I take a relatively narrow view of legitimate government power. Some of you will disagree, but indulge me for a moment.
You know those videos that go around about once a year in which some jackass police officer from San Bernardino or some comparable hellmouth pulls over an unoffending motorist (disproportionately young women) and then laughingly presents the obviously terrified driver with a Thanksgiving turkey or a Best Buy gift card or something like that? I think every one of those guys should be fired—and where there is a law to prosecute them under, they should go to jail. These pranks are a grotesque abuse of police power, subjecting innocent people to stress, anxiety, and serious physical danger (traffic stops increase the risk of being involved in a wreck) because some gormless state functionary is bored and decides that his life will never have any meaning until he stars in a viral video on YouTube.
If the police in Springfield, Missouri, wanted to hand out turkeys to little old ladies, they could walk into any bingo hall or strip-mall parking lot and do it. But that wouldn’t be a very good video, would it? Why? Because the entertaining part is the fear and anxiety inflicted on people who already are suffering the indignity of living in Springfield, Missouri. Getting pulled over by the police is an involuntary detention, i.e., the mildest form of arrest. And before all you lawyers out there fire up your emails, I don’t care how fine you want to cut it: If you can’t say “Go f—k yourself, ossifer” and drive off without getting shot and/or put in jail, then you’re under arrest, whatever the lawyers call it. For a normal person, that’s extremely stressful—and if you are the kind of guy who is willing to use his badge and gun to subject someone to that kind of stress in a quest for social-media likes and giggles, then you shouldn’t have a badge or a gun. The eternal problem with police work is that the kind of people who have the capacity to use violence when doing so is legitimate and necessary live in a Venn diagram circle with a great big overlap with the world of vicious bullies with mental problems. That’s why so many cops are criminals.
That’s a relatively petty example. Let’s look at another one where I was in the minority.