I’m checking in off-schedule because there are some things this week that are driving me batty–OK, one thing in particular–and also something that I just read that you guys need to read, partly because I said so and mostly because it’s excellent and insightful and important.
Assault is assault. Guys, this is true. I live in South Carolina, which is among America’s leaders in domestic assault incidences. The Post and Courier won a Pulitzer Prize last year for its series investigating domestic violence. It’s a real, living thing. It’s a taboo. And for some reason, we still think this violence is OK.
Listen. Self defense is OK. Assault is not. I’ve tried looking for the original video that shows a Spring Valley High School student being flung across the classroom by a school resource officer. In my minimal searching, I haven’t found footage that allegedly shows the girl, reportedly between the ages of 16 and 18, probably a minor, hitting the officer before he flips her desk over, yanks her out of it, and throws her onto the floor.
But even if that happened, that officer is still wrong because what he did is assault. Self defense is reasonable when 1. the force exerted is comparable to the force exerted against you and 2. when you’re in danger. This was not self defense, this was rage. He was angry that the girl did whatever she did, so he took it upon himself to FLIP HER OVER WHILE SHE WAS TRAPPED IN A DESK AND THROW HER ACROSS THE ROOM.
That is assault. I don’t care if she flouted authority. I don’t care if she hit him. I don’t care if she called him names. That was an inappropriate response to the situation because it did nothing but vent his aggression. If she’d had a knife, flipping over her desk would have done nothing to minimize the situation. If she’d had a gun, that’s doubly true.
Assault is a crime. It isn’t something you wave away. It isn’t something you excuse. It isn’t something you make excuses for. Was she in the wrong? Maybe. But didn’t your mother ever tell you that two wrongs don’t make a right?
I know I’m going on and on here. It’s because people infuriate me. I am so sick and tired of people making excuses for other people’s bad behavior. I am so tired of pointing fingers. I am so tired of there being levels of acceptable behavior depending on who’s playing the aggressor and who’s playing the victim.
Up to now, I haven’t given much thought to prison reform or to programs that assist inmates both while they’re in prison and when they’re out. I’ve nodded along when politicians have said we need prison and sentencing reforms, but the main argument in my head has, to date, been, “it’s just so expensive to keep people in prison.”
That’s true, it is expensive. But I think that it’s also very easy to ignore the humanity behind bars and barbed wire, to completely write off a growing segment of the population. I’m not willing to do that anymore, and it was this interview with a prison librarian published on Ask A Manager that helped me turn that corner. Highly recommend.