Diane Dimond: Dead officers no reason for celebration
The right to freedom of speech in America gives every citizen almost absolute permission to say whatever they think about a given topic. Even if the comments are offensive to the majority, citizens have a right to express their opinion.
So go ahead — say what you want. But realize the law does not necessarily protect you from others’ reactions to your comments. And sometimes what people say is so damnably stupid they deserve some blowback.
Such was the case with 19-year-old Sierra McCurdy. After two Hattiesburg, Mississippi, police officers were executed during a routine stop, this thoughtless teenager gleefully wrote on Facebook, “GOT ‘EM,” followed by three handgun emoticons. It wasn’t her only mean-spirited message. McCurdy, using the slang spelling so often seen on the Internet, followed up with, “We can turn this bxtch into Baltimore real quick,” and, “Police take away innocent people lives everyday now & get away w/it. F— them…(no mercy).”
Officer Benjamin Deen, a white man, was 34 and left two children behind. Liquori Tate was 25, unmarried and black — just like McCurdy. Did she know the color of either of these patrol men when she made her hateful comments? Were they knee-jerk statements against authority that she thought her peers would applaud or were her posts racial in nature, made after assuming both officers were white?
Either way, it’s an unconscionable opinion. And she made it worse for herself by including a smiling selfie, taken while wearing her Subway sandwich shop uniform. After McCurdy’s offensive messages were spread far and wide, she was fired.
I can just hear the excuses now: McCurdy is only 19, and, well, teens post the darnedest things. But you know what? That’s old enough to know you don’t celebrate the meaningless assassination of two human beings.
Four suspects have been arrested in conjunction with the officer’s murders: two brothers and two others. All are black, if that even matters. It could just as well have been four white punks arrested.
Race is not the point here. It is the callousness so many display for human life these days. When did so many of us decide physical confrontation is the answer to conflict? And why do so many, like that young girl in Mississippi, react with delight when someone dies in a tragic street battle?
No, it’s not just race. It is the erosion of respect for human life. It is the idea that vengeance matters more than life. When that destructive attitude prevails, there aren’t enough laws in the land to control things. And what do laws matter if the citizenry doesn’t trust the officers tasked with upholding the laws?
Yes, there has been a spate of seemingly senseless (and highly publicized) deaths of minority men at the hands of police lately. And some officers — in Baltimore and South Charleston, South Carolina, for example — now face serious charges for their actions. The system will judge them.
But in my opinion, the media over-hypes and badly reports on a handful of police-related incidents in a land where more than 1 million sworn law enforcement officers go to work every day. Rumors are reported as facts, and as the untruths are repeated, bands of uninformed protestors cry out for immediate justice. They would rather scream “racism!” than stop to understand what prompted the incidents.
Fact: Those young men in Mississippi were stopped for speeding and reportedly reacted by murdering two officers. Fact: Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri, proved that a young man decided to attack an officer in his car and fight with him in the street rather than stop walking down the middle of the road as instructed. Fact: A teenager in Madison, Wisconsin, hopped up on a mix of hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and Xanax, delivered a concussive blow to an officer responding to a 911 call. Fearing for his life, the cop lawfully used his gun, and the young man was killed.
That bi-racial victim’s mother was quoted as saying of the police, “They could have done a lot. What they didn’t do was give my son any respect.”
Really? How much respect did her son give the responding officer? Respect is a two-way street. Until we all walk down that path, we’ll continue to read about more of these senseless deaths.