It's Great And All That Deputy Ben Fields Got Fired. But Fuck, That's No Consolation

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After watching the video of Deputy Ben Fields assaulting a teen girl in her classroom, and following the national coverage of the fallout from this incident, I had no doubt Fields would eventually be publicly reprimanded, suspended, and eventually fired. Which he was, today. His superiors had no choice but to do so; the footage was too brutal, Fields's history was too volatile, the difference in physical size between Fields — seen here bench-pressing 600 freaking pounds — and the girl was too stark, and the racial context was too thick.

I guess this — Fields's firing — is supposed to be vindicating. And perhaps it is for the students and others directly impacted by his employment. He will no longer have carte blanche to terrorize students at Spring Valley High School, and this is a good thing. But, I don't know. I just don't feel any type of victory when a Ben Fields or a George Zimmerman or a Darren Wilson or a Ray Tensing or a Napa Valley Wine Train is forced to apologize or is reprimanded or is fired or is arrested. Because the damage the acts done by these people cause have more of a psychic, emotional, and physical cost than any type of acknowledgement of the wrongdoing can cover. The Black body isn't a department store where busted shoplifters can apologize for and replace boosted items. There's no storewide insurance policy to fix the damage done to a human body and a human spirit. The shit that happened to that girl at Spring Valley High School will never be fixed. Will never unhappen. The scars she was given that day will stay with her until she dies. Perhaps they'll get better with time. And perhaps they'll eventually just exist in the recesses of her mind. But they will never not be there.


It's like, if I keep catching you stealing my lunch from the break room — day after day — I don't want an apology from you. I just want you to stop stealing my lunch. Fuck your apology. Just leave my leftover pasta alone.

I will concede that apologies and consequences are not without value. They do matter. But what matters more is to just stop doing the fuckshit apologies are made for.

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About the author

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB and a columnist for His debut memoir in essays, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins), is available for preorder.