From here in Japan, I continue to see news of the U.S. transforming strangely and drastically. Now it seems there calls for disbanding the police. In fact, Minneapolis has already pledged to disband its police department. Considering how quickly they punished the killers of George Floyd, I suppose it’s not surprising they’d have the willpower for that.

But what would it mean not to have a police department? To some extent, we already know. A standing police force in the western world isn’t that new. London’s first police force is widely considered to be the Bow Street Runners, established by the author and magistrate Henry Fielding, the same man who wrote Tom Jones. You can look to one of his contemporaries, Daniel Defoe, and his book Moll Flanders to see how street crime was dealt with before police. A scene where the title character, Moll, attempts to steal something is interrupted when she’s spotted. What follows is essentially a citizen’s arrest where witnesses are empowered to drag the accused to a constable or magistrate. Do you suppose Antifa would accept the judgement of such magistrates?

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Often what would happen is something that you might have caught a glimpse of in the 2017 Doctor Who episode “Thin Ice” where the Doctor and his companion, Bill, are detained by a group of thugs under hire for a wealthy gentleman.

Illustration for article titled The Cops
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In other words, the inevitable consequence of removing a public government service is the increase of a private enterprise to fill the void. Is this a good idea? Should only victims of sexual assault, for example, who can afford resourceful private detectives and bounty hunters be allowed to see their assailants brought to justice?You may quote statistics for how rarely perpetrators of sexual assault are brought to justice in the current system. But the alternative would seem to be a world that benefits only the very wealthiest of victims.

I heard even the TV show Cops has been cancelled after thirty years on the air. Why? If it shows cops doing bad things, surely that would be a useful check on the institution. If it shows them doing good things, why is that bad? I suppose it would be a troublesome complication in a clear message.

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Twitter Sonnet #1362

Translucent sprites conduct the cursor home.
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The perfect tea was brewed from leafy tips.
Examples stitched in wood redeem the moon.
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