The Government as Agitator

One of the most astonishing things about the recently concluded trial of George Zimmerman is that neither side walked away with renewed confidence in the court system. One side believed it had averted a miscarriage of justice while the other felt it had been the victim of one. Had the verdict gone the other way it would have been vice versa. Blind justice rarely makes anyone happy, since one side must lose and the other win. Yet it succeeds when both sides find it acceptable, for the king's justice was intended to replace private vengeance, which is exactly what some are vowing to deliver after the expensive and widely televised trial.

Ironically, the players most actively stirring up discontent are the government and media themselves.

Their message seems to be: don't trust government, don't trust state legislation or the prosecutors or law enforcement -- even when all of the above are substantially no one else but the agitators themselves. With Obama in the White House, Eric Holder at the Justice Department, and Angela Corey the district attorney, and the media the Media, just who exactly perverted justice? Just who exactly is the Man that one should rise up against and fight?

Mark Steyn observed that the federal government, when so minded, can convict a ham sandwich: "Today at the federal level there is a conviction rate of over 90 percent."

Even if the action takes place in the lower courts, it hard to believe that so powerful an alignment of forces can be defeated by six jurors. So how come the Man can miss Zimmerman when they can convict Conrad Black? The answer, some cynics might say, is politics. Maybe they never meant to convict Zimmerman, or more likely, the decision was entirely irrelevant for as long as it provided a spectacle.

Zimmerman and Martin were unimportant in themselves; their only value was in how they contributed to the Narrative.

As proof of this, let's consider the following prediction: by this time next week nobody will care who either was. But never mind, the next shooting, robbery, rape, bombing -- whatever -- will create a similar kind of drama for people named X and Y, or Z and W. In other words, it will be the same dog with a different collar. The singer changes, but the song remains the same.

Who wants to bet we won't be hearing another version of the same tune this time next month?

The declining quantity in every case is our old pal "legitimacy." Legitimacy takes a beating every time. Legitimacy is what persuades a near totality of citizens to cooperate with authority, to obey their orders, leaving them to focus police power on the very small minority who defy them.

But as legitimacy declines, the official order becomes only the starting flag for the real race. The less the legitimacy, the more police power is required to achieve a given compliance. In the old Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, all the redoubtable sergeant had to do was intone "I arrest you in the name of the queen," and the perpetrator cringingly obeyed. Today, the announcement or arrest is only where the action begins, and the remainder of the drama is filled by various shootouts, car chases, and rooftop pursuit scenes.