The True Injustice of Cases Like Eric Garner


Libertarians and limited-government advocating conservatives and Republicans frequently reference the fact that government is force. They say government policies, laws, and regulations are enforced at the barrel of a gun. And that’s about the point when liberals and progressives snort with derisive laughter and say that “it’ll never come to that” or “go wrap your head in tin foil, without government who would build the roads?”

Then we have the case of Eric Garner, who NYPD officers accused of selling “loosies” or single cigarettes. (This is not only illegal in New York City, but also a federal crime, by the way.) Police chose to engage Garner physically instead of simply issuing him a citation and court summons. When Garner appeared to resist arrest, five officers engaged in a take-down, which led to Garner’s death as one of the officers applied a “choke hold” in an effort to subdue him.

Much has been said and written about the incident already, and we don’t want to focus on the specifics of the case other than to say clearly the police engaged in an excessive use of force that resulted in the death of someone they were taking into custody. There must be consequences for this action. In our view, this is not a racial issue; it is a human one. The issue calls to question how much force the government should be permitted, especially when responding to non-violent offenses.

The Garner incident joins many other, and often not widely reported, incidents of police resorting to violence against citizens in what should be routine law enforcement matters. The Cato Institute publishes a map of such incidents, which you can view here:

Government’s willingness to go overboard and use armed and sometimes militarized types response units to respond to administrative, and sometimes imaginary, violations of law is alarming. All citizens of all ideological persuasions should be outraged and demand that this activity stop immediately and impose criminal and civil liabilities for government officials who act inappropriately.

In 2013, the federal code alone stood at some 43,000 pages of text (the Holy Bible, often decried as imposing too many harsh rules, by comparison is 1,100 pages). The federal code is only a collection of laws enacted by Congress; it does not include tens of thousands of pages of regulations and administrative rules imposed by executive and regulatory agencies. And that’s only at the federal level, and doesn’t include additional layers upon layers of rules and laws imposed by state and local governments.

It is indisputable that “government” laws, whether imposed by federal, state, or local authorities, have grown exponentially since World War II. A frequent complaint of many small government and freedom advocates is that law-abiding citizens could at any point be breaking several laws without knowing it. In fact, John Baker, retired law professor was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying, “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.”

At a recent graduation speech, President Obama encouraged graduates from the Ohio State University to reject voices who suggest “that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”

In response, we’ll offer a quote from Atlas Shrugged :

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Dr. Ferris

The president insists that tyranny is in fact NOT lurking just around the corner. But for a growing number of people who have encountered the government’s machine of law enforcement by breaking petty rules like selling single cigarettes, buying cases of water that look like alcohol, or simply feeding the homeless, it just might be.

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One Response to The True Injustice of Cases Like Eric Garner

  1. jeneanmacb says:

    I think its deplorable that, with all the millions of dollars donated to institutions of “higher” learning and research, all the deference given to “flag-hip” universities and “ivy league” and high-priced colleges, all we know about human nature’s willingness to obey and its ability to self-will itself to ignorance and cruelty, is routinely ignored or exploited.

    Nowhere is this more notable than in minority communities that have swallowed the Liberal/Marxist lie hook, line, and sinker. Yes, Garner’s death is sad for his family; he is indeed an example of what ghetto culture produces. Where is the job or trade that would have given him a meaningful, dignified work? Selling “loosies” on a street corner is Tijuanna time. For all the free healthcare we’re paying for, why was he obese, asthmatic, diabetic, etc (metabolic disorders)? Because, quite simply, he was stupid the way a child is stupid. His life chances may not have been optimal, but his life choices were pathetic. Why? Along with all the government laws regulating his behavior, those government laws molded him into a passive victim of circumstances, and rewarded his acceptance of his victimhood status with a “narrative” about blackness that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Instead of marching, looting, shouting, demonstrating against white injustice, black people would be better served if they directed all that wasted frustrated energy towards shaking off the shackles of black Liberal/Marxist leadership. After 194 years, you’d think they’d get it by now: slavery by whites is over. It’s dependence on the teat of government that has enslaved them in a way no white person can or would want to.

    American freedom offers everyone opportunities their ancestors couldn’t begin to dream of, and the government makes sure those of us who can and do love that freedom—even if we are not fabulously wealthy ourselves—are more and more silenced and ensnared by “laws”. If people read/understood the Constitution, if they took the time and made the effort to live free (or die), if they could fully comprehend that there is no personal freedom without economic freedom, then they might rise up and demand a cessation to government intrusion into their lives through economic force that ALWAYS evolves into physical and moral totalitarianism.

    Garner isn’t the only American to experience the choke-hold of government.

What do you think?