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The Dynamics of Oppression: And the R.C.M.P.

Apr 06
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In undertaking a topic of this nature, it is of importance to set out with a definition of terms. The following definitions reflect the meanings of concepts that underpin this brief article:

i) An “institution” will be regarded as a reasonably rigid social arrangement (organization) and its’ practices through which, in this case, collective actions are taken in the legal and criminal justice realms e.g. the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

ii) “Institutional Oppression” will refer to the systematic mistreatment of those within an identifiable group supported by the institution, tolerated by the membership of the institution, and much of the public they serve e.g. the oppression of many RCMP members by their employer, and the lack of concern shown by much of the general public.

iii) The attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions about a target group (e.g. the RCMP membership) are “stereotypes”; they are held widely and are socially sanctioned (e.g. “the Red Serge”, “the Mounties always get their man”, “Canada’s National Icon” etc. etc.). Such “stereotypes” can be both positive and negative however, all can have negative effects e.g. the support and maintenance of institutionalized oppression through the validation of the misinformed belief that the RCMP is “different”.

iv) When an opinion or feeling about an institution (e.g. the RCMP) is formed without the benefit of knowledge, thought, or based upon minimal experience, is then assumed to hold true for all potential experiences with that institution; that can be considered “prejudice”. (e.g. The RCMP is successfully carrying out all its’ various mandates today because it always has in the past).

v) Some forms of oppression are open and observable. They can be considered “overt” forms of the behaviour e.g. denying RCMP members the right to freely associate in the form of a labour union and to collectively bargain for working conditions.

vi) More secretive, fictional, or hidden forms of oppression can be called “covert” expressions of oppression. Much of the time, the victims of “covert” oppression, question themselves and doubt the validity of their responses to the way they have been treated e.g. the abused, assaulted, female members of the RCMP questioning their own responses to the ways they were mistreated by their employer and some of its’ senior representatives.

At this point, I would like to share with you some thoughts on oppression that have been uttered by some highly respected, even venerated, persons to simply set the tone for what is to follow:

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back”
Carl Sagan
Scientist, Author

“Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like”.
Veronica Roth
Author

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!”
J.K. Rowling
Author

“To hold a people in oppression you have to convince them first, that they are supposed to be oppressed”.
John H. Clarke
Author

“I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people….”
Nelson Mandela
Nobel Peace Prize Winner

“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home”.
Carl T. Rowan
Author

In several articles on this blog there has been discussion of the concept of power. The type of power that is critical in the case of today’s RCMP, and its’ treatment of its’ membership, is the one that sees the Senior Executive (an arm of the Federal Government) controlling, dominating, and exploiting the working members. This type of power imbalance is highly effective in assuring that the high power group (i.e. management) continues to get what it needs to maintain the “status quo” (which of course, benefits them); at the expense of the low power group (i.e. the working membership). It almost goes without saying, that maintaining the “status quo” is more important to the high power folks than it is to the low power group; and that pressure for change in power relations is more likely to come from the low power folks. From this obvious statement a question naturally arises: How does the high power group within the RCMP (i.e. Senior Executives) utilize their power to maintain the “status quo”?

There are several areas that could be discussed. I will limit myself to those that I believe I have more knowledge of, and about. They are as follows:

A. Control and the Role of Socialization\Indoctrination:
In my opinion, based upon nearly 40 years working in the military and para-military (police) universes, I believe dissent within the RCMP membership is often created by societal and indoctrination institutions e.g. family, religion, and the media. These institutions and others (e.g. government) emphasize that the consequences of “fighting for one’s rights” could be severe, and those consequences could be viewed by some as deserved.

B. Exertion of Autonomy:
This type of power is often regarded as that power we have to enter or leave a relationship, to negotiate for a more equitable interaction, or to begin or end a negotiation, or to expect that answers to pertinent questions will be provided. In the case of the RCMP, the Senior Executive has assumed that they have the right to control the nature of the interaction with a “subordinate” membership. The RCMP membership until recently, has perceived a challenge of this nature to be somewhat risky, so have left the assumption (noted previously) unchallenged. Thus, the continual experience of being treated as an inferior member of the organization has become the self image of most members; and the image held of them by much of the public. In the ranks of the Senior Executive these interactions have produced an inflated self image; that is shared by much of the public. This value-laden perspective assists in preserving the system of oppression and perpetuating the public and self images produced.

C. The Role of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies:
The great myth of the RCMP Senior Executive reaching such lofty heights because he\she is the “best of the best” within the organization, is used to legitimize the oppression and abuse of the working membership, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, the organization is set up in such a way that the general membership is “worked to the bone”, and is deprived of the opportunity to develop their intellectual potential and increase their supervisory skills with formal training, consequently, they suffer a lack of motivation to advance; they harbour more resentment and entertain more non-conformist behaviour; and they soon develop little interest in meeting the right people and “climbing the ladder”. Most importantly, they have little interest or energy in cementing intra-group cohesiveness; that is known to mediate physical and mental health issues. The problems developed in the preceding, are then used by the Senior Executive to justify their dominance over the general membership in a completion of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

D. The Distorted Relationship the Membership Has With the Executive of the RCMP:

i) The Membership
Imagine a case of an abused child. The child (i.e. the RCMP membership) is significantly dependent upon the abuser (i.e. RCMP Senior Executive). Now add to this distasteful picture the fact that the membership (the oppressed) is dependent upon the Senior Executive for the satisfaction of some critical needs of which the latter strongly disapproves. e.g. collective bargaining rights. The response of the general membership has been a mix of anxiety and anger, as they have learned to express their “needs” to senior management has resulted in at best, scorn and rebuke. One sure way of “calming the masses” has been for the Senior Executive to appease them with an internal barrier that has the appearance of being focused on the needs of the membership but is actually impotent; The Division Staff Relations Representative Program (“the DSRs”). Becoming enmeshed in this “mirage” can only result in the grieving member feeling self-hatred for giving up her\his autonomy to a powerless organ of the employer; and anger toward the employer for showing little or no compassion after what the member has sacrificed for the organization. What is the result of this process? The oppressed RCMP member submits to the organization (i.e. to management) and develops a classic case of an adjustment or reactive disorder, usually with a mix of anger, sadness, and anxiety.

ii) The Executive:
Staying with the abused child metaphor, if we were to psychologically assess the abuser, I think we might find that the abuser desperately needs someone to abuse. We might find that these RCMP Executives have deep seated needs to dominate\abuse the general membership; making the former of course, somewhat dependent upon their victims for a validation of their “power”. It seems that their own sense of impotence may be stimulating a need to react against it by controlling others or stripping those others (the membership) of any power they do have (What’s that? Somewhat too Freudian for you? Sit tight we ain’t done yet!!). In a situation of this sort the abuser is compelled to make unreasonable demands of the abused, so the former can be assured that the latter is obeying out of fear, not because the demands make any sense. So to put it in simpler terms, Mr. Paulson et al. disregarding the membership’s rights as workers may not necessarily be a freely made choice; it could just as well be that he and his “cronies” are dependent upon all of you (general membership) to define their power.

To carry this psychodynamic view of this abusive relationship further, we could consider this: The abuser\abused relationship is sort of like the relationship between the sadist and the masochist. That is, when the sadist beats the masochist he’s also beating himself; and when the masochist is being beaten, he is also having his “inner sadist” punished. So it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), that Mr. Paulson and the “gang” don’t all have strong needs to oppress, nor do all of you have inordinate needs to be beaten. I’m quite certain that both sides seek out a variety of different relationship dynamics. However I will suggest that in any long term abusive relationship, like the one you find yourself in with your employer, there are both internal (psychological) and external (social) variables in play that will contribute to its’ persistence and resistance to change.

Which brings me to my “pitch”; any attempt to break this historical “dance” that , has gone on between you and your employer; any attempt to improve your mental health; any attempt to enrich your relationship with your partner; any attempt to restore your place as a functioning parent in a neglected child’s life; any attempt to salvage a valued career; any attempt to enter the 21st Century, must begin with you becoming a member of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada and voting “yes” to a union shop within the RCMP. It’s time to stop “pissing and moaning” and going nowhere, and to do something for yourself and those who love you! I’ll leave you with this thought:

“If a prisoner wants to free others, he must first break free of his own chains”

Dr. Mike Webster
R. Psych #0655

P.S. G’day “Brutal Bobby”! How ya’ goin’ mate? (I hear you should start brushing up on your Aussie\Kiwi slang?) As you can see I figured out how to blow these pictures up; even more impressive eh? It however was brought to my attention, by an heroic and abused female member of your organization, that some may regard these pictures as a distasteful display of “man-boobs”. I had not considered that! And, “dear leader”, while we are on the subject you might be interested to know that in “the business”, you often have a great deal of time on your hands during the day before the commencement of the matches in the evening. Much of this time was spent by my partner and myself in the pursuit of fitness in the many and various gyms along the way. A gym? Oh, that’s where you go to engage in the pursuit of “physical culture”. So, each of those sets of “man-boobs” you see were capable of bench pressing 400-plus lbs. Bench pressing? Come on this is getting ridiculous! OK, OK……I’ll be patient, I can see you are a bit of a “pencil neck” and likely haven’t spent much time in a gym? “The Pro” and I were kind of wondering if you and your prospective partner (you know…..the “chunky lad” down the hall) have ever benched 400 lbs. between you? (Are you getting the picture here “B.B.”, this is the kind of “trash talk” that sells tickets. Get with the program m’man or we might have to start looking elsewhere for opponents. There certainly are some likely prospects out here in “E” Division).
So, me “boyo”, my long time partner (“The Pro”) is with me constantly these days. We are into some intense training in preparation for the slaughter that is about to occur…….oh shit, there I go again, was that a threat? And if I uttered it outside the local gym, standing in the parking lot, with say “The Pro”, and “Sky Low Low” (remember him, he was a cute little guy?), would the boys and girls from the local detachment be dispatched to arrest us all for “unlawful terrorist assembly”?
One more thing, don’t take all of this too seriously. Check out the date the first picture was put up. Get it? Having a few “chuckles” is good for your mental health. Seriously, you didn’t look well in front of the Committee the other day. However, you will be pleased to know the readership of Re-sergeance is way up. The members are enjoying our little banter. I call it banter as I’m aware of your response to it through my “peeps” at NHQ. And I will add, that if you are off to the great “down under” you’d better loosen up mate!! They take nothing seriously down there other than their “pints” and their “Sheilas”. And while you are down there ask about “The Spider”. A mere mention of the name may open doors for you. Loosen up mate!!! And until you can duck out of the mess you’ve made here, never forget……”The war isn’t over until both sides say it is!” Oh shit, don’t tell me, I’ve done it again………..?

P.P.S. My sincere apologies to any “little people” I may have offended. I meant no disrespect. I have the greatest respect for your skills and professionalism as “workers” all the way from Cowboy Lang to Diamond L’il.

“Iron Mike” Webster

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From → Bob Paulson, MPPAC, RCMP

8 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Hi Mike!

    I’m a front-line little people and I have to say, I think this is one of my fave posts so far! As a little people, I totally relate to what you said about oppression in the RCMP. Sociology has always been one of the most interesting subjects to me and you explained our situation so eloquently.
    You spoke about how our management (or the “BIG people”) like to keep our self-esteem at an all-time low in order to keep us in line. I have witnessed this exact treatment since day one in the force, and I consider myself an intelligent, intuitive, hard-working little people. But for the life of me, for the longest time I did not realize what was going on in this organization, yet it was happening right under my nose. It was happening to me, over and over again. Looking back, I guess I shouldn’t have been so hard-working and serious about my job because that did nothing but make my life miserable in the end. I will give but one small example of this type of oppression that you speak of.
    We have an unsolved missing person file from 2004. This person lived in a rural area and went missing from her home. She has never been found. One person stands out in the file and is a most likely suspect. I personally was not involved in this file but I knew of it and had read it many times, so I was aware of the circumstances. I read it out of interest because I was serious about my job and was interested in knowing what was going on in my detachment area. Anyhoo, one day many years after this person was reported missing I happened to read a file by a previous shift at my office. I noted that a rifle had been found in a lake and turned over to police. The lake where the rifle was found is in the immediate area where this missing woman had lived and is adjacent to the highway. There was rust on the rifle and it was estimated it had been there for some years. I felt it was worth letting our Major Crime Unit know about this rifle, so I sent the Inspector of the unit a message about it and referenced the missing person file. I thought it would at least be worth doing ballistics on the rifle and make an attempt to obtain the serial number. After all, the suspect was known to have firearms. But, hey, what do I know? I’m just a little people. Needless to say, the response I received from the Inspector was more than disappointing. In his email he noted that he did not feel this rifle was of any importance to the file as the body of the woman had never been found, and furthermore there was nothing to indicate that a firearm was used in the incident. As I read his response I could almost feel his disdain towards me. I could almost see him looking down his nose at me as I slunk under a desk. I wanted to reply and say ‘what if they do find the lady next year and a bullet is discovered in her skull?’ But I decided against that. After all, who did I think I was telling ‘him’ anything about police work?! A little people pointing out something intelligent to a big people was obviously not a smart move. I must have interrupted something very important with my trivial findings, and for that I should be very sorry and probably slink away and act like I never knew anything in the first place. That was the only way to redeem myself, it seemed.

    So I think you get the idea. And again, this is but one small example I personally could provide in how I was made to feel small, when instead I should have received a bit of recognition for taking my job seriously and doing good police work. I have seen this tactic used so much in the force it is unbelievable…but accepted. Us little people just have to understand that we really are ‘little’ people and that will never change.

  2. Buck permalink

    Distortion. The double edged sword of the privileged executive.

    RCMP Regulations 2014

    Schedule 9.2
    “Members abide by their duty of loyalty and refrain from making public statements criticizing the operations or administration of the Force”

    RCMP Act (Current as of) 2015-03-24

    Part IV “Conduct”

    37.”It is the responsibility of every member”

    (e) “to ensure that any improper or unlawful conduct of any member is not concealed or permitted
    to continue”

    Be silent or speak up………………….either way you’ll be screwed, and targeted.

    • Anonymous permalink

      I choose to make them put their money where their mouth is. If they want to attempt to muzzle me with their wicked, crooked innuendo they had better be prepared to go to court over it…because ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ …anymore.

      ***This is but one more reason why members need to join MPPAC just as Dr. Webster has urged. If the force goes after you for any one thing stemming from the new legislation you will have an army behind you. And that includes the benefits of awesome legal insurance.

  3. Stu permalink

    He’s going to Australia? Should we as a country apologize now or later?

  4. Thewolfinsheeps permalink

    Speak up. If you fear the consequences you are part of the problem. Don’t be afraid they actually have no power over you. They are all imposters. Revolution is the only way to affect change in an organization this far gone with corruption.

    • Anonymous permalink

      …You are so right, Wolf. I totally agree. We need to keep standing up and speaking out. We need to keep networking and talking and sharing experiences, ideas and feelings. Others need to know they are not alone. Before social media, the force had TOTAL control of us. In the past, the force was so obscure that neither we nor the public had a way of knowing the TRUTH. Members had no way of ever knowing there were others like them who were hurting, miserable, resentful, and even suicidal. And this is exactly how the force wanted it. By instilling fear into the membership no one dared speak out about how they felt or what they thought. We were treated like children. The force treated us like they OWNED us. I liken it to an abusive domestic relationship…you know, the one where everyone wonders why the woman stays with the abusive husband??? Exactly the same. It’s a vicious cycle that will eventually spiral out of control until someone is dead. The word Tyranny rings a bell too.
      Transparency has brought the force to it’s knees and we can thank those who have spoken out and gone public. We can thank folks like Dr. Webster for giving us the platform from which to speak. We can thank the wonderful folks at MPPAC for speaking up for our RIGHTS!!! I am so appreciative of every avenue that has been given to us so that these chains that bind us may fade away to freedom. We are getting our lives back and it feels so damn good.

  5. saumik901029 permalink

    This oppression is no different than what we are seeing by our current government, or should I say by our real boss of the RCMP, Commissioner Harper!
    Do you all remember the young parliamentarian female page who stood up in the middle of parliament holding a sign stating “Stop Harper”? While many people of the day thought she was crazy, those same people today are probably thinking what a bright young mind and brave person she was to make that statement knowing the repercussions that lied ahead of her. She knew exactly what was going to happen to her yet she had the guts to do it! What was Harper’s response to all of this, he introduced Bills and today that young page would be deemed a Terrorist if she was to repeat her actions! I think as members of this National Force, we have to take a “page” from this page’s book and stand up for what we believe is right and not to be scared to speak up against what is wrong with the RCMP. The Gov’t is trying to oppress us all with their scare tactics and the RCMP brass is letting them to make the rules that are deeply affecting our organization!
    We all have to stick together on this and keep the fires burning!
    Saumik

    • Anonymous permalink

      Well said! We have to stand together and stick up for ourselves. United we stand.

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