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Oh how easily perspective gets skewed

You’d think — you really would — that if you were in a place where a man had just shot a cop and the cops were setting up a siege (which would ultimately end with more shooting and a house going up in flames), you’d see immediately that something dangerous was going on. And you might logically take action to avoid the area.

But nope. Happens that a friend and I were driving down a street yesterday where a cop had just been shot. Squad cars were zooming in. Lights were flashing. Yada yada.

When my friend remarked, “Something big must be happening,” I shrugged, “Or they’re just busting another tweaker.” Because I’ve seen the surround-house-with-screaming-squad-cars routine repeatedly in my neighborhood. And that’s always what it is.

The last one I watched (before yesterday) was just across the street from my house. And (typically) the guy who got all that coply attention was a harmless neighbor who was back home the next day. He had just happened to fall victim to the latest spend-a-week-rounding-up-the-dopers-to-make-news-and-get-funding spree.

So my friend and I continued going about our business within sight of the siege and, frankly, I didn’t even pay attention to it when we came out of the store we were in, even though it was undoubtedly heating up at that moment.

Of course we and the other shoppers weren’t likely to have been in any danger (though the way some cops shoot, you never know). That’s not my point.

What struck me when I read the news this morning was how inured we we become to overkill. When we see masses of cops descending on a house, people getting thrown to the ground in a parking lot, or little girls getting their pubes poked at the airport we just think that’s the way it is. Ho hum. Life in the Land of the Free.

So not only do we become numbly accepting of what ought to be unacceptable, but when genuinely deadly danger is right in front of us, we might not recognize it because it looks so much like everyday overkill.


  1. M B
    M B March 28, 2013 8:56 am

    They acclimate you to new horrors and injustices little by little.

    “But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.”

  2. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal March 28, 2013 8:56 am

    I’ve gotten to the point that I pretty much leave if I see a cop in the area doing anything. I don’t make a big production of my leaving- I don’t want to look like I’m fleeing- but I just go. Cops are a public nuisance and a danger to the community. So I remove myself from that “public” and “community” as quickly as prudently possible.

  3. LarryA
    LarryA March 28, 2013 9:43 am

    When the cops have a fancy hammer, everything gets treated like a nail.

  4. Woody
    Woody March 28, 2013 10:49 am

    Holy shit! You should probably be looking to relocate if this happens enough to be commonplace. I know, easy to say, difficult to do. I rarely see a cop around here but in the interest of self preservation I always leave the area immediately when I do.

  5. Matt, another
    Matt, another March 28, 2013 11:04 am

    That benumbing effect of the overkill I believe is part of the plan. It happens so often that it becomes part of the background noise in our lives. Since it only happens to “criminals” (as defined by the media) we seldom take notice. When it happens to non criminals (as defined by the freedom inclined) people still won’t take notice it will still be part of the background noise. No resistance please, we are only rounding up the bad guys (again, and again, and again).

    In some of the large cities in the third world if the police want to go after someone in certain areas they accept the fact that they will have to fight their way in and back out. The whole neighborhood will alert, warn the target and fight or offer interference the entire time the police have invaded their space.

    Americans are generally programmed differently.

  6. neal
    neal March 28, 2013 1:08 pm

    This is why we sold the house and live in a travel trailer. The USA used to be pretty much OK everywhere, with a few bad parts to stay away from. Now, some parts are on fire, but there are some parts that are like what I grew up in, just a deputy, or two, regular people, that would rather not lock and load.

    This place is like that, has not changed for 20 years, the USA has lost cohesion, but due diligence can still turn up places that hold the promise.

    No crime, just a campground in the mountains, and as many horse riders as commuters, it is ironic that we have settled down after going Gypsy, this is New Mexico, just the western equivalent of my kin dug in back in the Smokies.

  7. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 28, 2013 2:17 pm

    It’s been at least six months since I heard a siren (somebody got sick at the pizza place), and I probably don’t see a police car more than every six or eight weeks, and only when I’m driving down town. Every once in a great while, the sheriff’s deputy who lives down the road will patrol past here too. In the almost 8 years I’ve been here, I’ve seen only a handfull of peaceful, ordinary traffic stops, all in town.

    Anyone getting shot, or a standoff of any kind would be VERY big news here, and there wouldn’t be very many who just shrugged it off. The biggest cop type excitement I can remember is a few years ago when a child in Gillette was kidnapped by the father and the cops chased him all the way here to our town where the car broke down and they caught him. The child was strapped in a car seat unhurt. He was returned to his mother, and it was big news here for weeks. No shots fired… and I doubt the guns were ever drawn.

    The usual “crime wave” here is a DUI and a bar knuckle fight in the same week…

  8. Woody
    Woody March 28, 2013 2:34 pm

    One time a few years ago in a very small hamlet near here 2 middle aged women got in a fist fight (over a man) in the middle of the farm to market road that runs through town. It eventually involved 6 state police cars from 3 counties and a police helicopter. I wish I had seen it. Those must have been 2 really badass women! More likely it was a slow day for the cops who took advantage of the situation to liven up their shift.

  9. Karen
    Karen March 28, 2013 3:57 pm

    The last real big police excitement around here was in 2001 when the Texas Seven were caught in our little town.

    Last Friday I saw a deputy on my way into town(speed trap school zone) and a state cop on my way home(traffic stop) and seeing 2 in one day made me wonder if I was missing some DUI holiday or the revolution had started without me or some other BFD. It’s hard to get jaded when you live in the woods.

  10. EN
    EN March 28, 2013 5:05 pm

    It’s always wise to have an appreciation of barrier construction, or a lack of barrier, that stands between you and our often ill trained overlords. Knowing cops and shooting with them has taught me that most do not care or worry about their backstop, or understand bullet dynamics. That’s something citizens are held accountable for but not our overlords. As long as the shooting is justifiable (and that’s mostly based on whatever they say it is) if they shoot and it goes through a barrier and kills you that’s not a big deal. Secondary fragmentation from bullets is also quite common and a real danger when in an area or city with masonry construction. Bullets ricochet and and fragment very easily. Bottom line is get your ass out of the area and put a lot of barrier between you and the cops. Remembering this will also keep you from becoming complacent about police power.

  11. jesse bogan
    jesse bogan March 28, 2013 6:08 pm

    Heh, reminds me of a morning a few years back. I was sitting at a light in the left turn lane. Car flys through the intersection, and whips into parking lot, followed by a herd of cops. They all jump out of the cars, and surround the “suspect” guns drawn. The light changes and the moron in front of me slooows down to a crawl to “watch” the arrest. I am blowing my horn because as a gun owner I know what will happen if someone shoots, and I REALLY don’t want to be there when it happens. The cops really were in a circle around the car, and if they had opened up, I think friendly fire would have been the order of the day.

  12. Richard
    Richard March 29, 2013 12:19 am

    I’m not sure you can call it acclimated. I see situations were people or the powers that be decide to impose their will on others and I get extremely upset. I have to travel on occasion and even my boss knows that it has to be the bare minimum necessary because of my disgust with TSA. That whole scam including customs posses me off beyond belief. However to do my job I must bite my tongue and go through prison indoctrination. I think what we have become are people that look for the path of least resistance and just choose to go that route because most days we don’t want to spend time in jail. We don’t want to be looking for funds to pay defense lawyers. We just pick our battles most of them small and a few major ones. It’s not acclimatization its as Douglas Adams wrote “the ‘somebody’s else’s problem ‘invisibility field”

  13. Claire
    Claire March 29, 2013 1:43 pm

    Yep, Richard. That’s where I was, right after the initial shooting.

  14. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 30, 2013 7:54 am

    All of that over some real estate fraud? Good grief.

  15. Woody
    Woody March 30, 2013 8:13 am

    MamaLiberty, Isn’t that usually the case. SWAT teams almost always deploy against the clueless who have almost no chance of offering any resistance. Tactical Response magazine published an article advocating SWAT teams execute warrants on non-violent offenders for training purposes. In the few cases where teams misjudged their prey’s abilities they’ve had their asses handed to them. But those are rare indeed. SWAT teams are Shock & Awe for domestic consumption, designed to scare us into obedience. As things get worse, and if there are a couple of high profile failures of SWAT teams, expect the tactics to change. Expect to see them burn first ask questions later.

  16. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau March 30, 2013 3:46 pm

    I suspect most cops lives are pretty boring. After all they are essentially welfare queens; the world would get on without them just fine. I once dropped my motorcycle in a “low-sider”, just slid down the road a bit. A bump on my knee is all. Something like 4 squad cars showed up along with a fire engine and an EMT van (which I declined, to their disappointment). The difference between these events in Wyoming and in other states is that it is still frowned on for Wyoming cops to blast away recklessly, and the cops often wave to you as you drive along. But I think all cops are mostly bored.

    As to becoming inured, most of these events simply don’t concern us. Why should they? A thousand people die on the other side of the world and it’s “Ho, hum.” We don’t have room for feeling or caring about the existence of other people outside our close associates. That is not a defect in character; it’s the way it has to be. Being attacked by the dominant criminal gang will only start to matter when the probability of it happening to *US* starts to get high and uncomfortable. Things have to get a lot worse before the revolution starts.

  17. puptent
    puptent March 31, 2013 8:31 am

    I’m not sure what it is about our modern society that has allowed us to drop our situational awareness. Are we numbed by the 24 hour news cycle? Is it having every conceivable convenience at our finger tips? Is it because we can seemingly hand any problem over to government problem solvers? Have we lost knowledge of consequences? Is it the ‘someone else’s problem’ syndrome? Can’t happen here? Media saturation? I’ve seen people drive into a cloud of natural gas escaping from a punctured pipeline. I’ve had an acquaintance’s grand daughter burn herself to death by ‘accidentally’ throwing gas on a smoldering back yard fire pit. This past winter we had more than the usual number of falling through the ice tragedies, including a family that tried to cross a frozen river underneath a bridge, in their SUV. By all rights I’ve made more than my share of poor survival situation decisions. If there’s such a thing as luck, then I’m lucky to have survived my ‘oopses’. Let’s all try to remember the Hill Street Blues admonition to “Be careful out there, people!” It is, after all, a twenty-four hour job.

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