The Think Species
Social and Cultural Essays
The Police State. Is it real or something we’ve conjured in our imaginations? Has it always been there, in the background, now coming to the forefront thanks to social media accounts and our smart phones? Is it more real for some groups than others? Do we really need to worry about it?
The images that accompany the Police State are found in writings across the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, from Phillip K Dick’s Minority Report to Orwell’s 1984, the contemporary The Fat Years and The Hunger Games. The nightly news presents us with a screen full of nasty images of criminals, looters, and police shootings – by the cops and against the cops, and now the general civilian. Drones hover above us in the skies, politicians ramp up the cause of arming our police through hype, and the grasp on the citizen's rights as an independent, sovereign citizen ever tightens. But is it all hype or is there some truth to it?
I’ve written about the Police State in my books, and since 2012, when I first locked my protagonist into a cell heavily guarded by police-come-military, I’ve watched in dread how my more brutal plot twists have slowly bled into real life. Not unlike J Rae, who waits behind the bars for a captor to reprogram her beliefs and convictions as her world crumbles into a tightly controlled population without freedoms; it seems we may be on the precipice of similar circumstances.
Now, I’m not wanting to sound alarmist. I’m merely questioning the world around me with some urgency, and currently, it isn’t a pretty sight to behold.
I’ve reported on DAPL protesters being held in dog-like cages, with their arms penned in ink by authorities wanting to notate their identity, not by name but by a number so reminiscent of the camps in Germany. We've seen how cops revel in their new emergency powers to "just follow orders." Citizens rat out others for not donning the correct symbolism over their faces, and our DNA is now used to trace us at sewage plants. Snippets of history are returning with some of them on steroids, and by themselves they’re harmless enough. But like the plot line in my books, it’s the snippets you have to watch out for. What toes the line soon crosses it if we’re not watching, and once crossed, where does it stop?
A colleague of mine, an ex NYPD cop-turned-journalist, wrote about the latest technologies leeching into the police system across the Western, and sometimes Asian and European nations. Reading it, I got chills. The handcuffs I hinted at under the guise of suspended reality have just been patented – ready to drug and taser you from an officer-held remote control. The drones haunting my characters in their dilapidated city are fully engaged. The SciFi-esque Pain Ray Cannon microwave blaster designed specifically for protesters – that should only exist in the movies – is now being used. One day, we’ll beg for the return of the gun and human error, but only after the newly developed ‘Robocop‘ does a no-knock house raid on our falsely accused neighbor, leaving a pool of blood behind them and no court to convict them.
No. I’m not exaggerating. I wish I was. This isn’t the world I want for my children and nor is it the one I want for myself. I’d sooner be happier writing about pixies and unicorns dancing together under a rainbow, but this is fast becoming our reality.
The military police; the drones; the electronic tattoos to identify each citizen and their 'vaccination' records (among other social status markers); RFID chips; digital currencies; internment camps; free thinkers arrested, missing, killed . . . mad men in power; these were all once just works of fiction belonging to the pages of my books. As the books go on, the scenario gets darker, grim . . . acutely aware of my surroundings, perhaps subconsciously I filtered what I was already seeing? I didn’t want this to happen. I really didn’t want to see this happen . . .
I understand the need to arm our police, and one argues if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about. But the faint line in the sand, the one that we’re currently toeing . . . the one that I fear is almost rubbed out . . . what happens when we cross it?