Police Union Upset Not All Books Paint Cops As Heroes, Calls For Removal Of Titles From School's Reading List
from the will-protect-cops-by-infantilizing-them dept
Nothing says summer vacation like a police union thinking it should get to decide what kids should or shouldn’t be reading during their break. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) brings us the ridiculous news that the protective coating serving the thinnest skins in the public sector has feelings about teens thinking about stuff.
Community members, cops, and parents in one South Carolina school district are all pushing back against two summer reading books they believe propagate anti-police feelings. The books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, were on a list of four titles for students taking an English 1 College Prep course. Both books mentioned have received numerous awards and accolades, including the Coretta Scott King Honor.
I wouldn’t read too much into the “community members/parents” part of CBLDF’s coverage. I’m sure there are some raising complaints, and they’re probably the kind that find any criticism of law enforcement unwarranted. But local coverage of the controversy doesn’t contain any comments from community members or parents. All it has are the assertions of the local police union boss.
President of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3, John Blackmon, says, “Whether it be through social media, whether it be through text message, whether it be phone calls, we’ve received an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list.”
He says in just the past two days, he has received hundreds of messages from police and community members.
We’ll go ahead and accept these claims of mass complaints at face value just to keep the post moving.
The problem with the books is that neither of these two recommendations (students can pick from a list of eight books) portray police officers as they’d like to be seen, rather than as they actually are. “All American Boys” features a black teenager being assaulted by white police officer who mistakenly accuses him of shoplifting. “The Hate U Give’s” protagonist sees her unarmed best friend shot and killed by a police officer. That’s what bothers the union: plausible plot lines.
Blackmon says, “There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police? That seems odd to me.”
It’s not half. It’s one-quarter. (Reading comprehension appears to be only one of the union’s problems.) But even if it were half, the union apparently believes no one should be letting teens know not all cops are heroes. And, as the CBLDF points out, one of the books complained about (“The Hate U Give”) features a police officer as its “strong moral center” and a “positive role model for the main character.”
Apparently, the police union would prefer teens learn how unpleasant cops can be through firsthand experience.
Blackmon says, “Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal. They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions. This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”
“Forewarned is forearmed,” people once said. But I guess today’s teens should grow up in a bubble where every authority figure — especially the shiny blue knights of law enforcement — are portrayed as trustworthy, honorable, and deserving of respect.
The union’s complaint only draws more attention to the books it doesn’t like and allows more people to get a glimpse of the “gods among men” mentality that prevails in these organizations. Hopefully, the school won’t pull the books from the recommendation list. Teens need to learn the world is far more complicated and ugly than they’ve been led to believe. This isn’t indoctrination. It’s not even remotely close to that. It’s just two books with plausible plot lines on a list of eight books teens may possibly read over the summer. That they happen to feature officers acting the way officers actually act is an indictment of cops and their mentality, not some low-level brainwashing attempt by the school district. That the union views these selections as a threat speaks volumes about its childish “cops never do wrong” mindset.