This is a rare Comment Of The Day species for Ethics Alarms, the entirely satirical post. Satire is, of course, on of the most venerable and effective way of making arguments; unfortunately, few are skilled at the craft, and fewer still in the public are smart enough to appreciate satire, especially in 2020, when aversion to hurt feelings and offense has almost blotted out the sun of enlightenment and the twinkling stars of humor.
This masterpiece was inspired by the thread discussing the bonkers proposals to replace local police forces with social workers and community organizers, a development which I view as signature significance for a political and social movement that has jumped the shark.
Here is johnburger2013’s Comment Of The Day on the post, “Fortunately, The Ethics Argument Regarding The Riots Is A Slam Dunk. Unfortunately, An Astounding Number Of People Don’t Care Enough About Ethics To Acknowledge This.”
Can you imagine the conversation?
Setting:A nondescript convenience store on the corner of Huntington and Vine. 9:23 a.m. on a partly sunny Tuesday, with 30% chance of rain some time that day. Store Clerk is restocking the Little Debbie Moon Pies, when an agitated person enters the store brandishing a firearm.
Robber: “This is a robbery!”
Store Clerk: “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
Robber: “Give me all your cash!”
Store Clerk: “Sure! Don’t shoot.” (Presses the emergency call button under the counter.)
Robber: “C’mon! Why are you dawdling?!”
Store Clerk: “My boss changed the password on the cash register and didn’t tell me the new one. I am trying to reset the password so that I can give the money to you but the WIFI is down and it’s taking longer than it should. Give me a second.”
Robber: “WHAT?! Smash the damn thing and give me the cash!”
Store Clerk: “Hey! Don’t be so pushy! And don’t use that kind of language. This is family-oriented business and there might be children around. Besides, we all have problems. Why, this very morning my cat escaped and I am heartsick she is lonely, so give me a break.”
Robber: “Oh, for the love of Pete! I don’t give a damn about your cat! I want the cash!”
Store Clerk: “Back off, jerk. I am very stressed out and you waving that gun in my face makes me nervous.”
(Meanwhile, the distress signal has been sent to, and received by, the Mission Valley Rapid Response Social Justice League, Precinct 420, Team Robbery Stoppage Unit, which has mobilized its team of specially trained social workers. They are busy checking their backpacks to make sure they have all of the things they need to deal with an armed robbery in progress. The team has just arrived on the scene.)
Robber: (Losing what little patience they had left) “Hurry up!”
Store Clerk: “Wow! You are a pushy one, aren’t you? What’s wrong? Mommy didn’t love you?”
Robber: “Don’t talk about my mom. That woman is a living saint! Just give me the money!”
(Enter Team 420 Robbery Stopper)
Team Leader: (In very friendly and calming tones) “Please stop what you are doing. We represent Team 420 from the Mission Valley Rapid Response Social Justice League. We are here to see if we can reach a peaceful resolution to this difficult situation. Please put away that frightening gun. It might scare people. Now. What seems to be the problem from your perspective, Store Clerk?”
Store Clerk: “Well, I was having a stressful morning because my cat escaped and I could not find her and I am worried sick she might be lonely. Then, all of a sudden this person stormed into my store, pointed the mean looking pistol at me, and demanded all of the cash. My boss doesn’t trust me and changed the register’s password so I can’t open it. Robber, here, hurt my feelings by yelling at me.”
Team Leader: “Oh, I see. And you? By the way, thank you for putting the gun away. Tell me your story.”
Robber: “Well, after suffering from a lifetime of political oppression, and in solidarity with my oppressed brothers and sisters, I realized that part of the country’s problems is directly related to economic inequities that have lasted for centuries. In an attempt to redress societal injustices, I requested the cash on hand so that I can redistribute it to those in need.”
Team Leader: “I hear you, and appreciate your lack of political and social power. Tell me, is this a classic redistribution of wealth incident or is it based on systemic injustices?”
Robber: “Uh . . . systemic injustices, too, I guess.”
Team Leader: “That’s what I thought. When we were dispatched, we understood this to be a purely economic issue; but we also realized that there may be more to the issues at hand. Don;t worry, we are highly trained to deal with these problems. That’s why I brought Form 7188B, which is called ‘Application to Redress Systemic Injustices.’ Would you please fill out the top part? I will take care of the rest.” (Robber complies. Team Leader turns to Store Clerk) “Thank you. Where were we? Oh, that’s right. Systemic injustices. Right. Store Clerk, what do you have to say about your privilege and what do you propose to make amends for that privilege?”
Store Clerk: “Privilege? What privilege? I don’t have any privilege. Besides, I just work here. If anyone is oppressing anyone, it’s the owner of the store. The owner exploits consumers by charging excessive prices of the goods in this store and pays the employees less than a living wage. We have to hold down 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet. So, no. I don’t have any privilege.”
Team Leader: (consulting with Rapid Response Privilege Agent) “Can you provide Store Clerk with Form 7, Privilege Assessment? We need to determine what level of privilege Store Clerk has. Otherwise, we can’t really proceed.”
Robber: “This is ridiculous. Give me the money or someone is going to get hurt!”
Team Leader: “There is no need to take that tone. We are just doing our jobs here. Have you finished filling out Form 420 yet? (Robber shaking thir head) Please do so. We can’t force you to do so but our agency requires the Form to be filled our or our funding may be cut. Help us out here, please. I know these are stressful times but we really need to have the proper paperwork or there will be delays in the process.”
(Meanwhile, Store Clerk fills out Form 1430P, and Privilege Agent quickly reviews it.)
Privilege Agent: “Thank you. I gather that you perceive yourself to be from an historically disadvantaged minority group. Is that correct? (Store Clerk nods.) Understood. Are you aware that our Agency has programs in place to assistance those in need of assessing their privilege? (Store Clerk shakes their head.) Great. Let me give you the Privilege Assessment Package (handing over a packet containing important information discussing privilege and what it entails, then turning to Team Leader) It seems that Store Clerk has not been properly educated on what privilege is and who does and does not have it. I recommend that we refer this matter to the Privilege Committee. They are in a better position to determine what the next step should be.”
Team Leader: “Agreed. There is so much going on in this case that we really need more support.”
(Unknown to the Mission Valley Rapid Response Social Justice League, Robber has left the store.)
I’m back for a minor note: I apologize to johnburger2013 if changing “their” to a singular pronoun in two instances interfered with an intentional satirical flourish. I just can’t stand it, even in jest.
Update: It was intentional, and I have returned the text to the original.