The Osmonds,” a Saturday-morning cartoon from the 1970s, always ended with a sickly melody that stays permanently in my mind. “One Bad Apple” was about unrequited love (from girls, rather than cops). I knew the lyrics before I understood what “bad apple” meant, or, for that matter, police brutality.
Forgive me for comparing the nation’s (and New York City’s) unrest over police brutality to a cartoon. But the metaphor “bad apple” is not only a cliché, but so logically misplaced as to make it cartoonish. The typical argument is this: Let’s remember that not all cops are bad, despite a few “bad apples.” The problem with this argument, if it is an argument, is that it absolves the NYPD, the Minneapolis PD or any other police department for legacies of misconduct.