The husband and I spent this morning doing what we call “running around,” which means, “going to a lot of stores and only buying stuff at a couple of them.” When we were done with the running around, we noticed that it was a few minutes after noon and decided to stop at a fast food restaurant for some minimally nutritious tummy filler. Among the few other people who were eating in was a pair of not sweet, not little, old ladies who were forgetting to use their inside voices as they conversed about all manner of topics, about which they knew more than anyone else in the entire world, at least according to themselves. Though the volume made it a little difficult, we tried to ignore them and have a conversation of our own and were partially successful but a couple of sentences stood out: “Anyone who runs from the cops oughta be shot,” and “Just shoot ’em and get it over with.” One of the women repeated the last one several times.
Let’s start with the first statement: “Anyone who runs from the cops oughta be shot.” I’m not a saint. I will confess that the thought has crossed my mind that, “If you run from the cops of course you’re going to get shot. Don’t run! Duh!” But let’s consider the reasons a person might run. 1. He (or she; that’s the last time I’m going to say it) is guilty of murder. I don’t have any statistics to back this up but I’m guessing that this is the least likely reason. 2. He is guilty of a crime that does not carry the death penalty – for example, robbery, drug possession, being in the U.S. illegally, failure to pay traffic fines, etc. 3. He is not guilty of any crime but has been raised in an environment where he has learned to fear the cops. So, what these women were saying is that running from the cops merits the death penalty regardless of whether or not the runner has committed any other crimes. Further, they are saying that every cop has the right to be judge, jury, and executioner in all situations.
Now regarding the second statement, a notion which the woman seemed particularly proud of: “Just shoot ’em and get it over with.” In a certain kind of mind this is perfectly logical. If they’re obviously guilty why waste time and money on a trial? Make the world a safer place for law abiding citizens by taking the criminals out quickly and efficiently. But, aside from the obvious moral problem with this, in places where this is the way it’s done, the crime rate is not lower than in countries where it is left up to courts and juries to decide who is guilty and how the guilty are to be punished. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m sure these two old bats are confident that they would never have to worry about getting shot by the police because, “obviously,” they are not guilty of any crime. This attitude is, at best, extremely naive. It’s been a long time since those two were in school and I’m thinking they have forgotten everything they learned in history class, if they were even paying attention in the first place.
As we were leaving the restaurant, the husband made dire threats of what he would do if I ever turned into that kind of old lady. He needn’t worry. However, there’s a distinct possibility that in another ten or twenty years I might turn into the kind of old lady who doesn’t hold back from giving other old ladies a good tongue lashing when I think they need it. Right now, I’m actually thinking it’s too bad those two old biddies will almost certainly never read this.