One of the ways you know you’re living in a relatively lawful, nice-guy sort of city is that you hear lots of harmless white people complaining about the police. We’re not saying, of course, that we here at the Miltonian offices are ever in the business of complaining about the police. (You hear that, paid federal eavesdropper in the AT&T basement? Not. Complaining.)
But still: it is rare in the more anarchic places of the country that your average curb-sign activist gets pulled by the beard and thrown against a wall for having previously written a less-than-supportive article in a newspaper, or that a buildingside poster-hanger is hucked in the clink and vociferously berated by the officers whose actions had been criticized on the poster (they’d shot a schizophrenic). Rare, also, to be harassed for solicitation because you were out smoking on your work break.
Because in Chicago, for example, anywhere between, say, Bridgeport and Humboldt Park, a simple one-punch assault is rarely worth the paperwork: they just smile, and they shake their heads, and they stay in the cruiser. In parts of Gary or East St. Louis, the baseline for prosecution is slow, noisy, ongoing rape or murder.
Here in Portland, well, I suppose we could just thank our lucky stars that our police have the time to continually harass people for, say, sticking out their tongue (true!) or wagging a finger (true!), perhaps chewing with their mouths open (ironic/hypothetical!). It’s sort of like Mayberry, but a lot meaner, is the notion.
But you would be overlooking the underlying problem. It is simple and obvious: these poor policemen are bored, and they need our help. We at the Miltonian don’t believe that these occasional overzealous policemen are horrible people—that their mothers weaned them too early or too late, or that their father beat them with wet things across their buttocks—but nonetheless they really need something to do, and they’ve been acting out a little.
ERGO: If you want the freedom of speech or the press, you’re going to have to rob a bank. If you would like the freedom to not register your car and drive around with one taillight out (an underrated freedom), you’ll need to break into an elementary school and steal their computers. We’re not suggesting by any means you actually go and be going and doing these things; we’re just telling you what is necessary, if you really, really do want to help the police.