“Copaganda: An Introduction”
When I read media by or about the LAPD, I often feel a little like Lewis Carroll’s “Alice,” who ― after reading the nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” in Through the Looking Glass ― remarked:
“Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate.”
In Los Angeles County, law enforcement officers kill an innocent person once a week, so if you’re reading an article about their flashy, new Lamborghini Gallardo ― chances are you aren’t reading one about the (often unarmed) suspect they killed.
Could a surfeit of nonsense and inanity ― like the Los Angeles Police Department’s own locally grown, organic word-salad-specialties ― be obfuscating dirty deeds, done not-so-dirt cheap? Is the LAPD’s intensifying foray into social media ― and the glut of misinformation those accounts are peddling― another example of “[seeking] to influence opinion by attempting to have a message heard in as many places as possible, and as often as possible” ― in other words: “propaganda”?
It sounds a lot like the LAPD’s bustling media mill these days, doesn’t it; a steady stream of bullshit, distracting us from― even saying the opposite of ― the reality we see every day? When a cop dies, the department declares a tactical alert so they can put more pigs on the parade route. Their dutiful handmaidens in local media wring their hands, adding to the spectacle, and they only rarely deviate from LAPPL talking points about how “dangerous” being a cop is (it isn’t).
Just in case, for those keeping score at home, since 2008, here’s how the cold, sad body counts actually stack up:
LAPD: 3* (*all traffic fatalities)
Civilians: 252* (*all victims of intentional violence by LEOs in LA County)
Yet despite the torrent of nonsense they churn out (including pig-sponsored pseudoscience), and no matter how much spin Eric Rose at Englander, Knabe & Allen dizzies a disinterested media with, I can do something the LAPD seemingly can’t. That is, I can actually quote George Orwell. Orwell actually once said:
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”
You see, while the LAPD tries to be more Orwellian than George Orwell ever dreamed, a simple Google Search reveals that Orwell never actually said the line the LAPD’s Wilshire division account recently attributed to him. In fact, the only thing similar that Orwell actually said had quite the opposite meaning. When Orwell actually did make a similar comment in Notes On Nationalism, he declared:
“Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.”
By attempting to outdo even the nightmarish ‘Big Brother’ at Orwellian “political language,” misattributing a quote to Orwell that expresses the opposite of his actual politics, the LAPD has once again demonstrated that its distortions and lies are “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” After all, what Orwell plainly meant in Notes On Nationalism was not to exalt “rough men” who help “people sleep peaceably,” but rather to incriminate those who bury their heads in the sand and pretend the state ― and policing itself ― aren’t “violent” ex vi termini . But in case you didn’t know: cops lie.
As I said to the Police Commission myself in February, 2013, “There is an expression for Chief Bratton and Chief Beck’s legacy at the LAPD, and it isn’t “transparency and fairness.” It’s “putting lipstick on a pig.” Increasingly, that lipstick is taking the form of a multi-platform propaganda assault on those not paying close enough attention – or what I call “copaganda.” And this scourge now seems to be spreading to Oakland, too.
Sadly, Orwell’s actual opinion on the police, of course, probably never will find its way into an LAPD tweet. It doesn’t serve their agenda:
“when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.”