The last time that the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association dropped an issue of its official newsletter, the Pax Centurion, the outcry was immense: Mayor Tom Menino called the publication "garbage," advertisers fled, and a subsequent dust-up revealed that most of the publication's revenue passed through a company run by felons. The revelations were so ugly that the BPPA tried to disappear the evidence, pulling all Pax archives off their site entirely. Minority union members and activists have long decried the Pax; the rag has been a font of misogyny and thinly veiled racism since the 1970s. But this time around, it looked like the newsletter had gone the way of Andrew Breitbart.
Not so fast. Two weeks ago, after a six-month hiatus, the BPPA joined Twitter while simultaneously releasing its first Pax since the controversy. This latest tract stays true to form, this time with extra vitriol aimed at black and female cops. For this, Pax editor James Carnell can expect lots of criticism, and just like last time, he'll probably claim that detractors are out to choke his First Amendment rights and silence union members. It's the old Sean Hannity hoodwink, conflating opposition with oppression — and it's utter bullshit. Pax is not merely repulsive on the surface — it's offensive because of the sad reality that it confirms. In adamantly touting their right to free speech, as if that were the critical issue here, Carnell and his equally guilty enablers have ignored the real criticism — that the Pax reflects a troubling disparity within the department.
I don't think I'm crawling far out on a steep limb by suggesting that the lack of female and minority superior officers within the BPD is alarming. Among captains and lieutenants, for example, blacks and women represent less than 10 percent of the workforce. In 2012, it's no longer radical to think that police departments should increasingly resemble the populations they protect and serve; whether the BPPA likes it or not, this is the stated goal of BPD brass. The only stakeholders who don't agree with that objective — if Pax's propoganda is to be taken at face value — are the officers themselves. For the new issue alone, Carnell contributed a whole two columns to deriding his black and female colleagues.
In one colorful offering, Carnell flexes his creative chops by writing from the perspective of the BPD promotions exam ("I Am a Test"), which the department plans to overhaul in an effort to bolster diversity among the higher ranks. Gunning from the viewpoint of a sheet of paper, he claims that the city is "prepared to spend $2.5 million to transform me into an abortion of an exam." He also pins further angst over affirmative action on recently retired BPD Deputy Superintendent Gladys Gaines. Speaking as the test, Carnell says Gaines "whined" to the Boston Globe "about alleged discrimination," and was "bedecked with gold stars [she] never earned."
Furthermore, in specifically hitting Gaines — who once served as head of the BPD Domestic Violence Unit — they've shown their interest in keeping her kind down. Next time Carnell wishes to attempt another literary exercise, the veteran street cop should step into the shoes of a woman, or perhaps an officer of color who gets regularly ravaged by his or her own union's newsletter. Because so long as he keeps writing from the point of view of an oblivious Caucasian asshole, he'll never understand the attacks against the Pax.
SHIT BOSTON COPS SAY: Read Chris Faraone's continuing coverage of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association newsletter scandal at thePhoenix.com/phlog.