Unfortunately, the disingenuous practice of disguising emotion-driven assaults with a veil of rules and laws is widespread, even amongst esteemed protectors, leaders, and professionals. This is what happened recently when a Tempe Police officer exploited his authority and applied excessive force in apprehending ASU Professor Ersula Ore for jay-walking in an area where the street is currently blocked off and there is no through-traffic on May 20, 2014. I have walked this exact area myself, just North of the Tempe campus. The very likely chance that this could have been me is chilling. View the video of her assault here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQJD2pqhMA4#t=145
After I posted a response to a very lazily-written, one-sided news article on the internet, an instigator from the comment thread emerged from the shadows to send a message via Facebook to inform me that Dr. Ore was simply an “uppity thing” (referring to her as “it”) that got what she deserved. The last time that “uppity” was a crime that warranted police brutality was back in the pre-Civil Rights era, when that “crime” mostly applied to black people. I am not sure how the internet troll managed to find a time machine back in 1950, but welcome to 2014, time-traveler.
Imagine that you are a student in one of my classes. You didn’t study as much as you should have for one of the exams, and wrote a lot of incorrect responses to pretty easy questions. You receive your graded exam not only with a D scrawled in red at the top, but a nice illustration of your head on the body of a mule alongside a quoted Miriam-Webster’s definition of idiot written in the margins, ending with with a phrase such as “drop out and just save your parents or the government some money, you worthless failure.”
Think very carefully before you answer the following question. Would you shrug your shoulders and admit that you really deserved ALL of that for not studying? The D, maybe, but the written abuse along with it? I may not know you personally, but I highly doubt it.
Now, imagine that you approach me regarding this excessive feedback.
Professor: “I am the professor and you are being insolent.”
You: “Are you serious?”
Professor: “Shut up or I’ll slam your grade down to the level of an F.”
Understandably, you go immediately to the Dean with the graded exam in order to address the unprofessional and excessive manner in which you were “evaluated” by me, the professor. I hear about this from the Dean, and then use every logical loop-hole in my syllabus to score your assignments as low as possible so that you fail the course, and then I report you to the Dean for attempting to slander my character (verbal assault of a professor).
Now if things aren’t already bad enough, the Dean’s written response to you looks something like this…
“Administrative authorities have reviewed the unfortunate circumstances surrounding your course failure and have found that the professor involved did not violate protocol and no evidence was found of emotional motivation by the ASU faculty involved.”
Imagine that an account of the incident has spread around campus, and you receive an e-mail from someone you do not know that says that you are just some uppity little college snot that got what you deserved because you didn’t study.
Here’s a question to ponder: what on earth would provoke a trained professional to go to extra lengths to demean a person who he/she is expected to serve the best interests of? Perhaps a deeply-engrained nasty attitude, over-inflated sense of self-importance, or extreme insecurity? Perhaps an inability to see particular people as nothing more than insolent beasts who need to be taught a lesson every once in a while? Thankfully, my character and upbringing place me well above that base level of thinking. Unfortunately, a Tempe police officer who we have entrusted to protect and serve still has some growing up to do.