Monkey See, Monkey Do


John Wright


The sensational reporting of the recent killings of young black men, indeed of one child aged 12, by municipal police forces in various USA cities, has ripped the lid from Pandora's Box. I believe we risk degrading our culture to the point of mimicking the countries of the Middle East, whose violent "cultures" we abhor. The underlying behavioral issues of the immediate problem are two. Some Black people who feel estranged from White society will at times react with obvious lack of respect to police who accost them for any reason. For them it is a macho thing to disrespect the police, whom they believe are their enemies, and sometimes that belief is true. Police whose orders are not followed react with anger and then threats and if necessary escalating forms of violence until the subject is, well, subjugated, and sometimes that escalation results in the use of lethal force. In other words a police officer is by definition not allowed to back down from conflict. It is the legal right and legal responsibility of the police officer to demand compliance with given orders to the accosted citizen, within certain legal guidelines. Sometimes, but not always, a police officer will call for backup units to convince the accosted person or people of the futility of their resistance. Unfortunately, incensed police officers, especially in a group, may resort to violence far in excess of what is required to subdue the accosted person, white or black. It is part of police culture and training to demand submission, which is in fact necessary to do their jobs, but the accompanying violence that may occur to accomplish that task is the real subject ... the real underlying issue that in conjunction with macho non-compliance behaviors is the source of the whole process going wrong, often leading to maiming or death.

In response to the recent killings we now have retribution killings of police, both racially motivated and earlier this year in Pennsylvania by a so-called white survivalist. The question becomes, how far will this conflict and offshoot police-killing go? Our recent national demonstrations against police violence by both blacks and whites make clear that the problem is already large. But how large is large, and more importantly, how far will this go? I believe we have a tinder box similar to the too well publicized violence in Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and now Pakistan. As I see it, we are approaching Monkey See, Monkey Do in the USA. I am going to explore this situation in this article from various perspectives, leading to a few hard conclusions that I believe will become a new reality in the USA and eventually globally.

I'd like to lay out some fundamental considerations for any society whose government wants to promote stability and willing citizen adherence to laws. This is an essential backdrop from which to explain behaviors that deviate from cultural norms. But before I begin with any analysis I first and foremost have to say that the media has a huge responsibility for stoking the present conflict, ergo, I believe the media to be knowingly indirectly guilty of promoting the killing of policemen by sensational reporting of the killings of non-compliant blacks during arrests and the demonstrations by blacks and whites following the killings. What the media has done is take a variety of isolated bad, indeed inexcusable situations and create a potential national disaster. So now we have random killings of police officers, and if you think this is a minor or easily corrected problem you are in "la la" land. Among violently angry blacks the killing of police officers is now seen as an okay response to the killing of criminals, and by criminals I mean any citizen, Black or White or Hispanic, who fails to follow police orders explicitly and respectfully. Indeed, it is the new action to compensate for historical feelings of blacks believing in and often being disrespected by white people ... And that old and chronic issue is being stoked now by certain nationally known black leaders. Among the police there is a rapidly rising sense of bitterness about the politicians' failures to show outrage at them being attacked and killed. In other words they feel abandoned by their own leaders and highly vulnerable to attack by angry blacks in singular random episodes of lethal violence. Pandora's Box? You had better believe it! You can't bring in the National Guard, the Army, the FBI or any other agency to counter random acts of violence. So one of two things will happen. Either the police will get the support they feel they need or they will slow down in the performance of their jobs or quit their jobs in massive numbers. Can you guess where that will lead? Maybe you want to live in a society where you have little to no protection from criminals and violence? Or maybe you want to live in a society that becomes a total police state with extremely limited civil liberties?

The constitutional issues that arise from this "civil" problem are many. But all I need to mention are the two major issues to make my point. First Amendment rights? Freedom of the press? Does that extend to irresponsible stoking of black citizen anger leading ultimately to major civil unrest and the killing of police officers? To what extent is a politician who takes an oath of office responsible to his/her own employees who keep the peace? Should the Namby Pamby ones who fail to support the police in favor of mild response to black disobedience and violence be impeached? I am certain you see clearly that we have a massive problem in the making in the USA, one that damned well better be addressed and solved quickly. Oh, let me add one other point that is not exactly a constitutional issue. In all major societal conflicts one should always ask the question: Who gains from the very existence of the conflict? Might some organization external to the USA profit from citizen unrest in the USA? Okay, enough of that, for I have too little information and too few sources of valid information to make any type of judgment about external influences. But others, our leaders at the national level, do have that higher quality and broader base of information, and we have a right to expect them to act on whatever is the reality. So, what are the possible internal solutions, and what are the pros and cons of each? For that matter, what immediate actions can be taken to keep this potential disaster from being realized on a large scale?

Historically the media has responded to governmental requests to filter certain news events to maintain general public support. There is every reason to believe that muzzling the news media will happen if there is further escalation of violence in the USA. But will it really work this time? We are all aware of the existence of tweets, Facebook, etc., and those sources of information, valid or not, will be used by millions of USA residents. So, will we see new legislation to muzzle communication in those areas? The federal government may have to do exactly that as there is no control over the accuracy of what is communicated via tweets, Facebook, etc., hence the practical end of the First Amendment. Digging a bit deeper you might consider that the First Amendment was not created in order to support those who foment violence. The naive aspects of the First Amendment were and are that citizens exercising their rights to free speech would do so via the political process to affect legislation, and, that any future federal government would allow without restriction private citizen use of massive communication ability that might result in civil unrest. In other words, technology changes alone have produced an environment where the possibility of passing any constitutional amendment would provoke serious consideration of how the media might be used to produce the opposite effect from the intended change. The older low technology historical times are long gone.

If the present violence continues or expands then control of the media, including all aspects of the Internet, is assured and it will potentially be permanent, thus nullifying all the good reasons for having the First Amendment in the first place. Of course, anyone who believes that individually exercised First Amendment rights will, in a non-violent environment, influence the Congress in our modern times, is terribly naive. Small voices, people without major financial power, are simply ignored.

What about efforts to mollify the black communities? On one hand the police and other governmental agencies had better figure out how to control potential lethal confrontations. On the other hand, Willy Nilly further handouts or limiting police power via legislation or anything of that ilk will simply support the negative macho behaviors, as in, "Now they don't dare to kill us so we can do anything we want with impunity!" As you are well aware, that kind of failure of leadership constitutes the guaranteed breakdown of our society. Mollification is not a solution. The simple fact is that in all instances except that of the 12 year old the black men flat out disobeyed what they were told to do by the police, so they helped to create the escalations to violence that caused their own deaths. I have no pity for people who behave in that manner, though I do fear mightily what abuses have in the past and present happened in police states against private citizens, and yes, I do include black people in that accusation against white people in positions of power. In short, both sides need to be muzzled to avoid abuse in both directions, and that is a very unlikely course of action at the present time.

So, how does one eliminate the new "sport" of murdering police officers without otherwise undermining the society and civil liberties? How do we guarantee respect for law abiding members of the black communities while culling out troublemakers? Make no mistake, this overall issue has remained unsolved for a very long time. Think about perhaps 150 years? If you are a highly paid government employee with responsibility for addressing and fixing this problem I, well, pity you on one hand and slap you with the other hand. You and your predecessors have been playing with fire for a very long time, and now is a day of reckoning. Will it ever occur to you that the fantasy of the USA being a big "melting pot" is ridiculous? Will you ever recognize that harsh and unfair behaviors towards racial minorities are doomed to failure in the same manner as ill considered socialistic adaptations for our racial differences in quality of life? Based on my experience, none of you get it. None of you have a clue as to any solution of lasting value.

Now let me get on with a solution path. It is obvious that accosted person submission is mandatory. It is also obvious that police must not escalate violence to the point of killing or permanently maiming the accosted person. Given both of these necessary truths is it not obvious that submission needs to be accomplished by means entirely different from historical methods? Frankly, I don't care whether we use tranquilizing darts or a psychoactive gas exposure of the accosted person, leading to a state of near sleep. The technology is and has been available for a long time. It is time to use it, such that any further deaths of accosted people due to police violence results in arresting and prosecuting the offending police officers. In other words, get with it, governments! Failure to comply with police orders is a perfectly valid reason for a police officer to resort to the use of tranquilizing drugs. There is not any civil rights issue involved.

After writing most of this article I find myself once again appalled at the ignorance displayed continuously by local, state and national governments. Violence is simply a throwback to primitive times. Use of technology to achieve the legal goal is the mandatory solution to the present problem, and failure to use the available technology will result in the breakdown of our culture.

If you are in government with any responsibility related to police activities I want to leave you with one particular thought: If we look upon corporal punishment of children as a violation of their rights, and choose other methods to achieve acceptable behavior on the part of troubled children, then why can't we apply the same logic to adults who require behavioral intervention?