I stumbled upon a great statement on the line that separates civilization from anarchy. Timothy Gatto writes this in response the the FLDS situation:
While you might not agree with what the FLDS is doing, it doesn’t warrant any civil authorities to act outside of Constitutional law. When civil authorities bypass or ignore the Constitution, we are all put in jeopardy, and we are that much closer to living under a totalitarian government that makes up its own laws as it goes along. Sometimes the issues are larger than the crimes. I think I can safely say that most Americans abhor the practice of using young girls as ‘breeders” and in the process satisfy the lust of old men, but that issue isn’t as important as civil authorities acting outside the law. We are supposed to be a nation that believes in the rule of law. That premise is behind the definition of a civilized state. The law is for everyone to obey, the governors as well as the governed. Once the line that separates civilization from lawlessness is crossed, the result is anarchy, no matter who crosses that line first. There were other ways of stopping what was happening to these young girls. The authorities didn’t have to violate anyone’s constitutional rights.
While he is speaking specifically to that one case, the line he draws – the respect for law by those who govern and those who are governed – is a universal line. It’s a line we really can’t afford to cross.