Watching the Right’s reaction to the Freddie Gray case, I’ve had a horrible nightmare: Aliens from a distant planet—big-government, statist aliens from Planet Obama, perhaps—have snatched millions of American conservatives and replaced them with Progressive pod people.
How else to explain the sudden, sweeping abandonment by my fellow conservatives of that most precious icon of our movement, the Constitution?
The Grey case is a constitutional fiasco. A guy walking down the street approached by the authorities because—literally—he “looked at them?” He’s pursued, frisked, found in the legal possession of a weapon (a pocketknife) and is arrested? No crime? No theoretical charge of a crime?
Then he’s shackled, laid on the floor of a police van on his stomach—unsecured and in violation of police rules—and bounced around the city for hours, while being repeatedly denied requested medical treatment.
The Police Can’t Just Grab People
Freddie Gray was an American citizen who started his day having not committed a crime, and ended the day with fatal injuries sustained while in custody of the government. And Republicans are defending…the government? Who are you, and what have you done with my conservatives?
Real conservatives—my Tea Party friends and limited-government activists—understand that the Constitution is a document of “negative rights.” An officer of the government sees you and decides he wants to search you, or grab you, take your stuff, or even kill you. Can he? For most of the history of mankind, the answer was “Shut up, peon, and get back in your cell!”
Our founders committed a truly revolutionary act when they wrote a Constitution that is a document of “No.” It tells agents of the government, “No, you can’t.” It doesn’t matter if the citizen is a pillar of the community or a punk. He’s still an American, so hands off!
You Don’t Need to Be Good to Get Rights
But why am I having to explain this to the Right? I learned all this from you. You explained to me that gun ownership has nothing to do with the question “do you need a gun?” or “are you a good enough person to be allowed to own a gun?”
We wear “What Part Of ‘Shall Make No Law’ Don’t You Understand?” t-shirts to remind big-government liberals that, whether they like guns or not, we have constitutional rights they can’t touch. You explained to me that the Obama administration’s assault on Tea Party groups—using the Internal Revenue Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Federal Bureau Investigation, etc. to intimidate activists during an election cycle—was precisely the sort of government thuggery the founders feared. Even though the IRS has the power to audit citizens, laws and institutions must check that power in the name of citizens’ rights.
But now you’re telling me that you support cops who arrested a guy legally in possession of a weapon, and you’re on the side of “Lois Lerner” law enforcement? Who are you people? Whoever you are, you definitely aren’t conservatives.
Alleged “conservatives” making their angry, foamy-mouthed defense of the Baltimore police tell me that what I don’t understand is that Gray is “different.” He’s “different” because he’s a known drug dealer, not a good, upstanding citizen.
To which I reply: Do you think President Obama thinks you “bitter clingers” are good citizens? Do you think he believes opponents of same-sex marriage, or businesses that don’t want to pay for abortions, or skeptics of climate change are good citizens?
Conservatives taught me that the founders understood we needed the Constitution specifically to protect the rights of Americans the government considered “bad.” When conservatives take the position that some citizens are so “bad” that the government should be free to ignore their constitutional rights, they are kicking the door wide open for a Hillary Clinton to use the power of the White House to do just that to Americans she thinks are “bad.”
No real conservative would support such a flawed, unconstitutional view of the relationship between the citizen and the state. Government agents free to kill unarmed Americans—and have the support of conservatives while they do it—is simply unimaginable.
So I’m left with only one possible conclusion: RUN AWAY! THE POD PEOPLE ARE COMING!