05 February 2013

Federal Fear


Simple observation leads one to believe that the federal government is afraid of the public its purpose to serve. One can not enter a federal building without disrobing; required to empty pockets, take off shoes and belt, screen anything being carried. The federal buildings, most especially the federal courthouses, have become mausoleums. No one goes to the courthouse for the simple reason they are not welcome. Those working in the courthouse and other federal buildings spend their days without public contact. I am speaking most specifically about the federal courthouses. One is asked his or her business, is required to show an identification, and is looked upon with suspicion and sometimes downright hostility. One can only conclude from this behavior that the federal government is afraid of us. I include myself in this as I am a part of the public. Even though I am a member of the court, admitted to practice before it, I must undergo the same scrutiny as the general public. It makes no difference that the people guarding the gate know who I am-a practicing attorney with business in the building-I must empty my pockets, show an ID, and at times take off my shoes. One can blame the United States Marshall Service for some of this, but presumably they take direction from someone. The U. S. Marshall Service is in charge of security at the United States Courthouses. They take their job very seriously. I have actually never seen a U. S. Marshall smile. The people who are not required to undergo this scrutiny are law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. It is not possible to be one of the elect and not come to the conclusion that they are exempt from suspicion; that they must be protected at all cost; and, the rest of us may cause them some harm. This is not a good situation. Courthouses should be open to the public; the public needs to know what goes on behind these gated communities. The activities of the federal courthouses have in essence become secret and mysterious. People go in and disappear for years at a time without anyone knowing or understanding what has happened to them. There is a difference in behavior between a judge sentencing a man to 20 years in prison for cooking up some meth to an empty courtroom to a judge in a courtroom with people sitting and watching and judging for themselves what our criminal justice system is doing to our citizens. Fear is frightening. When someone fears you, it gives them motivation to harm you. We should be afraid of our federal government for the simple reason they are afraid of us. And the federal government is not alone. You will note that most modern police stations and sheriff offices and law enforcement agencies of the federal government have secured doors and entrances. You must buzz to get in so that you can be asked your business. Rather than "Hi, can I help you?" you get a "What do you want?". They are the one's with the guns. What are they afraid of? None of this is good. It speaks to where we are as a society; where we are required to be frightened of our fellow citizens. Yes, there are those unstable and deranged personalities out there that may harm you, but I maintain you can't let it affect you in the way that it has. If a person is that afraid of his or her personal safety, then a different job may be in order. Unfortunately, it appears that fear has been institutionalized; that it is a requirement of the job as law enforcement or working for the government in other capacities. It simply isn't healthy to treat the general public in this fashion. Random violence will occur and you can not protect yourself from it without losing some of your own humanity.