Skip to main content

Those darned cops

In the aftermath of the much-publicized pepperspray incident at UC-Davis, Ben and I use our Scripps column this week to debate the role of police officers in our communities. My take:
Abusive cops are nothing new: Ask your black and Latino friends about their experiences driving around in white neighborhoods, and you're likely to get an earful. What's remarkable about the recent examples of brutality -- why they have our attention -- is the victims in these cases: White, middle-class kids.

And that's fine, because it lets us finally have a big conversation about the role of police in our communities -- a role that has shifted since the events of 9/11. Departments across the country have become increasingly militarized over the last decade, preparing for a terrorist attack that most will never face. They've purchased tanks and drones, and have generally armed themselves for war.

In the absence of an actual external threat, though, those war-making capabilities have been focused on the communities that police officers are supposed to protect and serve. The result is a deepening alienation that serves neither the police nor their communities very well.

While there are many, many good cops serving our communities, there are also a great many bullies -- men whose proclivities probably would've landed them in jail if they hadn't earned a badge and a gun. It has always been thus.

This is where conservatives can serve their communities. Many are willing to cry "tyranny!" in the face of new environmental regulations but happy to support cops, no matter how egregious their abuses. (Fox News has been a shining example of the phenomenon this week.) That must change.

Let's sell the tanks and drones. Let's put the riot gear in mothballs.

Police must be allowed to keep order in their communities -- but they usually need not resort to such extremes to do so. Otherwise, if cops keep treating citizens as the enemy, they might one day find out they're right.
Ben's impulses generally run towards civil-libertarianism, but in this week's column his response is: "Yeah, but: Hippies!"

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…