As a minority liberal in a rural and very conservative part of the county, I’d like to share what I see as a shift in the thinking of some conservative friends and neighbors, who usually avoid talking with me about anything except vegetable gardens, pups, grandkids, runaway chickens and wildlife.
A neighbor who works in law enforcement, and up to now has been a true believer in 287(g) and Inter-governmental Service Agreements and all they represent, has recently expressed concern — grief, actually — about the separation of dependent children and others from family members arrested and detained for nonviolent civil infractions currently being labeled crimes. And a nearby family who once waited nearly an hour for the sheriff’s office to respond after a fatal incident of domestic violence, have questioned the time, personnel and funds being devoted to the search for and apprehension of peaceful and productive undocumented members of the community.
We all share the desire to protect ourselves, our children and other loved ones from criminal acts by violent people. But we have differing views about which children belong in the category “our children,” and which pose a real versus imagined threat to them and the community.
And we do disagree about the difference between actual facts and alternative ones; between just and unjust laws; between legitimate use of power, and abuse of power and human rights; and about when that abuse reaches a level that requires putting the public good ahead of political interest. And finally, perhaps most relevant to the difficult challenges currently facing our elected governing officials and their advisers: We disagree about what it means to use the letter of the law to betray its spirit, which has nothing to do with power and its privileges and everything to do with justice.
With respect for the fact that opposing views may result from equally sincere beliefs, my fellow “troublemakers” (aka “scofflaws”) and I are still hoping against hope that the honorable and capable officials mentioned above will find the personal and political will to lead us all in a better direction — a more conservative direction, really — than the unchecked extreme one we’ve been allowing the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to take us in for more than a decade now. We can continue to hope this because in so many other ways, those same officials have been valiantly leading us toward a better, more humane and livable Frederick.