We’re all individually responsible for our own transgressions. But we’re collectively responsible for the downfall that always comes when we set people on a pedestal, and they inevitably transgress.
As of this morning the full allegations against Chief Oliver have been aired. A full-on flame war is sure to come. The faithful followers of his plain-speaking, mope-interdicting online persona are going to rush to his defense and unleash an impolitic flood of counter-accusations. It’s going to get ugly.
Which is a huge, huge bummer. That same online persona, as recently as a week ago, was the single most successful source of community-police relations we had, in a time when those relations are being sorely tested. Now that’s gone, to be replaced by tawdry controversy. There’ll be a lot of fallout from that, but one of the saddest is that a nice little town is going to be torn inside out, through no fault of its own.
If there’s fault to be assigned, and if those allegations are even partly true, then almost all of that fault goes directly to the former chief himself. Whatever’s left over should be claimed by all of us who stupidly—if temporarily—forgot that Mayberry was fiction and heroes are hard to find.