It’s amazing when the US government’s and media’s boot-licking of police extends so far that they’ll even tongue-polish the boots of an objectively regressive and abusive police force operating in what they regard as a pariah state. When these people discuss what happened to Mahsa Amini, the phrase they usually choose is that she “died in police custody.” What a hard-working euphemism that is. To say that someone “died in police custody” makes it sound coincidental, like they died of their own accord while the police happened to be there. It’s like saying that someone who was murdered by stabbing “died in the presence of a fella with a knife.” Based on the reliable accounts, which don’t include the government’s claim that she died of a heart attack or multiple organ failure due to a preexisting condition, because that has been refuted or debunked by Amini’s family and evidence that she had been beaten and suffered a cerebral hemhorrage and/or concussion, Mahsa Amini was murdered. She was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” for having a bit of hair exposed from underneath her hijab, which is like arresting someone for wearing their hat crooked or their pants sagging, and within a day she was dead. Are we supposed to believe that if she had not been arrested and no harm was done to her that she would have died anyway? That is what Iranian officials would have us believe, and it is downright peculiar that so many in opposition to the Iranian government would imply with the phrasing, she “died in police custody,” that it is what they believe or want us to believe as well.
Even when police murder people in a country that the US establishment treats as an enemy, they are reluctant to the point of jumping backwards and blindfolded through hoops to say that police murdered people. In part, it would seem that this language is an expression of the establishment’s slavish loyalty to the police, to the notional system of policing. Even the openly repressive, misogynistic, brutal theocratic police of what the US considers a hostile adversary regime are given the benefit of the doubt and a respect they don’t deserve. It’s as if they can’t question or rightfully condemn the behaviors of police in other countries for fear of harming the establishment of policing worldwide.
Indeed, if they were to judge the police of Iran, they may have to do the same for police in the US, or be labeled hypocrites. Not that the US government and corporate media have a genuine problem with being hypocritical. Hypocrisy and double standards are their steez. But perhaps it would make the similarities between the police murder of Mahsa Amini and the police murders of Americans more apparent. The “crime” for which Amini was arrested was absurd. Even if the theocratic regime of Iran wants to go on regulating and restricting people’s behaviors and style of dress, there needs to be more distinction between what is a capital offense and what is, like the case with Amini, a situation where they could have simply told her to wear her hijab “correctly” and let her go on her way. Similarly, police in the US do not need to be arresting people for minor traffic violations, selling loose cigarettes, loitering, or any of the other petty offenses that can get people detained, possibly arrested, and potentially killed in this country. It’s perverse how often the very serious crime of murder is minimized when committed by police, and justified by whatever petty thing their victims were accused of doing. Honestly, this country is not that many centuries or decades removed from having people arrested for not wearing clothing “correctly.” We’re not that far removed from people being arrested and killed for doing nothing that any rational person would consider criminal.
When people die because of the actions of police, it is, and should be spoken of as, murder. It is homicide, or at least manslaughter, when their brutality of people causes people to die. The police in every country need to be held accountable for the crimes that they commit, and that starts by properly identifying and calling out the exact nature of their crimes.