Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Thin Blue Whine, Pt. III: Who Mourns the Murdered Mundanes? (Update)

The Brotherhood in Blue (and Red) Gathers at the Tacoma Dome
during a memorial service for four police officers recently murdered in an ambush in Washington (above, and below, right). More than 20,000 police officers, including 1,000 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, took part in the service.

In a State of Nature, it is true, that a Man of superior Force may beat or rob me; but then it is true, that I am at full Liberty to defend myself, or make Reprisal by Surprize or by Cunning, or by any other way in which I may be superior to him. But in Political Society ... if I attempt to avenge myself, the whole Force of that Society is ready to complete my Ruin.

-- Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society (1757), original spelling and punctuation.

The year soon to expire, according to the Washington Times, was a particularly "deadly" one for police. That claim was made in the story's headline and first two paragraphs, and then thoroughly rebutted in its coda.

2009 "was a particularly perilous year for officers involved in gun disputes," insists the Times, with a 24 percent increase in the number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire. As of December 12, 47 police officers died nationwide after being shot while on duty, as compared to a total of 38 who had died in similar circumstances in 2008.

As it happens, however, 2008 saw "the lowest number of gunfire deaths [of police officers] since 1956" -- which would mean that 2009 wasn't unusually dangerous for police, but rather that the previous year was an unusually safe one.

In fact, fewer police died in the line of duty this year (117) than last (125). Tucked away near the end of the article, the Times observes: "In 1973, during a heyday of corruption and crime, there were about 600,000 officers and about 156 gunfire deaths. Now there are about 900,000 law enforcement officers nationwide and only 47 gunfire deaths this year -- a per-capita decrease of nearly 21 percent."

"The chances of being killed in the line of duty are lower than they have been in modern times," noted Kevin Morrison of the Officers Memorial Fund.

This is the reality behind the all-pervasive rhetoric describing law enforcement as a uniquely hazardous occupation. Pundits of an authoritarian bent, playing to the punitive populist sub-population, refer to a non-existent "war on police"; police officials insist that exceptional episodes of genuinely tragic violence represent the "new normal" for police officers.

The impression that police are under siege is also cultivated through the pomp and paramilitary ritual that characterize police funerals, even when the circumstances of death weren't particularly heroic (such as a traffic accident or other lethal mishap). Such events aren't so much intended to lament the death of an individual as to celebrate the might and glory of the State.

The December 8 memorial service in Washington's Tacoma Dome for four police officers killed in an ambush sets a new standard for institutional self-dramatization by the "law enforcement community": The event, which drew an estimated 20,000 officers from 150 agencies, including a crimson-clad contingent from the RCMP, was the largest memorial service of its kind since -- no extra credit if you've guessed correctly -- those convened after 9-11.



As the police gathered for the memorial, they were enveloped in a security cocoon akin to that routinely created for presidential visits, with heavily armed SWAT operators in full military gear haunting the rooftops.

As Tacoma's ABC affiliate KXLY explained, the extraordinary security measures were in place because of concerns that police "might still be a target." Thus we can see that "officer safety" is the prime directive even where police funerals are concerned.



As is the case with every large-scale police funeral, coverage of the memorial service in Tacoma repeatedly emphasized that the murder of the four Washington police officers wasn't merely a crime against four irreplaceable individual human beings, but -- more importantly -- an assault on an "institution."

We are invited to believe that these killings were particularly outrageous because a criminal had lifted his unhallowed hand to strike down four sanctified personages who wore the insignia of state authority. The same assumption can be seen in the concentrated fury with which police and prosecutors focus their attention on "cop killers," as if people in that profession are innately more important or more valuable than murder victims from other walks of life.

Retired Pittsburgh police officer Todd Cenci captured that conceit in a December 20 letter to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"I think it's about time to draft a bill that makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone who is convicted of killing a police officer who is in the line of duty," opined Cenci. "We need to show our police that we stand behind them 100 percent. So I ask my local politicians to introduce a bill that makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of killing a police officer on duty -- without any exceptions."

Why not make the death penalty mandatory for all murder convictions? Why should it be unavoidable only when the victim is a police officer? The tacit but obvious answer is that Cenci -- who reflects the culture of the profession from which he is now retired -- sees police officers as a caste apart from, and more valuable than, the "Mundanes," or general population.

What of cases in which people kill police in self-defense, perhaps as a result of mistaken identity during a no-knock raid at the wrong address? No extenuation would be provided for under the "no-exceptions" standard described by Cenci.

Once again, Cenci is not merely some Keystone State Floyd R. Turbo ventilating his frustration in the letters column; the approach he describes was followed in the case of Mississippi resident Cory Maye, who shot and killed a sheriff's deputy who was part of a paramilitary strike team that invaded Maye's home without a warrant because they didn't double-check the address.

Although Maye will soon receive a new trial, the prosecutor in the first trial sought and obtained a first-degree murder conviction and a death sentence -- apparently on the assumption that when a mere Mundane is on the receiving end of unwarranted police violence, he has no right to resist, because his life is not as important as that of his assailant.

A less pronounced form of the same reflexive elitism was displayed in the pages of Canada's Victoria Times-Colonist.

On December 8, that paper described the findings of Paul Smith, head of a the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, regarding the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski when he was needlessly electrocuted by Taser-wielding Mounties at the Vancouver Airport.



Dziekanski, who spoke no English and had been traveling for 20 hours (10 of which he spent waiting in the airport for his mother, who had been told he hadn't arrived), threw a fit while being held in a secure area prior to passing through customs.

RCMP officers arrived and within seconds shot him five times with a Taser within a period of 31 seconds. Dziekanski, after being handcuffed died within minutes at the scene. Smith's report condemns the RCMP for making no meaningful attempt to de-escalate the situation, being torpid and indifferent in seeking medical help for the victim, and for staging a crude cover-up of the incident.

Two days after publishing its report on the RCMP Commission's findings, the Times-Colonist's editorial board --reacting to reader criticism -- decided it was necessary to defend itself for publishing a news story that reflected badly on the police on the day of the Tacoma memorial service.

"The entire law enforcement community just finished burying four officers just a few hours south of here," complained a reader. "We're waking up to read the morning paper, hoping that it was just a bad nightmare, and find this article [regarding the Taser-inflicted death of Robert Dziekanski at the hands of the RCMP]."

To the paper's credit, it reiterated the criticisms of the RCMP, even though it did so amid formulaic expressions of submissive respect for the Heroes In Blue ("The thousands of officers who attended [the Tacoma] memorial service celebrated everything that is heroic about police work, and they had to blink back tears as they did it").

What is genuinely noteworthy about that exchange, once again, is the unmistakable assumption that there was something sacrilegious about mentioning the needless death of an innocent man at the hands of police on the day that the "entire law enforcement community" was mourning four of its own.

Sure, it's a shame Robert Dziekanski died. But after all, he was just another Mundane.

While the names of every police officer who dies before retirement is known and carefully memorialized, there is no similar record kept of those who were unjustly killed by police.

We are told that 2009 was a year fraught with peril for the police because 47 officers were killed by gunfire. During the same time frame, however, at least 56 people suffered "Taser-related" deaths at the hands of police. It's difficult to find out how many others were killed by police -- in shootings, beatings, or mistreatment in jail or prison. The chances are pretty good, however, that the body count is much higher than the 117 police deaths that occurred during the past year.

Shouldn't we therefore conclude that 2009 was (to paraphrase the Washington Times) "a particularly perilous time for civilians involved in encounters with the police"?

It is a singular tragedy whenever any human being suffers an avoidable death. When that individual is a police officer, we are expected to prostrate ourselves in inconsolable grief. When the deceased is a victim of unwarranted lethal violence by the police, we are instructed to sympathize with the assailant, who has a difficult and dangerous job. Who will mourn the Mundanes?

A personal note

My brother Jeff, my adopted "Irish twin" (we were born in the same year to different mothers, then adopted by our parents) is in the hospital in grave condition.

As I write he is undergoing surgery to deal with advanced necrotizing fasciitis; after that procedure is finished, he will be flown from Ontario, Oregon to a university hospital in Portland for more surgery. His prognosis is not encouraging.

Over the past several years, as I have dealt with Korrin's repeated hospitalizations and my own very serious health scare, Jeff has been incredibly helpful and generous. My kids are besotted with him, and he's been a wonderful uncle. The two of us were alienated for a long time, but in recent years we've grown very close. It's one of life's larger ironies that I had to wait until my 40s to know him as a real brother.

Please pray for Jeff, or if you're not inclined to, please spare a kind thought on his behalf. I would really appreciate it.

Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time (7:00-8:00 Central) on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Gregg. Our watchdogs have become partners with the wolves. The Thin Blue line has become its own special warrior caste, above the rest of us humble serfs.

Ray Baby said...

Mr. Grigg,

Very interesting that you would tag these officers as "The Brotherhood in Blue". How true this statement is.
I just wonder how many of these 20,000 are also members of some sort of quasi-Masonic Fraternal Order of Police Officers? Would be willing to bet, and I am not a betting man, that it would be in the 90 to 95 percentile range.

Thank you

Ray Anderson

Taylor Conant said...


Oh, how rich it would be to learn how many of the police officers in attendance at that memorial service had their travel and time-off compensated by the taxpayers!

Anonymous said...

---More than 20,000 police officers, ... took part in the service.--- Were they "On the CLOCK" ?? Who paid for the travel? Were they using TAXPAYER supplied vehicles? If they have to WHINE so much, they are in the WRONG JOB, go find another.

Anonymous said...


with 20,00 police off the streets, we mundanes somehow managed to not go out and rape, pillage, and plunder. makes ya wonder.


liberranter said...

The answer to the question of how many of the officers attending the funeral did so on the taxpayers' dime is all of them. Such a junket for those selected to attend, especially from out-of-town/state police forces, is considered duty-related. In fact, I have it on good authority from an ex-cop of my acquaintance who while on the beat attended several out-of-town sendoffs for his brethren in blue that such trips are highly coveted. He said that he and every one of his fellow cops looked upon such junkets as golden opportunities to party in places where they wouldn't be recognized by either the local citizenry or their own superiors. While he didn't openly admit it, I strongly sensed that the behavior these cops exhibited in local nightspots after planting the remains of their fallen brothren was less than exemplary, to put it kindly. Based on the events documented in D.C. two years ago during National Police Week, this shouldn't be at all surprising.

Anonymous said...

Rick made a very astute observation that with 20,000 plus gestapo occupied as such the world didn't spin out of its orbit nor set chaos loose in the streets. Hmmmm... And, as others have noticed before, it makes you wonder if they were on the clock? And if not then were relief officers called in to take their place? Who paid for the dome? That stuff isn't free for the "mundanes". And I gather the numbers of abused and murdered commoners is on the order of many more than those blue bedecked storm troopers. Where indeed are the ceremonies for the tasered "dead"? Who will roll call their names year after year?

Anonymous said...

I think our communities were safer with these 20,0000 gone. Tacoma well that is another story.

Anonymous said...

You truly are experiencing what the Reformers, in years past, would call " a dark night of the soul". The Lord has really seen fit to test you with Job like afflictions. My prayer will be that God may strengthen you emotionally and spiritually through these times and if it is in His will that your brother might be healed.
In Christ,

zach said...

You lay it out like no one can Will. We are dealing with a very serious situation in this country. We have an incredibly malevolent, predatory government and millions of people who want to feel that they're part of the system that preys on them. I think it makes them feel like they have power over it.

Sam C. said...

Many thanks for keeping us informed about the fate of our country in the midst of all your personal crises. You are in prayer, brother.

In Christ alone.

MacK said...

On the question of "Who Mourns the Murdered Mundanes?"

This link is interesting..

Apparently someone shot at an officers house.
This portion of the article is quite telling.

Gooding Police Chief Jeff Perry says,
"We take any shooting in the city seriously, but with it being a law enforcement officer's home, that ups the ante"

This is an out of context quote, but very clear in it's meaning.

Anonymous said...

Our police overseers who call for special punishment for the hoi polloi who harms an "only one" see themselves a uber-human.

They act in these instances as if they are truly there "to protect and serve." They all know better, and so should we. They are there to protect the interests of the government.

If they fail to respond to a 911 call, and someone is killed or injured as a result, you have no recourse against them. They can even respond to a 911 call and just watch you being beaten or killed - they have no compelled legal duty to protect you. They carry guns to protect themselves.

If you think they care a whit about mere citizens, check out some comments on police blogs.

Marty the Cop said...

I will be praying for your brother!

Marty the Cop said...

I will be praying for your brother!

dixiedog said...

Thanks for another great piece, Will. When are folk going to understand that cops are not obligated to "protect and serve" the mere peons, mundanes, commoners, et al?

Cops Aren't Required to Protect
Police Have No Duty To Protect Individuals

There's plenty of court cases that have stated this truth repeatedly, yet so many are clueless. Even though this video was probably recorded in the 80s, I nevertheless think Yuri Bezmenov had it right in one aspect of demoralization when he stated that there's a point - after enough time has transpired and attendant indoctrination has been inculcated - where even when the absolute truth, and literal proof thereof, is right in front of one's face, they will not, or cannot, acknowledge it.

The human condition...sigh.

I'm sorry to read about your brother being in such dire condition. As another mentioned above, you seem to have been experiencing Job-ian trials in the past year or so.

I greatly admire folk who manage to not fold up, give up, and/or crack up during their walk in the dark valley. Those kind of folk are an inspiration and the very ones whom I strive to emulate with Christ's guiding light, of course. I'll pray for your brother to be healed, Lord willin'.

Lastly, since I likely won't be back by here until afterward, I sincerely hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas. May Our Lord also Bless you and yours during these trying times.

Ex-JBS said...

Will, we will be praying for your brother's recovery and watching your blog for updates. It's never easy having a loved one so seriously ill, but especially difficult when your children must be so distraught over their dear uncle's condition.

May God comfort your family as you gather together to watch over your loved one and to give thanks for the birth of Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

R.S. Ladwig said...

Great article Mr.Grigg, and I want to assure you that your brother shall be in our family prayers.

The odd thing is that I just read an article of this same type earlier tonight and had the exact sentiment as yourself in response to the lamentations over the 47 officer deaths..."What about the civilian deaths at the hands of police?" was my knee jerk reaction.

Well, just like how the Iraqi deathtoll never appears side by side with the death of American forces so the number of mundane deaths by police in America is unreported.

Furthermore,I would be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 of the police deaths were caused during police induced violence no doubt in relation to the "war on drugs". Probably only 1 out of 10 had to do with a guy just shooting for getting fulled over for speeding.

I searched the web for around 15 minutes just trying to find the number of civilian deaths by police, not just for 2009 but any year...the best I found was an estimate of 200 in 2006.

I think it is safe to say that even that estimate is probably a tad low.

Merry Christmas, and God bless you William.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed your articles since I woke up to the current reality of the Land of the Free--your words and those of your fellow authors helped me leave my federal job and start a productive life of my own. Thank you, Mr. Grigg, for this and all of your excellent articles. They help more than you may know. I wish you the best in your trying times, and hope that you have a Merry Christmas in spite of the health concerns. My thoughts will be with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I am really griped by the naming of streets and highways after State Highway Patrol officers. I have to drive on one frequently. Same with naming buildings after politicians. Isn't bad enough the swine have lived off us all their lives but then they get entire buildings named after themselves.

Marley Greiner said...

Many years ago the police in my hometown went on strike. The city was expected to be burned to the ground within 24 hours Guess what! Crime plummeted. I suppose petty crime wasn't reported (I often wonder why it is anyway). What I found really interesting was the increase in safe driving when I was out on the streets. Speeding decreased, turn signals were on, etc. I can only mark this up to people feeling they needed to be responsible for their driving since the cops weren't monitoring. If that makes sense.

It's long been my contention that the police, outside of their usual flaws, which you so aptly point out here repeatedly, are used to settle petty arguments and complaints by the public

I've spent quite a bit of time in St. Petersburg, Russia. One night I attended a very raucous past-midnight party that was surely bothering residents of the building. I remarked that back home the cops would have been called by then. My remark was met with astonishment "But why would anybody call the police?" While I understand Russians, unlike USians. do not consider the police their friend, this response made perfect sense. If the neighbors didn't like the noise, they'd come over and let you know. Why is it the business of the police and the state?

Another time, during the White Nights, I was at the night disco on the beach by the Peter and Paul Fortress. Around 4 AM some of my friends decided to climb up one of the buildings. There were signs that said, "Do Not Enter", which of course were ignored. Hmm, OK. I went with them. We got a nice view of the city. Everyone behaved. I made a remark that back home similar activity would have been met with helicopters and the SWAT team. Again, they were astonished.

As a sidenote, a well-traveled friend from Amsterdam spent a couple weeks with me a few years ago and told me she was never so glad to get out of a place in her life She considered the US a police state.

Good thoughts to you, your family and your brother.

Anonymous said...

Check out this video which backs up ALL of your articles about talking to the police:

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless at your well written commentary. So much to think about. Now I have to make the decision to either think about it or pretend it does not exist until it finally kills me or someone I love.........After all, I'm only a mundane