And while things have improved, it's hardly the promised land today.
Still, for all their flaws, the 50's and 60's did validate -- via television -- one American tradition: From Perry Mason to Car 54 to Mayberry, we learned that law enforcement was something to be doubted, challenged and even ridiculed.
Whether it was Hamilton Burger always losing (and Lt. Trask frequently violating the rules of law), or countless episodes of cop shows portraying officers as buffoons, or Sheriff Taylor always finding humane, non-confrontational solutions, authority was often wrong and held in check.
Compare that to today's offerings on broadcast television: You can't turn the TV on without having somebody shoving a gun in your face. The lesson being that guns and violence are the only solution to our problems.
But even worse is the enabling of all kinds of law-enforcement abuse -- from taking freebies to cutting corners to lying under oath to roughing up and beating suspects -- without any consequence.
In fact, such crimes are even encouraged.
And these shows send a powerful message to regular Americans and law enforcement: The ends justify the means, no matter how corrupt and illegal.
Which came first, TV shows endorsing police corruption and brutality, or the cops practicing such behavior with impunity on a regular basis? It's a cycle that perpetuates itself in evermore sinister ways.
I suspect it really started with 9/11 when we so willingly sacrificed cherished rights, all in the name of fighting terrorism. We turned into a nation of cowards, unwilling to defend our liberties when a threat -- real or, all too often, imagined -- supposedly surfaced.
Face it, cops kill more innocent Americans than terrorists.
And this cult worship of police only broadens support for our endless wars abroad -- wars in which every bomb or drone strike usually kills more innocents than supposed terrorists.
We label pretty much every male teenager or older killed as a terrorist.
Remember Vietnam and body counts?
Ironic how many complain about big government.
But that's all forgotten when government is wearing a badge or uniform.
It will take great courage to confront the American Police State.
But, with a few exceptions, all I see are mindless cowards.