“Just a Few Bad Apples” an updated blast from the past

Some recent events have prompted me to want to bring this forward even though the original wasn’t all that long ago.  I’ve added some references to said events in the post below:


Whenever one complains about misbehavior in the public sector the cry from certain segments goes out “That’s just a few bad apples.  Most are…”

Depending on what precise sector is misbehaving the segments raising that cry may differ, but the cry itself is generally the same.  We can’t blame all of them because of “a few bad apples.”

What these people forget is the origin of the expression about bad apples.

The old aphorism was “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.”  And it’s true.

If you have a bad apple snugged in among a bunch of good apples, the microorganisms in the bad one will spread to the previously good apples causing them, in turn, to rot.  And they, in turn will spread the rot to other.  The one bad apple, given time, will spoil the whole batch.

What you need to do is remove the bad apple as soon as it is found to keep the rot from spreading to others.  It needs to be completely removed from all the apples.  You can compost it or feed it to livestock that isn’t bothered by the decay, but it absolutely cannot be allowed to remain among the apples that one intends to remain good.

The application of the metaphor should be obvious.  Far from being an excuse to be dismissed, “a few bad apples” indicates something that needs immediate attention, “apples” that need to be removed immediately and permanently from the “batch”.

However, instead we get this. Trooper Anthony Piercy arrested Brandon Ellingson on suspicion of “operating a boat while intoxicated”.  He handcuffed him, took him into his patrol boat. and incorrectly put a life jacket on him.  He then departed the scene at a high rate of speed in his patrol boat.  Ellingson fell off the back.  The life jacket came off when he hit the boat’s wake and Ellingson drowned while Piercy looked on, making no effort to save him.  And while the state did rescind his law enforcement license the judge reversed that decision.  Oh, and he’s got ten days of jail time–served two at a time, basically giving up five weekends.  Piercy is still a cop and “merely on unpaid leave.”

Or perhaps there’s this one, with State Troopers discussing the best way to frame someone of a crime since they didn’t like him filming them…and even calling another department to see if they have a “grudge” against the guy:

So far as I can tell, all of these people engaged in conspiracy to violate a man’s rights are still serving in “law enforcement.”

Or this one.  SWAT raid over a code violation (gas turned off). “No knock” warrant (like they’re going to get rid of evidence–flush the gas meter down the toilet?). Family dog killed.  Oh, they claimed the dog was charging them but “shot in the side and back” which means it was facing away from them when shot.  Over the course of the dozen or so articles I searched on this incident, not one word about the police officers involved, including the one who, let’s be kind and say “embellished” a line about history of violence to justify the “no knock” being fired or even disciplined.  Oh, there’s some talk about “revising policies” with said revisions remaining unstated.  But no chucking of bad apples.

So, instead of removal, you get dismissal of the problem as “a few bad apples” and those bad apples remain in the batch.  That’s not an indication that the problem is too small to merit attention.

It’s an indication that the rot has already spread.

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