Jesse Walker:The Last Words of Eric Garner-the ultimate political litmus test

Eric Garner’s final words may be the ultimate political litmus test:

Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tire of it. It stops today. (…) I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please. Please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me. (garbled) I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

That’s the statement of a man who was being choked figuratively long before he was choked literally. He is asserting his dignity, and then he’s being killed for it. Commentators have seen a host of social problems in Garner’s death: the impunity of abusive cops, the literally lethal consequences of criminalizing so much nonviolent behavior, the ways the effects of both that impunity and that criminalization fall more heavily on blacks than on whites. And they’re right on all those counts. But underlying all that is something more primal and universal. Eric Garner died because he decided to demand what should be the first right of any human being in a decent society: the right to peacefully live your life without being molested.

Jesse Walker looks at what is really the dividing line between libertarians who defend a civilization based on live and let live, and the barbarians who are turning America into a police state http://reason.com/blog/2014/12/04/eric-garners-final-words

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