Harm? Not Here (Update)

Whether it’s proof of entropy (which isn’t what it used to be) or a variation of Godwin’s Law, SJ has been inundated of late with comments by non-lawyers urging that people “kill the armed thugs,” or some similar sentiment suggesting that harm be done to police officers.  You, dear readers, wouldn’t know this because I delete the comments and, most of the time, ban the commenter. But I see it, and the problem has grown bad enough, large enough, disturbing enough, that I feel compelled to write about it.


First, the idea of promoting rank hatred and harm is anathema to what I hope to accomplish. If there is a goal here, it is to illuminate.  Sure, there are many posts here that address police abuse and misconduct, but the purpose is to let people know that it’s happening in order to illuminate the problem and, hopefully, change attitudes so that such conduct will not be tolerated.

But harm cops?  Harm anyone? Never. The solution is no more doing harm than the answer to murder is to execute people. 

Cops are people. Some cops do some pretty awful things, and like any other person, should be held to suffer the consequences of their wrongs.  But not all cops are evil, and not even the cop who does something wrong, even something terribly wrong, is necessarily a monster. He could well be the same cop who saves a life one day, then violates someone’s constitutional rights the day after.

People aren’t one dimensional, all good or all evil. That’s true of defendants. It’s also true of cops. It’s true of everyone, and the inability to realize the absurdity of characterizing a human being as a unidimensional entity, with people who love him, with better and worse days, with a bad attitude and good intentions, is inexcusable.  It’s wrong when a cop does it. It’s wrong when a prosecutor does it. It’s wrong when you do it too.

Your simplistic outburst, your anger and frustration, may be understandable, but it will not be tolerated here. No comment urging harm to anyone, cop or otherwise, will see the light of day at SJ.

Bear in mind, this is my soapbox, not yours. You think you’re right? You think you’re a bold visionary, with the solution to society’s problems?  That’s fabulous. Start a blog of your own and write anything you please.  I’m a huge free speech advocate, and fully support your right to express whatever stupidity strikes your fancy.  But you have no free speech rights here. This is my home, and I will not allow insanity to be spewed.

The internet is a huge place, perhaps without limits provided government and lawprofs don’t fix the place to make sure everybody is happy.  No doubt you will find others who share your views and will cheer you on. There is a dark corner for almost everyone, and if you can’t find anyone who believes as you do on the internet, then you win the prize for being the singular freakiest human being ever.

But that doesn’t make your anger and hatred right. It makes you nuts, and the hallelujah chorus you hear behind you just as nuts, if only a bit dumber.  The only thing violence begets is more violence, despite whatever bone in your head fails to connect to reality.  Calling for harm to be done to anyone, especially cops, is dangerous, counter-productive and, most importantly, the wrong answer. 

We need police.  There are some bad dudes out there who will harm you and harm your children. Regardless of how you feel about the bad dudes, you really don’t want them doing you or your kids harm.  And though you might question the efficacy of the police with some excellent justification, they still do the things that either protect us from the bad dudes or keep the bad dudes in check.  Not always. Not always well. But they’re all we have, and we would be worse off without them much of the time.

And then, every once in a while, a cop does something truly heroic and selfless for another person.  Never forget that this happens.

So the bottom line is that while I am happy to have anyone interested in anything that appears at SJ read and, perhaps, think more deeply about the issues raised here, this isn’t a blog dedicated to hatred, violence and harm. There are many other places where your views will be embraced, but not here.

Stop it. Don’t do it. I will not tolerate it. There will be no mention, ever, of harming anyone allowed in the comments at SJ.  And if you were half as smart and sane as you think you are, you would never want to write such a thing in the first place. 

Update:  A post at  WindyPundit provides an excellent complement to the point that the bad cop can do good and the good cop can do bad. As Mark says, “[t]here’s no contradiction here.”

25 thoughts on “Harm? Not Here (Update)

  1. Chris Campbell

    Well said. As a non-lawyer, I’ve had some positive experiences with cops, as well as some negative ones. I’ve gotten out of tickets because I was nice and polite to them.

    We’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

    Murdering police officers is a good way to end up on death row.

  2. SHG

    Little known fact, you catch more flies with vinegar than honey, but even more with excrement. Otherwise, yeah.

  3. ExCop-LawStudent

    Thanks for writing this.

    I’ve seen it on numerous blogs and deplore it. The idea that taking a human life is an acceptable answer for a police officer’s non-lethal misconduct is repugnant to civilized people.

    Punish the officer for crimes he or she commits, using the same standards that apply to everyone else. If they have not committed a crime but have violated policy and should no longer be trusted to be an officer, fire them.

    But killing them? It’s not acceptable, no matter what garbage has been posted on the internet supporting it.

    Keep up the good work Scott.

  4. ppnl

    Maybe someone should tell these people that they would fit in pretty well with the worst of the cops.

  5. SHG

    I suspect people who write such nonsense have no intention of doing any harm, but just use it to vent on the internet in some cathartic fantasy fashion. But you never know when someone is crazy enough to buy into it. Regardless, it has no place.

  6. Frank

    It’s a reaction to the perception that police are not punished, or punished insufficiently for their misdeeds. Cops get a dozen bites at the apple when they should have been fired or jailed after two and for acts that would get a non officer in serious trouble. It takes video evidence to get a cop fired or jailed these days and sometimes even then the judge ignores it.

    Leading to the justified feeling that there is a two-tiered justice system, that police are in the upper tier, and the peasants can just suck it. And the police act like the can do whatever they want without fear of discipline. Not exactly winning hearts and minds here, are we? That’s where these calls come from, an effort to make bad/dirty cops feel the pain they are currently shielded from by union contract and indemnity. Not saying it’s right, but it is understandable.

    What happened in Omaha after the blue gang home invasion a few months back should be the action of every department every. damn. time. No wishy-washy “an investigation is proceeding” but an instant removal and forwarding to the DA for prosecution. Get these mental midgets out of uniform before they kill someone.

    Taxpayers and insurance companies should also stop footing the bill for police canine fornications as well. In this I believe in group punishment. A lawsuit that goes against an officer or department will be paid half from the department pension fund, half from direct garnishment of all officers from the chiefs down. Don’t like it? Clean your own house or find another line of work. I hear Arby’s is hiring.

  7. John Neff

    I am sorry to hear that you have to deal with vituperative bombast about police behaviour. OTOH there should be some type of qualified impartial independent local oversight of the police.

    We know from experience that the police-citizen review boards do not provide that type of oversight.

    It appears to me that what happens today is if there a horrific violation of a persons civil rights they can sue in civil court at their expense. That is not an effective remedy.

    There is suppose to be local command and control of the police but it appears to be non-existent or non-functional. I have proposed that we have a jail population review board using foster-care review boards as a model. Maybe a similar county law enforcement review board might make a difference.

  8. Honest Ahab

    There is no doubt that being a cop is generally one really tough job, as the nature of the job often tends to, IMO, accentuate the worst characteristics of the human condition. In the course of their work, cops see the foulest people and things our society has to offer – again and again and again. This necessarily must have an effect on even the strongest of souls. And for those cops with less than strong souls, the corrosive damage to their moral compasses can become real and visible . . .

    But a cop’s duty to society is such that that he or she must not be allowed to operate with a corroded soul or a broken moral compass and all that implies –believing the ends justifying the means, lacking in compassion and humanity, and coming to accept as true that they, themselves, are untouchable and above the very laws they seek to enforce . . .

    It’s a job I would never want for myself but policing is a necessary and fundamental function of a civilized society. And for those who choose to pursue such a vital and privileged occupation, I assert as a self-evident truth that they must be held a HIGHER, not LOWER, standard than that to which the rest of society is measured against . . .

    You’ll never get me to say all cops are bad or that even most are, because I don’t believe that; but I do contend that that a goal of a zero defect rate in our police force, although not completely achievable, is what we as a society should relentlessly strive for . . .

  9. ExCop-LawStudent

    I’m only going to comment on part of this.

    Paying it from the department pension fund in many cases just transfers the obligation back to the taxpayer. In many jurisdictions, the pension fund is run by the state, and shortfalls have to be made up by the state.

    On the second part, the garnishment of all officers’ pay? It is likely an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

    You also have to look at the unintended consequences of such proposals. If officers are personally liable for the damages of others, they will change the way they respond. If their pay is garnished due to a finding of liability, they might respond by slowing down and responding to emergency calls without lights and sirens, obeying all traffic laws. Is that what you want if there is an active shooter in a school?

    Your suggestion is not the answer.

  10. John Neff

    And the reason that is the case is because nobody was watching what they were doing. When you turn on the lights the roaches run and hide.

  11. SHG

    I think Frank’s point is that the incentives run contrary to what they should to make police want to clean up their own house, in which case his point is on target.  While the mechanisms need significant work, the concept has merit.

  12. SHG

    Zero defects should always be the goal. We’re quite a distance from there, and I’m while I’m disinclined to call all cops bad, I reluctant to use the required police caveat either. Between the cops that do wrong, and the cops who stay silent about it, there is plenty of mess to clean up before we worry about zero defects.

  13. Honest Ahab

    You know what Greenfield, you’ve made a great argument there that changes my thinking on this topic . . .

    Because yes, if silence by one cop regarding the bad acts of fellow officers is equated to or per se proof of the silent cop being a bad cop himself or herself, then I hereby proclaim that most cops are indeed bad cops . . .

    Silence is NOT golden, or even acceptable in this particular instance . . .

  14. Honest Ahab

    Well, SHG, let’s not get to full of ourselves here, because I’ve been called an easy Mark before . . .

    As well as an easy Luke, an easy Matthew, an easy John, an easy Paul, an easy George, an easy Ringo, and an easy Rider, for what it’s worth . . .

    To say the least, I’m easy . . .

  15. ExCop-LawStudent

    I don’t disagree with cleaning up their own house, but I’ve seen a lot of people on other blogs talk about going after pension funds and other, non-involved officers. I just felt that the downside should be pointed out.

  16. Marilou Auer

    A jail population review board, using foster-care review boards as a model? Can you expound on that? If you aren’t kidding, I’d like to see some more of your thoughts, I think.

  17. John Barleycorn

    Tragedy really…This modest and by all accounts accurate “vent” of a post by our esteemed host (whom is lofted securely atop his own soap box) is worthy of all this chatter.

    I have nothing to add to any of this entropic circle jerk.

    My only disappointment is just how closed the gastric galaxy of policing is.

    P.S. Policy is and always has been the P.O.L.I.C.E.

    P.S.S. In aggregate fuck the police and their current policy. I really don’t see how one could, including our esteemed host, come to any other conclusion.

    Repeatedly repeat after me.., Fuck the current policing policy in this country.

    It is not working, it’s priority is not your safety, and that doesn’t mean that all cops or even the majority of cops are assholes. Duh!?

    That also doesn’t make the statement Fuck The Police inherently absurd.

    Now for some Frank Zappa. Just to prove that our esteemed host is a “good” lawyer. Is there such a thing or does he just happen to have reasons for bad policy?


  18. SHG

    Taking advantage of my weakness for Zappa?

    The mantra “fuck the police” may make you feel better, but does it enlighten anyone, change any minds, alter the course of policy?  It’s self-indulgent, which is fine, except that it feeds the angst while making no one safer and no civil rights more secure.

  19. John Barleycorn

    Like I said fuck the current policing policy in this country, that “policy” for whatever reasons has filtered down to even the smallest of jurisdictions and departments.

    ..and court houses.

    I got no mantra, have even less desire to go out of my way to adjust three or four decades but damned if I won’t insert a few tunes that represent golden effort and IMHO still a very relevant effort and message.

    Thanks for the link pass. Weakness or not your efforts indirectly mirror Black Napkins. Lots going on there. Granted its not really a top of the morning bagel and coffee tune. But there is certainly lots of going on. What am I to do if far to many folks attempt to hear with their eyes?

    Please excuse the video if it were legal I would have posted a similar and far superior audio rendition.

    Those for “whatever reasons” are more than a few of the posts you diligently and consistently bring your texture too.

    Comments or not rest assured they are being read.

    Peace and Enjoy.

    Shuffle your feet a bit or go bare foot BEFORE you throw it in the woods.

    You have some delicious archives. Don’t get stubborn regardless of your future intentions with this space.

    And without a link. Mind you I have a link. Let your hair down once a month or so.

    Fuck um, I don’t know if you would enjoy it but I sure as hell would. Give a thousands and 😉 thousands of word lecture once a month on some of your consistent themes.

    Heck imbed it and deliver it on an audio archive even better.

    Past trespass. I am unarmed. Your castle.

    I enjoy it.

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