With All Due Respect

You can demand respect but that will just make you look like a jerk. You have to earn respect – unless you’re an authority figure like a policeman. Even if they seem to be doing something nasty and wrong, show them the proper respect. Do what they say, exactly what they say, and say nothing yourself. Give them a bit of lip or even ask a question and you’ll be sorry – you might even end up dead, and that’ll be your fault. There may be bad cops here and there, but that’s not for you to decide at the moment – assume that’s a good cop shoving you to the ground kicking you over and over again. These things happen. The police have a tough job after all – and that cop who yanked that schoolgirl from her desk and threw her across the room and dragged her out the door by her hair wouldn’t have had to do that if someone had brought her up right. That’s not his fault. One should respect authority. Kids don’t learn that anymore.

One should respect authority – but everyone should have a gun to keep Obama from putting us all in FEMA reeducation camps, and everyone should side with Cliven Bundy against the Bureau of Land Management as it tries to collect the millions in grazing fees he refused to pay out there in the West, for using public lands. Just because Obama is president and the feds can show up in uniform and arrest you, that doesn’t mean you have to respect their authority. If freedom means anything it means that no one can tell you what you can and cannot do – unless it’s the police – unless it isn’t the police. If the police, at any level, are enforcing a law that you think violates your constitutional or God-given right to do something or other, no matter what the courts have ruled, tell them to fuck off. Get your gun. One shouldn’t really respect authority. Black kids should respect authority. You needn’t.

And then there’s the idea that everyone should be treated with respect – unless they’re Muslim or dressed like a thug, or don’t like country music, or don’t like opera. There are always exemptions and those change over time – it used to be the Irish who had to earn respect, if they could. But everyone should be treated with respect, as a general principle. General principles are pleasant, but when someone says “with all due respect” listen to what follows. It won’t be respect. They’ve just excused themselves from that.

This respect thing gets confusing, and after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and the business with the quite dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and then Eric Garner on Staten Island, we got the Black Lives Matter movement. The message was simple. Can we get a little respect here? Yeah, yeah – Blue Lives Matter too – All Lives Matter. Fine – but can we get a little respect here too?

Apparently not and that just exploded again:

Months of student and faculty protests over racial tensions and other issues that all but paralyzed the University of Missouri [Columbia] campus culminated Monday in an extraordinary coup for the demonstrators, as the president of the university system resigned and the chancellor of the flagship campus here said he would step down to a less prominent role at the end of the year.

The threat of a boycott by the Missouri football team dealt the highest-profile blow to the president, Timothy M. Wolfe, and the chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, but anger at the administration had been growing since August, when the university said it would stop paying for health insurance for graduate teaching and research assistants.

It reversed course, but not before the graduate assistants held demonstrations, threatened a walkout, took the first steps toward forming a union and joined forces with students demonstrating against racism.

Then the university came under fire from Republicans for ties its medical schools and medical center had to Planned Parenthood. The university severed those ties, drawing criticism from Democrats that it had caved in to political pressure.

But it was charges of persistent racism, particularly complaints of racial epithets hurled at the student body president who is black that sparked the strongest reactions, along with complaints that the administration did not take the problem seriously enough.

That’s a lot of stuff, but the racist crap, things like the swastikas smeared on walls, incident after incident that no one would address, was the main factor, and this was more of the same:

Many of the students and faculty members who took part in demonstrations had also been inspired by the protest movement sparked last year in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, after a white police officer there killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, and they were experienced at using social media in organizing. They saw themselves as part of a continuum of activism linking Ferguson, other deaths at the hands of police, protests on campuses around the country and the Black Lives Matter movement.

It all came together. They’d had enough, and there are countless opinions on all this, and endless detail, but this was another massive demand for a little respect – or else. No one died this time, but there was the backlash – Leon H. Wolf with Four Reasons the Missouri Football Strikers are Cowardly Liberal Lazy Douchebags and Dana Pico with University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe Wimps Out and RUSH LIMBAUGH: Mizzou President Resigned for “Crime of Being White” and so on. That was to be expected. The short form is this – We demand respect! – Stop whining! – We demand respect! – Respect authority!

That dialog has been going on forever, but the week before, it was this:

Before officials on Wednesday said that Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz died of suicide, the Illinois police officer’s death spurred commentators and Illinois residents to rally against Black Lives Matter, placing blame on the group’s rhetoric for the deaths of police officers. Police groups quickly compared Gliniewicz’s death to the shooting death of Texas sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth and charged that police officers were under attack.

“There’s a hostile element within the community at large,” Jim Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police, told the Washington Post after Gliniewicz’s death in September. “There’s in many incidences a lack of support on the part of elected officials and police management. And there’s this ubiquitous social-media effort to discredit all police officers because of the extraordinarily rare misconduct by a very few.”

Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, penned an op-ed in USA Today railing against the Black Lives Matter movement’s “dangerous” rhetoric in the wake of the deaths of Gliniewicz and Goforth.

“Despite the current lack of hard data and empirical evidence in both the murder of deputy Goforth and the broader spike in violent crimes across the country, concluding that both stem from the anti-cop themes from such protesters, liberal politicians and the mainstream media is hardly counterintuitive,” he wrote. “That movement, while having the opportunity to propound much needed, responsible themes on police reform, has too often drifted into the rhetoric of ignorance and hate.”

Members of the Fox Lake community mourned Gliniewicz’s death with signs showing support for police officers that read “Police Lives Matter” and “We Stand with Blue,” NBC Chicago reported.

And then there was this:

Fox News anchor Shep Smith threw shade at those who tried to connect Illinois Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz’s death to the Black Lives Matter movement – including politicians, pundits and media outlets.

“Think of the narrative that came out of that from so many, many places, about, ‘It’s the fault of the Black Lives Matter movement,'” Smith said Thursday. “All of this stuff that was just, it really turned up the rhetoric and it really was factually wrong.” …

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were among those who argued Gliniewicz’s death was as a result of a so-called “war on cops,” while Smith’s Fox News colleague Megyn Kelly directly linked the incident to the Black Lives Matter movement. Smith pointed to fresh revelations in the documents, including that Gliniewicz attempted to hire a hit man to kill a village administrator he “feared would expose him as a thief” and text messages stored in his phone that indicate he considered planting cocaine on the administrator to “discredit her as a criminal.” Investigators also unearthed evidence Wednesday that Gliniewicz had been stealing money from a local police program he oversaw for years.

“Don’t get ahead of the news,” Smith concluded. “It’ll run you over.”

But then there had been Pat Buchanan:

Barack Obama, as chief law enforcement officer of the United States, is going to have to stop acting like a conscientious objector in this war on cops.

Wednesday, another officer, in Fox Lake, Illinois, Lt. Charles “GI Joe” Gliniewicz, was gunned down. Last Friday, Darren Goforth, a Houston deputy sheriff, was shot 15 times by an alleged black racist.

President Obama called the widow of Deputy Goforth, but he has yet to show the same indignation and outrage he exhibited at what happened to Trayvon Martin in Florida and Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Buchanan has been silent since, and the New York Times’ Charles Blow points out more:

Immediately following Gliniewicz’s death, a former United States Secret Service agent, Dan Bongino, went on Fox News and, as images of the search for Gliniewicz’s phantom killers played on the screen, said of President Obama:

“The man has been a complete disgrace when it comes to dealing with police officers, and it really gives me no joy in saying that. I know people can engage in hyperbolic statements here, but it’s just the truth. I mean, how many people are going to have to die, how many police officers, before President Obama has that Sister Souljah moment President Clinton had and he comes out and says ‘enough is enough’?”

In an October interview with Crime Watch Daily, even Gliniewicz’s widow lamented that she had not heard from the president and said, while sobbing, “When our officers can’t go home without being shot at, then there’s a problem.”

That’s not the problem:

In the same way that not every black life taken is taken with malice, or without an awareness that it matters, not every police life taken is the result of a hostile policing environment in which calls for justice translate into a call for retribution. Sometimes bad people simply do bad things. …

The people who sought to politicize Gliniewicz’s death should feel chastened and embarrassed. Rather than simply mourning his death, empathizing with his family and waiting for the results of the full investigation – the very same thing they ask of those unsettled by the deaths of people at the hands of police officers – they pushed an association that didn’t exist.

So eager – or at least too recklessly willing – were they to add another tick mark to the tally of officers fallen in the supposed war on the police, and to ding protesters and the president, that they built a sham argument on a sham murder.

There was no murder. There was no war on police. There is no war on police. There are, however, frustrated fellow citizens demanding respect and those who find that both frightening and disgusting. The reaction to what happened at the University of Missouri brought out the same fear and disgust – but there is no “crime of being white” no matter what Rush Limbaugh says. And those who are asking for a little respect here, for a change, are not asking anyone else to give up anything at all. They just want what everyone else has, as their due.

Maybe the law can help with that, or maybe not:

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a police officer who shot and killed a fleeing suspect from a highway overpass. The court’s decision was unsigned and issued without full briefing and oral argument, an indication that the majority found the case to be easy.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explains what’s going on here:

On the night of March 23, 2010, trooper Chadrin Mullenix of the Texas Department of Public Safety stood on an overpass debating what to do. Israel Leija Jr., an allegedly armed and intoxicated fugitive, was fleeing the police in a high-speed chase a few miles away. Mullenix planned to set up spike strips – but as Leija approached, Mullenix decided to shoot at his car instead, a tactic in which he had no training. His supervisor, Sgt. Robert Byrd, responded that Mullenix should “stand by” rather than shooting and “see if the spikes” laid down the road “work first.”

Mullenix ignored the order and fired six shots at Leija’s car as it passed underneath – seconds before the vehicle hit the spike strips designed to stop it. Four of his bullets penetrated Leija’s head, shoulders, and neck. Leija was killed.

Coincidentally, Mullenix had been singled out for a pep talk earlier that very day for not being “proactive” enough on the job. When he saw his supervisor after killing Leija, Mullenix quipped: “How’s that for proactive?”

That’s pretty nasty. The trooper doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for anyone, and of course it went to court, but the law is of no use:

Leija’s mother filed a civil rights suit against Mullenix, alleging that the trooper violated her son’s Fourth Amendment rights by using “unreasonable force.” She had a great case: A Department of Public Safety shooting review found that Mullenix had acted recklessly, lacking “sufficient legal or factual justification to use deadly force.” On Monday, however, the Supreme Court handed Mullenix a huge legal victory, holding that his actions did not violate “clearly established constitutional law” and granting him qualified immunity.

Stern then points out the obvious:

The decision provides yet more evidence that the court’s “unreasonable force” standard has been defanged to provide cover to reckless officers. The case also demonstrates that when it comes to understanding the systemic flaws and violent behavior of America’s criminal justice system, there’s no one quite like Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

She was the dissenter here and very lonely:

Every justice except Sotomayor, who dissented from the ruling, and Justice Antonin Scalia, who independently concurred, appears to have joined the court’s brief, unsigned decision granting Mullenix immunity. (Sorry, Notorious RBG groupies, but that includes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has a bit of a law-and-order streak.) The majority opinion provides a classic retrospective rationalization of Mullenix’s actions, leaning heavily on a brief by the National Association of Police Organizations, a pro–law-enforcement lobbying group. Mullenix, the court explained, could only be denied qualified immunity if the unreasonableness of his actions were “beyond debate.” The Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that officers may not use deadly force against a fleeing suspect unless he poses a “significant threat of violence,” and despite what the court ruled, it’s not at all obvious that Leija posed such a threat that Mullenix had to shoot at him seconds before he hit the spike strips.

But, the majority wrote on Monday, the appropriateness of deadly force “involving car chases” remains “hazy,” with various circuit courts interpreting the deadly force standard differently in the car chase context. Because “qualified immunity protects actions in the hazy border between excessive and acceptable force,” the court ruled, Mullenix gets the benefit of the doubt.

Scalia went even further, explaining that he “would not describe what occurred here as the application of deadly force in effecting an arrest” because Mullenix, despite shooting six bullets at the car as it passed beneath him, did not clearly intend to kill Leija.

Scalia said this:

It does not assist analysis to refer to all use of force that happens to kill the arrestee as the application of deadly force. The police might, for example, attempt to stop a fleeing felon’s car by felling a large tree across the road; if they drop the tree too late, so that it crushes the car and its occupant, I would not call that the application of deadly force. Though it was force sufficient to kill, it was not applied with the object of harming the body of the felon.

It wasn’t? Sotomayor saw that as nonsense:

“This Court’s precedents,” Sotomayor wrote, “clearly establish that the Fourth Amendment is violated unless the ‘governmental interests’ in effectuating a particular kind of seizure outweigh the ‘nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests.'” The government certainly had a strong interest in stopping Leija – but was that interest so strong as to justify shooting Leija before he hit the spikes?

Sotomayor says no, concluding that “Mullenix ignored the longstanding and well-settled Fourth Amendment rule that there must be a governmental interest not just in seizing a suspect, but in the level of force used to effectuate that seizure.”

And then there was her last paragraph:

When Mullenix confronted his superior officer after the shooting, his first words were, “How’s that for proactive?” (Mullenix was apparently referencing an earlier counseling session in which Byrd suggested that he was not enterprising enough.) The glib comment does not impact our legal analysis; an officer’s actual intentions are irrelevant to the Fourth Amendment’s “objectively reasonable” inquiry. But the comment seems to me revealing of the culture this Court’s decision supports when it calls it reasonable – or even reasonably reasonable – to use deadly force for no discernible gain and over a supervisor’s express order to “stand by.” By sanctioning a “shoot first, think later” approach to policing, the Court renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow.


This stirring passage could easily have been delivered at an anti–police violence protest. That it was penned by a Supreme Court justice only adds to its intensity. As my colleague Leon Neyfakh recently wrote, courts have been whittling down constitutional protections against police violence for decades. That fact seems suddenly relevant in the face of seemingly endless police shootings. In her dissent Monday, Sotomayor took a courageous stand against such violence, directly indicting “shoot first, think later” police culture. Her words couldn’t vindicate Leija’s constitutional rights. But they’ll send a clear message to police violence protestors that they have at least one ally on the highest court in the land.

She’s with them. Everyone deserves respect. You don’t, just for the hell of it, disobey direct orders and shoot folks dead, and joke about it – or maybe you do, with all due respect, which means something else entirely.

And how do you get real respect? Get yourself a major college football team that will refuse to play unless you get the respect you deserve. Other than that you’re out of luck.


About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
This entry was posted in Black Lives Matter, President of the Missouri University System Resigns, Respect and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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