Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Small Rant

I've been forced lately to acknowledge that some of the people I had previously considered sensible really aren't. Which, honestly, shouldn't come as a surprise, and yet it did.

This revelation comes to me via Facebook, of course, that perfect medium of publicizing each of your own cherished idiocies. (My Facebook wall is currently mostly kitten pictures... FarmDad located another three kittens, soggy and unhappy in the rain, a while back, bringing my total count to nine cats in the house. Oy.)

Back on point, the educating factor lately has been the slew of alleged police misconduct, accompanied by cell phone video, which inevitably gets people in an uproar.

With each new incident of cell-phone filmed police interaction, more and more people connected to me on the Book of Face are revealing themselves to be less inclined towards logical thinking than I had expected them to be. Which is not actually their fault- if someone fails to live up to my expectations without any acknowledged agreement to do so, it's my fault for misjudging where to set my expectations for them.

Here's my position on all of it: We don't know everything. No matter how many angles an incident is covered from, regardless of the clarity of the video or the apparently endless string of "expert" commentators the talking heads on the television trot out, we never, ever know everything about one of those incidents. Period, full stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Let's leave aside phrases like "active investigation" and "HIPAA."*

In the first place, the entirety of the incident is never on cell phone video. (Dash cam and body cam video are a separate issue in this regard.)

Johnny Public who wants a ton of views on his YouTube channel doesn't notice a cop approaching within cell phone range and immediately start videoing. You know how I know this? Because with one exception, that being a video of an extremely high man in a McDonalds who had apparently been causing a fuss and stirring up trouble for long enough to get most of the other patrons annoyed at him before the police arrived, I have never seen the officer approach and make an initial interaction with the supposed victim in one of these videos. Come to think of it, for the parameters I've set, the video I mentioned doesn't count, since it wasn't accusing the cops of misconduct but rather saving for posterity the consequences of poor choices in the recreational pharmaceutical area.

So, really, none of them show the officer making his initial contact... none of them start until someone thinks things are gonna get exciting- by which time, there have likely been at least a few escalating factors... which can come from either the officer or the purported victim.

I'm not saying that the cops are always right, or that there aren't bad cops. I'm just saying that we don't know everything.

But, let's handwave aside the specifics leading up to whenever Johnny Public decided to hit the record button on his phone, that seems to be a popular strategy anyway.

Even if that didn't matter (and it does) we still don't know everything. In every area, on every beat, there are people who are well known, infamous even. The girl in the video who looks small and harmless being tackled by the big mean cop may in actuality be the one that every officer in the department knows will regularly go off her psych meds and decide that the government is stalking her. This particular incident might have been preceded by several others, in which she attempted to assault officers. Dispatch might have notified the officers that she was likely off of her meds again, judging by the calls that she had made to the administrative and/or 911 lines. Or, maybe they don't have indications that she's off her meds again, maybe she just has a known history of attempting to assault people, or harm herself.

We don't know.

Maybe the cop's dog died the night before and he's really sad but wants to be a man about it so he's mad at the world, and therefore has decided to be an utter jackwagon to everyone that day.

By all means, watch the videos, and inevitably you will draw your own conclusions when you do, but for the sake of all that is logical remember this one phrase before you begin spreading them around like a testimonial from on high: We. Don't. Know. Everything.

Don't get so utterly set in your opinion of an incident in which you weren't involved, and have necessarily limited knowledge, that new information cannot sway you. And for gawd's sake don't jump on bandwagons, either the All Cops Are Evil one or the Cops Are Always Right one.

There are bad cops out there, and there are good cops out there. I happen to work with and know a good number of the latter, for which I am appropriately grateful. But shouting back and forth about be respectful and OMG PIGS is about as productive as a gun buy-back, in terms of achieving the stated goal.

Here's an idea, and it'll cover Rape Culture, Racism, Sexism, Bad Cops, Liberals, Conservatives, Hipsters,Them, and Us all in one grand plan:

How about we all just treat each other, regardless of any identifying characteristic, with a basic level of respect and decency, based on the fact that we are all human beings. The good old Golden Rule: Treat Others As You Would Want To Be Treated. With it's oft unspoken corollary: If Someone Leaves You The Hell Alone, Show Them The Same Courtesy.

I think that'd cut down on a lot of the uproar we've been seeing on these subjects lately.

It'll never happen, of course.

*Hat tip to OldNFO for pointing out my sleep-deprived error.