Calling All Cops (No, Seriously)

One of the best projects I’ve ever gotten to work with is Fault Lines, an online legal magazine run by Scott Greenfield and Lee Pacchia.  At Fault Lines, we cover all aspects of the criminal justice system from every perspective.  Our work includes a former prosecutor, an active prosecutor who has a penchant for pissing readers off by being smart and reasoned when he writes, criminal defense attorneys, a Senior Federal Judge, someone who works with prisoners, and an ex cop turned lawyer.

There’s one perspective that we’re missing at Fault Lines, though, and that’s the perspective of an active-duty cop.  If you’re reading this, and you fit that description, and you’re interested in providing the world the viewpoint of someone who straps on a service belt every day, then we’re interested in hearing from you. Give us the cops’ perspective.

You’re going to need to be able to write at least two posts per week.  You will need to be able to meet deadlines consistently.  You must be able to write in a thoughtful, reasoned, articulate fashion.  Your posts will get edited, so don’t worry about sounding erudite from the get-go.  If you’re not confident in your ability to write, Scott Greenfield will kick your ass into being one of the best writers you can possibly imagine.

We’d love to hear from you, so if you’re interested in becoming a part of Fault Lines, read the directions on how to apply and give it a shot.  The worst that will happen is Scott will say “no thanks,” and life will go on.

It’s a great platform, it’s a good cause, and you’ll be a better writer for your efforts.  If those reasons don’t make you want to give it a shot, then Fault Lines isn’t for you.  If you’re keen on bring your perspective to the table, then step up to the plate and take a swing.

While you’re reading this, take a moment and sign up for the Fault Lines newsletter.  Just enter your name and email address in the box on the right-hand side of the page and we’ll email all the good stuff we pump out to you daily.  There’s no spam, no BS, no marketing gimmicks, just 100% pure awesome legal analysis.

A Saint Paddy’s Day Modest Proposal

Saint Paddy’s Day* is when just about every white person in America decides to get stinking drunk and pretend they’re Irish.  Those of us with actual Irish blood running through our veins tend to abhor such practices, but we’ll let you slide with your little cultural appropriation. While you’re drinking and reading this, I’ll make a modest proposal to you.  The MacManus Brothers of the “Boondock Saints” films should be dubbed the patron saints of professional conflict resolvers.

Image Credit: Media in Review

Image Credit: Media in Review

Connor and Murphy MacManus (played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) reach an “epiphany” when seeing just how much evil exists in the world, and dedicate their lives to eradicating evil wherever they find it so that the innocent may flourish.  Their methods are a touch morally grey, but that’s life for you.  I’m not one to go around putting bullets in the back of Mafioso craniums, but I can admire two dudes who live their lives by the code “protect the innocent.”  They even have a family prayer they recite before each major execution, and I can definitely get behind men of faith practicing what they preach.

“And shepherds we shall be.

For Thee, my Lord, for Thee.

Power hath descended forth from Thy hand.

That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command.

So we shall flow a river forth to Thee.

And Teeming with souls shall it ever be.

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”

The MacManus brothers definitely have commitment to “truth” and “justice.”  One has a tattoo of the word “Veritas,” which is Latin for Truth.  The other has a tattoo of the word “Aequitas,” which in the same language is either “Justice” or “Equality,” depending on the context. Who can’t get behind “truth,” “justice,” and “equality?”  No one I know!

In the first film, the MacManus brothers even have an “inside guy” who knows how to help.  He’s the ultimate paralegal that “knows stuff.”

Connor: We haven’t really got a system of deciding who, Roc. It’s, uh…

Rocco: Me! *Me*! I’m the guy! I know everyone! Their habits, who they hang out with, who they talk to! I’ve got phone numbers, addresses! I know who they’re fucking! I know where they live! We could kill *everyone.*

Murphy: So what do you think?

Connor: I’m strangely comfortable with it.

Less you think these “vigilantes” don’t understand the difference between a guy who did something stupid and needed to catch a break versus actual evil, the MacManus Brothers make their intentions very clear in the first film.

“There are varying degrees of evil. We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption, into our domain.  For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three.  And on that day, you will reap it.  And we will send you to whatever God you wish.”

Even FBI Agent Paul Smecker (played by Willem Dafoe), understands they’re doing something that amounts to a just cause, even if he doesn’t like it.

The Priest: Would they ever harm an innocent person for any reason?

[of Rocco, who’s holding him at gunpoint]

Paul Smecker: No, they would never do that. Well, the two Irish guys wouldn’t, the Italian guy, he might, he’s kind of an idiot.

They also know that a certain “gallows humor” is necessary for the job they do, and make no bones about it, no matter who gets “triggered” or “microagressed,” long before those phrases entered the modern lexicon.

Connor: [during job training for an avid feminist] The rule of thumb here is…

Rosengurtie: Wait, rule of thumb? In the early 1900s it was legal for men to beat their wives, as long as they used a stick no wider than their thumb.

Connor: Can’t do much damage with that then, can we? Perhaps it should have been a rule of wrist?

So there you have it.  They protect the innocent, harbor no love for evil, abide by an ethical code, and manage to maintain a sense of humor about a profession where moral ambiguity is king.  My modest proposal is that we name the MacManus brothers the Patron Saints of Conflict Resolution Professionals.

Does anyone have the Vatican’s number on speed dial?

*The name for those of you who would adopt our holiday is “Saint Paddy’s Day,” not “Saint Patty’s Day.”  The “Paddy” refers to the Irish derivative “Padraig,” and refers to an actual Saint.  Just as I’m admonished at Fault Lines to get the law right, if you’re going to celebrate our holiday, you need to at least slur the name right after your tenth green beer.

Faces, Heels, and Fault Lines

I’m proud of the work we’re doing at Fault Lines.  It’s become a place where all sides of the criminal justice world are voicing their thoughtful, intelligent perspectives.  That being said, I consider some of us “faces,” and some of us “heels.”

babyface (n.) — A heroic or good-guy wrestler. (Also known as: face; baby [archaic].) (Antonym: heel.)

heel (n.) — A bad-guy wrestler. Antonym of babyface. A monster heel is a massive, frightening villain.

Being a “heel” requires you to master the art of pissing people off.  Before certain people decided to expose the business, heels would have to carry guns with them from town to town in order to avoid getting killed for some of the things they said or did.

I consider guys like Ken Womble and Josh Kendrick in the “face” category.

We’ve got a guy who’s a hell of a heel at Fault Lines.  His name is Andrew King.  He’s a prosecutor, and I’m damn glad we’ve got him at Fault Lines.

Andrew King isn’t heel because he’s a prosecutor, he’s a heel because he’s mastered the art of pissing people off.   

I know this because his latest Fault Lines post managed to piss off my mentor, Scott Greenfield.

Andrew writes today about the antipathy toward Black Lives Matter.  I hated his post. Not because of the writing, which was strong, or the reasoning, which was supported by others who share his perspective. No, because it is diametrically opposed to what I believe.  And the subject is so inflammatory that it’s the sort of post that makes you want to scream at the screen.

If you can master the art of pissing people off, you’ve got an edge people don’t normally have.  The thing about Andrew King is that he’s a Paul Heyman level heel.  He can make you love him or hate him depending on how he chooses to transmit his message.

The post today on Fault Lines  Andrew wrote about Black Lives Matter pissed me off.  He’s heeling it up like nobody’s business, and he’s doing it in the same level that Paul Heyman does: with smart, reasoned, intelligent work.

You’re going to get a lot out of Fault Lines.  It’s going to piss you off, and it’s going to make you love what is written there, and you need to read all the posts daily, be it from a “face” or a “heel.”

We’ve actually made it really easy for you to get the content from Fault Lines.  There’s a new subscription service that’s just been launched.  Go here, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and enter your email address.

You’ll get a daily dose of incredible content that you can tailor to suit your needs.  But take Scott’s advice. Read the heels first.

But I urge you to read and think about perspectives with which you disagree. Not because they will necessarily change your mind. Let’s get real. Minds don’t change all that easily. But because they will expand your mind, open your thoughts to a better and deeper understanding of what you’re beliefs are up against.

If you don’t know the arguments against you, you will never be able to test the validity of your beliefs.  And if your beliefs can’t withstand scrutiny, then you’re living in a fool’s paradise.  Many on the internets do so, reading only those who validate their love and hate, their bias.  If that’s not good enough for you, if you are tough enough to challenge your bias, then read ideas you despise.

Study the heel just as much as you would the face.  Study the heel more.
They’ve mastered the art of pissing people off, and you need to know how to counteract that.  If you don’t, then go play in Facebook.

Again, I’m going to make this ridiculously easy for you. Enter your email address, first and last name, on this page, and hit “subscribe”.  There’s no bullshit, no marketing gimmicks.  Just quality content to your inbox every day.

And I may just have to go cut a promo on Andrew King for his Fault Lines post.