On Wednesday the Seattle Police Department was rocked by a scandal of Big Gulp proportion.
We’re speaking, of course, of PissGate, a bombshell of a story that was brought to light after a local blogger posted a video of an on-duty SPD officer taking a leak behind “a well-known European performance shop.” Shortly thereafter, the Internet exploded. (And by “exploded” we mean King 5 shared the video and Dori Monson quickly came to the urinating officer’s defense.) The taped urination was also forwarded to the police department’s Office of Professional Accountability, as pissing in public is considered a city infraction.
Obviously, there are a few ways to look at this story. The best, I think, is simply to watch the video and marvel at the moment the yet-to-be-named cop realizes he’s on tape. You don’t have to be an expert lip reader to appreciate the guilty reaction.
However, there are other lenses to view PissGate through. Predictably, the video inspired a discussion within the Seattle Weekly newsroom, with a simple majority siding with the officer and the age-old adage, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”
That said, I had a different reaction. Having recently spent nearly a month talking with frustrated business owners throughout the downtown core, fed up with the level of human waste left behind by homeless people, the “What’s the big deal?” reaction - to me - smacks of a double standard. The homeless have almost nowhere to legally use the bathroom. That’s why the city is planning for the installment of a Portland Loo in Pioneer Square, and why makeshift toilets have popped up in the meantime.
Is a peeing cop a huge deal? Certainly not. But it seems worth pointing out that for the homeless, even the call of nature has often become criminalized, and there’s no doubt this peeing cop - no matter how unexpectedly his Monster Energy Drink ran through him - could have found a legal place to do his business. That’s a luxury many homeless people simply don’t have.
So, what say you? Is the peeing cop a big deal, or a big whoop?