Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cops Are People, Too

by: Janice

On June 17, Dylann Roof walked into a church in Charleston, SC and murdered nine people. The nation was shocked, grieved, and outraged. Let’s be reasonable, though.

Dylann is a 21-year-old white male. Most 21-year-old white males are decent people. They would help an old lady cross a street or rescue a stranded kitten. Just check the statistics. So what’s the big fuss? Back off, people. Don’t be so hard on Dylann. After all, millions of 21-year-old white males would never do what he (clearly) did.

If this line of reasoning sounds absurd, callous, cruel, and unreasonable to you, I am glad. Obviously, it is written for shock value. Yet, I am grieved and angered to see so many people openly embracing this type of reasoning when it comes to law enforcement officers.

Ever since what happened in Ferguson, my social media feed has been full of posts about cops. Many, many people post general praises and support for LEOs, saying how grateful we should be for all that they do to protect and serve, to go above and beyond in the line of duty. Others share statistics about how many cops are never involved in sketchy episodes or re-post heartstring-tugging tales of blue valor. The posts that sadden me the most are the ones that belittle victims, saying that “if you would just behave, you’d never even see the cops” and concocting all manner of frightening excuses for dangerous behavior from LEOs.

Here’s the thing. Sure, lots of cops are the good guys. And criminals shouldn’t do crime. I wholeheartedly believe both of these statements. But contrary to popular opinion, believing this does not bind me to one side in a simple, two-dimensional argument. It’s not “cops versus criminals: believe in and defend one or the other.” It’s good versus evil. And the cops must be held accountable to act in line with their job description as the good guys. This is why certain behavior is never tolerable. There is never a legitimate reason for a grown man to grab a 14-year-old girl by her hair, slam her to the ground, and kneel on her back while waving a gun. It is impossible to accidentally sever a spine. Sure, most cops don’t do these things, just like most 21-year-old white males aren’t racists who murder nine people in a church. But this is irrelevant, and insensitive to wave in the faces of hurting people.

The fact is that some cops and some 21-year-old white males are criminals, and are racists, and do hurt, bully, and even kill people. Admitting this does not harm the reputations of the many who are not criminals. The many shouldn’t feel threatened by this. 21-year-old white males should not feel the need to take to the media and defend themselves, or ask for caution in the prosecution of Dylann because, after all, he is an anomaly. And good cops (and those who like cops, and those who are law abiding citizens) shouldn’t feel the need to hide or make excuses for LEO racism and violence.

And as Christians, especially, we better be incredibly careful of jumping on any bandwagon. We of all people should understand that every human is a sinner. We of all people should recognize that being a LEO doesn’t equal being righteous, because Jesus is the only one who makes people righteous, and being a cop doesn’t equal being saved. Being a Republican doesn’t equal being biblical. And supporting the prosecution of criminal LEOs does not equal embracing lawlessness and condoning criminals. We've got to stop seeing agendas and sides and opportunities to make our points or advance our causes, and see real, individual people in real, individual situations instead.

Of course ambushing and shooting cops isn’t ok. Just like ambushing and shooting any human isn’t ok. But believing criminal cops should be prosecuted is not the same as believing random cops should be ambushed and shot. Let’s have a little discernment here. And let’s acknowledge that evil exists everywhere, in the heart of every human – and even the “good guys” need to be held accountable when they choose to be bad guys.

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