The death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Islander, by police chokehold, not only sparked in me the usual combination of sadness, anger and frustration — there was an additional element: would this do it?
Would the nation’s shock, incredulity, indignation amount to anything?
Lots of questions. But one thing not being focused on in the standard reports was noted by Scott Shackford of Reason. It’s not merely a question of why the bust went so violent. Why, he asks, a bust at all? “We should be concerned that the reason why the police swarmed Garner in the first place is getting lost. He allegedly possessed ‘untaxed cigarettes.’ That is it.”
A tax matter.
The police are arresting people — and going into overkill mode in the process — on tax matters.
Couldn’t this such issues be handled by mere citation, followed by a court summons? With an arrest the last resort?
Why go all violent when violence is not really in order?
But maybe it’s not just about the taxes. Or “contraband.” Maybe this is also about “drugs.” (Yes, tobacco’s a drug.) We’ve long had a “War on Drugs” in this country. It has not gone well. As I suggested last week (as well as yesterday, on Townhall), the effects have not only been wide and deep, but inevitable.
War is like that. Expect the “unintended consequences.”
Scott Shackford suggests that New York lower the city’s high sin taxes on cigarettes.
But maybe the whole mindset of the modern state needs changing. Big things, like murder, slavery, etc., those are worth fighting about. Let’s not go to war over the little things.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.