Being a Cop is an Action, Not a Status: All Cops are Guilty of Initiatory Force

In the geographical area occupied by the US at least, being a cop is an action that a person takes. And a person has to continuously take actions to remain a cop. An individual does not wake up one day as a cop either through government dictate or other forms of magic. In order to become a cop a person has to voluntarily go to a government building, express a desire to join a group of people, and fill out some forms. In order to stay a cop, a person has to put on a uniform, wear a badge, show up to certain places at certain times, and self-identify as a cop.

These are actions, not immutable characteristics. The fact that more than one person engages in an action does not make judging that action “collectivism.” People usually don’t accuse me of being a collectivist when I say that murders or robbers violate the NAP, presumably because murder and robbery are actions. Absent living in an area or time when people are conscripted to do so, being a cop is an action. This does not mean that all cops are equally evil. All people who violate the NAP within a broadly defined subset of aggression are obviously not equally evil, or equally egregious NAP violators. Some murders only murder people who insult them in bars, while other murders kill people at random for fun. Some cops throw grenades on infants, while other cops only rob people on the side of the road. But both being a cop and being a murderer are NAP violations since they are both actions that initiate force.
Practically speaking, a person isn’t going to remain a member of a US police force for very long without out directly committing acts of aggression, even if they are minor aggressions. Even the “good” cops who let you off with a warning or tell you to take your weed inside are still committing aggression. They are preferable to typical cops, but in order for a cop to let you off with a warning they first had to threaten you when they demanded that you park your car on the shoulder of the road. The cop who tells you to take your weed around the corner or in your house, or even the cop who hands you a cup to pour your beer in so that they can look the other way, is demanding that you smoke in a certain place, or drink out of a certain container under pain of being kidnapped, and he’s doing it for aesthetic reasons. If someone without a badge told you that they were going to lock you in a room for six months if you refused to drink out of a certain cup or put their insignia on your car, no one would consider them to be a good person. The standard for the behavior of cops is set incredibly low by society, they are praised for refraining from kidnapping people on a particular day. But even if a person somehow managed to remain a cop without arresting anyone for a victimless crime, writing a ticket, making threats, or directly committing any of the other NAP violations typically committed by cops, they are still violating the NAP because conspiracy is a thing and they are committing assault. All cops are committing conspiracy to commit whatever aggressions that they are aware of and providing support for. In reality, the only goal of a police department is to terrorize and subjugate the population. So if someone is aware of this, and they become a cop for any reason and proceed to support the police department in accomplishing this goal, they are guilty of aggression even if their role is non-violent. But most people aren’t aware of that, or at least that is what is argued. Fine, but it is not possible to be a cop and not know that victimless crimes are enforced. And anything that someone does to further that end is a NAP violation. So if a cop processes paperwork for the kidnapping of a person for failure to pay property taxes, places an ounce in an evidence room for later use at trial, distributes a work schedule instructing other cops to rob and kidnap, or preforms maintenance on weapons that he knows will be used to initiate violence, then he is guilty of kidnapping and, most likely, battery. If a person assists in the commission of an aggression then they have committed an aggression- because they committed an act designed to cause force to be initiated.
All cops commit assault just by putting on the uniform, wearing a badge, or self-identifying as a cop. Jurisdictions differ on their definition of the word assault, and common usage tends to have no word for assault, while using assault as a useless equivalent of battery. Here I’m using assault to mean making a realistic imminent threat of physical harm.
I have been asked things like: What if a cop tells another cop that they are a cop? They have not assaulted that cop. Ignoring the fact that this is impossible, licenses to kill do not typically extend to other holders of such licenses and so this statement would not be an invocation of a license that allows aggressions. What if a person put on a police uniform in a room by themselves and did not leave the room while wearing the uniform? Then there is nobody there to assault; no victim, no crime. But none of this changes the fact that cops on a daily basis, or at least 5 days a week, commit assault against random non-aggressors.
Wearing cop insignia in front of, or self-identifying as a cop to, a non-aggressor is an assault. Communicating to someone that you are a cop is to communicate to them that you possess a legal “right” to, and are part of an organization that does daily initiate force. The only reasonable inference from this is that they will initiate force against you if you do not act as they wish, or at least if you do not act in accordance with voluminous statutes and case law that their colleagues have written. Announcing that you are a cop is an announcement that you are a member of an organization of people who has as its purpose, and does in fact, go around initiating force against people. It is a non-verbal statement that what you are here to do is initiate some force. The fact that the presence of most cops does not result in physical violence speaks to the effectiveness of their tactics, not their peacefulness. It is the same manner of threat as if someone walked up to you and told you that they were a hitman and that someone had taken out a hit on you with them. And they’re armed. And you know this to be true because it is the standard operating procedure of the main hitman organization in the area (for some reason). This is a threat of violence, and it doesn’t become any less of a threat of violence if instead of going through the trouble of saying this out loud all the hitmen develop some universally recognizable insignia to communicate their identity. (Which would be horrible strategy, unless of course you have the firepower and PR campaign to back it up.) The fact that the cop will only conditionally kill you, or will only initiate some lower level of force changes the level of the threat; it doesn’t change the fact that it IS a threat.
Conditional threats are still assaults. If someone says “give me all your money or I’ll shoot” this is an assault. If they write the same thing down and pass the paper to a convenience store clerk, this is still an assault. The fact that your assaulter gives you “options” to avoid violence does not make it not a threat. Cops *usually* give their victims non-violent means to end the confrontation- assuming they are law abiding themselves they are saying that they will not kidnap you if you abide by all statutes and case law. Just as the robber will not shoot you if you hand over the FRNs. Usually.
The fact that a particular cop has no intention of enforcing any victimless laws on a particular day does not change the fact that they are committing assault. Making a threat that you have no intention of carrying out is still making a threat. Robbing someone with a fake gun is still robbery. A police uniform and a badge communicate that the wearer intends to initiate force on the condition that certain demands are not met. It is not the fault of the individual cop that police badges communicate an intention to initiate force. But that is irrelevant because that’s not how communication works; every communicator doesn’t get to define every word in the language and assign meaning to every symbol that they use. A robber who says “I will shoot you” did not create the meaning of the words “shoot” and “you.” But those are the words that he chose to speak knowing what they mean, and a cop chooses to wear a uniform and a badge and state that they are a cop, knowing what those things mean. It is not the fault of someone who wears a fake bomb and begins asking for FRNs that whatever it is he chose to wear resembles a bomb and thus is an inherently threatening thing to brandish- but it is his fault that he chose to brandish it, so he is still committing assault (and robbery and whatever else he is committing). Pointing a red laser pointer at someone isn’t not an assault because the actor knows that it isn’t a sight attached to a gun. If you are standing in front of someone clearly holding a laser pointer then you have not committed assault (assuming you didn’t point it in their eyes or something). If you point it at someone on the sidewalk from a roof though, you have committed an assault because the reasonable interpretation of what is about to happen is an initiation of force. You are communicating that you are about to initiate force, whether or not that is true is irrelevant.  The NAP is violated when someone threatens to initiate force, not when they truthfully threaten to initiate force. Communication isn’t inherent, its symbolic, and assault is the communication of a threat. Any argument based on the allegation that the actor did not choose the meaning of words or other symbols is absurd, and would justify all threats. By that logic it would be completely acceptable behavior to point a gun at someone because you did not choose what guns look like or the implied statement of what pointing one at another human is. The overwhelming majority of cops have zero say in what insignia reliably communicates the conditional threat of initiatory force, but they do choose to communicate it.

1,192 thoughts on “Being a Cop is an Action, Not a Status: All Cops are Guilty of Initiatory Force”

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