October 31, 2011

Blame the Victim Brutality?

I will preface this article by saying that I am pro-law enforcement. I know some cops, and they’re good people. I have called upon officers of the law in cases of witnessing domestic violence. I have called them in a couple of cases where my personal  or familial safety was being threatened. I honestly believe that at this point in time responsible law enforcement is essential to the functioning of society.

However, if you think the riot officers who are systematically clearing out the Occupations might be in the right, I suggest that you consider these thoughts;

Breaking the law is sometimes essential to creating social change. Points in case;

* Gandhi and the salt flats (charged with and arrested for theft),
* the Berlin Wall (defacement and destruction of property),
* the Separation Wall in Palestine (defacement  – see Banksy, Separation Wall installation),
* the uprisings of Arab Spring (2011 – Tunisia, Egypt, etc.)
* Stonewall,
* the civil rights movement, and Jim Crow laws,
* nonviolent resistance to nuclear proliferation, human rights abuses, etc.

When this sort of Police/State crack-down happens in other countries (e.g.; Tunisia, Egypt, China, Africa, etc.) we, as Americans, are outraged. When it happens here, we, as Americans, justify the status quo.

Guilt by association is at best lazy and at worst a calculated and ugly reason to use excessive force on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. In other words, if five “demonstrators” are angry, dangerous, antisocial thugs, those five thugs should be arrested. The actions of those five thugs should *not* be used to justify the harming of nonviolent demonstrators.

Blame the victim mentality is sad, dangerous, and irresponsible. Saying things like, “Well, they’re breaking the law. They deserve what they get.” is, IMO, closely akin to saying, “Well, she’s a whore. She deserved to get raped.” Sorry to use such a shocking example, but really, really think about it before you jump to a defense of  the brutal actions of police forces across the country (NYC, Oakland, Denver…).

Thanks for your time, and your deep consideration.

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