In my last article, I wrote about the exploitation and social invisibility of janitors at my school. The police are a similar class. They have low paid and often miserable jobs. They have the distinct honor of holding a profession where almost everyone they interact with doesn’t like them. They are also the collective bitch of white people. When an affluent or middle-class socially suburban person finds themselves in the uncomfortable situation of having to cross paths with among the less desirable of their fellow citizens, they see the police as the bouncers in the club that they see the world as. The idea that they are threatening to or engaging in using the awesome power of the state to take someone’s freedom away is lost on them because their cognitive biases restrict their perspective to the internal narration of their own life. Effectively, they’re using a gun to handle trivialities in many cases. In a significant portion of the times the police are used as a tool or a threat, the situation could easily have been handled without a metaphorical or literal gun.
From an outside perspective, this is a sociopathic level of regard for another’s humanity. To reduce the homeless, the dirty, the mentally ill, the poor, the varying degrees of brown, and disabled, and all of the other disaffected classes to an objectified inconvenience. Without a conscience, it is very rational to say “Get away or I’m sending you to an internment camp!” That’s what incarceration is, an internment camp. For the record, the median conditions of modern, American, incarceration are worse than those in Japanese-American internment camps during the Second World War. I don’t tattle on people to authority ever unless I believe they are a serious danger to persons, property, or privacy. I take the position that tolerating being uncomfortable is worth it because it isn’t worth it to throw another human being into a hole to save my feelings. If I have power over someone’s life or livelihood, I’m not going to use it at a whim. I’m not going to hurt people with it unless I’ve got a damn good reason to. In terms of feelings, the worst feeling that I ever feel is being dominated and overpowered. Most people, including myself, are not into BDSM and I’m not going to send someone to dominate someone else on my behalf unless absolutely necessary.
Therein lies the psychology of calling the police. The police are like the janitors in that the rich people see them as little more than a Roomba, a faceless utility to clean up messes. The poor and otherwise marginalized people whom the police are used against are the splotches on the floor to be vacuumed up. In either case, nobody is a human. There lacks the empathy of one human psychology toward another and the appreciation that the person on the other side has a full life and is more than the inconvenience of the moment. It harkens back to expanding circle theory, that ingroups don’t see outgroups as human. When they’re trying to get rid of a hobo or something of equal seriousness, they fail to recognize their humanity.
I’m a member of Black Lives Matter and many things have been said about the criminal justice system but I think the most accurate thing you could say is that more than representing a racist system of malicious oppression, it represents the spoiled entitlement of people who believe the rights to comfort are tantamount to the rights to safety and act accordingly. Karens are racist but more than racist, they want convenience. They want you to get out of their way on their daily jog and they’re willing to ruin your life to do it because they don’t see you as human. They’re not calling the police because you’re black but being black makes you unsightly and that’s why they called. They’re a one-person HOA. Instead of this being about racism, it is about humans being valued for their utility or lack thereof and not their humanity.
Throwing somebody away is a shockingly inhumane way to regard another human life. We should have a society where we tolerate each other when we are uncomfortable with one another. Where discomfort is endured out of love. Scaring an innocent person with a gun to make your day more pleasant is not how people love each other. It’s surrendering to the natural impulse to the opposite.