Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Thin Blue Whine, Pt. I: Petulant Police Demand Impunity

Stand up for thuggery!
Hundreds of Portland, Oregon police officers and supporters surround City Hall during a protest march on behalf of Officer Chris Humphreys, who was placed on administrative leave (that is, paid vacation) following repeated use of unnecessary force -- including the lethal beating of a terrified and helpless 145-lb. man who suffered from schizophrenia.

Violence "is unpredictable, chaotic and thoughtless" by its nature, observed Peter Taylor in a recent op-ed column published in The Oregonian. "It doesn't like to be confined and doesn't lend itself to cooperation.... It is saddening to see the effects of violence on its victims, those who witness it and, yes, also those who wield it against others."

As the final clause in that sentence suggests, Taylor's point is not to sympathize with victims of "unpredictable, chaotic and thoughtless" violence, but rather to defend those who often employ it. Taylor is an officer with the Portland Police Bureau, and his column was intended to explain why he -- along with several hundred others -- took part in a protest march and rally outside Portland's City Hall in defense of Officer Chris Humphreys.

Along with his comrades, Officer Taylor wore a customized t-shirt containing the slogan: "I am Chris Humphreys." He used the same rallying cry to wrap up his op-ed column. And like his comrades, Taylor -- either through invincible innate ignorance, or as a result blindness induced through cult-like devotion to his professional clique (these are not mutually exclusive possibilities) -- cannot understand that this description is an indictment.

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