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Thank you so much for writing what is on my mind at times but can't be put into words!
I forwarded your book info to a friend going through an 'ass--le phase.
I enjoy reading your blog so much!
Happy Holidays from cold and snowy Paris.

Wally Bock

Thanks for kicking off some fine memories. I remember the first time I read that piece. I wished my Uncle Johnny was still alive to read it. Reading this again I remembered him and what made him so special.

John became a cop during the Depression in a large Eastern city. The family story was that he got the political patronage job by fighting other Irish boys for it. I don't know if that's true, but it sure could have been.

Years later, when I knew him, we'd sit on those "candy stores" that are still in the neighborhoods in the Northeast. He'd scan everyone who came in, then ask me to "tell me their story."

I'd always try, but then he'd add something that I missed. "See that," he'd say, "The suit's good quality, but needs pressing. The shoes are polished but the heels are worn down. He's been out of work for a while."

He thought that what he did as a young patrolman was "police work." Police work included preventing crime, responding when someone called, arresting criminals, and maintaining order.

He thought the change in language from "police officer" to "law enforcement officer" was a very bad thing because it emphasized the law and diminished the part of police work that involved maintaining order. He thought that if you got the order maintenance part right, you would have to do as much crime prevention.

One Thanksgiving, my dad and the Uncles, including Johnny, were drinking and talking after dinner. For some reason my dad shared the Martin Niemoller quote aimed at the German intellectuals in Hitler's Germany. It begins "First they came for the Communists" and ends "and then they came for me." Johnny lit up.

"That's it," he said, "You have to stop the assholes early! If you let them win once they find they like it. Then the whole neighborhood turns to sh*t."


This is really interesting material, as always, but I do always wish in the more "formal' literature for a recognition that in English an "asshole" as opposed to an "arsehole" is somewhere you keep your donkey...


The terms used must now be preceded by "alleged" to protect rights, unless the "perp" is self-identifying.

Glad I haven't lived in an area (yet) where policemen are thought of (and may even act, in some caseds) as Dwayne commented.

Here, the people who use those terms about policemen are typically, sadly, the drunks and wife-abusers who must think they see a like kind when they are stopped from continuing their abusive activities.

Dwayne Phillips

What I find interesting is that the terms police used are now commonly applied to police. "bullies with badges" being the most oft-used description of police. It seems that if you hate something enough you become it.

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