Can NYPD Control the Tongue?

The new deputy commissioner wants “New York’s finest” to control the tongue.


People who insist they should control others should be able to demonstrate self-control. The people who are subject to them should have confidence that this elite group has mastered themselves—that vices and passions don’t rule them.

When we have people holding office who are not in control of themselves, we have reason to be worried. Saint Augustine wrote about this centuries ago:

[T]he bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices; of which vices when the divine Scripture treats, it says, For of whom any man is overcome, to the same he is also the bond-slave (2 Peter 2:19).

So I think that Augustine would agree with the deputy commissioner. As the New York Times reports: “NYPD cracking down on cursing cops.”

He’s gonna wash their mouths out with soap!

The NYPD’s new deputy commissioner is on a crusade to stop potty-mouthed cops — vowing on Tuesday to keep them from cursing while on duty.

“It’s all about a New York attitude, New Yorkers like to curse … but you can change. And when we teach them …They will see that they are doing it for effect and they don’t have to do it anymore,” Michael Julian said after being sworn in at police headquarters.

He added, “We think we can change their behavior.”

His G-rated mission is tied to civilian complaints — which are often targeted at cops who cuss, Julian said.

“Thirty percent of all CCRB complaints involve a curse word,” he said.

Along with tackling F-bombs, he also vowed to target cops who use “unnecessary force.”

[See also, “NYPD Is a Secret Government.”]

I think Augustine would say that there is a relationship between F-bombs and brutality. The author of the New Testament book of James would also agree. According to James (chapter 3, one’s speech determines one’s whole character. If you demonstrate an untamed tongue you are a wild person.

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Good government begins with self-control.