Making them understand: a rant on unbridled ignorance (and a cure)!

I was scrolling through the old Twitter-verse yesterday making myself angry. Ya know, there is nothing like Twitter to really get the outrage flowing.

Twitter has none of the mental breaks of a Facebook feed: fail Army; videos of parents pranking their kids because Jimmy Kimmel told them to; posts from your friends about what they ate for dinner, etc.

And on Twitter, I have a habit of following anti-cop/ anti-military people and organizations because I am of the firm belief that it is good to know what the other side is saying and thinking.

That makes my arteries really constrict: I can feel the blood pumping faster as I read. Yeeeaaah baby.

Maybe this means I am a mental masochist. Like leather chaps and spankings but only in my mind… the wife says I need a therapist… anyway…

So as I was perusing Twitter, I ran across one of those tweets from some social justice warrior or another who shows a video of someone getting arrested. Of course the video starts just as the fight begins so I have no context. Still, what I see is a subject resisting while a cop is trying to cuff him.

That is the view of a cop brain, from someone who has been there. The rest of the world sees a big meany-head cop beating up a helpless civilian. I know this because I read the comments. And in a world where the gentle masses haven’t ever been in a street fight, how can those of us who have been in those situations convince the good people to take a deep breath and wait for all the facts?

You certainly can’t do that in the comments section. People there are way too busy judging without context. Ain’t nobody got time for reason. Thinking is hard, ya know, and you have to work at it. Hey, I’m not judging folks. I’m a sinner. I know it takes a lot of work to think things through and not knee-jerk into something stupid. You have no idea how many of the words I write end up in the digital trashcan for that exact reason.

After I finish punishing my brain with the statements of the irrational masses, I start wondering, Why is police work the one job that everyone thinks they know how to do?

Maybe it’s because of all the cop dramas on TV. Maybe it’s because of the show C.O.P.S. itself. And in those shows, shooting people is really easy, you can fight anyone like a ninja in 5 seconds, and the criminals always look and act really, really bad so there is no moral ambiguity. In the Hollywood Universe, cop work is a piece of cake.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I offer you exhibit A: Ye old shoot the gun out the hand argument.

No, really.

I have had this conversation more than once. I recall speaking with a woman about a contentious police shooting (I don’t remember which one). I hold this woman in very high regard. She is very intelligent. Yet at the pitch of discussion, she questioned why a police officer would not simply shoot the gun out of a suspect’s hand.

That, folks, is the ignorance bred of Hollywood. It is ignorance bred of fiction and acting. All of America is infected with it.

unbridled ignorance

No, really. When victims of a car burglary expect a full DNA swab with instant results, you know you are fighting a battle against unbridled ignorance. Thanks, CSI and all of your spin-offs. When people expect the wheels of justice to turn quickly and efficiently, as in within an hour (including commercial breaks) I thank Law and Order.

It is difficult to reason with someone whose experience comes from the Hollywood Universe.

I am happy to say there is evidence that unbridled ignorance can be corrected. All it takes is a little experience, a little “walkin’ in the shoes.”

I point you to one of my favorite news segments. Here is a summary version: anti-cop activist and news reporter undergo shoot/ no-shoot scenarios. Participants find the decision-making in these scenarios is incredibly hard. Minds are changed.

I find it difficult to understand why cop haters (a.k.a. justice activists) aren’t more willing to undergo similar types of training. It is hard for me to understand why they are unwilling to go on “ride-alongs” with police officers or attend citizen police academies.

If you are trying to affect change in a field or profession, why would you resist an education that would give you a base of knowledge? It would also give you at least a little street cred with cops themselves.

Unfortunately, I think there is an acknowledgement in the activist community that if they were to undergo such training, it would be very difficult to maintain their stance. They would be inculcated with understanding and knowledge, and that would make their work very challenging indeed.

Most of the people who take the time to read this will probably be cops. They will nod in agreement and push on with their day.

However, if you are not a cop and if you have ever found yourself questioning the profession of policing, I encourage you to be honest with yourself. The next time you feel qualified to decide what a police officer should or should not do, ask yourself: 1) Do I have all the facts? 2) What knowledge and experience am I basing my belief?

If your knowledge comes from something you saw on TV or “heard about” then stop. Do some research. Go on a ride along or attend a citizen’s police academy. Educate yourself. Then form an opinion.

And if the thought ever, ever crosses your mind that a police officer (or any person for that matter) should shoot a gun out of someone’s hand, for the love of all that is good and decent, do not let that idea come out of your mouth.

Stop! Don’t utter it! You will sound like an idiot to anyone who knows better.

Thanks for reading.

Dustin Hammit is a graduate of Texas A&M University, former member of the Austin Police Department, and U.S. Marine. He also created The Insurgent Capitalist.  If you’d like to be completely entertained, you can read more of his bio in the next section.