I urge you to watch the following video, with the following warnings: It's disturbing. And it's not safe for work.
Put aside the wisdom or morality of the drug war. Balko and Sullivan both pivot that way. I want to talk about something different. Something a bit larger. Folks talk about the banality of evil. It's one of those cliches that you hear from time time. But I don't think that folks stop very often to think about what that phrase means. Or what it looks like in action. Evil becomes banal when people -- good people -- stop recognizing it, stop appreciating it, and come to accept it as normal. When evil becomes so routine that good people accept it as the way of doing business.
I am not comparing the cops in the video to Nazis (whence the phrase comes). But it's hard for me to see their actions, here, as anything other than evil. Maybe I'm overly influenced by having kids; maybe I'm not thinking straight. But my reaction to watching these cops, dressed to kill, bashing down a door and shooting two dogs (a pit bull and a corgi) in front of a seven year old child all because his father had a little bit of pot ... well, my initial reaction was shock. This video literally took my breath away. Followed, quickly, by anger. This kid could easily have been killed for nothing; he certainly will be scarred.
The second greatest trick the Devil ever played was to convince folks that being good, and having good intentions, means that you can't do evil. That is bullshit. These cops are likely good people who do a lot of good in their community. But this was a cheorographed raid. They had overwhelming force. There was no resistance. This wasn't a war. They weren't being shot at. The target was clear. Their acts were premeditated. This wasn't stupidity, or error, or chance. No conceivable hypothetical -- no matter how outlandish -- justifies the behavior of these men. There was no ticking time bomb. (They were simply looking for "a large amount of marijuana at the location." Which wasn't there.)
This is what evil looks like. On this night, these cops decided to be thugs.
(And, yes, I'm back.)
UPDATE: Fixed video.
UPDATE 2: I should clarify one thought. And then add another, different thought.
First, the clarification: I wrote, "They were simply looking for "a large amount of marijuana at the location. Which wasn't there." I meant literally that: a "large amount of marijuana" wasn't located at the residence, but a small amount of pot, plus a pipe and other items, was present. I realized in retrospect that my statement could mislead people to think that these officers completely f'ed up, i.e., there was no pot in the house. In fact, they almost completely f'ed up. If that matters. It still would have taken only one of those bullets misdirected to kill a seven year old kid (instead of a pet).
Now, the other, different thought -- and one that is admittedly off topic: The concept that evil is perpetrated, in the main, by good people is a idea that I've always found best expressed in Christianity. It really is the nub of Christian belief, in my view, and why Christianity is worth (including, in these times, the Catholic Church). That doesn't necessarily make be a believer, mind you. I never wanted something to believe in. But it does make me sympathetic, and deeply so. (The modern phrase to use here is "spiritual," -- which I will refuse to use on ground that it is complete and utter bullshit. Either believe or don't.)
So that's my ramble, on reflection. I tend to think that a truly jarring event should produce a ramble. It needs processing. And this is jarring. Doubtless, tomorrow I'll have a different spin to bore y'all with (if I choose to share it). Doubtless, by tomorrow, someone would have dug up some dirt on Mr. Dime-bag to try to justify the above, and I might even reconsider my views.
But not tonight.
UPDATE 3: Like a moron, I misspelled Balko's name. Sorry, Radley; fixed now.