This is another post in my new style of just writing and not really editing, flying by the seat of my pants, if you will. As a result, this post starts off talking about this documentary about cops killing dogs and rambles on into a confession about my childhood.
I read once many years ago, before the internet, that many police departments tell their officers to always shoot dogs when they are on drug busts because it intimidates the criminal and gets them emotionally worked up so they are more likely to make a mistake and get themselves convicted. It’s a pretty effective strategy if you think about it. Now I’m sure most people would read this and just assume that it’s too horrible to be true, at least in our country, but it’s not. Once you become a person who accepts that kind of violence and cold-heartedness, you generally don’t go back, and the scary thing is that it’s real easy to seem like the good guy and continue fitting in with society.
Please take a look at the video on this page if you believe that police are the good guys in our society. Take a look at what is just a small sample of the suffering that they cause every day. These are not just isolated incidents but are a product of policy and a fundamental problem with the way we are going about crime prevention. While I very much support the goals of this documentary, I disagree with the clip that implied that the problem is a lack of training and that the officers don’t really want to kill these dogs. It’s not about the officer protecting himself, it’s about him being overcome with a primal, animalistic urge to have the ultimate power over another living creature and to feel that adrenaline.
And I must admit that the reason I believe this is because I feel that primal urge too. I recall as a child, a peer took me behind his house to a stream and we sat down on the edge of the stream and he pulled out a little saucer and filled it with some fingernail polish remover he’d gotten from his mom’s medicine cabinet, then he caught a fish and dropped it into the saucer so he could watch it suffer and die. He made it clear that he had done this before. That event still messes with my head some days. I think I remember him talking about capturing a cat or squirrel or something and torturing it but I’m not sure if he was talking about an idea he had, or maybe he was just trying to freak me out because he saw how I didn’t like the whole thing with the fish, or maybe it was something he actually did. There were certainly other things that made me question his character. Anyway, the guy is a respected police officer now.
But I think this may be the first time I ever told this story. I have a few of these kind of stomach-turning stories that I’ve never talked about. I assume most people have these kind of stories that they never talk about because it’s just not something you bring up at the dinner table, but I think why I hold back talking about these kind of events is that I don’t feel as disgusted as I should. A part of me was fascinated by this kind of thing. I never got into hurting animals because I never saw the point as they were already so helpless and innocent, but what I wanted to do was hurt people. That’s why I wanted to be a cop.
I don’t talk about it much because I don’t want to freak people out and shatter their view that I’m this wonderful, caring person, even if I am a bit emotionally distant, but when I was a kid I had a lot of really horrible fantasies that involved me doing awful things to other people like bombing their homes, killing their children in front of them, locking them in dungeons to starve to death, cutting off their fingers and laughing at their screams. They never transferred into real life, thank God, but they could have. However, in all my fantasies of horror, killing and torture, I was never the bad guy. Never once did I fantasize about being a serial killer. I was always a police officer punishing people who were even more horrible than me–like drug dealers–I was a fighter pilot bombing the russians to prevent the evils of communism or a government sanctioned terrorist, killing off the British because for some reason when I was a kid I thought we were still at war with the British. I was so convinced the British all deserved to die for supporting a government that tried to keep America from becoming it’s own nation. I was always a patriot, always a fighter for truth and justice. Even when I was smashing the skulls of small children in these fantasies, I was still the good guy, merely doing what had to be done to teach the hard lessons that need to be taught… except those were all excuses and in reality my fantasies stemmed from nothing more than a carnal, animalistic part of my brain that just wanted to feel that power, adrenaline and sadistic intensity.
I don’t know how I grew out of it, but I suspect it had to do with Star Trek and that one scene where Spock is behind the window and gives his life and says “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.” Or maybe it was my liberal, peace-loving parents, or a combination of things, but I grew out of it, thankfully, by my early teens. I wanted so badly to be a cop or soldier and when I grew out of my fantasies, I grew out of that desire. I believe that a large percentage of police and soldiers are people just like me who never grew out of that phase. They’re doing it for the action, because they enjoy it. The patriotism and “serving and protecting”, fighting terrorism, etc. are just the adult versions of the excuses I made up for wanting to kill all the British.
So a part of my anarchism stems from my fight against myself, but that part of myself is something I don’t talk about, another example I guess of how hard it is to talk about the real, deeper reasons we became anarchists. I’m an anarchist because I fear that part of myself. I’ve seen it myself and I know what it can do and I know how easily that kind of awfulness can seem like a good and necessary thing. I’ve seen how our brain can make up excuses for ourselves and believe them intensely. I don’t want to give too much power to people like me, because when given a license to do awful things, we will do awful things, we can do them without remorse and we can tell you our excuses with a straight face because we believe them ourselves.