It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for police families in North America.
As far removed as we are in Canada, we have certainly been watching what’s happening in Ferguson, and as of today, in New York with bated breath.
Will justice prevail? What is justice? Who is right? Does anyone even care about that anymore?
I won’t speak to the specific case details, and ensuing events in Fergsuon, or those in New York. Partially because I’m not well versed on the ins and outs of the cases, but mostly because I’m a white girl from Canada, so I don’t think I have anything really enlightening to add to the already lengthy conversation.
But, as I tend to have the propensity to do, I have SOMETHING to say, and I can’t keep quiet any longer.
The backlash to police and the overly anti-police media coverage is everywhere, and it needs to stop. It is serving no one but the rating-hungry media who is perpetuating drama and unrest in its wake.
I try to avoid it as any police wife does these days. Sometimes it pops up in the most unlikely places, a Facebook friend's off-handed comment, however, like a moth to the flame, you are drawn into reading it. (Not unlike that craving you get when you smell fast-food and you think it’s a good idea until you’ve wolfed it down, only to feel slightly nauseated, depressed and certainly remorseful for your actions immediately after consumption.)
This backlash is puzzling because, while I know there are organic roots of unrest, especially it would seem in the south, I’m hard pressed to see this as less of a police issue, but more predominantly , as a by-product of a much larger race and socio-economic disparity issue. The media blitz on the ‘bad police’, and people's willingness to buy in has me confused because I’m not sure that the type of attention they are drawing.. news vans, choppers, breaking press conferences, is doing anything to REALLY ensure that the facts are being presented fairly, debated and dealt with in a way to move these larger issues forward.
I’m not sure that the attention the media is giving these trials is for the betterment of society. In fact, I liken the news vans and reporters are acting as one of ‘those’ friends. You know, those ‘friends’ your parents didn’t like you hanging around with as a teenager. Always to the side, never getting their hands dirty, but chiding you along to make reckless decisions on the basis of little to no real information, other than what they have told you to be the truth. All in an effort for cheap entertainment. So they could sit back and watch the furry unfold as they remained safely off to the side, minding their business and not getting the consequences you surely know are headed your way.
I’m also not sure whether they are reporting the ‘breaking news’ to keep the viewers informed and educated, or if rather, they are stewing up civil unrest to make for some good TV. No longer is it sufficient to get a news van to the riot shortly after it unfolds. No! Now that news van needs to be right there in the eye of the storm as it builds to a fever pitch.
I can hear you nay-sayers as I type.
That obviously the media must report on these cases to bring them to the forefront of social consciousness in order to make real, positive change.
But what has the biggest story out of Ferguson been? It certainly wasn’t the ways in which racial and socio- economic issues have been brought forward in a constructive way to be death with. No, it’s been looting. It’s been the drama and it’s been the destruction in the wake of the verdict.
And no, not all police officers act within their practice of reasonable force.
Of course, yes, justice must be served to those who deserve it.
But, what does that even mean anymore?
If the media is waiting for a shitstorm of emotion and human beings at their worst, who is out there looking for the stories where justice was served, where people went home alive, and where everyone quietly went about their duties in the name of what is right, and in what is just?
Because, I know that happens. I see it every day. People do terrible, horrible things to each other and they are arrested and put in jail, charges are laid and bad people are convicted.
Everyday police officers are shot at, yelled at, threatened and society expects them to take it because that’s their job.
So who, exactly, does the due diligence to make sure people are aware of all the good police do, if the media won’t, and doesn’t want to report on what is, frankly, boring.
Who stands back and asks people to think critically about the cases presented in media vs the cases overall?
Any 6th grader can pick stats off the web to make a point. But who is the moderator that ensures that where people are getting their ‘news’ isn’t only showing one side of the story?
In all the anti-police articles and comments I’ve seen (again.. I try to stay away from any comment section, it’s rife with idiots spewing ignorance ), there is no solution. There is not a sudden influx of men and women who have ideas, suggestions, the passion to put their hand up and say, “You know, I think I can do better than what I’ve seen. I have ideas and solution so here I am. Sign me up for the next training class!”
Instead, there are the same types of men and women who already make up these police forces, the types of people who are driven to make the world a better place, signing up and wondering why in the world it is so popular to criticize and demonize a profession WE as a society have proven we are in dire need of. They put their heads down, do their work, and get crucified in the media.
Yes, corruption and wrong-doing lurk everywhere. And most especially in policing where these men and women are permitted to use deadly force, we must be diligent to ensure justice prevails. But in what arena can we trust that what we, the consumers and citizens who are guilty of taking these at face value, are not being fed our 'new' in a way that reinforces our already ravenous, sensational media? All in order to court a little controversy, and make for a great scoop? Where then, can we truly work together for a positive change?
Finally, as a Canadian, I would remiss not to caution against comparing our police to their American counterparts. We are a different society with different societal norms. We are not a gun culture. Our small municipal forces do not have the funding to buy used war tanks off the military. Our federal members are often posted in remote communities where they pride themselves on talking down a situation, and learning to live and become a part of the community they police.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with American police, I’m simply reminding the same Canadians who shudder when Europeans call us Americans, that we are not one in the same.
Also, as someone who has friend and family that work in Canadian media, I would also be negligent to point out that the media circus that is network news down south, hasn't quite manifested itself so far up here. But, as social media and mobile devices become the way in which we get our news, I have a deep seeded fear it's headed in that direction. "Newsertainment" if you will.
I don’t want censorship, so put down your pen (or um, iphone) right now. I just want the news in its straight-forward, unaltered truth.
However boring that may be.
I want the unbiased details, and if presented in snooze-worthy C-Span format, I will be ok with that. Because it’s the facts and it’s in the details that lead to real change and a more educated population, one able to think critically and act accordingly.
After all, the devil may, or may NOT, lie in the details.