To Anyone Clinging To “A Few Bad Apples”

I am a fan and a member of TYT, but given my recent workload I had fallen behind on shows. Because of this I only heard this story today, even though TYT ran this story at the beginning of September. It might not be fresh news, but I still think it is a very important story that I want to share, because it is so indicative of what we have been talking about for so long about police brutality in the United States.


That cop deserved a medal for excellent police work. Instead, he was fired, because he correctly identified the situation he was in and didn’t shoot the man that was trying to commit suicide by cop. He basically did, in real life, what we see in countless movies and TV shows, ones that glorify police officers, and yet in the real world such reasonable action will get you fired.

I wanted to post this story because, I think, it goes to the heart of the “a few bad apples” debate. The current situation with overwhelming police brutality in the United States is usually summed up by two schools of thought: “It’s the training” or “It’s a few bad apples who make everyone else look bad”. At least, the two schools of thought amongst those who even admit that there is a problem in the first place.

This story, I think, puts the final nail in the coffin of rotten apples. It shows how cops who do the right thing are punished, while those who shoot first and never even bother to ask questions are protected and rewarded. It shows how deep the problem is, and how far we have to go to make a change.

It’s not a matter of weeding out the few bad apples, or dismissing them as unrepresentative of the police force as a whole. Solving this issue is going to take a profound change of the system, the training, and what is expected of police conduct. It’s an uphill battle, no one denies that, but acknowledging what the problem is has to be the first step.


  1. Jake Harban says

    If recollection holds, the phrase is “a few bad apples spoil the barrel.”

    Whether or not it started with a few bad apples, the entire barrel is clearly spoiled.

  2. intransitive says

    Jake Harban (#1) –

    Whether or not it started with a few bad apples, the entire barrel is clearly spoiled.

    We’re at the point where the only option is to incinerate the barrel. It’s not worth the effort to try to save a single one. Get rid of them all and start fresh, it’s the only way to be sure.

    • StevoR says

      Is it?

      I don’t know. I hope not. But perhaps.

      I really don’t know – and that last sentence is factual not rhetorical or metaphorical. Certainly there sis enough of a case to say the system is too racist, too messed up and evil from all the world has seen so far.

      • StevoR says

        Vale Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Freddy Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Rekia Boyd, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and so many others. What could they have become and contributed given a fair go and chance to live?

        I don’t know. I wish we all did. They didn’t have to die and should be alive now – but aren’t. They shouldn’t be forgotten not one of them yet there are too many names to fully know or list. My utterly inadequate condolences to all their families and friends. Which won’t bring them back. Their black lives matter – or should have.

        Bad “apples” eh? Yeah. Nah. Bad, flippin’, murderous racist cops & the system that enables and empowers those cops to kill at random African American people who deserve actual justice and life.

  3. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To story in OP
    That is so fucked up. I wondered what the angle would be, and I couldn’t think of it. “Putting the lives of other officers in danger” makes perfect sense.

    Solving this issue is going to take a profound change of the system, the training, and what is expected of police conduct.

    IMHO, fuck training and expectations. What is needed is a near complete, or complete, removal of special police powers. The problem is systemic. We know this. This is what happens with the current incentives in place. “Improving training” is a pipedream that utterly ignores all we know about human psychology, group behavior, and how individuals respond to incentives. We need to change those incentives.

    Police should be allowed to shoot someone in self defense. If they shoot someone wrongly in self defense, according to the same self defense standards as anyone else, then their ass should be charged for assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, or murder, as would happen for anyone else. IMHO, anything less than this is not going to cut it.

    We need to recognize the police as what they are: hired goons.

    Bounty hunters.

    The police are nothing more than paid muscle. It’s ridiculous that we give them so much discretion and special police powers and immunities. They don’t need anywhere near that much special treatment in order to do their job. It may seem radical to move towards more of a private citizen status for police, but it makes perfect sense as soon as you recognize that the police are, have been, and always will be, hired goons.

    Government paid police are a necessary evil. The alternative is Pinkertons, which is another level of horrifying. But let’s return to the American standard of “everyone is equal before the law, government hired goons included”.

    Now, how do we get there, with the systemic bias and corruption of government prosecutors? How can we charge government police for crimes when the only person who can charge them is a government prosecutor – given the well known corruption there?

    We could try to fix government prosecutors to be less biased. That might work.

    I personally prefer the option of the return of private criminal prosecutions. Allow the victim, family of the victim, and friends of the victim to get first dibs to initiate criminal charges and nominate the criminal prosecutor (subject to approval by a grand jury, with the presumption that the nominated person is fit). Otherwise, the ability to initiate criminal charges and nominate the criminal prosecutor reverts to the government of jurisdiction.

    Would my plan help this particular case? Not directly. My plan might result in a culture shift that would help cases like this indirectly.

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