So I'm sitting here, taking in a lot of the nonsense circulating on the internet today, thinking that the buzz is the same as always, just insert a different name this week. However, and this really does fold into our ongoing discussion as well, there are a number of individuals who have learned the art of inflammatory language and like to insert it as desired, whether or not it is apropos to the discussion. In some cases, the statements are one-liners thrown in simply for impact; some, though, are more like a hand grenade into a crowded room.
I happen to know a little about conflict. There is such a thing as escalation of conflict in which the rhetoric continues to ramp up on either side until it becomes an intractable situation. Nobody will give ground on either side because doing so would, in their eyes, admit defeat. Let's take the situation that seems to be the issue du' jour, going on this week in Miami-Dade and courtesy of my buddy Dave Statter.
In no way do I condone the officer's actions in the video. In fact, the first few times I watched it, I could see the event unfolding WAY before Smart got to the videographer. It was easy enough to see that he was ready to make his point and that he did, to the point of embarrassment. You know what though? I have been in his shoes before and I know how frustrating it is when you have some gawker taking video or rubbernecking at something, especially an emergency you are emotionally vested in, like a serious accident or when a kid is involved. But the way he handled it, as we have learned from Dave and from Curt Varone, is not just ill-advised, but a violation of the photographer's First Amendment rights.
But while the rest of the nation was hanging Capt. Smart out to dry and even having some punny remarks on his name, one or two individual comments were drowned in the flood. And while any attempt at perspective these days is considered siding with that party, the reality is that those comments indicated a little observation that there very well might have been prior history. And when one poster indicated that the videographer's YouTube page included just such evidence, that's where I went.
I suspected that the YouTube page referenced was going to pull up a plethora of Miami-Dade hate, and so it did. However, I don't see any name attached to the page that matches the name of the videographer in the LZ episode. The YouTube channel pointed out belonged to "305whistleblower", and I refuse to link to it because frankly, the many videos racked up on there are obviously those intended to inflame and agitate the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue folks. I don't know what the guy's problem is, but it is apparent he has a beef with the department.
So let's now put the shoe on the other foot. You are an officer in a department where some troll is following your trucks around making it clear that you are "wasting taxpayer money" and "resuscitating donuts" (his words). You happen to be working a scene where you have to fly out your patient, and given the nastiness of the gloves, I'm assuming it was a trauma patient. Of course, one of the flight crew looks over, sees somebody filming everything, makes a comment like, "Man, we're on video." And given the amount of adrenaline already flowing (and I'm not talking about into the patient), everyone goes on high alert. There is no "flight" response; we are Type "A" take-charge individuals, which I'm sure a line officer in one of the nation's finest fire departments has to be. It is all "fight" and he makes it clear by the way he strides across the field.
In the meanwhile, the videographer (and I'm giving him the benefit of doubt as NOT being 305trollboy, but an innocent member of the public, because I have no evidence otherwise) sees this and stiffens his own resolve. After all, here I am, taking a video of a helicopter landing in a field, which is pretty cool stuff. I am on the other side of the street and cars are passing in between me and them. If it is safe enough for all these people to be standing around out here without a care in the world, I should be fine. But the first firefighter comes up and makes it clear the issue isn't safety, but the videotaping. Well, guess what? The videographer has the right to videotape it, just like the people do all the time when they see something of interest, so long as they are safely out of the way.
And then along comes Capt. Smart, who is obviously emotionally off the edge by the time he gets there. And I don't need to narrate it; the result is an intractable situation in which neither party is going to win.
I'm going to ask you to do something interesting. Just go to Facebook or Twitter and take note of the comments that bound on language inciting overthrow or accuse the President of the United States of conducting some anti-American agenda. While I think it is interesting that there are those bent on protecting the United States from armed invaders, immigrants, and other riff-raff are also those who are saying the things most against our own democratically elected government and advocating, in some cases, violent change. Does anyone expect that productive discussion is going to come out of this kind of language?
Go to any website where any point of controversy is discussed. If anyone is actually reading it, within moments sides are taken and any effort at reasonable and considered discussion becomes uncivil and names start getting called. Like the discussion I have been throwing out there recently about the wisdom of an interior attack in a building where tenability is in question and to be honest, the application of an exterior stream for fire control makes more sense. This makes my simple observation a target of response; despite over thirty years of aggressive (and admittedly, in a lot of cases, stupid) decisions, I am now a "pussy".
We are never going to come together as a society at this rate. Lines are drawn over any little slight and the knives come out. Anyone that says something against our views is automatically "the enemy". Whatever happened to being able to say, "I don't agree, but I am willing to listen?" And then, in the spirit of being a better person, listening to see what you can gain from the discussion. If anything, you can find better arguments for your own position by understanding what it is that troubles the other party. Or even if you were able to listen for a moment, you were able to convince the other person that YOU are right? Drawing lines doesn't establish anything other than telling the other party there is no chance that anyone will achieve an agreement.
I will reiterate what I said: Capt. Smart let his emotions dictate the situation and he lost the battle. I don't agree with what happened. But before the internet pundits flock to his public beating, remember that before Dave and Curt's educating us on these issues, all of us were not only willing to take Capt. Smart's position, we believed it to be our duty to do so. And not long ago, the screaming would have been different, but we learned this was not the case, so we changed. And we need to also realize that there are other factors at play here, factors we have no idea about.
Before you all jump to execution for someone who does something wrong, perhaps we should take a breath, consider the different perspectives, and then decide. There is nothing wrong in learning about what to do and what not to do, but the rhetoric has got to quiet itself. The hysteria is really out of control and I see this coming to an end that won't be pretty.