Monday, July 18, 2016

Rats. Raccoons and Indians Versus Law and Order

As the Republican Party Convention opens, presumptive GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump has declared himself the candidate for "law and order." It's a compelling idea, but its attainability is not so easy as many people think.

Law and order is a social construct: a regime of laws and law enforcement that ensures a safe, secure, and predictable world, in which people can live in freedom from fear.

But a society under the rule of law is in perpetual conflict with the tendency of things toward greater entropy, and can be maintained only by continual struggle with disruptive forces.

Just how arbitrary and tenuous any regime of law and order really is, is readily evident to anyone who looks about them.

I, for example, live on stolen land. The land was appropriated by British settlers in the 1860's from Indians who had occupied it for thousands of years. The Indians were deliberately infected with small pox, most being denied vaccination when the epidemic exploded, while those from out of town were driven back to their villages to spread the infection.

The above plaque appears on a cairn at Willows Beach, 
Victoria, BC. The cairn bears the following inscription:

The indigenous people called Willows Beach Sitchanalth, 
which according to Songhees elder Ned Williams referred to
 the drift logs and trees lodged in the sand. The site was used 
for thousands of years, and longhouses once lined the entire 
shore. The people enjoyed a wide variety of sea life, deer, 
birds and shoreline foods.
Today, the annihilation of law and order, as Indians saw it, is common knowledge, the subject of academic study and marked publicly by tastefully designed memorials erected by the local council to celebrate the lives of the dispossessed Indians.

The natural state of lawlessness and chaos, is everyday evident in the encroachments of creatures without the law upon the human world.

Here, no more than half a mile from the plaque illustrated at the right, a fat rat wanders up the foot path, slips through a hole under the fence and rummage in my compost box. I block the hole under the fence, the rat sneaks through a knot hole. I nail a plank over the knot hole, the rat circumvents the fence, entering under the front gate. I block that route with chicken wire, and wait for developments.

HMS Grappler at Comox, BC. In 1862, the Grappler 
escorted smallpox-infected natives who were expelled
from Victoria. The resultant spread of the disease among 
the Indian population largely depopulated the BC coast,
making way for immigrant settlement. Source


Meantime a family of raccoons have taken to digging holes in my lawn and perennial border. Possibly they are eating leather jackets or doing something else that's useful. But they don't recognize my legal title, and they won't scram when I tell them. What's more they make a mess of the lawn, poop under the big cedar in the front yard, destroy my entire corn crop the day before it is perfectly ripe, and they will raid the plum tree and take every fruit in a single night if they get the chance.

I put up radar-controlled lights and water sprinklers, but the raccoons set these off repeatedly for no apparent reason other than their own amusement, the lights, the noise of the sprinkler, and raccoonish snorts and grunts waking me at two in the morning.

I go out armed with a high-powered flash light and a boot under my arm. I throw the boot which lands within an inch of one of the beasts, but he stands his ground, his eyes blazing in the glare of the flashlight. I approach more closely and he growls with such menace that I hesitate. He retreats. I retrieve my boot. I go back inside. I raid the fridge, and make a sandwich. I go back to bed, my confidence in the possibility of universal law and order undermined.

And now this: the Rio Olympics Games could spread Zika virus 'around world' expert warns while in Turkey, the United States, the World Hegemon and guarantor of law and order writ upon the global stage, lost access, Saturday, to Turkey's Incirklik air base where it keeps 50 nuclear weapons. Happily, access has now been restored, so hopefully they have their bombs back.

True a viral infection or a loose nuke is not, technically, the same thing as a breach of law and order. But either can create the same uncertainty, danger or total disaster that may result from a breach of the law. Which means that however much law and order a politician may offer, life's always going to be a chancy proposition. Still, honest judges and responsible cops are something every politician should work for.

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