It is impossible to ignore the degeneracy within American society that seems to hang like a toxic cloud over the country, strangling the worthy virtues. Beneath the cloud there is a vast darkness and the entangled blooms of a poisoned garden in which greed, cowardice, arrogance, cruelty and rage have smothered the concepts of duty, responsibility and patriotism. The essential values that sustain a noble civilization in the “crowded hours” are not abstractions anymore than are the water and atmosphere that sustain life on earth. The American civilization is inexorably connected with the ideals of the “Great Republic,” which are the life blood of our democracy. It safeguards human dignity, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the American people.
Very thought provoking for a west coaster struggling with insomnia! Honestly, I think we can only hope that shame will cause individuals like these to think inward and perhaps the shame is enough. It may not feel like it, we may want more, but immorality, poor judgment, & fear are not reasons to be jailed. Lying and covering up about it, however, is another matter entirely.
As is so often the case with your postings, Steve, you have found a way to pull out something that was tickling my judgment and articulate the hell out of it. When I heard about the jury being sat for this officer in Fla my emotions said: yeah - get him. But my brain said: how do you charge for weakness under duress? You point out so well that this is a slippery slope. This guy has to live with himself and perhaps that has to be enough.
I don't think a coward is a criminal. Like others believe, he will have to live with that lack of action the rest of his life and once he passes on his family will have to live with that memory of him for all their lives. The Robb school shooting was different in that there were school police, town police and Texas state police on the scene (19 of them in the hallways and the rest outside) and not one of them took the initiative to stop the killing. It took three late arriving Border Patrol officers to solve the problem.
Doesn't say much for Texas bravery. Seems to be lots of cowards down there.
I'm sorry - and I don't mean to over-simplify this issue - but in this case I think it is simple. All law enforcement officers (LEOs) sign up to protect and serve. This requires moral and - very often - physical courage. If and when LEOs prove they don't have the requisite courage - they should immediately be fired and/or resign. Plus, they may or may not be subject to criminal charges on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the severity of their criminal negligence. I think both examples Steve used in this essay of individual and group negligence/cowardice rise to the level of criminal and should be tried and judged by a group of peers. Prospective LEOs should consider this before applying for such jobs/careers and not just consider the obvious prestige and substantial benefits (including fantastic retirement programs in most cases). Most folks, deep down, know whether or not they have the physical courage to take a bullet for someone else. They know. And if there's any doubt, they should avoid LEO careers.
I dont know what I would do in such an horrific situation. I think I would act even if I were a bystander, but I pray to never be in that position.
The real cowardice lies in the hands of those who supplied guns to mass murderers who should have never owned, nor had access to such a thing.
How can we as a society allow, no encourage, inhumane scenarios that virtually no one can successfully recover from, and judge a person for not “acting“ the right way? This scenario, this massacre is a stain on the society that enabled it.
Im not saying the guy isn’t guilty- perhaps it will be proven that he is, in some way guilty of shirking his responsibility. But what should be faced most importantly is the impossibility of man or woman or child, against these weapons, and WTF they are anywhere, anyhow or anyway available to any person.
The inevibility of death. What would any of us do with the odds so stacked? This jury will certainly be pondering that question.
In these 2 cases cowardice overlaps with negligence. These defendants chose professions where courage is required. They had an inkling of what they were in for when they participated in training & education to protect the public & where the job likely requires engagement with dangerous criminals.
I may not always agree with Steve (though I respect his viewpoint and often do concur), but he is our lighthouse, a shining beacon warning us of danger and a guide to bring us safely back to shore as we try to navigate through “this moment of national idiocy.” His observations here are spot on. Again, we are not a serious people; we look for blame and punishment over everything yet never seem to learn from mistakes.
The cop in Florida lost his job and will forever have to live with the shame of his cowardice. I can’t see how putting him in jail will fix anything. But the argument that his lawyers are putting forward, that a law enforcement figure, someone whose sworn duty is “to serve and protect,” isn’t responsible for those very things is just despicable.
The Texas cops, they are a whole other matter. The cover up protecting them stinks to high heaven and that stonewalling must be held accountable. And their behavior gives lie to the “good guy with a gun BS” that is the mantra of the gun fanatics. These cops seem to have no shame; probably because they are a group and share in their denial that they behaved despicably.
There used to be a TV western in the '60's about a soldier out west after the Civil War. He was judged to have acted cowardly and was booted out of the army. Each episode relitigated whether or not he was a coward. I think in Parkland and certainly in Uvalde, cowardice came into play, especially since those people SIGNED UP for a hazardous job.
As for the cowards who are serving as politicians, you forgot Lindsey Graham.
I think law enforcement refusing to do their jobs, cowardice or not (e.g. corruption), is indeed a crime since society places lives in their hands literally. This is different than run of the mill cowardice where someone, by choice and not by profession reveals themselves as cowards. There is no law that such persons need to be courageous. Let’s not confuse the two cases.
If one takes an oath to protect and serve (and I’m not sure if LEOs do), it should absolutely be criminal to be derelict in one’s duty. What is hard for me to comprehend is that in both instances mentioned, children were the victims. None of the LEOs could even muster the courage to protect *children*. In the Army I had a company commander that was fond of saying “sometimes you have to ride the black horse.” He never explained this statement but we knew well what it meant.
Is dereliction of duty a crime vis a vis law enforcement? While I agree we don't want to criminalize character defects ( we all have them); how can Peterson's attorneys claim he had no duty to protect the victims? Isn't that precisely the sort of event he was hired to prevent? Otherwise why do we need any kinds of police? Are sheriff's deputies not required to "Protect and Serve" the public?
The real people that should be charged, are the ones that manufacture military grade weapons, and market them to the American public. Or the wealthy, social media company owners that intentionally use algorithms to stoke fear and division. And of course the politicians who refuse to pass laws to change our gun culture.
I don’t know, Steve. Did he fail to do his job?, Yes. Could he have prevented death? Maybe. I think it is easy to sit here, drinking coffee and say I would have done this or that. But I am not sure what any of us would do in a crisis situation.
Thank you Steve. Tough to read and hard to accept. Courage is with the loved ones left behind who must face each day with the knowledge of these facts. Not sure I could cope.
It is not easy to know what one will do in any given difficult situation until you are under fire. That fight or flight instinct kicks in one way or the other. Having someone besides you to bolsters your resolve is helpful. It take a true courageous person to rush forward alone into danger, especially when under fire. I believe Peterson should have advanced but confusion in battle stops even courageous men. It is what you do next after accessing the situation that separates the brave from others. If you pause too long doubt creeps in and destroys any chance at acting courageously. Judgement should be left for a jury of his peers and his maker. I know he signed up to protect and serve so his responsibility is greater than an average citizen. However, no one truly can judge him but himself. If he is an honorable man he has already judged his actions. He will have to live with his decision for the rest of his life. That is punishment enough for me living with his own thoughts.
Were is Lindsay Graham on you Mt. Rushmore of cowards?