The red herring defense of police brutality


If you voice an opinion that is critical of the police, do not expect to be well-received by most people. Like many government employees (see soldiers, teachers, etc.), they’ve become one of the “untouchable” classes of citizen—one that people think should be free from just about any and all criticism. This is the case despite the fact that we live in an age where almost anyone has the ability to pull out a device and begin recording video in seconds. Ironically, many of these same people will be able to run off a list of stories of bad encounters with the police, but for whatever reason those memories are repressed during the discussion.

When a person sympathetic to a system of socialized police is presented with a story or video of police brutality, they will generally respond with one of three red herrings. The first is:

We need the police.

This is identical to the “You don’t want education?” response to the idea that the government shouldn’t be involved with schools. It completely deflects from the topic. Very few people think that there should be no form of police because there is police brutality. Many of us simply want private police/defense forces where individuals can choose and buy their own services.

Either way, the need for police does not justify an officer attacking an innocent person and is irrelevant to judging their actions (or anyone for that matter).

Well, you know, the police have a very hard job to do.

Here’s the thing about this statement: most of these situations that concerned people get upset about aren’t difficult situations to analyze where the police unnecessarily escalated things. There’s this example of the police harassing and ultimately tasing a man because he didn’t want to talk to them about his beverage they suspected might have contained alcohol (it didn’t). Or there’s the man who was sleeping in a synagogue where he was welcome to be and was brutally attacked by the police. And the list goes on…

Even if it weren’t a red herring, it’s just not a very good excuse. Okay, so they have a hard job. I think my job is hard and so do many other people about their jobs. If I made an egregious error at work and had to defend myself in front of management, imagine their response to me saying, “I have a hard job.”

Let’s just say that would be considered unacceptable.

Furthermore, what happened to all of the slogans like “we hold ourselves to a higher standard” and “*Insert City’s Name*’s finest” that we always hear? I’m also told about how highly trained they’re supposed to be. If they’re the best of the best and specially trained to handle these situations, is “my job is hard” a very good excuse?

Not all cops are bad.

This response will either come in the form of those exact words or an example of the police doing something nice. Like the other red herrings discussed here, all this does is pull the attention away from the example of police brutality being discussed.

Does a good deed by one police officer cancel out a bad deed by another? Is a good deed supposed to make me say, “Oh, never mind, something else that is completely irrelevant to what I’m concerned about just changed my mind”?

What is the reason for the fear of admitting that the police can be guilty of committing crimes? Situations of high stress do tend to make things fuzzy and occasionally legitimate mistakes are made. These are called unfortunate or tragic mistakes, but this is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a refusal to even acknowledge cases of obvious abuse.

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What has become apparent is that the police are out of control. But what do you expect when their only punishment for misconduct is a 2 week paid vacation while their cronies supposedly “Investigate” before a judgment of no wrongdoing is declared.

Rollo McFloogle

I agree and it’s almost to the point of comedy. I laughed when I saw that Chris Christie was cleared of wrongdoing by an internal investigation the other day.