my own safety. You can read his post and my own and judge for yourself. But when the commenters weighed in, though there was some thoughtful exchange of ideas, there was at least as much lunacy, as measured by the number of people who expressed, in one form or another, the general idea of “f*** the police” (with the expletive spelled out, of course). And then there was the one who, addressing the subject of the risks police officers face, brushed aside such concerns with the observation, “Dying on the job is an occupational hazard.”
So, if I follow the advice of such people and, in my reluctance to give offense to some suspected criminal I have stopped, fail to heed some subtle hint of danger and am killed as a result, hey, I knew it was a tough job when I signed up, so tell Mrs. Dunphy to get the black dress to the cleaners and get over it.
I don’t think so.
Let me spell it out clearly for all those hardcore libertarians who think defying a police officer’s lawful authority is somehow noble. If I stop you in the reasonable belief – even a mistaken one – that you have committed a crime, abundant statutory and case law (see Graham v. Connor, for example) authorizes me to use reasonable force to effect an arrest, overcome resistance, and prevent escape. If the crime I suspect you of committing is serious enough, one way or another you’re going to end up in handcuffs, even if only temporarily. Protest if you must, but be prepared for the consequences.
Those who brand this as tyranny remind me of the driver who insists on entering an intersection on a green light even as he sees that a car is about to run a red light across his path. “But I had the green light” is a poor choice for an epitaph.