In the course of the article, Grigg makes the hardly controversial observation that, regardless of anything police apologists say, police brutality is a current, pervasive problem which is if anything getting worse rather than better, and that at least part of the reason for this is that police are encouraged to think of themselves as a warrior caste, an elite among men who are enabled by their noble yet aggressive natures to protect the ... well, the sheep.
Grigg reminds us of an article that I, at least, would like to forget. But for today I can't forget it. Excerpted from a police training course called The Bulletproof Mind and a book titled On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict, In War and In Peace, it's written by a man named Lt. Col. Dave Grossman who has apparently made a good living for himself training police officers to think of themselves in this way. It's possible that Grossman is among the principal contemporary reasons policemen no longer think of themselves as civilian peace officers, but instead dismissively refer to those they once claimed to serve and protect as "civilians." They themselves are the Warrior Elite, and warriors are soldiers, and soldiers are not "civilians." They're better than that.
Grossman popularized the characterization of criminals as "wolves," police and soldiers as "sheepdogs," and everybody else as "sheep." He loudly proclaims that police officers, as "sheepdogs," are morally obligated to pursue practices they would cheerfully arrest "sheep" for getting caught at. Example:
If you are a warrior legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be on 24/7 for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself, "Baa."Grossman's view of the "sheep" is instructive:
We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kids' school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is to deny that it could happen. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard for them to fathom.Let us stipulate that there may be some truth to this. We all know people who don't like to think about violence, who deny that bad things can happen to them and theirs, and who are shocked into uselessness when those bad things happen anyway. But why is that exactly? Grossman claims that a sheepdog is "what you choose to be," and yet supposedly sheep are just born that way. It doesn't, it couldn't, have anything to do with public schools that teach from kindergarten to college that violence and the weapons of violence are so completely unacceptable that a child who merely draws a picture of a firearm is suspended from school and stigmatized as a deviant. No, that couldn't be it. It couldn't be because a young person's college career is more likely to survive his being caught with heroin in his backpack than with a tool of personal protection on his belt. No, of course not. There's no conditioning involved here; that's just paranoid. Bad Uncle Joel. And it couldn't have to do with the many, many people who have been prosecuted by the state and then sued into poverty by their would-be aggressors, with the sanction of the state, for the criminal sin of taking self-protection into their own hands. The cries of vigilantism from the mainstream media and predictions of 'blood in the street' should "civilians" be allowed to possess and carry the tools of personal protection, those couldn't have anything to do with it. Sheep are just born that way, and need the protection of the state "sheepdogs." If they weren't the way they are, they'd be cops.
Well, no. Not right. I'm not a "wolf," who feeds on his fellow man. I'm not a "sheepdog," who protects the flock and keeps it herded together for the benefit of the shepherd between fleecings. And I'm sure as hell not a "sheep," one of Grossman's "healthy, productive citizens" with "no capacity for violence." I reject the metaphor absolutely and in detail, unless I get to add a character to his little cartoon show myself.
I'm a mutt. (I've used this analogy before, and it always drives dog lovers nuts: They prefer "mixed breed.") I couldn't care less about herding sheep, or about oppressing them. I have no interest in sheep at all. I know exactly on which end my teeth are kept, and I keep them sharp. I reject all demands that I have them pulled for the benefit of the flock. The flock, as I may have mentioned, does not interest me. I reject aggression, and to the extent my circumstances allow I reject violence, but if violence is forced upon me I will not delegate its use. In that case I'll do it myself. And in that case my aggressor will find me perfectly capable of dishing it out. I'd rather avoid a fight than engage in one, but it would be a terrible mistake to class me among those you consider to have "no capacity for violence."
Mutts are not sheepdogs, and they are not showdogs. I'll never be pretty, and I'll never be rich, and you'll sure as hell never catch me in a blue uniform or any other kind of uniform. All I want, from sheepdogs or wolves, is to be left alone to pursue my life. As long as I get that one little thing, I'm as harmless as a sheep. When I stop getting it, from sheepdogs or wolves, the differences will become apparent. Neither sheepdogs nor wolves should try to speed that day, for neither are my allies. Aggressors all look alike to me; they look like food. I'm a mutt.
And I'm way not the only one.