This morning Greg Knapp, host of the KCMO Morning Show, defended the use of pepper spray on non-violent protestors at UC-Davis. Video of the incident has been widely viewed, and has sparked outrage by Occupy sympathizers, and a sort of sadistic contempt by the movement’s detractors. Knapp and his listeners, and presumably others on the Right, believe the police are justified and the protestors are getting what they deserve.
I had not seen video of the students being hosed with pepper spray, who were described as blocking the entrance to the school, and who quickly moved after being hit with the chemicals. The video does not depict this at all. It shows a dozen or students blocking a footpath, and only move after being dragged away by police brandishing batons.
In order to justify such abuse, Knapp appealed to an authority on the issue – a police officer – who wrote the book on “use of force.” Well of course this guy’s going to say that everything’s perfectly fine. His guidelines were followed. He can’t condemn the behavior; he suggested it in the first place! In this officer’s opinion, pepper spray is a “compliance tool.” How Orwellian a name is that?
Such appeals to the State provide a veil of legitimacy to the violence being perpetrated. This post sums it all up very nicely: “Sorry Libs […] the pepper spray incident was standard operating procedure.” Who cares if it was the standard? If the standard itself is corrupt, nothing which relies on its authority can be pure. What’s never questioned is whether the law in question is itself legitimate. Just as with immigration, the Law and Order conservatives never stop to ask these fundamental questions, let alone consider the possible consequences.
This is because the prospect that such treatment would ever be used against them never seems to occur to conservatives. They still don’t think any of them will ever be hauled off to some secret prison, tortured, or be made an unperson. Their blind devotion to the State and its para-military police forces prevents them from ever looking at a case such as this objectively. It’s as though they never stop to consider what might happen if they were on the other side of the gun.
The whole incident reinforces the wisdom behind this picture that made its way around the internet in recent weeks.
Official justification notwithstanding, the militarization of the police forces represents a threat to society far greater than any protest movement ever could.
I’ve decided to remain neutral with the OWS crowd. Many are ignorant of the true source of their frustration, which is government, from whom corporations draw their power. I’ve spoken with a number of folks at Occupy KC, and most of them fall into this category. However, there are also a number of individuals who see the problem for what it is. They are principled anti-state, anti-war, pro-market types, who reject central planning and embrace freedom.