Yesterday afternoon, I found myself watching more cop videos on YouTube. I know this is a habit I should break, even though sometimes the videos are genuinely entertaining. I should probably curtail the urge to watch them, though, because I think making bodycam videos available to the general public is potentially very harmful.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any time, you might already know that I’m not a big fan of “cancel culture”. I don’t think people’s lives should be ruined over being caught on camera on a bad day. I think justice and punishment should be, by and large, handled by the courts, rather than the public.
Some people are proponents of public shaming, claiming that it’s a good way to get people to behave better. Personally, I disagree with that, because the videos have been available for a long time now, and many people still act like jerks. When you’re having a really bad day, you may not be thinking about eventually being featured on someone’s YouTube channel. Moreover, sometimes people are dealing with mental health issues that they can’t control. Those episodes shouldn’t necessarily be made available for public consumption.
That being said, I do still watch the videos, in spite of my reservations about them… and sometimes I find them very disturbing. It’s very easy to get arrested in the United States. Sometimes police officers are extremely unprofessional, and it’s the luck of the draw as to which one people are going to have to deal with. By the same token, sometimes people act like complete maniacs. Take, for instance, the woman in the below video… This one is not for the faint of heart.
Police officers do have a difficult and dangerous job. There is no question in my mind about that. However, many of the police officers I see on American bodycam videos make me really appreciate German cops. They are less casual, generally more courteous, and resort to violent measures less often. But then, German cops don’t have to deal with as many weapons or unhinged people as American cops do. I suspect German cops are better trained and equipped, too, because Germans are generally more willing to pay taxes that will go towards training them properly.
Here in Germany, there’s also the right to be “forgotten”. That means people who are arrested get a modicum of privacy. Their faces aren’t shown in the media, and their full names generally aren’t publicized. If you see an accused person in a German newspaper, their faces will be covered, and they will be addressed by their first name and last initial. I think it’s a good policy for many people. It gives them a chance to start fresh, once they repay their civic debt. But again, society here is kind of different, and so is the overall mindset. People tend to be more community minded in Germany and other parts of Europe.
Which brings me to the video that prompted today’s post. Yesterday, I watched a DUI arrest video involving a young woman who said she was pregnant. The young woman immediately admitted to drinking and driving, then made the heartbreaking statement that she was “just like her dad.” I guess her dad is an alcoholic. As a daughter of an alcoholic, I sympathize.
Reading some of the vile comments on this video, I get the sense that a lot of Americans are unaware that they’re veering pretty close to agreeing with the ideas and conditions set in The Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe they don’t want everyone wearing clothes in colors that identify their statuses to everyone else. Maybe they don’t think women deemed “loose” should be turned into broodmares for the powerful. But they do seem to think that pregnant folks should have different civil rights than other people should. Many of the commenters were making appalling speculations about this young woman, just because she got caught driving drunk while pregnant.
Now… I am NOT trying to say that this young woman wasn’t very irresponsible for doing what she did. Of course she shouldn’t have been drinking and driving, regardless of the status of her womb. I don’t know what her plans are/were regarding the alleged pregnancy, but I certainly wouldn’t condone drinking alcohol while pregnant. However, based on the comments, some people seem to think this poor woman’s life should be ruined for this incident. Many people speculated that perhaps she was planning to have an abortion, and that’s why she got drunk. It’s not too far of a leap to think that some of them think she’s a “slut” for getting pregnant, which, of course, is an insult to her overall character. I wonder how many of the people making such awful comments would like the same kinds of observations made about them when they make mistakes.
I am a product of a generation when plenty of pregnant women drank, including my own mom. I’m not saying that fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) aren’t a thing. They absolutely are. Since we don’t know how much alcohol is “safe” during pregnancy, and it’s not necessary to drink alcohol to be healthy, of course it’s wise to avoid it. However, it’s unlikely that this young woman, who clearly isn’t heavily pregnant, will condemn her embryo to FAS or FASD by getting drunk very early in her pregnancy. Moreover, the disgusting comments about her intentions regarding the pregnancy– potential plans to have an abortion, for instance– are completely inappropriate.
It’s a wonder that any woman in the United States even wants to be pregnant right now, with so many people in our country judging them so harshly for just about EVERYTHING they do. This young woman made a huge mistake, but the good news is, no one was injured or killed. She can and should learn from the mistake, and then simply go on with her life. But based on some of the shocking comments on YouTube, some people seem to think she should be labeled with a scarlet letter, like Hester Prynne.
Not everyone on YouTube was nasty. Some people did have some empathy for the young woman, as they hoped this was a “wake up call”. There’s no telling why she decided to drink and drive. No one should be doing that. And naturally, it’s not advisable to drink alcohol while pregnant, although in some countries, it’s considered much less of an issue than it is in the United States. Here in Europe, for instance, some physicians even encourage very light drinking during pregnancy (maybe one small glass of wine or beer per week). They get more upset about pregnant women eating very rare meats, unpasteurized cheeses, or raw seafood. And yet, plenty of babies are born in Europe, safe and sound, even if their mothers had a glass of Syrah or a Guinness while they were pregnant.
American culture has some big issues with moderation. I think maybe it has to do with the fact that the US is a young country, and our people lack the wisdom that comes from thousands of years of civilization. Many United States citizens are not unlike new converts to a culty religion. We, as a whole, seem to think we know everything; our culture is the best; and we can do no wrong. The rest of the world laughs at us. You can see it when someone from the States comes to Europe, is super loud and obnoxious, and acts like people should be impressed by where they come from. Many American people lack self-awareness and like to hear themselves talk, rather than stopping to listen occasionally. I’m not saying ALL Americans are like this, but quite a lot of us are. That attitude comes from ignorance and a lack of perspective, as well as significant hubris.
And so, when we watch a video of a young person doing something clearly unwise and potentially very dangerous, we tend to be heavy handed with insults, inappropriate predictions of the future, judgment, and condemnation. It really sucks, because nobody is perfect.
This young woman did, at least, own up to what she did, and mostly cooperated, even if she did it while crying and shrieking in a “baby” voice. She should have the chance to redeem herself and thank God that this incident didn’t turn out much worse. But not only does she have to endure humiliation, pay fines, and probably get yelled at by people who actually know and care about her, she also has to put up with absolutely horrible, soul destroying comments from complete strangers, who evidently see her as nothing more than an embryo bearing vessel, and apparently think her whole life should be ruined over this mistake. That’s what I think is the real shame. Those kinds of words hurt, and they can cause some people to fall into true despair that can lead to more destructive behavior, or even suicide.
There were also a few “abortion is murder” comments thrown in for good measure, although there is no indication that this woman is/was planning a termination. But, if she was planning to terminate her pregnancy, and is actually as terrible, morally bankrupt, and irresponsible as some of the commenters seem to think she is, maybe having an abortion would ultimately be the most appropriate thing for her to do. Because obviously, someone that absolutely horrible can’t possibly take care of herself well enough to gestate a healthy baby… right?
In case some people are missing my sarcasm, I do NOT think this young woman deserves the extreme hate she got on this video. I think she needs someone kind and mature to talk to her and give her some much needed guidance. I really hope she has someone like that in her life… or finds someone who can fulfill that role. And if she chose to stay pregnant, I hope she had/has a healthy baby. She should learn from this mistake and go on with her life… and those who are condemning her character should stop and take a long look in the mirror at themselves and the glass houses they dwell in. I would like to hope that, in person, most people really aren’t as dreadful as they are in vicious comments they make online.