I’ll grant you that Ted Nugent’s asinine efforts to minimize the unethical nature of his uncivil words about President Obama by tweeting his views on 44 “more offensive” forms of conduct were a pretty good example of my least favorite rationalization in action. That rationalization is #22, the Comparative Virtue Excuse, or “There are worse things.” (There are always worse things, of course.) Never mind: Ted is playing in the minor leagues. Art Acevedo, Austin’s excuse-master police chief, really knows how to swing a #22.
A bystander took a video of Austin police detaining and ultimately arresting jogger Amanda Jo Stephen after she crossed an intersection at a red light and failed to obey orders from an officer after he saw her jaywalking, because she was wearing headphones and couldn’t hear him. My view: the police over-reacted and used excessive force (she pulled her arm away when the officer stopped her, and he treated is as resisting arrest), but wearing head phones that make it impossible for you to hear what is around you is 1) dangerous, 2) stupid and 3) obnoxious. It’s her duty to be aware of her surroundings, and this is a good example why. I think the video, and the reaction to it, is one more example of how the police are blamed for doing their jobs. She jaywalks and can’t hear the police, gets arrested as a direct result of being irresponsible, and she’s suddenly a victim. (Most accounts call her “an innocent jogger.”) Stephen starts screaming and protesting that she “did nothing wrong.” Yes, in fact she did several things wrong—wearing the headphones is wrong, jaywalking is illegal, jaywalking when you can’t hear a car horn is an especially dangerous form of jaywalking, and screaming like you’re being eaten alive when you are just being arrested by the police is unfair to the police and silly to boot.
The video went viral, and suddenly the Austin chief found himself in front of reporters answering questions about a controversy that he obviously thought was a waste of his time. Thus he said this:
“Thank you lord that it’s a controversy in Austin, Texas that we actually have the audacity to touch somebody by the arm and tell them ‘oh my goodness, Austin Police, we’re trying to get your attention. In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.”
A classic. “At least we didn’t rape her” as a means of putting an over-zealous jaywalking encounter into perspective—wow. And, as a bonus, Acevedo managed to gratuitously insult his fellow police officers all over America.
The chief apologized later.
Facts and Graphic: The Blaze