It shouldn’t be news.
‘Man [or woman] behaves abominably, loses job as a result’ is a narrative we know very well – one that’s been playing out in fast-forward over the last few days, a cold comfort relative to the atrocities we’re seeing every single time we open our phones.
But this story – that Dick Wolf fired Craig Gore, a writer on his upcoming Law & Order series after Gore vowed to ‘light up’ protesters he ‘caught’ looting – is news for several reasons, and almost none of them have to do with the actual substance of his post or, indeed, with Wolf’s response.
It’s news to me, primarily, because it underscores something we’ve been talking about all week and beyond, when talking about the pervasiveness of anti-Black racism in Canada and the US – this is not a problem that affects only ‘conservatives’. We think of Hollywood writers as being exceedingly liberal, ‘media elites’ if you’re listening to Fox News, who deplore the values of Middle America. This story proves the insidiousness of anti-Black racism – it is in every industry, no matter how liberal or vocally supportive of protesters. It is in places you don’t expect it, and from people you’d think would ‘know better’, and if you were complacent in your industry, as I’ve definitely been in mine at times, thinking that at least the people around you thought and felt the way you did, this should be a rude awakening.
It’s news because Craig Gore, in addition to being staffed on the upcoming Law & Order spinoff, has been staffed as a writer on Chicago P.D. and S.W.A.T. I’ll freely confess to never having seen either show, but I know that they would have, at least nominally, had to deal with the perspective of criminals who were, or felt they were, profiled or unfairly accused because they were Black or other POCs. They would have most definitely had to deal, at least nominally, with the concept of ‘Good Cops’ and ‘Bad Cops’. At a bare minimum, Craig Gore would have run into reading, research, or anecdotes that underlined the ideas we’re all confronting daily: that police have the upper hand in confrontations with suspects, and that they were operating within a power structure that would generally support them – even if most of the characters on the show would have been ‘good guys’ working against ‘the system’.
In short, Craig Gore would almost certainly have at least been aware of racial profiling, anti-Black bias, police brutality, and maybe even the psychology of protests and riots in the course of his job, for at least the past six years, per his IMDB … and it didn’t make a difference.
Lastly, and most hauntingly, Craig Gore works in the media and entertainment. He knows, more than most, how quickly something you put online can blow up, eviscerating everything you worked for all your life. He’s a man with the internet, he saw how quickly the world identified and reacted to Amy Cooper, among others …
…and he still felt safe and protected and justified in putting this racist invective online. He’s either incredibly stupid, or felt incredibly confident that his friends and colleagues would support the position he took, knowing it could blow up, or somehow thinking it wasn’t inflammatory enough to do so.
If he’s that stupid, that’s heartening. Dumb people show themselves, and we get to swiftly remove them once they highlight their monstrous ideas. If he’s confident, that’s terrifying – for me, anyway, it punches another hole in the (obviously false) sense of security I’ve had about people in entertainment and the media leaning toward what I, and assumedly you if you’re reading, tending towards the ‘correct’ side of the political spectrum.
But if he’s neither stupid nor confident – that is, if this is the first time he’s revealed himself this way – then I’ll join Dick Wolf in a lot of sleepless nights, wondering who else I trust to be a ‘good guy’ is harboring horrors like this just below the surface.
I know it’s far more than we think. Which is why this is news.