You know what? Fuck tha police.
Fuck all the post-911 fawning over authority figures and deference to the security state. This isn’t fucking 19th century Germany or some Eastern European state with a polity that hankers for the strongman with the strong hand and shiny boots to tell everyone where to line up. For fucksake.
Okay, sure. In the wake of the most current set of police outages (another police killing of an unarmed black youth, typical strategic misuse of information about apparent police misconduct, and draconian police response to public protest), this time in Ferguson, MO, media attention has quite properly focused on a number of broader social defects involved in the Ferguson fiasco-tragedy-outrage: racial profiling, the plight of young black men in America, militarization of police weapons and tactics, and so forth. All serious concerns worthy of the attention and commentary (even if it seems like it’s all just a little past due—exactly how many black kids being murdered by police does it take to make a pattern?)
The recent focus on questions about “militarized” police in general and specifically on Ferguson police use of military vehicles and gear seems to me to be somewhat off the mark. Gear isn’t the problem. IT’S THE SYMPTOM. Clever social research notwithstanding, the equipment isn’t turning police into storm troopers, storm trooper mentality among the people who police us is the issue.
Focusing on whether or not the Pentagon should supply battlefield gear to the Mayberry PD or whether Andy ought to order a Bearcat for him and Barney to patrol the town in (thus to protect themselves from the substantive threat posed by an unstable Otis or Goober) merely masks a deeper, broader, and more crucial phenomenon: We’ve learned to cringingly accept authoritarian nonsense and thuggery from our police and they like it that way.
As I ranted in an August 19 Facebook posting, policing in America is no longer about community service, it’s about making civilians obey fucking orders (Goddammit!). It’s about control and social discipline and not putting up with “nonsense” anymore. It’s about the impulse to power (So said I) Think that overstates things? Fine, then hear it straight from the mouth of a police trainer writing on August 20:
“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
(Not a parody. Verbatim quote from a police trainer. Sunil Dutta by name.)
See it for yourself. Here. Go on, go read it. I’ll wait.
Hey! Thanks for making the case so unambiguously clear, Officer Dutta, you sorry piece of shit.
Yours is the precise mentality behind all the theater-of-authority posturing that now goes on during routine policing functions from traffic stops to event parking management that has become the norm everywhere. It is this Dutta complex that results in over-geared and uncivil policing. And remember, This fucker trains recruits. And what a surprise: he’s LAPD![i]
We all see it. Police in towns and counties across the country now act like ill-trained, rhoid raging, urban adventuring powermonkeys with too many self esteem issues, too much humiliating toilet training, and far too little kindergarten instruction in how to get along with others.
And I reject all references to the “majority” of police officers who conduct themselves professionally, blah blah. Right. Big deal. We know that every job has its good and bad apples.
With police, however, it isn’t about “a few bad apples” because the bullshit thin-blue-line “code of honor” (otherwise known as Omerta in one of the other American ongoing criminal enterprises) instigates and perpetuates the immediate closing of ranks around any officer who gets carried away by the drama of his or her own imagination. That means the bad apples are protected members of an elite caste with a shared fate. Hey policeman! You want your solidarity with those that wear the shield and stick up for one another against IAD investigators and civilian review boards? Great. Then you own the bad apples, otherwise blow the whistle yourself on the fuckups amongst you. Or quit whining about civilians who lump the good in with the bad. Profiling is a two-way street, porkchop.
We need to face it, the policing job is no longer about community service, it’s about making civilians obey fucking orders (Goddammit!) It’s about control and social discipline and not putting up with “nonsense” anymore. It’s about the impulse to power. Policing in America is a badly broken profession and we should understand the Ferguson protest to be a call to ALL of us to stop taking shit from pork in blue.
And by the way, we all know policing is arduous work. As Officer Dutta reminds us civilians who just can’t understand, officers must deal with dangerous situations and often with dangerous people while making life and death decisions with only moments to assess possible threats to their own or the public’s safety, and so on and so forth (how many times have we all heard this little ditty).
Look, Arnold, we get it.
In fact, this is precisely why it is not a job for morons that can’t even exhibit good judgment about work-appropriate eyewear for sun protection .
And by the way hams on the cloven hoof, this is America. So you can do just like everyone else in The Land of the Free gets told: Can’t handle the working conditions? Get another gig.
So anyway, why do we accept this shit from uniformed public servants? It wasn’t always this way. Not this sniveling deference and grudging acceptance of discourtesy and threat. Why do we allow police to take ownership of public spaces and define the zone of our rights? Really. Why? (Imagine the March on Washington or the Vietnam Moratorium Marches carried out within chain link free speech zones…WTF?)
Okay. I’m done.
By the way, in case you missed it, I think it may be time for the young people to bring back pig references.