There is a right way and a wrong way to do just about anything that requires human effort. As an example, the right way to open a bottle of catsup is to twist the lid off, break the film and pour the stuff on whatever gastronomic delight you are hell bent on defiling. The wrong way would be to break the top of the bottle off, Viking style, and pour catsup and glass shards onto your previously edible entree. To further illustrate this point, there is a right way and a wrong way to mount a Harley motorcycle. The right way produces a broad smile as the big twin is brought to life, while the wrong way results in the necessity to summon help from two or three smirking bystanders to get the 800 pounds of iron and leather off your leg that is pinned to the ground. These examples can be found in the unabridged, illustrated book of life.
Some of the best years of my professional life were spent working for supervisors who were secure in the knowledge that a reasonable degree of failure was the best teacher you could have. They understood that knowledge gained “the hard way” was likely to leave a lasting imprint on a just developing police professional. Police science is an rapidly evolving science that has become incredibly sophisticated over the years, with dramatic advances in the world of technology and the application of law. In spite of these advances, in the end, this profession turns on human interaction, if you will, where the rubber meets the road. Stay with me, I am headed somewhere with this!
One of the least sophisticated and finest police officers that I was ever associated with was a older gentleman by the name of Ted (Theodore) Gann, a Lafayette County deputy sheriff, who in his later years was assigned the responsibility of collecting bond and fine money at the truck weigh station in Odessa, Missouri, specifically on I-70. So the reader can grasp the enormity of this task, Ted collected many, many thousands of dollars from hundreds of drivers over the years. He was masterful in his ability to find the appropriate level of discourse with drivers who ranged from enraged to embarrassed, docile to combative. It should also be noted that at the age of 75, Ted, who began life as a coal miner, could, if the need arose, tear your arm off and beat you senseless with it!
Occasionally, we would be summoned to the scales to transport an errant driver to jail, usually because he could not raise the money necessary to cover his “expenses” or was of a temperament that required a little reflective time in the bullpen at the county lockup to restore normal reasoning ability. One of Ted’s admonishments to drivers who were simply offended by a law they had just broken, and chose to rail against this law was, and I am quoting here, “Now (name) if you don’t like the law, work to change it, don’t violate it”. He would go on to remind the violator that working to change a law was how our country operated whereas violating it was going to be expensive at best and deny him access to his profession at worst. Most of the time, these miscreants were receptive and the conversation would end with knowing smiles and money being exchanged between the deputy and the violator.
Folks that are tearing down statues and blocking highways could certainly use a little one on one face time with Ted. Herein lies the problem. I would challenge every one of the folks who are engaged in the pursuit of some elusive form of social justice to stand in front of a mirror and ask themselves a simple question. Are my convictions and/or concerns strong enough to cause me, alone, to grab a rope to pull down a statue or stroll onto a major highway and risk immediate arrest or perhaps being run over by a car? If your strength is derived from a mob, you have no strength at all, and if your convictions do not rise to the level of a willingness to be arrested, you have no conviction. You are an unprincipled individual who has nothing more to do, and likely have no clue as to why you are standing in traffic or tearing down a statue.
I would suggest you spend your time constructively, perhaps writing a respectful letter to your representatives expressing your concerns. Force him or her to respond to your position and become a part of a solution to the issues that you are vexed with. Don’t want to write, then call. Don’t want to call or write, then your conviction is suspect. A final, and legal, effort might be participation in a PEACEFUL demonstration, long a fixture in American social justice. I can assure you that, in the future, your children and grandchildren will not be impressed by your participation in a statue tear down or mob inspired attempt at blocking a road. Deputy Gann is long departed but his advice is as valid today as it was 50 years ago…..work to change the law, don’t violate it!