In the giant Venn diagram of individual human behavior, the great blob of Stupid intersects lots of different areas, including Personally Destructive and Professionally Damaging, and it even lightly touches Fire-able Offense. Fortunately for all of us, Stupid is just mostly stupid and allows us to make our mistakes and, one hopes, learn from them, perchance to prevent them from being repeated. (For example, decades ago, I would have incorrectly—and stupidly—used the word "hopefully" in that sentence, instead of "one hopes." Lesson learned without permanent damage to my career ... such as it is.)
It's a bit different in the matter of group behavior. The great blob of Stupid can completely engulf mobs and frat houses and the Westboro Baptist Church. Our Arizona Legislature resides entirely inside the great blob of Stupid, kinda like Lesotho inside South Africa.
Returning to the discussion of individual stupidity brings us to the case of former Tucson Police Department Lieutenant (now Sergeant, at least temporarily) Diana Lopez, who used to do an excellent job as the department's public information officer. (That means that she looked well-groomed on camera, didn't use a whole lot of uh's and um's when she spoke, and could utter the phrase "The investigation is ongoing" without openly sneering at the talking head who had asked some lame question.) Once a rising star in the department, Lopez has seen her career knocked off the tracks by Stupid. And make no mistake about it, what she did was stupid. According to an internal investigation (the ridiculously hefty final written report of which could kill small animals if dropped from a height of 4 feet), Lopez sent a series of risqué photos and a video to a lower-ranking officer with whom she was personally involved.
That's a stupid thing to do. It's not Rihanna Oh-he'll-never-beat-my-ass-again stupid, but it's stupid. I can't even begin to imagine how many women have allowed themselves to be photographed and/or filmed in sexual situations by the guy with whom they would be together forever ... or until next month when he found somebody else who was willing to be degraded in such a manner.
After the investigation was completed, Lopez was removed as public information officer and demoted from lieutenant to patrol sergeant. Her attorney, Mike Piccarreta, is probably going to have a field day with this. According to Piccarreta, "What Diana did over a year ago, she sent a private video and some pictures, none of them legally obscene, to her boyfriend and that was the end of it."
Again, stupid. But actionable? I'm not so sure.
TPD Assistant Chief Kathleen Robinson was quoted as saying, "Lopez used extremely poor judgment in sending these images, undermining her credibility as a commander. Her actions have negatively affected not only her reputation, but the reputation and mission of the Tucson Police Department."
Wow, if the mission of the Tucson Police Department can be adversely affected by a couple of suggestive photos, what might happen if something truly serious came along?
Having been brought up in a rather strict Catholic/Italian household, I lean toward the prudish in such matters. I certainly wouldn't want my wife to create and send me such material, especially since I don't own a cellphone. Besides, it's infinitely better in real life. However, the adult in me says that such things are strictly a matter of different strokes and none of our business. If it didn't affect her job performance, why should the TPD care?
What's rather funny (in a Wayne LaPierre sorta way) is that the Police Department, which generally follows the rules of law and evidence and stuff like that, said in the report that it could not find any of the photos or the video in question, but concluded that "there is no doubt they exist."
This is not to say that nobody should be punished in this affair. This all came out after the recipient of the material decided to go all Eighth-Grade Boy and showed the pictures around the locker room.
When I talk to the girls on my basketball team about dating and such, I often start with the phrase, "You have to remember, most guys are pigs, especially when you allow them to be." We can't use that sentence here because of, you know, that "p" word. But guys can be real jackasses and, in the high testosterone world of law enforcement, guys can be industrial-strength jackasses.
It's funny; every single person with whom I have discussed this story has used the exact same word to describe the offending (and offensive) male officer who showed the stuff around. It starts with a "d" and, when employed correctly, is used in a discussion of female hygiene. (It's just one of those words that, for whatever reason, I've never used in my life and I'm not going to start now.)
But what a jerk! After such a breakup, a true gentleman would have returned the items to Lopez. In the real world, the vast majority of guys would have held on to them privately. But this classless ass chose to show them around.
I'm sorry, but if I were one of his fellow officers, in the back of my head, I'd be wondering just how much I could trust this person. And trust is real important in that line of work.