Watching the activities in Ferguson, MO, starting with the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, and through the aggressive, almost war-like, response by the local police to protestors and journalists covering the events, I was struck by how the "powers that be" there (governor, county attorney, police chiefs, etc.) seem to lack a basic understanding of some significant language concepts.
Out of courtesy to them, keeping this basic -
A noun is a thing that can be possessed. It doesn't have to be tangible to be real. For instance, words that represent character attributes are nouns, even if the attribute cannot be physically touched, i.e. - "intelligence".
In a sentence: "His intelligence is impressive."
In Ferguson, there seems to be a bit of confusion between two words.
First up - "authority":
From Merriam-Webster Online -
au·thor·i·tynoun \ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, ȯ-, -ˈthȯr-\
: the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something
: the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people