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The moral of the story

dogs_police

The moral of the story is not the one you may think I am about to draw. And not that one, either:

The moral: Nationally propagated images of injustice were key to the massive success of a non-violent movement.

Therefore, our ability to gather material to petition for the redress of grievances with cameras, without being tasered, is of critical strategic value today.

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Woody--Tokin Librul's picture
Submitted by Woody--Tokin Librul on

"... for the redress of grievances with cameras, without being tasered, is of critical strategic value today."

Imho, the ability to ask questions, no matter how much of a "dick" you may be regarded for doing so, is an equally vital, critical competence and social good...

Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Woody--Tokin Librul's picture
Submitted by Woody--Tokin Librul on

You ask: "So woody, if I'm confronting you, do you want me filming...your reaction?"

"Who" is filming "whom" (btw, the camera likes me, so shoot away, figuratively)? What's the context? Am I a member of the governing elite and you a 'mere' citizen with a beef? Remember Macaca?

What do you mean "confronting" me?
In what capacity are you "confronting" me?
Are we both putatively "equal" private citizens? Are you a student in one of my classes asking me a question/baiting me into an immoderate reply? I think you owe me the courtesy of, at least, not disguising the fact that you are 'recording' our interaction?

Am I a citizen being hassled by thug-cops? And you're the cop filming me? They do that more and more anyway.

I have no problem with the actual public carefully recording and scrutinizing the acts of the agents of the state--that is, the police, the military, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DoD/OSP, and all the rest of 'em--in almost any context. The regime of official, constant, intrusive, regulative supervision and surveillance of the 'People' is growing all the time. It is encouraged by every new development in recognition software, data mining, and intercept ware...and rationalized by claims for the necessity of the contribution made to national security and the war on terror.

I do not recognize that the police authority of the state authorizes that kind of intrusion into my privacy.

On the other hand, acting in their official capacities, the police cannot claim to have a right to that same privacy (as you say, they're "only human"), for two reasons: 1) once 'in harness,' a policeperson is not a 'private citizen,' they become agents of the state. That's their JOB; 2)because as a coercive arm of the ISA (Institutional State Apparati; cf: Althusser, e.g.), the claim to such privacy, given the potential for abuse, would be an offense against the authorization of the People to wield such power. It's why they wear uniforms: they're identifiable that way as agents of the state.

Do you ever wonder if there really is a difference between an undercover cop and an agent provocateur?

I always do.

Me? Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

As one private citizen to another

I'm going to ask you, in public, to answer this question:

I'm not going to be able to see your face and/or body language, or hear your voice as you answer any more than you can see/hear me ask.
Because of that, I intend to first describe to you my approach to this question:

I am either asking it in open conversation -- not as a student in a classroom and not as a mate across a table with a pitcher of beer or wine between us, and not, because I am horribly allergic to it, as a friend sitting around havin' a toke -- but as one awake but relaxed adult in a purposeful but not formalized conversation to another fully-engaged but not hostile adult, and the expression on my face is not angry or outraged but curious, and the tone of my voice is not strident or argumentative but clear and free of subservience:

Are there any police, anywhere, in the United States of America, who aren't "thug-cops"?

I should note that I've never worked undercover. I should also note that in my not very humble opinion, the "Tulia drug enforcement task force agent Tom Coleman" should rot in hell upside down and slowly.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Videorecording, in the public space, almost always good, rare instances maybe not but almost always good, for everyone. Still photos, as Lambert correctly points out, have been powerful tools for bringing about positive social change. Video is much better; still photos, literally a snapshot out of context, can be misleading and what with photoshop etc they can be easily manipulated. Much harder with video and the contextual value, what happens before and after, makes an uncut video as close to truth as can be had. As the Meyer disagreement shows, different people can view the same recording and see events differently, but motion photography is more thorough than still hands down.

Video everything, all of the time, by all means. But if you whip out your shiny new palmcorder and a frightened and edgy cop mistakes if for a gun, you are liable in large measure for the consequences. This is an imperfect world, tempt fate at your own risk.

Maybe we should do like the Brits, videocameras everywhere and an independent commission to oversee the collection and distribution, or better yet posted to web sites so anyone can call up any webcam any time. Sounds a bit Big Brother to me but then everything is recorded and available for review, everyone in the public sphere is under scrutiny all the time by many eyes - kind of like village life writ large.

Woody--Tokin Librul's picture
Submitted by Woody--Tokin Librul on

as you proffer the question, to wit:
"Are there any police, anywhere, in the United States of America, who aren’t “thug-cops”?"

as in everything else, it depends.

I answer you as one who does not lead an entirely 'blameless'--if by blameless one means a wholly legal and above-board--life. I have a (minor) record and untapped 'criminal' proclivities. I don't do 'authority' very well. It was a bit of a miracle that i got out of the service with a clean record and an honorable discharge. I came within a skinny minute of going awol from boot-camp. I have had passing encounters with the gendarmes on a couple of continents.

It's not the individual officer who is the subject of my concern. It is the whole system, which takes people with particular personality proclivities and competences and adapts those people to the purposes of the institution. And it's a thug system.

When i was doing newspaper stuff, i had occaasion to get to know some cops, and taken individually, they weren't bad people. Some were funny, some smart, some stupid and mean, like everybody else.

But ring the alarm, and the thug part just erupted.

there is one parallel that strikes me: In a way, police remind me a lot of frustrated DIs...i know you know what one of those is. They both trade on attitudes, on aggression, and arrogance.

So to return to your question: i do not think there are very many police in the USofA who are not, at least in potential, and under the 'right' circumstances, 'thug-cops,' cuz that's how the oxymoronically named 'criminal justice' system is designed.

When i was teaching, i advocated (at rhetorically) that every 'innocent' person ought to have the experience of being seriously rousted--busted!--by a good cop on a bad day, or a bad cop any day--so as to experience what it was they gave their tacit consent as the nominal employers and beneficiaries of police procedures.

imho
Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

When i was teaching, i advocated (at rhetorically) that every ’innocent’ person ought to have the experience of being seriously rousted—busted!—by a good cop on a bad day, or a bad cop any day—so as to experience what it was they gave their tacit consent as the nominal employers and beneficiaries of police procedures.

Just as I think every surgeon, cardiologist, pulmonologist, trauma nurse and psych major ought to have to go to the ER without insurance and be a patient in pain at least once every five years, to remind them how the other half lives, I think you're right, Woody.

Fundamentally we agree on a couple of points, I think. For physical reasons -- literally -- I cannot walk a mile in your shoes (and nor, I suspect, could you comfily walk a mile in my 7 1/2 EEE boots). For philosophical reasons, though, we arrive at the same place from different points of view: each of us would prefer to protect the innocents, and each of us has a different definition of innocent.

Is that a fair assessment?

imhoWe can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0