A great many people worry about the abuse of authority and the misuse of power in our society; and, well, they might. There is more than enough abuse and misuse.
But it is all too easy to rush to the rescue of people who makes themselves out to be underdogs, particularly if they have given someone with power some justification to use it.
It is not difficult to put those who work on the front lines into a bind. Administrators or other power holders in an organization tell them, for example, that they have to keep order and get things done. Then these big mahoffs tell them that, even in severe circumstances, they cannot use physical force, or coercion to maintain that order. This allows “leaders” of all stripes to appear “humane,” “benign,” and “gentle.” It pushes the dirty work off on those who take orders from them.
In the military, in the police, in government service, in hospitals and in schools, the general rule is this: Do what your superior tells you: period. Get it done, come Hell or high water. This is what justifies your holding the job. This is what shows you have what it takes to be promoted: that you are “sensitive to administrative intent”!
Don’t let anyone know if you have to violate policy, law or morality to get it done. But if you get caught, you and you alone will hang! (Or as they used to say on TV on Mission Impossible, “The secretary will disavow any knowledge of your activities.”)
Many of the warm hearts who make a show of concern to prevent abuse, sanction it for expediency’s sake, so long as they can maintain plausible deniability of their own involvement.
To examine these issues further, see A Letter to the School Board of the School District of Philadelphia
About School Violence (circa 1993)