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Public mourning and its application - Elf M. Sternberg
Public mourning and its application
A police officer was killed in my region this week. He was responding to a domestic disturbance at a house, and the man causing the disturbance shot and killed him.

That is, frankly, horrifying. And we can have all sorts of discussions about how this kind of toxic, performative masculinity and polarized monogamy, along with access to a gun, leads to these kinds of outcomes.

Yet the outpouring of reports about the incident have me thinking. The local NPR affiliate, KUOW, had a report in which they interviewed other police officers about the incident, and one woman said, "My kids, they're afraid. They're afraid for me every time I go out. They wonder if I'm going to come back." Another said, "We know what we signed up for but, yeah, even after 25 years of this, stuff like this still scares me every day."

Do the children of taxi drivers have the same anxiety? Do the children of roofers or steel workers? How about electrical line maintenance workers?

All of those jobs have higher per-capita death rates than police work.. But whenever a taxi driver is shot in the head for doing his job, there's no massive outpouring of public grief for a man who was doing his job. When an roofer falls and breaks his neck, there are no kickstarters to make sure his family has enough to get through the next few years.

Policing isn't a safe job. But there are more dangerous jobs, and yet when someone dies in one of those jobs, nobody provides a period of public mourning, or a display of black cloth at city hall, or a fundraiser for the children left behind. I'm all for the support this officer's family will get; I just wish we as a society were as vehemently compassionate to every family who just lost a parent.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

4 comments or Leave a comment
omahas From: omahas Date: December 5th, 2016 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
That, my dear, is because neither a taxi driver nor a construction worker are performing a civil/public service. Police officers are. That's why you get this community grief when firefighters, police, and elected officials get killed in the line of duty.

The rest are making money to live but not providing a service to the community. Notice that when a private guard is shot and killed, the community doesn't grieve for him/her either.
omahas From: omahas Date: December 5th, 2016 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, note one other thing. The majority of deaths for other jobs are things such as falls, car accidents, etc while on the job. You are making an unfair comparison unless you are only including the deaths due to someone else killing them.
en_ki From: en_ki Date: December 5th, 2016 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is a dangerous job. But more than half the deaths do come from road collisions.
sirfox From: sirfox Date: December 5th, 2016 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
You summed it up nicely. That's not to deny a serious Compassion Deficit in our society which we'd all benefit from fixing. Trying hard to do my part.

good luck.
4 comments or Leave a comment