Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ashamed To Be His Neighbor

A few days ago a man named Rick Cortez wrote a letter to the editor of The Victoria Advocate titled "Police should have authority to stop criminals". To say that this letter angered and disgusted me would be an understatement. However, it in no way surprised or shocked me. Rick Cortez is indicative of a group of people that have always existed, but whose population I believe has swelled in recent years. I call them the Mob Society. They love their slogans, they defend to the hilt people and groups of people, rather than principles and ideas. They are loud. They are opinionated. They are judgmental. They are arrogant. They are condescending. Most importantly, they are dangerous. The idea that I might someday be on trial for suspicion of a crime, and have a person like this as a juror, scares the living daylights out of me.

Mr. Cortez's opening statement is internally contradictory, and it just gets worse from there. To claim you are a "law-abiding citizen", while espousing the view that condones criminal activity, is inconceivable. In order to be a law-abiding citizen, you must follow the entire law. You can't be a "cafeteria law-abiding citizen". When one chooses to have contempt for the proper procedures by which punishment is conveyed to criminals, he is opposite the law. In this country, punishment is decided and levied by judges and juries, only after guilt has been established. The procedural safeguards against improper accusations and findings of guilt may at times be frustrating, but are essential to a civilized and free society. Many scholars from many disciplines have opined that the presumption of innocence is quite possibly the single most important contrasting factor between a free society and one subject to tyranny. The right to confront and cross-examine any and all accusers is integral to the execution of a proper defense as well. The ability to place under oath, under penalty of perjury, those who would accuse you of a crime, is often the instance that ferrets out either maligned or malicious claims. Rick Cortez seems to employ willful ignorance of these key provisions of "the law" that he claims to abide by. Mr. Cortez's claim of possessing a degree in Criminal Justice not only makes this story more intriguing, but makes it more tragic as well.

Perhaps I have placed the cart a bit in front of the horse. For those unfamiliar with the letter in question, or the incident that evoked it, here is the background. There was a 15 or 16 tear old kid in Houston that was a robbery suspect. He apparently was fleeing from the police. When he was finally surrounded and struck by a moving police car, he laid on the ground and surrendered. Rather than performing their duties of subduing, securing, and placing the suspect in the custody, the officers present surrounded him and began kicking him. One officer repeatedly kicked the boy in the head. Another officer, clearly after the boy was restrained, began stomping on the leg that had been struck by the police car. This entire scene was captured on a stationary video camera. Evidently the video was just recently released, and Rick Cortez decided to write a letter to the editor, claiming that the reason crime is so bad is because cops aren't allowed to "do their job", among other things. Apparently, Rick Cortez is of the opinion that the job of police officers is to "teach criminals a lesson".

I could probably go on about this topic for days, but it has to end somewhere. The bottom line is that those in law enforcement have absolutely no right to either attempt to inflict punishment on a suspect, or to commit crimes themselves. The officers in question did both. Anyone with the tendency to defend such despicable acts is an "enemy domestic" that all who take an oath have sworn to uphold the law and defend the Constitution against.


Edith Ann said...

I have a degree in criminal justice. From a reputable university. We never studied anything that said this was acceptable police behavior.

Because we know that the non-law abiding citizens usually push the limits, there is not such offense as 'pissing off the popo". However, I know the officers get tired of putting up with crap from folks who have nother better to do than break the law.

But the law is very clear on the use of force. For example, an officer cannot shoot and kill a suspect just because the officer is too lazy to give chase.

Now, in this case, I have have looked at the video several times. What I see is that once on the ground, this suspect quit resisting. That is a pivotal moment. That is the same point where the officers should have quit handling him like he was still resisting.

Were the officers pissed at having chased this guy, etc.? No doubt about it. But if the officers have no better self control (a matter of training?) than what I observed in regard to a BURGLARY suspect, I have my doubts as to their abilty to enforce the law in a manner that doesn't come back to bite them in the butts!

Do I agree that this was not categorized as assault? No I don't. It should be handled as an assault as that is what it was.

Anonymous said...

Seems Cortez has a kindred spirit.....


Edith Ann said...

I'll go ahead and say it.

When the officers treat someone with the case name of Cortez, or Gonzales, or Martinez or anything that sounds the least bit Hispanic, will these dudes have the same opinion?

Matt Ocker said...

Excellent point, Edith Ann. I have a feeling the natural reaction would be somewhat augmented. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Cortez and his buddy from Refugio will author similar letters decrying the assertions of the likes of LULAC and MALDEF the next time they come around claiming civil rights suppression when a cop takes a Hispanic subject to the ground not quite so gently. We may never know.

mz mizer said...

I guess none of those guys ever heard the name, Rodney King.

Anonymous said...

Why should the cafeteria legal system attitude surprise me?
Until moving to south Texas I have never known as many cafeteria plan catholics either.

For example, I have had many conversations with catholic coworkers who don't believe in birth control yet have no problem engaging in premarital sex and their kids end up having babies at the age of 13.

Matt Ocker said...

The cafeteria approach to justice is very disturbing to me. It is as though freedom and due process are concepts only reserved to certain people. I find it extremely unAmerican.