Community responses to crime.

I really need to keep writing this weekend (OMG! I just touchtyped that last sentence! And most of this sentence! This is a big deal for me. I’ve been using a keyboard, sometimes 10+ hours a day, for 25 years, and I still can’t touchtype. Anywa….) so this should be reasonably brief.

A couple of communities have taken very different approaches to the threat of crime in their community. (Before I get started, I’m comparing apples to crabapples here as the threat of crime are two different types for the communities. Regardless, I think the differences in approaches are far reaching and grander than the specifics of what they’re trying to protect themselves against.)

A town in Arkansas, plagued by a criminal culture of drugs and shootings, has allowed its law enforcement to place the town under martial law:

“Curfew” is a rather quaint term for what’s going on there. The police, with automatic assault rifles, are stopping anyone from being on the streets after curfew. Their attitude it clear:

“As far as I’m concerned, at 3 o’clock in the morning, nobody has any business being on the street, except the law,” Councilman Eugene “Red” Johnson said. “Anyone out at 3 o’clock shouldn’t be out on the street, unless you’re going to the hospital.”

It seems to be the opinion of the town’s “leaders” that free citizens don’t have the liberty to be out on their own business in their town when they wish. His belief that everyone should be resting snug in their beds at night else you’re a ne’er-do-well is being imposed by force upon free citizens.

Of course, as all things are, the issue is complicated. There’s no doubt that their town is overrun by crime. Randoms shootings, drive-bys, drugs rampant. In a very significant way I feel for this town. There’s a part of me that thinks in order to deal with an out of control crime wave, the fascist fist of martial law is needed to stem the tide so that more democratic means can be allowed to have an effect. Martial law is an addressing of a symptom–crime come from failures in the social structure and no amount of fascist strength will solve the problems of social distress.

I don’t completely disagree with a limited and controled use of strength to get a situation under control, but that’s not what appears to be happening in this town (I’ve never even visited and know nothing about aside from news articles). It would seem the law of the land has an attitude that armed enforcement of curfew is not a limited and should not be a limited solution but rather a norm. When you have community leaders making statements that no one should be out on the streets late at night, you have a truly fascist attitude which seeks to control the populace and not help it to live with liberty and freedom. This town may push the criminal element to other neighboring towns, but they will not solve the underlying issues this way and will in fact end up do more harm to the very concepts of what it means to live in America.

In the curfew area, those inside the homes in the watch area peered out of door cracks Tuesday as police cruisers passed. They closed the doors afterward.

That sounds like an establishing shot from a movie set in East Germany or the Soviet Union, maybe a movie version of 1984.

Meanwhile, to protect their school children from what they see as a rising tide of school shootings, a Texas school district will be allowing its teacher to carry concealed handguns:

“Gun free zones” are basically game preserves for anyone who has enough disdain for law as to want to shoot people and are going to ignore “gun free zone” declarations in order to do it. A look at school shootings the last couple of decades and you see pretty much two scenarios playing out: 1. A shooter enters a school and starts killing and wounding unprotected people until they decide when to stop, and then they kill themselves. Police arrive after it’s all done. 2. Someone (a student and/or teacher) runs to their car, grabs their gun, and comes back to stop the shooter thus ending the spree earlier than the shooter would have decided to. Police arrive after it’s all done. (Same goes with the recent church shootings.)

Unless a school is placed next door to a police station, it can take several minutes for police to respond to a shooting (which even in this age of cell phones, may not even be placed until a couple of minutes into the event), and then it can take longer for the police to make an organized counter “attack” on the shooter. And as we’ve seen, it doesn’t take very long for a shooter to exhaust their ammo and turn a final shot on themselves.

The idea of a “liberal media” is absurd, except when it comes to issues of successful non-police use of guns to protect innocent people, then the media is generally silent on reporting it:

(Although, as you can see, CNN.com appears to be doing a fair piece on this Texas town–kudos to them)

The important thing is that the school district is being smart about it. When rabid liberals hear the idea of letting teachers or students carry firearms on a campus, they immediately commit reductio ad absurdum and imagine a wild west shootout left and right. The district will be requiring very specific and strict guidelines for who can carry:

For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, must be authorized to carry by the district, must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

(OK, so this isn’t brief.) These are indeed two different situations that have received two different solutions, but I would like to point out the mindset and the larger repercussions of both solutions. In the Arkansas town you have a situation where the empowerment of the people has be abdicated in favor of police control. The populace have turned over their ability to take matters in their own hand, to fight to make change in their community, over to an entirely different group of armed thugs. A more organized and better funded group of thugs, perhaps. The free citizens have given up their freedom and have chosen to live under siege. Safe, perhaps, but disempowered and cowering to a different force that’s become even more uncontrollable than the criminal element.

On the other hand, the Texas town is determined to take matters into their own hands and protect their own themselves. They have recognized the absurdity of both fascist control and posting warning signs that have all the effect of “Nuh uh, mister baddie-bad. You can’t bring your guns in here to express your sociopathic suicide rage–this is a ‘gun free zone!'” Instead of relying on the near-impossible protection of the police, they have chosen a course of action that empowers themselves and not only does not eliminate freedom but rather express and celebrates it.

It’s this exact difference in attitudes which can be extrapolated into the bigger context of our reaction to terrahism. Our government has decided to take the attitude of the Arkansas town and enact police state tactics. It has decided the best way to protect the land of the free against those who despise our freedom and liberty, is to remove freedom and liberty. To paraphrase Penn Jillette, the first act our government should have done after 9/11 was to remove laws, not make more restricting our freedoms. The best attack against fundamentalism is to increase freedom and liberty and not do their job for them.

And the tragic thing is that we the people are letting it happen. We’re peeking out the crack of our doors and closing them tight as the law drives by in the middle of the night. We imagine we’re nice and safe, but unlike the “safety” of the Arkansas town, our safety is completely illusionary. Time and time and time again it’s pointed up how worthless the TSA security is in anything except controlling the innocent. How worthless the border controls are at anything except controlling in innocent. How worthless port inspections are, shipping truck control is. We’re living under increasingly fascist state control without the benefit of the safety we’re supposedly being sold in exchange for our civil liberties.