What a Shame

Bill Neinast


One man said that he warned his children that they might be shot by a policeman whenever they went outside.

How sad.  What a shame.  This is more shame than sad.

It is a shame that that father was not teaching his children to respect authority instead of fearing it.  A major problem today is the low esteem and/or fear for law enforcement personnel.

Parents and the news media share responsibility for this assault on authority.  Clips of police manhandling or shooting an individual have around the clock coverage for three or more days.  The circumstances or misconduct of the victim are not depicted or reported until days after the initial coverage. 

The best example of this dangerous trend is the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, MO.  There was non-stop TV coverage of the claims that Brown was backing up with his hands in the air and crying “Don’t shoot!” when he was killed.

Even after an extensive FBI investigation, unfit Attorney General Eric Holder established that Brown had just assaulted and robbed a store owner, was violating the law by walking in the middle of the street, had assaulted the arresting officer, and tried to grab his pistol, and was making no effort to surrender. Some, like the rabble rouser Al Sharpton, continue to insist that Brown was an innocent victim trying to surrender.

Similar incidents dominate the national news coverage frequently.  With few exceptions, either the actual videos or subsequent investigations establish that the victim was either refusing to obey instructions or was taking some action that led the officer to believe he was being threatened with a deadly weapon.

The only TV coverage of parents teaching children how they should react to authority that I am aware of was of one of the riots following the Ferguson affair.  That was the clip of the mother pulling her teenager by the ear away from one of the demonstrations and fussing at him for participating in such conduct.  

Unfortunately, that clip did not run as often and as long as the coverage of the mobs looting and disparaging all authority.

Discipline was the rule up through the generation reared by the Greatest Generation.  In the 1950s and 60s, children were taught to respect authority.  It did not matter who or what that authority was, you were taught to tow the line in obedience.

This respect started at home with the parents being the first and most important authority figures.  Then came teachers followed by public officials, including the police.

The cause or causes for the decline in that respect at all levels is in dispute.  There is no dispute, however, that respect for authority, particularly, the police is in a deep decline.

This is seen in nearly every coverage of someone being killed by the police.  The motive and reactions of the officer involved is always second guessed.  Did he really have to shoot?  Why didn’t he use mace or the stun gun first?  Why was the victim stopped in the first place?  Why couldn’t he see that the weapon was really a toy gun?

That line of questioning is unending.  Rarely do we hear, what was the victim doing?  Why was he where he was found?  Why were the police there?  Was the victim known to the police from prior contact?  Were the police responding to a 911 call?  Was the incident in a high crime neighborhood with frequent calls for police assistance?

Why such questions are important and relevant was answered in the COPS TV program several years ago.  This was reality TV in which a policeman was followed by a camera crew.  It was a real eye opener.

The program captured in living color a wholly different world for many.  The living conditions, belligerence, and lack of respect for anyone or anything were disconcerting.  In some, viewers would have to consider how tense the officer must have been.  He had to be thinking, will I have to use force?  Will I be attacked? Do I need backup?

Today, newscasters second guess authorities in situations like that and, in effect, say, “I would not have used lethal force in that situation, so the arresting officer was not justified in doing so.”

So here’s the perspective.

It is time for a return to respect for authority.  That U-turn has to start in the home.  Parents need to insure that their children hear only, “Obey your superiors.  If your parents, teachers, or police tell you to do something, do it, even if you think it is wrong.  Complain about it as much as you like after the situation is over, but do not resist or act belligerently.”

If everyone behaved under that guidance, there would be no need for a parent to think that he had to warn his children that they might be killed by the police every time they go outside. 


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