Real Canadian ploddledygook

It’s certainly not food and not quite poetry, but there is a useful new word in the English vocabulary: ploddledygook. It may look unpronounceable but it is certainly recognisable to anyone who’s heard a police officer of any stripe or nationality interviewed within the last couple of decades.

We’ve had lots of examples in the emotionally bankrupt testimony given by the RCMP officers at the Dziesanski inquiry, where their version of events has been visibly contradicted by the amateur video available on Youtube. The tone of the testimony has given appalled listeners some important lessons in how to alienate your public and rob your profession of dignity. Some of the statements reported by the press include:

Cpl. Robinson’s testimony: “I didn’t articulate it well,” said Robinson… “I’m blending the whole interaction.”

or Const. Rundel: “Mr. Dziekanski went from non-compliant behaviour at the luggage to what training has taught us is a resistant behaviour where he has directly disregarded a command and fled from us … and took up a combative stance” and “I don’t believe that the language barrier was a problem in that instant, due to the fact that he responded to the direction of the hand signal and the verbal ‘No'”

or Const. Millington: “The person that it’s applied against is supposed to fall immediately and it’s supposed to immobilize them…It did not have that effect so I felt it was necessary to fire it again…He was in a combative stance, as we call it, and was approaching the officers I believe with the intent to attack…After the first one, when he fell to the ground, I interpreted that to be he didn’t feel the full effects” and “We acted in accordance to our training…Of course I never intended this result. I never intended for Mr. Dziekanski to pass away.”

It’s sad and galling to see Mounties use language like this, to distance themselves from the events they’re describing. I know in these libellous times it’s the norm for representatives of any profession to excise the humanity from any public speech, but I don’t have to like it. I can still long for plain-spoken testimony, a simple apology, some expression of regret for what happened.

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