The Rights of Private Individuals

Minor spoiler ahead.

It’s the climax of the movie One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, based on the novel by Agatha Christie. The villain has been unmasked, his base, yet understandable motives, exposed, and the intricate details of his triple murders have been explained by world-famous detective Hercule Poirot. The murderer acknowledges the truth, then stands resolutely behind the love of his life, and says,

“Well…I’ve killed three people, so presumably, I ought to hang. But haven’t I done something for England? I have held it firm. I have kept it solvent. I have kept it free from dictators. I am necessary to the continuing peace and well-being of this nation!”

Haven’t the police done something for this country? Haven’t they kept the crime rate low? Haven’t they protected the good citizens of the United States of America? aren’t they necessary to the well-being of the United States of America?

Yes. They have caught thieves, solved murderers, and saved innocent people from prison or jail. Prevented crime. They have saved lives, delivered babies, and liberated communities from the grips of organized crime, and brutal street gangs.There is no doubt that they prevent crime. The crime rate would be four, five times higher or more without them.

America’s police forces have done their job in part, of ensuring a peaceful society, of forcing us to behave civilly towards one another – by threat of legal action and incarceration. They have punished the guilty, defended, protected, and avenged the innocent, and put their lives at stake, sometimes committing their entire lives to law and order, at the expense of their personal lives and even mental health.

And, they have killed a lot of people in the process

Some people are trying to advance the idea that life-threatening police procedures are part of the process of peace and civilization, that they are necessary to protect the officers involved and, etc. Some lives are lost, they say, but the police are necessary; those deaths should be marked down as acceptable losses, and the officers should be exempt from legal punishment.

No. 

Hercule Poirot and company were astounded, as you can imagine, by the murderer’s nerve and callousness, by his heavy-handed suggestion that public service should give an individual a free pass to commit a felony or two.

Hercule Poirot’s response is what prompted me to write this post:

“For me, the lives of those three people are just as important as your own life. You talk of the continued peace of this nation. But, Poirot is not concerned with nations. Poirot is concerned with private individuals, who have the right not to have their lives taken from them.”

This season of unrest (BLM, protests, riots, in part, demands both reasonable and impossible) isn’t about law and order. George Floyd’s death was not necessary to secure the peace of this nation. Though, it may seem necessary for anyone who thinks you need to kill a couple of Negroes periodically to keep the rest of us in line.

This, all of this, is about his rights as a human being in the world and what his rights should be in the United states of America.

This is about justice.

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