Friday, December 4, 2015

The Police & "Black Lives Matter": My Take on the Whole Sordid Subject

Some personal experiences in my new life have made me really think about & reflect on this with a critical eye. First, some history for those who aren't aware of it (which I imagine is a great many readers).

My personal, general experiences with the police have been positive if you can believe it. My uncle (who my mother wasn't too crazy about & who apparently didn't treat my aunt as well as he should have) was a cop and my father had a very bad experience with the local police literally a day after my brother in law's funeral in 2003. For those who haven't heard this one, here goes:

My father was an alcoholic. As in, he'd had enough DWIs to lose his driver's license (including his CDL license, ending his career as a truck driver), been to rehab for his addiction, did some time in jail, was on house arrest when I was in 6th grade complete with device on his ankle and had been required to put in an interlock device in his car in order to drive again after all this DUI/DWI stuff. In 2003, my sister's first husband died suddenly at the age of 21. This was 6 months after he & my sister had gotten married and 3 weeks after my oldest nephew was born. The day after my brother in law's funeral when I was on my way back to Atlanta to go home & prepare for work the next week, my father gets pulled over by the local police. They ask where the interlock device in the car is when he'd been free of that obligation long before this incident. Based on his having red eyes, they claimed he was drunk and the car was immediately towed far away and a whole court proceeding started where my mother had to retain a lawyer to defend my father.

Now my mother has been in denial on a few things about my father but she outright told us more than once that she would never allow my father to get on the road drunk after these DUIs. She told him "If you get behind the wheel drunk, I will call the police & have you arrested for it." She was very strict about this. She also never pretended the man was sober when he was drunk so if she said he'd not been drinking, I was inclined to believe her. She told me he had not been drinking.

At hearing this, I felt the local police was trying to bully a grieving family & make things worse. My family definitely didn't have money for all this & sure didn't need to go through all that after losing their son in law. Keep in mind that my sister and her husband were living under the same roof as my parents so they saw each other on a daily basis. It wasn't like my relationship with my brother in law, where I only saw him if I visited my family. Maybe I'm the only one who saw his getting arrested for this as a logic fail. I heard about this assumption he was drunk based on his having red eyes & said "We just buried my brother in law yesterday; we've been crying for days. OF COURSE the man's eyes were red!"

Now that is an example of terrible policing considering after my mom got that lawyer, he obtained the records proving our claims and my father eventually went free. Think about how many people can't get legal counsel? My mother contacted the DMV concerning my father's license (the police claimed at the time he was pulled over it was suspended when it reality, it was not). They completely ignored her while they finally gave the records showing that the police were wrong to their attorney.

I guess one upside is that my parents might have respected my profession a little bit before I actually started on the path to become an attorney myself. So many people don't have respect for attorneys or that job & plenty of attorneys don't exactly make people sympathetic to them or their needs by being the assholes everyone claims they are.

That brings me to an observation about the "Black Lives Matter" movement and police brutality against black people. If you are going to have ANY type of cause at all, it helps if you aren't living down to negative stereotypes about your group. If you want people to care about black lives, it might help if a particular classification of black people didn't behave in a stereotypical, "ghetto" fashion such as getting nasty with law enforcement, being uncooperative, refusing to act in a civilized manner, etc. I've not seen people championing this movement also saying "there are good cops out there & maybe you shouldn't start off assuming all of them are racist without speaking to them first." These people wouldn't like others meeting them and presuming they were racist without ever talking to them & seeing how they behaved toward them.

I've also yet to see many in this movement calling out the people behaving like ghetto trash (recall that ghetto trash is not limited to a racial group; I've seen plenty of white people behaving like ghetto trash as well & I'm sure there are people in other ethnic groups behaving the same way but it wasn't my experience). Unlike individual black friends of mine who have done plenty of overt attacking & condemning of ghetto behavior in their own ranks, I've not see the "Black Lives Matter" crowd doing this. Personally, I think it's a polarizing and alienating movement much the same as the concept of "safe spaces." I'm in agreement with "ALL Lives Matter."

Bad cops are bad cops and a problem to EVERYONE, not just one group no matter how great the impact is on that group. Separation of things in 2015 is absurd to me since we no longer have state sanctioned segregation or outright rules that a particular group can't participate in things. You are not going to win me or anyone else to your cause by uttering phrases like "check your privilege" or claiming you need "safe spaces." No, you're just a whiny little brat who can't hack it in real life where people are (gasp!) DIFFERENT from you and don't agree with everything you say and might have an opinion you don't agree with. Instead of being a civilized, mature human being who listens to see if maybe the person with an opposing view may have some valid points and is willing to agree to disagree if there are no valid points in that argument, these folks would rather have the world cater to their PC nonsense & demand superior rights over everyone else. No and NO!!!

Saying "Black Lives Matter" implies that black lives are superior to everyone else's & that is dead wrong. No one's right to exist is superior to someone else's on the basis of race, gender, age, nationality and so forth. I think that is what is turning people off to that movement; the implication that one group has more rights than someone else. Racism isn't cool no matter who's being discriminated against.

I've met some good cops, cops who used their heads and weren't a bunch of hotheads with zero critical thinking skills. Cops who did actual stuff you want the police to do like break up bar fights, listen when you speak about harassment situations, find out if you're okay if your car is stuck on the side of the road, deal with panhandlers on the subway, tell you when your ex-husband is moving from the apartment you found and lived in for the duration of your marriage, that kind of thing.

No one's mentioned the police harming peaceful protesters in the course of this brutality movement & those were white people as well as people of color. How about we deal with the bigger problems rather than make a blanket statement that ALL police officers are racist and ALL black people are innocent angels in all circumstances? How about we look at the class issues? Yeah, you shocked there are poor white people in the world? Go live out in the real world & talk to people. Look into the numbers on who seeks welfare. I was most certainly not the only white person seeking public assistance or going to the job center earlier this year.

How about this movement deal with the issue of ghetto trash living down to negative stereotypes that drag down all black people? I've definitely addressed ghetto trash living down to stereotypes that diminish and harm me or my family as lower income & would call that out in a second if I saw it in my backyard. Where are these advocates in those situations? I've also addressed the behavior of women that drags me down as a woman such as claiming sexual harassment b/c a guy complimented your dress. These harridans make ALL women look like oversensitive crybabies & I sure wouldn't want them working in my industry. How about addressing the climate where bad cops are being protected akin to the Catholic Church protecting pedophile priests by moving them from place to place instead of defrocking them?

You'll note I definitely address the assholery of the legal profession. I don't spend my time with assholes, wouldn't pee on them if they were on fire, will publicly admonish those who are offending my sensibilities/pissing me off with their nasty behavior, and certainly warning non-attorney colleagues, friends and associates about particular ones so they don't end up having to deal with that behavior. I even recall addressing this in scam blogs and other places where people whined about how no one cares about the problems of attorneys & that job market. It's like "People might give a damn if you weren't a bunch of flaming assholes to everyone & weren't condoning that behavior in others." I can see that same principle applying to the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

That movement could make impact and effect change for the better but it's going about it in a very piss poor manner by having this air of entitlement & refusing to address the very valid issues I've mentioned here. It's also not helping its case by demonizing all law enforcement. As I mentioned, my own father was unjustly arrested and hassled by the police. He didn't try attacking anyone physically or doing things that surely would have gotten him tazed or on the business end of a choke-hold. If he had, I would have addressed that fact and realized "Hey, maybe we should encourage people to act differently & then see what happens. Maybe we should save our rage for when it's justified like shooting someone unarmed who's being cooperative, polite, etc." That Southern politeness ethic can help you sometimes & if someone harms you while you're doing that, then the person who harmed you isn't going to get sympathy from most rational people. Polite doesn't mean subservient, friends.

Honestly, I think there's a major class issue in this country & it's intertwined with race in a way that seems to make most people think it's all about race when there's also the class component and the poverty mentality you have to deal with. Class isn't something strictly defined by race or we'd never have rich black people or poor white people.

I applaud my friends for calling out bullshit when they see it. That's probably a big reason they're friends with me. As for the "safe space" thing, I was delighted when black friends of mine also felt it sounded like self-imposed segregation and a step backwards. I think integration overall is a good thing since we'd have lost great perspectives and minds if we limited ourselves to only listening to white people on things. There are people of color just as there are people who don't come from money who are intelligent, classy, respectful and aren't walking around with a poverty mentality or a victim mindset. They can spot bullshit & have some backbone to call folk out on it. I know my school years as a natural redhead would have been worse with all white kids since almost none are natural redheads & I got along much better with other minorities since they understood how it felt to be different and not always treated well b/c of it. I also think my general life perspective is better because of not living in White Land & for having had exposure to people with different life backgrounds and experience whether that was class, race, religion, gender, whatever. Any good writer sees the value of getting someone else's perspectives & trying to understand how they see the world. A smart person wants to encounter as many different perspectives as possible & truly think on those to be a well rounded, full human being. It certainly helps if you want to be a good political leader or perform other leadership roles competently.

I'm not sure what the real solution is. If I were running things, there'd be no affirmative action since everything would be done in a blind manner & only the most talented would get things irrelevant to race or gender or any other nonsense. Education would be targeted to people's actual aptitude, not economic or racial prejudice. I'd also just get rid of the racists in the workplace since I think much like religion, racism is something that you might practice in private but we don't need to be seeing or hearing about & that you certainly don't get to use to not do your job, harass others, and so forth. People don't like being recruited for religious movements at work or seeing that either so why not the same principle for racists? As I commented before, working racists aren't racists lobbying government officials to roll back equal rights protections or participating in protests against civil rights for groups they don't like; they're too busy working.

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