Yesterday, I had a discussion in passing with a friend on the nature of violence as relates to the Occupy movement. He was pointing out quite fairly that the news never seemed to highlight protesters attacking cops, only the other way around. We agree that police are people too and do not deserve to be harassed, attacked, or threatened. We even agreed that their reaction/overreaction was understood under those circumstance; they take a lot more than most people probably even think about, and being human, their lashing out is going to be more severe.
I would even surmise that the police officers are under similar pressure to their military counterparts, insomuch as what right actually is. When I was in the Air Force, we were often taught that if we were issued an illegal order, it was our duty to stand up and refuse to comply. But let’s be frank – how often is that going to happen? With nepotism and corruption rife in most authority structures, standing up and pointing out the flaws are, in my opinion, an invitation to throw away a job. I’d love to see more people doing the right thing and saying to their bosses in city hall, ‘Why are you having me attack and raid my fellow Americans in the middle of the night? Why is it justified to destroy their property?’ ‘Why are we threatening protesters with noise cannon, when one of the supposed reasons we’re driving them off is because they’re too loud?’
Whatever the case, the reason why cops, soldiers, and so on are expected to not attack people is simply thus – they are held to a higher standard. This is why there is a strong reaction when they do not hold to that standard, whatever the reasons. That is why some snotty kid thumbing their nose at the cops and name-calling isn’t held to the same standard – he’s just a kid. Sure, I EMPHATICALLY think that people should be excellent to each other, and that I admire many of the beautiful stories of cooperation and inclusion of local police forces. As is said time and time again – they are people too. They deserve to be treated with kindness no matter what actions they are carrying out. The actions DO need to be decried though, and here’s a few of them in need of such:
84-Year-Old Woman Becomes the Pepper-Sprayed Face of Occupy Seattle
Reporters For Right-Wing Publication Daily Caller Beaten By NYPD, Helped By Protesters
NYPD cop pushes New York Supreme Court Judge into wall
Police officer pepper-sprays seated, non-violent students at UC Davis
Better Video of the UC Davis Incident:
The link to the video alone shows very clearly the officer, one Lt. John Pike, brandishing the can of pepper spray before applying it point blank to the faces of sitting protesters. One might argue that he is a product of his training and therefore a pitiable figure. I find I cannot disagree – what makes a person forget basic human dignity, decency, and kindness, whatever the job? Anything that makes a person be so disconnected from society as to think these actions mete is surely even more tragic than the people who suffer at his or her hands.
On a final note, my friend I was speaking to yesterday also suggested that the movement would do well to ostracize and kick out undesirable elements. While his intent might be well in making such a suggestion, I have to disagree – society is made up of all sorts, and the movement is society. All have a role to play in it. While I definitely think that it would be nice people didn’t lie and steal and behave in nasty manners, the fact is that we just have to work a little harder to try and correct these people. I’m realistic – we can’t fix everyone, but part of society is accepting that these elements are there, and that we have to work with them in mind as much as the good. The kid spitting on cops needs to be corrected as much as the cops brutalizing the kid for spitting on him. Bad breeds bad, good breeds good. We must not be afraid to lovingly and firmly call out and correct the undesirable elements, but excluding just keeps the system broken when we need to get to fixing it. Nobody ever said birth or rebirth was pretty, but I can hope that we do not see too much of the nasty in the process.