Of Protests and Violence

If the title of this piece looks familiar, there is a reason. It is a followup to last week’s piece “Of Protests and Courage.” The gentleman making the comment, it took courage to protest, made another comment deserving of analysis. As noted in Courage, he stated, “In the history of the world what great change came without discontent, anger, protest, or even violence.” The gentleman on the other side of the dialogue agreed, but noted those changes may not always have been for the better.

OneOldCop can agree with both of the comments noted above. Great change in the world has often been accompanied by discontent, anger, protest and violence. The problem, as noted by the conservative side of the dialogue sparking this series of essays, is one cannot tell if the outcome of the discontent, anger, protest or violence will be a step forward or several backward. Additionally, one cannot tell if the discontent, anger, protest or violence is valid, trumped up for political reasons or the product of boredom on the part of minimally productive individuals.

One need look no further than the early twentieth century to see where change wrought by discontent, anger, protests and violence was not something to applaud. Unrest and uprisings in Russia during the early part of the century led to the overthrow of the Tsarist rulers and the birth of the Soviet Union. Shortly thereafter, Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in Germany due to discontent, anger, protest and violence. The Nazis and the Soviets were two of the worst scourges on the world one can imagine.

The truth is that in more modern times positive changes have not come about through protests such as the ones seemingly endorsed by some liberal or leftist writers and advocates. If one looks objectively around the world, one can find many examples of such tactics bringing about changes that are far from positive. Of course, leftists, as do some others, take a long view of history. They are willing to inflict a great deal of pain and violence on society to achieve their version of a perfect world. Which brings up another point made during the dialogue being discussed.

A minor participant in the discussion expressed the thought that the protests and violence seemed designed to divide the country even more than it is at the moment. This is certainly a conclusion one can reach when witnessing or hearing about what is happening today.

Clashes between protestors and authorities are to be expected at times. Clashes between different groups of protestors are possible as well. What seems to be on the increase are groups showing up specifically to disrupt or attack another group. Of course, this is not a totally new phenomenon, and such actions are not limited to one side of the question or another. Still, many of the incidents reported lately seem to be planned aggression against a particular group or political thought. Additionally, most of the aggressors seem to be aligned with the left side of the political spectrum.

If that is true, one must wonder why. Why would the protesters at Berkeley and other campuses shut down the free speech of others through their over the top actions? Do they want to make the country more divided? Why do they apparently want to limit the free speech of those with opposing views?

One answer goes back to the nature of the beast so to speak. Many of the younger people involved in these activities have never been told no. They have never been required to deal with the consequences of their actions. Their parents have abrogated their responsibilities to the schools and the government. The result is a generation of overgrown children who only know one way to deal with not hearing what they want. They throw a tantrum, and try to destroy anything and anybody who irritates, disagrees or confounds them. Of course, the sad part of this is they have no idea they are being played by those they trust and respect.

One reason to escalate violence and create chaos is to force the government and one’s political opponents to overreact. At some point, if the Left is successful, there will be chaos in the streets, and it will not be limited to small areas. So far, the authorities and the system of government in this country have managed to avoid allowing the country to devolve into anarchy or a police state. One can hope this will hold true for now and the future. One can hope, but one cannot be certain.

Fellow travelers such as the gentleman who lauded the protesters for their courage may wake up one day to find the dark side of the movement is the one in control

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Leadership, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , ,

Of Protests and Courage

A recent social media dialogue concerning violent protests around the country caught OneOldCop’s attention. The individual’s post starting the dialogue implied the protestors seemed to have too much time on their hands. A more liberal, possibly leftist, acquaintance of his took the position this was their right, and it might be the only way they can make their voice heard. This writer tends to agree with the analysis of the gentleman posting the original commentary.

After all, it seems people are protesting everything from the new president to daddy/daughter dances. Okay. Maybe there have been no protests against daddy/daughter dances, but an elementary school in California is changing their annual event to a ‘Family’ dance for reasons of inclusiveness. Can protests at schools not making such changes be far behind?

Whatever happens concerning the daddy/daughter dances, there are plenty of protests to go around. Of course, as both parties agreed, protests are a part of the history of this country. Additionally, they are completely legal, if handled properly. The problem to be discussed here is a comment by the gentleman on the liberal side of the dialogue. He commented that it took courage to protest.

This comment was apparently made with all seriousness. Based on his comments, one must believe this individual actually think the anarchists at Berkeley and other liberal institutions, as well as the rioters and looters in Ferguson and other cities were being courageous. He said as much, and when called out on their outlaw behavior he responded with another statement this writer feels was outlandish. His comment was, “In the history of the world what great change came without discontent, anger, protest, or even violence.”

This individual clearly supports violent protests. He also feels those who engage in such protests are courageous. Both of these points deserve analysis, but the focus of this piece is the comment about courage. The idea that protestors in the United States today are showing courage is ridiculous, if not obscene.

Certainly there were times in the history of this country when protesting required courage. The men and women who protested and marched for civil rights in the mid-twentieth century certainly showed courage. They knew full well they were risking their lives to stand against the status quo.

Those marching with Dr. King and his followers knew they could be shot, burned, lynched or killed in some other horrible fashion for standing up for their cause. It took courage to go up against the opposing forces in those days, and some paid a terrible price for their courage.

The protests of the civil rights activists brought about changes in the law and society that made it much safer for future protestors. With a few tragic exceptions, protestors during Vietnam knew they faced relatively mild threats when compared to martyrs such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, George Winston Lee, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Henry Schwerner. Protestors today are some of the most protected people in the country.

The truth is, it takes little if any courage to protest today. The very government one may be protesting does its best to protect those who are protesting against it. Additionally, the nation has raised a generation of men and women who feel entitled and protected.  The average college student for the last few decades has been raised to feel untouchable and invincible.

The feeling of invincibility that comes naturally with youth is compounded by a society which insulates many young people from the consequences of their actions. The lack of accountability, the feeling of invincibility, and the tendency many have to follow the crowd leads to an unstable and dangerous environment. Little more than a social media post is needed to start a riot. When one adds the influences of the modern day equivalent of groups such as Students for a Democratic Society of the 1960s, it is amazing the violence and destruction is not greater.

These are the folks that show up for demonstrations looking like they came from a riot in a foreign country. They may be dressed like Ninja Warriors, cat burglars or bank robbers.  They are prepared to inflict violence on others, or cheer on those who commit such violence. Add the masked leaders and cheerleaders to the old adage about the average IQ of a mob, and one has the makings of a modern riot, excuse me, protest.

OneOldCop will close this piece at this point. To be generous, the gentleman claiming protestors are showing courage is a bit out of touch with reality.

© OneOldCop -2017



Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Jokers and Clowns Abound

The bulk of this piece was originally published as “Stuck in the Middle” in 2012. It is being posted again in honor of several prominent, and long serving, politicians who would be vying for joker and clown of the year awards if everyone in the middle were allowed to vote on the matter. As this is being written, OneOldCop has two prominent senators from opposite sides of the aisle in mind, as well as a number of members of the House of Representatives.1

Politics, the news and life today remind me of a song from the early 1970s. The group Stealers Wheel had their biggest hit with “Stuck in the Middle With You”. The lyrics made about as much sense as any popular song from that era, which is not much. Still, one verse resonates today, “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right.”

Hold on! Before anyone gets his or her nose out of joint, left and right are completely interchangeable. If you are a big fan of a political figure on the left and would be prefer he be called a joker, or one on the right and would prefer he be called a clown, please feel free to swap those words in your mind. Believe me. It makes very little difference. However, if you are still reading, it is likely you are not a fan of either a clown nor a joker. You are stuck in the middle and trying to make sense of it all.

The sad truth of these lyrics is that those in the middle or anyone who tries to be objective about any issue today is bombarded by both the left and the right. If you prefer, again your choice, the objective or centrist person can be bombarded by both the conservatives and the liberals, the secularists and the religious or the pros and the cons.

The extent of the political divide in the United States may not be as extreme as some claim. It is possible that there is a large portion of the population that is decidedly centrist in its views. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine if that is true, and if it is, there does not seem to be a way for the middle to make its voice heard.

There was a time in this country when the middle could be heard. Surveys or polls would show something that sociologists have known for decades. On every issue, there are those strongly opposed to it, those strongly in favor of it and everyone else, regardless of what “it” is.

There was a time when survey data could be trusted. There was a time in this country when the news media worked to be objective reporters of facts. There was a time when even the most partisan politicians were civil to each other, at least publicly.

Today, the same demographic groups can be targeted by different researchers concerning the same issue and the results can be dramatically different. If there has ever been a time when the old saying, “Figures can’t lie, but liars can figure,” was more true than today, it would be hard to imagine.

Today, objective reporting of the news is almost impossible to find. Instead, the media practices a form of hybrid reporting that blends opinions and selected facts in a way that makes it almost impossible to know when the reporting stops and the opining begins. The confusion is further aggravated by the development of television programs, websites and publications that make the appearance of being news sources, but are really something else. They are, at best, comedic or satirical entertainment. At worst, they are outright propaganda.

Today, politicians attack each other viciously and personally. Political attacks have always been a part of campaigning for office. Politicians running for office have never been afraid to attack their opponents, but there was a time when “dirty tricks” and “smear tactics” were frowned upon by the voting public and media. In the modern political arena, it does not make any difference if it is an election campaign or a political dispute in Congress. It is no-holds-barred, down and dirty politics twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

A person who wants to make an objective decision about anything today is in trouble. Polling data is untrustworthy. News sources are suspect. Politicians believe civility and honesty are as old fashioned as handlebar mustaches and spittoons.

The objective person’s lot in life becomes even more difficult if they express what they feel is an objective opinion. Objective opinions, middle of the road positions, or an objection to what is obviously biased information will automatically result in an attack from one or both sides of the particular issue.

In the political and public media world, the attack will come from talking heads in the television and radio communities, as well as the blogosphere. That seems to be expected and accepted. What is disappointing and more bothersome is how this same attitude has trickled down, to steal a phrase, to the every day social media user.

Facebook, Twitter and chat room users seem to have no problem blasting another user’s comments. Instead of attempting a reasoned response or asking for more information, respondents will lash out at a person calling him or her a kool-aid drinker, an idiot or a hater.

Others seem to have no problem denigrating an entire group with sarcastic, or even offensive comments. At times it seems only the far (pick your poison, right or left) end of various political and social continua speak out on issues, and they do so either to intentionally offend or to provoke others to respond in kind.

I am not surprised this is the case, just disappointed. I am disappointed that people I know to be intelligent and caring individuals will lash out at any opposing view, and in some cases lash out when there is no real view expressed. When it is the clowns and jokers on both sides of an issue who get the attention, others will follow suit. When the clowns or the jokers in leadership roles on all sides of political issues set the example of making everything personal and aggressive, others will lower themselves to that level.

It seems the time of reason and common sense, not mutually exclusive by the way, is long past and forgotten. Today we live in a world where the outrageous gets the attention and notoriety gives one credibility. A world in which clowns and jokers compete with each other to see who can be the biggest buffoon on the talk shows. A world in which stating your opinion can result in you being unfriended or blocked, but ranting like a lunatic will make you trend up hyperbolically.2


© OneOldCop – 2017

  1. FYI- If you have comments, questions or suggestions for which you might want a response, please use the “Feedback or Comments” link at the top of the page. OneOldCop will respond in some manner as time permits. General comments may be submitted below.
  2. As I reread this prior to scheduling it for publication, I realized not only is it still germane, in some ways it was pointing to the presidential race of 2016, and ongoing campaign for 2018 and 2020.
Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Leadership, Manners, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Was A Refugee

OneOldcop has a bit of a problem when it comes to mixing politics and religion. Part of the problem is the fact Christianity and politics were very closely aligned centuries ago, and the relationship was not one of which a believer could be proud.  Another part of the problem is some Christians seem to have forgotten many of those who colonized the new world were fleeing a world in which religion and politics were bedfellows. Still another part of the problem is that people who clearly consider Christianity to be based on myth and legend attempt to use Christian principles or beliefs to intimidate believers or to sway the way believers think about different issues.

The problem today is the way some non-Christians, and Christians as it turns out, are again misusing Jesus to push a point. In case the title of this piece is not enough of a hint, the issue of interest here is propaganda such as the “Jesus Was a Refugee” bumper sticker and the memes claiming Jesus would not be allowed to enter the country today because he was from the Middle East.

For the record, given the modern understanding of the word, Jesus was a refugee. He and his family left their homeland and traveled to Egypt to escape the plans of an evil king. Technically, Jesus was a refugee. That is where the similarity between Jesus and the flood of refugees around the world stops. Trying to equate Jesus to most modern day refugees makes less sense than comparing Elvis and Britney Spears.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were not part of a mass exodus caused by indiscriminate destruction of entire towns. They did not leave with litle hope of a future. In fact, the Bible says they left at the direction of an angel. Also, they were not dependent on the government of Egypt or another government for survival. In short they were nothing like the tens of thousands of people fleeing Syria and other middle eastern countries.

It is almost certain some of the people displaying the bumper sticker, posting memes or advocating that comparison are well intentioned. Well intentioned or not, using the name of Jesus in an attempt to guilt, shame or condemn others for opposing the resettlement of thousands of refugees in the United States is inappropriate.  It is also a misunderstanding of a Christian’s duty in this situation.

Resettlement of refugees from anywhere is not a religious issue. It is a political issue. In this case, it is also a political agenda. An agenda that may be well intentioned, but may well destroy the United States as it is destroying much of Europe at the moment.

Yes, Christians are supposed to love their neighbors. Yes, Christians are supposed to show kindness, even to their enemies. Nowhere however does the Bible say Christians are supposed to allow hordes of people to invade their country, destroy their economy, and make them feel unsafe in their own homes.

Some will see that last paragraph as the words of a hater. While nothing could be farther from the truth, it is beyond the control of this writer to do anything about another’s biases or ignorance. Still, the paragraph may contain a bit of hyperbole to make a point.

Again, this is not a Christian issue. It is a political, secular issue. If the government in its infinite wisdom decides that allowing tens of thousands of immigrants into the United States in spite of the risk is the proper thing to do, it becomes an issue for all of us, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist. At the moment however, the issue is not any threat the refugees may pose, politically, economically or criminally. At the moment, the issue is the obligation the government will be placing upon its citizens, especially Christians.

Once these people are admitted, it is our duty to treat them equitably and with respect. It is our duty to help them in any way we can. In the case of Christians, this is where the commandment to love one’s neighbor comes into play.

Loving your neighbor does not mean applauding when the government takes your tax money to pay for the resettlement and needs of these refugees. Loving your neighbor does not mean feeling all prideful that you displayed a bumper sticker or used the name of Jesus attempting to make someone feel guilty.

Loving your neighbor means reaching out to those in need. Loving your neighbor means you personally have a responsibility toward these refugees. It will be interesting to see how many “Jesus was a Refugee” folks line up to personally help a Syrian family resettle in a local neighborhood. Certainly, some will, but the reality is most will not. It is just easier to let the government, and someone else’s money, take care of it.

© OneOldCop.com – 2017

Posted in Christianity, Daily Life, Family Vaules, National Defense, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lest We Forget Redux

davidvnedtForty-eight years ago today, David C. M. Jackson made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  “Lest We Forget” was published in his memory Memorial Day 2011.

Lest We Forget

Posted in Uncategorized

Of Memes and Reputations

Oh, the wonderful world of memes! These little snippets of commentary have taken social media by storm, seemingly propagating at a rate that would shame the most fecund rabbits one can imagine. The latest one to catch OneOldCop’s attention is particularly loathsome, and seems to scream out for a response. So, here goes!

The meme in question is a picture of President Lyndon B. Johnson overlaid with the following:

“It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives.”

The caption of the meme is, “Here’s the difference between #45 and a REAL president.”

For the record, this is not fake news. The person creating the meme has not stolen a quotation from someone else and credited it to LBJ. It is, according to multiple sources, taken from a letter President Johnson wrote the Smothers Brothers in the late 1960s.

The quotation appears to be a very gracious response to the satirical abuse the Smothers Brothers rained down on President Johnson through their short-lived but history making television show. That is certainly what the creator of the meme is implying, and the caption seems to say our current president could learn something from President Johnson, a REAL president.

To be fair, the person producing the meme was likely following a trend that started in the blogosphere recently concerning the quotation. Multiple online publications and writers were crowing about the quotation for several days before the meme appeared. They were clearly taking shots at President Trump’s penchant for responding in kind when poked by critics or comics. Yet none went so far as to call President Johnson a REAL president, as did the creator of the meme.

Again, in the interest of fairness, it seems appropriate to clarify a few details for those gushing over President Johnson’s comments to his tormentors. First, let’s put this in context.

President Johnson was not always so understanding of the satire coming his way. In fact, there is evidence to believe he reacted very badly to the Smothers Brothers’ criticism of his presidency at times. Once he went so far as to call the head of CBS television in the middle of the night to complain about the attacks on him by the comics. The network’s response was to begin censoring the show more closely.

The oh-so-civil comment from the late president came only after he decided not to run for reelection. It was then that Tommy Smothers took it upon himself to write a letter of apology to the lame duck president. The quotation was part of the president’s response to Mr. Smothers’ letter. So, his graciousness came out after he had given up the presidency, and his tormentor apologized. Before that, there is no indication he ever said anything good about the Smothers Brothers or their comedy.1

If the only implication of the meme was that President Johnson handled criticism better than President Trump this piece could end here. Unfortunately, the implication is that President Johnson was a REAL president. If that is the case, one should look a little deeper into him and his presidency.

Some historians do rate President Johnson fairly high when it comes to some of his so-called accomplishments. His record on social issues is lauded by those who do not look much deeper than the surface, while others feel he put the country on the road to record numbers of welfare recipients and expanding programs designed to make people dependent on the government

Those issues aside, President Johnson bears a good deal of responsibility for the debacle of the Vietnam War. His Vietnam policies were the primary focus of the criticism he experienced from the Smothers Brothers and others during his service as president. His inability to handle the war issue more effectively cost thousands of soldiers their lives, and may have been a big part of why he chose not to run for reelection in 1968.

Finally, holding President Johnson up as a standard by which to measure the current president may not be exactly what those lauding his letter want to accomplish. President Trump may be a little quick to react through social media, but he cannot hold a candle to President Johnson in some other areas people might find to criticize.

Stolen votes and voters from the cemetery are only a portion of President Johnson’s legacy and legend. He had a reputation as a womanizer, and a pet name for a certain part of his anatomy that seems to fit with that image. Fortunately for him, there were no open microphone moments or tweets for critics to recycle endlessly while he was alive. Still, the stories were known and are a part of history.

Also, there is the story of his demand for a shower head in the White House that would spray squarely on his male anatomy. Additionally, there are stories concerning his habit of displaying his maleness at times.  His reputation as a civil rights champion is somewhat sullied by the reports of the way he treated people of color who worked for him. If LBJ was a REAL president, President Trump doesn’t look so bad in one or two areas.

Folks! The bottom line is this. If you want to criticize the president, or anyone else, be careful who you hold up as a standard. Also, before you forward or share something such as the meme discussed above, take a few minutes to do some research. You may just be sharing someone else’s poorly thought out snit-fit, making yourself look bad.

  1. The letters and the story surrounding them are on display at President Johnson’s library.

© S. E. Jackson – 2017

Posted in Daily Life, Political Extremes, Politics, social media, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Of Cops and Push-ups

Social media posts and news stories about police officers are a dime a dozen these days. They range from stories and comments about alleged police misconduct to feel good stories about cops saving the day or making someone’s day. Regardless of one’s feelings about the police, posts from both sides are becoming the equivalent of poorly planned marketing campaigns. OneOldCop is of the opinion many of the posts are a waste of time.

People who hate cops will not be swayed by a story of a police officer engaging in a snowball fight or shooting baskets with neighborhood kids. Likewise, those who support law enforcement will not turn against the police because of a video allegedly depicting an officer pulling a gun on some people having a snowball fight or shooting hoops. With that said, one recently posted and reported story deserves attention.

The incident appears fairly simple. An officer in Texas is working an off duty security assignment at a movie theater. He discovers a seventeen-year-old young man smoking marijuana just outside the theater and takes action.  It is the action he takes that makes this story interesting and complex.

Legally, the officer could have detained the young man, called the department and had the kid arrested. Instead, the officer gave the guy a choice, go to jail or do a bunch of push-ups. The kid chose the push-ups, and someone posted a video of the incident on social media.

Not surprisingly, comments about the video ranged from accolades to condemnation. Many people felt the officer made a good decision, finding a way to get the kid’s attention without arresting him. Others felt the officer was wrong, if not derelict in his duties, for letting the kid off without an arrest record.

At one point these folks would have been considered Monday morning quarterbacks. Unfortunately, an incident like this is ancient history by Monday morning, and these folks are thirty minute later, or less, quarterbacks. Whatever the time frame, none of the people making their opinions known were there. None of them knew anything about the matter, except what they’d seen in the video. Still, many judged the officer’s action as inappropriate.

The truth is the officer acted within the scope of his authority and the law. In Texas, and in most states, the “Code of Criminal Procedure” states a peace officer1 may arrest anyone committing a crime in the officer’s presence.2 That language in the statute means the police officer, even though off duty and working security for a private entity, could have arrested this kid and sent him to jail. It also means he was not required to make that arrest.3 The key word is may.

Throughout the history of modern law enforcement, in the United States at least, police officers were given a great deal of discretion in the area of arrests. In OneOldCop’s opinion, that concept is a basic key to effective and efficient law enforcement.

Police officers cannot take legal action against everyone observed committing a crime. There simply are not enough officers or enough hours in the day to take any kind of action against every crime an officer observes.  Additionally, requiring some formal police action, even the issuance of a citation, in every case a police officer detains or otherwise has contact with someone committing a crime would be stupid and inefficient. Yet some thought the officer in this case, and other officers one would assume, should do exactly that.

One can understand why the average person might be confused and concerned over the officer’s actions, either way.  It is possible for officers to abuse that discretion, as OneOldCop will discuss at some other time, but the real danger is not the public concern.  The real danger comes from administrators and elected officials who want to restrict or prohibit a police officer’s use of discretion.  This is a real challenge that everyone should find troubling.

See “Lack of Discretion” to read more on that subject, and stay tuned for more on policing in 2017.

1. In Texas peace officer is a term for law enforcement personnel in 35 categories ranging from sheriffs (CCP Art. 2.12.1) to fire marshal (Art. 2.12.35).
2. The code includes arrest authority without a warrant for crimes not committed in the officer’s presence under various circumstances.
3. For clarity, the code does not specifically give the officer authority to mete out some form of alternative punishment on the spot.  If OneOldCop was the officer’s supervisor, a discussion about the risks associated with street justice of this sort would have been appropriate.  Still, there would have been risks if the officer simply released the young man with a stern warning.  The use of discretion  involves a certain amount of risk, which is why some would like to curtail it.

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Police, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,