November 08, 2003

I SAW THE VIDEO of this high-school drug raid in South Carolina, with students lying on the floor while cops pointed guns at them. (Even more pathetically, no drugs were found.)

The traditional American remedy for such official overreaching, back when the Constitution was adopted, was tarring and feathering. Perhaps this "originalist" approach should be revived. If that had been my kid on the floor, I'd be sorely tempted.

Short of that, the police chief, prosecutor, and anyone else responsible should be sacked. Immediately.

UPDATE: Reader Aaron Hegeman emails:

Frankly, I think everyone's missing the big scandal. Yeah, sure, maybe civil liberties were infringed, and maybe there was excessive use of force. Whatever. But how stupid do you have to be to raid a high school and actually not find any drugs? That's like busting into a fraternity party with beer-sniffing dogs and not finding a keg.

Well, that part's pretty lame, I admit, but I don't think it's the big scandal here. Meanwhile Michael Graham writes:

I know [Principal] George McCrackin from my days at WSC in Charleston, SC. He became part of the Michael Graham Experience when he started kicking straight-A students out of school because their shirts weren't tucked in. No, I'm not exaggerating. He felt it was vital for maintaining discipline to keep all shirttails out of public view.

He also wanted mandatory uniforms, but he couldn't find enough brown shirts or red armbands...

So when I saw the video on CNN of the gun-wielding goons terrorizing school kids, my first thought was of ol' George. Sure enough...

Sheesh. He's got more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see the video here. And here's the home page for Stratford High School.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Perry De Havilland says that there's an important lesson for America's children in this: "The State is not your friend."

MORE: Armed Liberal comments:

My primary response is to project my reaction had it been my son's high school, and had my son faced officers with weapons in low-ready who told him to sit with his back to the wall and put his hands on his head. . . .

As someone who shoots, I've learned a healthy respect for what it means to have a loaded weapon out and in my hand. I have trained with enough LEO's and military to have heard the horror stories - a SWAT officer in Ventura County mistakenly shot and killed by his partner in the course of a raid; a young actor at a Halloween party shot and killed by an officer who saw him holding an all-too-real prop gun.

I've heard about accidents in which Negligent Discharges (there are no Accidental Discharges) put rounds into handcuffed suspects, and accidents in training where experienced officers accidentally shoot into the ground, sending lethal spall and ricochet fragments scattering through a room.

And that's only on the partial issue of the decision by the officers to draw their weapons.

The notion that they could cordon off a part of a school, detain everyone there, and on unsubstantiated rumor, search each of them is outrageous. It violates everything I know about our relation as citizens - not suspects - to the power of the state.

Indeed. The police response is that the guns weren't aimed at the kids, they were in low-ready position. When kids are lying on the floor, that's a distinction without a difference -- just watch the video.

STILL MORE: Reader Brian R. Leone emails:

You cannot see it on the grainy/artifact prone internet video feed, but when the networks were showing this footage you could clearly see at least one of the officers had his finger ON THE TRIGGER while he was covering these kids with the muzzle of his weapon. Simply inexcusable. One wrong twitch and an innocent kid dies. I wonder what the law of "negligent infliction of emotional distress" looks like in that state. If I were an attorney in that jurisdiction, I'd take on the whole group of students pro bono.

I was at the gym when I saw the network broadcast, and I didn't notice that -- but it's inexcusable if true. Every handgun training program I've ever taken has stressed that fingers don't go on the trigger, even when confronting someone who might be dangerous, until you're ready to shoot, and for very good reason.