Don’t shoot vs. don’t rape

Something is wrong with the world when we have to teach people using videos on YouTube on how to interact with the police so that they don’t get killed. I’ve seen videos for young black men and most recently for deaf people on how to have a safe interaction with the police if they are pulled over. The idea is so that there won’t be a misunderstanding where the police get jumpy and pull a gun on them.

This reminds me of the campaign to teach women how not to get raped. The campaign might say that you need to travel in pairs and always be aware of your surroundings. Or it might say you should make sure you have your phone on you, or that you don’t drink any unfamiliar drinks at a party. All these things are written with the idea that it is the woman’s responsibility to make sure she is safe at all times. It takes away the responsibility from her rapist. While these are good ideas, they don’t address the root of the problem. Fortunately the idea is turning around. Now instead of saying to women ‘don’t get raped’ we are saying to boys ‘don’t rape.’ We are teaching them what “consent” means and what it doesn’t mean.

Maybe we need to do the same thing with the police. Maybe we need to train police to think first and pull their guns second. Just like don’t rape, we should say “don’t shoot”.

Just like how we say it isn’t right to say that a woman dressed in a miniskirt is ‘asking for it’, we should also say that the person being pulled over by the police and being suspicious isn’t ‘asking for it.’

Smack talking

Don’t talk smack to a cop. They are like hornets. If they sense trouble, they’ll call more of them to come. And then they will all sting you.

I hate that trick question. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” I want to say “Why, don’t you know?” Or make up something silly like “Because I was playing mariachi music too loudly?”

That isn’t really a great plan.

Sure, I’m a white woman. I’m middle class. I don’t run the same risk of death by cop that a black men would. But worse can happen. There are worse things than death. And when stopped in a strange place with a strange person who has a gun – even if that person is legally entitled to that gun – it is best to not act suspiciously.

Sometimes I watch the show “Cops” just to learn what not to do.