'Most cops are wonderful people' and the usual blah blah blah

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Demonstrators assemble in McKinney, Texas, to protest the violent police response to a pool party.
  • AP Photo/Ron Jenkins
  • Demonstrators assemble in McKinney, Texas, to protest the violent police response to a pool party.
I came across what the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker had to say about the incident at the pool party in McKinney, Texas. "Video imagery doesn’t get much worse than a white police officer throwing an African-American girl in a bikini to the ground, kneeling on her back as she cries, and drawing his gun on other teens," she wrote.

Parker observed that this wasn't the only video we've seen in recent months of police officers dealing aggressively with unarmed African-Americans. She commented, "While it's necessary to qualify that most cops are good and risk their lives to protect our safety, nothing justifies what millions of Americans witnessed in the latest viral video described above."

I read this boilerplate sentence more than once before appreciating what's different about it. Yes, it's customary for any pundit expressing a modicum of unease about police tactics to make it clear he or she is referring only to the few bad apples in the barrel: Most officers are pillars of courage and rectitude and no one admires them more than yours truly. I've wondered whether this language was included out of genuine respect or in propitiation. And if the latter, propitiation of whom? Readers, or the police themselves?

Parker said what she was supposed to say, but she said doing so was "necessary." Necessary because omitting the qualifier would be unfair? Or necessary because omitting it would violate standard operating procedure (and possibly run the risk the column wouldn't get published)?

I've seen pundits remind us dozens of time that most cops are upright, but I've never seen a reminder so perfunctory. Parker wasn't just going through the motions; she made sure we knew it.

And she's considered a conservative writer.

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