miércoles, 1 de febrero de 2012

Why do we need the Police Athletic League?

The Police Athletic League is a project by the police intended to improve their poor community relations, through activities with youth that have nothing to do with police-work. One might ask why they have to go off-duty to improve their image--an image which is produced by their on-duty activity?

And if they are successful at inducing cognitive dissonance in "at-risk" youth's attitudes toward them, is that something to be lauded? In other words, is PAL an organization worthy of being called a public charity, as it claims?

When analyzing the motives of any organization, it is always useful to "follow the money."

The most significant sponsor of Philadelphia PAL, for the last 40 years, from what the Philly PAL newsletters indicate, has been Lockheed Martin. This is a corporation which is one of the world's largest arms manufacturers. They sell weapons of mass destruction to the U.S. government as well as other governments around the world (from Wikipedia). One of the weapon systems they produce is known as the "drone bomber"--an unmanned aircraft which over the past few years has been replacing much of our past military technology, as our country continually strives to kill as many people as possible without risking the lives of our own soldiers. With these drones, "soldiers" become merely at-home videogamers. And murder becomes impersonal and unaccountable.

The Philly PAL youth who participated in "Lockheed Martin Day" are being trained to support the military industrial complex without ever being given the chance to understand it or challenge it.

What message is Philly PAL trying to send to these "at-risk" youth?

The message that they are sending is that violence is the best way to resolve disputes. Clearly, the goal of PAL is not to keep kids away from violence, but rather to keep them away from non-state-sponsored violence. This is as one would expect, of course, since the police themselves are instruments of violence which the state uses to ensure obedience of the citizenry.

But then again, PAL does not claim to have a mission of reducing violence. They merely state that they want to help youth to be successful in this culture. (from PAL Mission Statement)

Perhaps it is time we as a culture redefine success. In the meantime, other charities exist to help "at-risk" youth that are not tied to institutions of militarism and violence.

If the police wish to have better community relations, they may wish to consider the underlying reasons that they are perceived poorly in the communities they are supposed to serve and protect.

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