I did not write the following essay, and it came to me without any indication of who wrote it. Absolutely accurate though, and something we should all consider carefully as we move faster and faster towards a totalitarian police state.
That question, even without an answer, makes most law-abiding taxpayers go into knee-jerk seizures. The indoctrinated masses all race to see who can be first, and loudest, to proclaim that it is never okay to forcibly resist law enforcement. In doing so, they also inadvertently demonstrate why so much of human history has been plagued by tyranny and oppression.
In an ideal world, cops would do nothing except protect people from thieves and attackers, in which case resisting a cop would never be justified. In the real world, however, far more injustice, violence, torture, theft, and outright murder is committed in the name of law enforcement, than has been committed in spite of it. To get a little perspective, try watching a documentary or two about some of the atrocities committed by the regimes of Stalin, Lenin, Idi Amin, Slobodan Milosevic, Hitler, Pol Pot, or any number of other tyrants in history. Pause the film when the jackboots are about to herd innocent people into cattle cars, or gun them down as they stand on the edge of a ditch, and then ask yourself the question, “When should you resist a cop?” Keep in mind, the evils of those regimes were committed in the name of law enforcement. And as much as the statement may make people cringe, the history of the human race would have been a lot less gruesome if there had been a lot more resisters around to deal with the state mercenaries of those regimes.
People don’t mind when you point out the tyranny that has happened in other countries, but most have a hard time viewing their own country, their own government, and their own law enforcers, in any sort of objective way. Having been trained to feel a blind loyalty to the ruling class of the particular piece of dirt they live on (a.k.a. patriotism), and having been trained to believe that obedience is a virtue, the idea of forcibly resisting law enforcement is simply unthinkable to many. Literally, they can’t even think about it. And humanity has suffered horribly because of it. It is a testament to the effectiveness of authoritarian indoctrination that literally billions of people throughout history have begged and screamed and cried in the face of authoritarian injustice and oppression, but only a tiny fraction have ever lifted a finger to actually try to stop it.
Even when people can recognize tyranny and oppression, they still usually talk about working within the system, the same system that is responsible for the tyranny and oppression. People want to believe that the system will, sooner or later provide justice. The last thing they want to consider is that they should illegally resist and that if they want to achieve justice, they must become “criminals” and “terrorists,” which is what anyone who resists legal injustice is automatically labelled. But history shows all too well that those who fight for freedom and justice almost always do so illegally, completely without the permission of the ruling class.
If politicians think that they have the right to impose any law they want, and cops have the attitude that, as long as it’s called law, they will enforce it, what is there to prevent complete tyranny? Not the consciences of the law-makers or their hired thugs, obviously. Certainly not any election or petition to the politicians. When tyrants define what counts as law, then by definition it is up to the law-breakers to combat tyranny.
Pick any example of abuse of power, whether it is the fascist war on drugs, the police thuggery that has become so common, the random stops and searches now routinely carried out in the name of security (e.g., at airports, “border checkpoints” that aren’t even at the border, “sobriety checkpoints,” and so on), or anything else. Now ask yourself the uncomfortable question: If it’s wrong for cops to do these things, doesn’t that imply that the people have a right to resist such actions? Of course, state mercenaries don’t take kindly to being resisted, even non-violently. If you question their right to detain you, interrogate you, search you, invade your home, and so on, you are very likely to be tasered, physically assaulted, kidnapped, put in a cage, or shot. If a cop decides to treat you like livestock, whether he does it legally or not, you will usually have only two options: submit, or kill the cop. You can’t resist a cop just a little and get away with it. He or she will always call in more fellow gang members, until you are subdued or dead.
Basic logic dictates that you either have an obligation to allow law enforcers have their way with you, or you have the right to stop them from doing so, which will almost always require forcibly resisting them. Politely asking fascists to not be fascists has a very poor track record. Consider the recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling, which declared that if a cop tries to illegally enter your home, it’s against the law for you to do anything to stop him. Aside from the patent absurdity of it, since it amounts to giving thugs with badges permission to break the law, and makes it a crime for you to defend yourself against a criminal, even if he has a badge. Consider the logical ramifications of that attitude.
There were once some words written on a piece of parchment, now known as the Fourth Amendment, that said that you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures at the hands of government agents. In Indiana today, what could that possibly mean? The message from the ruling class is quite clear, and utterly insane. It amounts to this: “We don’t have the right to invade your home without probable cause … but if we do, you have no right to stop us, and we have the right to arrest you if you try.”
Why not apply that to the rest of the Bill of Rights, while we’re at it? You have the right to say what you want, but if we use violence to shut you up, you have to let us. You have the right to have guns, but if we try to forcibly and illegally disarm you, and you resist, we have the right to kill you. Ask Randy Weaver and the Branch Davidians about that one.You have the right to not testify against yourself, but when we coerce you into confessing you can’t do a thing about it. What good is a right or freedom if you have an obligation to allow jackboots to routinely violate them? It makes the term absolutely meaningless.
To be blunt, if you have the right to do something, or abstain from doing something, it means that if someone tries to prevent you from exercising those rights, even if he has a badge and a politician’s scribble on his side, you have the obligation to use whatever amount of force is necessary to resist that person. That’s what it means to have an unalienable right. If you have the unalienable right to speak your mind, then you have the right to resist government agents who try to shut you up. If you have the unalienable right to be armed, then you have the right to resist government agents who try to disarm you. If you have the right to not be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures, then you have the right to resist government agents who try to inflict those upon you.
Those who are proud to be law-abiding don’t like to hear this, and don’t like to think about this, but what’s the alternative? If you do not have the right to forcibly resist injustice, even if the injustice is called law, that logically implies that you have an obligation to allow government agents to do absolutely anything they want to you, your home, your family, and so on. Really, there are only two choices: you are a slave, the property of the politicians, without any rights at all, or you have the right to violently resist government attempts to oppress you. There can be no other option.
Of course, on a practical level, openly resisting the gang called government is usually very hazardous to one’s health. But there is a big difference between obeying for the sake of self-preservation, which is often necessary and rational, and feeling a moral obligation to go along with whatever the ruling class wants to do to you, which is pathetic and insane. Most of the incomprehensible atrocities that have occurred throughout history were due in large part to the fact that most people answer never to the question of “When should you resist a cop?” The correct answer is: When evil is legal, become a criminal. When oppression is enacted as law, and those violently victimizing the innocent have badges, become a law-breaker.