I’m feeling a little frustrated over this malarkey. I try to keep silent about it, personally, but when asked, I try to give my opinions in ways that those who think differently will clearly understand without getting passionately defiant. Since I can’t guarantee that happening… I usually just stay quiet. I actually think it’s more of my job in society to do that, anyway. Racially-speaking, I’m in the majority demographic. I am not being hurt by people’s actions who are advocating over whose “lives matter”. I am not being targeted by anyone, frankly. So, the best thing I can do… is just listen.
But I am a white, cis male. And I 100% support #Black Lives Matter.
Now, if you’re the kind of person that wants to step up and immediately say, “ALL lives matter!” Guess what? You’re a fucking moron. Shut up and listen to someone other than yourself. If you want to know why you’re a moron… pay attention, because this will apply to you.
But the reason I’m writing this, is that one my absolute best friends in the world, posted a picture of a police officer, sitting in his car, with sunglasses on, and that stoic, stone-faced expression that all cops seem to be taught to give an air of intimidation and authority. (I really believe that is taught, and now it’s reflex that they always look like that.) But he was holding up a small sign that says “Police Lives Matter”.
The more popular expression has been “Blue Lives Matter”, but we all know it’s the same damn thing. In the last week, there have been some shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, in particular, that have been targeting police officers. Now, the Black Lives Matter movement is being countered with “Blue Lives Matter” and the continuing “All Lives Matter”.
Now, I don’t want to say anything to this person, one of my absolute best friends in the world, about the folly of this argument. Because they have police officers in their family. They personally know the whole town police force, and consider them close friends. To hear that police officers are being attacked is a scary thing, because it sounds like these people are coming after their loved ones, their good friends… maybe even them. So to start to disagree with them on that, by instinct all they hear in their head is, “Blue lives DON’T matter? You want my friends to die, you want my family to die? You want my FATHER to die???”
Of course, that is not the case. I know their father, and he’s a sweet guy… his stories of his young days on the force (in this small, New England town) are hilarious to hear. He’s caring, he’s personable, he’s funny, and I’m proud to know him, and have been proud to help the family in the ways I’ve been able to over the years. Even if I didn’t know him, or any of them… I don’t want anyone to die. Life is a beautiful thing, the loss of it in any form is a tragic thing.
Yes, it’s because “all lives matter”. That’s fucking obvious. No one would dare say otherwise, if you asked them in sober, polite company, if you asked them on record, or if you asked them on TV.
But that’s not what “Black Live Matter” is about. And it certainly isn’t what "Blue Lives Matter" is about.
Let’s look at some statistics. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, this is the number of on-duty deaths in the 21st Century:
2000: 162 2008: 149
2001: 241 2009: 125
2002: 159 2010: 161
2003: 150 2011: 171
2004: 165 2012: 131
2005: 163 2013: 109
2006: 156 2014: 122
2007: 192 2015: 123
This is ALL deaths. Including accidents and illnesses. You’ll notice that 2001 had a big jump. Most likely due to New York. If you need reminding what happened in NY in 2001, you shouldn’t be reading this blog.
There are plenty of articles that remove the stats for accidents, illnesses, and 9/11… and simply look at the officers who were shot, stabbed, assaulted, and bombed to death, on duty. This one article, breaks it down by Presidential Administration (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/09/police-are-safer-under-obama-than-they-have-been-in-decades/):
During the Reagan years, an average of 101 officers per year lost their lives this way. During the H.W. Bush years, it was 90 per year. During Clinton, 81. George W. Bush, 72 per year. And during Obama’s administration? The one in the here and now? 62 officers per year. Police officers are safer now than they were in 1980.
Now keep in mind these numbers… because in 2008 (the most recent number I could find for this), there were about 1.13 MILLION police officers in the United States. 1.13 million officers… and only 62 died by outside violence? A tragedy for 62 families, but a dream for the bureau of labor statistics.
This year, surely will see a rise in the numbers… so next January, when you hear that 2016 has a 30% (or whatever) rise in police fatalities due to shooting… that sounds like a big jump. But not when you’re dealing with such low numbers in the first place. One mass televised incident will account for at least 10%, alone.
There is no reason for cops to be afraid. It only sounds like it because we’re hearing about these particular incidents more. Information now spreads faster than the weather… it crosses the country faster than the speed of sound… so shootings are only being reported on the news, more. Does this mean Blue Lives don’t matter? Of course not. 62 deaths is still 62 tragedies. 62 weeping families, and 62 special interest stories on the local news.
But why… when it is safer than any other point in modern history to be a police officer, are they JUST NOW saying “Blue Lives Matter”. Why not say it in 1980?
They’re saying it BECAUSE of “Black Lives Matter”.
And this is what gets to the confusion over what that actually means. So, to try and help clear it up for those that don’t know… I ask a question.
“Who is your audience?”
I ask this same question of my students, often, when I teach Composition, where the ultimate project is write an argumentative paper and defend their assertion on whatever subject they’re writing about.
Who are you trying to say this to? Who are you trying to get the message to? Who are you trying to convince of this argument? Because who you are talking to makes a difference in how you say it, and what you say.
You can’t say, “Everyone!” Because that means nothing. You have to be specific, or you’re just shouting to the air. You have to have a purpose in what you say, or it will never be heard by those who do need to hear it.
So, who does not seem to understand that “Blue Lives Matter”? I couldn’t really tell you. Psychopathic criminals, I guess, but they were going to think that no matter what your tagline is.
Who does not understand the idea that “All Lives Matter?” Those who are openly racist, certainly. But again, they already thought that, and yet still wouldn’t be dumb enough to say it on TV.
Who is the audience for “Black Lives Matter”? Well, that’s an easier answer:
The Judicial and Law Enforcement Systems of the United States.
That is the audience that has clearly demonstrated, over many decades of history in this country, that it is a little fuzzy on that concept. Black Americans are 13% of the population, but they account for over 26% of people killed by police. That is a statistic that brings up a lot of other questions for another time, certainly. But Blacks are also far more likely to be convicted for a crime than whites.
It is the system as a whole that needs this message. The reason we’re all seeing it on the news, is because to get the message to the whole system, you have to say it loud and visibly enough so that everyone that is encompassed under that system will end up hearing it, too.
Does the Judicial and Law Enforcement systems of America believe that “Blue Lives” don’t matter? Of course not. If a gunman kills 3 people, and goes to trial… he’ll get his 90 years in prison, or whatever. But if one of those victims was a cop? 200 years in prison, throw him in maximum security, no chance of parole, and send him to hell! “Cop Killers” get a special breed of treatment in the system, because the whole police system “looks out for their own”.
It is abundantly clear, to the entire Judicial and Law Enforcement System, that Blue Lives Matter. Frankly, they seem to matter more than most. Do you want proof that Blue Lives Matter?
The ones who killed the cops in Baton Rouge and Dallas… are dead. They were dealt swift justice, and the perpetrator was taken down.
But the killers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Eric Harris, Freddie Gray, Philandro Castille, and Alton Sterling were given paid vacations, and walking free.
The cops that killed Eric Garner, the man who had his hands up, had no weapons, was not resisting, and put in a chokehold… is audibly heard saying, “I can’t breathe”, and they continue their assault. This was on video, clear as crystal, plain as day.
But when it came time to prosecute… the District Attorney that was “trying” (note the quotes) to do so… wasn’t able to get an indictment.
Wasn’t. Able. On video tape, that the world has seen.
Now, I listened to many legal pundits in the aftermath talk about their surprise at that. They all mentioned, very clearly, that if a district attorney really wants an indictment (which is not a verdict… just means it actually goes to trial), then they will, indeed GET an indictment. So, the only reason this D.A. didn’t get an indictment, is because he didn’t want to.
There’s a reason that people are angry. And they have every right to be. They’re also fucking terrified. Again, because they have every right to be.
Now, yes… the bad cops that killed those people are not reflective of every police officer. That would be silly to suggest. But what doesn’t help is that the “good” cops in the world, are not calling the bad ones out. As a teacher, if I hear about another teacher doing something bad… like sleeping with a student, or getting them kicked out for stupid, arbitrary reasons… I will absolutely say, “That’s a bad teacher.” If they’re in my school, and my feedback can, in any way, have an impact… I will do what I can, to get that teacher fired, because I do not want such a horrible person in my school.
But cops will not call out their own. They will not say, “yes, they murdered those people”. They won’t ever say, “they need to be taken off the force, and thrown in prison for life.” No, it’s always excuses: “Well, there’s angles you can’t see…”, “It’s tough to say, because in the heat of the moment…”, “Well, we weren’t actually there, so we don’t know what really happened…”
Bullshit. We see exactly what happened. These instances are ON VIDEO. And not some fuzzy VHS image from across a dark highway a la Rodney King. These are full HD, up close videos. Those people were murdered. If another police officer can’t stop and at least say, “Yeah, this doesn’t look good”… then it’s not exactly surprising that people will think THAT police officer is a bad one, too. Because they show no desire to get rid of the bad elements in their force.
When people make generalizations that “all cops are bad”… yes, it is erroneous, but it’s perfectly understandable why they think so. It’s because the good ones are doing nothing to stop the bad ones. The Blue Lives clearly believe they are more important than Black Lives.
So, when you hear “Black Lives Matter”, and jump up to say “ALL lives matter” or “Blue Lives Matter!” All you’re really doing is engaging in a silencing technique. You are trying to usurp the conversation. You are minimizing what our Black Americans have to deal with every day in this country, just because you don’t want to hear about it. You’re not actually being “better” by saying “All lives matter”, or “Blue Lives Matter”, you’re just being a bully. You’re just ignoring what is actually happening, and you are perpetrating the violence and bigotry that has been going on for decades.
And you are exactly the person that should be hearing the message of “Black Lives Matter”.