Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
There exists a certain sort of person who is common in America. This person, upon hearing that killing someone was wrong unless it’s in self-defense, thinks to themselves, “Finally! A loophole!” This person wears shirts that say things like, “Guns don’t kill people. Dads with pretty daughters do.” This person secretly hopes for terrorist attacks so that they can fulfill their fantasies of foiling terrorist plots. This person’s wet dreams feature the overthrow of the government. This person has a fetish for justified violence.
That is to say that they are infatuated with the idea of using violence in a way that would deem them to be a “good guy.” They desperately want to fire their gun, but only for good. However, the desire to do good is secondary to the desire for violence. They already love violence, but the ‘justified’ part of it adds an erotic sense of self-righteousness to it.
Justified violence is not the problem, rather this fetish for it is. These people hold a deep desire to both commit violence and do good, simultaneously. These people stretch the definitions of “justified” far so they can commit violence. To give a personal example, my stepfather once threatened to shoot one of our neighbors because they walked across our front lawn. The definition of “justified” is stretched very thin here. First, by seeing walking across our front lawn as trespassing and second, by seeing trespassing as reason to shoot someone.
Now, my stepfather never did shoot them. And it’s probably safe to assume that most people who have this fetish never end up shooting anyone. After all, it’s kinda hard to justify shooting someone when you can get the same effect from watching some porn. However, some people who have a fetish for justified violence take steps in order to reach their goal. I am speaking of those that find careers in law enforcement.
I’m not saying that all cops have this fetish. Rather, I’m saying that law enforcement has employed people who fetishize violence, and that is troubling when the day to day operations of police officers do not need the use of a gun in any way.
An example of such a person becoming a cop can be seen in the shooting of Daniel Shaver. Police officers, who were called because someone saw something resembling a gun (the ‘gun’ was actually a tool for bug extermination) through the window on Shaver’s motel room, came up on the motel room as Shaver and a woman were exiting.
Another officer, Sgt. Langley, yelled at Shaver and the woman, “If you make a mistake … there is a very severe possibility that you’re both going to get shot.” Langley then proceeded to give Shaver the confusing instructions to crawl forward while keeping his legs crossed and his hands in the air. When Shaver failed to follow these instructions, he was shot by Officer Philip Brailsford. Video of this can be seen online.
Officer Brailsford had etched the words “you’re fucked” into his gun. He undoubtedly had this fetish for justified violence. Brailsford clearly saw his gun as “fucking” the bad guys, and being unable to follow confusing instructions on how to crawl is enough to make someone a “bad guy” worthy of being shot.
Of course, Shaver was shot under suspicion that he was reaching for a gun, but it is obvious from the footage that he was doing no such thing.
It’s telling that Brailsford holds no remorse for shooting Shaver, saying, “If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing.” Brailsford felt justified in killing an innocent person. Not because that person was going to attack Brailsford, not because that person threatened the rule of law, but because that person made a mistake in attempting to follow Sgt. Langley’s instructions.
People like Philip Brailsford, those that fetishize justified violence, should never be allowed to be police officers. Police officers are given power, and that power should not be given to people who have fantasies of killing “bad guys.” Especially considering that when these fantasies are fulfilled, the cops may not face punishment; Brailsford was acquitted on charges of both murder and manslaughter. Though he was fired from the Mesa Police Department, he has since then been rehired by Mesa PD so that he can retire from the PD and receive a pension.
When people with this fetish are allowed to find careers in law enforcement, innocent people die.