Ask a Cop

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Illustration: Sean Hennefer

Dear Cop,
What does it feel like to enforce laws that you personally consider immoral? If the law called for you to stop black people from drinking at “white” drinking fountains, would you enforce it? 
Sincerely, skeptical of your entire institution—Mike Abu

Dear  M.A.
Define “immoral.”  Your morality and mine, I guarantee, are two different things.

Like, I find the idea of an adult male desiring sexual intercourse with a 7-year-old boy or girl to be so appalling and evil that I think offenders can never be rehabilitated and should be incarcerated forever, or, honestly, just done away with.  People who collect and distribute pictures of child/adult sex acts are pretty much the lowest form of shit to me and so totally evil I don’t really comprehend or accept the practice’s existence.  I would not work those cases.  I couldn’t.  If I did, you’d be even more skeptical of my institution, but I guarantee you’d pay a hell of a lot less in jail taxes.  You know, fewer freaks to incarcerate. 

Regardless of how immoral or evil I think it is, there are those who don’t agree with me.  Just this last year, the Pope in his Christmas address to the world provided a hint of his feelings on the subject.  He said pedophilia wasn’t really considered an “absolute evil” as recently as the 1970s.  He also suggested that child pornography is more and more considered “normal” by our society. Seriously?  The leader of one of the world’s largest religions thinks it’s becoming “normal” for adults to look at pictures of small children engaged in sex acts? 

Sorry, he and I differ 180 degrees.

I again ask you to define “immorality.”  If you’re asking about enforcing laws I consider as bad law, that’s a different issue.  If you’re asking about me enforcing laws that would make me a hypocrite, that’s another issue.

I’d like to think I’m not a hypocrite by not writing speeding tickets.  Do I stop people for speeding?  Sure.  It’s reasonable suspicion which then allows me to contact them and determine if they have warrants, illicit narcotics, guns, maybe drank the wrong water—all the bad stuff.  I speed too much, even in my POV.  So, I don’t write speeding tickets.  I make sure the person isn’t a wanted felon with a gun or getting ready to sell your kid an ounce or take naked pictures of them, and I tell them to buckle up and drive carefully.  Say it’s 3 a.m., only car on the road, and I watch it run a red light.  I stop them to make sure they’re not DUI, and then I thank them for being careful when they went through the intersection.  At least they stopped.

Felony crimes or domestic violence crimes, cops have little discretion and generally arrest people.  However, there are many crimes in the misdemeanor category where cops have a lot of leeway.  For example, fornication.  No cop ever seriously enforces this law.   Utah code says – Fornication (76-7-104)

(1) Any unmarried person who shall voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with another is guilty of fornication.
(2) Fornication is a class B misdemeanor.

 Cops are some of the biggest fornicating-law-breaking fuckers out there.  If we tried to arrest people for gettin’ busy, our hypocrisy would make me just as skeptical of my institution as you are. 

You bring up a very good point, though.  Think about how hypocritical your state Legislature is here in Utah for even enacting this law or leaving it on the books.  Tell me all of them don’t have a piece of ass on the side, and if you nail someone other than your spouse, the punishment is even worse.

I’ll tell you who never violates this law: polygamists.  Dude wants that nice piece of ass down the road?  Just marry her.  If she’s a child, though, make sure you have her parents’ permission.  That makes it all okay.

I doubt you can find an “immoral” law in this country anymore.  Class is so protected now that all the laws as you describe them have been gone for years.
–Cop

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Illustration: Sean Hennefer