Failure to cease perambulation upon the order of a white man has been a capital offense in some parts of North America for over 300 years. In the unlikely event Jacob Blake did not know that rule, he will be ready to state his objections to it by the time he gets out of the hospital — assuming his mind and body are still properly connected after the pistol shots that tore into his back.
The Black Lives Matter movement represents the third major attempt since the Civil War to clean up the legal mess still getting all over the boots of any picker who steps out into the field when for so long the relationship between black people and white was between the formerly owned and the former owners.
It’s hard to picture the Constitution getting ratified without the deal with the Devil, the compromise with slavery that allowed the plantation economy and King Cotton.
It’s hard to picture the young republic getting past the election of 1800, a rowdy affair that involved some states mobilizing militias but ended up with a peaceful transition of power that has eluded most revolutions before and since.
The justice system has to dump some traditions to serve women equally as well. If you are a police officer and wish to differ with this statement, I’d love to read your opinion in the comments after this article. He goes a remark I’ve heard from enough police officers during ride-alongs that if I had a buck for each time, I could have wiped out my student loans in no time: “I would rather answer ‘armed robbery in progress,’ many officers told me, than a generic domestic violence call.
Hoping I have correctly stated the position of many police, I can add that many of we judges hold the same opinion. For many years, I’ve asked my students whether they would prefer to deal with bad people at their best or good people at their worst.
Race relations may be immoral as practiced for generations, but it is easy to see how they could grow out of chattel slavery. Wife-beating? At common law, a husband had to answer in damages for his wife’s torts.
Therefore, the argument went, he had not just a right but a duty to discipline his wife as well as his children. “Discipline,” of course, meant corporal punishment.
While I’ve never found the policy argument for wife-beating persuasive, I’m here to tell you that moving it to the ashcan of history is a heavy lift.
The relationship between the former owners and the formerly owned has left another lump in the melting pot. Because it affects children in a profound way, it’s a good thing that the taxpayers of Kenosha are virtually certain to get stung for enough that Jacob Blake will be able to get mental health services for his three children, who watched dad get shot.
Blake is in serious condition. So are our laws.
Previously Published on Medium