There is a plague in the land that is terminating police careers in a
heartbeat, a phenomenon we have talked about, worried about, and tried
to get everyone to understand, all to no avail. Given the continuing
rise of social justice warriors and their political, media, and law
enforcement sycophants, a simple Facebook post, a funny Instagram meme,
or an innocuous Tweet can be the newest form of "You Bet Your Badge!"
You Bet Your Badge is an unfunny game where the crime fighter takes a
certain unnecessary risk and then holds his or her breath to see where
the wheel stops spinning. You do it when you drive outside of policy,
make a snarky comment to a violator and then head back to your vehicle
saying, "What the heck was I thinking?" or generally do something that
seems right at the time but then turns sour in retrospect. Today's
Social Justice Chief and Mayor have made playing this game even scarier
than it was in the past, and the rise of cameras, cameras everywhere is
making every stop, every call, every contact a new opportunity to play
another terrifying round of YBYB.
To make matters worse, you can now play this dangerous game from the
comfort of your own recliner. Just go to your favorite pro-police forum
and post something about terrorists, gang bangers, a specific dirtbag,
or something political. Whatever you post becomes your entry into the
world of "getta badge!" There is now a series of groups whose sole
function seems to be to prove how racist, sexist, homophobic, and brutal
American law enforcement is. Common terms and actions are now redefined
according to some academic left-wing dictionary, and expressions that
may once have been patriotic, pro-police, masculine, or benignly
political in nature cause readers and researchers to run to the public
forum to condemn the offending crime fighter.
Pittsburgh, Phoenix, St. Louis, and wherever is next have all felt
the wrath of hypersensitive moral gatekeepers perusing law enforcement
officers' posts on Facebook, Instagram, and who knows where else to try
to find "offensive" content. Once identified, the offense is an
unforgiveable sin, the destruction of the sinner must be absolute, and
the idea that "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will
never hurt me" is replaced by the notion that the First Amendment is an
aberration; words must be properly monitored and ideas crushed. George
Orwell would be stunned at the degree of his own prescience.
While we all know that part of coping with the stress of crime
fighting is exercising our cynical humor, dark jokes, and over-the-top
comments, the public sits in judgment as framed by humorless, "smartest
person in the room" types who sit in mom's basement reading the various
social media sites looking for offenses or things that, taken out of
context, could be offensive, and then ramp it up.
To further aggravate this situation, the media and politicians have
found that their constant agitation of communities against the police
produces a power accentuating effect that benefits them, regardless of
how devastating it is for the unity of the public in a free society.
Trust holds our nation together, and the demagogues of today who are
undermining this trust are playing with fire. Plato described how
democracies descend into tyrannies as demagogues—literally "mob
speakers"—use their skills to sway the masses. The masses then surrender
their freedom to the demagogues, who eventually become despots. Our
Founding Fathers were careful to establish a government that avoids such
an outcome, but today's social justice warriors and their enabling
cadre seem to be heading in this direction.
All of this gives me apocalyptic nightmares about where we are headed
and, until we regain our social stability, I have the following advice
for you crime fighters out there:
1) Monitor your social media more than ever before. 2) Double-check
your agency's policies for posting on social media. 3) Make sure your
friends and loved ones are careful about their own posts if you are
"tagged" in any of them. 4) Do not like, retweet, or share anything that
allows anyone to use it as ammunition against you. Finally, 5) "When in
doubt, leave it out." If you have any inkling that your post or meme
may place your badge in the mouth of the monster, don't do it!
Just a few short years ago we were able to keep our work life and our
personal, social media life separate; but I'm afraid those days are
gone. Because what is considered "offensive" seems to change on a daily
basis, try to limit your social media posts to family photos, fun
vacations, and, yes, pro-police memes; and look forward to the day you
retire when you can post anything you damn well please.
Dave Smith is an internationally recognized law enforcement
trainer and is the creator of "JD Buck Savage." You can follow Buck on
Twitter at @thebucksavage.