Paying Attention

A friend, veteran, and fellow biker sends:


Today was the date for the publication of my very favorite annual poll, the Gallup Confidence in Institutions Poll. As you know from hearing me talk about this in the past, all of our democratic and political organs have been suffering a long-term decline in public confidence. Congress is now down to seven percent! None of our major political institutions now command "a lot" or "quite a bit" of confidence from a third of Americans.

The police still command a majority (though still behind 'small business' and 'the military'). So clearly my friend's sentiment is not widely shared.

Nevertheless it's an interesting point. The biker's loyalties are unknown, and he has adopted a posture that suggests he is dangerous. On the other hand, the shotgun he's carrying is of limited hazard. The policeman belongs to a unit, with military-grade gear, and has the backing of the government. Obviously the policeman is far, far more dangerous.

But people trust the police, and even more the military, though they don't trust the government that they serve. That's interesting. It seems like there's got to be a kind of very serious tension there: trusting the servant, but not the master. Or do we trust that those in arms are gentlemen, and will at last do the right thing no matter how corrupt their leaders might be?

16 comments:

Eric Blair said...

They aren't doing the right thing.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/27/ny-county-to-pay-650000-after-police-shoot-woman-in-drug-raid-on-wrong-apartment/

douglas said...

People want to believe there are still good guys out there protecting us, just as children need to believe that we parents will protect them. It's good to want that, but the reality is that we can't assume that as a broad classification- and probably never should. Gentlemen are in short supply, and even shorter in a culture that does nothing to promote their development. I think it's safe to say that you'll find more of that type of person in the fields of military and police work, but that's as far as I'd go. Humans are humans, after all.

Texan99 said...

I'm not crazy enough to trust any individual policeman or serviceman without finding out something about him; I don't imagine everyone in that uniform is the same. But when it comes to gut reactions to the sight of them, yes, I get a warm and trusting feeling about the uniform unless and until something happens to disabuse me. The picture of the guy in front of the Homeland Security vehicle gives me creeps about his bureaucratic bosses, not about the guy himself.

I don't automatically dislike bikers, even grungy ones with prominent weapons displayed, but my gut reaction is more neutral and cautious, more wait-and-see.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that the more armor the police officer wears, the more wary people around him (or her) act. Not sure if it's because people think "body armor=SWAT=big trouble nearby" or "body armor=militarized police=dog shooter on no-knock raid of wrong house." In either case it is an interesting reaction. As an aside, up here, the Highway Patrol officers don't wear visible armor; at least not yet.

LittleRed1

Grim said...

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't be cautious about a guy you know nothing about who is carrying a shotgun on his motorcycle. Of course you should be. Until his intentions are made clear, you can't know anything about him except that he is to some degree dangerous. Whether he'll prove to be the kind of man who uses his danger to protect, or the kind who uses it to harm, has yet to be discovered.

What interests me is the disconnect in the poll. I think the 53% of Americans expressing either "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the police are saying something like, "I believe that if I call the police for help, they will come." More people express this level of confidence in the police than in the church!

I can't see what else they could mean, since only 23% of the same people express those levels of confidence in "the criminal justice system." Once the police come, less than half as many people expect to be happy about the outcome.

Anyway, the poll continues to be of concern to me. Its trends shows a further winnowing of our trust in our elected and constitutional government. Nearly every year we trust our governing institutions less, and if there is a year in which there is a spike of trust, it soon returns to the winnowing trend.

But we retain high levels of trust in our government's coercive power. Not in its ability to reason -- to craft wise laws, or to come to righteous judgments in the courts. In its ability to bring force to bear, though, we trust it a great deal.

I worry about that. It's a strange place to be, conceptually.

Texan99 said...

I agree, the disconnect is very interesting. We do see to be assuming that, when the chips are down, the servants will disobey the masters. What we trust is not their obedience but their inherent will to service and their own moral code.

DL Sly said...

If we are to go simply on the two pictures, this is what I see:

Biker - Jesus tat on his forearm; clean hair and clothes;, easy, relaxed manner on the bike; shotgun is more than secure, it's essentially *locked* in place, behind him, with those straps.

DHS - up-armored vehicle for immigration (And we want more of the people for which this vehicle was commissioned?); massive tactical body gear; rifle in hand with trigger finger at the ready; tense, suspicious body language.

Who would I feel more trusting of?
The biker, hands down.

Just my .03
Keep that change.
0>;~}

Ymar Sakar said...

The public servants that did the "Right thing" were in the NHS, until they voluntarily resigned their position, because they knew they would have to obey orders to kick out WWII veterans when Hussein said "it's closed, get rid of them now".

Only 2 CiA complex members disobeyed the Regime's order to "stand down, let them die" in Benghazi. What did the rest of them do? Obey orders? Did they quit before or later?

Ymar Sakar said...

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2014/02/an-open-letter-to-men-and-women-of.html

They have been warned.

"Crazy" people warned them. They may not believe it.

After all, the mental acuity of LEOs are not in any way superior to regular Americans. If regular Americans don't believe Civil War II is inevitable if they sit around on peace cookies, neither will their public servants.

And that, that ignorance and belief in peace itself, is what makes war inevitable. That looking away, that moment of weakness is all it takes.

Matt said...

"I agree, the disconnect is very interesting. We do see to be assuming that, when the chips are down, the servants will disobey the masters. What we trust is not their obedience but their inherent will to service and their own moral code."

On the military side, it may be worth noting that the Oath of Office (for commissioned officers, at least) obligates one only to support and defend the Constitution.

With regard to the disconnect between trust in the police and trust in the criminal justice system as a whole, I suspect a lot of that can be summed up in one word: "Lawyers."

Texan99 said...

I blame judges and juries instead. :-)

Texan99 said...

. . . and clients. Clients are the worst.

Grim said...

In this case, the clients are what people wanted the police for in the first place. :)

Grim said...

Biker - Jesus tat on his forearm; clean hair and clothes;, easy, relaxed manner on the bike; shotgun is more than secure, it's essentially *locked* in place, behind him, with those straps.

DHS - up-armored vehicle for immigration (And we want more of the people for which this vehicle was commissioned?); massive tactical body gear; rifle in hand with trigger finger at the ready; tense, suspicious body language.

That's right, Sly. You're looking at it like my friend, and much as I am -- the first thing I noticed when looking at the shotgun was that it was clearly not going to be used in haste. Within the context of people who are familiar with bikers, the guy is almost a picture of a kind of American ideal -- just minding his own business, not bothering anybody, riding free with the wind in his hair.

I get that it doesn't look that way to everybody, and it's good to get to know people before you make more than contingent judgments.

Ymar Sakar said...

Biker's only a problem when the bike stops in front of me and the munitions are loaded to bear. MRAP is already a problem. Didn't US invent those for terrorists? What are they doing in the hands of America's DC rulers and police unions.

The picture of the PMC or Reid's personal kill squad advancing or retreating from their 1st Amendment Zone in Nevada, now that was a sight of some scared puppies thinking war was going to descend on them.

raven said...

Those armored vehicles look like a great way to enhance a false sense of security. I am no soldier but they look like a deathtrap unless they have enough infantry to be mutually supporting.
Just the idea of all the occupants having to boil out of one door sends willies up my back, sort of like the idea of dropping the ramps on Omaha beach...
The biker does not bother me at all. Since the dawn of time men have gone around armed for the protection of themselves, their families, their clan, and country. It is a normal state of affairs.