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Nothing says “police brutality” quite like a moustache

Guy Adams

I was saddened, but not at all surprised, to see this weekend’s footage of police lieutenant John Pike calmly unloading a can of pepper spray into the faces of defenceless, left-wing protestors at UC Davis in California.

Saddened because it was the sort of nonchalant abuse of authority you’d expect to find in Iran, North Korea, or Beijing. Not the campus of a respectable seat of learning in a country that calls itself “Land of the Free.”

Unsurprised, because the incident falls into a pattern: the rotund Mr Pike, with his gun and baton, and sadistic disregard for the wellbeing of the population he serves, also happens to be the owner of a moustache.

pike1 300x202 Nothing says “police brutality” quite like a moustache

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You don’t have to study current affairs for all that long to wonder why a hugely-disproportionate number of perpetrators of police brutality, particularly in America, cover their top lip in fuzz.

Just look at Manuel Ramos, one of the coppers charged with beating a homeless man to death in Fullerton, California, a couple of months ago.

ramos Nothing says “police brutality” quite like a moustache

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Or Anthony Villavaso, (centre, in shades) one of the trigger-happy New Orleans policemen recently conficted of shooting suspected looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

villa1 300x168 Nothing says “police brutality” quite like a moustache

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Or Theodore Brisen, one of the officers charged with battering Rodney King to within an inch of his life in 1991, in perhaps the most notorious case of police brutality of the modern era.

briseno168 Nothing says “police brutality” quite like a moustache

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Today, only a tiny proportion of adults choose to cultivate these ugly and impractical facial adornments. But it’s difficult to think of a famous case of US police brutality that DIDN’T involve at least one (often overweight) member of their minority.

The obvious question is: why?

My best guess, for what it’s worth, is that Pike and his ilk believe that a good, old fashioned “Boycie” might somehow confer a degree of authority upon them.

The sort of person who seeks trappings of authority in so obviously-superficial a manner is also the sort who, given a badge and a truncheon, will be disproportionately likely to batter another person to within an inch of their life.

It wasn’t ever thus. In Edwardian times, the moustache was a magnificent status symbol, the more flamboyant the better. Lord Kitchener considered his to be a propaganda tool. But then came Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and a generation of post-war serial killers. Despite the sterling efforts of Tom Selleck, who pioneered a brief resurgence of cultural acceptability in the 1970s, any moustache worn away from a pornographic film set has, for most of the past thirty years, been a signifier of extreme pomposity.

There is the odd exception. We all have a soft spot for Bruce Forsyth. And cricket would be a worse game without the extravagant facial hair of Merv Hughes, the Australian fast bowler (though in keeping with protocol for moustache-wearers he was, undoubtedly, a bully).

Elsewhere, it has become fashionable, in recent times, for men to cultivate a temporary moustache during November in order to raise money for charity (several of my close friends currently resemble Ian Rush). But these “mo’s” are also perfectly acceptable: they’re grown for the right reasons, and worn with a sense of understated irony.

American law enforcement doesn’t really “do” irony, though. Still less understatement – as the students of UC Davis were recently reminded.

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  • Jack Borg – Cardona

    To be honest the writer is making a ridiculous extrapolation upon a single group of people…  This is the kind of article i would have expected to see on a internet forum post by an individual looking to antagonise others.

  • JaitcH

    IMO, people who grow facial hair do so because (1) They don’t like whay they see;(2) Trying to hide something(excluding physical deformities); (3)  Work related.

    Baby-faced, or men with a high-pitched voice should grow any as it emphasis their lack of ‘manliness’.

    Jut wondering what food, nasal and skin particles lingering in this old growth hair is enough to dissuade people ftom getting too close. As for kissing the mess, some women must be crazy.

    I know a couple who met, married, and rasied two children for 15 years until, suddenly, he announced he was taking up shaving. The wifewas shocked at his appearance, so shocked she gave him an ultimatum – grow it back or she wasoff.

    She has custody of the two girls and gets them on alternate weekends and he still doesn’t have his hair back.


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