by guest blogger David Gerrold
I haven’t said much about Ferguson because I haven’t taken the time to read all the news accounts. What I have read makes me recoil in horror. It is as if someone has pulled the blanket off the bed and revealed a horrifying mass of skittering cockroaches — Missouri’s institutionalized racism and bigotry are now on display for the entire world to see.
Elsewhere, the news is reporting other shooting deaths of young black men, other unfair incarcerations, other miscarriages of justice — I have to wonder if some of this isn’t a backlash against the first African-American president, but more than that, I have to wonder about the great wealth of skills and abilities and talent that are being wasted, that are being denied to us.
How many opportunities for a cure for some pernicious disease? How many great works of art or literature? How many brilliant performances? How many great scientists? How many incredible educators?
What we are doing to ourselves and our nation is attacking ourselves and a vital part of our own culture. We are punishing our own ability to succeed and thrive. And why? Because we’re still fighting a war that both sides lost over a hundred and fifty years ago. The south lost the war, the north lost the victory, and America is impoverished because we have not yet begun to heal the wounds, instead we just inflict deeper wounds upon ourselves.
Regardless of the circumstances of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson (and right now, I do not trust anything the police are saying), but regardless of the circumstances, what has been revealed is much deeper than one incident or even a pattern of incidents. What has been revealed is the portrait in our attic, the one that reveals the rot and corruption we have allowed to fester.
There is only one sure and certain way to change any of this. Register and vote.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to click the remote control.
Nebula and Hugo award winning author David Gerrold is the author of over 50 books, several hundred articles and columns, and over a dozen television episodes. TV credits include episodes of Star Trek, Babylon 5, Twilight Zone, Land Of The Lost, Logan’s Run, and many others. Novels include WHEN HARLIE WAS ONE, THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF, the “War Against the Chtorr” septology, The “Star Wolf” trilogy, The “Dingilliad” young adult trilogy, and more. The autobiographical tale of his son’s adoption, THE MARTIAN CHILD won the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novelette of the Year and was the basis for the 2007 movie starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, and Joan Cusack. His web page is here.
A mass contingent of conservatives who hate the oppressive power of Big Government recently traveled to Ferguson, Missouri to show their support for citizens fighting against Big Brother.
“This is just like our battle with farmer Bundy,” said the leader of one group. “Or Waco! Who does the government think they are, shooting at innocent kids like that? And then bringing in military-style police forces to silence people who are legally protesting. What is this, Communist China?”
“We warned you,” claimed another group. “We said that sooner or later, we’d have to take up arms against the government that tramples on our rights and ignores the Constitution. Now is the time for all good citizens to grab their guns and fight!”
Later, the group changed its mind when it discovered that the government was only oppressing and shooting unarmed black people. “That’s different,” the patriots said, as they went off to look for another millionaire white guy to declare treason with.
There are two extremes I see every day when dealing with police.
There are the good cops. I’m happy to say that there are a lot of them. They sincerely want to do a good job, and try their best to make sure all laws and procedures are followed. There are officers I deal with in my job as a defense attorney who I trust completely. They get on the stand and answer truthfully, even when they know full well that their truthful answer may get the case dismissed for some reason. I admire them greatly.
Then there are the bad cops. They see their job as “getting the bad guys” and feel that if they have to break some rules and laws in order to do that, they still win. They never realize that by doing this, they become the bad guys they claim to be fighting.
I partially blame the media for bad cops, because we constantly see movies and TV shows where we cheer on the cop who doesn’t follow rules, acts like a vigilante, and takes the law into his own hands. Batman may be a hero in the films, but in real life, I’d be able to get the Joker out of jail easily given how many rights have been violated. That’s not how we do things in America. The laws apply to everyone, even superheroes.
Most police officers, being human beings, fall somewhere between those two extremes.
We had a great example of this dichotomy over the past few days. The Bad Cops in Ferguson took over. They forgot that their motto “to serve and protect” means to serve and protect us, the citizens. They broke laws and didn’t feel at all remorseful about it. They wore more body armor than the soldiers in Afghanistan and used their military toys to make them feel like the superheroes in the movies — and when you do that, it’s so easy to just assume everyone not like you are the bad guys who must be stopped.
Finally, smarter heads prevailed and the governor placed the State Troopers in charge (after a phone call from the President — I’m sure this is not a coincidence). The State Troopers showed up without any body armor, without any tanks or huge weapons, and stood and watched as the protesters marched peacefully, which is a right guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. And nothing happened. No riots, no injuries, no fights.
If you don’t treat the people as criminals, then they don’t act like them.
Hopefully, this will lead to a strong movement to demilitarize our police forces. After all, this is not the first example of inexperienced officers pretending to be trained SWAT teams hurting innocents. Let’s get our police back into the job of protecting and serving us, and leave the military actions to the military.