British statesman George Savile once said that men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen. That is, in a law and order society, the law is there to keep the order. If your street is quiet tonight, it's not because a bunch of people are in jail, but that most of us don't want to go.
Did you catch the story in Sunday's paper? It seems that folks in Portland, Oregon--have we got your attention now?--are wreaking havoc in the downtown section. And cops aren't doing much about it. Who could have predicted this? Besides everybody?
According to dispatches, last week a crowd of hooligans went down Portland streets, "smashing storefront windows, lighting dumpsters on fire and causing at least $500,000 in damage." According to the Associated Press, police officers didn't stop them:
"Portland Police Bureau officials say that's because of legislation passed by Oregon lawmakers this year, which restricts the tools they can use to confront people vandalizing buildings and causing mayhem."
While legislatures in the South have spent the last year trying to get to the political right of each other, the legislature in Oregon is trying to get to the extreme left. The jury is still out on whether House Bill 2928 of the state's Legislative Assembly really does prevent police from deploying pepper spray and other crowd control methods during riots. But apparently enough police think they might could get into legal trouble if they stand in the way of rioters. For proof, see the dumpster fires in Portland. And the damaged banks and retail stores and coffee shops and government buildings.
There may be more going on in Portland than meets the eye. Reporters say they watched cops sit in their cars during the riots, although some say the law specifically allows the police to intervene when crowds get out of control. But who can blame officers for not wanting to get crossways with the law, if that law isn't clear? Especially in this defund-the-police environment that's fogged up reasoning in the United States circa 2021.
A spokesman for the Portland police told a local TV station that the new law dramatically curtails what police can do, "And then we get blamed for not doing our job correctly when things don't work out the way they should work out."
Is this just a matter of the police pouting because lawmakers put a few restrictions on them? Or is this what happens when lawmakers give way to the radical left and handcuff their own protectors?
If you own the banks, the coffee shops or the retail stores that were damaged, would it matter? You'd still be on the phone with your insurance agent this morning.
And does any part of this story make you want to visit amicable and soothing Portland, Ore., anytime soon?
What a dumpster fire.