Law on Order, SVU
In the Social Justice system, pronoun-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In San Francisco, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Special Vocab Unit. These are their stories.
“Liv, tell me again why you dragged me onto a plane to fly across the country and end up here in this New York hell-hole,” Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola said.
“Because this city has been rocked by reports of racism and bullying backstage at a live comedy television program, and the New York Hate Crimes Unit needs our help,” Lieutenant Olivia Benson answered.
“What are the facts?” Standing outside Studio B, Fin wasted no time in interrogating the New York officers directly. Open reports of racism tended to get his blood boiling.
“One black male –”
Fin interrupted the New York HCU officer: “– African-American male.”
“My apologies. I do realize I’m speaking from a place of privilege.” The New York officer bowed his head in shame before continuing. “One African-American male was backstage getting ready to make his final appearance on the show. After putting on a hat, the African American man began getting bullied by the cast. They were trying to intimidate him so he would take the hat off, but he didn’t comply.”
“Good man,” Fin said, raising his fist in solidarity. “He should be able to wear whatever he wants.”
The New York officer continued: “Once he entered the main stage, they all looked away, visibly disturbed by his appearance on their show and the hat he decided to wear.”
“Oppressive bastards,” Fin sneered.
“What did the hat look like? Did it have any distinguishable markings or writing?” Lieutenant Benson asked.
“It was a red ball cap with the phrase ‘Make America’ –”
Fin cut the officer off. “Are you telling us he was wearing…” Fin’s voice trailed off in pain.
“It was MAGA, sir.” The officer nodded his head, and Fin closed his eyes in disgust.
“Now I know why you called us,” Lieutenant Benson said. She turned to Fin and could see right away that he was shaken to his core.
The group was silent as the officer lead Fin and Benson through the studio all the way to the green room. Fin took a moment to scan the pictures of past cast members that were hung all along the walls.
“Just coercing a minority, telling him what he should or shouldn’t wear, could easily be the start of a hate crime. Hate crime law calls it the first sign of oppression,” Fin said, stroking the frame holding the picture of a young Eddie Murphy.
“Yes, but what if the article of clothing is an icon of racism?” Benson asked cautiously.
“True, that red hat breeds violence and hate,” Fin replied. He took a moment to think. “Wait! What if, by telling him to take it off, they were looking out for his safety? What if they did it so he didn’t inspire the white men in the audience to oppress him?”
“But bullying… a minority? We need to ensure minorities are nurtured. Social programs fight to make sure they have free housing and groceries to keep them from being overloaded by the complex struggles of getting shelter and food. They can’t bully him about a hat – he’s too fragile.” Benson’s voice was filled with compassion.
“I’m so confused!” Fin rapped on the wall with his fist.
“This is a tough one. But there is always an oppressed and an oppressor in every SVU scenario and in every hate crime. We just need to keep digging — we will find the oppressor.” Benson fought to stay optimistic, even though she by now had realized there was no vocab crime here.
“What about diversity? Maybe the cast is even more diverse than a black cis male, so they would not be the oppressor?” Fin looked back to the other two.
“Four African-Americans, one lesbian, and the rest of the group of 18 were cis whites,” the New York officer answered.
“Damn! With those numbers, it’s practically whitesplaining. But do you think any of them might be in the closet?” Fin tried once again to diversify the cast.
“Most of the guys look pretty gay, but that could just be from excessive New York soy consumption.” The New York officer closed off another one of Fin’s attempts to exonerate the cast .
Fin looked back up to the portrait. “Eddie, why couldn’t you have been there to tell us what really happened?”
Tune in next week for the conclusion of Law on Order Special Vocab Unit, Episode 2, Red Hat Derangement.