Techniques of Denial towards Excessive Use of Force by the Police among Israeli Talkbacks

  •  Efrat Shoham    


The Internet community has become one of the main public arena, for sharing and solidarity declarations, or alternatively, of denunciation, exclusion and expulsion. This paper wishes to examine utilization of Denial techniques within online comment posters towards excessive use of police force, in which the negative components are almost irrefutable. In order to examine the legitimization level provided over the Internet, towards expressions of excessive use of police force, a qualitative analysis was made on online talkback posters regarding two different incidents of excessive use of force towards civilians, which were widely resonated through the Israeli electronic media ("the Avenging Police Officers" and the" Kicking Policeman"). Our finding suggested that in both cases, the most frequent online comments were based on responsibility denial and on denial of the victim. The neutralization of the deviant meaning of incidents involving excessive use of force was mainly based on a triple combination of rationalization techniques: undermining the credibility of the story, and especially that of the narrator; presenting an alternative order of events that turns a story of police brutality into a justified incident of self-defense; and switching the roles of criminal and victim by presenting the assaulted individual as an offensive and dangerous person. This triple combination allows the comment posters to retell stories of excessive force as logical and accepted narratives.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.