Saturday, October 16, 2010

Officer Bubbles wants his dignity back

Constable Adam Josephs was not--not by a long shot--the worst of the G20 police officers who ran amok this summer in Toronto. He didn't, at least so far as we know, grope women prisoners or threaten them with rape. He didn't arrest a TTC worker for going to work in his TTC uniform, or loudly mock mental patients, or seize reporters and shoppers off the street, or beat anyone bloody. He didn't tear off a man's artificial leg and order him to hop to a nearby paddy wagon.

He is just a common-or-garden police bully, a person who proudly stated in his now-defunct Facebook page that he was a collector of "human garbage." During the G20 protests, he walked menacingly over to a young woman blowing bubbles in the direction of a colleague and threatened to arrest her if any of them landed on him. Unluckily for him, he was on videocam when he did so.

He was a jerk, but he made himself a figure of fun, acquiring a moniker that he has apparently been unable to shake. So he is suing YouTube, which, when you think about it, is rather like suing a mirror because you look ugly in it.

It's not the original video that has prompted his action, as it turns out--not really much to be done about that--but cartoons that appeared subsequently, which, it must be said, were fair satirical comment. Josephs, however, is not a man with a sense of humour:

In his statement of claim, Constable Josephs alleges the cartoons have subjected him to ridicule, and have resulted in threats against himself and his family. He also seeks to compel YouTube to reveal the identities of the person who created and posted the cartoon – identified by the moniker “ThePMOCanada” – and the identities of several people who posted comments in response.

On Friday, his lawyer said the lawsuit was in its preliminary stages and he was still in discussions with YouTube to resolve it.

“This level of ridicule goes beyond what is reasonable,” James Zibarras said. “The reason we brought the lawsuit is that people have the right to protect themselves against this kind of harassment.”

The animations in question depict a policeman identified as “A. Josephs” arresting various people – including Barack Obama and Santa Claus – and beating up a news photographer while funk music plays in the background.

Josephs' quarry, the person uploading the cartoons, has now taken down much of the material, although the mash-up above remains, at least for now.*

I can't help contrasting this self-important cop with the legendary Officer Obie in Alice's Restaurant. William J. Obanhein, too, was a little full of himself. He dug through a mountain of illegally dumped garbage--the non-human kind--to discover Arlo Guthrie's name on a piece of paper at the bottom of it. He then arrested Guthrie for littering, slapped cuffs on him, and threw him in a jail cell. As we know, Obie was subsequently lampooned in a popular song, but when it came time to make a movie of it, he stepped forward to play himself.

"If anyone is going to make a fool out of me, it might as well be me," he said.

That's disarming, and says a good deal about the character of the man. Just as Josephs' $1.2 million lawsuit says a lot about him.

[H/t Bene Diction]

*UPDATE: (October 20) The mash-up has now been removed (h/t Alison), but the cartoons are back (h/t Skinny Dipper), as my replacement vid indicates. For more Officer Bubbles cartoons, visit YouTube and check the sidebar.


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