Too frequently, the idiom “one bad apple spoils the (whole) barrel” is used to explain, usually explain away, the actions of a few misguided actors. Many people have heard this phrase used to explain away police brutality in recent years. One doesn’t need to be a literary expert or an apple expert to realize this cute little misdirection has grown stale and moldy. In the spirit of liberty and protest of the status quo, perhaps we can find more creative interpretations.

It’s not my intention to give magical solutions and blueprints. I’m just here to share a few ideas. Come to a better understanding. Prosper with those who might disagree.

Change the fruit selection

If the apple is bad when you store it, we should start choosing and storing fruits that don’t go bad so often. There’s a systemic rotten apple problem in policing in this country. Communities ought to be more decerning in who they trust to serve the need of apprehending criminals and helping to de-escalate localized conflicts.

Does that mean a better selection process? More community involvement? Your average police officer would want to believe that they are the experts regarding the use of force. Is that true? Can that be proven? And if proven false what’s the next solution?

Remove the spoiled fruit, wash the remainder.

Since it’s pretty clear fruit is going to spoil occasionally, more care needs to be taken to ensure that the fruit is washed thoroughly whenever a bad one is discovered. Police officers I’ve spoken with have described the bureaucratic failures inherent from years of backlash. Perhaps that’s true. I happen to believe that criticism of the police is necessary and proper.

Still, something unintentional has happened while the fruit has sat in the barrel spoiling: the people continue to eat it while spoiled. The other fruit becomes spoiled, not just within but without. “Fuck the police” isn’t new or hip, and it doesn’t convey a message of peace or liberty any more than the heinous actions of those “few bad officers.”

“All cops are bad” only functions in a society where everyone is bad. If in doubt, libertarians believe in personal responsibility. Not taking care of the poison in your gut is the surest avoidance of freedom one can choose. I’m by no means suggesting a cessation of protests. Quite the opposite. But the mantra of hatred will eventually turn back around itself again and people should want to correct it.

Stop storing fruit in barrels!

If the fruit spoils in the barrel, why don’t we change to a more transparent container? It’s reasonable to suppose the fruit is rotting in part because we can’t see them. So let’s put it in a clear plastic container.

Cute analogies aside, there doesn’t seem to be a 3-step program to making that work. It has to start from the ground up with a complete re-envisioning of societal perceptions of policing and order itself. It requires those in power to relinquish their control for the good of the community.

Libertarians believe that an action that does not infringe on others’ rights cannot be a crime. Perhaps we start there. Join us today!

(Original photo by John Finkelstein from Pexels