Monday, November 09, 2015

Today's Thing I Should Not Have To Explain: Of COURSE "Blue Lives Matter"

Despite the fact that we're now well over a year off from Ferguson, and despite the daily articles about yet another police officer using disproportionate force resulting in the death of an unarmed (usually African-American) civilian, I am still seeing people responding to the "Black Lives Matter" movement with counter-movements like "Blue Lives Matter" or "Cop Lives Matter". I am deeply and sincerely hoping that nobody in my regular audience buys into these counter-movements, but on the off-chance that you need to link someone you know through to an explanation of why they're a problem, here's one.

The problem with a "Blue Lives Matter" movement in response to the "Black Lives Matter" movement is that it suggests through implication that the opposite of policemen killing unarmed civilians who may not even have committed crimes is armed criminals killing policemen. This does not make sense. This does not even begin to make sense. This does not even exist in the same universe as sense. This is saying, in essence, that police brutality and extrajudicial executions of innocent people is so deeply ingrained into police culture that it is literally impossible for them to conceive of doing their job without just randomly choking someone to death for a non-violent offense or shooting a random black teenager in the chest for looking suspicious. Those are terrible, insane responses to suggestions that police be held accountable for doing their job badly.

To understand just how terrible they are, imagine transplanting the problem to another possession. Imagine a doctor going into surgery and, instead of operating on the patient to remove their gallbladder, they don full bio-hazard gear, douse the patient in kerosene, and set them on fire before sprinting out of the room, shrieking "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!" And then imagine that the state medical board investigates and decides that the doctor is not at fault because there were indications that the patient could have had a communicable disease of some sort.

In this circumstance, pointing out that doctors are at risk of catching communicable diseases from their patient and that we need to care about their lives too does not counter the fact that the doctor in question was terrible at their job and murdered someone in their care through homicidal actions that went far beyond simple neglect or carelessness into active murderous incompetence and malice, and that the authorities whose job it is to make sure that malicious and incompetent members of the profession are not allowed to continue to practice have instead decided that it is more important to protect their own. This is Not Good.

Police lives do matter. Of course they do. It is a hazardous profession, and there's a limit to how much we can mitigate that, but nobody is suggesting that we shouldn't do everything we can to keep cops safe on the street. But a police officer who is killing unarmed people is not doing their job, full stop. They are dangerously incompetent, and the fact that they are killing African-Americans all out of proportion to any other demographic is not coincidence. Violent racism is not something that can or should be tolerated in our police force, and saying that is not "anti-cop" rhetoric. It is anti-racist-incompetent-cop rhetoric. The only people who should be opposed to that are racist, incompetent cops, and it is incredibly worrying that entire departments seem eager to step up and declare their membership in that demographic.

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