Police state

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I can't even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant... Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain't happening. ~ Michael Chertoff
As an anarchist, I view all states as police states, because every law is ultimately backed by police force against the body or property of a scofflaw, however peaceful he may be.  I see only a difference of degree, not of kind.  But even small differences in the degree of repression can be matters of life or death, and so they should not be trivialized. ~ Wendy McElroy

Police state is a term denoting government that exercises power arbitrarily through policing. Originally the term designated a state regulated by a civil administration, but since the beginning of the 20th century, the term has taken on the emotionally-charged and derogatory meaning.

Quotes[edit]

  • I can't even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant... Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain't happening.
  • We are pretty free in America when you compare us to other nations around the world, but we're not pretty free in America when you compare us to past generations.

    If you look at the state of what's going on in America right now—and, y'know, in my book I chronicle easily a hundred different cases where government has overreached and encroached on Constitutional liberties of Americans—we're at the point now in America, a little girl can't run a lemonade stand in her driveway without having the local zoning zealots come in and fine her fifty dollars.  We're at the point now where elementary school kids down in Georgia have their irises scanned as they board the bus—all in the name of "safety."  We're at the point now where nebulous environmental laws prevent homeowners from building a shed in their own back yard because there might be a flood plain issue in a hundred years.

    This is the America where we're at, and I really implore people to read my book and tell me how we're not in a police state, because my research shows we're right on the cusp.

  • [D]oes America now embody this common description of a police state?

    Clearly it does.  The American government exerts extreme control over society, down to dictating which foods you may eat.  Its economic control borders on the absolute.  It politicizes and presides over even the traditional bastion of privacy—the family.  Camera and other surveillance of daily life has soared, with the Supreme Court recently expanding the "right" of police to perform warrantless searches.  Enforcement is so draconian that the United States has more prisoners per capita than any other nation; and over the last few years, the police have been self-consciously militarizing their procedures and attitudesTravel, formerly a right, is now a privilege granted by government agents at their whim.  Several huge and tyrannical law-enforcement agencies monitor peaceful behavior rather than respond to crime.  These agencies operate largely outside the restrictions of the Constitution; for example, the TSA conducts arbitrary searches in violation of Fourth Amendment guarantees.

    As an anarchist, I view all states as police states, because every law is ultimately backed by police force against the body or property of a scofflaw, however peaceful he may be.  I see only a difference of degree, not of kind.  But even small differences in the degree of repression can be matters of life or death, and so they should not be trivialized.

  • The prosecutors have all the power.  Not even the judge has discretion, because lawmakers have mostly taken that liberality away in the name of cracking down on crime.  This happened all through the 1980s and 1990s, and the prosecutorial dictatorship has entrenched itself to become the norm since 2001.  For the last ten years, the police state has had free rein.
  • These people are politically, socially, culturally, and economically invisible.  How many are actually guilty?  We can't know.  How many could be let out today to make a wonderful contribution to building a productive society?  We don't know.  How many are completely nonviolent, not even guilty by any normal standard of law but only guilty according to the letter of the current dictatorship?  Probably a majority.  …  Yet the rise and entrenchment of the American police state are rarely questioned.

    However, in the end, what is really needed is a fundamental rethinking of the notion that the state rather than private markets must monopolize the provision of justice and security. This is the fatal conceit. No power granted to the state goes unabused. This power, among all possible powers, might be the most important one to take away from the state.

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External links[edit]

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