In the aftermath of recent events in Ferguson, St Louis, USA, this beautifully written. pointed piece by David Lincicum is timely. It is already published on the Marginalia Review of Books website among the blogs and is used here in unedited form under the Creative Commons Licence Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.
It’s a regrettable death. But we must maintain order!
Sir, here’s the officer who witnessed the death.
Come in, come in. Nasty business, this. I understand you have some questions about the legitimacy of it all? It’s perfectly regrettable, there’s no dispute there. But I wanted to see you to put your mind at ease and to assure you this way is best.
Despite the misfortune of it, it’s no bad thing for us to assert our power every now and then. We are tasked with keeping order. Have you contemplated what would happen if we loosened our hold? Chaos would reign, and it would be the good people of this land, taxpayers, who would suffer. Should we turn a blind eye to so-called lesser offences? If we did that, before long the state would be overrun by self-assured trouble-makers flouting the law to suit their own devices.
Yes, sir. It’s just that it didn’t seem that the outcome was commensurate with the offence.
Well, if he hadn’t been causing a disturbance, he wouldn’t have ended up dead now, would he? These are tense times and one should know better than to go about causing such scenes in this political climate. In a way, they’re lucky we didn’t have to kill more of them. That’s the thing about these people, officer. You can’t let them get uppity, start thinking they deserve a level of respect. They’ll become intolerable, ungovernable, unpoliceable. No, trust me, son, what happened is best. Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. You’re dismissed.
Yes, sir, thank you.
As the officer turned and walked out, Pilate sighed deeply, thought of the comforts of Rome and cursed this wretched assignment.