American law enforcement procedures have never been designed to control large groups of citizens in rebellion, but to protect the social structure against specifically criminal acts, or persons. The underlying assumption has always been that the police and the citizens form a natural alliance against the evil and dangerous crooks, who should certainly be arrested on sight and shot if they resist.The book was published in 1966, but the mood is uncannily modern. All you need to do to move some of the quotes from various government officials, such as the mayor of Laconia, forty-some years into the future is substitute "terrorists" and "Homeland Security" for "communists" and "Civil Defense"
There are indications, however, that this "natural alliance" might be going the way of the Maginot Line. More and more often the police are finding themselves in conflict with whole blocs of the citizenry, none of them criminals in the traditional sense of the word, but many as potentially dangerous - to the police - as any armed felon.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
QotD: Literary edition...
I just finished re-reading Hunter S. Thompson's classic Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, the book that created the gonzo legend, and had to dog-ear this passage: