I applaud the people protesting every day around the world since that atrocity a few weeks back that took the life of yet another black man at the hands of a lunatic white cop. This is odd for me, the man who has repeatedly mocked grassroots attempts to upend entrenched social and political nonsense. I even tried to keep my wife from marching in the Women’s March after “Grab Their Pussies” Boy got elected president. But she went. Two years later a boatload of young women whisked into Congress. I would like to think those millions who joined Erin were a pretty significant reason.
And I especially would like to applaud the Black Lives Matter crowd because, like the previous countless times minorities have stormed the streets – peacefully or violently – against injustices, it reminds me why I work the keyboard to fill words in here weekly. It is damned inspiring, and, amazingly, it has had an effect.
If you would have told me that the right wing of our political system would have come around on police reform simply because “defunding the police” has gained serious polling momentum in this country a few weeks ago, hell, a few days ago, I would have laughed heartily and went back to the cigars and gin. But that is what’s happened! Even our game show president has taken a moment from his racist rants and defending the Confederacy to cobble some half-assed thing together to placate the movement. More importantly, and with less pandering, states, counties, and municipalities throughout the 50 states have begun overhauling and changing laws involving chokeholds, use of deadly weapons, pulling back on police weaponry, and other measures to hold cops accountable for unwarranted violence against the citizenry.
It’s a hell of a start. Because it is important for everyone to know that in my lifetime, or really anyone’s lifetime, cops have always been a member of the Untouchable Triumvirate: the military, organized religion, and the police. As a social experiment, it is fascinating, but as a democratic premise it is horrifying that these three institutions have been mostly above oversight or even simply questioning.
You’ve heard it: “The military protects us and gives us the right to complain, so shut the fuck up about it taking sixty percent of the national budget every year and spending obscene money it does not need to police the world and engage in pointless wars, and during all of it commit atrocities against humanity.”
That is the answer to anyone questioning the military about anything. It gets so bad that the military has been entangled in the national discussion with the American flag forever. Kneeling during the national anthem and burning a flag is immediately spitting on our troops. And when you protest bullshit military engagements, like every single one since World War II, you are kicking the guy who joined the Army in the balls.
That is some monumental untouchable shit.
Then there is religion. Like the police, it has a self-granted insular regulating policy that the rest of us cannot touch. For instance, if what has gone on in the Catholic Church over the past century-plus, and in this country for decades, with all the raping of children and incessant cover-ups, were to go down at Amazon or Macy’s or U.S Steel, would we just turn our heads? Would we send our kids to schools and colleges supporting pedophilia? Why is it when it comes to kids being in harm’s way in every other walk of life we can halt the planet from spinning, but with religion, “It’s okay, they’ll handle it.” But they don’t handle it. It goes on. It is still going on and they are still lying about it.
This untouchable concept also goes for all the craziness religions espouse, like discrimination against women, gays, race, or really everything that is not included as a tenet in their religion, and they do it on American soil and completely bypass the laws the rest of us have to endure. Oh, also, god forbid you question the tax-exempt status of any religion, including, by the way, fucking Scientology.
And so, that brings us to the police, with its impenetrable dome protected by insane deals struck with an intractable union that has only one job. That gig is not to protect and serve the public, it is to protect and serve the police force. It is the strongest union ever devised by human imagination and it is a monster. I wish I could write that you have to shoot an unarmed man in the back or choke a man to death on video to get fired, but even that is nearly impossible. And yet, we keep arming these maniacs with street tanks, chemical gases, stun-guns, and more.
I am always amused how police unions flip the political narrative on its head. Conservatives hate unions of all kinds, except the police union. Liberals bend into pretzels to defend even the most corrupt and useless unions but hammer hard at the police. Either way, the reality is that police unions make it nearly impossible to relegate, fire, press charges against, or even reprimand shitty cops—especially criminal ones. Union bosses had the nerve to hold a press conference this week in NYC to bitch about how they are the victims. “Let us do whatever we need to do!” they shouted. What line of work gets that kind of carte blanche? Somehow, unlike everything on planet Earth there are good things and bad things, but there are apparently no bad cops. And none of them can commit a crime.
And as I’ve stated here before, I am not sweeping the entire system under the bus, yet everyone except cops agree that it is far worse when there is a shitty cop on the beat than a shitty baker or candlestick maker at their post. In fact, I have always defended the idea that the police should be put on a higher plane, because they represent society, they stand for how we wish for society to run, without crime and rape and murder and crazy shit you see daily that these poor fuckers have to deal with. When a cop is killed, and everything stops – huge ceremonies filled with solemn dignitaries – I never blanch. And if someone shoots a cop, I believe they are telling us, they’re checking out of society. Period. It is important we give the police their due. If so, then why can’t we then put them under the same level of scrutiny when they perform heinous acts while wearing our uniform that we pay for to represent us?
Now, finally, it must be said here that in all of these institutions there has been and continues to be raging systemic racism and misogyny, which reflects most of society, but is magnified because in the case of two of them, we’re paying for it, and the other one, religion, gets a free ride. At least two perform a tangible service. I don’t know how religion gets away with it. Superstition? Maybe some of them provide soup kitchens, rehab centers and shelters, and that’s great, but it pales in comparison to what police and the military deal with every day.
But no matter how you slice it, I think this movement must expand to break-up the Untouchable Triumvirate. Moral monopolies don’t work. Then you’ll see some change.