Friday, October 30, 2015

The Chain of Command and the Executioner in the Classroom

“You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with 'til ya understand who's in ruttin' command here.”

Jayne Cobb, demonstrating why he should never be left in charge of anything, from “The Train Job.”

“We are all bound to the throne of the Supreme Being by a flexible chain which restrains without enslaving us,” purred 18th Century arch-reactionary Joseph de Maistre in the opening lines of his essay Considerations on France. “ The most wonderful aspect of the universal scheme of things is the action of free beings under divine guidance. Freely slaves, they act at once of their own will and under necessity: they actually do what they wish without being able to disrupt general plans.”

In this scheme, each “slave” is found “at the center of a sphere of activity whose diameter varies according to the decision of the eternal geometry, which can extend, restrict, check, or direct the will without altering its nature,” Maistre pontificates. But that flexibility is enjoyed only by those enlightened few who understand the “eternal geometry,” and have been appointed thereby to preside over the rest of us.

On occasion, of course, one who is “freely” enslaved decides not to remain within the compass of his or her assigned role in the “eternal geometry.” It is at that point that the “flexible chain” becomes the “chain of command” as the expression was defined by Jayne – a scourge employed to beat the uppity slave into compliant submission. This is when the “flexible” nature of that chain is made apparent: While the chains that bind the common run of humanity are unyielding, those who are supposedly nearer to “the throne of the Supreme Being” find their restraints sufficiently supple to accommodate any act of violence necessary to enforce conformity – including summary homicide.

 Maistre’s obsession with hierarchy might reflect his lengthy involvement in oath-bound secret societies, rather than his devotion to Catholicism (see pages 3-4 in this edition of “Considerations”). Be that as it may, his authoritarian perspective largely defines modern conservatism. He insisted that “all greatness, all power, all social order depends on the executioner.” The figure in whom the State’s capacity for lethal violence is made tangible is both “the terror of human society” and the “tie that holds it together,” Maistre observed. “Take away this incontrovertible force from the world, and at that very moment order is superseded by chaos, thrones fall, society disappears."

The “resource officers” who prowl the hallways of government-operated schools throughout the soyuz aren’t present to enhance the security of the inmates, but to be “authority figures” – that is, people who can inflict injury or death in order to force others to submit to their will. In principle, an SRO carries out the function of Maistre’s Executioner. That is certainly how many perceive themselves.

“You should be walking around in schools every day in complete tactical equipment, with semi-automatic weapons,” ranted self-styled counter-terrorism “expert” John Giduck in his keynote address to the 2007 National Association of School Resources Conference. “You can no longer afford to think of yourselves as peace officers.... You must think of yourself [sic] as soldiers in a war because we're going to ask you to act like soldiers."

A more honest description would be that SROs are commissioned to act like prison guards with unlimited discretion to discipline misbehaving inmates.

When former Deputy Ben Fields placed hands on a girl who had refused a teacher’s instruction to put away her cell phone or leave the room, he was acting as Maistre’s Executioner ex officio, empowered to use any force he deemed appropriate to compel her submission. 

When the student, in a reflexive reaction to being seized by a much larger, armed aggressor, flailed pitifully at Fields, she supposedly committed an “assault upon an officer,” which – according to the disciples of Maistre – left Fields fully justified in doing anything he saw fit. Indeed, the teenager should be grateful that she was merely thrown to the floor, dragged across the room, hog-tied, and left with injuries requiring hospitalization, given that the punishment for her impudence should have been more severe.

“She was asked nicely by three different authority figures and given several chances to comply with their instructions,” lectured Matt Walsh of The Blaze. “She refused, she refused, she refused, she refused, she refused. It was at that point that the officer took her to the floor, dragged her out of the chair and across the ground….”

“Once she had brazenly disrespected the teacher’s authority and declined to comply with those instructions, she had to be removed from the room, one way or another,” Walsh continues, not ruling out the possibility that “another” could include being removed in a body bag. “A teacher cannot be backed down by a kid who says, `Nope, I won’t listen to you.’ A school cannot tolerate students who think the rules are optional.” At that “very moment order is superseded by chaos, thrones fall, society disappears” – or, in Walsh’s dumbed-down rendering of Maistre’s warning, “it would surely lead to anarchy in the classroom.”

Take away the discretionary “authority” of “a school resource officer” to inflict summary punishment on a sullen, uncooperative 16-year-old female student, and the terrorists will win, or something to that effect.

“Some might even say that Fields is the actual victim here,” contends an essay published in The New American magazine. “If you’re going to have police in schools, you have to expect police action in schools; the deputy was simply doing his job.”

This is an interesting, and entirely unintended, admission. The advertised job of school resource officers is to protect schoolchildren from serial killers and sexual predators. Their actual job, as this episode illustrates, is to impose punishment for misbehavior that does not involve criminal conduct. Witness the fact that Deputy Fields not only arrested the still-unnamed primary victim, but another student named Niya Kenny whose only “offense” was to urge her schoolmates to record the attack.

Significantly, Kenny – unlike the primary victim – faces criminal charges. The first girl was released into the custody of her foster parents. Kenny was threatened with physical harm, handcuffed, detained for several hours, released on bond, then suspended from school. Her “crime” was to undermine the officer’s “authority” by insisting that he should be held accountable for his actions.

“It should have been an adult” who intervened, Kenny told The State newspaper. “One of the adults should have said, `Whoa, whoa, whoa – that’s not how you do this.’ But instead, it had to be a student in the classroom to stand up and say, `This is not right.’” Like others sentenced to attend Spring Valley High School, Kenny was aware of Fields’ reputation, which had reportedly earned him the sobriquet “Officer Slam.” Accordingly, she urged other students to record the confrontation. More than one of the students acted on that suggestion, which suggests that their capacity for critical thinking had not yet been extirpated.

Even if we were to assume, contrary to the actual law, that classroom insolence is a criminal offense, there was nothing about Kenny’s behavior that warrants such a description. She didn’t “disrupt” an already-ruined learning environment; she was protesting the abusive behavior of a public official. Conservative media outlets routinely depict government-run schools as re-education centers devoted to subverting all that is good, true, and beautiful. Why aren’t they applauding Miss Kenny for her principled individualism, and her insistence that the rules should apply to everyone?

It is tempting, perhaps irresistibly so, to conclude that this reflects a conservative variant on identity politics. Fields, a member of the sanctified Blue Tribe, has been sacrificed to placate the apparently omnipotent Black Lives Matter movement, which has been – in all apparent seriousness – compared to ISIS. Criticizing Fields for arresting Niya Kenny without just cause would complicate the preferred narrative, and could prompt troublesome second thoughts about the propriety of the deputy’s behavior during the entire episode. 
Wherever an altar and an executioner are found, "civilization" exists.
Ironically, if predictably, there was no outpouring of outrage in the conservative media over the protests of Spring Valley students who walked out of class – in defiance of “rules” and authority” – as a purported gesture of solidarity with Fields. As someone not too told to remember High School I suspect that the demonstrations weren’t inspired by devotion to the deputy, but by an understandable desire to relieve the unremitting tedium of the classroom. 

None of the protesters was thrown to the floor, handcuffed, or even threatened with a suspension, despite the fact their behavior was immeasurably more disruptive than that of an individual student who refuses to put away her phone. Rule-breaking in defense of state-licensed Executioners is obviously more palatable for those who subscribe to Maistre’s doctrine.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast discusses the incident at Spring Valley High School and the "experts" who defend Deputy Fields:

Please donate to help keep Pro Libertate on line. Thank you!


Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

So we should cater to the narcissism of Little Miss Princess yammering away with her frinz on her cellphone during class? "Ain't no teacha gonna tell me what to do!" Little Miss was given every opportunity to either put away her cellphone or leave class. She brought it entirely on herself.

Anonymous said...

So, get down on your knees, obey my diktat, slave, or feel my wrath, right, anonymous? Exactly who in the **** do you think you are that you get to dispense "justice"? Have you conveniently forgotten that EVERYONE has the right to due process if the govt wants to deny you your life, liberty, or property, and yes that fascist pig cop is an agent of the govt. The govt doesn't get to arbitrarily give out punishment and then you get your due process later. Maybe in your fantasy police state land, but that's NOT how it's supposed to be in our constitutional republic. But that's not a surprise as most citizens are ignorant slaves and content in the servitude. Sounds more like you're bitter that someone has the gall to say no, I will not be a slave. That's your problem, slave.

Anonymous said...

We are mostly made up of dumb cattle, eagerly seeking the next guidance from the herd, at the sacrifice of the individuals who see the herd heading right off of a cliff, and daring to attempt to stop it. Klaatu should let GORT destroy us, in a perfect ending.

NY Cynic said...

Excellent piece Will, the conservative blind devotion to the state's welfare thugs is another reason why libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and voluntarists need to drop the delusion that working with conservatives is going to bring about liberty. People like Bill Buppert, Larkin Rose and Chris Cantwell are 100% right; there is no such thing as a good cop.

To the conservative, order and security trumps liberty and only pretend to be for liberty when the left is in power. Interesting enough I saw on the Facebook page "Not Being Governed" that if the teacher (who is probably a leftist) was teaching Islam and the student did the exact same thing that got the coproach involved, conservatives would be rallying around this kid to defend "Western Civilization from Islam" or some other conservative troupe. Not to mention the conservative delusion that these same cops whos boots that they lick that they wont take our guns.

Darren Wolfe said...

It's not only conservatives who think that way but the left too:

'I would suggest that Darren’s non-aggression principle needs restatement. He says it is this: “It is immoral to initiate the use of force or the threat of force against peaceful people.” Force and aggression are not the same thing. A dentist uses force to pull a bad tooth in an innocent patient. The police officer’s pistol represents the threat of force to the demonstrators as she or he watches the angry demonstrators march by, and the threat of force represented by that pistol is often that which keeps the demonstrators innocent and “peaceful people.” And the implied threat of force against the demonstrators who are innocent people is, paradoxically, used by police protecting the demonstrators rights to petition for redress of their grievances.'

This is from a professor's reply to something I wrote about his opposition to gun rights:

William J said...

While I agree that the cop's actions were completely wrong, how do you handle someone who has no respect for the rights of others? As a libertarian I feel that the property rights of the school should be respected by obeying the rules and that the school has a right to enforce them. A student is bound by the rules if they wish to remain in class. Expelling a student that is non-compliant is reasonable. The student should have at least left the room if she refused to stop using the phone, however the take-down by the cop was shocking and brutal.

When I was in school students observed the rules without police enforcement. We didn't feel like "slaves", but we did have respect for the authority of the teachers. Of course, at that time cell phones didn't exist and teachers gave swats with a paddle. Parents had no objections to discipline.

William N. Grigg said...

As I understand the school district's policies, it would have been appropriate for the teacher to relocate her class to the library for a "study hall," if necessary, and then have the student expelled from school and barred from the property. The change of scenery would have been seen as a reward by the students who behaved themselves.

This would have been less disruptive than the route that was eventually chosen -- with the added advantage of preventing a violent episode that not only disrupted the class, but left one student injured and another facing criminal prosecution for merely objecting to the officer's grotesque assault.

Anonymous said...

This is unrelated to the story, but please Mr. Grigg can you start digging into what happened in Council ID. with Jack Yantis dying at the hands of Adams county Sheriffs.

I have called Adams County Sheriff and confirmed that the deputies had both Dash and Body cams. I then called ISP to find out when they will release the footage, never was pretty much the reply. They also wont say who shot first or if Mr. Yantis even fired in the deputies direction.

I fear the FACTS in this case will never see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Good point Will, yes remove the students and deal with the situation without violence. That has become the answer to everything with government, violence from their armed enFORCEment squads. But the establishment has the demeanor of being The Rulers of the people and the people better jump when told or else they deserve to suffer violence.
On the rancher Council. There is no way the rancher was out to make trouble. He may have been mad at some hand of his that did not secure the fencing or a gate and the bull got out. Or ticked off at the traffic on the road, but he did not go there to pick a fight with the cops. The first thing one knows is this sort of thing happens, cattle gets lose and gets on the roadways. Which ends up in stock being killed or needs to be put down, it's simply part of the cost of running cattle. Any logical person not having been there knows they do not know what happen. But at the same time knows it's fair to wonder what the cops did if anything to provoke the situation. One thing we do know for a fact. If the cops were wrong, the cops will lie to cover it up, they always do.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the purpose of any school to teach students? Can students learn if there is disruption in the classroom? Isn't yapping on a cell phone disruptive?

Refusing to cease being disruptive calls for some form of discipline. If the teacher has no alternative but to call for physical assistance, the issue then is one of "how", not "what".

I fully agree that dragging by the hair is wrong. I also believe that if resistance involves striking, scratching or biting, it is indeed wrongful assault, not self-defense.


Truth Corps said...

Back when we has sense enough to separate from the negro we had a system in place called "segregation". We didn't need school resource officers. Ain't progress grand?

In other news, two more sweet innocent little black angels aged 13 & 14 stabbed a white woman to death. But you won't see that on the National News.

William N. Grigg said...

Of course, the "problem" supposedly solved by segregation was created, in large measure, by the ancestors of the people who devised that cunning policy, when said ancestors insisted on bringing enchained people from Africa and claim them as property.

That same earlier cohort spent the 1850s as arch-unionists, demanding that the federal government track down and return any black person of sufficient initiative to re-segregate himself. The people promoting that policy denounced efforts to interpose against the Fugitive Slave Law as "subversion," and abolitionist calls for secession as "treason."

They sang a rather different tune following the election of 1860, of course: Suddenly secession was a righteous and holy cause to them. They tacitly embraced Talleyrand's dictum that "treason is simply a matter of dates" -- and anticipated Lenin's principle that the basic question is politics is Who does What to Whom.

As a supporter of free association, I have no objection to secession of any variety, including voluntary segregation. That necessarily means I opposed government-compelled integration -- and government-dictated segregation on the same principle.

skybill said...

You screwed up by allowing yourself to be in that pigsty in the first place. Never let them get that close to you....when the hand cuffs go on it is too late. Be ready ...just to get you in the right frame of mind go to.....'t-talk
'what Eli says in the last few seconds after unloading 5 rounds of .45 Colt into the Perp!!!
Got Gunz.....OUTLAW!!!!!!,
skybill-Locked and Loaded!!

NY Cynic said...

@Darren Wolfe

I know that the left does it too but the left doesn't wave around US flags and claim to be for liberty. That's for the most part a conservative tactic to gain power, as libertarians we know that they're full of it. At the very least the neoreactionaries are honest on how they want statism.

Charles Labianco said...

We have not had a constitutional republic for a long time. See EyeOfTheEagle--Lee Brobst.