Written May 21, 2010     

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© 2016 Bob Lonsberry


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You’re not on the Oprah show.

So stop acting like it.

This is a polite suggestion to stop being a pansy. Specifically, it’s a word of advice to the people who end up on the evening news.

Not the Suzie Standup reporters who totter around with the IQ of a sponge, but for the people who have a microphone and a camera stuck in their face.

Stop your crying.

Show a little backbone.

Especially if you’re in uniform. In fact, that’s who I’m talking to. If you’re a cop or a firefighter, please remember that the evening news isn’t the same thing as group therapy. And if your job makes you feel all sad inside, keep it to yourself.

Or at least keep it to your colleagues and counselors.

I’ve grown tired of cops and firemen going on about their inner child. We’re so in touch with our feminine side I think we all ought to start wearing skirts. There is something to be said for the good old-fashioned virtue of taking things like a man.

But lately we’ve forgotten that and turned everything into a pained discourse on our feelings. And it’s kind of sickening. Especially from authority figures like cops and firefighters.

Let me give you some examples.

Somebody commits a horrendous crime – a rape or a murder – and Suzy Standup gets the sheriff or chief to open up about how hard it was for his officers to deal with. How they were going to bring in counselors. How it is emotionally draining on cops.

And the crime story stops being about the crime and becomes about the tender feelings of cops.

Which are real and valid, but don’t belong on the news. We all have weaknesses, but we don’t advertise them. We deal with them and move on.

Ditto for firefighters. I wish I could see one fire story on TV that doesn’t include the obligatory shot of the overheated fireman sitting on the back bumper of the ambulance getting a snootful of oxygen. Or have the chief explaining about how he’s set up a cooling station for his firefighters, and how he has to rotate them in and out.

The other day I saw a TV news story about a fire at a fire hall. Instead of doing real journalism – which would ask the questions: Why couldn’t you prevent a fire at your own place? and What caused this fire? – the story was about how hosing down the fire station was so emotionally draining for the firefighters involved.

Which is text-book pansy.

Nobody died, nobody got hurt – except the overweight guy huffing and puffing on the back bumper of the ambulance – nothing was damaged except the building and some fire coats. And people on TV are going on about how emotionally devastating it was for the firefighters.

Which is embarrassing.

Because Americans are supposed to be made of sterner stuff than that. Especially Americans who wear a fire helmet or a police badge.

You guys are supposed to be heroes, for crying out loud, stop acting like the doctor messed up your dose of hormone replacement therapy.

You have a chance to instill confidence and to set a good example, and when you cry like babies you throw away both.

Here’s what I mean. Society doesn’t want weepy firemen. Society doesn’t want emotionally fragile cops. Society wants to look up at the men and women in the fire service and in law enforcement. We want you to have grit. We want you to be tough.

Because when you are, it gives us comfort. And it makes us expect more of ourselves. It builds respect.

And in your line of work, you don’t want sympathy – you want respect. Children crave sympathy, adults crave respect.

For example, instead of having the sheriff talk about how emotionally hard it was for his deputies to process a crime scene, he ought to say something like: “This is a serious case and neither my deputies nor I are going to rest until we bring this criminal to justice. Catching monsters who commit evil crimes like this is exactly why most of us went into law enforcement and we are going to pursue this investigation vigorously. And the community can rest assured that we are on the job and on the trail and nothing – nothing – is going to stop us.”

I want that sheriff on the job in my town.

And I want a fire chief who, when asked the touchy feely question, bats it aside with: “Within three minutes of getting this call we had a full complement of firefighters on scene and engaged in protecting life and property. Within two minutes of arriving on scene we had searched the building and made sure no one was in jeopardy and 10 minutes after that we had brought the fire under control. And at no time was our fire district uncovered or were our crews and engines out of service.”

That’s what we want to hear.

We want to hear the can-do attitude that made America great, that made law enforcement and the fire service great.

But we don’t need any more weepy whining.

Yes, we know your jobs are hard. That’s why we admire you – not for your sensitivity, but for your strength. When we see a member of the emergency services on the news, we want to see an example of bravery and strength.

Not an audition for the Oprah show.

We’ve become a nation in touch with our feelings, and as a result we’ve become a weaker nation. We need the bravest and noblest among us to set a better example.

We need the cops and the firemen to have grit, and send messages of strength, not weakness.

- by Bob Lonsberry © 2010

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