Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Cult of Cop-dom



  In Lake City Florida recently, a pretty young mother perished in a house fire leaving behind  two  young daughters.  I in no way want to detract from the very real sadness of what happened nor do I want to  downplay the tragedy of loss.  But did I mention she was a police officer?
  That is all our local media mentioned.  She had been a cop for about two months, and the house where the fire occurred wasn’t hers; it belonged to another police officer. She apparently was staying the night and he escaped with minor injuries while she did not. This sort of thing, while very sad is also fairly common.  People have been dying in house fires since people have been building houses, I suppose.  But did I mention she was a police officer?
  Our local news station went on and on with lots of vague pseudo-eulogies from unspecified friends about how brave and noble and committed to the community she was.  She somehow became a hero, and the general tone of the news coverage was as if she had singlehandedly taken down a nest of bank robbers and perished in the aftermath.  The   Lake City Police Department began referring to her as a ’fallen officer’.  A scholarship fund was immediately set up for her children, and she was buried with full police honors, even though she had been on the force for less than 90 days.  There is nothing to indicate she ever  drew her weapon to save an innocent life. She never rushed into a building to save orphans, or anything of the sort.   Yet she is a hero.  Did I mention she was a police officer?
  Please let me be clear. There are two children out there who have been robbed of their mother, and I  don’t want to  cheapen that.  But, take away her uniform, her badge and her gun, and what do you have?  You have a pretty young woman who was spending the night at the house of a man who was not her husband, and who died in a house fire.  The media wouldn’t have given her a story on the last page of the paper.  She wouldn’t have even merited a footnote on their website. Why?  Because the official position of most of society is that a police officer is worth more than an ordinary person.  They may never say it, they may not even think of it that way, but there it is. It is a perception pumped and prodded and propped up by the media, and rarely  questioned.
  It is a common practice here in Georgia when you are pulled over for the police officer to stand almost behind you while they are dealing with you. He stands there, almost in the corner of your eye while he addresses you, the hapless citizen. I asked once if the officer could take a step or two forward where I could see him. ‘Officer safety’ was the reason cited. Well what about my safety?  I basically have a man with a gun standing   behind me, and the fact that he has a uniform and a badge doesn’t change the fact that he is a man with a gun.  Should he bungle this traffic stop, by accident or on purpose, I could die, and the odds are that almost certain that nothing would happen to him.
  Think about this; there are a bunch of men with guns and sticks outside your door kicking and yelling to be let in at 2 a.m.  The normal human reaction would be to barricade yourself in and defend yourself by whatever means eventually become necessary. Nobody in their right mind would simply let a bunch of armed men in and meekly submit to them. Nobody in their right mind would just let the armed men sort through their belongings while barking orders.  But did I mention that they are police officers?
  Let’s say  armed men forced your car off the road and attempted to extract money from you? But did I mention they are police officers? They used to call those  ‘highwaymen’, now they call them ‘highway patrol’.
  See the assumption is that most cops are good people.   That isn’t the point.  Good people or not they enjoy an elevated status in the minds of people, and the system   protects the bad ones with a vengeance.  Is it our best option, with the  armed man behind us, for us to hope he’s one of the’ good ones’? That in itself is scary enough.  But what we have in place is a Cult of Cop-dom.   The police are always right. The police are heroes, even if they have been cops for less than 90 days and die in a house fire. They’re always on duty, and always right, even their dogs.  Cop dogs are smarter than regular dogs, and never give false positives in a very dog-like tendency to want to please their master. Never. They are the best of the best .  They know best.  If you don’t  get that, then you  simply  need to be re-educated.
 The cops wouldn’t just beat on people’s door without a reason, would they? Of course they would. They have in every country that has ever existed.  They would never pull people over for contrived reasons and extract money from them, would they?   Of course they would. Some  places less than others, but the officer enjoys institutional immunity from his actions, and the blind loyalty of members of the Cult.  If the armed men come to your door at 2 in the morning, and you respond by defending your property, you know exactly what will happen. You will die in a hail of gunfire and nightsticks.   When the smoke clears, ‘officer safety’ will be cited, and the machinery rolls on.  What’s worse, your next door neighbor will applaud the bullies in blue and tell all who will listen that ‘cops have a tough job’ and assure doubters that ‘you just don’t understand.’
  What all of us need to understand is that in every encounter with a cop you are taking your life into your own hands.   Know your rights, and be polite, but never forget who you are dealing with. They are not the good guys, and they are not all heroes.   They are a revenue generating arm of the state at best, and trigger happy bullies at worst. If they die in a house fire, or die in a car crash or die of a heart attack, they are no more deserving of lionization and hero worship than any other hapless citizen. Reject the Cult, and in doing so, even if only in your mind, you have begun to   grab back  the most precious  form of your freedom; the freedom of conscience.
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