Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Rule of Law

It's five days since a Ferguson, Missouri police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, and we don't know who that officer was. This is pretty strange in the information age. Usually, when someone stands accused of killing someone, we know their name. In fact, usually the police are the ones to reveal it.

Now in this case we don't have a name, apparently because of concerns about repercussions against the officer and his family. That almost sounds logical till you poke at it a little.

We live in a society that enjoys the Rule of Law. And the essence of the Rule of Law is that it prevents repercussions by ensuring justice. It's safe to name the accused in our society because instead of an ancient system of blood feud, we have criminal charges and courts and juries.

The Rule of Law, like magic, only works if we believe in it. And thus far events in Missouri have given us very little reason to believe in it. By not revealing the name of the accused, the authorities in Ferguson, Missouri are giving us a strong indication that they don't believe in it.

A police force that doesn't believe in the Rule of Law is a frightening thing. It's a police force that might do anything.

In fact, it's a police force that already has. Last Saturday.

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