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Social Justice Policing Replaces Law Enforcement

By John Klar

Many Americans are shocked by proposals to reduce police protection while opioid deaths skyrocket, borders are flung wide, and urban businesses are trashed and ransacked on national TV as political protests. Yet increasingly public safety servants are not investigating rape, burglary, and drug use but are enforcing social justice codes.

In New York City, for instance, CNN recently reported that the Hate Crime Task Force is investigating “a criminal mischief pattern” of vandalism against Pride and transgender flags. This despite a 22% surge in major crimes in the city in 2022, including robbery and burglary, according to The New York Times.

Progressive dogma calls for simultaneously defunding and reprogramming police departments. A key ideological initiative is to “decarcerate,” to soften the enforcement of laws and undermine police authority. The kingpin of this jurisprudential experimentation in New York City is Alvin Bragg. According to Daily Signal writer Jarrett Stepman, “One of the crimes his office won’t prosecute is armed robberies of businesses. Suspects in those cases who make off with less than $1,000 in stolen goods will now be charged with the lesser crime of petty larceny, a misdemeanor. Among the other crimes his office will no longer prosecute are resisting arrest, fare beating, prostitution, and trespassing.”

The Pride flag destruction in NYC is part of a national spate of such incidents during Pride Month, even as San Francisco and other major cities succumb to a scourge of drugs, gang activities, and related crime. A recent burnout by a car on a Pride-flag crosswalk in Kirkland, WA, garnered national attention, as the once speech-tolerant left called for criminal sanctions for “hate speech.” USA Today reported on June 8:

“In the past week alone, Pride flags have been stolen, slashed or burned in at least five states, including California, Utah, Arizona, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. That’s on top of similar incidents in California and New York in May, including a man that defecated on a pride flag in Manhattan.”

Those defacing Pride and BLM insignia are expressing their political discontent with the government-imposed domination of the ideologies those symbols represent. This is free expression, clearly protected from government criminalization by constitutional law (unlike burglary, armed robbery, and business burning).

Ironically, when it comes to torching flags in political protest, the American flag has featured prominently as a controversial symbol. The Nazi flag is legally protected political speech, unquestionably hateful though it be. But the same liberties that permit the display of a Confederate or Nazi flag also permit the burning of Old Glory. Government is restricted in the United States from regulating citizens’ religious and political expression, and this includes extending special favor to the national flag.

Version 2 - Liberty Nation Readers Speak OutAs Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy observed in his concurrence in Texas v. Johnson: “I agree that the flag holds a lonely place of honor in an age when absolutes are distrusted and simple truths are burdened by unneeded apologetics. Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace, and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.”

Penalizing those who disagree with the symbols of rainbow-gay pride, trans-rights, LGBTQ2+, or skin-color-focused sloganeering displays intolerance. It is “poignant but fundamental” that these flags do not protect those who dare whisper discontent.

This was similarly expressed by the Supreme Court in United States v. Eichman: “Punishing desecration of the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered, and worth revering.” Just so, punishing desecration of Pride and BLM flags dilutes the very freedoms symbolized by the American flag.

The government is bound by First Amendment shields from regulating expression, yet that is exactly what government protection of social justice symbols constitutes. In a recent case of Pride flag desecration in New Jersey, Harrison Township Mayor Lou Manzo exhibited the dangers of government censorship. In a Courier Post report: “’This incident also serves as a reminder that hateful minds still exist and simply ignoring it actually enables this behavior,’ [Manzo] continued … Township police have started a ‘full investigation,’ which includes contacting the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and filing a bias incident form, the mayor said in a statement.”

A bias incident form is not likely to be seen for publicly burning an American flag. Burglars are not pursued or imprisoned, but stolen gay flags merit “full investigation.” The government now regulates “hateful minds.”

In words that apply to Pride flags (even when burned hatefully), the 1989 Johnson decision warned: “If we were to hold that a State may forbid flag burning wherever it is likely to endanger the flag’s symbolic role … [w]e would be permitting a State to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox’ by saying that one may burn the flag to convey one’s attitude toward it and its referents only if one does not endanger the flag’s representation of nationhood and national unity. To conclude that the government may permit designated symbols to be used to communicate only a limited set of messages would be to enter territory having no discernible or defensible boundaries.”

New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and other states enforce woke orthodoxy in a nation that permits its own flag to endure burning as a symbol of liberty. These other state-erected, protected, or endorsed ideological flags are symbols of political oppression, of freedoms denied. To say so by objecting to their public display by burning them is verboten.

America’s police are being employed as Taliban-like enforcers of the state woke religion, replete with criminal investigations of anyone who defaces the reverence extended to the rainbow flag. This while rising numbers of burglaries, rapes, and robberies go uninvestigated or are unpunished once proven. In this upside-down woke world, law enforcement is policing citizen expression to enforce the woke cult at the expense of public safety and free speech. Perhaps this new face of police abuse merits defunding.

Attorney-farmer John Klar hosts the Small Farm Republic Substack and podcast from his Vermont farm. His new book is Small Farm Republic: Why Conservatives Must Embrace Local Agriculture, Reject Climate Alarmism, and Lead an Environmental Revival.

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