In 2018, after a long and hard day of writing blogs about white privilege and gluten-free pancakes, I drove to the Wendy’s a few blocks from my house to get a Baconater, a frosty, and some fries. When I pulled up to the drive-thru window, the cashier said it might be a while because they ran out of bacon and needed to get some from some freezer. So I pulled off to the side, parked, and waited for 17 minutes for my burger to arrive. While sitting there, I listened to Yeezus. On the 18th minute, I went into the restaurant, asked to speak to a manager, and then got into an argument with a fry cook—who complained about my “tone”—and we started fighting. No clean punches were landed, but the rest of the workers came from behind the counter and pushed me out the door, and I never got my burger.
I don’t share that story often, because it’s embarrassing. And also because it never actually happened. Still, I’ve definitely fantasized about causing a scene when a food order was delayed or wrong. And with that in mind, I can relate somewhat to Stacy Talbert, the Georgia law enforcement officer whose delayed breakfast order caused her to act like she’d just watched the last half of Marley & Me. Watching the clip of her—her eyes, her quivering lips, the why she enunciated “coffee”—felt like a trailer for a short on why white people must be stopped.
It also was, well, human. Perhaps we all haven’t been triggered to tears by hash browns, but we’ve all had moments where the demands of life just felt too heavy and we needed a moment to vent. Fortunately, for most of us, these moments usually happen privately, which allows us an opportunity to compose ourselves and put a public face back on. But, with making this private moment very public, Stacy Talbert revealed, among other things, that she isn’t fit for her job. Because someone who crumbles over a McMuffin definitely shouldn’t possess the legal power to end someone’s life.
And yes, I did say, just a paragraph ago, that she had an understandably human reaction to stress. So what makes her specifically unfit to be a police officer? Nothing, actually. She’s no less fit than any person who experiences stress. Which means that none of us are fit for that responsibility.
The most popular argument for funding, maintaining, protecting, and respecting law enforcement is that they’re just as human as anyone reading this. These men and women, the argument continues, put their lives on the line to maintain social order. Unfortunately, for the people who make that argument, this line of thought actually makes an airtight case for why there should be no police. You just cannot control for stress and unconscious bias and anxiety and fear and adrenaline and all the rest of shit we all possess. The shit that makes us human. And if we’re all susceptible to those very human forces, what sense does it make to give any of us the power to end a life?
The law is supposed to be objective. (It’s not, but let’s just say it is, for now.) But individual humanity is diametrically opposed to objectivity. We are walking, talking, subjectivity devices, and it’s foolish to give any of us the legal justification to make a spilt-second decision on whether someone lives or dies.
Anyway, I’m tired of writing about this now, and all this muffin talk got me hungry, so goodbye!