Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Cop Hating Generation

The REAL reason today’s youth utterly despise law enforcement officials

“It should come as no surprise that many police officers aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. After all, a smart enough person would eventually begin to question the enforcement of arbitrary and immoral laws that put innocent people in cages for victimless crimes.”

-- Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project

“He sympathized not with the student revolutionaries, but the police. The real victims of society, Pasolini said, were not the students, the spoilt products of corrupt bourgeois culture, but the police, the sons of the proletariat, forced by a lack of educational opportunity and chronic unemployment to take the jobs nobody else wanted.”

-- David Ward, Foreword for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Manifesto for a New Theater

Ever since the apocalyptic racial hootenanny that was Ferguson, I seem to hear the term “police militarization” come up on a near daily basis.

Per my Facebook feed, there seems to be a mini armada of homicidal policemen out there, gleefully blasting away scores of minorities left and right with War on Terror weaponry. In fact, they’re probably right outside your doorstep now, tossing flash grenades into cribs and blowing away trailer park dwellers for brandishing Nintendo controllers.

Indeed, razor sharp criticism of police forces - seemingly, on the mere grounds that they exist -- appears to be a generational hobby of sorts for my peers. There’s at least two or three people I went to school with who seem to do nothing but post news stories and click bait about the po-po doing something murderous or civil liberty-eroding; if you didn’t know any better, you’d think we all lived in some sort of Joey Stalin police state utopia.

Amid all of this unabashed cop-hating (a pastime of sorts I would comfortably say is as vitriolic and rabid among a large throng of today’s kids as gypsy hating was to Deutsche children in the 1930s), I am reminded of the words of Robert McNamara in “The Fog of War.”

The great life lesson he had for all of us? “Empathize with your enemy.”

For a moment - just a teensy, little moment - imagine you’re the officer. You just pulled a car going 85 in a 55 off to the side of the road. It has out of state plates, with an expired tag. The windows are so tinted, there’s no way your flashlight can penetrate the darkness.

It’s 2 in the morning. A lone highway. Nobody on the road for miles.

You tap on the window. The driver doesn’t respond. You tap again.

Again, no response. You take a step back.

You think about what your spouse looks like, and the last time you hugged your child -- when the window finally rolls down, you know it very well could be accompanied by a bullet to the face.

Now, repeat this episode, over and over again, for 30 or 40 years. That, my friend, is the nightmarish life of the American police officer - a line of work where mortal danger is the status quo and public appreciation is virtually nonexistent. And on top of that, I hear the dental plans are pretty crummy, too.

Are there bad cops out there? Sure, the same way there are bad nurses, bad MBAs and bad computer programmers, too. The argument I’m not going to buy, however, is this pervasive idea (ideal?) that police officers, inherently, are some sort of power-hungry, egomaniac storm troopers for Big Brother.

My two best friends in high school wound up becoming cops. Neither of them are racist, murderous, egotistical psychopaths. In fact, they’re both dedicated family men, with health care packages and benefits plans that are ten times lousier than those of college professors.

They’ve never gunned down any black teenagers. In fact, they’ve never even had to pull out their pistols while on their job.

So, uh, how exactly are these guys jack booted thugs and paramilitary aggressors again, when the most physical they've ever gotten with civilians is asking for a photo ID at a DUI checkpoint? Call me crazy, but I’m not sure I would consider receiving a $100 “failure to dim lights” ticket an act of state tyranny on par with having your testicles crushed by KGB agents because you looked at a statue funny.

Of course, a lot of people in the U.S. are indeed fatally wounded and occasionally choked to death by police officers. As to just how many, however, we really don't know.

Although US police forces are kinda’ required by law to submit information on justifiable homicides to the feds, only a small smattering of agencies actually send in their paperwork every year. For 2012, the (presumably) incomplete data showed approximately 400 police-involved fatalities (much, MUCH more on these numbers in just a bit.)

Interestingly enough, a Wikipedia listing of 2014 cop-involved homicides runs up about 200 or so deaths through August -- indicating either a sizable overcount of actual police-involved deaths or an astonishing downturn from two years prior.

Looking at the Wikipedia tally, it seemed as if a clear majority of the year’s cop-involved fatalities were unmistakable examples of justifiable homicides -- meaning, the perpetrators acted aggressively towards the officers first.

Strangely enough, when explaining the alleged “explosion” of police-involved fatalities in the US, very few seem to bring up the likeliest explanation for any incident of the sort; that being, the “suicide by cop” phenomenon. While data on the number of victim-precipitated police deaths that actually occur are very hard to come by, at least one scholarly analysis estimated as many as half of all police-involved deaths are the result of individuals goading police into lethal force as a means of ending their own lives.

Yes, snafus do indeed happen with the police, and they are sometimes tragic and infuriating. But even with higher end estimates for police-involved deaths reaching into the 400s, the statistics still shine favorably on the police compared to other demographics. For one thing, the OJJDP says you’re nearly twice as likely to be killed by an individual under the age of 17 than you are an armed police officer.

And the odds of being killed by one of your own family members? It's four times likelier than getting killed by a cop.

Even when the cops appear to be responsible for incredible downturns in street violence, they get chided for it. Last year, Chicago posted its lowest homicide rate in nearly 50 years -- thanks in no small part to the “Operation Impact” initiative, which had police officers working around the clock to bring peace to the city’s 20 or so least stable neighborhoods. What any sane human being would call a successful police action, you’d be gobsmacked by the numbers who, without detecting the slightest twinge of irony, considered such to constitute “racial profiling.”

As for the whole “police militarization” debate, I’ll let you do your own research on the 1992 L.A. riots. You know, the same riots that resulted in two Sandy Hooks worth of corpses. If a SWAT tank and a couple of tactical weapons will keep me from having my genitals spray-painted and doused in kerosene by a bloodthirsty mob, I say give the local sheriff a sniper rifle and pronto. Ironically enough, the incinerated QuikTrip in Ferguson more or less spells out the practical need for so-called “militarized” police units in big, red, white and black letters.

Which, of course, brings us to the racial element to the debate. According to USA Today, which is only slightly more respectable than those tabloids about Bat Boy, roughly 92 black people a year are killed by police officers. It’s a daunting number, indeed, until you take in two auxiliary statistics.

For one, nearly twice as many white people in the US are killed by cops than African Americans. And the real clincher? The number of blacks killed by other blacks in 2012 was 5,251 -- meaning African Americans are FIFTY-SEVEN times likelier to get killed by their own than a police officer of any skin hue variation. With that little nugget of wisdom in mind, fretting about police killing black people, ultimately, is kind of like worrying about a hangnail when you have a brain tumor.

So, why do kids today loathe the police so much? Well, it’s obviously not because they’re a bunch of militarized, racist exterminator squads -- the alleged “oppressed," tragically, have proven their own superiority at killing themselves off. As for the whole civil libertarian argument against cops, I find it just a bit interesting that so much hatred is tossed towards cops -- who, within the judicial framework, have little to no power -- while the individuals who are most responsible for ACTUALLY putting people behind bars -- that being, attorneys and judges -- receive hardly any ill sentiments whatsoever. As far as the public service  bureaucracy goes, its hard to think of any kind of civil servants who are MORE disempowered within the justice system hierarchy than cops.

Deep down, I think some people just like having someone to hate. The cops are great targets, because you can always use that whole perceived “oppression” angle as a predicate for your own non-directional, slobbering fury. It’s not so much the actions of the police kids today hate, I believe, as it is the concept behind police, that the social system politely asks them to cede just the teensiest bit of personal privacy for upkeep of the society as a whole.

Police represent authority outside of one’s own sense of entitled autonomy. Considering the arrogance and self-centeredness of Gen Y as a whole, I reckon a widespread disdain of the lawman is all but a given.


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