Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

July 30, 2008

The Smoking Gun: NYPD Bruise

Filed under: culture — codesmithy @ 9:38 am

The Smoking Gun has video and subsequent police report of a NYPD officer knocking over a bicyclist.  In the incident report, the police officer presumably signed the following statement.

Deponent further states that upon instructing the defendant to cease the above-described conduct, the defendant steered the defendant’s bicycle in the direction of deponent and drove defendant’s bicycle directly into deponent’s body, causing deponent to fall to the ground and causing deponent to suffer lacerations on deponent’s forearms.

The important thing to note is not the basic facts, the officer might have indeed suffered lacerations on his forearms.  Rather, how the whole sequence of events was framed.  It was this entire framing that was misleading.

It is really hard to speak to the police officers motivations.  It could be that he thought he was going to get hit by the bicyclist.  For example, the bicyclist was possibly “acting like” he was going to hit the officer from the officer’s perspective.  Whether or not the bicyclist had that intention is questionable.  However, it could be the police officer had some stereotype in his mind about the nature of an activist.  Therefore, we would be equally guilty of projecting a stereotype if we thought the cop did this just to bust someone’s head and later lied about it.

In short, our societal conceptions of the nature of evil and violence are hampered by myths, myths about the motivations of perpetrators.  It is a basis of the cultural incongruity, the conceptual chasm, that exists between evil acts and pure motivations.  The officer could have had some legitimate concern for his own safety that caused him act the way he did.  This doesn’t make his actions any less distasteful, but painting caricatures or assuming the worse about perpetrators doesn’t help either.

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