An old thread on a forum I participate in was revived the other day, and I had an (ahem…) interesting discussion with a self-described police officer about drug legalization. Can you see where this is going? I’d rather not bore you with the ins and outs of the discussion (if you could call it that…), but suffice to say he was no stranger to shifting goalposts and reductio fallacies. I won’t rehash that, chances are you’ve had similar “discussions” with similar people in the past.
At one point, someone else must’ve asked him how he can possibly sleep at night. The guy says he turns off “cop mode” when he goes home, and sleeps soundly every night. Apparently, he thinks “cop mode” is a lightswitch. Turn it on or turn it off, at will.
Thing is, his words indicated otherwise—that he was completely incapable of flipping that switch to the “off” position. You know, like, everyone who’s ever smoked pot is a “thug” or a “worthless hippy” and they’re ruining ‘Merica and they all deserve to go to jail and when he goes to work tonight he’s just itching to bust someone for “possession of marijuana”. That’s how irate, how flat-out vindictive he gets when people challenge the legitimacy of a law—he wants to bust some kid merely because some other people on the internet disagree with him.
Too bad his “dickhead mode” didn’t come with an on/off switch. But I digress.
This lightswitch mentality is a huge part of the problem. It’s compartementalization, it’s what sociopaths do. It is what leads people down the path of “I was just following orders,” or “I was just doing my job,” or “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them,” and so on.
The idea that you become something other than a belligerent with a gun and a club the moment you punch out at shift’s-end is how people rationalize, how they convince themselves that what they’re doing isn’t wrong at all. When they leave work, they’re just a “regular guy” like you and me; they have families and feelings and they like baseball and apple pie.
No, you’re fucking not a “regular guy”. A “regular guy” isn’t vindictive and belligerent. A “regular guy” doesn’t make thinly-veiled threats on internet forums (he actually said he was going to report the thread to local law enforcement—as if talking about legalization is a crime!). A “regular guy” doesn’t get a hard-on every time someone says that just maybe the war on drugs is a stupid idea and just maybe responsible adults should be allowed to be responsible on their own time. A “regular guy” doesn’t think it’s OK for people to be shot to death for smoking a joint.
No. You’re pretty fucking far from “regular”.