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LAPD Chief Beck announces mandatory officer training in Derridean Linguistics

March 3, 2015

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“Over the past few years there have been many stories across the nation involving police officers.  And guns.  And unarmed people.  And deaths.  And a lot of irresponsible people in the media have been putting these elements together into sentences.  Sentences that suggest both causality and agency.

For years now, we’ve been working with officers who get risk being caught up in these tragic situations and offering them the help they need.  Helping them with their clauses, teaching them how to favour the passive tense and how to keep the subject of the sentence as far as possible from the main verb. When it comes to officer-with-discharged-weapon+unarmed-person-on-ground type situations, nothing is more important than crafting labyrinthine, dare I say Miltonic, investigations into the limits of grammatical causality.

But now it’s time to take these efforts further. Sadly, despite our best linguistic efforts, many people are still inferring a sense of agency and responsibility from the stories of officer-related shootings that seem to saturate the media. Today I can announce that the LAPD has formed a partnership with interdisciplinary cultural studies gurus at UCLA to give everyone on the force a thorough competence in poststructuralist linguistics and postmodern philosophy. Ladies and Gentlemen, where is moral responsibility if there is no intent? And where is intentionality in a post-Saussurian landscape where signified concepts do not precede signifiers? If meaning is generated via the play of signifiers then how can an officer-related shooting narrative ever establish either intent or causality?

Besides which, in the differential web of the text, meaning is always deferred, to the point where every assertion of meaning also contains the conditions and possibility of exactly the opposite meaning.

See, I may not much about Derridean linguistics, but right now I like what I hear.

And should Derrida fail us, we have plans to invest heavily in Jean Baudrillard.  After all, look at me.

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Am I not transparently Tom Selleck out of Blue Bloods?  Am I a version of him or he of me?  The notion that some narratives are “true” and others “false” is both antiquated and unhelpful.  The only question involves which narratives play best.  We live in universe of simulacra of simulacra in which naïve attempts to “uncover the truth” fail to acknowledge the play of surfaces that fashion our postmodern world.  This is California, after all, the most hyperreal place on earth.  The archaeological metaphor of “uncovering the truth” of officer-related shootings withers in the blazing sunshine of the here and nowness of hyperreality.

And it is in therefore in the spirit of Jean Baudrillard that  I can confidently announce today:

“The next officer-related shooting will not take place.”

Noam Chomsky was unavailable for comment.

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