This past year in America 5 black cops brutally killed a young black man for no apparent reason that has been revealed. Why did that happen?
Bill Maher was right when he said on his television show earlier this year, “What’s going on, in my view, is that society is broken. We don’t educate people anymore, discipline is all broken down, families are broken down.” I agree this is a product of a broken society and then we ask the police to solve it. Among all the other jobs they have to deal with they are expected to hold society together as it is shredded. They are being asked to be psychologists, marriage counsellors, social workers advocates. As Bill Maher said, “No one ever calls the cops to tell them how well the marriage is going.” It is what I always said about schools. The principal never called us ot a team meeting to tell us how well the lads were doing in school.
How could that possibly work? Trust is gone. Guns sluice through American society. That doesn’t help. Violence is bred in the bone, particularly in America. What can the police do to mend this mess? As Bill Maher said, “They are the ones who get the slop of a broken society.” And then they are asked to do far too much. And sometimes they contribute to it.
Yet, of course, the cops are also part of that broken society. Why those 5 black cops did what they did may always remain a mystery. They just did it. The cops perhaps were going through a divorce, or under pressure from their landlord to pay the rent, or their kids are trying drugs and disrespect their parents. What can the cops do about that? They can break is about all they can do under impossible conditions.
There is a bigger question: where is all the rage coming from? This is a vitally important question without any apparent answers. The rage is clearly out there, but where did it come from? The police like the rest of us are suffering from anxiety and fear. Every day they drive into harm’s way as part of their jobs. The cops live in a society transfused with fear, anxiety, depression, and above all hate. It is a toxic mess that no Sunday School can cure.
Of course, we must always remember that a very high percentage of cops don’t resort to killing people out of frustration. Most of them are just trying to do an honourable job as best they can. Yet we must not accept it when they don’t do their best or abuse the trust given to them. Society is entitled to their best. Also, we must not be surprised when the police abuse the trust and fall short. It is going to happen. A broken society cannot deliver a perfect result. Fear, anxiety, depression and hate will never produce perfection. We will never get perfect policing until we get a perfect society, at which time we won’t need the police.
As Brett Stephens also said on Maher’s show, “Every day a cop in America is shot and killed. And police deserve a lot more respect than they get.”
I do not want to be taken to be giving in to fatalism. We must insist police do a better job. We must give them the support and respect they deserve, but not blind automatic acceptance of all they do.
The real issue about cops is the same as the real issue of guns. It is not inadequate laws that are the problem. The real problem is the incredible rage in American society. In many ways it is a broken society. And that means that when the pieces of glass fly, people will get hurt. The rage let loose in a broken society is going to hurt someone. Whoever is in the way will get hurt. Police and guns just happen to be right on the edge of the tears in society. And we just have to look out.