Friday, July 08, 2016


So, in quick succession, a couple of different coppers killed some black people, and a black person killed some cops.

As is almost always the case, depending on their outlook, various other people mourned and defended the people killed by the coppers and excoriated the coppers, and various other-other people exalted and mourned the coppers and excoriated black people.

Well, you know my position on the whole business of being so fucking easy to kill people with guns in this country, so I'm not going there

But, if you want, here's Fred Clarke with a good point on the whole business of coppers, badges, and guns:
"This is why our constantly armed law enforcement can be police, but can no longer really be police officers. The office, like the badge, is overshadowed by the gun as an insufficient, subordinate source of authority, meaning and legitimacy."
Is it possible to "enfore the law" in this country without firearms?

Sadly, no. But it's a hell of a brilliant thought.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

First of all, and kind of beside my point, if the joker who sniped five coppers in Dallas wanted to discredit everybody who's pissed off because American coppers have killed about an infantry battalion's worth of people in 2016 already (and it's not even halfway through July...) he couldn't have done a better job. Every right-wing ding-dong who throws up a little in their mouth when they see the words "Black Lives Matter" will now have enough rocks to throw at their non-wingnut "BLM" fellow citizens from now until Christmas. Good job, sniper. You done fucked your own cause like a football bat. Asshole.

Second, the cop-shootings allowed every talking head from here to Fox and Friends to trot out the nauseating little trope of "hero coppers".

That nursery rhyme may be my second-most hated thing in the entire world after "hero soldiers". I practically grind my teeth down to nubs when I hear it.

I mean...I realize this may be a difficult concept to convey in the "news", or to people in general and the public-is-an-ass people in particular, but...just being a copper doesn't make you a hero...or, possibly anything...other than, possibly, a total asshole.

Yes. It's entirely possible to do a stressful, demanding, occasionally-dangerous-but-usually-just-boring-and-aggravating, difficult job and yet still be a complete scumbag.

Or not.

But - just putting on a damn badge doesn't make you a better human being, any more than putting on a tree-colored suit makes you a hero.

So I posted this to my FB feed and got an immediate reply from a very nice but fairly simple and politically conservative person:
"...seriously john... would you do that job? those guys are doing a job most of us would not want to do and they deserve our prayers and i know that you will shoot back and put me down for my thoughts. But that is how i feel. May God have mercy on us all."
To which I, in turn, replied and, in so doing, realized what irks the shit out of me about this stuff:

"I've DONE that job, (person's name). I've worked riot control. I've been a "cop" in foreign lands where the residents really DID want to kill us. And I still managed not to kill anybody.

I'm not "putting you down" for your thoughts. I'm putting you down because your thoughts are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And like I said; putting on a uniform - whether it's colored blue or colored green or colored like a tree - doesn't make you a good person. It makes you...a person in a uniform. Some good. Some bad. Mostly in between.

And that's just the truth. Some cops are terrific. Some are assholes who use their authority to make other people's lives miserable. Most of them just try and get through their day as best they can, not doing great, not doing evil, just bumbling through.

So using the actions of some murderous a-hole to try and turn cops into saints and martyrs (and "heroes") is stupid, counterproductive, and wrong. It doesn't help the good ones, and it lets the bad ones (and the "enh"-ones who let the bad ones slide, which a lot of them do because, people...) cover their bad deeds with the mantle of heroism.

So. Cops. Some are great. Some are total scumbags. Most are just regular jamokes.

Killing some of them doesn't make the scumbags any better.

And, more importantly, making heroes out of dead coppers doesn't solve our single big problem with coppers - that we've let our coppers, a hell of a LOT of our coppers, begin to think of themselves as soldiers in an occupying army, to think of their fellow citizens as "civilians" whom they are ordered to rule by force and fear, and whose task it is to suppress any hesitation to accept, or any attempt to question, their authority.

And that authority is to be ruthlessly applied with deadly force - often not as a last resort but as a first.

(And, as an aside, I note that the usual suspects who were all there about the Bundy clan and the Malheur Moron Mulisha's armed sedition and threats to fire on federal law officers are suddenly and curiously silent about the black man shooting down law officers. Hmmm...I wonder if race has...nah. Unpossible.)

But we cannot exist if our law officers become unquestioned figures of authority, and that authority comes, predominantly, from the barrel of a gun.

As Clarke says: "(The point) at which we must arrive if we are to be a free people under the rule of law in a community where badges and offices and law are to mean anything more than who has the biggest gun."

1 comment:

Ael said...

I blame speeding tickets.

It was a horrible mistake to give traffic law enforcement to the police.

Everybody speeds and so everyone's reaction to the mere sight of a police car is fear and hatred. Any kid in the back seat watching mommy or daddies reaction to getting a ticket *knows* that they are the enemy.

And the police understand all this and respond accordingly. Hence the guns and military-style SWAT teams.