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Re: [IP] Celia on Diabetic mistaken for drunk

At 10:56 AM 6/26/98 , you wrote:
>All I can really say to sum up is that it disturbs me a great deal when
>do something which is really stupid or, worse yet, morally abhorrent, and
>are encouraged to personally capitalize on their actions for the apparent
>of society. I don't want to be a part of such a society.

I liked your post, Celia, and I agree with much of what you said. 

The problem that makes these cases so complicated, however, is that two
phenomena are active: 

1) individuals and their responsibility for their actions -- in this case,
the diabetic (who may or may not have been irresponsible -- I won't concede
that it is necessarily the case that he was; this has to be decided on a
case-by-case basis) and the police, who may have individually been
incompetent and irresponsible, or may have been reacting reasonably --
again, must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

2) institutions and the policies which guide their regular functioning
(financial responsibilities, legal liabilities -- i.e. incentives; and
training and procedure manuals)

I think we are crossing swords unnecessarily -- we could separate these
issues, and hopefully agree on the first -- it must be decided on a
case-by-case basis. This is what litigation will in fact do, while
legislation will fail. Making a universal law against diabetics driving who
have experienced sudden hypos, unaware, would be an unjust, sloppy
solution. We (society) would be worse off. The extra information obtained
by a litigious procedure makes all the difference in the world -- in some
cases the diabetic was right, and the police wrong; in others, the diabetic
wrong and the police right -- and usually, both were a little bit wrong and
the circumstances brought them into conflict.
But the second issue is a far more complicated matter. Because of the
primitive state of governance in our society, many institutions are
chronically unhealthy. The health care industry is an example, and we as
diabetics suffer for it. The police forces are another example, and because
they wield force -- often deadly force, and often against the people they
are meant 'to serve and protect' -- I have a strong dislike of the police
force. NOT against the individuals, but against the laws that shape their
responsibilities and their institution.  The individuals, and even their
competence and intelligence and responsibility, are *almost always* shaped
by the procedures and practices and expectations of their role. Police
forces are highly bureaucratic and totally unresponsive (as an institution)
to the needs of *justice*. They are, after all, in the justice industry. If
any business were so unresponsive to the needs of its consumers, we would
never know it -- because that business would not exist, it would have
failed miserably and quickly. But police forces aren't allowed to 'fail'.
We'll keep them around forever, regardless of how sloppy their business is,
and punish the individuals put in bad situations rather than change the
institutions themselves.

Note the distinction between the individuals and the laws. Many think my
ideas about laws are extreme. But extreme is relative to the status quo.
The status quo in the 20th century has been miserable -- most of the globe
has been terrorized by socialism and fascism. Our honorable police officers
in america, just good ol' boys trying to raise a family and do their job,
serve the laws. In 1939 in Nazi Germany, there were also just good ol' boys
trying to raise a family and do their job, serve the laws, working for the
honorable SS. As compliant members of society, most of us -- this means you
the reader -- take the institutions as "normal".  I don't; this alone
qualifies my ideas as 'extreme.' 

When a situation occurs that might highlight a problem and affect an
institutional change, a lawsuit is appropriate. Because the particulars of
the case will be judged carefully, the decision will be far more
intelligent, in almost all cases, than we can possibly imagine in our
uninformed speculation -- i.e. about whether the diabetic was really
irresponsible, whether the police acted intelligently, etc.

So I spoke too quickly. Perhaps I should amend: IF it was the case that the
police acted as unreasonably as it seems they did, and the diabetic was in
fact, like many of us might be, not actually that irresponsible -- then I
hope the issue gets a good deal of attention via a lawsuit, and I hope that
individually justice is served for the victimized diabetic and for the
overreacting cops. In response to the criticisms of litigation, and the
heralding of laws which lump all diabetics together and try to regulate
their behaviors as a class -- I still say a lawsuit is appropriate, in this
and similar situations.

I DO NOT tolerate situations in which the ends justify the means. That is
why my ideas are extreme. The means of "force" are intolerable; the means
of the marketplace -- individuals voluntarily contracting and trading
between each other for the goods and services they need -- are moral. Bring
a marketplace to the provision of defense and security and justice
services, and the world will be a vastly better, healthier, wiser, safer
place. And it will be moral.


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