Seven words Border Patrol Agents should never use

Matt Westerhold
Jan 23, 2013

 

Maybe it's George Carlinish, but Border Patrol agents should not use the word "wetback." 

Agents and every law enforcement officer of any stripe also should not use words like: Nigger, retard, faggot, kike, slut or bitch. 

That’s seven words they should never use. There are others.

Journalists, and most other people also would be wise not to use the words, but police officers, a taxpayer funded community service armed by the government, should excise them from their own personal vocabularies. 

Register reporter Jessica Cuffman is following up a story she reported Saturday headlined “Agency profiles ‘wetbacks.’” It detailed a lawsuit in Erie County Common Pleas Court that appears to document instances in which the Border Patrol Sandusky Post commander used the racial slurs "wets" and "wetbacks" in communications and emails with subordinates at the federal agency.

The local Border Patrol has been out of control for years and accountable to nobody for its actions. Federal officials have done nothing to address abuses that occur.

Since the Border Patrol is a federal agency, Cuffman emailed a copy of the story to U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Robert Portman, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the area’s federal representatives. Here are the questions she posed for them:

1. Is it appropriate for Border Patrol agents, particularly the agent in charge of the local office, to use the term "wetback" when referring to a Hispanic person? 

2. If it is inappropriate, what would be a suitable course of action or discipline for agents who use this term? 

3. What action or study should be undertaken to identify the tactics and alleged profiling used by Sandusky Bay Border Patrol agents?  

4. If, as the lawsuit alleges, Border Patrol agents use racial profiling to identify possible suspects, would your office take action to address this issue? 

We're looking forward to receiving responses from our federal representatives. In the meantime, please feel free to share how you might answer the questions, or how you believe Kaptur and the senators should answer them, by commenting below. 

Comments

jamo

Matt, what the hell? You just used every offensive word in one article. Wasn't there another way to get your point across without printing the actual words?

Bluto

Why'd You say that Matt ? Why ? You're my hero. And you say something dirty ! Like poop ! Poop mouth ! I hate you Matt Westerhold ! I hate you ! I just had to put the Ron Burgundy twist on this one : )))))

Pete

:popcorn:

This should get pretty good....

The Big Dog's back

This is the Sandusky Register pete, not free republic.

Pete

I'm a bit shocked you know vbb codes Brutus. Usually you can't compose more than one sentence without a copy & paste. Good to see you expanding your mental processes.

BW1's picture
BW1

Funny, big dog - your name is familiar, but you talk like you're new around here.

deertracker

Matt is simply making a point. The words are not the problem, it is the way they are used against others.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks deetracker, for the very keen observation. 

BW1's picture
BW1

But it also invites deeper analysis of the reason why, if you can use the words, however hypothetically, you feel they should be banned for any use, in any context, by others based on profession, especially when their employer, unlike yours, is bound by the First Amendment. That analysis is conspicuously absent from your column.

The real question, as with your use of the words, is whether the context in which they were used implies an inability or unwillingness to meet the requirements of the job. For the Border Patrol, those requirements would seem to be compliance with the equal protection and due process rights of those they encounter. Neither the original online article, its attachment, nor this editorial, however, makes any logically sound attempt to substantiate how the word's use implies such an inability or unwillingness. The legal pleading makes a naked assertion that use of the word is evidence of racial animus, without any support. It lays out plenty of pieces of sound evidence to make the case for overreaching law enforcement, but the use of that word it cites is not one of them. The lawsuit appears to have merit without the use of the word, but you seem to overlook that deeper insight in favor of cheap shock value.

Come on, stop being lazy, and make your case instead of lamely depending on knee jerk reaction to a word without context, or resign to being hoisted on your own petard.

Show us some real journalistic chops. For crying out loud, proofread your editorial - it refers to a "Cuffman" by last name only with no preceding antecedent as to who this person is. Maybe that's because it's a sloppily edited rendition of the print version, but you should realize that it's no longer sufficient to treat the internet as an afterthought. How about showing us that your journalism would still win all those awards even if they weren't decided by an industry full of so-called journalists who, even with spell checking and grammar checking software, can't turn out prose of a quality approaching what their forebears managed with quills and inkwells? What I've heard from people who've spoken with you leads me to expect far better than what you're giving us.

Bluto

I am trying to read your comment , but keep falling asleep a quarter of the way through it . You need to spice it up a bit perhaps with some "F" bombs , or political references here and there . Hope this helps . ; ))))

BW1's picture
BW1

It was addressed to Matt; are you suggesting the need to dumb it down for the intended audience? Give him more credit.

Mum-of-One

1. Absolutely not! Nobody who thinks its ok to use that term should be a Border Patrol Agent.

2. Zero tolerance. How would his fellow employees feel if such terms were used towards them.

3. Proper training.

4. The office should take action to address the issue. It's their duty.

24productions

I agree with you deertracker...if someone calls you a banana, does that make you one?...i think not.

Bluto

But , If you ask someone if that's a banana in their pants or are they just glad to see you ? Then , that is more like a compliment. 8 P

Professor Playdoh's picture
Professor Playdoh

I’m offended by anything that Matt attempts to write.

Sit n Spin

Sticks and stones may break my bones...yadda...yadda...yadda...get over it !!!

reporter54

yeah, he can use those words but don't you try it-your comment will be deleted!

Bluto

On the Reflector you can say just about anything you want .

Pete

Not so much here. Matt has sent me emails detailing my poor choice of words.

Reflector is such a slow site though. Unless Bader or Ronny is involved. Then the hit count goes up

jamo

Personnally I don't believe that any of the words listed above should be used by anyone, especially those in law enforcement. Where is the proffesionalism?

jamo

1st offense: Oral warning
2nd offense: Written warning
3rd offense: Suspension (without pay)
4th offense: Possible termination

Bluto

Haha, you said oral ; )))) You may censor that if you wish .

Good 2 B Me

Ha! You too said Oral! :O

Bluto

Ha , We said oral !!! ; ))))

WhatTheHeck

get a life

24productions

As a follow to my previous statement, this does seem a reoccurring problem with local boarder patrol. In my opinion, these guys shine a negative light on local L.E.

Bubba's Buddy

I don't believe that any of the words listed above should be used by anyone, especially those in law enforcement.
Or in your local newspaper by its writers!
Where is the professionalism? in either case...

WhatTheHeck

again, get a life

gilamonster

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

Bluto

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

Bluto

Oh , and it's MexiCANS not Mexicants . Because Mexicans can do the jobs that others refuse to do .

Manowar

It seems that the public wants the text book example for every police officer, teacher and office holder in the country. That perfect text book person doesnt exsist. Unless Jesus comes back here in the next few minutes, I dont think you could find a human on the planet that could exersize the commitment it would take to not commit the sins and biaseness presented to each one of us each day. I personally am glad these border patrol agents are doing the job they do, ever meet one of them? Takes a special person. Just sayin'

Bluto

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

Rod Farva

Please give some examples of how, as you say, the local Border Patrol has been out of control. Other than the recent slurs

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment Rod Farva. This is the second of at least two lawsuits filed against the local Border Patrol for alleged wrongdoing in the last few years. A Register staff member witnessed an incident two years ago in which two Border Patrol agents singled out a Hispanic teenager who was walking with seven white teenagers. The agents detained the Hispanic teen but none of the other teens, who objected to the treatment of their friend by the agents. The agency at that time refused to comment on the detainment of the boy. 

The agency also has refused to provide any information on any of its other activities, arrests, detainees, prisons and prison systems, its reports or any other information. A community with a police force that can take people off the streets without being accountable to the community it serves is an agency out of control, or one that has no controls.

The local Border Patrol, in my opinion, operates in an anti-American way. 

 

Rod Farva

Thanks for the further elaboration. Personally I think they are a part of a bloated bureaucracy that needs to be cut back a little

Good 2 B Me

If I used one of those words in a comment, the Sand Paper would censor me.

Mum-of-One

I wonder if the cost of the Border Patrol is worth it? Is this County any safer for having them here? If we don't know what they do and how they operate how can we decide if they are worth it? I think they once detained an older Chinese woman, who didn't speak any English, and was caught shoplifting in Macy's. What ever became of her?

Bluto

I apologize if any think I am making too light of the subject , But I have been on the receiving end of racial slurs from time to time in my life and have come to the conclusion that racism will never entirely fade from this Earth . Sometimes you just have to laugh at morons and hope they don't breed too many new ones . ; )

deertracker

So have I Bluto. I laughed at them for the most part because to react in the way they expect you to only makes matters worse. Rise above their ignorance and hold your head up high.

Bluto

See , White people DO get offended when the shoe is on the other foot .

Kimo

If someone is a "Czech" is it ok to ask: "Rice or Wheat".....

local77777

If you read the story from Saturday or the link for the lawsuit filed in court, it never actually said the term referred in this or the other story was actually used, however a term was (from my understanding by reading other comments on that story) most commonly used for illegal immigrants in general. If that is true, then what was done wrong? Don't we all refer to certain things at ours jobs that others may not know about? It said he was questioned about it so if something was found to be wrong, the courts can deal with it. Posting this story in the first place seems ridiculous and the Register, as always, didn't check the facts, their own facts in previous stories and documents. Seems a little shady to me.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks local7777, but your suggestion the term is not referred to in the documents as having been used is incorrect. There also is no logical conclusion to what you suggest.

The news story referred to, and correctly stated what was in the court documents. It's better to rely on the documents for information than opinions expressed in the comments section. 

local77777

Read page 34 of the court document. It says the word w**s was used not the word we***ck. Whoever prepared the document didn't state an exact email that used the word but put it in the court document, the fist sentence of this story directly makes it sound as if that word was used, tell me where it was used? If it was used between co-workers then what's it matter? Was it said in public or to a person? Sounds like normal office work emails to me, short sweet and to the point. As I stated above, it appears the term was used within the office? I have never heard the word w**s referred as derogatory before these stories, have you? Google it.

Back off

I agree with you! The headline and article 2 different wordings!

deertracker

C'mon guys!!!! The term "wets" or "wetbacks" is a racial slur against Mexicans. Period!

BW1's picture
BW1

Maybe in some people's imaginations. The strict meaning of the term refers to the antecedent's actions in entering the country illegally, and if that is the meaning intended (something for which no contrary evidence has been offered) then it does not indicate racial animus as the suit asserts.

Back off

All you people pin pointing out local border patrol obviously Dnt have skeletons in your closets and have never used a racial slur.... It's ok for you yourself to call each other names as a joke but because they are federal they aren't human and cant make. Mistake! People need to back off yes bammer made a mistake but now it's being taken too far and our community is saying they are out of control .. Let them do there jobs and back off! Instead of sit here and bash them get the whole story .. That's right the Sandusky register never does that!

local77777

I agree, I looked at what the story provided with the court documents and it seems like they are attacking the border patrol. They are spinning words into things to make them look bad. I was on rt 2 and my vehicle broke down, the only law enforcement vehicle to stop to see if I needed help was a border patrol official. When he came up to me, he asked me if I was a us citizen, I laughed and said yes but he said he had to ask everyone. He sat for about 10 minutes until my tow truck showed up and then left. I would like to think he saved me from getting hit and offered to make a call for me. I read earlier that they are making local area law enforcement look bad but I would disagree, hs was the only one I saw and stopped like any of them would. No one is perfect but he was that day, whoever it was.

Back off

They are human when they aren't working! Badge or no badge! People don't realize what they do sometimes ... Half these lawsuits get dropped that you see in the paper that's why there is no follow up! I support them 100% and I think instead of the register keeping this going they need to let it be! Everytime someone says something inappropriate or a public official does it doesn't need to be reported. Back off paparazzi !

local77777

I agree.

Bluto

Is this love that I'm feelin' .... Sounds like somebody needs to get a room ; ))))

FearistheMindKiller

Any police agency that is not held accountable, that frequently detains people in secret, does not respond in any reasonable fashion to public inquires seems a bit fascist.
Sounds like Amerika has it's own secret police.....but which agency is the secret police that detains people all the time in secret? FBI, CIA, Border Patrol, Secret Service??? How about ALL OF THEM!

Who among you feel as if secret police behaviors are fascist? Does anybody really care? Hmmmmm....don't think so.

But sure as all heil a lot of people care about the Stupor Bowl, American Idol, and NASCAR. Meanwhile your tax dollars are used for repugnant things by our agencies sworn to protect us.

Just what are they protecting us from????

I'm so scared....OMG!!!! We have so much to fear! Shut down the borders, lock up all Muslims, make them Hispanics remain invisible, but only if they will still harvest our crops dirt cheap.

All this talk about freedom...just pass the beer and the platter of wings, move right along sheeple.

BW1's picture
BW1

And that's the point - this lawsuit alleges plenty of actual conduct by the Border Patrol that is constitutionally problematic, and invites important questions about abuse of power, all of which are being ignored as everyone gets the vapors over a word.

Words can't really harm people, but federal overcriminalization and the militarization of domestic law enforcement kill people every week.

Look over here - I'm spelling nasty words with my right hand so you won't notice me stabbing you in the back with my left - and everyone, even the newspaper editor who's supposed to be the watchdog, falls for the misdirection.

vicariouslyAlive

i cant help but notice a derogatory term for white people wasn't part of the list... so is mat saying that "Cracker," "honkey," "and whitie" are acceptable terms to use in publications?

i've never been a fan of political correctness. why have to bend around every word to ensure you're not hurting anyones feelings? the more we try to enforce being PC the stricter the rules get, and the harsher the penalties for breaking them...

really the stigma we put behind "bad words" perpetuates the problems. they're only bad because people make them that way. i know that when you drop the N-bomb on someone it's like you just smacked that guys mother, but call a white person a "Cracker" and most of use look at you and think "does this person really think they are hurting my feelings right now." people need to grow a thick skin. if you have a problem with people calling you names and using aggressive language... you're going to have a bad time... sack up and realize that words are just words, and even if people use them aggressively, they are still just words.

if we keep using words as a way to describe the differences between people and races, then we'll always have differences between people and races. if we treated all words equally, then we'll be a bit closer to treating all people equally.

hell, even last week i hit my arm on a door knob and i felt the impact all they way down to the bone and i said, "good god that one was a boner!" and people looked at me all confused... and for some reason started staring at the crotch of my pants... strange.

Bluto

Haha , You said boner ; )))) Sorry , that's all I really got out of that comment .

Back off

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Bluto

Ha , You said boner to !!! Why , so serious ? 8P

Bluto

In the words of Vicarioulsy Alive , You need to "sack up" and grow some thicker skin . You're crying just as bad as anyone on here .

Bluto

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal information and Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

Bluto

I apparently offended someone . FINALLY , SHEESH

Steelerfan7272

It's as simple as this.... Now that the border patrol has been baptized with the title of "Department Of Homeland Security" they are free to do as they wish without any kind of recourse! I also find it funny that anyone asks Sherrod Brown for anything lol. He is nothing more than an Obama YES MAN and that's it! He is WORTHLESS otherwise!!

wiredmama222

Matt...how did you get those words in without triggering YOUR bad word meter from going off? LOL

Answers to questions:
1. No, it is NEVER correct for any officer of ANY jurisdiciton including the border patrol to use such language of such type when referring to anyone.

2. Any officer of the BP found to be using such references of any kind will be placed on administrative leave and sent to a training course on dealing with the public: IE: how to deal with the public and/or the art of verbal judo (that is actually a course given to police personnel) and public etiquette.

3. All emails will be scrutinized by supervisory personnel of a different department manager to see if it contains such vile and contemptous phrases. A higher ranking officer will follow and evaluate a lower ranking officer not assigned to Bay Area for a period of one week. Should that office notice any "profiling' going on, that lower ranking officers will be removed from Bay immediately. Should it be noted, members teams will be split up and/or removed and dismissed as officers of this department.

4. If, in the course of this lawsuit, it is found that the officers included in the suit are found to be guilt of said profiling, they will summarily be dismissed as border patrol officers and replaced with men and women who know the rules of the border patrol. Without exception.

That would be my stand as these people are part of the DOJ and should understand their own rules and regulations. They are supposed to KNOW the law and not be abusing it. They are not on a mission to slap people down, profile and be abusive. We have met them in AZ and the one's here are MUCH different than those in AZ. I can promise you that the one's here think they are GODS. Not the ones in AZ, they think they are cops. I don't know where they got the one's working here but they are terribly cocky.

KURTje

Yeah Matt...yet how many on the S.R.'s paper have deleted others & self here? If you can't take it don't give it out. Was avant-garde on this. Imo. your standards are serverly lacking, but hey its your paper & my Marine Corps.

2cents's picture
2cents

"Asian carp"

beepx22

what's weird is though, if we say things like N*gger, ret*rd, f*ggot, k*ke, sl*t or b*tch, they won't stick around long

first time i tried to post i got this....
"Your submission has triggered the profanity filter and will not be accepted until the inappropriate language is removed."

Bluto

What's weird though is "what's weird is though..." Is that Ebonics ?

Matt Westerhold

Technically, you are correct, beepx22. The systems in place might  remove your comment but you could agrue for it to be restored because you did not intend, or use the words in a racist way. I think that's part of the point. 

 

beepx22

objectively speaking i agree, though either way people will be offended (not myself, it's difficult to offend me) In this new Politically Correct World, one can never be to careful as to what to say with out ruffling someone else's feathers.

Bluto

If I said you had a lumpy butt , would you hold it against me ? ; ))))

BW1's picture
BW1

Please, some of us read this while eating our lunch.

Good 2 B Me

Hold a lumpy butt against you?

luvblues2

Yeah, Matt. One could "try" and use the "Dispute Comment Moderation" link. I find it as useful as expecting the "one month's rent" for advance security deposit on an apartment, when I leave said apt. In other words, one will never see that again, no matter what.

Bluto

Actually , I just had one of my comments put back up after I disputed it . It was the only comment that I made on this article that really mattered to me anyway . The rest were just for fun . My thanks for the reconsideration : )

vicariouslyAlive

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

vicariouslyAlive

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Bluto

I had commented that Republican was a derogatory slur for a white person and that WAS removed . Let's see if it is again . Maybe on some the only way to get it off is if someone hits inappropriate under the comment . I know that on the Reflector that I purposely wrote the "F" bomb and had to eventually tag it as inappropriate myself .

Kimo

IMO:
It appears to me as "the article should not have been written" and "now Matt is trying to defend it".
.

Bluto

I have to respectfully disagree . This has been fun and enlightening .

Bluto

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained A duplicate post.

Bluto

Duplicate post

Bluto

Duplicate post

Bluto

WOW , What with the posting ? I only clicked once .

Bluto

Well , I had my fun on this one , so I'll be movin on to the next bigger better thing . Peace out , brothers from other mothers ; ))))

whocares

What does Ruffus think

vicariouslyAlive

lol i always see that posts have been moderated and it just makes me wish i had seen them before they were 86'd... for a nation so crazy about the freedom of speech there really seems like there's a ton of thins we arent allowed to say... it should really be the freedom of speech just as long as you dont hurt someone's feelings.

kelly2013

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal information.

Randy_Marsh

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbo...
Operation wetback, A nationwide immigration operation in the 50's.
As for racial slurs, They are a sign of ignorant people spouting stupidity. That also goes for those who claim racism at every turn cheapening the accusation even further.

JohnDorian12

Westerhold and Deertracker, a match made in Hell......could they? are they? maybe? THE SAME PERSON?? Hmmmmmm.......Matt needs to pat himself on the back, but that would look a little strange, so Im betting Deertracker is his alter ego....

That one guy fr...

Does this paper seriously have nothing better to do than constantly slam local law enforcement? I swear a local officer could save someones life and this paper would seriously have something bad to say about them in the article. Its as if the police can do nothing right in the eyes of the writers/editor. Buncha sad idiots running this paper I swear.