It’s Great And All That Deputy Ben Fields Got Fired. But Fuck, That’s No Consolation » VSB

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It’s Great And All That Deputy Ben Fields Got Fired. But Fuck, That’s No Consolation

CNN screenshot


After watching the video of Deputy Ben Fields assaulting a teen girl in her classroom, and following the national coverage of the fallout from this incident, I had no doubt Fields would eventually be publicly reprimanded, suspended, and eventually fired. Which he was, today. His superiors had no choice but to do so; the footage was too brutal, Fields’s history was too volatile, the difference in physical size between Fields — seen here bench-pressing 600 freaking pounds — and the girl was too stark, and the racial context was too thick.

I guess this — Fields’s firing — is supposed to be vindicating. And perhaps it is for the students and others directly impacted by his employment. He will no longer have carte blanche to terrorize students at Spring Valley High School, and this is a good thing. But, I don’t know. I just don’t feel any type of victory when a Ben Fields or a George Zimmerman or a Darren Wilson or a Ray Tensing or a Napa Valley Wine Train is forced to apologize or is reprimanded or is fired or is arrested. Because the damage the acts done by these people cause have more of a psychic, emotional, and physical cost than any type of acknowledgement of the wrongdoing can cover. The Black body isn’t a department store where busted shoplifters can apologize for and replace boosted items. There’s no storewide insurance policy to fix the damage done to a human body and a human spirit. The shit that happened to that girl at Spring Valley High School will never be fixed. Will never unhappen. The scars she was given that day will stay with her until she dies. Perhaps they’ll get better with time. And perhaps they’ll eventually just exist in the recesses of her mind. But they will never not be there.

It’s like, if I keep catching you stealing my lunch from the break room — day after day — I don’t want an apology from you. I just want you to stop stealing my lunch. Fuck your apology. Just leave my leftover pasta alone.

I will concede that apologies and consequences are not without value. They do matter. But what matters more is to just stop doing the fuckshit apologies are made for.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • shimarella


  • guest

    I just want to know the identity of his black girlfriend, if she really exists, and whether or not she has dumped him yet. Who knew that sleeping with black women gave white men immunity from being called a racist?

    • Glo

      As if misogynists don’t sleep with women all the time…

      • Jennifer


      • PhlyyPhree


    • When they brought that up I was just plain done with the whole media coverage.

      • Wild Cougar


      • That’s the equivalent of white people saying
        “I have black friends”
        Which most of the time is equivalent to that ONE sometimes token friend – that was probably a roommate in college or he met at a summer internship.

        • …or his mom used to work as their house keeper.

        • JamesInstagram

          RIGHT! So, in this case, his “black girlfriend” is some attractive black woman he keeps staring at across the bus on the way to work.

    • I think it clouds the issue as well. His black girlfriend is irrelevant, and the reason why she was brought up, was to change the topic and to make it appear to the police union and law enforcement officials that the Sheriff did all he could to protect one of his own.

      The first thing, is that the root of racism is choosing to discriminate against a person/group due to their “race”, whether it’s their skin color or ethnicity, determines on the definition of race at the time (race changes definition a lot in history). The thing that is obvious in the video, and obvious in our society as a whole, is that a man handling a woman like that is taboo to say the least, and completely viewed as vile to most people. You now have a man, who is very strong and has videos all over the net showing it, manhandling not even a woman, but a middle school girl, who is in no way a threat or danger to him.

      This is why, it really doesn’t matter if he’s racist or not, given the standards of our culture, forget even the law, he’s a brute and is far worse than even a wife beater (at least he’d be doing it to an adult, as sick as it sounds). Where racism is most relevant, is in those who are actually defending his actions, or worse trying to describe him as a poorly treated hero. This is where the discrimination is far more blatant: whether it’s saying that it’s her fault, or she hit him after he put her in a chokehold, or saying that had she only listened, or any other argument that is likely to come out of Raven or Don Lemon’s mouths etc, all are simply rationalizations to legitimize discriminating against her, when there’s already a well understood standard of physical interactions between men and women in our society that boys and girls learn exists independent of a person’s profession, politics or authority-level in the hierarchy.

      • Wild Cougar

        The nuance that is missing is the racism here involves the value of the life of the victim, not the feelings of the perpetrator. He can date a Black woman and still see Black people as worthless. He can see her as “not really Black” and set her apart. He can have no general hatred, but see Black people as easy targets he can get away with abusing because society assigns no value.

    • LMNOP

      When I heard he had a Black girlfriend I just thought to myself “and I bet he beats her too.”

    • mynameiskevin

      She probably lives in Canada like many an imaginary girlfriend these days.

  • iamnotakata

    “Just stop doing the f uckshit” Basically! But, white people survive off of white supremacy so I don’t anticipate them stopping anytime soon unfortunately. It also doesn’t help when there is fecal matter on cnn by the name of don lemon spreading devisive dumb.

    • Mary Burrell

      And Raven Symone opened her stupid mouth to comment on the incident.

      • iamnotakata

        I no longer acknowledge raven hyphen different spelling symone. We gave her away in the racial draft, therefore she is no longer our responsibility.

  • [Insert Creative Name Here]

    Just…damn. You, sir, are a writer.

  • Glo

    Apologies are 100% meaningless if nothing ever changes and the behavior continues. My mom taught me this when I was a little kid, and I don’t understand why grown folk still don’t get it.

    • essem SEE

      Killer Mike had an interview with Tavis Smiley stating apology absent of recompense, particularly financial, is just lip service. His argument was in regard to the US lack of apology for slavery and its continuing effects. But it applies here as well. His firing is an “apology” of sorts but there is no making it up to give the apology legs

  • marwilli

    I celebrate his firing in the same way I celebrate when a black man is found not guilty of a crime he was accused of after spending 15 years in jail.

  • Mary Burrell

    Does he drag his black girlfriend?

  • Jennifer

    If he is charged and convicted of assault, I’ll consider one half-hearted clap. His termination should be only the beginning.

  • SaneN85

    I’m certainly not going to begin to compare it to the damage/pain done to the victims, but there is also significant damage done to the socially aware people that are tired of seeing these incidents. There is damage done to my spirit every time I see something like this happen, there is a damage done to the black community as a whole.

    With each incident there is an irrevocable errosion done to the relationships between not only the black community and law enforcement and other government organizations but unfortunately between the black community and the white community. While I know that most non-PoC are as disgusted by these things as we are (well, more and more are with each incident), I can’t possibly say that with 100% certainty. I’ve become more and more paranoid about who I can/should express certain feelings to.

    That girl is going to have long-lasting repercussions from this incident and will certainly have it worse than anyone else, but she is not the only one.

    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      For real. This whole incident has (again) made me feel physically
      violent and like screaming in people’s faces about the nature of this
      unending white supremacy we have to put up with. I know how much worse it must be for ‘Shakara’ and the kids in the class, but I feel very much personally assaulted with these things.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    “Apologies are 100% meaningless if nothing ever changes and the behavior continues.”

    Can I tweak your sentence to read as follows:

    Forced apologies are 100% meaningless if nothing ever changes, the behavior continues, and you don’t become an agent of change.

    All these folks who claim to know better are being forced into making PR move apologies. My man WU said South Carolina is having a bad press year; the Chief knew his hand was forced and he would have buried this under policy or we will re evaluate our training.

    • Amen… I don’t need an apology… Just leave us the he11 alone!

      • KNeale

        I’m saying tho! I don’t want an apology. I don’t want to hear about your feelings. I don’t want to hear you at all actually. Just leave me alone!

    • Bruh, we’re having a bad year all-around. I don’t think we’ve taken it in the mouth like this since William Sherman was here.

      • Val

        Huh? Sherman was a Union General, right? So him being in SC was a good thing, wasn’t it?

        • He was and I’m a big fan of his work but he left the place in bad shape. While he was burning plantations all of his men weren’t fond of black folks. There was a lot of bad with the good he brought.

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