As NWA said way back in 1988, “Fuck Tha Police.” This of course is the most gangsta thing on every suburban white kid’s ipod, myself included. In fact, on those days when I feel like throwing a brick through a bank window, or punching some slow walking person in the back of the head for making me late for class, “Fuck tha Police” is an integral part of my playlist. It’s certainly one of the most anti-establishment songs of the last 30 years, perhaps only rivaled in its renunciation of police racism by Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of.” Although both NWA and Rage denounce police forces as violent, racist, bigoted organizations, I believe that they don’t go far enough. What these artists don’t manage to suggest is that in a civil society bound by a social contract, police forces are largely unnecessary. Most of the petty crime that happens in the world could essentially be solved by rectifying two problems. With a lessening of the economic disparity in our current society, and a better mental health system, we could largely eliminate the need for traditional police forces altogether.
Thefts for the most part occur largely from an economic disparity. This is why crime is most prevalent in low-income neighborhoods. For the most part, those who steal from others do so out of necessity. People steal to support their addictions, or to feed their families, not for the most part because they covet other people’s goods. Of course there are instances of crime that occur because of greed, which is especially true of the white collar world (ie. The “Wall Street” phenomenon). Arguably when people steal from retail chains it is something that they need which they feel the retail store is charging far too much for. If you’ve ever purchased clothes from a Banana Republic you almost certainly feel robbed when you walk out of the store.
In terms of how important expanding the mental health support system is in society, it is important to note the relationship between crime and addiction. Virtually nobody gets addicted to drugs or alcohol because of some random predisposition for snorting things. People get addicted to things because they are trying to deal with some sort of mental health issue. Booze and illegal drugs make excellent anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications. Addictions to prescription meds also occur largely as the result of mental health issues that are unaddressed. If the state was to provide free counseling to people regardless of their age, income, etc. addictions would almost certainly decrease. “What about organized crime?” you ask. “Who will stop the big crime bosses?” To that I would offer the suggestion that organized crime has always profited off the sale of illegal drugs, not to mention the fact that if we ended the “War on Drugs” it would also destroy the income base of organized crime syndicates.
Last, there’s a certain counter-intuitive logic to addressing crime with policing. If you’re trying to get rid of mosquitoes it makes more sense to buy some repellant and use pesticides to control the population of mosquitoes than to just buy a shit load of fly swatters. The same is true of crime. Why not address crime at the source instead of paying a group of ill-educated people on power trips to keep it under control. I’m not suggesting that we don’t need some sort of force to keep those that fall outside the norm from harming others. But traditional policing just isn’t adequate enough to even keep crime under control, let alone address it at the source. In short, don’t just fuck the police, redirect their budget.
What do you think? Fuck tha police or maintain traditional policing?