Shooting an Obama T-Shirt Isn't Something a Cop Should Condone

A cop in Arizona is being investigated after he allegedly posted a photo of a group of teenagers holding guns with a bullet-riddled t-shirt showing a picture of President Barack Obama. Beneath the photo was a single word: Hope. 

Most of us can agree, whether you sit on the left or the right side of the political aisle, that shooting an effigy of the President of the United States is wrong and overtly violent. The US Secret Service is now investigating Sgt. Pat Shearer who is also being probed by Peoria Police Department. He put the photo on Facebook.

The photo is disgusting, spinning on the "hope" that Obama used as his campaign message and turning it into one of violence and cruelty. But even worse, this officer of the law, a man whose job it is to stop crime, shared the photo.


Shearer is sorry. He says he would step in front of a bullet for the President and that he is humiliated. Most of us can relate. Sometimes we share things in a moment that make us laugh that later seem like very bad ideas. Shearer said:

I don't think that the shooting of that T-shirt is that big of a deal. It was more of a political statement ... It's not like they were going to go out and shoot the president.

The problem is, sorry just doesn't cut it. Shearer may be protected by the First Amendment and he may have had the right to share that photo, but that doesn't make it RIGHT. The fact is, any overt threat to the President of the US needs to be investigated. There may be some question as to whether this was a real threat or merely a political statement. After all, these kids could have been shooting cans or old cars and no one would have cared.

But they weren't shooting cans or cars. They were shooting an image of the President and using Obama's campaign slogan against him.

I happen to lean left, so this is particularly egregious and disgusting to me. But if this were a t-shirt with George W. Bush or Bush Sr. or Newt Gingrich, I would say the same. There is simply no excuse for violent acts against the President. The actual shooting of the t-shirt, while revolting and clearly something only those with limited intellectual capacity would engage in, is actually less of a problem than the sharing of it. 

Sharing that photo could be construed as (and probably should be construed as) an act inciting violence. Isn't it possible that someone could see that photo as a call to arms? By sharing it, Officer Shearer condoned violence whether he meant to or not. And while he has a right to his own political beliefs, his job is to uphold the law and investigate acts of violence.

How could he think this was a good idea? Personally, as a taxpayer, I find it unconscionable and I don't particularly want an officer of the law who can't respect the office of the President even if he doesn't agree with him. The President is his boss in a roundabout way. Perhaps he needs to find a new line of work where violent public political statements are more appreciated.

Do you think it's OK that Officer Shearer shared this photo?


Image via jamesomalley/Flickr

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