Saturday, April 25, 2009

Limbs Across the Ocean

Andrea Wulf has a fascinating essay about the early history of American and British gardening over at the Wall Street Journal. Go check it out. Anything with Benjamin Franklin in it is well worth reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tough Talk

Ann Althouse has a link to an article about Milwaukee and openly carrying a firearm. In the article is the following quote from the Milwaukee Chief of Police: "My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we'll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it".

That statement bothers me. And the point of concern is less about gun laws, than attitude. Even if you believe that citizens should not be allowed to carry firearms, you still should be concerned about the use of the word 'troops' when discussing police.

Troops are properly cavalry soldiers, but modern usage has expanded to cover all soldiers, especially those who are in combat.

Historically, police in America have not been militarized. Other countries do have militarized police (such as the gendarmes in France). These specialized police qare employed to maintain order and to protect the current regime from rebellion. As such they enjoy a special status within the society.

In the U.S. police are regarded at law as deputized citizens. The maintenance of order is a collective responsibility, not just that of the police. More to the point, we believe that they are also to maintain a certain level of justice.

Troops have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with order. The use of military terms when referring to police implies that they are at war with the rest of society, or some element thereof, instead of being part of society at large.

I do not think I would enjoy living in Milwaukee. I really do not wish to live in a city where the police are waging war.