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4 cops killed: an excercise in perspective

In Washington state today, 4 cops were shot to death while sitting in a coffee shop.  I must admit, that my first thought was to blog about the possibility that this was a response by an individual to some abuse on the part of the police, but a bit of quick research suggested that in this case, that probably isn’t true (or if it is, the shooter had a long history of violent crime, so even if there was abuse by the police, it probably wasn’t the root cause).

The media frenzy has already begun, so instead, I would like to take this opportunity to do some “what-if” and think about how this event would be handled if some of the details were different.

Imagine if the 4 people who were killed lived in a housing project in New York City, and the shooters were cops. Chances are, it wouldn’t even make the news. Things like that are just too common to bother reporting – especially in the New York City slums.

Imagine if all of the people involved were just “normal” people (white, middle class). We’d probably get a bit of a human interest story, and that would be it. Maybe a minute or two of coverage in the morning news.

Imagine if all of the people involved were those same poor folks in the New York City slums. You probably wouldn’t hear anything about it, but it if you did, it would be blamed on drugs or gangs (regardless of the reason).

None of this should be any real surprise. Nobody really cares if some scum in a housing project gets whacked. Sure, if it was a cute kid, the networks may play for a bit of the tear-jerker ratings, but beyond that, it just doesn’t matter. When some middle class action takes place, it hits a bit closer to home, but hey, that was all the way over in Washington. It couldn’t happen here, and it doesn’t really make any difference to our lives.

So why is it so different when its a cop? The press has been displaying a disturbing trend in this regard – there seems to be some pervasive belief that cops are special, and deserve special attention. this is very disturbing. Cops are people – no different from any one else. When we act like a cop is more important than ‘regular’ people, we start down the road to creating a police force that is treated differently from the regular people. We give them special attention, special powers, and immunity from regular rules. history has consistently demonstrated that this is a one-way road. And the road ends with a police state, absolute police authority, and a complete lack of rights for the “regular people”. OK, so we’re not there yet, but we’re definitely heading down that road. (How many of you live in states where the sentences for killing a cop is more severe than the sentence for killing a non-cop? Check you state laws. You’d be surprised how many there are.)

So hey, all you news whores: how about reporting that 4 PEOPLE were killed. The fact that they were cops is irrelevant unless they were killed BECAUSE they were cops. Oh yeah, and start reporting the other cases of senseless killings too.



One Response

  1. AMEN.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different standards we hold different professions to. I’ve got a friend who won’t go to bachelor parties at strip clubs anymore for fear he’d lose his teaching job. He’s over 21, has no sex crimes history, and strip clubs are totally legal, but he knows that if a student sees him (or a picture of him in or around said club ends up on the internet somewhere), he’ll likely lose his job. WHY?!

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