Monday, December 1, 2014

Solidarity for me, but not for thee

On November 14, Portland's KGW TV station reported that "Portland Police Chief [Mike Reese] on Monday ordered three officers to remove 'I am Darren Wilson' images from their Facebook pages." Reese's order was not without controversy:
Maybe the Portland officers where [sic] expressing their rights of free speech when showing solidarity with their brother? [1]

I think that what they are saying is that they don't support the lynching of a white police officer without benefit of due process, a trial or even charges being brought forward.... [2]
On November 30, six members of the St. Louis Rams entered the field with their hands up in the air, in the "don't shoot" position, protesting everything that has happened in Ferguson over the last few months. The St. Louis County Police Officers Association was not amused. From the official statement by the SLPOA:
The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory…
From SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda:
I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. [Blah blah blah]
Jamilah Lemieux of Ebony magazine has an excellent commentary on the statement issued by the SLPOA. Read the whole thing. I will merely remark on this: if you are a black person, showing solidarity with a boy who was killed is "tasteless, offensive, and inflammatory." Indeed, it is so far outside of the bounds of civilized discourse that not even invoking the First Amendment can justify it. By contrast, if you are a "white police officer," expressing solidarity with the man who killed that boy is not just understandable, but beyond criticism.
UPDATE: In addition to believing that the First Amendment does not allow for criticism of police officers, Jeff Roorda apparently also believes that the First Amendment allows police officers abuse their position to bully and intimidate their critics.

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