The American concept of justice has fallen so far that police are no longer recognized as individuals having the volitional capacity to act with corresponding consequences; instead their crimes are treated as forces of nature or acts of god.
When ordinary people harm or kill others, it is typically viewed as what it is, regardless of whether the aggressor was acting in the course of employment. Doctors who recklessly injure patients are sued and suffer injured reputations. Taxi drivers and truckers are held to account if they drive carelessly and cause unjustified injuries. Employment aside, people who attack others without just cause are duly considered to be criminals. Most people in society are deemed negligent individuals and face appropriate recourse when they engage in heedless behavior that results in injuries to others.
Not so with the police. When police are careless, negligent, reckless, or even malicious – they are viewed as blameless, because in the United States, it has become impossible to blame the police. This makes perfect sense when you perceive that a great proportion of Americans essentially view the police as gods who can do no wrong. Just as it is not possible to cannot cast moral blame or “personal” responsibility upon nature or god, so has it become with American police.
Last week, Miami police stormed a house in a SWAT raid and injured two children, who were left bloodied and bruised. The family claims the police raided the wrong house. Police and the media claim that in the chaos of the raid, a child “ran into an officers weapons” [sic]. More here and here. Take note: the police did not create chaos by dangerously barging into the wrong house and injuring children. It was during “the chaos of the raid,” which magically appeared on its own, that a child injured himself, by running into weapons.
Last year, Miami Beach police tasered a teenager, Israel Hernandez-Llach, who died as a result. The news carefully avoided the indisputable fact that a cop killed the teenager for fleeing the scene of vandalism, and artfully suggested that the teenager died of “heart failure” from what authorities called the “energy device discharge.” Again – the cop did not shoot a taser at a teenager and kill him – it was the “energy device discharge” combined with “heart failure” that caused his untimely death.
Jose Paulino Jr. was another victim of taser-happy police recently. Upon his death, police again deflected blame from themselves, and the media dutifully parroted the excuses. David Beohm, a Pennsylvania State Police Spokesman mused, “I don’t know if he went into cardiac arrest or what happened…was he under the influence of something? What was going on with him that could create this condition?”
Allen Kephart was tasered to death over a petty traffic dispute. No criminal charges were filed against police, as Kephart’s death was attributed to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other pre-existing health conditions. (More here and here).
Several years ago, Eurie Stamps, a beloved grandfather of 12, was tragically shot by the Framingham, MA SWAT Team in a botched drug raid. Again, the statement from police at that time obfuscated any mention of individual action and personal responsibility, claiming Mr. Stamps was “fatally struck by a bullet, which was discharged from a SWAT officer’s rifle.” Who knew bullets could discharge on their own?
Similarly, when 7-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed in another botched SWAT raid, it was certainly not the case that the officer shot the child. Predictably, what happened was, “the officer’s weapon discharged one round, which….struck…Aiyana Stanley Jones in the neck/head area.” (More here). Of course. How obvious it should have been – people don’t kill people; guns send bullets flying on their own.
When it comes to reporting on most criminal activity, English grammar is pretty straightforward for the media:
Example A: The murderer[noun – a perpetrator] killed[verb – criminal activity] the child[noun – victim].
Example B: The criminal[noun – a perpetrator] tasered[verb – criminal activity] the victim[noun– victim].
Alternatively, another common usage is to use the passive voice, to emphasize that something horrific was done to the victim:
Example C: The grandfather[noun – victim] was shot[verb in passive voice – criminal activity] by the villain[noun – a perpetrator].
When it comes to police, the media exhibits a convenient and total disregard for traditional use of English. There are no direct actors, no humans to hold accountable, only inanimate objects. There are tales of bullets that discharge on their own, guns that fire for no reason, tasers that shoot themselves, and of course, multitudes of vague health conditions victims may have had which contributed to their own deaths.
This distortion of language should be transparent and abhorrent to anyone who is paying attention. Unfortunately, it seems that no one is.
If you repeat a lie enough times, people will begin to believe it. So it is with the American public. The media has repeated time and time again that police are never responsible, and never can be responsible, because they are not to be judged as individuals like the rest of us. They are of a higher order, and their actions are equivalent to forces of nature and acts of god. It’s been said enough times, and Americans now believe it.