Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Age Of Chaos

This is mostly a hashing out of my own feelings on the 'rise' in police brutality, and the rise of bullshit rationalizations of criminal innocence. Yeah, I made that last term up, but it's meaning is totally legitimate. Do I sound a wee bit slanted in favor of the police? That's because I am, for the most part.

Here are the facts that I was raised to understand and uphold:

1) If you break the law, then you are responsible for the fallout that comes from it, no matter how large or small that fallout might be.

2) If a police officer confronts you, and you act disrespectfully, or violently towards them, then you are responsible for their reaction to your behavior.

3) Police have a very difficult job. Yes, they might make mistakes. Yes, they might have you falsely associated with a crime. Yes, that's scary and horrible, but the officer is doing their job, and by freaking out, you are not helping. *Normally* if you are genuinely innocent, they'll figure that out, but you must be patient and give them the time to sort things out.

4) You are as responsible for how an interaction with the police goes as they are.

This is what I was taught. No, I'm not what would fall into a stereotypical category of minority, but you know what? I grew up with a lot of minority friends, and they were taught the same stuff. And most of them are off living full lives, with successful careers right now. This post is not about race. It's about the fact we as citizens are just as responsible for ourselves and our situations as the police are responsible for maintaining the law.

I titled this post the age of chaos because all religious drama about the end of days aside, I very strongly believe that our societally is dancing around the slippery precipice of chaos. At no other time in history could criminals declare their innocence - sometimes even when there is video evidence of them committing a crime - and have the public take up arms in defense of them. Call me dramatic if it makes you feel better, but you'd be wrong. I can list out incident after incident in which  someone who was breaking the law helped create their own demise, but the public rose up demanding that the officers involved faced justice, while utterly minimizing or completely erasing the fault of the criminal within public dialogue. It has suddenly become unacceptable to point out, or even acknowledge that in nine out of ten of the media-publicized incidents of police brutality that nothing would have transpired had the 'victim' not first broken the law, and then (in many cases) resisted the police. Even cases in which I felt the officers were in the wrong (the Eric Garner case) I can say without doubt that Eric Garner would be alive if he wasn't illegally selling cigarettes. Did he deserve to die for that offense? Certainly not. But the fact remains that had he not been breaking the law,  he'd be alive because the police wouldn't have gone after him for the cigarettes.

With the current media happily producing news stories not in an effort to report facts, but in an attempt to 'break the internet' with their sensationalistic articles, it's virtually impossible to find, and then keep track of the truth. Breaking news stories are subsequently altered, revised, or deleted entirely with no justification, or citing, and other stories with vastly differing 'facts' are offered in their stead. Words like 'allegedly' are inserted with regularity, even when video evidence available to the public clearly shows something happening. It's this gullibility of the public to believe anything published, and on top of that, believe anything spoken by the 'victims' who are ALSO the criminals that instigated the need for police action to start with.

I know and acknowledge that there is a problem with police brutality, but the thing is, I am not convinced in the slightest that this is really a 'rising' problem. The truth, I think, is that it's a more widely reported problem, and thus is only perceived as a rising issue. Which is not to say that I don't believe there is a problem, I do believe there is a problem. I believe there always has been a problem. The thing is, in history, the problem has been smothered, and now that we've got the power to bring it to the forefront of society, the media is running rampant, and people are jumping on the bandwagon left and right. Rational, intelligent people that I thought I understood on some level, have come out and said things in response to recent events that I cannot believe any rational, intelligent, sane person would say.

Examples of this would include the ongoing Jessica Hernandez case, where Jessica was shot by police as she rammed one of them with a stolen vehicle. Protesters maintain that Jessica was 'innocent and unarmed' and thus, the officers had no right to fire their weapons with lethal force. These people suggest tasers or rubber bullets should have been utilized even though the 'victim' was in a moving car actively trying to run over an officer. Or even worse, they suggest that the officers could have simply fired at the car, completely overlooking the danger of ricochet to innocent people in the surrounding buildings, as well as the other occupants of the vehicle. Five days after the incident (which I remind you, involved a STOLEN CAR) one of the passengers (there were four, all of whom swear they didn't know they were in a stolen car) says that the police opened fire without provocation in a dark alley (though she does say that Jessica was 'trying to escape' because, somehow, running from the police is 'okay') and only AFTER they'd intentionally 'murdered' Jessica did she lose control of the car and hit one of them. Without hesitation, the media has embraced this contradiction to the officers' reports and many are yelling cover up.

When did we start doubting officers from the very start, while believing the criminals? Very few criminals deserve to die at the hands of police, but that only proves that the majority of them who DO die during police confrontations helped to create that confrontation. I'm sorry they broke the law, I'm sorry they were facing jail time, or criminal charges. I'm sorry they reacted to getting caught by police in a violent or confrontational matter, and I'm sorry they ended up dead. But I'm NOT sorry that the police protected themselves. The hardest fact for the mass public to accept, apparently, is that there are exceedingly few (nowadays) cases of police singling out and blatantly abusing completely and utterly innocent people. Does it happen? Yes. But these are exceedingly few instances.

The only recent case of an utterly innocent person being killed unjustly by police in what amounts to police brutality and misconduct is John Crawford. And in that case, the 911 caller who lied repeatedly to dispatchers and grossly misrepresented Crawford, is criminally to blame for his death, though no charges have even been filed. The police needed to be held accountable, but so did the civilian who orchestrated the situation.

Getting pulled over by a cop is not brutality. Being questioned by officers because you physically resemble a criminal they're hunting for is not police brutality. Being mistaken for a criminal, is not police brutality. Yes, all those things suck. Some of them suck A LOT. But that doesn't give you the right to act like an asshole to the police. And if you do act lack an asshole, and they react similarly, it's not police brutality, it's them treating you like you acted like an asshole. Life is not always fair.

I do not understand how our society has devolved into a place where we are incapable of accepting responsibility for our own actions, and are willing to unjustly condemn the very people sworn to protect us rather than admit we did something wrong and got caught.