I doubt anyone has noticed, but it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to my blog – just too busy trying to do other things. But I have faithfully kept track of the friends I “follow.”

Today is different. I feel a moral obligation to respond to the lie that was told last evening on the latest episode of “Bluebloods.”

If you don’t know the show, I’ll tell you about it. First, though, I want to explain that I was watching it because it’s one of the fictional shows I enjoy at 9:00 p.m. Central Time. I try very hard to be ready to relax by that time so I can lose the day’s stress watching make-believe. I like the show. I like the characters – a good-looking bunch of folks.

It’s the story of a wealthy Irish Catholic family that basically controls an error-free, noble, always just, New York Police Department. It’s clear they are wealthy, because at the end of almost every episode they all gather around a large table in their attractive dining room in their large house for an ample meal accompanied by wine. (The children in the family don’t have wine glasses in front of them.)

At the head of the table is the police commissioner, or his father, the retired commissioner. The rest all serve in one way or another – detective, officer, prosecutor. The children all plan to follow the noble path when they grow up. Often there are political problems with the Mayor who has a bad habit of thinking first of re-election. In between there are the kinds of things one expects to happen in a cop show.

There are some interesting things I tend to mull about when I watch it. For some reason that seems to have nothing to do with the drama, the writers killed off the mother and the grandmother before the show even began – and an older brother who died in the line of duty. (Hm. Sort of makes me think of the Kennedy family.)

Alcohol seems to play a major role. Not only is there the wine at dinner. (Let me be clear, I like wine at dinner.) But there is also the ever handy bottle of bourbon, or whatever it is they drink, when there is a problem to discuss – at home or at the office – and a glass poured at the end of the day to relax. There’s no obvious threat of alcoholism, but I often wonder what was the writer’s purpose in introducing it.

I’m quite sure the writer’s have a political point of view different from mine. On a few occasions they have spoken disparagingly, almost sneeringly, about the ACLU. Not anything long, just sort of a giggly hope that no one they know would be “that” kind of lawyer. No problem. I suspect it even fits the plot line. Lots of people in their line of work don’t especially like the American Civil Liberties Union. As a matter of fact, if my memory serves me correctly, the first President Bush bragged about tearing up his ACLU membership card.

I personally have been a member of the ACLU since I traveled to Germany (among other places in Europe) shortly after WWII. The rubble was still all around. Yes, I’m that old. The thing is, I met so many wonderful people – good people who had let the holocaust happen. I remember one of our student guides saying, “It will come to your country someday.” I learned what I think is an important lesson. It’s true: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Hence, the ACLU membership.

But that’s not why I’m furious. They have every right to make their opinions known. No, I’m furious because they basically lied, and misinformed, in an area which is extremely important in the current atmosphere of violence, cruelty, and vengeance.

For no apparent dramatic reason, last night they introduced the concept of “restorative practices,” sneeringly suggesting it might be OK for High School students to apologize for things they do, but …

OK, so the lie. They completely misrepresented the process, thereby distorting the purpose. The subplot starts when a young woman who is about to be married receives a letter from a man in jail – the person who years before had killed her mother, father, and brother apparently in a home invasion. He would like the young woman to meet with him in jail. WRONG! That is not the way a restorative justice interaction begins. Unless something has changed a lot very recently, the perpetrator is not allowed to harass the victim. No, restorative justice began for the relief of the victim, not the criminal. It’s the reason why, for example, victims now have the opportunity to testify before the sentencing. It would have to be the victim who initiated the meeting.

The next WRONG!. When the young woman wants to do it, in spite of the Commissioner’s advise, he insists he is going with her. Here’s where things get to be a big lie. As it’s presented, they just make a date and go to the prison. Once there, she and the killer and a woman — apparently some kind of social worker – meet over a table in a private room. The “social worker” person yields easily to the Commissioners insistence that he will stay, and is ready to end it all if he detects that the prisoner is hurting the woman in any way. THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE.

There would be no such meeting without a long process of preparation – often as much as a year or more– being sure both parties want the meeting and are prepared for it.

Rather than presenting a restorative practice interaction as the serious, important, and productive process it is, they made it look like an amateurish, thoughtless, activity.

Finally, the Commissioner encourages her to maintain her vengeful attitude. She has every right to do that. As one who cares a lot about forgiveness, I’m the first to say that forgiveness coerced is not forgiveness at all. The sad thing, though, is the next day she gets married still harboring the hate. WRONG! Forgiveness is not a gift to the killer. It is a gift to oneself, proved many times over to be important for one’s physical and mental health. She has now begun her married life carrying the hatred and all its potential damage with her.

The fact is, restorative practice is a very practical response to crime. A highly developed legal process in several countries, and less widely in the U.S,, it has been demonstrated to reduce recidivism significantly. To say nothing of the fact that people, both victims and criminals, are rehabilitated. The process saves money and saves lives and the quality of life.

I’m furious with “Bluebloods” because the misinformation is presented for no apparent reason except to degrade an important development in judicial process. I guess it continues to be more important to enjoy the satisfaction of inflicting retributive pain than to work at solving problems.

I’ll keep watching the program. Along with CSI and NCIS and their variants, it is one of my favorites. I know the blood is fake, the gun ammo are blanks, and the actors will get up off the floor.

I’ll also keep doing what little I can to encourage restorative practices rather than pleasure in vengeance that leads to no productive end.

10 responses to “I’M FURIOUS WITH “BLUEBLOODS.”

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  1. Mona – I tried to post my comment…kindly do so on my behalf.

    “Mona – if you feel strongly about the misrepresentation in this latest episode of *Blue Bloods*, I suggest you write to the show’s producers. Only in that way can you bring this error to their attention. I believe they try to portray an accurate depiction of the New York City police process and your input would be welcomed.

    Best always, Pat​

  2. Thanks, Pat. You’re the second person who has suggested that. I wish someone would give me a quick way to do that. It’s not so much that I’m lazy — which maybe I am — but that I’ve dished out so much on my plate. I do intend to follow through, though.

    And yes, you did post your comment …

  3. Mona, it’s so easy to distort restorative practices as a go-gooder fantasy. I don’t know the program, but I do know something about restorative practices, and what you’ve described is not it. I’ve seen it work at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis. i know it works when trained facilitators do their homework to prepare perpetrators and victims. Restorative practices are not escapes from the hard realities; they are a way INTO the hard reality, the only way that brings any kind of reparation and healing for either the victim or the perpetrator. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mona – the writers actually might stumble on this post and so that is one reason I am glad you got it out there (you never know because I heard that some shows have search tags set up to hear feedback about their shows – and in my opinion – astute producers will do this regularly to keep at the top of their game – and feedback is so crucial to that)

    anyhow, I have never seen the show so I was curious to hear your take – and it sounds like the typical irsh-catholic-alcohol trio is at play – in part of the writing – but the way you describe the jail visit scene and issue – well I learned a bit – and I did not know about “restorative practice” and well, just very interesting – so thx – but I hate when shows insult our intelligence or disrespect an important issue like this – not only is it annoying and bad writing – but as noted – misinforms the people of something so crucial….
    I do not have the time to add a show into my life – (still trying to make sure I can watch better call saul) but I do plan on checking out an episode or two of bluebloods when I can…
    have a great weekend 🙂

  5. Pingback: I’M FURIOUS WITH “BLUEBLOODS.” | From Sandy Knob

  6. can’t comment, as I’ve never heard of *Blue Bloods*… I haven’t followed any serials since “Desperate Housewives”, ’cause I’m too busy! 🙂 my hubby & I watch about 2-3 max (interesting!) movies/week… come on, cheer up, Lady Mona! 🙂 my very best and have a pleasant weekend!

    • Hi Melanie. First of all, let me say how much I admire your lovely and loving marriage. (If there is reincarnation, I plan to do a better job of it next time around.) Second, thanks for taking the time to respond to this post. The thrust of the post is not the TV show. It is my passionate concern for social justice. In one way or another my career has been a response to being an empath — teaching, writing, therapy. As an empath I feel more deeply than I would like when other people suffer. In the current situation, at least in the U.S., I am dismayed,even painfully hurt, at the rush to vengeance and punishment, even cruelty in the support of torture. We win the prize for citizens in prison and deprived forever of their right to vote. Sadly racism shows in the disproportionate numbers of non-whites incarcerated. The rapidity and impunity with which the police — whose job is supposed to be to protect the citizenry — kill and beat suspected culprits. I am dismayed at the institutionalized blaming of the poor rather than working to reduce poverty.

      You’re right. I don’t “cheer up” surrounded as I am by the violent and vengeful news the media choose to report because there is so much of it. But wait, I do indeed “cheer up” at the widespread efforts toward restorative justice — the very practical effort to heal and restore rather than vengefully destroy. I wish the media would choose to report more of this very positive movement.

      Instead there is the misinformation so blatantly presented in an “entertainment” show — leading people even further away from appreciating the sensible efforts to turn evil into good. (OK, that’s a bit grandiose,, but I couldn’t think of a simpler way to say it.)

      I “cheer up” when I read two of my favorite magazines, “Yes” and the “The Intelligent Optimist.” There I find the grassroots efforts of realistic caring, producing positive change that, unfortunately, is not made public the way vengeance it.

      That’s why I get upset with things like the lies “Blue Bloods” told in the context of heroic goodness. I would so rejoice if there had been an episode presenting restorative practice honestly. The truth is, people “learn” a lot from the programs they watch.

      Oh well, thanks for the good wishes. And the truth is, while I am passionate about my “cause” I also do enjoy life. (And watching the idiot box for an hour before bedtime does usually help to cool the passion and induce sleep.)

      p.s., I love the way you call me “Miss Mona.”

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