Friday, August 24, 2007

Totalitarianism Lite

Mark Steyn recently wrote at NRO:

“To require law enforcement to police every routine area of social interaction is to render civilized life impossible and to make more and more citizens the arbitrary victims of a kind of Totalitarianism Lite.”

How true.

Since we no longer hold people accountable for their actions at the appropriate level nor do we have agreed upon standards for civilized behavior anymore, the unwitting result is that we all suffer from an extremely subtle and invasive form of totalitarianism in a country that used to pride itself on its rugged individualism.

A case in point – I was once phoned by our young miss, who at the time was about 12, and told that she had been chased home by a group of girls from her school that were intent on beating her up. She was understandably upset and had run all the way home with this group in hot pursuit. When I arrived home we went back to the school to visit the vice principle who after hearing us out told me, since the incident had not occurred on school property, he could not do anything. He assured me that the girls in question were frequently in trouble at school and that he wasn’t the least bit surprised by their behavior. Then he suggested that I file a police report!

After I finished laughing he again urged me to contact the police. When I told him that I thought the police had more important things to do he said that filing a police report was what he would do. I again assured him that I did not think the police needed to be involved and that the parents could and, more importantly, should be the ones to solve the problem. He provided me with everyone’s phone numbers after we came to an understanding about how I had obtained them.

I am happy to report that after a number of phone calls and more than a few adult discussions about appropriate behavior apologies were offered all around and accepted. End of problem.

But what of the school administrator who felt so strongly about involving the police? What about all the ridiculous restrictions placed on our institutions which, in turn, actually contribute to and promote this type of behavior? When did we as a nation devolve into citizens who were unable to mediate the problems of a handful of pre-teens without the intervention of the police?

Perhaps most importantly, why are people so comfortable with this state of affairs and what is it doing to our national character?

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