Much has been made of the weaponry used by the police in Ferguson. Technological determinism is the preferred intellectual habit of mind of the moment, so it’s natural. If you give tear gas to police officers, the logic goes, they will eventually use it. If you give them military-grade weapons, they will behave like they are occupying forces. And that transference has played out tragically. But the main narrative we have consumed for the past 50 years has been that the forces of law and order are up against apocalyptic powers that know no limit to their capabilities.
Into which the war on terror fed perfectly, and the same argument applied: We can’t get warrants to wiretap people because this new threat is just too dire for that. We can’t follow the same rules we’ve always followed because this is somehow something we’ve not seen before.
It’s bullshit, it’s always been bullshit, and we’re getting to the point where I watch a vigilante justice movie about anything other than a guy in a cape and wind up yelling at the screen, “You could have solved that whole thing in five minutes if you’d interrogated that guy instead of shooting him!”