The Outrage Sweet Spot with Officer Slam

(Note: Just learned that her mother and grandmother are still alive… Hmmm)

What is the anger sweet spot when you saw that 16 year old girl get flipped backwards out of her desk and dragged from a classroom at Spring Valley High School in Columbia South Carolina? I’m trying to find the Goldilocks zone.

I’ve gone from the anger that you feel when you step on a Lego right after you told her to pick them up, to that feeling that I got when that boy punched my daughter at nursery school. Angry enough to throw hot grits or write an angry email, or both. That’s not exactly a maintainable place. It’s not healthy.

Other brothers are zen about it. Right around, “I asked for Equal and you gave me Splenda…” angry.

Yo, let's not jump to no conclusions.

Yo, let’s not jump to no conclusions. Let’s get the whole story…

You can usually tell who they are. They are the amateur crime scene investigators who want to find lost footage and analyze angles like it’s the Zapruder tape. Can we see it from a boom shot? What happened before this?

They are too busy slowing it down and looking at how the shadows fall across the desks to be angry. Or maybe, they saw a Black girl get bodied and just don’t give a fuck. That’s not healthy either.

For you amateur CSI guys, this is what we’ve found out since the video was released. The girl very recently lost both her mother and grandmother. She was placed in foster care. So, this is a new school for her, in a new neighborhood with new parents and new people.

She’s all alone.

We know that she disobeyed her teacher. He told her to put away her phone. She didn’t. He told her to give it to him. She said she wouldn’t. He told her to leave. She dug in.

When the video begins, she had put it away and was sitting silently, alone, after Deputy Ben Fields, the man they call Officer Slam, had moved all of her classmates away from her. She was stubbornly resolved.

It’s a teacher’s job to maintain order, right?

He couldn’t let her get away with it. If he did, the kids would punk him for the rest of the year, trolling him with enormous rotary phones sitting on their desks, daring him to do something. That’s how it goes, just like in prison. Show weakness and the next thing you know some kid has thrown an old pay phone through the windshield of your Prius.


But you know what else is a teacher’s job? Helping students through the hardest times that they will ever face. The school system is also a support system for its students. So when a child comes who is utterly alone in the world, it is part of his responsibility to help her get through it.

How would he know? That is the kind of thing that gets around. Ideally the administration would share it with him, but there is one trick that teachers have been using for generations. He could have just talked to her.

Not shouted.

Not demanded or spit, no finger wagging and no fist shaking. No principals and no Officer Slam. Just him and her speaking quietly in the hallway. He could have calmed the fuck down and asked her what’s up.

He might have found out that the photos in the phone were the only thing connecting her to her loved ones. He might have been able to help her. You know, how teachers are supposed to do.

That’s the back story. And, oh yeah, Officer Slam has a Black girlfriend. It’s a badge that white people love to display as proof that they aren’t racist. It’s “my best friend is Black,” on steroids.

Speaking of steroids, I don’t know if Officer Slam is racist or not. I also don’t know if he is a juicer or just a dude with anger issues. But the kids are terrified of him. And not in a healthy respect kind of way. More like, “Please don’t kill me.”

He has multiple complaints against him, and one allegation that he profiled some of the kids as gang members. But in all fairness, he might just like slamming people to the ground regardless of their race, creed, political affiliation or sexual orientation. I can imagine him in the gym squating asshole teenagers, crushing the fuck out of it and then spiking them all like a motherfucking meathead boss.

What else do you need to know before you give a shit about a little girl being smeared across the floor. Do you want to talk about how crazy things are in the school system right now? It’s kind of irrevelent, giving how silently non-crazy the girl was, but let’s do it. You want to talk about the parents that aren’t disciplining their children. Well, can we give her parents a pass?

But if you want to talk about the parents, let’s talk about how our cities will close a dozen schools and then open a billion dollar stadium. How about the failure of Common Core (RIP) and how the arts have been removed from the public school system. Closing libraries, shuttered community centers, let’s go there.

But aren’t you the same person who complains about how easy teachers have it whenever they go on strike? “They get summers off… blah blah blurb…” Nah, that bet not have been you.

Let’s be real. You’re not looking for more evidence. If you had found out that Officer Slam grinds up poor children for a protien supplement, you still wouldn’t care. And this isn’t a reflection on that girl, or the teacher or the schools or all of the asshole high school students and parents who don’t smack them frequently enough. This isn’t even about Officer Slam, now regular dude Slam since his firing.

This is about you. You don’t care because you think she deserved it. And even if she didn’t deserve it, she deserves it because of how some other kid, hundreds of miles away punched his teacher. You think she deserves it because you’ve swallowed the pill that our children are always, always guilty as hell.

If you can only give a fuck when it’s your flesh and blood that gets hurt, you’re the weakest link. There is something wrong with you. I don’t know how mad is mad enough, but if your first reflex is to say, “Well then she should have…” then you are definitely not mad enough.