Friday, 19 October 2012

Such Brave Macho Policemen

I remember when I was in school—probably the early years of high school—we had to give a presentation about the occupation we wanted to pursue one day. I wanted to be a nano-engineer. My best friend at the time, Keith McKenzie, wanted to be a microbiologist. “Small things interest great minds,” he used to say and one doesn’t get much smaller than microbiology and nano-engineering.

But there was a clear pattern I recognized in what the other boys wanted to be, particularly the bullies, delinquents, and the generally scholastically inept boys: they wanted to be policemen. Reading the news, I have to conclude that a noticeable percentage of the type of people that goes into the police force is indeed these types of people—people driven by their lust for power over others, people that want to be in positions of authority in order to continue their bullying.

Image Source

Take these examples from the news: In England police tasered a blind man, in America an 8-month pregnant woman was tasared after using expletives towards a cop, and lets not forget the cop that kicked a pregnant women recently after she complained when her sibling got tasered. Oh, and did you hear about the man that got tasered for having a seizure?! The police commanded him to keep still, but having a seizure attack he was obviously not able to do so, so they just went ahead and electricuted him. The victim (and I'm using the word "victim" deliberately) suffered a heart attack and brain damage from this ordeal. Wow these are such tough strong manly men. They taser blind people, the pregnant, and the sick. They really make me feel safe now! Thank you brave Mr. Policeman for protecting me from those dangerous blind, pregant, and physically ill people! (Pardon my sarcasm, but this is really getting to me.)

Then there are all the police brutality towards protestors around the world (e.g. Greece, Egypt, Kuwait, Kosovo, Indonesia, Multan, and many other places). South Africa, my country of origin, has made the headlines recently over police brutality during a protest by miners that turned violent. (Here is a synopsis of the mining unrest in South Africa; and here is an overview of police brutality in the South African context.)

There is much that can be said about police brutality—there are many contextual factors that should be kept in mind. I'm not saying that police ought not at times opt for a more hands-on, i.e. violent, option. However, I honestly think that one variable that cannot be ignored is that a significant percentage of the people attracted to this career is not in it because they have a profound sense of justice and wish to keep the peace, but rather because they have a power fetish and get off from exerting their authority over others.

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