Old Houses and Bad Cops
Imagine you live in an old house. I dunno, let’s say it was built in the 1800’s by a bunch of white nationalists, just for the sake of conversation. And let’s say that you haven’t had any problems with this house in the whole time you’ve lived there.
But one day, you notice a scorch mark in the basement. And now that you see it, you realize there are some similar scorch marks elsewhere in the house. And one day, you’re in the kitchen and an electrical socket explodes. You’re okay, but suddenly all the hair on your arm is burned off, and you’re missing an eyebrow.
You call an electrician. The wiring in your house must be stripped and replaced. All of it.
“But there were only a few incidents here or there.”
Only a few incidents that you saw. There’s potentially a lot more damage behind your walls.
“Why can’t we just remove the problematic wiring when it acts up?
It’s been acting up for years, and you haven’t done that. Now you’re at a point where too much of the wiring has gone bad.
“Do we really have to do the whole house?”
You don’t have to do it all at once, but the problem isn’t going to go away. We can go room-by-room, but it will take longer and cost more in the long-run.
“But some of the wiring is still good, right?”
Listen, that good wiring is going to get caught in this crossfire. It didn’t ask to be a part of a system full of aging and faulty wiring. It didn’t ask to be installed by a bunch of white nationalists. But you can’t strip only the bad wiring out, when it’s connected to all the good wiring. You’re gonna get both.
“Wait a minute, are you saying that everyone who’s lived in this house, every repairman who’s ever worked on it, is a white nationalist?”
No. I mean, maybe they were? We aren’t trying to make accusations here, but we know for a fact that the original people who built this house definitely were white nationalists, and that causes some concern. Even the good wiring might have subtle problems that you can’t see.
“So you are blaming the good wiring! Do you have any idea how much training it’s gone through? How dangerous its job is? We should be praising it, not tearing it out!”
Listen, I’m not sure how thin I can stretch this convention of establishing a metaphor and then slowly breaking the fourth wall as the point I’m trying to make expands past the metaphor I built. I just did this same thing a few weeks ago with JK Rowling and cell phones, and I don’t want my shtick to get boring. But there are inherent, systemic problems in the system of law enforcement that currently exists in the United States. Fixing it is going to be painful for a lot of people who think they’re good cops. It’s not their fault, but they aren’t owed their profession of choice by society. The civilians they have sworn to serve, however, are owed their basic civil rights, and the ability to go about daily life without fear that one speeding ticket, one jog through their neighborhood, one unfortunate misunderstanding with a police officer, might be all it takes to end that life.
If you love a police officer, or if you are a police officer, that doesn’t make you a bad person. But it doesn’t automatically make you a good person either. When the service industry collapsed earlier this year, a lot of good servicepeople lost their jobs. We all understood that this is a big shame, but it’s what has to happen.
Something has to happen to our law enforcement system. We’re one bad fuse away from burning the entire house down.