Long-time readers (read: most of you) know “zero tolerance” is one of my pet peeves: my ZT page has a lot background on the concept, with several follow-up pages linked from the bottom.
I’ve been ranting about ZT for some time: the first story I ran on it was 10 years ago! I’m very pleased that more and more journalists and columnists are starting join me in railing against it.
The latest is Fred Reed, in his Fred on Everything column. I had heard of Fred before, but never had checked out his stuff until he ran a rant on a couple of ZT cases (see his 25 July column, #283). At the bottom he included a link to my ZT page — which brought hundreds of his readers to True.
Cops: Big True Readers
Fred used to be a crime reporter at D.C.’s Washington Times. I want to give you a tiny flavor of his writing. He introduces his “Cop Columns” this way:
You may not like cops. Few do. They can be arrogant, impatient, rude. They can weary of a demanding, complaining public. Most are good people. A few are not. They are what we’ve got. They are out there, 24/7, with the psychopaths, the crash victims with the cartilage white where the flesh is gone, the week-old dead found by the reek, the snot, the blood, the cum, the maggots, the screaming half-crazed fifteen-year-old rape victims, the charred children caught in the fire with their guts exploded, the aged drunk women pissing in their pants in alleys and trying to crawl, the baby’s brains on the windshield. You might get a bit odd too. You might get real damn odd. Think about it.
A lot of True’s readers are cops; I’m a former search & rescue sheriff’s deputy myself. It’s fun to see a columnist help explain why a cop might be a bit of a jerk sometimes and why you still might think about cutting them a bit of slack, rather than just berate the people we pay peanuts to protect us.
I saw a lot of the dregs of society while in the cop biz, but much more when in the medic biz. You see people at their worst, as Fred just described. (You also see people retain their dignity in incredibly horrible circumstances, which most assuredly does help reaffirm your faith in humanity.)
Many first responders come out of it warped in a very bad way. Some come out of it with a whole new outlook on society, and can see how fixing some small things can cause huge improvements in the world. I’d like to think I’m in the latter group; it’s a lot of what’s behind True.