Monday, February 15, 2010

Simple Respect

Expect nothing more, accept nothing less.

Hopefully someone is old enough and obscure enough to get the reference.

Actually, the world would be such a better place if we had simple respect for each other. Unfortunately, to so many people, we are just an extra in the movie of their life. And not a very important extra either. So, the lack of Simple Respect ends up destroying the civility in society. Not holding the door open for a woman in the name of equality. Not pausing and letting someone in the lane in front of you instead of speeding up to get ahead of them before they move over.

Hang with me folks, this is liable to get a little bumpy.

So, just where am I going with all this?

R E S P E C T, Aretha said it best!

Respect and the different levels thereof.

In my last post, I ragged on a State Trooper who got so blindingly drunk that he couldn't tell which way he was going and nearly killed multiple people when he drove rather dangerously causing a five vehicle pileup. I made clear that I wasn't bashing LEO's and have a great level of respect for them. Some of them, that's what I want to explain.

Respect, Why should I, you or anybody respect a cop or other public servant?

Well, for one, I think there are a couple different things going on here. There is the respect for what the person represents and there is respect for the person behind the badge or ID whom, I think deserves increased respect. This holds true for not only LEO's but also Fire Fighters and Medics, who get most of the flash, but also for the person from Streets and Sanitation, the Animal Control Officer and the Clerk at City Hall.

On a personal level, each and every one of these fine folks deserves an extra level of respect just for showing up to do their job each day. Why? Because each of these contributes to make your selfish life a little safer, better, easier. They also show up despite having to deal with a self absorbed public who maybe doesn't completely understand the situation or doesn't want to understand the situation. They just want to be taken care of because, "My tax dollars pays your salary." Well, your tax dollars pays them to take care of society. Just like the Supreme Court has ruled that the Police have no duty to protect you as an individual, only society as a whole, same holds true for the other public servants. They have a duty to society and if that duty just happens to be to help you at that particular time, then there they are to help. But they are not your personal servant and should not be expected to act as such.

Simple Respect

On a professional level, there is an additional level of respect due for the job they perform and what they represent. They represent the ideals of a civil society that we want to create. That is why we gave them the authority that they have. To help maintain an orderly civil society. As such, the position deserves additional respect, the Badge is a representation of the rule of law on the street and should be respected for the additional authority it conveys. That additional authority is granted by us, the civil society, to those who we choose to represent us. (Wow that could go towards politicians as well as where I was headed but that is too much for this post)

This has lead misbeHaven and I to have some interesting discussion about enhanced sentences / charges for those who commit crimes against public servants especially LEO's. I think that also ties into enhanced charges against public servants especially who cross the line and violate the trust and authority granted them by We The People, Civil Society as well as violating the laws they are sworn to uphold.

Should there be enhanced penalties for crimes against a public servant? Sometimes.
If the crime is against them in the performance of their duties representing civil society, then absolutely. The crime is not just against the person but what they represent which means the crime is committed with contempt towards society as a whole. Shoot at a cop while they are attempting to arrest for a violation against society? Absolute enhancement. We're talking gang bangers, bank robbers, rapist, arsonist etc. These are crimes against society as well as a crime against an individual. The actor has shown their contempt for society already and to compound this by demonstrating their lack of respect for the rule of law and the authority of a civil society represented by the LEO. Attack a medic/firefighter that comes to bail you out after you do something stupid and get yourself or someone else injured? (DWI crash anyone?) You have attacked the civil society they represent as well as the person attempting to aid you. Enhanced penalties? Absolutely. All this in addition to charges for violating the laws against the original behavior.

Now, here is where it gets interesting, What happens when the public servant betrays the trust, authority and enhanced respect entrusted to them by the society they have sworn to protect and serve? Enhanced penalties? Absolutely. An easy example is in my last post, a State Trooper who has taken an oath to protect and serve the people of the Great State of Texas, dropped any pretense of respect for those he serves and decides to drink till blindingly drunk then operate a two ton vehicle on a public road with reckless disregard for the safety of any others on the roadway. Including those to whom he swore an oath to protect and serve. This man was expected to behave in a manner befitting the authority the public entrusted in him. He betrayed that trust in a most alarming way. I would say assault with malice aforethought. No one poured those drinks down his throat and he knew the effects of drinking that much, he had the training and authority to arrest those who did just this. No one forced him to get behind the wheel of his truck and drive on public roadways, he had the training and authority to arrest those who did just this. No one forced him to drive like a maniac forcing others off the road and ultimately flipping his own vehicle and landing on top of another, potentially killing the occupants (thank god he didn't), he had the training and authority to arrest those who did just that.

I would hazard to say that his actions not only didn't show any respect or care for those whom he had sworn an oath to serve and protect but shows a level of contempt and disdain for those very same people since he knows first hand what that behavior leads to. Which leads to a whole other can of worms. What happens when these officials whom we have given extra power and authority no longer respect or care for those who granted them this power in the first place? When the Thin Blue Line becomes an Us against Them division and those whom we granted extra authority to go with their extra responsibility decide they are somehow better than the society that they are a member of? (again this could really go into the current level of political upheaval)

Remember when Civilian meant someone not in Military service? LAW enforcement is just that, civil service, it is not war. Not the War on Drugs not the War on Guns or the War on anything. Law enforcement is a contract of a civil society with itself, that members of that society agree to abide by these laws as part of being a member of that society and the enforcement of that agreement by MEMBERS of that society. Law Enforcement Officers are Civilians unless they are MP's. They are Sworn Members of the Society which they have taken an oath to serve and protect. Do they deserve extra respect for the job of extra responsibility that they have chosen to take? ABSOFREAKINLUTELY!

Many public servants know this but unfortunately some have strayed from the path and have decided that by being in Law Enforcement, or some other position of CIVIL authority, they are now somehow better than the rest of the people in the society that they are a part of and have sworn to protect and serve. They feel that they are no longer a civilian, that they now have power that they are somehow owed, for putting up with the rest of society, instead of understanding the awesome responsibility they have accepted in taking on this position.

So, where does this lead us? The public servant has a personal responsibility (there are those words again) to the society that has granted them extra authority to use that authority to protect and serve the members of that civil society that granted them this additional authority. AND, the members of the civil society have a personal responsibility to show an additional level of respect towards those whom they have chosen to grant this additional authority to. Right up until a betrayal of that trust and responsibility in either direction. When a member of the public at large violates the trust and respect for society and it's laws or when one of those granted extra authority by society betrays the trust intimate to the extra authority, the violator must be held responsible for their actions and violation of trust. With the betrayal of responsibility comes an automatic forfeiture of trust and respect.

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