July 9, 2013

ROGER KIMBALL: Sheriff Andy Taylor On The Coercive Power Of The State. “As sheriff of the town of Mayberry, Andy is responsible for maintaining order — no, that’s not quite right: the townspeople are responsible for maintaining order. Andy is simply a sort of boundary marker. He represents what Walter Bagehot might have called the impressive side of the social contract. He has a sidearm. He rarely wears it. It’s usually at home, unloaded, hidden on top of a china cabinet. He barely wears a uniform. That’s to say, his uniform is homey, not scary. Why? Because he wished people to trust and respect, not fear him; he was an authority, not an authoritarian figure. His sidekick, the lovable but bumbling Barney Fife, likes the paraphernalia of police garb. Andy lets him wear a revolver, but it has to be unloaded. He’s allowed to carry one round of ammunition in his shirt pocket.”

The Barney Fifes have pretty much taken over law enforcement now, but today they have AR-15s and armored vehicles. Less respect, though.

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