Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The thin-skinned and not-too-bright blue line
I say "in the normal course of events" because there is a remarkably long history of law enforcement officers being targeted by nutjobs whose obsessions have been stoked by ideologues who never bother to think about the consequences of their words. I can even name a bunch of the shooters without having to do a whole lot of Googling: Eric Frein (2014) and Richard Poplawski (2009) in Pennsylvania, Jared and Amanda Miller (2014) in Nevada, and Jerry and Joe Kane (2010) in Arkansas all pop up pretty fast in web searches. In every case there was a clear link with ideology being actively promoted by multiple people in the media. But you know what else is true of those cases? Every single shooter was white, so there was no hysteria about how every single white person was responsible for those guys' actions, no mass protests by aggrieved police officers, no ranting about the damage being done by activists. Nope. Why would there be? Apparently it's a given that when a white person does something bad, he or she is acting solely on his or her own with absolutely no outside influences affecting behavior.
Oh, every time there's an incident, a few brave souls dare to question the rhetoric used by right-wing bloviators like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, but they get drowned out pretty fast by the rhetoric about needing better mental health care and by the troubled lone wolf apologists. The stories also fell off the mainstream media news radar remarkably fast. After all, no one really wants to hear that white people engage in violent, sociopathic behavior, although you'd think the NRA would want to hype it -- if the guy next door might be an armed nut, then maybe I should own a few guns, too. In any case, it's odd, isn't it, that when it's white guy after white guy ambushing the police, there's no possible way they could have been influenced by anything other than the voices in their heads but when it's a black guy doing the shooting suddenly it's activists like Al Sharpton who are responsible? Who would have thought that the Rev had that much influence?
Bottom line: if you're really worried about the thin-skinned blue line, the guys who actually don't run that huge a risk of dying in the line of duty unless it's from choking on a doughnut (loggers have a higher occupational fatality rate than law enforcement, so do commercial fishermen), get pissed off about the media blow-hards that keep painting government as the enemy. Authority is authority, and when some lunatic decides he's going to stand up to the government, he's going to ambush the authority figures that are closest to home -- and that's going to be the local sheriff's deputies, a small town cop doing a routine traffic stop, or a Park Service ranger walking over to tell someone to keep his dogs on a leash. So go after the idiots with the Gadsden flags and tea bags tied to their hats. Or, better yet, go after the ideologues like Sarah Palin who babble mindlessly about "second amendment solutions." Because those are the people who really are encouraging the nutjobs to shoot cops.
And, as a side note, the real reason the cops in New York are so pissed at Mayor DeBlasio has very little to do with the shootings of Officers Ramos and Liu. It's just a convenient highly public way to mouth off about how much they hate the Mayor. The underlying problem is the department is in contract negotiations and, unlike previous administrations, DeBlasio doesn't believe the NYPD can do no wrong. He's had the nerve to question both the department and past policy, like the discredited broken windows theory and stop and frisk, that targeted minorities. The city and PD are currently operating under a Memorandum of Agreement, not an actual labor contract, and contract negotiations have not been going the way the Police Officers' Association would prefer. Naturally, journalism having pretty much disappeared into the toilet in the past couple of decades, you can count the number of media outlets that have reported on this aspect of the problem on one hand and still have several fingers left over.