Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
St. Paul Police Chief Axtell does not know what he’s talking about.
Gun violence is exploding in St. Paul. The Chief says “ . . . basically it’s yesterday’s fistfights are today’s gun fights.” But then he says it’s “ . . . a community health problem, this is a public health crisis.”
A health problem is caused by disease. The cure is quarantine and medical treatment for those infected, and sanitation to prevent spread of illness. Americans know very well how to handle outbreaks of disease. St. Paul does not have a public health problem.
St. Paul has a cultural problem. Perfectly healthy people are choosing to shoot each other instead of fistfight. We’re not willing to quarantine residents in Frogtown and there is no medical treatment, no vaccine that cures bad behavior. Bad behavior is cured by deterrence and punishment, to make bad behavior unacceptably costly to the actors.
When Charles Napier wanted to end the Hindu practice of burning wives alive on their husband’s funeral pyre, he explained to the priests: “This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.” The practice of suttee ended abruptly.
In fairness, it may be that the Chief knows exactly what’s going on in his city, but he’s afraid to speak the truth because the City Council is a bunch of liberals more concerned with signaling their virtue by mouthing politically acceptable platitudes than with protecting their citizens by enacting effective law enforcement measures. As long as the people dying are young Black men and poor children on the East Side, what’s the big deal?
Can we talk about adding another light rail line now? Because that’s a big deal. That’s something we care about.
I have to hope that there’s a lot of smart cops out there acting dumb because they want to keep their jobs.
The alternative? Remember – today’s police forces didn’t exist when the Constitution was written. I have a hunch they are more like the standing armies our forefathers feared than our current standing army is.