The Rapist Doctrine vs. the Tom Joad Test

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

“Don’t resist – it will only be worse for you.” That’s the message of both the rapist and the police officer, as candidly digested by Sunil Dutta, a 17-year veteran of the LAPD who now preaches that doctrine as a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University.

Whenever a Mundane is approached by a member of the state’s punitive priesthood, Dutta explains, “here is the bottom line” from the perspective of the privileged aggressor: “[I]f you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say that I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me” (which would mean, apparently, that if the Mundane obeys a command to approach the officer he had better not frighten the timid creature giving the orders by complying too enthusiastically).

To that litany, he might had added: Don’t think of walking away from me, either, because that act is also considered “aggression” by a police officer; don’t place one foot behind the other, or crouch even to the slightest degree, because this will be defined, after the fact, as “assuming a fighting stance”; don’t flinch or recoil from the officer when he batters you, because this can be, and often has, been defined as “assault on an officer”; if the officer throws you to the ground and starts to choke you, don’t defend yourself, or you can be charged with “attempted murder.”

“Most field stops are complete in minutes,” coos the apologist for state-licensed aggressive violence. “How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
The same is true, of course, of most encounters between a rapist and a victim. The violation of a free person’s rights is not any less egregious for being brief.

Yes, Dutta generously concedes, “corrupt and bully cops exist… I know that some officers engage in unprofessional and arrogant behavior; sometimes they behave like criminals.”

Nonetheless, he lectures Mundanes, such people are your social superiors whose commands must be obeyed without cavil or qualification. When such beings focus their unwarranted attention on you, “I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment.” Always accept their impositions with cheerful docility. Don’t even think of defending yourself, because police “are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life” – and any gesture of non-compliance, however fleeting or non-violent, constitutes a “threat” from their perspective.

“Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you,” he insists, leaving aside the fact that in each such encounter the aggressor is shielded by “qualified immunity” and the tribal loyalty of his comrades – and the other is subject to financial injury, imprisonment, or death at the whim of that same caste.

Dutta claims that “in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies,” a claim rooted in the assumption that police escalation will stop as soon as the subject submits – and, on the other hand, that violence will continue until submission is achieved. By this standard, the cop is presumptively in the right, and the victim of abuse is presumed to be wrong – the direct inversion of the standard used in the “Tom Joad Test.”

3:08 pm on August 19, 2014