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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Did The Trickle Down Effect Cause Deputy Ben Fields To Become Officer Slam

Deputy Fields slams a student to the floor

Suppose we were to take a madlib approach to the news, how many stories would sound similar. Consider the madlib below that could apply either to the story from the above video or to the US invasion of Iraq:

A _______ refused to follow orders concerning ______  _______. As a result, ______ was confronted by an overpowering force that violently _______ and ______  _______.

Now could we fill in the above madlib with the following:

  1. nation refused to follow orders concerning WMD inspections. As a result, it was confronted by an overpowering force that violently invaded and occupied it.
  2. A student refused to follow orders concerning cell phones. As a result, she was confronted by an overpowering force that violently slammed and dragged her.

Now what we should note here is that the first story was about Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq while second story was about the violent expulsion of a South Carolina high school student from her class by a campus resource officer. And the question becomes this: What are the similarities between the two stories?

The first similarity is that there was a failure to comply to orders. In the first madlib, the U.S. had ordered Iraq to turnover its WMDs. In the second madlib, a high school student refused to turn over her cell phone to her teacher. Before we go on, we should note the difference between the two cases. In the first case, not enough time was given to the weapons inpsectors to confirm that Iraq had such weapons in the first place. The student in question clearly a cell phone in her possession.

The next similarity is that that refusal was met with overpowering violence. America's invasion of Iraq caused, by some reports, the death of over a million Iraqies. The student in question was, while in her desk, flipped over backwards against the floor and forcibly dragged to the front of the class. The student in question has suffered arm, neck, and back injuries (click here).

The next similarity is that the force used is deemed by many to be excessive. None of Iraq's neighboring nations viewed our invasion as being necessary and that included Iraq's past victim, Kuwait.  People who have seen the video don't have to be told that too much force was used. 

Another similarity is this, the one exerting the force has a reputation for being violent and using excessive force. There is no need here to demonstrate America's reputation here. Meanwhile, deputy Ben Fields has been cited before for using excessive force with the last citation resulting in a future trial (click here).

But here is the biggie, the one exerting force does not recognize appropriate limits for the violence he/it exercises. Part of that is because the one exerting force shows a lack of awareness of being accountable. Regarding America, while we will cite others for violations of international law, we refuse to recognize international law as providing limits for our actions. Instead, we only recognize our interests. We never let the UN determine the legitimacy of our invasion of Iraq.  And we ignored the World Court's decision that condemned our actions in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Instead of international law, we assume the right to go where we want and do what we want. And while we cry 'national sovereignty' whenever anyone suggests that we should abide by international law and submit to the International Criminal Court (ICC), we have no problems with citing others with having either violated international law or threatened the international community. Of course, all of that is because we have anointed ourselves to the oxymoronic position of being the leader of the Free World.

This same prusumptiveness has been embraced by many involved with law enforcement. As a result, too many of our law enforcement professionals have both abused their position and  the people they are sworn to protect. And they do so while assuming their right to punish lawbreakers for any resistance especially if the lawbreakers in question belong to a minority. Thus, resorting to heavy-handed responses has become a typical rather than an exceptional response to any resistance.

Thus, perhaps one way to reduce police abuse is to be as sensitive to the violence and harshness that make up many of our foreign policies as we are to this incident of an officer's intervention with a noncompliant student. That though rules must be enforced, the authority to enforce them does not give those with power or in authority carte-blanche to any methods of enforcement. That all nations must be subject to the same international law and that that will not occur until the most powerful nations set the example. For there is far more suffering involved when we either invade or we support guerilla fighters and/or paramilitary groups than what we saw on the video of the student being taken down. And while the student who was slammed to the ground suffered some significant injuries and was put at risk for even more serious injuries than she experienced, that is nothing compared to what people go through during military interventions and wars.

We need to remember that if we do not keep our nation's leaders answerable for any of the violent measures they order, that acceptance of violence will eventually trickle down to the rest of society including those who must enforce the law on a local level. And our nation has seen more than its fairshare of heavyhanded abuse being used by police officers on those who are merely citizens, especially our minoirty citizens.

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