It's Important to Know When to Shut Up

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Quentin Tarantino


Since I wrote about Quentin Tarantino’s anti-police tirade, the speech he gave while marching with yet another anti-police protest group, I am going to weigh in on his recent defense of his statement calling police “murderers.” Quentin made his comments during a protest rally of the group, Rise Up October, in New York, a protest that came four days after the murder of a New York City police officer.

Rise Up October is an organization created by Cornel West and Carl Dix. Mr. West is a former Harvard professor who is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and he has called Barack Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” Mr. Dix is a co-founder of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and he has denounced all shootings of young black men by police officers in line of duty as “genocide.” To be fair to Rise Up October, they had scheduled their protest long before New York City officer Randolph Holder was murdered in East Harlem, but to label police officers murderers, either wholesale or selectively, as Quentin Tarantino did, was a masterpiece of poor taste and poor timing. Mr. Tarantino managed to compound the offensiveness of his statements by citing as an example the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, since virtually every subsequent investigation of that shooting ruled it a clear case of justifiable homicide by a police officer in defense of his life.

I’m not interesting in rehashing Mr. Tarantino’s statements, but rather in looking at his peculiar defense of those statements.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Tarantino stated: “All cops are not murderers. I never said that. I never even implied that.”

Well, Quentin, your words, “When I see murder, I cannot stand by. I have to call the murdered the murdered and the murderers the murderers,” would in fact seem to imply precisely that, but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the American people misunderstood you. After all, your chosen medium of expression is film, not the English language.

But then Mr. Tarantino goes on to say later in his interview, “I have a first amendment right to protest against police brutality as I see it, and I’m not backing down from that.”

Let me see if I’ve got this right. We, the American people, misunderstood you, but you courageously invoke your first amendment right to be misunderstood?

Okie, dokie. No muddy thinking there, by golly, but we’ll let it go. What I won’t let go is the following: “What” [the police and police associations] “are doing is pretty obvious. Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people” [excuse me, Quentin, but you were one of those people] “were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out. And their message is very clear. It’s to shut me down. It’s to discredit me. It’s to intimidate me. It’s to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it’s to send a message out to any other prominent person that” [sic] “might feel the need to join that side of the argument.”

Quentin, please. That’s just embarrassing. It’s embarrassing for you to play the old “blame the victim” card, portraying the police as the ones in the wrong because they “misunderstood” you and object to what they misunderstood. If you have a first amendment right to be misunderstood, the police have an equally valid first amendment right to encourage people not to go see your films when they are offended by the words you claim you didn’t say.

And more importantly, Quentin, it is really embarrassing for you to try and portray yourself as a lone crusader courageously standing up to the ominous and threatening forces of powerful and entrenched evil in the form of police unions. You’re a movie-maker, Quentin, and you took a position on an issue about which you had not done all your homework, but that’s alright. That too is your right under the constitution. But at least have the dignity to cowboy up and take the heat when other people disagree with you.

For myself, since I haven’t actually seen any of your films so far, I will continue to courageously take a bold stance and boycott the next one as well.

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