How is Adam Josephs, alias “Officer Bubbles”, worse than you think? By virtue of the simple fact that he’s not the only arrogant asshole on the Toronto police force. By virtue of the simple fact that protest has been criminalized, unannounced, in Canada. By virtue of the simple fact that Courtney Winkels would have been arrested even if she hadn’t blown a single bubble. Because protest is illegal in Canada now, duh. The question is, why did no one announce to the media that protest and community organization are now illegal? Maybe it’s because to do so would be to declare that we aren’t really a democracy; that martial law is essentially in effect where there is no just cause to implement it; in short, that we have crossed the line into fascism and dictatorship. That’s how Officer Bubbles is worse than you think. He’s not just some random asshole in uniform, but a symptom of something deeply and chronically wrong within the system. Were he just a random asshole, he could be easily weeded out. But the fact is, police forces have a predilection for assholes, and not just in Canada. Think Dan Mitrione, the Indianapolis cop who trained CIA-backed torturers in Santo Domingo, Brazil and Uruguay before finally meeting justice at the hands of the Tupamaros in Montevideo. Mitrione got a hero’s funeral, but he was no hero; he was a professional asshole in uniform. Assholes-in-uniform have no compunction about arresting people for no good reason (a bandanna, a backpack full of street-medic supplies, a lawyer’s phone number written with a Sharpie on a girl’s arm, etc.–not good reasons.) Assholes-in-uniform have no problem doing assholish things as a matter of course. Assholery is their profession. They’re trained to see the public as an adversary, an unruly dog to be kept at heel by any brutal means at hand; Josephs’ own Facebook page refers to his job as “taking out human garbage” for the City of Toronto, after all.And there is little question that the G-20 cops were taught to see the protesters as the Enemy, the forces of communism and anarchy, criminals for simply protesting. Human garbage, in other words. That’s why no police broke the line; that’s why not one of them said “this is not right” when peaceful protesters were corralled in a driving rain for five hours at Queen and Spadina. Not one of them failed to charge when the protesters had completed the last chorus of “O Canada”. Not one of them laid down the baton and shield in protest of their comrades’ blatantly unlawful behavior.If even patriotic protest is illegal in this country, then we’ve come to a bad pass. All the right-wing whining about the “police state” of Cuba becomes ridiculous when viewed in the light of the G-20 in Toronto. In Cuba, when the so-called dissidents of communism demonstrate, they usually get ushered, unhurt, onto buses, and brought home. If jailed, they are still treated humanely; hunger strikers get medical care, even if they are hell-bent on suicide. In Toronto, when dissidents of capitalism demonstrate, they get bones broken, skulls cracked, sexually assaulted, threatened with gang-rape, and herded into Gitmo-like people-pens. Ah, the glorious freedoms of capitalism that we’ve all heard so much about!The question no one dares to ask is, If capitalism makes us free, why do capitalists have the greatest number of prisoners per capita, political and otherwise? Think about it. Why did the glorious freedom of capitalism need a Dan Mitrione to teach its enforcers to torture not only criminals and so-called subversives, but even innocent people, in order to discourage disobedience? Why did it need him to teach police in three different countries how to electrocute people–not to make them talk, but just “to teach them a lesson” or even “to take out human garbage” by means of death? Mitrione’s trainees in Brazil honed their craft on street beggars, after all. Why would anyone want them dead unless they had a human-trash mentality at the bottom of it–a learned mental defect that left them incapable of Christian empathy for those Jesus called “the least of these my brothers”? Mitrione was a devout Catholic with nine children. He couldn’t possibly have missed that lesson in Sunday mass; priests teach it all the time as an example of the virtue of charity. Did he simply ignore it? Or did his later training as a professional asshole-in-uniform override it?Given that Mitrione’s mission in Latin America was to roll back all efforts of progressives to establish a more equitable and just state under socialism, and to keep those countries in subservience to the biggest capitalist nation of all, I’ll go with the latter option. Right-wing Catholics like Dan Mitrione are taught to override Jesus’s true teachings all the time. The disciples’ simple, effective practice of holding all property in common, so that everybody is looked after and no one is stuffed while others starve, gets ignored routinely by such people. The message of mercy and loving kindness is obscured by the competing vision of the Old Testament God, the angry punisher, who decreed (via the elite priesthood) that disobedient men, women and even children should be stoned–that is, tortured–to death as an example to others. Right-wing cops are no different. The basically positive message of community policing, “to serve and protect”, is overridden by the human-garbage mentality of the asshole-in-uniform. The police are then no longer the citizenry’s “friend and helper” (as the German police slogan would have it), but the friend and helper of the moneyed oligarchy–the sole interest they serve and protect.The same polite, friendly, quintessentially Canadian cops who cleared the roads in my hometown so our little peace march could proceed in 2003, could nowadays be turned against us. Then, I proudly carried a Maple Leaf, as well as a Stars and Stripes with the stars rearranged in a peace symbol, to show solidarity for neighbors to the south who also opposed the war against Iraq. Nowadays, I’m not so sure I could get away with that. I’m being forced to reconsider whether I want to take part in any open demonstrations at all, even with my country’s flag and the national anthem as rallying symbols. If the cops in Toronto could charge a peaceful demo where the protesters waved the flag and sang “O Canada”, then no manifestation of free speech and peaceful assembly is immune. We are all subject to the modern equivalent of stoning, without mercy. We are all fodder for the Dan Mitriones.And that’s why Officer Bubbles is worse than you think–it’s because he’s more common than you think. He’s not a random asshole or a bad apple in a basically good barrel; he’s just one of a great many, specially selected and trained to think of all the rest of us as human garbage, to be taken out without compassion or compunction.And that’s what makes him so goddamn scary.