Fred on Everything

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.

1 Comment on “Fred on Everything

  1. I was raised in a time and place – late 60’s Southern California – where we learned to have a basic dislike and distrust of the police. I’m not sure why, but we learned that they were the pigs, fuzz, and heat, and that policebrutality was one word. Perhaps it’s because we were always in possession of something illegal to smoke or in some way in opposition to “the system” and “the man”.

    Nevertheless, and not surprisingly, I’ve discovered that, like you say, they are basically decent people doing a mostly thankless job for not enough pay, and my thinking brain has come to like and respect most of them, although I must confess, my initial reaction to their presence is still an instinctive dread (“Cheese it, the cops!) as if I’m had ever had to hide out from them. I have not.

    So, besides wanting to say, “Good job, guys” and “thanks”, I want to add that far from being behavior problems, what I have seen in life and on the reality cop shows is the picture of patience, good manners and professionalism (especially you highway patrol guys and city patrol car cops).

    Also, I belong to a chat group related to a hobby of mine (amateur comedy writer), with one of our members being a cop, somebody that I’ve never met face-to-face but feel that I know quite well, and he is a damned decent person who tolerates a far sight more abuse than I imagine he ever dishes out. He’s one of the few conservatives in a relatively liberal group that gives him hell from time to time for his hobbies (hunting and firing ranges) and his conservative opinions. But as one of the few police officers I’ve ever gotten to know personally, I’ve got to say that if he’s typical, we’re all in surprisingly good hands. I’ve also had a couple of long-time patients that I’ve come to know personally (I’m a doc) who are just as decent and thoughtful as my chat cop buddy.

    I tip my hat to all of you men and women in blue, and although I hope to never need to get to know you as either a perp or a victim, I think that I would in most cases be similarly impressed by you. You guys don’t get enough credit. You do more to protect me, in my opinion, than soldiers do, and those guys get all the gushing and the props for it.


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