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「如果在美國,抗爭者一早已經被警察開槍打死了」

2019/9/29 — 20:19

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【文:論繆 Quibble】

「如果是在美國,這班抗爭者一早就已經被警察開槍打死了。」

這句話,在過去幾個月來大家都應該聽不少,從身邊閱歷比較少的雜工以至滿腹經綸的大狀的口中我都聽過。在最基本的層面上,這句話沒錯,因為在美國要被警察槍殺實在不難,對此沒有人會異議。

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但就算是在美國,警察要槍殺人命也不是沒有權限的吧:警察如果在沒有充分理據的情況下使用致命武力,會被控謀殺或誤殺。你可能會質問美國對警察的監控是否這麼有效,又或者對美國法律內,何時就有充分理據使用致命武力的尺度有所保留(或者你會覺得是真的太容易了),但我不會懷疑你是在提倡,應該有一些情況下,警察的行為是不需受要法律限制的,又或者是有一些情況下警察使用暴力是不須由法律授權的。因為,他們只是警察,我們從沒有將審判,判刑及執行刑罰的任務及權力都交託給他們。

我相信說「如果是在美國,這班抗爭者一早就已經被警察開槍打死了」這句話的人,在某程度上都厭惡示威者的某些或全部行為,認為他們應得到某些懲罰。但同時,在同情示威者的人當中,要找一個覺得犯了法都不用負責的,也蠻困難。

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同情示威者的人,投訴的不單是香港的警察在執行職務時用不合理且過分的武力對待示威者,而是警察經常在根本不可算是執勤的情況下,毆打市民(例如,打完就走,不拘捕的,不算是在執勤)。

我們的警察配備足以作出嚴重身體傷害的武器,穿著可以抵禦同等武器的精良保護裝備。我們絕對不能容許他們在法律授權的範圍外使用武力,這個根本沒可能有商榷的餘地。如果你是支持法治的話,你沒可能又同時支持執法人員在執法時知法犯法。容許執法人員隨意使用武力是一個極其危險的社會狀況,沒有人會是安全的。

當然,如果你還是覺得,凡是自己厭惡的行為,都不介意有人不依法用武力去懲罰的話,沒問題。下次見面時我會帶備一枝更大的棍。

最後,如果真的在美國,有一個社會議題,議會裡沒有人嘗試幫選民去爭取,社會內商界學者,專業精英多番遊說無效,幾百萬人多次上街和平遊行表達訴求之後,政府依然逆民意一意孤行,人民最後的抗爭方法,相信也很難想像會怎樣跟香港作比較。將兩個完全不同的地方比較,這樣的「如果… 論點」,明顯地真的很無聊。

“If we were in the U.S., those protesters would have been shot dead by the police long ago”

Many of us have heard this quite a lot the past few months, from the tea lady to the supposedly highly educated law firm partners. To begin with, there is some truth in the statement: no one would dispute that it is rather easy to get oneself shot dead by the police in the U.S.  

But even in the U.S., police do not have blanket authority to shoot people dead. When they are found to have killed in circumstances that do not justify the use of lethal force, charges of murders or manslaughter have been brought. You may debate about the effectiveness of the monitoring of police in the U.S., or you may be uncomfortable (or comfortable, given what you are saying about the protesters) with where the law starts to consider the use of lethal force justifiable when confronting different behaviours, but I presume you are not arguing that there could be situations where police actions do not need to be constrained by the law, that there are situations where the use force do not need to be authorized by the law. Because, lest you forget, we have not empowered them to also be judge, jury and executioner.

I imagine that those who make the above statement disagree with certain, if not all, aspects of the protesters’ actions and think that they deserve some kind of punishment. But you would be hard pushed to find someone sympathetic to the protesters who would think they need to face no consequences, if they are found to have broken the law.

Those who are sympathetic to the protesters are complaining that the Hong Kong police not only are using unjustifiably excessive force in the course of carrying out their duties, but that they have often been outright assaulting citizens in encounters that have nothing to do with executing their duties. (For example, a policeman is not carrying out his duties if he uses force to injure a protester but does not go on to arrest the protester.)

Our police are heavily armed with weapons that can do serious bodily damage, and they wear sophisticated gear that protects them from someone similarly armed. There can be no debate about whether they can use force outside of the situations where the law authorises them to. If you are a supporter of the rule of law and are against certain protesters breaking the law, you could not at the same time be supportive of police acting unlawfully in carrying out their duties. Allowing police to use force arbitrarily is a very dangerous state of affairs in which no one is safe. 

But if you are still supportive of the protesters being beaten up arbitrarily as punishment because you do not agree with what they are doing, then I will just remember to bring a bigger stick next time we meet.

Finally, if we were in the U.S., there is a matter of great concern to the society, where the elected representatives of the people do not try to address, where the advice of business community, academics and professional elites have been ignored, and the government insists on going against the will of the people, it would be hard to imagine, when people then take the fight directly to the government, how they would compare with the protesters in Hong Kong. If it is not already obvious: the two societies are so different, it is rather pointless to contemplate “if we were in the U.S.”.

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