Paragraph of the Day (Fallows on UC Davis Edition)

James Fallows:

Let’s stipulate that there are legitimate questions of how to balance the rights of peaceful protest against other people’s rights to go about their normal lives, and the rights of institutions to have some control over their property and public spaces. Without knowing the whole background, I’ll even assume for purposes of argument that the UC Davis authorities had legitimate reason to clear protestors from an area of campus — and that if protestors wanted to stage a civil-disobedience resistance to that effort, they should have been prepared for the consequence of civil disobedience, which is arrest.

I can’t see any legitimate basis for police action like what is shown here. Watch that first minute and think how we’d react if we saw it coming from some riot-control unit in China, or in Syria. The calm of the officer who walks up and in a leisurely way pepper-sprays unarmed and passive people right in the face? We’d think: this is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population. That’s what I think here.


That anyone would hold US police to a lower standard than they would those in an authoritarian regime is most disturbing.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OldSouth says:

    We have been at this point for quite a while, in reality. The State of Tennessee has had a recurring problem with State Police officers who have been granted the badge and weapon, only to find they have criminal records themselves.

  2. RalfW says:

    I’ve been feeling quite frustrated of late that very, very few libertarians have seemed to express any concern at all about the level of police activity. The right to peaceably assemble should not be subject to this level of SWAT-team erosion.
    And folks like La Bachmann talk all the time about the hand of government taking your liberties. What happened at UC Davis sure looked like a fist squashing freedom, doesn’t it Michele?

  3. James in LA says:

    The former head of the previous criminal enterprise posing as a Presidency admitted on national T.V. that not only did he give the order to torture, he’d do it again. He remains free in Dallas in mockery of us all.

    Since torture became fashionable, it sent the message that every option for thuggery even slightly less awful as torture is now on the table for rapid deployment to, say, remove unarmed, sitting students occupying a campus they themselves attend.

    We begin by repealing the Patriot Act…and then we must move on to tribunals for sadists and thieves.

    Because the consequences right now — and these cops know it — are nothing, nothing at all.