Are the Police Overstepping their Authority?

Although, there is an obvious racial component to the recent viral situations of the overuse of force by police, I will refrain from discussing it in this post. I do not feel prepared enough to dissect that ball of wax, so I will keep mum about that, at least for now. So why am I posting at all? I think there are various strains of issues, regarding the police, that feed this fire, and I would like to examine them. I suppose I risk unpopularity, but do try to bare with me.

Everyone when being pulled over or stopped by police should be respectful and polite. People should know to keep their hands where the police can see them, and people should, in most circumstances, do what the police officer asks them to do. Just as well, they should respond to the officer’s questions and not be stubborn about it.

However, not everyone is going to do this. Maybe the person is oppositional by nature. Maybe some people just don’t handle having a rough day well. (Anytime you’re pulled over or stopped by police, you are probably having a bad day.) Just because someone is nasty or rude is not license for someone to be arrested or asked to step out of their vehicle. Police officers are professionals, and they should know how to deal with irritated, rude, or downright nasty people. In fact, they really should expect it. Even though, ideally, they shouldn’t have to deal with bad behavior, especially from grown adults.

My point? I’ve known officers, who have been talked backed to over a traffic citation, who threaten the individual with arrest. I’ve known cases where people were charged with extra crimes simply because they yelled at an officer. I’ve known places where this was a common issue. (Yes, I know crime is bad.) This is not okay. While, people should respect officers. Officers should not over step their authority. Speaking, insulting, yelling, or whatever the case is, like it or not, is free speech.

Furthermore, non-lethal violence should always be met with non-lethal force. Legally, where I’m at, I cannot use lethal force against someone unless they are using lethal force against me or someone else. I think this law should apply to officers. By all means if a police officer is chasing a suspect and the suspect is reaching for his pocket, taser the person. He could have a gun, and I’d much prefer no one die.

Now, I’m not trying to demonize most police officers. I do admire police, and I have respect for the police. You better believe I’m the nicest person a police officer will ever meet, who is pulled over for a one day old expired registration tag. Still, I think there are police who have let their authority go to their head, and that’s an issue we keep seeing over and over again. It’s a legitimate concern, and I think it needs to be addressed. Even criminals shouldn’t have their rights violated.


Skepticism: Faith and Authority

Most are not 100% skeptical all of time. For example, I consider myself a skeptic, but I don’t spend my time questioning whether the grass is really green or whether water is composed of H2O. I could, but I am fairly certain my original position that grass is green and water is composed of H2O is the correct one. There are certain people who will blatantly say that is never okay to take things on faith and authority, and when the idea that many people take, say science, on faith they try to weasel their way out.

However, taking things on faith and authority, in a very limited way, can be acceptable in certain situations. I think blind faith is generally a bad idea. Still, we need to consider non-blind faith. In other words, we need to consider faith that has a basis to exist. For example, I’ve studied evolution to some degree and I know some of the major findings supporting it. I don’t know a lot of the more complex studies having to do with evolution, but I generally accept most the mainstream findings of scientists. Why? Because, “faith” in these scientists is not blind. It is based on something factual and objective about this science in the first place. Also with science, I know the method. I trust the method; because, it’s method does weed hoaxes and the like. It is open to change and scrutiny. Is this improper? Given it’s record, I don’t think it is. I know how the scientific method works, and as far as can tell, it is working quite well at the moment. If, for example, I had actual knowledge that every part of Catholicism was true but I just wasn’t sure whether the deity was triune, I might take it on faith that my priest was right about God.

Also, I think it is appropriate to take things on authority sometimes, but it depends on the authority. Is the authority reliable/trustworthy? Does the authority have a good tract record? Does the authority have the knowledge to dispense a particular claim? Does the authority have his/her mental facilities in good working order?  Is the authority unbiased? These are questions that need an affirmative answer. The problem is that a lot of people depend on an authority who does not meet the previous qualifications. I’m not going to ask my tv repair man what’s wrong with my car. Likewise, I’m not going to ask a science question to a cleric.

I think most skeptics would agree with. Although, they might argue with how I’ve treated faith. They might say that what I’m arguing isn’t faith at all, but I’d like to hear an argument on why faith should be redefined. People don’t seem to realize that we greatly depend on faith and authority a good portion of the time. It isn’t always universally wrong to do so, but we should question ourselves from time to time about what ideas we’re accepting and why.