#189: Vigilante Justice

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

You don’t hear about vigilantes much anymore. When you do, you get to read a full page about how the police are trying to track down the rogue figure, and stop him from taking the law into his own hands. Even in cases where the vigilante is more efficient, and does the job right, he is always tracked down, and his capture is put in front of the criminals that he is removing from society.

When you think about it, and read about past cases, you will find that the ability to punish criminals without having to deal with laws, paperwork, or office procedures, a law keeper becomes much more efficient in his work. When I say ‘law keeper’, that means either the legitimate police, or a vigilante. Instead of having a single person working on a case, gathering evidence for a trial, filling out paperwork, etc., he has the ability to go straight to the criminal and act as the judge, jury, and executioner.

The big debate comes in whether or not the average citizen should have or take that ability. Police officers go through years of training to do what they do, while a vigilante may skip that, purchase a handgun, and kill someone he catches doing wrong. What gives that person the right? Nothing. That is why police worry more about catching the vigilante and forgetting about the real criminals.

Given today’s society and the direction it is heading, you have to wonder if it is such a bad idea. Not so much the idea of a vigilante, but the ability to skip through the paperwork and procedures, and just worry about catching the bad guys. The only movie I know that implements this idea is Judge Dredd (which wasn’t that good), but showed how that kind of a system would work, and the potential of it. If a single police officer has the ability to track, capture, judge, and execute, the law enforcers become much more powerful, and much more deadly.

For argument’s sake, lets say the police had that power, the primary concern becomes if the officer will abuse that power. Will s/he? Yes. How do I know? A decent percentage abuse the power they are given right now. What is to stop them from abusing the power if we give them more? Stiffer punishment. Since the officer would have the ability to enforce stiffer penalties, s/he would be subject to the same stiffer set of laws. No more small fines for parking illegally, after the third or fourth, they impound your car for a month. After the fifth or sixth time, they impound it for three months.

In this scenario, every crime would have a stiffer punishment to help deter crime. Once people realized that they had no means of getting out of the crime via common methods (messed up paperwork, officer not showing, etc.), they will be a little more careful of which crimes they break.

The only way to ensure purity among the officers would be to institute new measures of tracking them. Bullets issued to the officers would be ID’d in such a way that any recovered bullet could be tracked back to the gun that shot it. More cameras on the police transportation along with a microphone on the officer would help ensure honest judgements. The recorded material from camera and microphone would be broadcast directly back to internal affairs who would monitor the officers.

If a citizen ever felt wrongly convicted or punished for a crime, they could put a petition in at Internal Affairs, and a full investigation would ensue. The system would be very difficult to implement, but once in place would be a very effective deterrent. The idea of running into a bad cop alone would deter a lot of the criminals. Knowing you could be without your car for three months would deter illegal parking.

So vigilante justice is not the answer, and a total police state isn’t the answer. Something in between, but monitored strictly is the only way it could happen. I personally don’t think it could work, but it is an intriguing idea. Parts of it would be a great value to society, while other parts of this plan would put us worse off as far as the government monitoring our lives.

Who knows.. maybe that is where it will go in the future.. when we have no say over the matter.

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