Campus Media Response: Paternalism and the Dispute over Armed Protection

Editorial: Up in arms, April 13, 2009
The Daily Princetonian
Princeton University

Within your editorial, “Up in Arms”, you rightly point out that guns, as such, do not compromise the relationship between students and Public Safety officers. Yet, given the tension that many civilians experience when faced with an Officer of the Peace, it is worth considering the source of student anxiety. Government paternalism has become pervasive in American culture. The result is that there are a multitude of laws which are enforced, regardless of individual wishes—for our own good. These range from seatbelt laws, to the criminalization of marijuana. A “Big Brother Knows Best” mentality has destroyed the relationship between individuals and the police. Most civilians feel a certain degree of disdain for law enforcement, which is quite understandable. After all, police spend half their time protecting us from real criminals—and the other half, from ourselves. No wonder then that many students feel an aversion to arming university Public Safety officers. As natural siblings to the municipal police there is a real sense in which arming these individuals would seem to pose a threat to one’s ability to govern one’s life. Nevertheless, I would encourage anyone who has an emotional reaction against arming university security to take a step back and review the problem objectively. It is right that those who protect our lives should be well armed. It is the laws that encroach upon our freedom and the premise that government exists to babysit the population that are wrong and must be opposed.
Zev Barnett
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