Communion Of Dreams

“The Peace of the Gun.”

There’s a line from a Babylon 5 episode (I’m a big fan of the series) which has always stuck with me. Several characters are discussing the political situation on Earth following the imposition of martial law. One character says that people love it – crime is down, things are calm, peaceful.

“Yeah, the peace of the gun,” replies another character.

And that, my friends, is what we have today, here in the US. Specifically, in one small city in Arkansas:

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. – Officers armed with military rifles have been stopping and questioning passers-by in a neighborhood plagued by violence that’s been under a 24-hour curfew for a week.

On Tuesday, the Helena-West Helena City Council voted 9-0 to allow police to expand that program into any area of the city, despite a warning from a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas that the police stops were unconstitutional.

Police Chief Fred Fielder said the patrols have netted 32 arrests since they began last week in a 10-block neighborhood in this small town on the banks of the Mississippi River long troubled by poverty. The council said those living in the city want the random shootings and drug-fueled violence to stop, no matter what the cost.

“Now if somebody wants to sue us, they have an option to sue, but I’m fairly certain that a judge will see it the way the way the citizens see it here,” Mayor James Valley said. “The citizens deserve peace, that some infringement on constitutional rights is OK and we have not violated anything as far as the Constitution.”

From another source:

Controversial Curfew in Helena-West Helena

Mayor James Valley has given residents in one high-crime neighborhood two choices…. go home or go to jail.

Valley’s issued a mandatory curfew for Second Street and the surrounding blocks — a place he considers to be a “hot spot” for crime. The curfew applies to anyone of any age at any time of day.

* * *

“This turf belongs to taxpaying citizens, not to hustlers and drug dealers….We are going to pop them in the head,” Mayor Valley said.

* * *

The mayor only has the power to issue a 48 hour curfew – so he says when this one expires, he’ll issue another one, and another one.

Predictably, the ACLU is taking a rather dim view of this:

Mayor: Curfew Constitutional

The ACLU has written a letter to Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley protesting the curfew he imposed on a portion of the city. The mayor says he’s received the letter, but believes it’s intentions are misplaced.

* * *

Mayor James Valley says no constitutional rights have been violated — he says they’re doing what’s needed to clean up the streets.

No doubt. And he’s willing to be reasonable:

Helena-West Helena Curfew Changes

Leaders in Helena-West Helena have come up with a new plan after criticism by the ACLU of the mayor’s recent curfew on a particular part of town.

This past weekend, Mayor James Valley issued a mandatory curfew for Second Street and the surrounding blocks — a place he considers to be a “hot spot” for crime.

* * *

Valley’s curfew will remain in place for all minors, but adults will be allowed out if they can answer questions about their need to be outside their homes.

See, like I said – he’s being perfectly reasonable about this. You can leave your house. If you can explain to authorities why you need to do so.

How could anyone possibly object to this?


This is nothing more or less than the peace of the gun. This is the abrogation of civil liberties as a solution for incompetent governance. Of course people like it – let things get bad enough that they fear for their lives more than they value their liberties, and you can get people to do almost anything. Mayor Valley is just applying the same logic as he applied in mid July when he, well, here’s the news report:

Mayor Orders Dogs Released Into Forest

You’ve heard it before…..Arkansas animal shelters struggling to take care of unwanted dogs and cats. One mayor has decided the best way to fix the problem in his town is to set the animals free.

KARK visited the Helena-West Helena animal shelter back in January. Conditions were dirty and animals were in poor health.

Thursday, KARK learned the town’s mayor James Valley has taken the unconventional approach of releasing the animals into the wild. In a press release, the mayor says “we fed and watered them and took them to the St. Francis National Forest.”

Yeah, he just turned them loose.

Like I said, incompetence. Let things get so bad, and then you can take absurd steps.

Like imposing martial law.

Is this just a trial run for other cities? Other levels of government? Because you can be damned sure that there are power-hungry people watching this situation very closely, and drawing their own conclusions. If a small-town mayor can get away with it, why not a large city mayor? Or a governor? Or a president?

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI and Daily Kos.)

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