Friday, May 1, 2015

Have Conservatives Lost Their Compassion?

Vladimir Badikov / Shutterstock

(The American Conservative)
Baltimore’s protesters have demonstrated a just anger: anger over the fact that police brutality has not been identified, punished, and rooted out. They have expressed anger over the deaths and grievances that their communities have experienced. While it is true that violence and crime are deserving of punishment, it is also true that the rule of law must prevail. Because brutality does nothing but encourage fear, anger, and loathing. As Matthew Loftus put it Tuesday,  ”The police still resemble an ‘occupying force’ to many, and the frequency with which the power of the badge appears to corrupt officers is disturbing. … When Joe Crystal, a Baltimore police officer, tried to report a beating that his fellow officer gave, he found a dead rat on his car, showing that the departmental culture is interested more in self-preservation than self-improvement.”
While it is of course true that arson and destruction of public property are crimes, it is also true that the death of Freddie Gray could have been an even worse crime, one that as of yet has not been solved. Brushing over that fact merely fans the flames of outrage that rioters are demonstrating. As one friend put it on Facebook, people aren’t just rioting because Gray was killed—”they’re rioting because the punishment for the men responsible for killing Gray has thus far been constrained,” despite incriminating evidence released by the police department thus far, and “no significant action has been taken by the authorities. That’s why people are angry.”