The act of government agents or officials that induces a person to commit a crime he or she is not previously disposed to commit.
As a kid growing up in a small West Virginia town, we had an odd child living in our neighborhood. None of us were clued into this at the time, but Jimmy's dad was a raging alcoholic. Jimmy didn't have many friends, and in lieu of human contact, Jimmy appointed himself the neighborhood policeman. Now many children claim to want to be peace officers when they grow up, but few take it to the extreme that our subject character extended himself to. You see, Jimmy's view of what activities officers of the law are supposed to fill their days with in the performance of their sworn duties to protect and serve, was nothing more than to stick his nose into the business of others and create dictates generally meant to annoy the living heck out of those of us having fun while minding our own business. One day while most of us were having a fun game of bicycle tag, Jimmy decided to affect an arrest for speeding. He chose the fastest rider, who happened to be someone Jimmy should not have bothered to annoy at all. That day did not turn out well for Jimmy, who affected all future arrests against children a few years younger than himself, some of who also had the means to resist the force he was willing to use in order to uphold his own laws.
In the years since childhood, I have learned that Jimmy indeed became a police officer. A chill runs through my spine whenever I think of this. While I have no doubt that Jimmy has long since grown and matured, part of me still sees that little boy who believes that his job is to use his authority for no other purpose than to inflict his nose into the business of others. Police are after all, when you boil it all down, bureaucrats with the full authority of the state. They have the authority to inflict themselves into the lives of others, and this authority is backed by the power of the state, whether they are correct in their actions or whether they are just plain wrong.
Now, please do not get the wrong idea. I do care for the well being of our police, and do respect that they have a tough and often thankless job to do. That does not change the fact that they are still people, with the same potential for good and the same potential for bad as the rest of us have within ourselves. They are people, and as people, they will be tempted to place personal ambition, desire for power, their own wants and needs above the less rewarding aspects of simply doing the right thing. More importantly than that however, like all human beings, they will come complete with the all important ability to rationalize to themselves why they are justified or still doing the right thing when they stray from the path of righteousness.
Here is an article which ran on Reason dot com recently that illustrates this point. While the people at reason used it as a means to bash the ill conceived war on drugs, they failed to see the bigger picture, which is the template of left versus right mentality that is at play in America. The Sheriff of Riverside County California, upon hearing the pleas of his constituents distraught over the rampant distribution of drugs in their local public high school, Chaparral High in the Temecula Valley Unified School District, decided to have an undercover deputy pose as a student in the school so that he might ferret out who the drug dealers were. The problem for the Sheriff of course was that in the real world, unlike the Hollywood version of the real world, thirty year old men pretending to be high school kids in order to buy drugs undercover are not all that hard for teen aged kids to spot. So, our deputy earned the nick name, "Deputy Dan," almost immediately, and by that I mean home room of the very first day.
What to do for Deputy Dan? Under pressure to provide results for his boss, and under no illusions about his ability to get anyone to sell him anything besides the raffle tickets to the guess how many jelly beans will win you a kiss on the cheek from the homecoming queen promotion supporting the student government, our peace officer and his handlers came up with a unique plan of action to fill out that quota wheel.
The ordeal began on the first day of school last fall. The family had just moved to a new neighborhood and their son began his senior year at a new school, Chaparral High, in the Temecula Valley Unified School District. Their son rarely socialized, so his mom was thrilled when he announced that he had made a new friend in art class on the first day of school.
"We were so excited. I told him he should ask his friend to come over for pizza and play video games," says Catherine Snodgrass, "but his new friend always had an excuse."
His new friend, who went under the name of Daniel Briggs, was known as "Deputy Dan" to many students because it was so apparent to them that he was an undercover officer. However, to their son, whose disabilities make it hard for him to gauge social cues, Dan was his only real friend.
Dan reportedly sent 60 text messages to their son begging for drugs. According to his parents, the pressure to buy drugs was too much for the autistic teen who began physically harming himself.
The Snodgrass' son finally agreed to buy Dan the pot. Dan give him twenty dollars and it took him three weeks to buy a half joint of pot off a homeless man downtown. This happened twice. When Dan asked a third time, their son refused and Dan cut off all communication.
Now, while the arguments over the wisdom of a costly decades long war on drugs, and one that has shown negligible positive results by the way, are certainly worth having and I applaud Reason's continued appeal to end this war from the conservative perspective, there is a bigger picture here that I'd like to step back from the trees to address. What the genius law enforcement officials did in California is a symptom of liberalism run amok. Giving bureaucrats increasing levels of authority can only end with stories of this exact type of government malevolence becoming more and more prevalent. The entire difference between leftist philosophy and the more conservative counterpart is this. The political left believes that the best solution to societal struggles lies with government, and all we as people need to do is to find the best people available to agree to run our society for us, forgoing their own best interests in the process. The political right believes that allowing people the maximal amount of freedom from any government involvement will unleash the full potential and creative ability of the people of any society and will lead to the greatest good for everyone involved.
The question of course for the left, and one that is asked far to infrequently, is this, where are we going to find these angels who will come and organize our society for us? It's not just the President, Senators, Representatives, and such that we have to worry about, but every member of every government bureau in every nook and cranny of that elite group of individuals that we have chosen to rule our lives. Every employee in every level of our government has their own little fiefdom in which they get to wield the authority to help or hinder other citizens, and the political left assumes that all of them will act in a selfless manner at all times. The problem of course arises when out of petty spite, or simply to increase the scope of their own authority, the bureaucrat in question decides not to issue that license for commercial fishing, or not to grant permission to drive a motor vehicle on public streets, or to arrest 22 special needs children after convincing them to purchase drugs for your undercover deputy.
Before you say to yourself or me, this is too big a leap in logic to assume, that those monstrous law enforcement officers in Temecula, California can in any way be equated to the other facets of an otherwise benevolent government, take a look at both the sequester and current government, "shutdown," drama unfolding in Washington today. In both instances, the political party in power have used these events for the sole purpose of inflicting as much pain on the American Citizens as is possible, simply to punish us for not just allowing them to have their way. Just like little Jimmy forcing smaller children to serve out a sentence in his garage/jail for not obeying his bicycle riding speed limits, and the adult version of Jimmy convincing children of diminished capacity to procure pot for him so that he could fill out his arrest quota for the month, what ever form of governance America ultimately settles upon will need people to run it. I would simply prefer the government that relied the least upon the discretion of those people as would be possible. Part of the answer as to where will we find these angels who will organize our society for us is this, I don't even trust you to do that, nor would I want you to trust me to do it either.