Last month, the NYPD asked people to post pictures of themselves interacting with members of the NYPD. Just before 2 p.m. the police department posted, “Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook.” By midnight, more than 70,000 people had posted comments railing on the agency for countless instances of brutality and recalling names of those shot to death by the police. By all evidence, it would seem that there is no shortage of complaints of aggressive and lawless behavior by the NYPD.

This brings us to an act of elbowing someone in the face. What would be an appropriate punishment for such an act? Ignoring motive for the moment, what should the punishment be for a person who elbows another human in the face? Community service? An apology? A fine?

Suppose the person doing the elbowing is a police officer. Does this change the punishment? There is photographic evidence of the police doing much more heinous acts than a mere elbow to the face. Would there be punishment at all? Does the motive for an act of elbowing alter the punishment? What if a rowdy criminal wouldn’t stop “resisting arrest;” would it be okay for the officer to elbow him in the face in this instance?

What if the police weren’t even involved in the matter. Let’s say you’re walking down the street and suddenly somebody jumps out in front of you and pops you in the face with his elbow. Should he be tossed in a cage for a couple of years? What if, instead of simply walking down the street, you attempt to grab someone and in response they elbow you in the face? How many years in prison should this terrible criminal face?

Yesterday afternoon, the joke of a justice system existing in New York declared that Cecily McMillan must spend seven years in prison for assaulting an officer. She claims she defensively hit him in reaction to being grabbed in the breast. The officer claims she purposefully crouched down “and, all of a sudden, she lunged her elbow back and hit me in the face.”

Regardless of the truth, the punishment in no way represents an equitable punishment for the crime. Worse yet, this seemingly mild act of aggression (should that be the case) is being punished severely while government agents across the nation are shielded from prosecution by the (in)justice system. I fear that the people will not long allow this to continue.