Of course, everyone has seen this one by now.
All of the recently publicized police violence and overreaction is incredibly disturbing. My faith in humanity has me trying to believe that there is something more to these stories that I’m seeing — that these cops are not actually so ruthless — but there is no empirical evidence for it.
Perhaps this is too obvious a comment to make, but the Stanford prison experiment of 1971 explains some of it, I guess. But not enough, in my mind.
About the experiment:
In the experiment, 24 male students were selected to participate in a mock prison; 12 guards and 12 prisoners. Roles were randomly assigned. The upshot is this: the students chosen to be guards quickly began to abuse and torture their prisoners, the prisoners willingly abused other prisoners at the guards’ command, and the professor leading the experiment, playing the role of Prison Superintendent,” became so swept up in his made up role that he did not intervene. The experiment was well-documented and very controversial.
See more about it here
Is this all that is going on here? Is the experiment simply playing out in real life?
My best guess is that the cops have assumed a sort of group mentality whereby they perceive the protestors as a threat to the cops as a group. That must make the cops blind to the actual ridiculousness of their actions, overcome by an overriding need to attack before being attacked. I have a hard time believing, even though I’m not saying it isn’t the case, that the cops are so enamored of their own authority that they need to abuse it simply for their own sick enjoyment.