How often have we heard the phrase that “it is time to turn down the temperature on the rhetoric,” rhetoric used to drive the public discussion on the issue of the day? Rhetoric comes in many forms, but regardless of whether it is a headline on the front page of a local or national newspaper, the opening monologue of a local or national news program or simply rhetoric from interviews with those claiming to know all the facts, the rhetoric tends to inflame the passions on both sides of the issue of the day.
Unfortunately, the rhetoric of the day, week and past months has focused on attempts to dismantle America through the defunding of America’s police departments. This rhetoric has driven and fueled many of the protests which oftentimes have begun as peaceful marches, marches which have morphed into violent protests.
In response to the rhetoric aimed at defunding our police departments, Americans need to ask the follow-up rhetorical question of just exactly what will happen if America does adopt this defund the police rhetoric? Interestingly, one of the examples on the use of the word rhetoric in the Meriam Webster dictionary reads as follows, “The media almost never discuss what the sweeping dismantling of public services inherent in the rhetoric of the antigovernment movement would mean in practice.— E. J. Dionne, Jr., Commonweal, 20 Nov. 2009.” Is that what we want for America? The obvious answer is a resounding, NO!
Is that to say that all of the media rhetoric about police reform has been bad? Of course not, in many ways the rhetoric has contributed to a long overdue discussion on needed criminal justice reforms, not only reforms for police training, but also, reforms in the way laws are enforced, including reforms related to the application for and the execution of search warrants, reforms necessary to ensure that the tragic death of Breonna Taylor never happens again in Louisville or anywhere else in America.
One can easily understand the sense of outrage of many Americans when they consider the events related to the tragic and unnecessary death of Breonna Taylor. This outrage can be best summed up through the following words, “The system needs to be changed and there should be more accountability for search warrants carried out in the middle of the night when there is no evidence that an innocent person’s life is in imminent danger. If someone pounded on my door in the middle of the night, even if they yelled ‘police,’ I probably wouldn’t believe them. I wouldn’t voluntarily open the door.” Certainly, the words of this person, the concerns of this person, are not only legitimate, but likely shared by most Americans.
Sadly, when Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that he would be spearheading a task force on the executions of search warrants, many in the media chose to mock his efforts. As with Daniel Cameron, many in the media also echoed this same disgust with Sen. Tim Scott when he attempted to introduce police reform legislation in the United States Senate. Very candidly, what this says about many in the media is that they care less about actual police reforms, and care more about tearing down and attacking conservatives who would have the audacity to suggest real changes, changes which would derail the defund the police movement which they support.
In the end, hopefully, all Kentuckians, and for that matter all Americans, would want to support the efforts of both Attorney General Cameron and Senator Scott, efforts which focus on correcting the wrongs of the past, while at the same time providing America’s police officers with the necessary tools to prevent many tragic events of the past. These men should be applauded, not ridiculed, for their willingness to step forward as voices of reason at a time when reason is being replaced by empty rhetoric, rhetoric which offers nothing more than sensationalized news headlines or sensationalized opening monologues intended to either increase readership or drive television ratings.
So, as I often do, I will ask all Americans to join me on my imaginary mountaintop as we consider whether we want to adopt the defund the police rhetoric or whether we want to adopt real police reforms which have been suggested by Attorney General Cameron and Sen. Scott. It is time for all Kentuckians, and for that matter all Americans to shout loudly to the media that it is time to end the rhetoric which is intended to defund our police, and instead, it is time to support reform which will continue to keep our communities safe, reforms which will support America’s police officers.
Mark Wohlander, a military veteran, former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky and throughout the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Other of Mark’s columns and Liberty prints are available at www.fivesmoothstonesky.com.