Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Now Dallas

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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247 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Well said.Report

  2. Maribou says:

    @burt-likko I think you are wonderful, and I appreciate your intention here, but I also think anger (including the assigning of blame) is sometimes necessary for healing. In fact, I know it is. That’s *why* it’s part of the grieving process.

    And when I see friends, colleagues, students to whom I hold myself accountable, even strangers, who are angry as part of their grieving – particularly if those people are subject to daily struggles that I’ve never had to face – I try to take a deep breath and interrogate my own wish for them to stop being angry. Is it because they are doing harm? Or is it because accepting the righteousness of their anger, the fact that their anger is legitimate, breaks my own heart to some smaller degree than our society has already broken theirs, but to a larger one than I’m able to deal with it being broken?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Maribou says:

      There is a time and a place for anger. There is also a time and place for shock, for sorrow. Anger, blame, and even fear are natural responses to awful things, and the past few days have brought much awfulness.

      Ultimately, there should also be a time for growth and the cultivation of wisdom. Wisdom does not co-exist nicely with anger, and is killed by panic. I don’t tend to make my best decisions while angry nor while panicked. I doubt I’m alone in that regard.

      My sneaking suspicion is that as a society, we are too eager to experience the intense, visceral emotions — or more cynically, that there are those who find that when large numbers of people are in a state of such visceral agitation, they are easier to manipulate — that we do not ever move on to the phase where it’s even possible to learn and grow.

      And all I’m really asking here is that we wait to get some reliable facts before we start drawing conclusions. For now, it’s enough to share our shock and grief. As I write, there may well be suspects from Dallas, but we don’t know anything about them or their motives.

      …We just don’t know much of anything tonight other than that good people are dead.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I agree that we don’t know much of anything about Dallas. Is your call to caution specifically about Dallas? It doesn’t seem that way. Maybe I’m misunderstanding.

        What we do know a lot about …

        No, let’s go with *I*. I know a lot about what my student workers who are not white go through (not nearly as much as they do, obviously). I know a lot about how they manage to learn, grow, and, yeah, fight, and make good, strong, powerful, healthy decisions about what to do with their lives and futures, despite being angry or panicked a large part of the time (and not for no reason, and not just because of stuff they hear from the media – but just as much or more so because of things that happen in their day to day lives).

        I don’t think they’re too eager to experience these negative emotions, I think they fight like hell to keep joy and beauty and forward progress foremost in their lives despite them. And their anger, and their as-far-as-I-can-see usually (not always! they’re 20 year olds) accurate understanding of the many places it does and does not make sense to lay blame, contributes a great deal to the energy they need to move forward.

        And their shock and grief also turns quickly to anger, as far as I can tell, as part of their resilience. As part of their ability to not accept the place that society expects them to take up. An example of the kind of anger I’m talking about is the rampant sharing they’ve been doing lately of this James Baldwin quote:
        ““What is it you want me to reconcile myself to? I was born here almost sixty years ago. I’m not going to live another sixty years. You always told me it takes time. It has taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brothers’ and my sisters’ time, my nieces’ and my nephews’ time. How much time do you want for your ‘progress’?”
        That is a wise quote, but also an angry one.

        And when you talk about what “we all” would be best served by doing, as if they are in the same situation as you or I are right now, I feel protective of them. And, honestly, mad at you even though I think you are so great. Because I want this to be a site that they can come to – if they so chose – not as an echo chamber or a “safe space”, of course, but also not as a place where they feel invisible. Not a place where if they came to share their shock-and-grief-which-also-includes-anger-because-it’s-part-of-a-larger-context-of-racial-bs-they-put-up-with-on-a-daily-basis, they’d see us telling them they need to be more noble (too).

        I won’t keep pushing this – it’s not my intent to harass you and like I said, it’s my own desire to get people I care about to just stop being so angry that makes me so wary of other people’s requests along the same lines, so I will shut up after this comment – but I made a commitment to one of my students, about a year ago, to be more blunt and more upfront when I think my fellow white people are Not Getting It, and this is one of those times.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to Maribou says:

          You are very wise, Maribou.


          I am humbled to admit that one of my first reactions, upon hearing about this, was “Well, now THEY (police) understand how WE (black folks) feel – every day!! Goddamit!”. Then, of course, “This will not help. This will make things much worse for us.”

          But, that angry voice is still inside me saying the same thing, despite my reason.Report

          • Thank you, @john-howard-griffin – coming from someone of your general quality, that compliment means a lot.

            And thank you even more so for honestly sharing your complicated feelings. I appreciate that.Report

          • Kim in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

            Cops ain’t got much worse around here, after being ambushed by some white boy, I gotta say.
            Probably ain’t got much better, but still…Report

          • We all have that voice. What matters is whether it wins out over our other voices.Report

            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              I hope it is so, that we all have “better angels of our natures”.

              That voice in my head doesn’t want to believe that is true, because then I have to grapple with why we – as a country, a community – (continue to) allow some things to happen.Report

              • Kim in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                We all have better angels.
                We either throttle them in the cradle, or we throw ourselves into the fight — to bleed, to die. Not to win.

                A wise man once said, “Never Again.”

                It marks all our souls that he was wrong, and continues to be wrong — and that only killing can stop more killing, until the blood runs thick in the streets.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I don’t have much to add, but I think there’s some nuance to “wisdom does not co-exist nicely with anger” – there is wise anger. A person who is never angry is as unwise as a person who is always angry.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Maribou says:

      A+, Maribou.

      Being unable to walk down the street or drive your car without being murdered by government forces is a justified reason for anger. It’s necessary for it to inspire anger, because without anger there will not be any change.Report

  3. Michael Drew says:

    Castile was killed about three and a half miles due north of where I live and work in St. Paul, about an hour before I got off of work on Wednesday. It was pretty weird to start looking at what I had missed on Twitter (since I no longer work a job on which it is possible to keep up with the internet during a shift), and to slowly realize what it was and where it had happened.

    It actually happened just outside the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, which is a festival that holds an unusually large place in the hearts of Minnesotans compared to the way people of any other state I’ve gotten to know in my life relate to their state’s State Fair. It’s THE event of the summer – even for many, many people in the major metro wth little connection to the event’s agricultural roots. Needless to say, it’s every bit as big a deal across the state’s rural communities (though I imagine local festivals and county fairs very much rival it for attention).

    Last year there was a very committed, visible, but peaceful and respectful Black Lives Matter presence at the fair. You could sort of sense that some fairgoers were stifling feelings of “Could you just let us have our annual end-of-summer respite, and we’ll return to these issues in earnest Tuesday after Labor Day.” (Not literally that request, but just that type of attitude.) For every obvious reason, this was not a request BLM were willing to accede to.

    I am wondering if there is going to be quite as much restraint shown by everyone at the Fair this year. I am wondering if there even should be.

    To the actual problem, it’s becoming undeniably clear that we need a fundamental rethink of policing in this country. And it’s easy enough to think about it, I guess. I don’t know what the route is to implementing proposals for fundamental change that are the product of the rethink, though.Report

    • InMD in reply to Michael Drew says:

      There are police reform advocates out there within law enforcement. Radley Balko interviews/discusses some of them in his book. How we get there from here I think is the challenge. Law enforcement sees themselves (incorrectly in my opinion) as under siege. This episode will sadly only reinforce that view.Report

  4. Kazzy says:

    “…a drama that no one wants.”

    Sadly, I have to disagree with this. There is definitely a faction of our society which celebrates the killing of black and brown folks at the hands of the police. “The only good one is a dead one,” is not a mindset that has be eliminated from our collective consciousness. Whether this is a cause or a symptom of broader issues of systemic racism (my hunch: it’s probably both), it is real and not something we should ignore because of how unseemly it is.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

      I agree. The recent murders have been so brutal and unnecessary that even those reflexively inclined to support the cops have been askance but there are plenty of people who simply don’t care. They are going to side with the cops in nearly all instances as certain posters on this site have demonstrated.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


        I think we should be clear that there is a difference between those who are reflexively defensive of the cops but who would rather not see anyone lying dead in the street and those who want to see black people dead and particularly relish in it happening at the hands of the cops. I find the former group objectionable but at least capable of discussion and decency. The latter group — which is also likely much smaller — are monsters.Report

      • Lenoxus in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The recent murders have been so brutal and unnecessary that even those reflexively inclined to support the cops have been askance

        Also, so frequent. I have a feeling that if one of these recent ones had been, say, the first major post-Trayvon-Martin incident, the country would feel pretty divided and the cops in question would have lots of support. But the body count has increased to the point that denial is much harder.

        It seems like Eric Garner was the turning point; many conservatives were condemning his killing, and at the time, that condemnation was a political statement in the same way that it’s political for a conservative to decry Donald Trump. But now, I don’t get quite the same sense— it feels that when conservatives call these incidents an outrage or an excess, it’s more like calling a school shooting an outrage; politically neutral and “common sense”.

        Of course they still (mostly) don’t think it’s anything but bad apples, but my point is that they’re actually acknowledging that the apples are bad, rather than noble officers who made the optimal choice under difficult circumstances.

        Or… maybe the difference isn’t frequency, just documentation, which is what brought this decades-old (well, centuries-old) phenomenon to white people’s awareness in the first place.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        but there are plenty of people who simply don’t care.

        If by that you mean “plenty of people think the system is working as intended with their own privilege protecting them from such an outcome” I agree. But I have a hard time believing that people familiar with the instances and circumstances (iow, people who actually have the minimal requisite knowledge to have a view) simply don’t care.

        They are going to side with the cops in nearly all instances as certain posters on this site have demonstrated.

        I attribute that to two categories of people. One, Robust Partisan Conservatives who are more interested in opposing Liberals on this issue (Cleek’s Law) than presenting an honest view of police killings. And second, the above-the-fray, self-identified non-partisan libertarianish technocratic types who oppose liberals (and conservatives, too!) outa a reflexive meta-application of Cleeks Law: opposition to any expression of political advocacy whatsoever (regardless of substantive content!) on the premise that it’s a partisan expression.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

      I don’t think the question under debate is whether there are some people who are biased against the victims of police shootings. The question is whether every single moment is appropriate for complaining about them.

      If I jumped in after the Orlando shooting and said that we should be talking about how many straights had been killed that day, you’d think I was a horrible person, and you’d be right. My parish prayed for the victims of the Orlando shooting, living and dead, because that’s what decent people do. Anyone who complains about police conduct today isn’t decent.Report

      • Dave in reply to Pinky says:

        Pinky: Anyone who complains about police conduct today isn’t decent.

        Oh boy…Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Dave says:

          {{Biting … tongue…}}Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

            Unbitten, I will say this: it’s interesting to me how conservatives circumscribe the limits of acceptable debate in the aftermath of a massacre. Apparently the only acceptable response is to mourn and pray.Report

            • notme in reply to Stillwater says:

              Speaking of acceptable debate, I’m surprised that the left hasn’t used this to call for gun control. They usually try to milk any tragedy.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to notme says:

                Well, liberals don’t want to see gun control for cop killers. That’d make no sense. They hate cops. Even tho they’re agents of the national arm of the international police state. So they love em.

                It’s hard to keep it all straight.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to notme says:

                You might have missed it, but there has been a fair amount of discussion about moving to a more Peel-esque model of policing, which as a consequence would end up disarming the police at least to some extent(*).

                (*) I’m warming to the idea of eliminating the police issue sidearm. They’d still have a long arm in the car if things get dicey, but the situation starts out a step less escalated, and there’s zero risk of the situation escalating due to “he went for my gun”.Report

              • notme in reply to El Muneco says:

                I saw that. I’m not sure we could change our police model that substantially in this day and age. Peel sounds good but I don’t like the idea of cops having to run away from the criminals.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to notme says:

                I get that. And despite my bearishness on our current law enforcement system in general, I’m sympathetic to the actual people who are at risk.

                I think, though, that we should consider the calculus of engagement – we would be adding more risk for police going into situations that were inevitably dangerous, but potentially lowering the risk on situations that escalated when no one involved wanted that. And there are compromises like the one I mentioned where the officers have recourse to a weapon not necessarily at hand, but within potential reach, e.g. in the squad car.

                The question is: how many crims are dead set to confront the pigs vs. how many situations get out of control when everyone involved just wants to get home to their family?

                We don’t even know. And given a lot of institutional reluctance to any kind of outside governance, we won’t. But I believe – I have to believe – that the “get out of control” case is much, much, more common. And that a lot of the “confront” situations are known in advance, so we’re already sending in tactical teams, which is, given the situation, right and proper.

                Disarming the police might be the wrong move. Given the situation we have in this country, which is frankly pretty dire, it might increase the body count. But I strongly believe that, for our collective soul (heh, “Collective Soul“), we need to have that discussion.Report

              • notme in reply to El Muneco says:

                I think there are less drastic ways to change the the calculus of engagement, like better fire arms training and more training so that situations don’t end in weapons being drawn.

                It is one thing when cops go into a situation with reports of person having a weapon, i.e Shelton but another when a cop pulls someone over i.e. Castile. That latter makes me wonder what happened to get to the point where the officer drew his gun.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to notme says:

                This is reasonable. I’m not necessarily assuming my currently preferred conclusion. I do think it needs to be part of the discussion, though. The current system is that dysfunctional – any alternative needs to be on the table.

                And I think, from your comment, that we might be in agreement that building a stronger culture around (a) training in appropriate response to situations, and (b) acceptance, if not embracing, of technology to document encounters – would both be Good Things ™.

                No one – except for some unregenerates who are probably going to switch from Sanders to Trump anyway and are therefore beneath contempt ( 🙂 ) – wants police officers to be killed. We all now need to address a question of risk balancing, and I don’t know the answer – except that the one we currently have isn’t the right one.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:


        I think you missed my point. I’m not talking about police conduct. Burt said that NO ONE wants these dramas to happen. My argument is that some people do want Black men laying dead in the street at the hands of cops. Not cops, mind you… racist monsters who think they only good Black guy is a dead Black guy.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

          I should have addressed that more to Maribou, I guess. But still, this doesn’t seem like the time for the conversation you want to have.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:

            Maybe. But maybe not.

            When Black men and boys are lying dead in the street, pretty much every conversation is on the table. When cops are lying dead in the street, suddenly certain topics are off limits? Why?Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:


              While I agree that no conversation should be off-limits, I guess where I chaffe a little bit at your comments is this:

              “My argument is that some people do want Black men laying dead in the street at the hands of cops. Not cops, mind you… racist monsters who think they only good Black guy is a dead Black guy”

              I’m not saying I disagree with that statement, but you’re making an arguement we should talk about racist monsters right now? And the reason I am asking is that I don’t think there’s anything we can do about those people other A) Try to make sure they don’t turn their hate into action and B) Look forward to them dying off and hoping their kids are nicer people.

              I guess I don’t understand the inclination to focus on the worst of the worst, instead of talking about ways we might actually try to improve the country we live in.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                That’s fair, @mike-dwyer . I don’t really want to talk about them either. But I also don’t want to deny they exist as the OP initially implied before Burt qualified the statement.

                I want to talk about how we stop all this. And I think that means focusing on fractured relationship between police and citizens, particularly communities of color.

                And I want to voice my disgust and anger that ANY of these deaths occurred.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

              When black men are lying dead in the street, I’d expect a 24-hour moratorium on voicing anger against black men.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:

                Sadly, even the “non-angels” aren’t offered that.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

                “Sadly”? If you feel that way, then do it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:

                Dude… I’m not the one racing to villify the victims of police shootings. I can’t control what others say. I can simply register my disagreement.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

                The analogy was between those who voice anger against black people after a shooting of a black civilian and those who voice anger against police after the shooting of a police officer (or in this case, many). You’re complaining about police when the bodies in Dallas aren’t cold yet.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

                OK, sorry, again, you’re not complaining about police…it’s just a heck of a bad time to be complaining.Report

          • Don Zeko in reply to Pinky says:

            I’d be more inclined to agree of we hadn’t had two police shootings of extremely questionable legality in the past 72 hours. Both police misconduct and this horrific violence against police are fresh news right now.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:


            Since you specifically brought up my name, a few thoughts.

            I’m sorry if I made you feel like I didn’t give a shit about dead and wounded cops, just because I was still focused on my student workers and what they were going through in response to very vivid, very traumatic events that *also* just freaking happened.

            We lost one liaison-to-the-campus city police officer here in my town a year ago and it was devastating to the community. We’re still feeling the effects, and I know his fellow officers and our campus safety personnel were harder hit. I’m sure every death in Dallas was heartbreaking not just to the families, and to their colleagues, but also to the I-would-guess-hundreds of people who respected and appreciated these particular officers as they went about their jobs.

            It seems to me that the cops working the protest (protecting the protestors) in Dallas and the folks doing the protesting in Dallas were *on the same side*.

            And while I generally prefer not to talk about who I’m praying for (for religious reasons, funnily enough), if it helps you see that I’m a decent person, yes, I have prayed for these officers and their families, and I will continue to do so.

            My objection was to the idea that anger didn’t help people heal. I very much think it does. I also think that some of us (myself included, no idea if you are) are more insulated from these events than others, and are perhaps best served by not making blanket statements about how less-insulated folks should behave, based on what we ourselves think we should do.

            There’s plenty of room to be devastated and angry about all this stuff that happens – it’s not either/or. I wish any of it still shocked me, tbh, but there’s plenty of room for shock too.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

          Well, I did walk that back to “no one of good faith” in a comment.

          Pretty much by definition, someone willing to precipitate a race war or encourage violence as a means of effecting political change is not within the boundaries of good faith.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

        So, if (God forbid) another black man got killed by police under questionable circumstances, we’d have to stop talking about Dallas?Report

  5. Damon says:

    There’s been no reports that I’ve seen, mainly on NPR, that indicated the race of the shooters in Dallas. (Not like NPR would ever report on that.) What I’m wanting to know is:

    1) Some black folk finally decided to “take matters into their own hands”?
    2) Was this an action by someone(s) with a personal grudge against the Dallas cops? Like maybe brothers or family of a guy previously shot by the Dallas cops?
    3) This was an operation designed to increase the tenstion between the Dallas cops/black population / increase racial tensions in the city or in the US generally.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

      The photo they released of a potential suspect was of a young black man, though there was then doubt as to whether he was involved.Report

      • Damon in reply to Kazzy says:

        Yeah, I saw one pic of a “person of interest” that was updated as saying he wasn’t anymore or such.Report

        • notme in reply to Damon says:

          It seems as if it’s gone out of fashion to report on the race of suspects.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

            Well it should only be reported when relevant.Report

            • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

              “When relevant”

              Who decides what is relevant and when a piece of information is relevant?

              If a crime was committed and cops are looking for someone is race a relevant detail?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

                Yes. Do we know if the police have a description of suspects at large?

                Race is often relevant. But not always. We don’t know if it is relevant here yet.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

                Unless we’re defining the race of perpetrators as never relevant, which I’m willing to do (as opposed to the ideas in the head of perpetrators, which might be influenced by race), I’m struggling to conceive of how in this particular incident his race would not be relevant. If the race of criminals is ever relevant, here would have to be a place where it is.Report

              • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to notme says:

                I’d be really interested in what kinds of shoelaces suspects have: are they striped or plain? Round or flat? Inquiring minds…Report

              • notme in reply to Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

                Any additional piece of information that can be used to filter out or reduce the number of suspects is relevant.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to notme says:

      I don’t think it’s really all that much of an overreaction that someone walking around with a rifle near a place where a whole bunch of cops just got shot by some dude with a rifle was the subject of intense interest.

      And as soon as they realized it wasn’t him, they started saying so.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    I am on Kazzy’s side here. We are seeing a strong resurgence of old fashioned racism and anti-Semitism and other hatreds in the alt-right and Trump campaign. We have gone full circle around Lee Atwater’s famous observation and are now amazingly close to hit being okay for politicians to shout out “n***er” or they don’t back down from their supporters doing obviously bigoted things as we saw with Trump and his anti-Semitic supporters.

    Cops across the United States seem to be out of control and nothing, nothing seems able to reign them into any sense of decorum. The entire Oakland PD is seemingly tainted by a variety of scandals. There was the cop who killed his wife/fiancee and got his colleagues to cover it up as a suicide. When that cop committed suicide, it revealed a scandal of many cops rapping child who happened to be working as a sex worker for whatever reason instead of trying to get the girl help. 3 Police Commissioners resigned or were fired in a period of less than two weeks.

    Castile had a license to carry. He tried to show the police his license. He was hit four times and the NRA said nothing. The police decided to fire their guns when a four year old girl was in the car. A four year old girl. Did they think they could injure her? Was she seen as acceptable collateral damage? The police did nothing to help Castille but they did comfort their buddy and told him, you will get through this.

    The problem is that I think a lot of Americans like lawless cops as long as those cops are lawless against the bad guys. We discussed this a bit when talking about Luther. European cop shows tend to take proper procedure very seriously. American media depicts procedure as an obstacle that lets bad guys get away.

    So I don’t think now is a time for calm. Shielding should have been killed. Castille should not have been killed, and the cops in Dallas should not have been killed. But the cops and their supporters need to grow the fuck up and start behaving like responsible adults instead of above-the-law bullies and sadists.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      No one of good faith does.

      I’ll repeat what I said to Maribou before. I don’t make my best decisions when I’m mad. You probably don’t either.

      If you’re going to be mad, then be mad. Be aware you may not be making the best decisions at that point. That includes deciding what to repost or what names to call people or what kind of a political statement you might make.

      I get “These past three days have made me so upset I can’t be calm now, and it’s not even just these last three days.” That’s when you’re at a higher risk of doing something unwise. In my opinion there’s been too much anger and fear and not enough wisdom and calm lately. If you can’t get to “calm,” at least leave open the foundation for it to come later.Report

      • Dave in reply to Burt Likko says:


        I’m a bit of a sucker for @burt-likko ‘s diplomacy so take his advice. Seriously. Going in the direction you’re going with your comment won’t end well if someone takes it the wrong way and you leave plenty of opportunity for that to happen.

        I have family members that are cops. I have friends that are cops. They’re some of the nicest people I’ve met. As disgusted as I was with the police behavior I was equally mortified when I saw the news out of Dallas and fear for the lives of people I care about because of the actions of bad people.

        I guess in this world of “either-or”, that’s not supposed to happen.

        Look, I’m happy to have an adult conversation about this, but I’m not even going to remotely entertain one with someone that thinks that cops and their supporters (which apparently includes me) need to “grow the fuck up”. Too much emotion. Not worth the headache.

        I understand that you’re angry. So am I. However, for once, I can keep a lid on it (who knew!) so I’m not taking offense to anything you wrote although I know quite a few people that may.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @burt-likko @dave

        I’m not going to do anything. I have no idea what I can do. My reaction to all this is to generally wish for a cabin where I can surround myself with books and live a quiet life of the mind but I’m a white-enough guy. I just think the call to stay calm often allows the police to continue with really bad behavior. There is no explanation for the rotten to the core of what happened to the Oakland PD. I think Oakland’s mayor made the right decision. I think the governor of Minnesota did the right thing but it seems to me that we are living in angry days and I can’t blame people of color for being afraid for their lives every time they interact with a cop.

        What I wrote was more in sorrow than in anger but there was anger.

        Individuals are complicated and culture corrupts. I have interacted with the police when my apartment was burgled. They were nice and professional but was this because I am white-enough? I’ve also seen police immediately snap at a homeless and probably mentally ill person on the street who was in violation of sit-lie. The police officer started being nice and said “Hey, what’s up?” The homeless guy made a gesture like an upset 8 year-old telling a parent to go away. The police officer immediately escalted and got mad instead of taking two seconds to think that the guy was probably having an episode of mental illness.Report

        • Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:


          We’re good.

          I just think the call to stay calm often allows the police to continue with really bad behavior.

          My view is they’ll continue anyway until there are significant institutional-level changes. Then again, for all I know, it may not.

          As much as I appreciate social media’s role for bringing a lot of this to the front and center, I fear that it can do just as much to entrench pre-existing opinions.

          I don’t blame people of color. I know many and they deal with this stuff every day. One just told me he felt he was one bad answer away from being a statistic. It’s impossible for me to relate to that.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @burt-likko I guess where you and I have different experiences is that I have made some of my *best*, most self-preserving, throwing-off-a-lifetime-of-abuse decisions when mad.

        And that if not mad, I would not have had the strength to make those decisions.

        It certainly colors how I perceive other people’s anger, if I think they are also in a position of being abused (individually or by society).

        Anger can be (not always but can be) absolutely, life-savingly necessary.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to Maribou says:

          Anger can be (not always but can be) absolutely, life-savingly necessary.


          Perhaps, some people do not realize that anger can be armor, not only a weapon.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


        I also have a big concern on how calls for calm can be used for tone policing and to keep dissent down.

        Democracy is rarely Daniel Webster. It is often the bash.Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    Have they identified the shooters yet?

    Oh. I see they have.

    Well, the identities of the shooters aren’t important anyway, what is important is what I was going to talk about whether or not this shooting happened.Report

  8. Chip Daniels says:

    I do appreciate the post, and the calls for thoughtfulness.
    Its a good thing.

    What is disturbing to me, is that we have become so very good at this, at normalizing horrific carnage and murder.

    I notice also how in the discussions about guns, how often we are treated to lurid rhetoric about “2nd Amendment remedies”, “jackbooted government thugs”, “watering the tree of liberty” or about how citizens can carry arms so as to stand up to tyranny.

    What we have seen in the past few days is that all this glib talk about tyranny and liberty, when it comes down to it, means literally, to lie on an overpass pointing a rifle at BLM agents; it means hiding behind a pillar and killing policemen; it means that innocent people get brutalized and killed.

    The Bundys, the guys in Dallas- in their minds, these guys were freedom fighting patriots.

    This is why I object so strongly to this bizarre fantasy that an armed society is a polite society- as if we all walk around with an M-16 slung over our shoulder, politely tipping our hat and exchanging pleasantries. As if a gun is somehow a prop, a tool without purpose.

    All this killing and violence- this is what these tools were made to do. I am amazed anyone would find it surprising that with 300 million of these in circulation, that at least a few wouldn’t be used as intended.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Chip Daniels says:


      View the video I linked to below. I can’t find a way to normalize that. I think we can normalize it in the abstract. As we get more and more video of this carnage (not just in Dallas… everywhere), I think we’ll eventually have to confront it head on.

      We don’t want to be gratuitous, disrespecting the dead and injured. At the same time, a collage of 49 smiling selfies from Orlando resonates very differently than scenes of a blood soaked dance club strewn with bodies and bullet holes.Report

  9. Kazzy says:

    Jesus H Christ… this looks like a frickin’ movie, not 2016 America. What the hell? We… all of us… are better than this.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

      Some of the video shot from partway up one of the highrises was so, so eery, with the gunfire crackling and then echoing through the downtown canyons over essentially a still image of Dallas’ almost futuristic architecture, lit in purple and green. It was like the end of Fight Club with a different kind of calamity happening.Report

  10. LTL FTC says:

    Recall the news anchors during the Kennedy assassination, doing whatever they could to keep it all together and deliver the facts as they came (which was slowly).

    This morning, I read the headline about Dallas on my phone with one eye open from bed. Within ten minutes, I was deep in Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Right from bare bones facts before to the great unfiltered masses. Conspiracy theorists talking about false flags. People on right and left for whom performative outrage and anguish is a core part of their Personal Brand(TM). Angry daughters of cops. People who weren’t there, but filled in all the blanks with the most politically advantageous assumptions. Memes.

    Could I have stuck to the mainstream professional news sources, all of whom had the same limited information? Yes. But it’s hard to have that kind of discipline when a story is breaking and demand for information to process is greater than the amount of reliable facts to read or watch. So here we are, consuming 10% facts and 90% commentary right off the bat, and have we gained anything from it as news consumers? That’s hard to say.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LTL FTC says:

      One of the points that I saw made was that CNN and Fox seem so glacial in the age of twitter.

      The guy who was open carrying had been exonerated on twitter while CNN and Fox were still talking about him being a person of interest.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to LTL FTC says:

      Bad initial reporting I imagine was common enough during the wall to wall coverage of the Kennedy assassination – it certainly was during 9/11, when social media as such didn’t exist and blogs were in their infancy.

      The cottage industry of conspiracy theorist from both these events get a lot of their yarns from the uneven initial reporting.Report

  11. Will Truman says:

    We just had a 150+ comment linkage on police shootings. I don’t think we’re exactly afraid to talk about police violence, nor are we inclined to dance around the subject. I don’t believe Burt is telling us not to. Nor do I think he is telling people not to express anger.

    The new item since then (though it was introduced towards the end) was the shooting in Dallas. Burt’s post can just as easily be taken to mean “Let’s not go and blame BLM for what happened here” as it can mean “Let’s watch it on the talk of police violence.”

    We’re not afraid to talk about police violence. Even angrilyReport

  12. Will Truman says:

    For what it’s worth, the discussion on Twitter today has been a lot better than I’d imagined. I’m seeing a lot of anger over the falsely accused fellow, but no argument there. I was expecting it to be extremely bad. Instead from the right I’m seeing a lot of continued defenses of BLM and arguments that this shouldn’t and doesn’t negate the issue that they’re raising, and nothing yet about gun control opponents wanting to arm terrorists and I am seeing a lot of compliments of the Dallas Police Department (with the exception of the aforementioned). Some of the bad stuff is going to come, obviously, but the worst part is being mitigated, and perhaps it’ll come out when we’re more in a place to discuss it.

    I consider this a good thing.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

      Ready to have your mind blown? Here’s what Redstate’s Leon Wolf had to say. (Full disclosure, I was banned from Redstate, blah blah blah.)

      Edit: Here’s the best paragraph:

      And here is the important point and the point I have been trying to make with this excessively wordy post. The most important safety valve to prevent violence like we saw in Dallas last night is the belief that when officers do go off the rails, the legal system will punish them accordingly. If minority communities (and everyone else, for that matter) believed that, resort to reprisal killings would be either non existent or far less frequent.


  13. Chris says:

    Violence should always make us angry.Report

  14. John Howard Griffin says:

    I am reluctant to add this to the discussion, but I’ve been thinking about it all morning.


    According to what I have read about the events, and listening to the Dallas Chief of Police, it sounds like the Dallas Police used their bomb robot to carry a bomb (assume it was made by Dallas Police) to kill the suspect after several hours of negotiations.

    I have never heard of police killing a suspect via bomb before.

    Am I crazy to think this is a ridiculous escalation of the tools that police are now starting to use?Report

    • I’m not that worried about the escalation in this particular case. That might be anger speaking. But either way I am worried about what this portends in the future for other cases.Report

    • Kim in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      If the suspect had guns and was acting unstable (as a criminal psychologist measure it, not the police on duty), then yeah, I don’t mind using a bomb. It’s the same as a sharpshooter, just requires less line-of-sight.

      You go after someone who isn’t a threat, who isn’t doing anything more than being stubborn and entrenched? then we got a problem, indeed.Report

    • No, I think that’s worth discussion. The robot might be considered a tool in the same way a gun is a tool and we have vocabulary and rubrics available to evaluate whether the use of a gun is appropriate or not. (Should we wish to use them.) Of course, a robot with a bomb on it is a different kind of tool than a gun; it does different things and the analogy is highly inexact.

      The robot thing seems likely to be something about the Dallas PD that I wind up criticizing: was it really necessary to do that? Was there really no way the suspect could not have been apprehended and arrested?

      Other than this, I’m hard-pressed to find anything that Dallas PD did that is less than exemplary. Of course, taking my own advice, that’s with a caveat that it’s still early in the reporting phase so we don’t and can’t know everything that happened. Maybe I’ll retract those concerns if I learn more about why they did that, or if I learn that those reports aren’t true, or are only incompletely true.Report

    • Chris in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      There is the MOVE bombing, but I don’t know of any other incidents since.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        Just read up on the MOVE bombing and now I feel even worse.Report

        • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

          I cannot believe it’s not a more widely discussed aspect of 20th century history. I mean, the police bombed a residential building, which ultimately caused more than 60 other residential buildings to burn down. It’s insanity, and I don’t recall hearing about it at all in a history class.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      I had similar thoughts until I read he injured two more people during the standoff. If he still posed an active and ongoing threat, taking greater steps was probably justified.

      If he was no longer a threat, this strike me as the cops playing judge:jury:executioner.

      And while we should discuss the legitimacy of bomb-gifting robots (WTF?), I sincerely hope it’s the former situation.Report

    • Okay, I’ve been thinking about the bomb.

      This strikes me as similar to the torture arguments we have about shows like 24.

      The idea that made the most sense to me was that it should, of course, be illegal and whomever engages in it should be taken to trial and given the opportunity to make an affirmative defense.

      Same here. I don’t like the bomb… but I think that if it were taken to court and the cops made an affirmative defense, they’d win the case.

      But I’d kind of prefer that cost be imposed lest we use a bomb again next week during a routine traffic stop.Report

      • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

        I am more frightened that the only response (here) is qualified concern about the use of a bomb, than I am about the bomb having been used.

        I feel like I’m taking crazy pills…

        The police used a bomb to kill someone. Probably a US Citizen. The police. The POLICE IN TEXAS. Not the band, the guys that libertarians are always carefully concerned about.

        They created an IED and used it on American soil against an American.

        We’re accepting this now as normal?


        • It is as normal as the use of military tactics to attack police.

          Remember what you said up top?

          “This will not help. This will make things much worse for us.”

          Here we are. On the other side of a situation where a bomb made things oh-so-much better than they would have been without it. In the space of 20 minutes, we went from “NEVER” to “golly! I’m glad they had that handy!”Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

            I wrote in the OP that it’s sometimes important to gather a sufficient amount of information before passing judgment. I think this is one of those times we ought to be wary that we lack sufficient information to understand why that decision was made.

            That’s not to say that when more information about that becomes known, the decision to use a robot bomb is going to be one I feel good about, or am willing to bless. I may well condemn it. But I don’t feel confident opining at all yet. If there are more facts here that you can share, that will help.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

              I know nothing more than what you know.

              The dude was cornered, injured two more people during the standoff, then the robot defused the situation by using a bomb. (The cops should probably say something like “controlled localized kinetic expansion device” or something similar rather than bomb, of course.)

              (Look for questions like “would it have been better if a police officer shot him to end the standoff?” and we’ll be tempted to go down the rabbit hole of “what if a police officer hit him with a bowling pin? Would it be okay if the police drowned him?” and focus on the whole “killing a guy is killing a guy” issue rather than the whole “militarization of police” thing.)

              But, at the end of the day, this was a horrible situation that was brought to a close by a bomb and, as such, the important information is already out there.

              Here’s the argument as I see it playing out:

              There was no way to end this peacefully.
              It was demonstrated that he would attack people who would get close enough to shoot.
              The situation was resolved by a controlled localized kinetic expansion device.
              In the absence of being able to end the incident peacefully and in the absence of being able to get close enough to shoot the guy, the police had to choose between not resolving the situation quickly and resolving the situation quickly by using a controlled localized kinetic expansion device.
              It was more important, in the moment, to resolve the situation quickly than to not set a precedent with a freaking bomb.
              Therefore the use of a controlled localized kinetic expansion device was okey-dokey and the precedent has been set.

              It’ll only be around this time in 2018 or so that we’ll be saying “Golly! Who could have seen this crap coming, am I right?”Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                defused the situation by using a bomb

                That can’t be right.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

                First of all, your use of the phrase “controlled localized kinetic expansion device” betrays a skeptical opinion about the argument. (One which I’d share if such a wad of sanitized jargon were actually deployed with purported sobriety).

                Second, I question the major premise of this argument. Who says he couldn’t have been taken? He has to sleep, eat, drink water at some point. Presumably there was no hostage and he was in a confined space. So was the time saved with a bomb as opposed to waiting for him to run out of clif bars worth killing him?

                I guess the real question is whether affording him due process before judicially killing him, as opposed to skipping to the last chapter now, was what they were thinking. By that matrix, the choice of weapon may well have seemed irrelevant.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Who says he couldn’t have been taken? He has to sleep, eat, drink water at some point.

                I don’t see this argument making a lot of headway, to be honest.

                Here’s an article that says:

                He had told officers that “the end is coming”, that he intended to kill more police, and that there were bombs “all over downtown Dallas”.

                Of course, the article might be lying about this, the police might be lying about this, but let’s assume that the article, and the police, were telling the truth about the shooter saying this. (Though we know that, if the shooter did say this, he was lying.)

                Given the shooter saying this, do you think that the argument that the police could have waited for the shooter to fall asleep or get thirsty will really gain a foothold?

                We’re not talking about a Christopher Dorner situation where they find him in a cabin somewhere. The guy had just completed a fairly successful attack on police and I’m not certain that the argument that the cops should have known that he was bluffing and was, at that point, trying to commit suicide by cop is an argument is one that will resonate with folks.

                I could, of course, be wrong… but I honestly think that such an argument would be waved away.

                So was the time saved with a bomb as opposed to waiting for him to run out of clif bars worth killing him?

                I’m not sure that the argument that waiting’s only cost was whether the shooters clif bars will be gone by the time we get to him is one that will take off.

                Stranger things have happened, of course.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

                Fair enough. Maybe, in that moment, the threat of bombs was credible enough that it was mandatory to take him seriously. Of course, he could have claimed to have had a deadman switch or something too. But let’s run with that.

                If you can rig up a bomb on a robot, you can rig up a tear gas grenade too.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                There are many things he could have claimed. I’m assuming that what the police said he claimed maps fairly closely to what he claimed.

                Of course, you and I know that we can’t take that for a given. That said, I think that the official narrative will end up taking that for a given.

                So what are the risks for the robot taking tear gas in there?

                I’d like to see the measurements for how those risks stack up against the risks of killing him with a bomb.

                (Hrm. I’m wondering if the official narrative will change to “we were hoping to stun him with the blast, but we also knew that there was a risk that he would die.”)Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                I can’t figure out what you’re arguing in this subthread Jaybird. Do you want people to join you in condemning the use of Robombics to kill Americans?

                I’ll join you: I condemn the use of copbots to kill US Americans.

                Now where are we?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Where are we? I’m arguing that the use of explosives against American citizens has just been normalized.

                If you’d like me to talk about how I feel about that, I will: I feel bad about that.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ahh, OK. So do you still want me to condemn it or are we beyond that?

                (I take if from your answer that you don’t really care whether I condemn it since we’re beyond that.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                We’re waaaaaay past that.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, if no constructive changes that can be made (since nothing can be done!), then it seems to me you actually ARE expressing your emotions about it. And nothing else, in fact.

                Well, perhaps you’re trying to get people to share your emotions…Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                What do you suggest be done?

                The best that I can suggest is that the officers be taken to trial and be allowed an affirmative defense. I said that back here, I believe.

                I don’t think we’re even going to get that much, though.

                But I begin to repeat myself.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t think we go that far. What we do is discuss the use of bomb robots in police procedure. Like we do with other kinds of lethal force and new(ish) technology.

                The argument, I think, revolves around “how lethal do we want our robots to be?” rather than “do we want to use robots as tools to confront criminals?” Of course we are going to use robots. What kind, how, and how armed. “If” is a foregone conclusion and has been for at least ten years.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                It’ll be like drones in the military.

                What were some of the best arguments against Bush’s Folly?

                Pictures of coffins. Articles about “grim milestones”. The absolute moral authority of Cindy Sheehan.

                When it comes to our use of drones? How has the argument about drones played out in practice over the last decade?

                We’ll see similar when it comes to drones in the war on crime. All we have to show is a dead police officer and then explain why we had to use a drone and we’ll see a handful of grimaces and then nods.

                This kinetic event gave us five.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jaybird, once again I have no idea what you’re arguing in this subthread. All you’re effectively doing is lamenting X, Y and Z. And I gotta be honest, I don’t know what you think you’re accomplishing by all that gnashing of teeth other than emoting in a public forum. If you care about this issue, then it seems to me you’re confronted with a tremendously uncomfortable dilemma: either engage the political process and try to SHAPE government more to your liking OR submit to the Authoritarian Regime and wait till you’re not the only one outside with a gun (yay second amendment solutions!!!).

                I say it’s uncomfortable because your inherent repulsion to government prevents you from accepting anything other than the second (amendment) solution.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I can’t change anything. I can just see a handful of variants of how it’s likely to play out, at the end of the day.


                Maybe I’ll be wrong. That’d be sweeet.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well given that the current situation is worse then the Civil War, Great Depression, WW2, the Cold War, the tumult of the 60’s and the 70’s and probably all of them put together its time to start hoarding twinkies.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Oh, we’re allowed to tell people “grow up, it’s not as bad as your grandparents had it?” now?

                Good to know.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Nice spin. However you always think everything is going to end in tears. That seems more just a personal tendency then anything else. And the world and most in it continues to continue for better or worse. The safe bet is that it will keep doing so without a cataclysm.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Jaybird says:

                The use of explosives by police against US citizens has been normalized for years. Ask Rickia Russell. Ask “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh. Flashbang grenades are (like tasers) not intended to be lethal. They are (like tasers) not always non-lethal.

                This just ups the ante. But the use of military tactics and equipment is not just commonplace, in situations like these it’s expected.Report

              • Ask MOVE about being bombed.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                Re: “Christopher Dorner situation”

                What if the police that totally shot the snot out of car that they thought was Dorner’s, but was the wrong make, and wrong color, and contained not Dorner but two hispanic women delivering newspapers – what if they used a bomb robot instead?Report

          • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

            It is as normal as the use of military tactics to attack police.

            One of these things is not like the other. By an order of magnitude.

            I am definitely taking crazy pills…

            Here we are. On the other side of a situation where a bomb made things oh-so-much better than they would have been without it. In the space of 20 minutes, we went from “NEVER” to “golly! I’m glad they had that handy!”

            But, I don’t think the bomb made things oh-so-much better. But, I didn’t say “NEVER”. But, i definitely didn’t say “golly! I’m glad they had that handy!”

            I guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue…

            I am very, very confused.


            Facts as I see it:
            The killings will make things worse, in many ways. Possibly it will bring people together too, which is good.

            I have anger about all of this.

            I think the police using a bomb is orders of magnitude more dangerous than military tactics to attack police.

            Military tactics to attack police (or other occupying forces) is ancient – measured in millenia.

            Using bombs to kill American suspects is not ancient – it is measured in hours (yeah, helicopter bombs are an order of magnitude beyond even this, and I thought we already learned that lesson).

            These things are not the same. Using bombs against Americans is not normal.


            (takes 2 more crazy pills. drops mic. walks offstage.)Report

            • I’m not saying that they’re similar in kind, I’m saying that they’re similar in rareness.

              This was an extraordinary situation, resolved by an extraordinary device. Every time that someone will bring up how extraordinary the device was, look for it to be pointed out how extraordinary the situation was.

              But, I don’t think the bomb made things oh-so-much better. But, I didn’t say “NEVER”. But, i definitely didn’t say “golly! I’m glad they had that handy!”

              Well, let’s go back to two days ago. We have this police shooting. We have that police shooting. Imagine someone posing the question “should we give the police robots that have bombs?”

              It is not difficult for me, at all, to imagine a collective snort of outrage and responses that range from “Of course not!” to “Nobody is suggesting we give bombs to cops, that’s a risible question in the first place!”

              But now… here we are. You might not be saying “golly! I’m glad they had that handy!” but look out there. How many people aren’t even *QUESTIONING* the bomb? How many more are resorting to “does it matter how the police stopped the guy?”

              The “how much power do we want to give the cops?” question has completely and totally been defused.

              We want the police to be able to do their jobs and to protect us. As a society.

              I think the police using a bomb is orders of magnitude more dangerous than military tactics to attack police.

              Dangerous to whom?

              Military tactics to attack police (or other occupying forces) is ancient – measured in millenia.

              We honestly haven’t seen it that much here in the US, as far as I can tell. The events yesterday felt like something new.

              These things are not the same. Using bombs against Americans is not normal.

              It’s normal now.

              And all it took was one guy.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                If one of the cops had gotten a wild look in his eye and said “I know!”, and an hour later had constructed an ICD (improvised cybernetic device), then I’d agree this is a case of an extraordinary situation requiring extraordinary measures. But they already had the robot; they were just waiting for a chance to use it.Report

              • Ah, it was a bomb disposal robot, so using it for bomb delivery might indeed have been improvised.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Well, when you really think about it… a Bomb Robot is really just a Land Drone; and we’ve already established that we can use Drones to kill Americans as long as they are on the list (TM).

                Perhaps he was on the list? Perhaps he was quickly added to the list?

                How would we know?Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                Simply put…

                No, yesterday was not extraordinary.

                The bank robbery in North Hollywood in ’97 ( and the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002 ( are just two that come to mind immediately. What about that Oklahoma City event? Does the KKK count? The Civil War is off limits, I suppose. This kind of thing (military tactics against those you don’t like or agree with) is baked in the DNA of America. (Strangely, I banked at that North Hollywood branch, for a short time, that was attacked.)

                Dangerous to whom?

                Everyone. I am speechless that I have to answer this to you.Report

              • See, from here, this felt like a suicide attack which put it in the same category as some forms of Palestinian terrorism.

                The bank robbery was a very well-armed crime.

                The beltway sniper, which is an interesting example, was a guy who wanted to engage in terrorism sustainably.

                Oklahoma City was terrorism but whats-his-name didn’t stick around with the bomb.

                The KKK was citizen against citizen.

                This was a case of a suicide shooter who was using military tactics to go directly to war against police officers. Not rob a bank, not cause some indirect terror… but kill police officers.

                That feels new.

                Or it’s something that went to sleep since Tombstone.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Suicide who was using military tactics to go directly to war against police officers”.










                That’s just the easy stuff from the last 6 years. I think you are not remembering a lot of stuff that has happened. This is not new.


                The KKK was citizen against citizen.

                !?! It was home-grown terrorism, of the finest American kind.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                We don’t recognize paramilitary violence in America because the perpetrators look like “us”, the dominant majority.

                They speak the language and vocabulary that resonates positively for “us”;
                “Citizens”, “Constitution”, “Liberty”; they drape themselves in imagery of our sacred founders and texts, right down to the tricorner hats.

                They don’t speak in the language of European Marxism or “proletariat”, “bourgeoisie”, they don’t adopt Afro-centric poses and garb.

                So when the Bundys or other militia groups commit open treason upon the federal government, they are treated like well-meaning protestors who are getting a little out of hand.
                Even the KKK is treated as some sort of gross violation of good manners rather than a terrorist organization.

                We recognize terror groups in foreign lands- the Red Brigades, the IRA, FARC, Shining Path…we get those guys, we grasp how domestic terror groups can destroy a society from within.

                Its hard for Americans to wrap their head around the concept of treason and insurrection when the people doing it look like us.Report

              • Well, one thing that is now clear is that there wasn’t the one shooter plus the other three people involved with the attack and were in custody (right? Did that change? I thought that when we went to bed last night that there were still three shooters in custody). As such, this was one guy engaging in an act rather than a group of guys doing so. A squad, if you will.

                So my take on that was based on this being a squad rather than a lone gunman.

                If it was a squad with snipers and assault troops, this would have put it in a different category than drivebys and gang-violence level ambushes but bumped it up to somewhere around “armed insurrection” which, still, feels new and different than terrorism (not-representative-of-Islam or otherwise).

                I’m not trying to minimize the KKK’s home-grown terrorism to say that it was citizen against citizen (and, indeed, many times it involved off-duty government officials). I’m merely trying to distinguish it from a fairly disciplined attack on government institutions.

                Do you want me to go through each example you gave? I can, if you want.

                But none of those feel like the start of a civil war.

                From here, anyway.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                There was an old line that I used to find funny (and no longer do).

                How do you know it’s time for the revolution?

                Go outside with your gun. Are you the only one outside with your gun? Then go back inside. It’s not time yet.

                This event felt like people going outside and not being the only one there.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                This event felt like people going outside and not being the only one there.

                Fair enough.

                I am often afraid of the…gun lovers…who insist on carrying their large AR-15 (and the like) death-penises around in public – open-carry-and-all-that. I feel like they are looking for enough others being out there with them in the same way. Tea bags on their hats and working to make America great again.

                And over 90% of them are white.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                I hear you that you feel that this episode was different. I understand that you thought it was a squad.

                I see it as the next step in a long line stretching all the way back to the first American Revolution and before. I always think these things are lone crazies. Maybe two crazies, but unlikely. History is on my side in this.

                No need to respond to all links, I was just challenging your “this is entirely new” bit.


                But none of those feel like the start of a civil war.

                So, can we count the actual Civil War as an example of “armed insurrection” against agents of the government of the United States? Maybe it’s too long ago to count?

                You keep saying this is new and I keep seeing this as the same thing happening again and again in our history. Hence, my crazy pills. I don’t think we’re going to arrive at the same place – or even the same zip code – on this.


                This seems but a vague reflection of 1968 to me. It could be much worse than it is.Report

              • 1968 happened a few years before I was born so I’m wondering how many people out there actually remember 1968. Like really remember it. You’d have to be… 10? So that’s born in 1958 or earlier which would put these people at age 58 or older.

                According to this, looks like 50 million people.

                Probably distributed fairly evenly, all things considered.

                We’ll see what happens at the convention.

                I will say that ’68 had much, much better music.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Tigers’ Denny McClain won 30 games (last guy ever, and with the 5-man rotation, that’ll probably stick) and they beat the Cards in the World Series. One of the Tiger’s best position players was a black guy named (and I am not making this up) Willie Horton.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Speaking of the Cardinals – a 1.12 ERA? How sick is that? Only season under 1.50 in the Live Ball Era…

                On the other hand, the music. Oy vey. Some good stuff, sure, but lost in a sea of proto-prog-rock self-indulgence, folk-inspired navel-gazing, LSD-fueled pseudo-profundity, and other hyphenated things I’m forgetting.Report

              • The White Album had a fair amount of dreck, but the good stuff would still have filled a single disc to bursting. Beggars Banquet was a welcome return to form. The Kinks released Village Green Preservation Society. Also Wheels of Fire, Electric Ladyland, Bookends, Music From Big Pink, etc. ’67 might have been better overall (for one thing, it saw albums from Dylan and the Who), but ’68 was all right.

                And as you mention, definitely the year of the pitcher. Yaz won the batting title hitting .301 (lowest ever).Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I’d be happy to say that we could compare entire environments and do a comparison between ’66-’68 and ’14-’16.

                Much better music.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to El Muneco says:

                sea of proto-prog-rock self-indulgence, folk-inspired navel-gazing, LSD-fueled pseudo-profundity, and other hyphenated things I’m forgetting

                Don’t forget to come up with hyphens for 2016 before dismissing the comparison.

                I suppose it’s easy to say that 2016 wins because in 2016 we have 1968-2015 while in 1968 they only had 1968…

                But that doesn’t seem right, does it?Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m with you on the music that’s for sure.Report

              • dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird, Ah 1968. Except for the bad times it was by far the best party ever.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                Comment is awaiting moderation. Too many links.


                I am not an animal! I am a human being!Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

          Aside from the practical concern of the potential injury to innocent bystanders, I don’t see how this is more self-evidently horrifying than if a sniper had shot him.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      A little call-back:

      I do think we’re headed in that direction, though not quite to the level of AI autonomy I was envisioning there. People in power will want to hold onto control. And of course, as long as they do, robots will remain really just more and more powerful tools empowering the ineradicable biases of humans who hold the power of the state.Report

  15. Mike Dwyer says:

    I posed this question yesterday on FB, but we have a lot of smart techie people here so maybe you can help me understand this…

    Today I can use my cell phone to interface with a vending machine and buy a soda. My car insurance card is also now on my phone and my understanding is that it should be accepted by a police officer if pulled over. So, my question is, would it be possible using today’s technology to create an app/chip/widget imbedded on a card we carry in our pocket or on our phone, which a police officer could scan for and review from his patrol car? That device would contain the following info:

    – Driver’s license
    – Car registration
    – Insurance info

    The cop then reviews the info and he now knows more about us before he approaches the car. he knows they have a CDW and might be carrying. He knows they have warrants. He knows this car is registered to them. Etc. He can then plan his interaction a little better.

    Obviously there are holes in this plan. The device could be pirated. Privacy issues. Profiling done before the cop ever says hello. Etc. But maybe this is the start of an idea? Help me out with this one folks.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I don’t think you could make it dependent on a phone because many people still don’t own smart phones and we shouldn’t make that a prerequisite to drive. So you’d have to go the card route. And it would likely cost alot more than a license so we’d have to figure out how to defray costs for low-income folks.

      Part of me thinks that proper safeguards could make this a viable step in the right direction.

      But part of me still thinks, “Jesus, is this what it has come to? We all have to become quasi-cyborgs because of some ill-trained cops?”Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

        What I also mentioned last night is that I remember my grandfather telling me that in the 70s he looked into ordering clipboards made of bullet-prood material for his officers to carry. The logic was that it might help protect them as they approached a car. So fears for officers’ safety in traffic stops is not a new concern…

        With that said, many of us are issued ID badges at our jobs that have to be scanned to enter certain rooms or facilities. They can’t cost that much…right?Report

      • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

        @mike-dwyer As an information professional, I find it a terrifying idea for civil liberties reasons, a problematic idea for identity theft reasons, and I don’t think it would help.

        Because I think cops who wouldn’t do this kind of thing (ie the vast, vast majority of cops) still *will not do this kind of thing* whether they have such info or not… and the ones who will, will be just as inclined to react / interpret a record irrationally as they are to interpret body language irrationally. If the ones who will can change, it will be a cultural and training change (as in, to some degree, Las Vegas), not an information change.

        I know so many people who are not primarily read/write people, and I think those of us who primarily exist in a read/write culture (eg academia, or tech, or white-collar business) often get caught up in the idea that providing more or clearer information in the moment is a good plan – without realizing that for many people it really changes nothing.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:

          My thought here was that it seems like a fair number of shootings come from, “I was just reaching for my ID / registration.” It seems like the card/widget would solve that problem.

          Baby steps…Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Pssst. Hey buddy. Wanna buy a black market ID/Registration reader? We lifted this off of Officer McGillicuty when he wasn’t looking.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

              So…what’s protecting the credit card info people are storing in Google Wallet?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                But, with Google Wallet, we’re back to “Let me just get my phone, Officer.”Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                So, is there a way for the phone to provide the info to the cop without me touching it? Like (and please keep in mind I am not a tech expert) the cop has some device which can push past my security features and to ONLY access the ‘police data’ chip/app?Report

              • Autolukos in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Police are already using devices in dubiously legal ways to surreptitiously connect to cell phones; why should we trust them with an expansion of this sort of surveillance?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                How would we make it so that only the cop could do it, though?

                If it’s a device that a cop can use, it’s a device that a non-cop can use.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                Here’s where I land on that…The cop at my window is the only person allowed to use colored lights to make me pull my car over and basically obey him until he decides I can leave. He’s also the only one that can legally hand-cuff me for not doing so, confine me, etc. So the suggestion I am making about a way to eliminate the ‘show me your license’ thing assumes I’d rather trust them with that responsibility than get killed.

                As for security, we put a man on the moon. Let’s figure it out.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I am a technical person. Have been for 30 years, professionally. I’ll put this bluntly – Security is an illusion. It does not exist. It is a fairy tale we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night. Every technical thing is hackable, its security breakable. This is why I fear the coming Internet Of Things. Everything will become hackable.

                Consider that the NSA was hacked – from the inside, certainly – but hacked, nonetheless.

                I argue there is no greater technical security on the planet than the NSA and its security was broken.


                Man on the moon is an exponential number of orders of magnitude easier than real technical security.Report

              • So if security is an illusion, aren’t arguments about security for a police chip/app moot? Not to mention, someone can break into my car and get 66% of the info (insurance and registration) anytime they want.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “police chip/app”. My apologies.

                Given the tone of your response, my guess is that you mean “body cams”, but I’m not sure. Again, my apologies.

                Yes, there would definitely be security issues with body cams. To put it as Jaybird would, “Hey Officer McGuillicutty, wanna buy the special code to delete video you don’t want on your body cam?”. Agreed, that would become a problem.

                The difference, I think, is that there is evidence from studies (I’m lazy and not going to find them at the moment) that shows that not only do humans behave differently when they know they are being watched (which must be the source of the father figure always watching from the sky-and-judging-you-business…) you behave better (maybe “better” is better?). Even if it isn’t being recorded, there is something about it that changes behavior. Even if you thought you could delete it later, there is still a measurable effect that pushes you in a positive direction (again, maybe “positive” needs to be like this, because we aren’t defining the semantics of this…”).

                But, yeah, they would be hackable. It’s a problem. But, they have cars, bikes, radios. These videos could be streamed to a server. Still hackable, but more difficult.

                This is how Security works. We make it a pain in the ass. Ridiculously so. And vigilant. Ever vigilant. And we change things up, to keep them guessing. But, there are limits, you are correct.

                Still, I think there are enough benefits, and its fairly (“fairly”) easy to implement, with measurable results. Not a lot, but like you said…baby steps.Report

              • @john-howard-griffin

                Read my first comment above. I’m talking something we would carry, either on our phone or a card, which police can scan to get all of the details about us, thus eliminating the need for people to hand them documents during a traffic stop or other situation.

                What I am hearing from everyone is that they are more concerned with the potential security breach of their information than the safety it provides by not having to do that anymore. I don’t buy that logic, but I’m also pretty far from being an ACLU guy.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Ah, yes. My apologies again, for not understanding. Thanks for the clarification.

                I understand. Is it a bigger problem to be killed accidentally reaching for the documents, or is it a bigger problem that a technical solution might be hacked, kind of like identity-theft, which everyone kind of understands.

                Ok, that’s a fair argument. I think the short answer is numbers. The number of people potentially saved by the new technology would be measured as a fairly (“fairly”) low number – let’s say single-digit thousands in the U.S.

                The potential for abuse of this information in nefarious, yet undefined, ways could possibly be measured in the millions – perhaps the entire (or “nearly”) country that had these cards.

                What would the damage be to these people? What impact to the economy? The security and power of the country on the global stage? Lots more questions.

                I think this is the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, which is a cornerstone of security. You try to save as many as you can, you protect as much as you can. But, you know there will be losses. This is why there are actuaries, I think.

                Yes, it’s a judgement call. And, it’s surprising that the technical Me is taking the side of the many over the black Me taking the side of the people who would be saved in greater percentage that have the same skin color as me. I’m not sure what that says about me.


                So, here we are. Mr. Dwyer arguing for the technology that saves more black lives, and me arguing against it. Such a strange place this place is.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m not talking about morality or ethics here. I’m talking about engineering.

                It’s like saying “let’s make a gun that only police officers can use”.

                If a police officer can pull the trigger, then a non-police officer can pull the trigger.

                Sure, there are guns that have things like “they don’t work unless you’re wearing a particular ring” and, sure, we could do something like that for the ID Checker device but… “Hey buddy. Wanna buy an ID Checker and its associated security device? We got it off of Officer McGillicuty.”

                Plus there’s the issue of too much security becoming zero security if and when the police officer decides “you know, it’s too much trouble to use the ID Checker when I can just ask the guy for his wallet.”

                Easier to make all cops wear body cams.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m not opposed to body cams either…however there are all kinds of reports of officers taking them off or tampering with them. Plus, I think the cams are good for people getting their civil liberties abused, etc but in these shooting situations I don’t know if they are enforcing better behavior.Report

              • Autolukos in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Cool, so let’s start sanctioning officers who tamper with their cameras (dash cams have similar problems to body cams in my understanding) and see where that takes us.

                The idea that there is a technical solution (whether that is body cams or some remote ID checking device) to institutional problems is seductive and wrong. When cops are held to a higher standard of behavior, their behavior will improve regardless of the technology available; as long as bad behavior is excused or even celebrated, bad behavior will continue.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Autolukos says:

                In my business (Quality, six Sigma, etc) I’m looking for any corrective actions that will affect the end result. So, yes, this is incremental…but no one has persuaded me the cons outweigh someone being shot while trying to produce their CDW.Report

              • Autolukos in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Lots of other opportunities to see a “furtive motion” during a traffic stop, and if you know you aren’t going to be held accountable for your actions, why not be aggressive about those?Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Autolukos says:

                I’d go even further. If you’re in a jurisdiction with body cameras, events while the camera were off never happened. The cop didn’t take a crap. The cop didn’t spend 15 extra minutes having donuts with the radio turned off. And the arrests the cop made are just as unreal.

                Sure, a few bad guys will get away due to technical glitches. But that’s an incentive to make the technology even better – and a spur to innovation among American industries!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Sure. But on an engineering level, how would you make a gun that only police officers could shoot?

                Because I can’t think of one and that’s what’s keeping me from figuring out how to make an ID Checker that only cops could use.Report

              • My understanding — possibly flawed — is that neither Google nor Apple actually store any credit card information in the device. Both services do a two-part authentication. In the first step, the device identifies the person holding it to the device’s satisfaction (Apple’s going to fingerprints a lot). In the second step, the no-contact terminal authenticates the device using the bank network (this device wants to charge $23.09, is it good for that?).

                This is the same approach that an actual “secure” drivers license would have to take. First, a verification that the device matches the person. Second, a verification that the license is a valid one (ie, a database dip). The second step could be done wirelessly over a distance of several feet (assuming the device stays charged). But that just leaves you at some valid license is in the car. Matching the license to the individual is going probably going to require physical contact with either the license, or the person, or both.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

          (To elaborate on the civil liberties a bit, I suspect my perspective is colored both by being an immigrant who is legally required to carry an id card *all the time*, and by remembering how the South African police (among others) used demands for papers – the requirement to carry papers – as a control mechanism. And, yeah, we already have to carry a driver’s license. So I have no problem with the driver’s license communicating without being pulled IF it only communicated DL/registration and IF – this is the huge one – IF it was secure.)

          Given how crappy the government is at not getting my personal info hacked (eg OPM) I have zero confidence that all that info would not be darknetted within days or weeks of it being implemented.Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:

            Well this is where we get into a safety vs. privacy situation. Your philiospher husband can probably unpack that a lot better than me 😉Report

            • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              @mike-dwyer Except my experience and my understanding of history is that when it comes to “well, all people should have to carry papers” (or, we are really talking about not-upper-class-white people here which just makes it worse, from a historical perspective, since it’s not like the cops do a lot of traffic stops of rich white people, statistically) – it’s isn’t safety vs. privacy. It’s “give up your privacy and your right to not have to constantly prove yourself” … for the purest ILLUSION of safety. I’m saying people won’t be any safer, because it won’t actually stop the problem, because the problem is not information or lack thereof. Plenty of black people get shot by cops when they aren’t reaching for anything.Report

    • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      It is an interesting idea, Mr. Dwyer, but not one that I think would be viable as it would end up being enacted in the real world.

      You could do this, but it would never be secure. I fear the Internet Of Things that is coming.

      What if I’m not carrying the card? What if I disable it and just claim I don’t know why it isn’t working? What if I spoof my card to seem like I am someone else? Will “Card Jammers” be declared illegal (like radar detectors, et al), because someone will invent one before the cards are even finished?

      The only way you could really enact this would be to make sure the device was attached to the person, in such a way that it could not be turned off, forgotten, disabled, or tampered with. I think you can see where that is going…

      And, bad apples would never use such information for nefarious purposes, cops or otherwise, right?

      I think body cameras would do infinitely more than this would, and we can’t even have those.


      Ideas about ways of changing things are good, though, I think. What we’re doing currently isn’t working too well.Report

      • Then embed the chip in a driver’s license. We’re required to carry those to drive. Figure out a way to make them secure, maybe by asking the credit card companies how they do it, and link the necessary info to it.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Can’t police already get most of this information?

          The car has a license plate, they can look up the information on the car in a database. That shows who owns the car, which they can also look up. Yet, cops still ask for license and registration when they get to the vehicle. Yes, it could be someone else driving your car, though that would be a low percentage, I think.

          And, credit cards are far from secure. Credit card fraud is measured in the $billions annually. And, credit card companies have zero experience developing a wireless information transfer that is further than a few inches. Even so, most credit cards must be swiped or chip-scanned to pass their information through a wire. This is not what you are looking for.

          We’re talking about a powered transmitter in some sort of device, that can be read from dozens of feet away. That is a much different technology, and very difficult to miniaturize into a card.

          As I said, I think ideas are good. I just don’t think this would be much of a solution.Report

          • But again, if so many people seem to keep getting shot during the physical transfer of identification…there’s got to be a better way.Report

            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              I would hope there is a better way.

              There is already a body of research that shows that cops (and humans in general!) behave much differently when they know they are being watched – in positive ways. So, I say let’s use technology we already have, that is easy to use, to start altering the behavior of cops – body cams.



              I am reminded of a movie – Liar Liar – and Jim Carrey’s character is told by his secretary that one of his clients is on the phone and he just robbed someone again, and Jim Carrey holds the phone out and screams something like “Stop breaking the law, asshole!”.

              Yeah, that’s me right now, to those cops.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              With all due respect, Mike, this just feels like an end run around making the cops response.

              “Too many cops are overreacting to people reaching into their pockets to comply with their commands. Clearly, we should stop people from reaching into their pockets.”

              Was this an issue 10, 20 years ago? 30? I remember when Amadou Diallo was shot back in the late 90s, it stood out as a huge deal that the cops mistook his wallet for a gun. Now, I believe in that case they had told him to freeze and because of a language barrier, confusion, or something else, he reached for his wallet to procure ID assuming this is what he should do. He actually retrieved the wallet and when they saw something small and dark in his hand, one cop yelled, “Gun!” and fired, another cop tripped, and the rest assuming he was shot open fired (I’m working off memory here so I may be a bit off). Anyway, the point is that it doesn’t seem like cops used to panic when someone reached into their pocket for their ID. If I’m wrong on that front, please correct me. If I’m not wrong, than it seems like there is an issue with police training and not an issue with pockets.

              By the way, regarding the idea you mentioned above about bullet proof clipboards, I like it. It offers the cops an added layer of security without exposing anyone to additional risk. That is the sort of thinking we need to see applied.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Kazzy says:

                It also needs to be pointed out- again- that this overreaction only seems to happen to the people who have dark skin.

                For some mysterious reason, white people can make furtive movements, reach in their pockets, carry rifles, even point them at BLM agents, without getting shot.

                This isn’t a problem in search of an app, or a chip, or a Skynet database.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                For some mysterious reason, white people can make furtive movements, reach in their pockets, carry rifles, even point them at BLM agents, without getting shot.

                Do you know for a fact that every black person who does this gets shot, and no white people who do this get shot, or are you extrapolating from a non-random sample of stories that went national?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                That’s the bar you are setting?


              • KenB in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip-daniels It’s the bar you set — “this overreaction only seems to happen to the people who have dark skin.”

                If you meant something other than what you actually wrote, now’s your chance to correct it and offer whatever non-anecdotal evidence you have to support it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to KenB says:

                Or else what?

                Or else you and Brandon will remain unconvinced that there is a pervasive disparity between how white and black people are treated by law enforcement?

                And people wonder why the candidate of conservative America doesn’t get more black votes.Report

              • KenB in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “I can’t prove it but I know it’s true.”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to KenB says:

                In your view, what would constitute “proof” that (quoting Chip’s thesis) “there is a pervasive disparity between how white and black people are treated by law enforcement”?

                I mean that seriously, btw. Simple statistics about incarceration rates, arrest-related deaths, Ferguson Missouri cop department shake downs of blacks, etc, all seems to be regarded as NOT-proof of the view under discussion. So what type of statistical analysis or other type of evidence would constitute the proof you’re looking for?Report

              • KenB in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m not asking you to prove it to me, I’m suggesting that people not treat as “fact” things that they can’t prove, and I’m asking that they be wise enough to recognize their own cognitive biases.

                Here’s how you might go about actually testing your opinion, instead of taking it as given and treating every individual incident you happen to hear of as further evidence.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to KenB says:

                Jesus…As if this is a high school debate club-
                Resolved- that there is a disparity between black and white treatment by police“.

                This is the sort of detached, weightless point of view that gets characterized by black activists as privilege.

                No one here has any skin in the issue, so it gets treated as a trivial parlor game, or nerdish game of proving that a light saber can cut through adamantium.

                No needs to “prove” anything.

                What we have in front of us is a massive lack of faith within the black community that they are seen and treated as citizens, with respect, by white police.

                So what is there to “prove”? That the lived experience and eyewitness testimony of millions of black people is false?

                So another white guy online is going to lecture millions of black Americans to shut up and listen to his charts&graphs & rigorous logic?

                This is called privilege because it is grounded in the assumption that unless someone can convince me of something, there is no need to pay heed to it, because we are in control of the status quo.

                But we are, less and less- millions of black and Hispanic and Asian American citizens don’t give a flying fart what Chip or Ken or Brandon believe or don’t believe and don’t feel the need to convince us of anything.

                And the day is coming when we will be in the minority, and we will need to convince others of the validity of our experience.Report

              • KenB in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So in the span of three comments you’ve gone from “only black people are treated like this” [obvious hyperbole] to “there’s a pervasive disparity in treatment by race” [true or debatable depending on what exactly is meant] to “people of color widely believe they’re being treated badly” [obviously true] without ever once acknowledging that you’re shifting your position and without changing your usual tone (that of a preacher with God in his back pocket who expects his congregation to say nothing more than Amen!).

                If we’re seriously interested in working towards a solution to these problems rather than just venting, it’s vitally important to make sure that our analysis of the causes is correct, or else we’re unlikely to make the situation better and could make it worse, like trying to put out a grease fire by splashing water on it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to KenB says:

                There isn’t anything incorrect about hyperbole.

                Its completely correct to say that black people generally get treated differently, and worse, that white people, even if every single black person is not shot dead.

                Its more correct (and more important) to say that the state has failed to earn the trust of its black citizens (yeah, man, every single one, bar none!).
                Not that “they feel” this, as if it were a debatable point.

                It is a fact that trust has been lost, by millions of black Americans.

                Pedantry is a distraction, a way of trying to divert attention away from that very uncomfortable truth..Report

              • notme in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                There isn’t anything incorrect about hyperbole.

                Maybe but as a rhetorical device is it is a poor substitute for making accurate statements. Any time I hear someone use words like only, always or never in their arguments, I always laugh b/c I know they have a poor/weak argument. And as far as saying it is pedantic to point out such things, that is just sour grapes from someone that got caught making a poor argument and can’t admit it.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Dylann Roof, multiple murderer, was safely apprehended while armed and wearing body armor. And a cop put his gun away when approaching Roof’s car. Not shot.

                Eric Frein, cop killer and cop-killing manifesto maker, made troopers look foolish to an entire country by dragging them through the wilderness for a month and a half. He was admittedly not carrying his weapon but had it with him. Not shot.

                Yes, anecdotes are not data. But when somewhere between a vast preponderance and literally all the anecdotes point in one direction, surely there’s a serious grain of truth lurking somewhere.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to El Muneco says:

                We also have to listen to the black people describing their own experiences, in their own words.

                What we hear, over and over again, all across America, is black people testifying to their own lived experience, how they are subjected to indignities, abuse, and malign neglect at the hands of the white dominant structures.

                Even when they aren’t shot, or beaten, even in the millions of tiny encounters that never make headlines, when black people describe their experiences, it forms a pattern.

                There is also a pattern of white people trying strenuously to deny this, to minimize it, to litigate every instance like a 9-11 truther or Kennedy assassination buff, to “prove” that this guy or that deserved to get shot or this guy or that deserved a beat down.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to El Muneco says:

                In the 80’s, I dated a girl from El Salvador, who fled from the war.

                I was surprised to find out that there is this parallel world of Spanish speaking people who read different papers and magazines, listen to different stations, shop at different stores, and have a vast network that is unseen by Anglos.

                And they talk to each other- when a friend of hers was treated with abuse by the LAPD, the story made the rounds and soon everyone knew about it. It was reported to me (at the time a Reagan fan) that no one could vote Republican because they “didn’t like Latinos”.

                Since I hadn’t experienced what they lived, I argued, thinking some clever little logic framed from my own white suburban experience would convince them.
                Of course it was absurd, and I made a prat of myself, trying to tell them their experiences were invalid.

                I hear a lot of that stuff now, white people arguing that black people aren’t the victims of racism, it couldn’t possibly be true, no, they were somehow making this all up, like there is a vast conspiracy by tens of millions of Americans to concoct a gigantic lie, a slander against white America.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I remember an absurd situation a while back where me and an Indian colleague had to convince an African co-worker (literally, from … Zimbabwe?) that if he was pulled over for DWB, he should at all costs go against his instincts and not try to pretend to be African-American, rather he should emphasize his accent and his foreign-ness to get them off the script…

                And even knowing that, it was years after before I really realized how pervasive it was and how different my life experiences are than so many others. And my grandparents were immigrants and my dad worked his way out of the fringes of the ‘hood, so I should have had that grounding in reality all along.

                That’s what privilege is. It’s not “easy mode”. It doesn’t negate your accomplishments or your sense of self. What it is is the freedom to not see the water you’re swimming in.Report

          • Seems like what we need is some sort of way to allow a person to proffer an identity document (possibly an electronic one) without having to reach inside a pocket or purse to get it.

            Particularly if it’s electronic, there are significant security and privacy issues to navigate. These seem less taxing on my imagination than what it might look like and how to keep it handy in some way that isn’t something ridiculous like a bar code tattoo on the forehead.Report

            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Burt Likko says:

              Biometric scanner?

              It’s already on its way as a handheld device (and already implemented in some areas via cameras) – Minority Report writ large.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

              I have an idea!

              “something ridiculous like a bar code tattoo on the forehead”

              Okay. You probably don’t want to hear my idea.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Just make pockets smaller. Large enough for an ID but too small for a gun.

                We can create a department to oversea pocket sizes. Anyone with an illegal pocket is shot on sight. Can’t take a risk.Report

    • North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      For this kind of cost and intrusion I’d say that cops being on camera at all times when they’re on duty would be a no brainer to go along with this.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Not an app on a phone, that will never work because it makes your phone a requirement. A chip on your state-issued ID giving the same information as printed on the ID card itself might be possible, but:
      – Cost
      – Technically, it has to be readable from inside the cop car, which I’m not sure is doable with a chip that small at the current time. The same technology we currently use for on-the-fly tolls should work, but I don’t know how big the “e-pass” is.
      – Strict procedures that checking for it electronically must be the first step in a successful arrest. Violators get disciplined, same as for turning off body cameras. Jury instructions state that if the process was not followed, the prosecution’s credibility should suffer, same as for lack of body-camera evidence.

      I am an ACLU kind of guy, and I’ve worked with law enforcement too much over the last decade to ever really trust them again. But I think something can be worked out as long as we’re only dealing with publicly available identification, anyway. Although feature creep is always a danger.Report

  16. Jaybird says:

    Another shooter in Tennessee.

    4 victims, one of whom died (though looking at the injuries, it feels a little like they might be padding it a bit with one or two of them).Report

    • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

      I do not like the trend of the past few weeks. We humans should be better than this.


      (And, Hi, Jaybird!)Report

      • Hi, JHG! I miss you!

        I wish you’d show up for dumb conversations in addition to scary ones.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

          Oh, I do, Jaybird! (Miss you and show up for the other conversations)

          I just don’t comment nowadays, except in circumstances in which I cannot stop myself. That probably says something about me, too.

          Think of me as that slightly-blurry-male-black-techno-geek-on-the-spectrum-gamer-pain-in-the-… figure always watching (and probably judging, let’s be honest) out there in the InterEther(tm).


          Hi, Everyone.Report

          • Hey.

            If I did more classical music posts, would you comment on them?Report

            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Assuredly so.



              The original classical pieces that influenced so much of John Williams work (a compendium by Mike Schilling)
              (there’s like 9 posts just doing that…)

              John Phillip Sousa and marches that are much better (and worse) (fart noises by Mike Schilling)
              (there’s even Monty Python references that are so easy to get into, and Benny Hill…)

              Why you should listen more to Chopin (and not why you think you should) (an emotion by Mike Schilling)

              Why Fantasia changed music and the film experience in America (thoughts and reveries by Mike Schilling)

              Have you ever thought about the similarities between Gödel, Escher, and Bach (a launching point, by Mike Schilling)

              Beethoven! and why you are wrong about everything (A 19-part series) (you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me by John Howard Griffin)
              (Yeah, that. Sorry, I missed that post, JHG.)


            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              I should also confess that, on a fairly regular basis, I scour your posts looking for classical music posts (or another video joke – no juice allowed).

              So, yeah, at least you have one reader. :-pReport

  17. Roland Dodds says:

    Like @will-truman, I was generally surprised by the lack of crazy nonsense from my Twitter-feed today. After writing a post earlier this week about how uncivil social media could be, I was happy to see most folks stayed away from their broad self-serving generalizations.

    I did have to unfriend someone on Facebook, an individual I know personally, who said he had “no tears for the dead officers” because of recent police abuses. I have no time for someone who not only feels such a way, but has no problem articulating it to the world. To me, that is akin to celebrating and reveling in the death of young black men at hands of police.

    My family is in law enforcement (cousins, brother-in-laws, and many friends). I called one today to tell him I support what he does, even when it seems like well-to-do types have only disparaging remarks about their service. I made an effort to read the name of every officer killed in the line of duty so far in 2016 (there were 57 before the incident in Dallas). One of my family members was recently injured in pursuit of a fugitive, and I am thankfully he is still with us today.

    That’s all I can muster at the moment.Report

  18. Brandon Berg says:

    Insensitive but sincere question: In 2007, there were about 200,000 deaths of individuals under the age of 45 in the United States alone, well over 500 per day. Worldwide, it’s at least in the tens of thousands daily. What is it about these particular deaths, either the cops or the civilians, that hits some of you on an emotional level? I hear about it and think, “That’s a shame,” but I don’t experience it as a personal tragedy, any more than I did the dozens or hundreds of premature deaths that statistically must have occurred elsewhere while I was writing this comment.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      What is it about these particular deaths, either the cops or the civilians, that hits some of you on an emotional level?


      • Brandon Berg in reply to Stillwater says:

        Why do you have particularly great empathy for these particular people, as compared to the tens of thousands of other people who die prematurely on any given day?Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Because the police are us. What is done by the police is done in your name. What is done to the police is done, by proxy, to you. Failings of our police are failings of our society. Our view of our police is our view of our society – and when some don’t share that view, it’s another sign that something is wrong not (just) with the police, but with society itself.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:


      Well, don’t we need to know more about the cause of death?

      “That guy died bungee jumping? I mean, that’s sad and all… but it doesn’t really hit me since I don’t know him and I don’t bungee jump.”
      “That guy died of lunge cancer? Ugh… cancer is a scourge. What a shame. Oh… he smoked? Well, that’s a little different.”
      “That guy got hit by a car crossing the street to his grandma’s house? Shit, man… I was just at my grandma’s house. That’s really scary. Was he in a crosswalk?”
      “That guy got shot for offering his license to a cop? Holy fuck… am I safe anywhere?!?!”Report

  19. Kolohe says:

    Stillwater: If you care about this issue, then it seems to me you’re confronted with a tremendously uncomfortable dilemma: either engage the political process and try to SHAPE government more to your liking

    So do we now have moral permission to vote for Gary Johnson, or must Trump be stopped at all costs, making the vote for Clinton still a necessity?Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

      Wait. You need MY moral permission to vote for whoever you want?


    • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

      More to the point, K, Jaybird is claiming that nothing can be done!. What difference does it make who you vote for, or what you say, or how you feel!!, if NOTHING CAN BE DONE!!!!

      Except second amendment solutions, which will turn out to be so much better, obvs.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        The avalanche has already started; It is too late for the pebbles to vote.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Stillwater says:

        Stillwater: More to the point, K, Jaybird is claiming that nothing can be done!. What difference does it make who you vote for, or what you say, or how you feel!!, if NOTHING CAN BE DONE!!!!

        There’s a staff officer trick, recently highlighted in Dan Scotto’s Lincoln podcast (invented by either Grant or Sherman), where you give the big boss a list of options for a big decision, but only one of them is a ‘real’ option. (McChrystal almost got fired 6 months before he actually was for trying this trick on Obama).

        You say ‘engage the political process’ but I’m saying, ‘they’ only gave us one real option. (and I’m saying it’s Clinton) And you’re complaining that I’m complaining that there was only one real option this cycle?Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

          If you think the only way to engage the political process is by casting a vote for President, then I guess we’ll never agree about this stuff. Jaybird, in his gnashing and rending, is doing one of three things: emoting about how Nothing Can Be Done!!; making predictions so’s he can feel better about himself; or engaging in the political process by arguing that using robots to kill American’s is a bad policy. The first two have nothing to do with the engaging political process, seems to me.

          On the other hand, weren’t you just a couple comments ago expressing your view that voting for Gary Johnson is morally justified act of political engagement? Or were you just trying to be cleverly cynical as well?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

            This is the “if you truly believed abortion was murder, wouldn’t you be bombing clinics?” argument, applied to commenting.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              No, it’s more about the adoption of cynicism as a self-identification marker, which has the ironic benefit of helping realize what you’re most vehemently objecting to.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m more acknowledging that the whole “let’s not use drones on American citizens” argument is not, apparently, happening and coming up with theories as to why.

                I’ve said before: I think that this needs to go to trial. I don’t know anybody who thinks that that is possible.

                So what’s next? Vote Hillary?

                What are *YOU* doing to turn this around? Maybe you’ve got an awesome bandwagon I can jump on.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                We got cops killing innocent citizens and citizens killing innocent cops, and what you’re worried about is the precedent established by using a robot to kill a domestic terrorist without due process ALL THE WHILE complaining that nothing can be done! About anything!

                Sell the house, sell the kids, sell the car. Buy guns and ammo and gold!!!Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Stillwater says:

                After 4, 6, or more years of a war that killed humans in the millions, millions more than humans had ever killed before, everyone still paid very special attention to the approximately 200 thousand that were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe says:

                On one level, this is ridiculous. Dead is dead.

                On another level, this makes a lot of sense. These deaths were brought about with something new and indiscriminate and foreboding and frightening in a way different even than the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden, which were themselves horrific.

                The shock and horror of the use of chemical weapons in the Great War led to some of the international conventions and treaties purportedly banning their use, which have been mostly effective. Although the soldiers who were gassed to death were just as dead as the soldiers who got shot to death or died of diseases.

                On the other hand, there is and I don’t think there ever really was any wringing of hands nor gnashing of teeth over the French dead at Agincourt, slain by a treacherous new militarized technology. No one told the Byzantines that Greek Fire was an immoral weapon (at least, not that were taken seriously).

                Why are some weapons more evocative of fear and dread than others? We sort of laugh at swords and bows and arrows today, but they’ll still kill you right dead right quick. Opponents of hightened gun control legislation would do well to understand what makes their political adversaries dread “assault weapons” so, and perhaps deconstructing the dread over robot bombs will help get at that. (If you ask me, it’s the barrel shrouds. They just LOOK mean and scary.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                It’s not that the robot is particularly evocative of fear/dread, it’s that it allows for a dissassociative effect on those who use it.

                The things you don’t like about drones bombing places that are a million miles away are going to be things that you won’t like about drones policing places on the other side of the tracks.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to Stillwater says:

            You wanna know a secret?

            I voted for Trump in my state’s prez primary heighten the already high contradictions of the Republican party in my state.

            I’m ready to land on an aircraft carrier with a mission accomplished banner if I had a flight suit. And an aircraft carrier. And a banner.Report

  20. dexter says:

    Zappa’s Freak Out: Trouble Every Day. So true then and even truer now. Be sure to play it loud.Report

  21. b-psycho says:

    That the Dallas shootings occurred just days after the celebration of a holiday dedicated to a group that decided back in the late 1700s to fire on their own authorities (and much worse) should color thoughts about it and the US’s status quo more than they do or ever will.

    This is to say, even those not inclined to anarchism or revolt NOW should be (unless totally dedicated to the current regime at all costs) willing to acknowledge that a point can and does exist where such conduct would be justified. Please consider the varying levels people enduring different amounts of prejudice may see themselves at now.Report