Uncommon Sense

September 9, 2018

Another Approach (The Nike Ad Campaign)

Recently, the shoe company (amongst their other products) Nike featured Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign with one of its tag lines being “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Mr. Kaepernick is famous for protesting police brutality against people of color by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem at NFL football games. (Kneeling is a form of respect and submission, but not the form that Mr. Kaepernick’s detractors want.) He paid a price of many millions of dollars in that he lost his job as an NFL quarterback.

Several police organizations have protested this ad campaign as being a fallacious smear against the police who risk their lives daily. This is a bit much but also ignores the many, many incidents in which police officers have shot and or killed people of color with no repercussions other than occasionally an officer losing his job. The idea of a police officer being prosecuted for excessive force is almost ludicrous in this country.

Interestingly, police officers and their organizations, supposedly taught how to diffuse tense situations have instead poured fuel on the flames. There is available to them another approach.

They could have, without agreeing to anything, stated that a police officer using excessive force is unacceptable. They could go on to state that while the vast majority of officers do their jobs safely and with respect, even one bad officer is unacceptable. Consequently, the XYZ Police Association asks for more training funds and … blah, blah, blah. They could even have asked Mr. Kaepernick to sit with them and discuss options to move forward to a safer future. All of these things would defuse some of the issues involved.

Several things that come to my mind are the removal of the feeling of fear as a justification for a policeman to use deadly force. According to the police organizations, policemen face death daily, which just has to be associated with fear (and courage) which means that deadly force is always a reasonable approach for these officers … on a daily basis. This is unacceptable. I suggest that the level of force should never exceed the penalty for the infraction involved. If pulled over for a traffic violation, the worst thing to happen is a ticket and a fine. If somebody, once stopped, speeds away, there is another ticket and another fine, not an excuse to shoot at the miscreant or the miscreant’s car.

Allowing the feeling of fear to be the justification for the application of deadly force is ludicrous. We cannot verify such a fear, we can only sympathize. And even if the fear exists, we are asking officers to lower the fear level, not extinguish it. (Note The same thing goes for stand your ground laws.)

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