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This world is on fire, and people are attacking the firefighters.
Imagine that, if you will. Imagine a building on fire. Imagine people inside, dying and burning alive. Imagine the firefighters trying to get there with their hoses and ladders, but being spat upon and beaten by bystanders who are screaming, "There is no fire!"
The people who are angry about Colin Kaepernick, or Black Lives Matter, or anyone who video-records incidents of police misconduct, brutality, or corruption...are the people screaming, "There is no fire!"
Nobody disputes that there are perfectly good and honest people who are drawn to a life of law enforcement, but when you turn a blind eye to those who commit crimes while wearing the uniform...you are the ones supporting the criminals, not Black Lives Matter. And that, really, is the issue: These are actual criminals we are talking about, not "law enforcement". You cannot simultaneously argue that a person should be supported unconditionally because they are a member of "law enforcement", while also arguing that that person is allowed to violate the law with impunity.
Furthermore, you cannot dismiss the victims of police brutality by saying, "They're criminals! They deserved it!", especially considering the fact that it is highly likely that every single person making such arguments has committed crimes at some point in their lives.
This about it: We heard that very argument in regards to Eric Garner, who was choked to death by cops over him allegedly selling individual cigarettes on the street. It is a very minor offense, and certainly not worthy of a de-facto death sentence. In terms of public safety, what possible harm could such a person have dealt to you or your loved ones?
On the other hand, I would be willing to bet that you, Dear Reader, have violated quite a few traffic laws in your lifetime. What is the highest speed that you have driven in your car on a public road? Which is more dangerous - Eric Garner selling cigarettes, or you driving 80mph in a 55mph zone? Which has more potential to get someone seriously injured or killed?
Or imagine how easily you sneer at teenage "thugs" doing stupid, and illegal things...and ending up the victims of police brutality or execution? Were you the perfect, law-abiding citizen at age 18?
Heck, as a teenager, my friends and I used to play "laser-tag" in the woods, in a place that was actually owned by a railroad. Teens used to go out there and ride dirt-bikes on trails, or make out, or get drunk. My friends? We just wanted to play "laser-tag". We dressed up in military outfits, made up fake unit logos and characters, and upgraded our "laser-tag" guns with cool gadgets and what-not. At times, there would be 30 to 40 of us out there in the middle of the night. We did it for years.
One night, someone called the police, and stated that there was a group of armed militia members in uniforms going out into the woods with machine guns. The caller had likely seen us getting out of our cars and walking into the woods, and feared the worst. I was having the time of my life, when apparently, one of the members of the opposing team sneaked up behind my squad and shined a powerful flashlight on my position. So I turned, rallied my men, and raised my "laser-tag" rifle to fire upon the attackers.
Only the problem was, they were not from the other team. They were deputies of the local Sheriff's Department, and they started screaming, "Drop your weapons!" I tossed down my (very-realistic-looking) rifle and yelled, "They're toys! They're only toys!" I was lucky. No shots were fired. Nobody was killed. These cops were rational. They did not want to kill anyone. They ended up hanging out and examining our "rifles" for a while, and told us to just let them know whenever we were going to be out there in the future. Would the situation have been different if I had been an African-American male pointing the "gun" at those cops? I cannot say. But luckily for us, these cops recognized that it was better to take a risk than to just fire out of fear for their own safety.
And that, really, is the main issue that gets brought up a great deal in these discussions: Fear.
Let us go back to the burning house. Imagine that the house is full of immature, obnoxious teenagers. They were having a party, and some kid did something careless or foolish that started the fire. Maybe it was a bunch of "frat-boys" and they were lighting farts, and they caught the draperies on fire. Now the doors are shrouded in flames, and all will die soon.
But this time, the fire-fighters are standing outside, weighing the pros and cons of going inside to save them. They are saying things like, "They got themselves into this mess!" or, "I have a right to go home tonight!" or maybe, "I am afraid for my safety if I go in there!" I mean, they brought it upon themselves, did they not? Should we just let them die?
I have never been a fire-fighter, and I do not know if I have the courage to do that job. However, I am fairly certain that just about every fire-fighter in America would go into that burning building. They would not be arguing in favor of letting the teens die in the building. They might be angry about the "foolish kids" who started the fire...but I am fairly certain that it would not affect them performing their duty, and performing it with honor.
On the other hand, I see so many people making those kinds of excuses for police brutality. We are told that it is "okay" for a police officer to shoot and kill someone if the officer "feared for his life." But why do we hold fire-fighters to a higher standard of honor than a police officer?
It is the officer's duty to put his or her life on the line "to serve and protect". His duty is not simply, "to serve and protect him/herself". The officer has just as much of a duty to serve and protect the foolish teens, the loose cigarette seller, the mentally-ill person, the suicidal person, and certainly even the thief, the drug-pusher, and even the murderer. That is part of the oath that the officer has sworn to uphold. The officer is not the law. The officer upholds the law....and you cannot uphold the law by breaking the law.
You would think that police officers would be the most adamant about prosecuting the criminals within their ranks, but because of this insular, "thin blue line" mentality that views cops as infallible superheroes and civilians as all "potential criminals", this is not the case.
Instead, to use a "superhero" analogy, we have cops who see themselves as more "Punisher" than "Captain America". Many officers have even embraced the Punisher's skull logo, and even some police departments have put them on their official patrol cars. But the Punisher is not a symbol of "law enforcement". He is a fictional, homicidal, "anti-hero" who holds nothing but utter contempt for the law, and was initially written as a villain. There is no symbol less fitting to be emblazoned upon a patrol car than maybe the logos of the Ku Klux Klan or Al Qaeda.
Just as a firefighter would put his or her own life on the line to save even a "junkie" or a foolish frat-boy from a fire, a police officer...if he or she has even an ounce of courage, dignity, or honor...will risk getting shot, stabbed, punched, or whatever, if there is a chance that it will save the life of a civilian, whether that civilian is a criminal or an innocent person. This is like...basic stuff. I cannot believe that we are even having to have this conversation.
What is particularly ironic about this whole "conversation" is that the same Right-Wing voices who vehemently champion "freedom of speech" for Neo-Nazis, homophobes, sexists, and other bigots...are generally the same ones who argue that a person's civil rights no longer apply once a person disobeys a police officer or is accused of committing a crime. As far as these people are concerned, the civil rights of Neo-Nazis advocating for the genocide of millions of people are inviolable, whereas an African-American who says, "Why do you need to see my identification?" has forfeited all rights and deserves to be executed in the streets.
As I stated previously, the world is on fire. The only way to put out that fire is to root out the cause of the fire...and the cause of that fire is people who have no business being police officers. Anyone who feels that it is better to shoot "just in case" because you "feared for your life" is a coward. Period. End of story. If you do not have the courage to wear that uniform and all that it entails, then please...step aside and hand that uniform off to someone who can do your job. You are an impostor, a fraud, a criminal hiding behind a badge.
You are the foolish teen lighting the fire inside the house, not the "firefighter".
The "firefighters" are the ones you oppose, and spit upon. They are Black Lives Matter. They are African-American football players taking a knee. They are the men and women recording you breaking the law on their cell-phones.
They aren't the criminals. You are.
You are the deadliest criminals who have ever infected America.
You have betrayed the trust of the people, and your actions do more to disparage law enforcement than a million Kaepernicks or BLM activists. Until you recognize that you are the villain, and start standing up for Duty, Honor, and Justice...you are the bad guys.
It is time to stop being The Punisher, and start being Captain America. It is all up to you.
Put out the fire.