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“Defund the Police”

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Cold wind whipped across the masks of the two men as they passed the police station out on the boulevard. “They delved into that topic again last night on CNN. Defund the police,” said Junior Boyd, gesturing toward the building. “Came on late.”

“I was knocked out by then,” replied Semple Jenkins. “Don’t defund sleep.”

“I suppose we would not want that,” chuckled Junior Boyd. “But seriously, they really got into it. It started with Obama. Peter Hambry, from Good Luck America, was interviewing him.”

“Somebody always interviewing him. A mic gon grow out of his mouth if he ain careful. You know how evolution do.”

“That would take thousands and thousands of years, Semple. He won’t be around that long. Anyway, he told Hambry, ‘I guess you could use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund the Police,’ but you know you’ve lost a big audience the minute you say it, which means it’s much less likely that you’re going to get the changes you want done.’ He later added that, ‘The key is deciding, do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with? And if you want to get something done in a democracy in a country as big and diverse as ours is, then you’ve got to be able to meet people where they are and play a game of addition and not subtraction.”

“All that language advice?”

“Yes. And Don Lemon agreed with him one hundred percent. No surprise. He then hosted Angela Rye and Karen Finney to discuss the issue.”

“I know Angela wasn’t having it. She say, ‘Don Bye?’”

“It never got that bad. It stayed civil. But she unequivocally supported the slogan and pushed the case for immediate and radical action. She said it was a matter of life and death, that to get bogged in conversations about incrementalism is just a way of maintaining a dangerous status quo.”

“I know Don was mad at that.”

“I would not say mad. I would say frustrated. He just thinks ‘Defund the Police’ is a loser. He does not understand why people would hold onto it, especially if they have to negotiate with those who hold power and are needed to implement reform. Karen Finney did acknowledge that if ‘Defund the Police’ is your first sentence, it might hard for someone to hear your second sentence.”

“Yeah, but how your second sentence gon be your first sentence?”

“It is a question of revision, Semple. You know . . . Never mind. She took it further anyway. She articulated the need for multiple strategies. She said that when she is out in communities talking with people in everyday language about police reform and alternative ways of making communities safe, a lot of people get it. She thinks that kind of detailed work needs to continue. But she’s not criticizing ‘Defund the Police.’ And Angela said Biden needs to get all the way on board the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. He is not all the way on board at the moment. Don pushed the idea that Democrats lost seats for embracing slogans such as ‘Defund the Police.’ Both Angela and Karen countered that statement. Karen said candidates lost seats because of heavily funded Republican opposition in gerrymandered, GOP-leaning districts that Democrats had barely won in the first place. They did not lose because of any particular catchphrase.”

“Well, it all sounds pretty interesting,” allowed Semple as he and Junior Boyd leaned into the wind and neared a bodega they often go to for breakfast sandwiches. “You know I’m not the sharpest dude when it comes to politics.”

“Astute enough.”

“If you say so,” Junior Boyd. “Just let me get it straight. Obama got a problem with the slogan ‘Defund the Police?’”

“That is correct.”

“And Obama expressing this problem got all kinds of media coverage?”

“That is what has happened.”

“So the reaction to the slogan keeps the slogan in high-level conversation? Keeps it on the air? Demands ongoing consideration as part of a struggle for justice? Dictates programming on CNN?”

“That seems to be the outcome,” Semple.

“Then how can it not be a very good slogan?”


#keithgilyard #thelanguagelane #rhetoricblog #defundthepolice #CNN

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