Fuck the Police! or, Fuck the Police?

This is going to be an attempt at a blog post that attempts to deal with my personal life. Big steps. Scary, I know.

The other day, I happened to come across a certain gentleman’s profile on fitlads, as you do. I decided he was pretty enough to have a go at striking up conversation with, and so I made a flippant remark about something he had put in his profile. We got chatting, and over the next few days we found we had a fair bit in common. The boy (lets call him Paul, because actually I don’t know his real name and “Paul” is nice enough) is a bit of a geek, likes going out on the odd occassion and talks about cleaning just enough to make it clear that he would tidy up after me if we ever got married and went all Stepford Gay. Perfect. Until the conversation moves round to what we do with our time. I tell him I’m a layabout student, and he tells me… wait for it… that he works for the filth.

“PSCO’s main duties include dealing with anti-social behaviour, minor crimes, and being the highly-visable, ever present eyes of the State on the streets.

He’s a PSCO. A Police Community Support Officer. All I really knew about PCSO’s were that they are the fake police that get sent out to annoy teenagers in the city centre and help old ladies cross the road. So I did a bit of research. There is a fair few of them, about 13500, and they dont have any powers of arrest beyond your average citizens arrest. Their main duties include dealing with anti-social behaviour, minor crimes and being the highly-visable, ever present eyes of the State on the streets.


So, not as bad as you average, truncheon wielding riot cop, but still something that I have reservations about persuing. Why? Well, for me the police service exist to fulfil the state’s wishes; to be the mechanism of ‘legitimate’ state violence and to enforce what are, in the most part unjust laws. Whilst some duties they perform are valuable, the police as an institution are racist and homophobic, and constitute a weapon that the state uses to control the working class through fear of imprisonment. The police are the enforcers of a criminal justice system where black people are 7 times more likely to be imprisoned, but actually less likely to commit the crime in the first place, where queer people and people with learning difficulties and disabilities are over-represented in prison through the un/conscious bigotryof the police, judges, lawyers and juries working within that system. Paul, even though he is just a PCSO,is complicit within that system and so, even though he is gay, actively promotes the homophobia, racism and bigotry that system represents.

“Whilst some duties they perform are valuable, the police as an institution are racist and homophobic, and constitute a weapon that the state uses to control the working class through fear of imprisonment.”

The other day he wrote that he made his first arrest on his own. He had caught a guy trying to steal a crate of beer from a supermarket (with multi-million pound profit margins which could stand to loose a few quid). For a minor crime such as this, the poor guy would probably have some form of fine, and now has a criminal record. For someone who can’t afford a crate of beer, getting stuck with a fine is probably not the most helpful thing in the world… and lets face it, if someone is desperate enough to risk their freedom for a beer they probably deserve a pint or twenty. Wasn’t Paul just doing his job? Well, yes, its not as if Paul makes the laws or has much say in the strategy of how they are enforced. He did, however, choose to take on that job, as well as make the personal choice to enforce this particular law in this particular case. After all, a crime isnt a crime unless your caught.

Arguably the catalyst of the queer rights movement, the Stonewall Riots were a series of clashes with the police as cops raided the Stonewall Inn, and were resisted by a group of radical queers, transvestites and street kids who had had enough. A year later, to mark the anniversary of the riots, the Pride parade was born. Explicitly political, it demanded action on homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and expressed solidarity with other oppressed groups. Over coming years, pride started to become less political as it became more about parties and the pink pound. An important moment in the evolution of pride was when the Gay Police Association starting marching in the parade, causing a schism between the commercial and political elements of Pride, the political elements boycotting the parade.

“The police, by their very nature, cannot be members of our community because they are agents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and so represent a threat, even if the indivivual police officer is gay, bi or trans themselves.

The reason the queer community exists is not simply because we share non-comformist sexualities and gender identities, but through self defense. We are safer standing together against the endemic homophobia, biphobia and transphobia we face in wider society than standing alone. The police, by their very nature, cannot be members of our community because they are agents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and so represent a threat, even if the indivivual police officer is gay, bi or trans themselves.

So, what does this mean for poor old Paul? Your’e not going to sleep with him just because of his job? Yup. Just as I wouldnt buy Coca Cola because their company murders trade unionists in Columbia, I wouldnt sleep with a policeman because his job entails the systematic harrassment of political activists, the locking up of working class people and the supporting of a homophobic, racist and otherwise discriminatory status quo. If he didnt have the uniform, and was doing the same, most people would shun him. What exactly is it about the uniform that makes Pauls actions OK?
So, sorry Paul, I’m not going to be sleeping with you any time soon. If you feel like changing your occupation, give me a call đŸ™‚

*remember most of our laws are about private property, and a significant amount of people in prison are non-violent drug offenders, these people shouldnt be there.

Add me on twitter @charliethescarf  and subscribe to my blog đŸ™‚

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    • LadiesSaladRan
    • May 14th, 2010

    Erm, you bought two bottles of Cherry Coca Cola the other day…

    • radicalrabbit
    • May 14th, 2010

    that was for ste… with ste’s money…

    • LadiesSaladRan
    • May 14th, 2010

    Wouldn’t it have been a revolutionary act to refuse to assist this?

      • radicalrabbit
      • May 14th, 2010

      not really. revolution isnt going to come through my individual boycotting of a product. the concept of ethical consumerism still involves consumerism, after all.

      because coca cola make so much money they wouldnt notice if i didnt buy the odd fizzy drink or not, i make sure i sent them regular emails telling them i am boycotting them, and for what reasons. that means that the worker at the other end is engaged, that they log it, that they can find out about it. that, and participating in anti-coke protests (which i admittedly dont do) is the most important thing about a boycott of such a rich company. so, even if i do choose to buy a coke on a rare occasion like this, the impact is infantesimely small.

  1. Really well put. Though I’d have to say that for me it wouldn’t just be like boycotting coca cola. It’s that I couldn’t ever relax with a copper, I’d be having to self-censor everything before I spoke as his sworn duty would be to report anything illegal I might mention.

    If you couldn’t relax in someone’s company, sex would be kind of rubbish.

      • radicalrabbit
      • May 14th, 2010

      I agree…
      To an activist, associating with cops becomes a liabilty. Even to a person who isnt an activist but occasionally dabbles with mind-altering substances, or nicks the odd bit of food from tesco’s… they are a threat to your freedom, and so, yeah, sex would either be really angry and fucked up, or you just couldnt get into it.

    • Jennie O
    • May 14th, 2010

    Interesting blog post. I’m wondering though, if you frame work within a class context and look at the financial reasons behind people going into a job, does that alter at all the framework of your argument?

    I say this in light of anti-sex feminist groups who criticise women for engaging in different forms of sex work without looking at class issues which mean many women end up in that industry.

    Although they are obviously not the same thing, the discourse around class in this context is interesting I think, and as someone who has worked for companies that are not very nice because I needed the money, I think it’s an important question to ask.

    xxx

      • radicalrabbit
      • May 14th, 2010

      Completely agree with you, it is a very important thing to consider, which i should have probably included in the main peice.
      Coming from a class perspective, I’ve always seen cops to be class-traitors, thier job essentially to be locking up other working class people in the defense of private property. However, many of them might be in that situation because of economic issues, them needing the money and not being able to find another job.
      I suppose what clinched it in Pauls case was the excitement with which he told me about making his first arrest. He was proud. Taking some sort of joy in making another working class blokes life miserable, if it were.
      So, whilst I dont think it could ever be a hard and fast rule for me never to sleep with police officers, i think it is something that is likely to stand in almost all cases. When someone makes their first arrest, they are probably going to be congratulated by their coleagues, and the culture in the police service is reward that behaviour. And while someone see taking another persons liberty / opportunites / money away as a good thing i dont think i can support it.
      Thanks for the question, jennie. It is something that should be raised, and something that i should have included in the main text.
      much love xx

    • Jamie
    • May 14th, 2010

    Funny – though I don’t agree with your stand on police/state per se, by stating ‘no sex because you’re an agent of the state’ you’ve made the no-sex equivalent to a product boycott.

    Is sex necessarily so commercial? By commodifying him through your a boycott (boy-cott?), I think you might be a bit complicit, I think, with the very categories/processes you want to subvert (i.e. turning everything into a transaction or an exchange).Wouldn’t a more radical position explore (using sex?) ways in which, as a copper, he could be put to a queer agenda? Aren’t you interested to see how policemen shag, and where they stop being policemen and start being people? How far is the agent of the state an agent of the state in bed? When he comes?

    Having said that, I was trying to think of other reasons why should shouldn’t sleep with him (i.e., you don’t like him for his looks, his habits, his attitude, not just his job) and all it did was show up how the whole dating process is objectifying.

    So, I guess my solution would to get out there and see how many hearts/heads you can mess with. If some of them happen to be policemen, all the better. Queer the filth. Unleash desire!

      • radicalrabbit
      • May 14th, 2010

      Very good point, Jamie.

      I suppose for me, a persons occupation becomes a part of their personality, its what they spend most of their time doing, even if they try and seperate the work/play parts of their lives it always tends to bleed through…

      I suppose the boycott analogy is a bit crude. As Merrick pointed out, its not just about wanting to make a political point, but in order to have sex with someone you have to feel comfortable with them. As someone who occasionally engages in illegal activities, and who has been beaten up by cops before, i dont think i could reach that level of intimacy with a copper.
      Whilst the idea of using sex to engage with the idea philosophically sounds incredibly interesting, I doubt im the person to do it. However, I would LOVE to hear others thoughts/experiences with the issue. I suppose a similar question to ask would be, when do we stop being X-identity when we have sex? When do I stop being a student, and activist, a queer, an anarchist and start just being a mass of stimulated nerves and erotic experiences when i have sex?
      I suppose another criticism of this post I have put forward is that it pays undue attention to sex, after all, could the same boycott not apply with talking to police officers? what am i saying about the importance im putting on sex, and the role of sex within the queer community by picking out sex as a political tool?
      Interesting questions…
      đŸ™‚

      (You always come up with interesting questions for me, Jamie, thanks)

    • Jamie
    • May 14th, 2010

    should have proof read that post, i apologise in advance for the terrible grammar!

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