Room 57: Illiteracy, Profiling, and Cops [see previous post on morals]
—I know you’re tired of people picking on cops, but we have to interrogate you too.
—Asiomerican lives matter. Carry on.
—There’s a bit from when Thomas is talking to you and he has this theory that the reason you shot his friend was because “you and your buddies can’t read.”
—That’s right. Kind of an unfair charge directed at a cop.
—I think he has a point.
—That we’re a bunch of ignorant redneck bullies?
—No. That’s impossible. Not all cops are rednecks. There are so many in Northern states. What I mean is that sometimes it’s actually NOT that you are a bunch of bullies, but that you fail to be well-trained. I mean, maybe sometimes you just plain don’t care. But sometimes it’s just that you’re not really smart enough to be a cop. You don’t know how to read or interpret rules and laws critically, and it gets you in a bind where you make a mistake and instead of own up to it you cozy up to a rule that you actually abused.
—Like the 21 foot rule. I get it, okay? I already admitted to abusing the rule. Do we have to debate it?
—We’re not debating it. Because you admitted you were wrong. The point is, we have something to learn here. To be a good cop, you can’t just know the rule. You have to understand its proper application. If you don’t understand that the rule applies to drawing your gun, not already having it drawn, you shouldn’t be a cop.
—You don’t have time to think when an attacker is only twenty feet away.
—You’re also a bad listener, so I’ll explain. It’s not about the distance. In the 21 foot rule, you have not yet assessed a scene, and he’s coming at you from a short distance. Oh, and you’re probably alone or with your partner. But in your situation, you were drawn, had assessed the area, and had a SWAT team by you. With a SWAT team, you should have known you didn’t have to fire your weapon, not to mention aim at the upper torso.
—They shot too, remember.
—My point exactly. They were trained to make the same mistake you did. Instead of something more coordinated, they each decided to shoot a guy with a knife multiple times. They had on armor. If a SWAT team shoots a guy with only a knife seventeen times, they should have never become SWAT members in the first place. If you don’t have the critical thinking skills for a job, don’t sign up for it. Take responsibility for how illiterate you are.
—I played by the rules.
—Yes, but you also lost all nuance. You served the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. This is about the attitude of the Pharisees, abusing laws to serve yourself, and not the greater good. If it was the astronaut and not some Vietnamese kid, the public would have actually cared more.
—AND if the hospital didn’t cover up our goof.
—Goof. You say it like all you did was slip on a banana. Eggers may be getting preachy, but as an author, he’s making a case for literacy. Reading improves lives. Reading his book, or any book, develops our capacity for critical thinking and empathy. If anything, the moral to the story is be inspired to read and think. If you walk away with anything, walk away with that. Be responsible. Read responsibly. I am interpreting his book. You interpret the law. You may not be a judge, but when you execute someone on site, you are acting as judge, jury, and executioner. Tired of being held to a high standard? Quit the police force. Take responsibility.
—What if this isn’t about personal responsibility? Like you said, I was trained, and so was the SWAT team and the hospital staff.
—Then now I’m going to go talk to another character about that. Specifically, a hospital manager.