Pamela Konchinsky was pulled over by the police, questioned, and told to remove a bumper sticker from her car. The bumper sticker, “Unmarked Police Car”. The Indianapolis police argue that criminals might mistake the car for an unmarked police car and shoot the driver. Or at least that’s what they told Konchinsky after they pulled her over.
It’s an interesting case for a couple of reasons but there is one thing that really stands out in my mind. It seems to me that the police rationalized to themselves that the bumper sticker represented a real threat to Konchinsky and justified the entire incident because they were protecting her. The reality is they didn’t like the bumper sticker and their minds came up with a good reason to pull her over. I honestly don’t think the police officers in this case concocted the rather ridiculous argument, I strongly think they believe what they are saying.
It’s quite clear to me that the bumper sticker is designed as a joke. It’s rather subtle and funny at that. Some people are arguing she was falsely presenting herself as a police officer but I don’t think this can be construed as such. I wrote a blog quite a while ago about someone who was rightfully kicked out of Universal Studios for wearing a t-shirt that read: Police Street Crime Unit. That’s an instance of someone wearing something that could be misconstrued. In that case it wasn’t the person wearing the shirt who was in danger but others at the park who might look to that person for security. Not the point here but you can read that post to see my views.
Back to what I find so compelling about this particular case and why it speaks to Libertarian ideology. One of the things Libertarians argue is that the government has convinced both itself and those who support it that they do what they do for our benefit. I absolutely think there are times when the government is extremely useful but more and more I see in our politicians the same psychological mind-games we see from the officers in this case.
The bumper sticker is clearly a joke. An unmarked police car would not be marked as a police car. The officers in this case didn’t like what they saw and came up with a reason to get rid of it. They were wrong to do so and I hope Konchinsky gets her day in court. Likely it will be settled with an apology or two and that’s fine.
We want things so badly we twist facts around and around until we get the result we want. It happens to everyone. It happens to police officers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and even web-developers! It’s really important for people in position of authority to be aware of this sort of thinking.
Be wary of those who claim they are looking out for you and try then try to take something away; be it freedom or just a bumper sticker.