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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:40 PM
Original message
Is the term "cop" derogatory?
I was watching Law and Order at work, one of the newer episodes, to pass the time, and Dennis Farina's (?) character said that.

I've called them cops since I can remember. Is it really derogatory, or was this another bit in L&O's long line of subtle pro-authority-without-question propaganda?

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Cooley Hurd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. Coming from a family of them, I've never heard them gripe...
The origin of the word, IIRC, is an acronym of "Constable On Patrol."
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NewJeffCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. That's what I had heard, too
Hardly seems an insult in that case.
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Drum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
2. I've heard:
on some Discovery Channel/History Channel thing, that the nickname "coppers" emerged very early on---maybe among British, who had (I think) the first uniformed metropolitan police force. Their uniforms had copper buttons, and i think that "cops" emerged as a slang reference to the policemen as "coppers," later shortened "cops."
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Asgaya Dihi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
3. Not normally
It might just be a part of the show trying to emphasize him as an older, more experienced cop. Decades ago cop wasn't a slur but "copper" was, someone who grew up in that world might still have a problem with it. I've never met one who did though, so it seems more like Hollywood in action than a real concern to me. Just trying to establish the character.
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
4. it's better than "pig" or "fuzz" or "over-testosteroned fascist prick"
I guess.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:46 PM
Original message
Great minds...see below! n/t
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:12 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. Cop doesn't really convey anything
over-testosteroned fascist prick is at least an accurate description in some instances.
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Asgaya Dihi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. I used to agree
There was a time when I felt the exact same way, wasn't too long ago really. I ran into someone a while back that changed my mind, or at least my approach. A guy named Jack Cole claims to be responsible for locking up at least 1,000 young people since the start of the drug war, at first he didn't know better then when he started to have doubts the orders and the adrenaline of the hunt kept him going for a while longer. He'll tell you himself these days how wrong what he did was.

The thing is that at some point somebody did get through to him, now that same guy is one of the strongest forces fighting against the drug war and the same type of damage that he used to cause. Someone somewhere at some point got through to him and convinced him that we were as human as he was and didn't deserve what was happening.

Yeah, some don't deserve that badge no matter what, but an awful lot of them do try to do the right thing and either don't know better or just don't know what else to do in a screwed up system. We need to make friends with them and show them who they are really going after, not keep them firm enemies with name calling. It's not easy and doesn't seem fair sometimes, but when they are the guys with the power then we're the ones who need to be more reasonable and reach them, not the other way around. The ones we can reach will do us a lot of good sometimes.
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:31 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. it is around here
I had two dealings with local police in a six week period about a year ago

pricks.
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Autonomy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-07-06 12:05 AM
Response to Reply #14
31. It's not testosterone
as often as it's steroids.
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-07-06 06:01 AM
Response to Reply #31
34. Yes , I'd forgotten
there are police women as well.

Difference bewteen a pig and a police woman : one's a stroppy beast with dripping mouth and facial hair etc and the other is a farm animal.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
5. The PIGS, the FUZZ...now those were derogatory!!! n/t
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951-Riverside Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
6. He plays a 'Dick' right?
Maybe 'Dicks' think the word cop is offensive its probably like calling a special forces guy a grunt :D
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #6
28. Whew, first chance to check back in...!
He was explaining that the term was "police officer" - it didn't seem like he was making it about him.

Even though I watch L&O regularly at work (because while I work at DirecTV, not much is on I care to watch), I sometimes HATE the show - like when the attorneys' rightwing boss called IranContra "far left nonsense from the lunatic fringe", and there was no rebuttal from the allegedly liberal McCoy.

I get especially pissed at their past depictions of potheads as dangerous/stupid/violent. That's just bullshit, but the show doesn't push that lie as much as it used to.

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Fenris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
7. I believe the origin of that word...
Is "copper," which is also used in place of "police." It was a reference to the copper badges policemen used to wear.
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DavidDvorkin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 04:54 PM
Response to Reply #7
24. "Copper" is of English origin, far back
I suspect it's a back-formation from "cop", slang for "catch".
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #7
27. Possibly
Though Webster etymologizes it as coming from "cop" (vt) meaning to catch, to stop, to grab.

Etymology is not always a good sign of whether or not a word is offensive, though; the N-word just means "black", after all.
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
8. Depends
I grew up in NY and everyone called them cops. It was the word that was used. I now live on the west coast and everyone says "officer." "Cop" sounds too slangy and kind of a put down put here.
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GrumpyGreg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
10. No it isn't !
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area51 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
11. term "cop"
The Houston Chronicle runs a column written by a police officer where he answers questions from the general public. Someone asked that question, & he said no, unless it's the context it's used in. I guess like "you %*#@ cop".


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Drum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
12. I googled
"cops origins" and found a slew of answers, several dispelling my take on the buttons, badges, whatever accessories. Most pages I saw seemed to opine that it was the verb "cop" (to seize, grab, capture) made into "copper" as One Who Cops....

We may never know the origins exactly, but I see that wasn't the original query anyway. I'm glad that those in-the-know say that police aren't highly offended by the term "cops" as it is such a firmly-ensconced term in the US. Frankly though, I think that "five-oh" is my fave, finding it ingenious since I was around for the show "Hawaii Five O" as a kid.

So that's my two-cents plus two more...and you can keep the extra coppers....

;)
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paulk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
13. I think it originally was, but it's become so common that
it's not anymore.

OTAH, the times I've had the misfortune to address a "cop" directly, I've always called him/her "officer".

discretion being the better part of valor, and all that...
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nosmokes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
15. remember the bumper stickers- *if you call cops pigs,
the next time you're in trouble call a hippie!* i used to think, good idea! really, unless it's the middle of a violent situation, there are few instances i can think of that a cop doesn't make worse.
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carthagestar Donating Member (28 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:14 PM
Response to Original message
16. I think it used to be, but not now.
His character was probably trtying to signal he's from the 'old school' way of thinking.
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electron_blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
19. That's what I always thought.
I know not everyone agrees, but it's how I was raised.
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johnnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:35 PM
Response to Original message
20. Probably because his character is a detective
That's what I would think why he said it. It would be like calling a chef a cook.
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Terran1212 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
21. What my AP Lit teacher said a few months ago
"My mom used to hate when we called them cops because she thought it was disrespectful. Then the sixties came and we called them pigs and she really didn't like that"
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Metta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
22. It's an acronym for constables on patrol.
nt.
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DavidDvorkin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. No, it is not.
Always be suspicious when you're told that an old word is an acronym. You can be fairly sure that that is folk etymology.
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justabob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 10:42 PM
Response to Reply #22
29. Copper badges long ago
... at least that is what I have always been told is the origin of 'cop'.
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Toucano Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-07-06 01:41 AM
Response to Reply #22
33. Origin is disputed.
"While the ultimate origin is disputed, most authorities agree that it is a shortening of copper. Cop was first used in 1859 and copper predates it from 1846. Copper, as slang for policeman, derives from the verb to cop, which dates from 1704 and means to catch. The OED2 notes that an 1864 newspaper stated that people would exhibit a copper coin as they passed a policeman, in effect calling them copper. This may have been the beginning of the confusion with the metal copper."

http://www.wordorigins.org/wordorc.htm
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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-07-06 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #22
35. I have heard this acronym too, n/t
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Bushy Being Born Donating Member (267 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
23. It's very simple.
If you don't mean it to be derogatory, then it's not derogatory.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 05:00 PM
Response to Original message
26. No.
It is not. There is a book about my uncle, which refers to him as a "cop" in the title.
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dylan33 Donating Member (44 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-06-06 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. They at least some
seem to think so but for me I think it is time to get hundreds of thousands of then off the streets and stop wasting gas. :donut:
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Joe Fields Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-07-06 01:27 AM
Response to Original message
32. I've heard from a cop himself that it stands for constable on patrol
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