Cop Flops

On Jan. 24, a Toronto police officer told a group of Osgoode law students that women could avoid sexual assault by not dressing like “sluts.” The officer, who has remained anonymous, was speaking at a campus safety meeting at York University in Toronto.

He has already received an official reprimand and issued a formal apology to the students involved.

Never will I understand how or why public servants still have next to no knowledge on the dangers of candid speech.

Or, if they do, ignore it entirely during public address.

Put simply: if your mouth doesn’t have a filter, keep to cue cards. As an individual, the world is your forum to speak openly and without fear.

However, when an individual speaks as a representative from a larger group (say, oh, the Toronto police force) there is danger in loose-lipped behaviour. Addressing any group of people, a speaker must assume that each set of ears open to their words also comes with a shoulder chipped by past experience.

There is little to nothing about a person’s physical presentation that gives hint of his or her past; no sign around one’s neck to show if they have been a victim of sexual assault.

When the officer stared out into a crowd of law degree hopefuls, odds were against him that at least one person had a run-in with the issue.

While the word slut was inarguably a poor choice, it invokes a certain image of dress (behaviour was not addressed in the officer’s words).

However, there are dozens more synonyms with similar construct that could fill this blank.

Using “slut” made it sound as though a woman’s deliberate choice in dress can be a conscious way of inviting predation.

This situation is not the only time I’ve critiqued large-mouthed behaviour.

Instead, I filed it within my mental rolodex labelled “stupid things public figures say”.

It’s a cramped drawer, where Kanye West is currently having a heated argument with Charlie Sheen over who fills top spot.

In any case, when a person is holding a microphone, a handbook should come with the battery pack.

In red letters it must read: if you can’t mind your tongue, step down (or ensure a five-second delay).

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