Michael Campbell of Lakewood recently made headlines by shooting a catalytic converter thief twice, dragging him behind a pickup truck, and leaving his body in a field 20 miles north of here.
This story is more than sensationally gruesome, it is sad and wrong: one man’s life is ended and one man’s life is over. It is also the unfortunate but understandable outcome of people seeing the breakdown of the rule of law.
They see criminals booked and released before the arresting officer is done writing their report. No bail because it's unfair. Habitual and repeat offenders emboldened by lack of consequences. Charges dropped by prosecutors who are soft on crime. Convictions overturned by woke judges. Victims seeking justice are told to go online and fill out a form on a website, that it’s a low priority, or that it’s “just property.”
As crime continues to skyrocket nationwide, incidents of vigilantism like this are likely to increase as well. If you work in law enforcement, the justice system, or corrections, you can no longer just collect a paycheck and say "We're doing the best that we can." Nor can you bow to extremist attacks and demands to disband your profession. You have been given the grace of being called heroic, now it is time to earn that.
There are insane enemies of the rule of law who are fighting every day to sway public opinion and win hearts and minds toward chaos and anarchy. They have already won in some places, and hoping to win everywhere. If that happens, civility and public safety as we know it are lost.
As popular as it is these days to debate different sorts of privilege, there is no more basic privilege than assuming your community will always be safe and civil., that law and order will protect your basic rights. What a sheltered and naive view that is. There are many places in the world where civility and public safety were lost long ago, or never present to begin with. So here we sit at the precipice, with people debating getting more guns to feel safe, while others propose the idea of disbanding police.
We need judges, attorneys, cops, jailers, politicians, and all members of the law and justice system to stop worrying about their six-figure salaries and acknowledge that our justice system is providing very little justice; our correctional system is doing very little correcting, and our sense of safety has eroded. There is no magic answer, but the cure is certainly not in softer slaps, catch and release, or accepting excuses for crime. The priority should be on instilling public trust in having their safety, their property, and their rights protected.
David Ross attended The Evergreen State College while working as a grocery checker. He has been a psychiatric social worker, documentary filmmaker, and college faculty in his hometown of Olympia where he also produces The David Ross Show and podcast.