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By now all of you have seen, or at least read about, the terrible violence carried out by the Memphis police on a Black man for no more than a possible, unproven, traffic violation. In a strange way, it is fortunate that the five policemen, all of whom have been fired and charged with second degree murder, were Black.
|Rioters facing police in Memphis this week |
after video of Tyre Nichols beating released. (NBC)
There is a measure of arrogance present in the manner in which some, not all, police officers carry out their duties which come down to preserving the peace and preventing crime. Given a nightstick and a gun, a veneer of supposed authority and toughness comes along with them that would otherwise not be present.
This is not accidental.
The arrogance and demeanor of the officers who murdered Tyre Nichols have sometimes been referred to as a ‘warrior mindset.’ The reason for this kind of attitude was explored about 30 years ago in an F.B.I. study of criminals who had been specifically incarcerated for murdering police officers. In interviewing them, it became clear that police officers who are killed in the line of duty usually have similar characteristics!
To quote from a New Yorker magazine article on the subject, ‘At the top of an inventory of “behavioral descriptors” linked to officers who ended up dead, the study listed traits that some citizens might prize: “friendly,” “well-liked by community and department,” “tends to use less force than other officers felt they would use in similar circumstances,” and “used force only as last resort.” The cop killers, the agents concluded from their prison conversations, had attacked officers with a “good-natured demeanor.” An officer’s failure to dominate—to immediately enforce full control over the suspect—proved fatal.’
The ‘good guys’ on the force, it would appear, are the ones most likely not to survive to reach retirement age. Police officers, and perhaps even those who train them, were influenced, usually indirectly and informally, by this study, and as a result, whether intentional or not, they developed strongly dominating, aggressive behavior patterns which were likely to prevent their being killed by criminals while on the job.
This was the mindset of those who beat Rodney King, those who murdered George Floyd and Tyre Nichols, and those who committed numerous other acts of brutality in the line of duty. It is not something they can turn on or off. It is the way they instinctively behave in order to survive on the job.
Check out the New Yorker article at https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-police-folklore-that-helped-kill-tyre-nichols?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_012823&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&utm_term=tny_daily_digest&bxid=5c941c22b90c2f4a9f76d533&cndid=56749612&hasha=02fa158150d34dc186b01b1b8ec7a224&hashb=272a72a5c15a7235afb1dfcb769372a42fe06d21&hashc=033d2070fe1faa4dfea53a4950e7d0ed837513fd06d41e88f2d7b6b7c74af785&esrc=subscribe-page&mbid=CRMNYR062419
There is no need, as some demand, to ‘defund the police.’ Rather, they must be taught to handle and use their authority carefully, respecting the rights of all citizens, putting that before the development of attitudes which might save them from being killed in the line of duty. That is a lot to ask of them.
That is a risk those who become police officers must take. Their capability to do that should be determined very early in a police officer’s career, if possible even before he or she is given a badge.
If police officers appear incapable of doing this, they should find some other way of earning a living. Perhaps a career in the armed forces might be a better place for those with a ‘warrior mindset.’
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Is Shakespeare on DeSantis’ List?
I am waiting for Florida’s governor and his sycophants who run the State’s Department of Education to ban the teaching of Shakespeare in the State’s secondary schools. It seems that some parents have discovered that in Shakespeare’s time, females were not permitted to perform on the stage, so all those wonderful roles William Shakespeare wrote for women were played by men, and that just won’t do in the Sunshine State, where it might be taken as the ‘grooming’ of tender, impressionable, minds in the wrong direction.
Sooner or later, high school students would learn that such roles as Juliet, Desdemona, Portia, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, King Lear’s daughters, the Merry Wives of Windsor, Cleopatra, Caesar’s wife, and many others who trod the Elizabethan stage were played by gentlemen dressing as women and made up to look like them, characteristics we now associate with ‘drag queens’!
|Lady Macbeth, originally played by male actor|
It goes on and on. The Bard occasionally went even further, sometimes having his actors ‘in drag’ who were portraying women pretend to be male as part of a play’s plot. An example is ‘As You Like It,’ where the heroine (Rosalind), played by a man, in his role as a woman, pretends to be a man trying to teach her would-be boyfriend how to be a bit more forward with her. Men portraying women pretending to be men! That is wild! Shakespeare knew exactly what he was doing. I suspect that the audiences in 1600 loved it, watching what we would call a ‘drag queen’ pretending to be a guy.
This didn’t last very much longer. A few years later, when Oliver Cromwell took over in England, he shut down all the theatres, and recommended that people go to church instead, so long as it was a church of which he approved. Ron DeSantis would never go that far, but as for Shakespeare, I don’t know.
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