Bill Bucher: We can’t let lawlessness and hate escalate

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 10, 2016

By Bill Bucher

Special to the Post

I think most of us can agree that the recent spate of killings of unarmed black citizens across our nation is more than troubling; it is a sign to all of us, regardless of our race or kinship, that the civilization we have come to expect appears to be unraveling.

All people, regardless of race, expect the police to handle their difficult jobs without needlessly endangering or even killing those whom they serve. We should expect to be treated as citizens with rights whenever we encounter law enforcement. Period.

And now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me also assert that having the job of a police officer should never be as dangerous as it appears to be right now. We, as citizens of a community, must acknowledge that we can’t live together without someone in authority to sort out disputes and enforce the laws that we expect to be enforced, and we willingly give that authority to our law enforcement officials.

Without an effective law enforcement presence we could expect our lives to resemble places like Syria or Afghanistan, where it was likely that you could be attacked at any time by anyone with no hope of resisting or even surviving, and the perpetrators would be free to act without punishment.

The problem is that the lawlessness that we have seen recently — on the part of a handful of police officers as well as a few people whose actions classify them as criminals — moves us closer to that kind of existence whether we want it to or not. The opposite of law-abiding is, by definition, lawlessness.

When anyone takes out their anger, frustration or even fear on an innocent person, our society begins to crumble. A police officer who shoots an unarmed person because the last five people he arrested were criminals is not justified, no matter how he feels. Likewise, the person who attacks a police officer because he feels that somewhere in the world, another police officer acted illegally is also not only wrong, but criminally wrong. Both are an affront to what we expect out of our fellow citizens.

Retaliating against law enforcement never helps, and in fact makes things worse. If person “A” actually did something criminally wrong, how does punishing person “B” make things any better? Does punishing one black person for another’s crimes ever make any sense? On the other hand, how is it “justice” to attack any police officer because you believe another police officer unjustifiably shot an unarmed man? The answer, of course, is that it never is. Both actions are wrong. Period.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once wisely said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.” I believe that we’ve come too far as a society to let this happen. Every member of our society, at every level, must demand that the violence stop, and stop now. Our very lives depend on it.

Bill Bucher is a resident of Rowan County.