When the head of a union representing police officers in New York City, is at odds with the city's mayor, not over contract negotiations, but accuses the mayor of non-support of men and women in blue, of choosing street protesters over police, and of complicity in the killing of two officers in Brooklyn, that's intolerable.
But that is exactly what happened when Patrick Lynch, who heads the New York Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), leveled those scurrilous charges against Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In his arrogance, Lynch, obviously dismisses the fact that while he may represent 22,000 police officers, de Blasio was elected with 73.3 percent of the vote, an overwhelming mandate from 1,026,168 New York City voters (some of whom no doubt voted for de Blasio).
As The New York Times said on its editorial page, "the mayor's plea for everyone to stand down, to put aside protests and bitter words, at least until the funerals are done, was an understandable bid for civic calm...Anything that even briefly silences the police union leader Patrick Lynch, whose response to the killings has been to slander Mr. de Blasio as a bloody-handed accomplice to murder, is worth supporting."
Lynch's conduct, in this instance, has been contemptible, as is anyone suggesting a link between the mayor and the tragic deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
Sadly, among those who joined Lynch in condemning de Blasio are Rudi Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, both former mayors, as well as George Pataki, ex-governor of the Empire State. It happens all three are Republicans, but surely they wouldn't join Lynch in his attacks just because de Blasio's a liberal Democrat, would they?
A police union leader acting as Lynch has is scandalous, no matter how politically "savvy" he may be in some media portrayals (including The Times). Lynch's conduct is far beyond the pale of acceptable and is reprehensible - and morally conscious police officers in the union's membership, should say so.
Two officers being shot to death in cold blood by a crazed assassin is a terrible tragedy, and decent men and women mourn their deaths and regret the unimaginable pain their families, friends and colleagues are experiencing, but that's where this should have ended.
But, clearly, in an Age of Social Media, of 24/7 endless news cycles, good news always loses to bad, the equation is not close - and it's not closing.
Politicians devoid of conscience and on the make, often aligned with Fox News and right wing talk shows, will rush to judgment; blaming, as they have, the mayor, blaming the president, blaming the protesters, blaming liberals, for "creating" an environment where an assassin acts to destroy the lives of innocent police officers.
Thus does one Patrick Lynch, who took an oath as a police officer to protect and serve, violate that sacred oath.
Shame on him. Shame on those officers who turned their backs on the mayor, at Patrick's suggestion; an act Police Commissioner William Bratton criticized, saying of de Blasio on CBS' "Face the Nation", "He is the mayor of New York...He is there representing the citizens of New York to express their remorse and their regret at that death. It was very inappropriate."
And to the litany of shame add media, who bought into the narrative and caused the story's explosion across the USA and worldwide.
Lynch's conduct has been so egregious, that not satisfied telling patrolman to turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio, went on to instruct police families that if an officer dies in the line of duty, they should turn the mayor away from the funeral. (The families of officers Ramos and Liu said Mayor de Blasio would be welcomed, thereby demonstrating their dignity and Lynch's cluelessness.)
True, police have had a terrible run and have taken big time image hits from stories of white officers killing black people in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland; but the one-sided pro-media portrayals of protestors that began in Ferguson became pro-police after Brooklyn, exposing media's disregard of nuance in favor of fast, cheap headlines.
It became either/or - love the protestors and hate the police or love the police and hate the protestors.
Not everyone who marched or protested white officers shooting blacks hate the police. Most know police officers have near impossible jobs; that society's debt to those who protect and serve is very great, and share a concern that honorable law enforcement officers, whose numbers vastly exceed the opposite, would be seen as racists in dealings with men and women of color. (Indeed, the percentage of police officers unconsciously racist may be fewer than that of the general population.)
In the meanwhile, what we know is the police have image issues; issues not going away because an out-of-control Patrick Lynch thinks Bill de Blasio is an accessory to murder.
If we're counting police officers killed by black men vs. black men killed by police, the comparison does not favor police. But this can't be a numbers game because the societal challenge it represents isn't going away. It is one that requires the best from all of us, citizens and police - beginning now.