The Persuasiveness of Raw Anger and Hatred

Darren Redding was angry.  Not just the right amount of angry, but really angry, and he decided to let the target of his anger know about it. The target was CopBlock, and so he left his message at their Facebook page:

Your page is pathetic and offensive. The pictures you post and the comments you make seem like you’re trying to incriminate and deface ALL police officers, when 99% of them are great at what they do, it’s the 1% you should be posting about, not the vast majority you pathetic, ignorant, liberal pussy.

You’re just like all the liberals striving for gun control because the actions of a few, insane individuals are fucking it up for the other 99% of gun owners who are responsible with their weapons.

Or let me put it into perspective for a drug using, liberal, hippy pussy like yourself: 99% of people who smoke pot do it responsibly and safely, but 1% of the people who use participate in violent crime, or crash their cars when theyre high and kill others or themselves, but I don’t see you posting about how ALL pot smokers should be punished.

If you were a law abiding citizen you wouldn’t have any problem with 5-0, but something tells me you were probably being a jackass towards a police officer and you got what was coming to you, and that inspired you to make a page giving a bad name to all law enforcement.

You might as well bad mouth the military and veterans like myself because of those marine scout snipers that pissed on some dead Taliban a few years back. According to your logic that means ALL active duty and veterans are heinous heathens right?

You’re a fucking bitch and I hope some cop beats your ass next time you’re “protesting” or filming them or whatever. In fact I’m about to start the training academy for the washoe county sheriffs dept in reno, Nevada and I can’t wait to deal with punk ass bitches like you. I would beat your fucking liberal ass just for the sheer joy of it.

Suck my fucking dick you waste of breathable air, you should have been aborted. But I guess your mother was a dumb ass waste of life like you. You’re the reason that there’s no hope for the human race, I can’t believe people like you exist, if I had my way, there would be another holocaust with camps and gas chambers full of fucking cunt scabs like you.

I hope you die

Redding isn’t a cop. At least not yet. But he was studying to become a cop for the Washoe, Nevada, Sheriff’s Department.  Given the direction he chose for himself, his affinity for, and concern about, the way a site like CopBlock viewed police misconduct is understandable.

But did he persuade you?  As Tim Cushing writes at Techdirt:

What’s amazing about Redding’s post is the sheer amount of violent imagery deployed. Not content to merely “beat” members’ “liberal asses,” Redding escalates it into Godwin Territory by wishing a “holocaust with camps and gas chambers” on Cop Block’s 90,000+ fans and members.

No matter how well Redding thinks of himself, his argument, his point, this rant makes clear that he is neither psychologically nor intellectually suited for service in law enforcement. If he can’t keep his cool on Facebook, then the stressors on the street don’t bode well for a career of protecting and serving.

This is the guy who will shoot the first yapping dog he sees, or snap at the kid who doesn’t bow to his authority. The time bomb already went off, and he’s not even a cop yet.  No, he has no future as a police officer.

Before you pat yourselves on the back for not being Redding, consider whether that’s as accurate as you want to believe.  Reading all the comments submitted here, including the many that never get posted for others to see, I know how many readers share Redding’s anger. I know how many of you think the solution to the problems of police and prosecutorial misconduct is to pick up a gun and show them that you won’t take it.

All cops are criminals.

All cops suck.

If a cop ever tries to do that to me, he better have his vest on because I’m coming out shooting.

They’re armed thugs, and they deserve to be treated like the scum they are.

And worse. Then there is your own Goodwin territory, where the police, prosecutors and judges are compared and contrasted with Nazis, the Holocaust and fascism.  No, you won’t see such comments on the pages here, because I won’t allow it. Nor will you see backlinks to hate websites that suggest such an approach, because I won’t allow it.

First, these “beliefs” aren’t true. No, I am not interested in a debate on this point, and won’t allow it to happen here. These are ignorant, simplistic beliefs. There are bad cops. There are good cops. There are cops who are good at one moment, bad the next, then good again. Reductio ad absurdum doesn’t fly here, because it makes people stupider.

But frankly, it’s neither my place nor business to tell you what to think. If you want to be simplistic and ignorant, then do what you have to do.  Not here, but whatever.  However, you should give whatever limited thought you are capable of to this:

To the extent we can make any headway breaking through the wall of the “us versus them” attitude of police, the “end justifies the means” attitude of prosecutors, the “go with the odds, and the odds favor the cops” attitude of judges through the use of reasoned argument and evidence, particularly given the ubiquitousness of  videos that hadn’t been available to make the case until recently, you mindless, knee-jerk, simplistic haters ruin it.

Just as Redding’s rant not only failed to convince anyone of anything, but instead confirmed antagonists’ belief that people like Redding are dangerous nutjobs, the same happens when you do it.  Those who can be persuaded to see the precipice of misconduct and abuse are scared away from the edge, run back to the safety and comfort of their norm, and leave not only unpersuaded, but confirmed in the belief that those complaining of abuse and misconduct are just a bunch of angry, hate-filled, ignorant, simplistic malcontents.

Is that what you hope to accomplish?  If not, then don’t be like Redding. You’re no more persuasive than he is.

29 comments on “The Persuasiveness of Raw Anger and Hatred

  1. william doriss

    Not one of your better essays: C-.
    However, you tried.
    It’s not easy being sleazy.
    I still like my rubber bullet solution.

  2. pj_cryptostorm

    The whole thing is ironic at a deep structural level, given the funding source for CopBlock. Only in America…

    As to the rest of it, well… when people are paid to act as avatars of society, and asked to uphold the highest standards of fairness and justice, and indeed sworn to do exactly that as part of their job – when that’s the case, it’s not unreasonable to have somewhat high standards for them. “Unreasonable” might be argued either way, but a prosecutor who is entrusted with the enormous power of her position fails us as a society deeply and profoundly when she abuses it. A cop who uses her monopoly on violence to beat and persecute those she doesn’t like is a genuine monster, and deserves to be called that.

    These people are voluntarily stepping forth to be held to high standards. Rebuke when they fail should go beyond more than a sternly-worded letter to the editor, and perhaps an e-petition calling for “change.”

    Saying such isn’t condoning violence, nor engaging in gratuitous partisanship. It’s speaking a truth about how we, as democratic citizens, organise our social lives. When that part of the organisation breaks down – as it does with corrupt cops, prosecutors, and judges – we must confront it with the righteous indignation befitting such a severe problem.

    We must also do so with compassion and the right-though of genuine desire to find healthy solutions – not merely fanning raging flames. But compassion and indignation are not two ends of some dichotomic spectrum, in formal terms. The can, and often are, congruent. See also: Mandela.

    Nobody pays small-time weed dealers to be exemplars of professionalism, probity, honesty, and fair-mindedness – and we’re not astonished if, from time to time, they act the proverbial fools. It happens. Civilization does not fall as a result. They are not entrusted with our most volatile levels of trust and responsibility. It’s just a weed transaction, after all.

    A cop with an arsenal of guns at her disposal, or a prosecutor with the planet’s most viciously effective prison industrial complex at her beck and call… these people are held to high standards. When they fail, they fail us deeply. This is not equivalent to a weed dealer bunking us with bad product. At all.

    Does it play well on daytime TeeVee? Dunno, can’t speak to that. I do know that not many substantive social transitions have been initiated via equivalent channels as that. It takes more than sternly-worded rebukes to change the world. Saying so doesn’t equate to cheerleading anarchist violence, whether Fox News wants to sink the roots of that PR spin, or not.

    Anger doesn’t mollify anger, of course. But neither does meek acquiescence. Perhaps a third way is in order…

    ps: it’s an oddly American believe that criticising police misconduct – even in harsh terms – makes one somehow a violence-mongering, unreasonable buffoon; in, say, Canada, it is mainstream to react with deep contempt when cops go bad. We consider it, perhaps, an obligation to take such matters seriously & not fob them off as mere detritus from an otherwise-effective system of social repression. We see them as signals of violence running rampant, and are deeply disquieted by it. Or at least that’s how we present, in polite company – it’s the thing to do. In America, that’s tantamount to being a “cop-hating firebrand,” apparently. Such an odd relationship to violence, in that land: “violence is as American as cherry pie,” a revolutionary American dissident once said. He spoke true – and look where that got him, eh?

    1. SHG Post author

      Rationalizing why we’re entitled to latitude while the other team isn’t always makes us feel better. The other team does the same thing. And so everybody remains in their corners, certain of their self-righteousness and the disingenuousness and impropriety of the other team. And nobody is saved.

      1. pj_cryptostorm

        Well, perhaps I betray my roots, but I don’t see opposing “teams” here seeking to “win” against an opponent. Rather, I see society, or societies, as they grapple with difficult questions in a turbulent world.

        As primates, we do tend to see the world in binary terms: us and them, black and white. Levi-Strauss got that right, surely. It’s tempting… but does it lead us to a healthy social framework?

        Once we reify “teams” of “opponents,” we’ve already wandered from the path. I’ll put my maple leaf away now, as it’s showing in a most unseemly way.

  3. pj_cryptostorm

    Gah, my typos make my eyes hurt. I blame weeks of chilly temps, for they have numbed my fingers and left the kiss of frostbite on my pads!

    Apologies for the shoddy copyediting; it’s unbefitting of this blog’s standards for linguistic precision.

  4. Jake DiMare

    Deeply ironic considering the founders are dyed in the wool liberatarians. I once interviewed Pete Eyre for a piece that never ran on the Good Men Project. He comes out of the Cato Institute and Koch Brothers.

    However, this part:

    “You might as well bad mouth the military and veterans like myself because of those marine scout snipers that pissed on some dead Taliban a few years back.”

    I’ve been waiting for this…Which I will call “Lone Survivor Backlash”. If you haven’t seen the movie yet I wouldn’t waste my money. Among the more absurd suggestions it contained is a group of Navy Seals would argue about and then vote on whether to let civilian non-combatants loose after they stumbled across them on an operation.

    The hero’s argument? We have to let them go, otherwise pussy liberal scum in the media will ruin our lives back home in the states.

      1. Jake DiMare

        Well, for one thing…Sorry for reiterating PJ’s point about the roots of CopBlock. Hadn’t read the other comments before putting my tinfoil hat on. On rereading the entire post and other comments I’ve determined I have nothing of value to share and probably shouldn’t have commented in the first place.

  5. Bruce Godfrey

    Maybe I am a naive gen-Xer who watched too much Sesame Street growing up when I should have been listening to some of my bitter-ender relatives who would shock Archie Bunker. But a better society would find it easier to say “us” and “we” more often.

    When police do a bust, some of us are busting some of us – whether it’s a “righteous bust” or a dirty one . When black people are searched for the crime of “ambulating while black on my side of the street”, some of us are inflicting an humiliating injustice on some of us. Some of us are in prison. Some of us suffer from PTSD for what we went through on the police force or in the military (or in other contexts.) Some of us constitute violent threats and need to be stopped before we hurt others of us. Most of us are decent and we are strong enough to deal with those of us who aren’t.

    You don’t have to be a “commie pinko” to say this. You just have to be naive enough to have taken seriously the “one nation….indivisible” language that you probably mouthed for 12 years in school at the beginning of the day. Okay, and naive. Even if the country just went a week trying to talk this way, I think it would help, if only a week’s cessation of the extremes of divisive rhetoric from hate media.

  6. ShelbyC

    Darren Reddin denies making the post, and denies that he is planning to become a deputy. The Washoe Sheriff’s department denies that Reddin has any affiliation with them. Not sure how credible the denials are, but they may be worth mentioning.

    1. SHG Post author

      No clue either, but it’s not relevant to the point here. Even if this was a wholesale fabrication, it serves as the vehicle for the message.

  7. Bruce Coulson

    Certainly, telling your opposition (not opponent) that they are terrible human beings who deserve the worst is unlikely to change either their opinions or their actions. The problem is locating those who might actually be persuaded by rational discourse. The hardest thing for any bureaucracy (and most people) is to admit that they might possibly have been mistaken. Bureaucracies in particular hold onto the myth that if they are seen as fallible, they will be disregarded, they will lose power and respect. In many cases, they alter their behavior solely because of outside force, not due to internal review of their prior actions. The anger at having your concerns dismissed as irrelevant is understandable, if unproductive.

    1. SHG Post author

      The problem is locating those who might actually be persuaded by rational discourse.

      First, no one gets “located.” People choose to come here and read or not.

      Second, those who decide to read something here decide for themselves whether the content is worth their time.

      Third, those who decide whether the content is worth their time also consider whether the “community” that has grown around the content is comprised of people who are thoughtful or are psycho haters.

      Fourth, if they are people who are susceptible to being persuaded by rational discourse, then they will be. If not, then there is nothing that can be done about them.

      Fifth, if the people who are susceptible to being persuaded by rational discourse are scared away by the belief that the content appeals to, and perhaps is intended for, psycho haters, they will neither be persuaded nor willing to spend their time reading the content.

      And finally, sixth, please don’t use the phrase, “the problem is…” again. It makes me nuts.

      1. Brett Middleton

        So, the guy who banged on my door one day and told me to get my cybernetic tail over here wasn’t sent by you to locate me? Darn. I felt like such a special snowflake that day. Though I may be misremembering that incident, come to think of it, coming from a long line of dope fiends.

        Anyway, on your third point, I try very hard not to judge the content of a site by the community that has grown up around it. I try to remember that there isn’t a single idea so noble or holy that it hasn’t attracted its share of undesirable adherents. I’m always free to ponder any content I find worth pondering and ignore any associated community that I find unworthy.

        1. SHG Post author

          You raise a difficult point. There are some sites I like, but the nature of the people who comment that are, frankly, unbearably idiotic. This troubles me, because I think the content is good and I don’t understand why there isn’t a single intelligent comment.

          The problem, based on my experience here, is that if you don’t police the comments, they will devolve to the lowest common denominator. On the internet, that tends to be awfully low. And it tells me that the site owner has chosen to allow, or at least not prevent, the comments to fall into the toilet, which makes me wonder who they’re writing for and why.

          This one of the reasons Above The Law took its comments private, as readers were leaving in droves because the comments ranged from idiotic to patently offensive. The comments reflect the level of the place, and if the comments suck, it says something about the content.

          1. Bill

            “There are some sites I like, but the nature of the people who comment that are, frankly, unbearably idiotic.”

            ( cough [...] cough)

            1. Bill

              Fair enough.
              May I observe, though, that blogs and other sites that collect stories about cops who misbehave/are too agressive/who neglect civil rights often have comment streams that cast the whole site in a bad light? (yours, being well-moderated, is not one of these.)

            2. SHG Post author

              Absolutely. It’s an “occupational hazard,” if you will. I make the effort not to allow it here. Others do not. Some care. Others do not. Some are concerned that the comments do not reflect the sensibilities of the blog. Others do not. And sometimes, the nutjob comment streams are very much a desired reflection of the blog. To each his own.

  8. James

    Either through choice or circumstance you’ll find yourself in the company you’re meant to keep. Slap-fighting on facebook is a clear indicator Mr. Redding has found his proper home, whether he realizes it or not. His choice to play ‘net-cop may be the end of his policing career… or have him fast-tracked for rank. Time will tell.

  9. Bleeding Heart Liberal

    If, as Darren Redding wrote, “1% of the people who use [pot] participate in violent crime, or crash their cars when they’re high and kill others or themselves” then it seems to me that violence and motor vehicle collisions could be drastically reduced if only more people used marijuana.

    I do applaud his proper use of “their” and “they’re.” He’s obviously a very literate, well educated, though severely misguided and angry individual.

    1. SHG Post author

      Yeah, yeah. Make one “they’re” mistake and they call you stinky forever. Sheesh, I got the message.

  10. EA

    I understand the concerns of libertarians when it comes to policing, but let’s not pretend that CopBlock is some kind of bastion of rational libertarian criticism like Radley Balko at the Post or on Reason.com.

    The founder of CopBlock , Ademo Freeman (not his real name), recently did an AMA (interview) on reddit. It basically revealed that he is:

    a) a sovereign citizen

    b) has multiple felony marijuana arrests

    c) thinks that in lieu of police being a government agency, everyone should hire their own armed protection force (if that’s not a recipe for anarchy, I don’t know what is)

    So it’s not like this guy ranting is the only one who is failing to engage in rational discourse. Nor are his targets educated, reasonable intellectuals like you. Is it constructive to rant at such people online? No. But it is not like constructive dialogue is going to have any positive outcome either.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’re mixing apples and Fords. Had Adeemo gone to a cop blog and ranted they should die in the gas chamber, I would have written the same thing about him. But he didn’t.

Comments are closed.