Nearly two weeks ago, a rally took place in New York to speak out against police violence against civilians. It caught my attention this morning on the CBS Morning News. Police organizations are lining up against Quentin Tarantino, encouraging all officers to no longer provide any special service to him professionally and to boycott his movies. My first thought, without actually really knowing the issue here, was that boycotts of movies generally have the unintended consequence of driving more butts to the box office and beyond.
Here is at least a partial transcript of the rally. Read it if you want.
I think in cases like this, it is important that comments are taken in context, with special consideration to the event in which the comments are made. Here is the last comment of the speaker immediately prior to Quentin Tarantino’s introduction.
Law enforcement community should know that we are not against them. We even feel for those who were shot just recently in Harlem. We are not against them. We are anti-police brutality. We are not anti-cop, because we know some of them are doing good job. But we need to root out those who are brutalizing our children for no reason.
Then QT is introduced and he issues a terse statement.
Hey, everybody. I got something to say, but actually I would like to give my time to the families that want to talk. I want to give my time to the families. However, I just do also want to say: What am I doing here? I’m doing here because I am a human being with a conscience. And when I see murder, I cannot stand by, and I have to call the murdered the murdered, and I have to call the murderers the murderers. Now I’m going to give my time to the families.
It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too.
Quentin Tarantino cuts an interesting figure. He’s hugely popular and wildly detested at the same time. His films are (ultra)violent. We could argue about whether the violence is glorified or whether his films use violence to show that violence is a bad thing. His films are works of art, subject to interpretation and much like jazz and poetry, some people get it and some people don’t. I consider myself a bit of a Tarantinophile and have come to accept the role that violence plays in his movies. I also appreciate that many, many people will never get there. One thing I am not prepared to do is defend Tarantino here and now, even though I could and agree that it would be an interesting endeavor, albeit one I think I have done from time to time in prior incarnations of this space.
Lynch’s comments are indicative of how easy it is for police organizations to vilify Tarantino, although I am frankly at a loss to recall specific movies in which actual crimes are committed against the innocent. If you can, please let me know in the comments. It is important to remember that these are movies and not the 6:00 news. Many can argue the effect the movies have on the viewer, but I am also not prepared to do that here either.
I could go on, but I think I would rather just end this with a few bullet points (no pun intended).
The Constitution of the United States of America allows free speech. I don’t find incitement in Tarantino’s words. Apparently the police organizations believe that, in this matter, only police organizations have the right to free speech, and those who speak out against them are entitled to have their livelihood taken away. We’ve seen that in history, and I hoped we had learned that lesson.
People who are feeling what they deem to be injustice tend to get upset and say things that sometime exaggerate their level of frustration. It would be nice if we could listen to what they are saying with understanding.
I cannot imagine there are many people who do not appreciate just how damn hard it is to be a cop on the streets and that it takes a special person to do it. All we ask is that those cops on the streets be trained to do that job as safely as possible under all circumstances, both to themselves and to those they are charged with protecting.
Things like this do not help.