Wissot: Sometimes you blow it
Sometimes you blow the little things in life — like missing an anniversary or not showing up at your kid’s soccer game. Sometimes you blow bigger things — like a column I wrote for this paper several days ago.
The way you know you’ve blown a column is when your sister, two adult daughters, an ex-wife, several close friends, and readers of this paper, say you did.
When that happens, you have two choices: ignore them because they obviously misunderstood what you wrote, or accept the criticism as valid.
I’ve chosen to do the latter.
The column in question was about the murder of George Floyd. In it I tried to do two things: express my outrage at the fact he was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer and acknowledge the dangerous job cops have which allows them to use excessive force in specified circumstances.
In both regards, I failed to do what a columnist is often assigned to do: offer a coherent opinion about a matter of some controversial importance. Showing outrage is not an opinion. It is an emotion. An incoherent emotion. The fact that police have the authority to exercise excessive force in specified circumstances is not an opinion. It is a fact. I didn’t offer an opinion on why those specified circumstances need to be questioned, examined and changed.
So I’d like to try again. This time by offering for your consideration a series of opinions that you can choose to agree with or not.
- The life of a police officer is no more valuable than the citizens he or she has sworn to serve and protect.
- When a police officer signs up for the job, he or she is accepting the fact that they could be killed in the line of duty.
- If police officers fear for their own lives more than they desire to protect the community they have been assigned to serve, they need to look for another occupation.
- The excuse of acting in self-defense should not be given so much latitude that it justifies the mistaken or accidental killing of innocent citizens.
- If a police officer kills someone in the line of duty because he or she “thought” they were about to pull out a weapon when in fact they were reaching for their wallet or cell phone, that officer needs to be charged with third-degree murder, not forgiven for making a terrible mistake.
- If causing cops to think before they shoot because they could be arrested for being wrong results in more of them being killed, it will also lead to fewer people of color winding up dead because a cop thought twice before pulling the trigger.
- White people who are more worried about disorderly social protests than they are about the gross mistreatment of black people have their pants on backward and their priorities wallowing in a state of moral turpitude.
Let me leave you with this quote from Goethe who in the 19th century was disturbed by the ethical imbalance he saw in his own country.
“If there has to be a choice between injustice and disorder, the German prefers injustice.”
People who are more upset with looters looting Macy’s than they are with black men dying needlessly, mistakenly, senselessly at the hands of cops are who Goethe is speaking to today.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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