Politics & Policy

Occupy and the Moral Infrastructure

An Occupy contingent is pepper sprayed on the campus of the University of California–Davis.
Disregard for the law leaves society with mob rule.

The “Occupy” movement, which the Obama administration and much of the media have embraced, has implications that reach far beyond the passing sensation it has created.

The unwillingness of authorities to put a stop to their organized disruptions of other people’s lives, their trespassing, their vandalism, and their violence is a de facto suspension, if not repeal, of the Fourteenth Amendment’s requirement that the government provide “equal protection of the laws” to all its citizens.

How did the Occupy movement acquire such immunity from the laws that the rest of us are expected to obey? Simply by shouting politically correct slogans and calling themselves representatives of the 99 percent against the 1 percent.

But just when did the 99 percent elect them as their representatives? If in fact 99 percent of the people in the country were like these Occupy mobs, we would not have a country. We would have anarchy.

#ad#Democracy does not mean mob rule. It means majority rule. If the Occupy movement, or any other mob, actually represents a majority, then they already have the votes to accomplish legally whatever they are trying to accomplish by illegal means.

Mob rule means imposing what the mob wants, regardless of what the majority of voters want. It is the antithesis of democracy.

In San Francisco, when the mob smashed the plate-glass window of a small business shop, the owner put up some plywood to replace the glass, and the mob wrote graffiti on his plywood. The consequences? None for the mob, but a citation for the shop owner for not removing the graffiti.

When trespassers blocking other people at the University of California–Davis refused to disperse, and locked their arms with one another to prevent the police from being able to physically remove them, the police finally resorted to pepper spray to break up this human logjam. The result? The police have been strongly criticized for enforcing the law. Apparently pepper spray is unpleasant, and people who break the law are not supposed to have unpleasant things done to them. Which is to say, we need to take the “enforcement” out of “law enforcement.”

Everybody is not given these exemptions from paying the consequences of their own illegal acts. Only people who are currently in vogue with the elites of the Left — in the media, in politics, and in academia.

The Fourteenth Amendment? What is the Constitution or the laws when it comes to ideological soul mates, especially young soulmates who remind the aging 1960s radicals of their youth?

#page#Neither in this or any other issue can the Constitution protect us if we don’t protect the Constitution. When all is said and done, the Constitution is a document, a piece of paper.

If we don’t vote out of office, or impeach, those who violate the Constitution, or who refuse to enforce the law, the steady erosion of Constitutional protections will ultimately render it meaningless. Everything will just become a question of whose ox is gored and what is the political expediency of the moment.

There has been much concern, rightly expressed, about the rusting of bridges around the country, and the crumbling and corrosion of other parts of the physical infrastructure. But the crumbling of the moral infrastructure is no less deadly.

#ad#The police cannot maintain law and order, even if the political authorities do not tie their hands in advance or undermine them with second-guessing after the fact.

The police are the last line of defense against barbarism, but they are equipped only to handle that minority who are not stopped by the first lines of defense, beginning with the moral principles taught at home and upheld by families, schools, and communities.

But if everyone takes the path of least resistance — if politicians pander to particular constituencies and judges give only wrist slaps to particular groups or mobs who are currently in vogue, and if educators indoctrinate their students with “non-judgmental” attitudes — then the moral infrastructure corrodes and crumbles.

The moral infrastructure is one of the intangibles without which the tangibles don’t work. Like the physical infrastructure, its neglect in the short run invites disaster in the long run.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2012 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More