Hollow Rights & Hollow Points

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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184 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    “One of the criticisms of the pro-gun right is that they would freak out if African-Americans ever took advantage of their Second Amendment rights. ” I’ve never had a problem with it. But a very large amount of black folk live in areas of the country where their 2nd amend rights are virtually zero…..thanks for their white liberal overlords. In fairness, this also goes for the white folks who want to have a gun,

    We have a cop problem in this country. Fixing that is likely to solve this problem as well.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    We had a few minutes there where the argument was “you don’t need a gun to protect yourself, call the police instead”. Without getting into whether the accuracy of that statement was equally distributed, the sentiment that the police will protect you is not one that has been particularly proven reliable over the last few years.

    The argument that, well, if you would give up your guns, the police would have a lot less reason to be jumpy and if they had a lot less reason to be jumpy then they would be a lot less jumpy and if the cops were a lot less jumpy there would be a lot fewer wrongful shootings on their part and therefore if you would give up your guns, there would be a lot less shootings strikes me as being an appeal to a slippery slope for a slope that doesn’t strike me as being particularly slippery.

    And that’s without getting into the kinda messed-up dynamics of “if you would be less obnoxious, I’d hit this other guy less”.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    I’ll tie this to Kristin’s essay about wanting better systems instead of better people.

    We don’t all live under the same system. The 2nd Amendment, and the entire Constitution are applied very differently depending on what race you are, who your father was, what your income is.

    One person can brandish an assault rifle at a cop and get a stern scolding, another person holds a toy gun and is summarily executed.

    The Constitution may not require good faith on the part of elected officials (that’s why we have impeachment) but it does require good faith on the part of the people.Report

    • Damon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      All depends upon what you mean by brandish. It does have legal meaning. Holding one, generally, isn’t illegal. “wave or flourish (something, especially a weapon) as a threat or in anger or excitement.”

      It also depends upon the jurisdiction. Open carrying an AR isn’t brandishing. Waving a 9MM around a bunch of people and telling them “get away from my shopping cart” probably is.Report

  4. Great piece Will. People think that rights are magic spells, that our right to free speech or bear arms or whatever are just self-enforcing. But they require constant vigilance. And a de facto attack on black people’s rights is no different than a legal one.

    Thompson’s argument is garbage by the way. We’ve seen police shootings rise even as gun ownership falls (# of guns are up, but percentage owning them is down). And black people are less likely to own guns but more likely to be shot. It’s not the presence of guns that makes cops trigger happy; it’s the training and lack of accountability.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Siegel says:

      Tie to that the fact that when you look at the instances where an officer was shot with a gun, the cases where the shooter was the prototypical ‘legal gun owner’ (like Castile) who was just minding their own business are practically nil.

      The exception being domestic abuse cases.

      Most shootings of an officer are either the dumb luck of a gun battle, an ambush, or when a domestic abuse call goes pear shaped because the abuser has a gun.Report

    • Freeman in reply to Michael Siegel says:

      Agreed. Thompson’s ridiculous argument ignores a great deal of unarmed Black men being shot to death. Shot in the back while running away is by no means unusual. Gun rights exercised by the public have NOTHING to do with any of that.

      The Castille case was an anomaly, which is why everyone remembers it so well. The man had a permit and proper training for the concealed carry of his weapon, and he followed that training in doing and saying the right things during the stop that should have kept him (would have kept me, ’cause I’m White) safe. Philando Castille was not killed because he, you and I have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. His rightful possession of a gun was not the precondition for his slaughter as Thompson claims, his skin color was. If it were all about the gun, police shootings of permit holders would be a LOT more common, but we can all clearly see what the common demonimator in these cases really is.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Freeman says:

        … but we can all clearly see what the common demonimator in these cases really is.

        Indeed. Hispanics will shoot armed black people or armed white people at the drop of a hat!

        Racial data indicates that black and Hispanic officers are more likely to shoot a black or Hispanic suspect than a white officer is, which makes the purely racial angle highly questionable. However, that bias seems to go away in a county-level analysis that takes into account that high crime black and Hispanic areas also have more black and Hispanic police officers who are more likely to be involved in shootings because of the county’s violent crime rates.Report

        • Freeman in reply to George Turner says:

          So what’s the data on police panic shootings of concealed-carry permit holders who properly advise the officer of their possession of a firearm during a traffic stop? I googled it yesterday and Castille was the only example I could find.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Freeman says:

            It’s pretty hard to tell because:

            A) Police aren’t required to provide such statistics to anyone.
            B) The media is not terribly friendly towards the idea of CCW, so they don’t always mention it. KenB links to an article downthread that talks about one such case, and I recall a case where the police shot a guy in Costco (in Vegas, IIRC). The thing is, when the police panic (or sometimes when they are power-tripping, see Mesa AZ) they start giving rapid fire and conflicting orders to people, and if the citizen is also panicked, or under the influence…Report

    • I don’t know if it’s garbage (granted that I’ve read only Will’s summary), but the decline in gun ownership would have to be dramatic, not a gradual trend, in order for the argument to have a chance of working. And even then, it might prove wrong because, well, there are probably other reasons police shoot people.Report

  5. Aaron David says:

    Interesting piece, Will. I am going to have to think around on this for a bit. But, one thing to mention; the NRA is a reflexive cop supporting organization*. And this is what the root of some of these issues is (see Loach’s comment). It can make a host of issues worse and presents as a complete miss of what is going on with group resistance of police violence.

    Conversely, as we get more and more calls to defund the police (with both meaning attached) and see more violence correspondingly, we have seen a huge uptick in firearm purchases across the board.

    *this is why I am not a member.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

      I always recommend the JPFO to people who don’t like the NRA (but like the idea of something like an NRA).

      The JPFO is absolutely humorless about this stuff. Surprisingly consistent as well. (Maybe those two things go together?)Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

        Oh, there are a whole host of gun rights organizations, from GOA to 2ndF to BlackGunsMatter, and so on. There is a large amount of talk and controversy about this among libertarian gun owners (most hate the NRA) vs. Conservative gun owners (cool with the NRA) mostly falling down around issues of LEO’s and reflexive cop support. In a way, this is tied to the bewilderment of the conservative gun owners’ lack of understanding about why the NRA isn’t as popular amount the black community. It’s not gun ownership per see (every African American I know is a gun owner no matter their politics) but relations with the police in that community.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

          You nailed it. Black gun owners watch the NRA rant and rave about unfettered gun ownership, but when a black gun owner gets killed for simply telling a cop he has a legally concealed gun (Philando Castile), or watch a Black man get arrested for using his legally owned gun to defend Breonna Taylor ad her home against unknown intruders – who turned out to be cops- they conclude the NRA is not an organization that supports them or their needs.

          had the NRA stuck to its old time mission of gun sfaety education and shooting sport promotions they might have been able to better represent the full spectrum of gun owners. But once they decided to abandon their gun control support after the Black Panthers started openly carrying, they ceased to be a credible gun owners organization.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Philip H says:

            Ahhh, no. The NRA is and was supported by its members, who felt that the attacks on the second amendment (’68 Gun Control Act, Brady bill, AWB, and so on) demanded a civil rights type approach to meeting those threats. Society, in general, was at the time of the Black Panthers not wholly behind the burgeoning idea of black rights (many people of all politics wrongly felt they were perfectly accommodated). The NRA has mutated from its original message just as surely as the ACLU has moved from being believers of free speech no matter the speaker, to being wrapped up in the censorship of Social Justice. They both are simply moving where the supporting members take them.

            Please don’t try to paint the present with the rose-tinted glasses from an imagined past.Report

  6. DensityDuck says:

    It was utterly weird to me at first to see the NRA refuse to say “yeah that Castile shooting was some bullshit”.

    But it kinda makes sense when you consider how people approach The Discourse these days, where a very important rule is to Never Say What The Other Side Says. You see this mostly from liberals, but there are examples — like this one — of conservatives pulling the same act; criticizing Yanez was Criticizing A Cop, and that’s something The Other Side does, and therefore they didn’t do it, even when it was eminently warranted.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Hmmm. So what’s the thing the NRA didn’t want to say here? That the police shot a law-abiding gun owner in cold blood *for being black*?

      Why would the NRA *not* want to say that?Report

  7. Rufus F says:

    One of the things I’ve heard frequently is the NRA supported gun control when it was enacted to prevent the black panthers open carrying. This must be in regards to the Mulford Art in California, 67, which was signed by Reagan and I believe was in response to the panthers showing up armed to protests. It’s not my area of history, so I don’t know how the NRA responded. I do have a huge history of the era I’ve been meaning to open.Report

  8. Chip Daniels says:

    So I am also tying this to the CHOP thread, where the protesters set up a community that was ostensibly free of cops, but immediately allowed armed self-appointed vigilantes to become the new cops.

    The idea behind defunding the police is to fight back against the mindset where enforcement of laws is invariably done with maximum force and violence, based on abject fear and rage.

    The NRA’s position of “guns everywhere, all the time”, exemplifies this mindset, where every citizen becomes a law unto himself.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      The idea behind defunding the police is not to fight back against a “mindset”.

      It’s to deny funding to an organization.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

        an organization that operates from a certain mindset. If the police were in fact operating as the defunders suggest – and some few are – they would not be the targets of this portion of the movement. Of course, if they were operating from a different systemic mindset Geroge Floyd wouldn’t be dead. You can’t disentangle the two.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Philip H says:

          You can’t disentangle the two.

          Sure you can. One way to achieve change is to require more training to change a mindset. Another way is to restructure police departments by relocating resources to a different set of priorities. Seems to me that most folks on the reform side of the debate believe that increased training without structural changes won’t get the job done.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

            The political movements to defund are also accompanied by movements to alter the structure of policing, based on a different way of viewing how laws and order are to be enforced.

            Using social workers and mental health workers in lieu of armed police officers displays a very different mindset than the military “confront and subdue” model.

            CHOP made noises to this effect, but because they refused to organize themselves into a state, allowed vigilantes to institute the “confront and subdue” model, with predictable results.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              The question people need to ask, and set into policy, is this:

              Is this a law that you need to respond to with the open threat of violence?

              Every law is enforced with a background threat of violence. If you consistently fail to follow the law, at some point violence will be used to enforce compliance. But that doesn’t mean that every response to a potential violation of the law has to start with that threat.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Very good point since the vast majority of police encounters are with unarmed people for trivial offenses.

                I see it here in downtown where the first line of policing is with the unarmed BID safety teams who respond to unruly transients, shoplifters and the like. In almost all such cases the encounter ends peacefully, but on occasion the police are called in as backup.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The trick is to set a hard policy that the police are absolutely NOT allowed to respond to such calls directly. Unless they witness violence, they would have to stay back and wait for the social/health worker to assess.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                For teachers, we often think about a spectrum of intervention when responding to challenging behavior, rule breaking, limit testing, etc. There are kids and/or behaviors that can be addressed with a simple glance from across the room. Other times, physically removing a child from a space is necessary. And everything in between. The goal is to always only go as far down the spectrum as is necessary. Do we always get it right? No. Is everyone good at this? No. Does everyone agree or employ this approach? No and no. But we have that mindset and those tools.

                Do cops have the same?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Technically, yes, there is a spectrum of force, or an escalation path.

                Thing is, if you are unlikely to bear any real consequences for escalating all the way up right away, then when you are low on patience….Report

  9. DensityDuck says:

    “Once upon a time, police unions used to support gun control.”

    Hah. They supported gun control when “gun control” meant “don’t sell guns to blacks who live in the city”. When “gun control” started to look like it might mean “white police officers can’t take their service piece home”, they changed their minds…Report

  10. greginak says:

    Americans love Rights. Hey rights are great, everybody should have some. But rights are not the be all and end all of every issue which i what a lot of people seem to think they are. They are great for loudly beating ones chest about and grand proclamations which is what makes them very attractive. In this case the NRA has gone all in for loud shouting about MY RIGHTS but eschewed the other 99% of the discussion about guns. One reason for that is the NRA has become a Republican proxy org so they have gone full culture war. How can they treat Castille as an issue when it doesn’t help their culture war bull shit. Fighting their f’n war and supporting R’s has taken precedence over strictly working on gun safety or gun owner rights.

    Back to my first point, rights are a baseline for what we can do. Maybe encouraging more open carry ( which has little to nothing to do with personal safety) and the military LARPers that have become more common has not been good for measured discussion or developing mutual respect. It is good for sales though.


  11. Pinky says:

    Does the NRA matter anymore? Can it mobilize supporters, money, or political influence for or against a position? It seems to me more like a follower than a leader.

    And do police unions matter at all, other than on the local level?Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Pinky says:

      The NRA matters a lot less than it used to, I think. Now it’s basically another GOP interest group, which means the Democrats no longer have any reason to try to appeal to them and I’m not sure what leverage they have over the GOP anymore.

      I’m not sure chicken-or-the-egg, whether they became less relevant as they became more partisan or vice-versa. I could make an argument either way.

      Police unions mostly matter at local and state levels, and I think they are losing their influence in the case of the former. That’s my thinking at the moment, anyway.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Pinky says:

      “Does the NRA matter anymore? ”

      Liberals sure seem to like having it around for easy dunks.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Pinky says:

      The NRA matters as a GOTV and fundraiser group at this point, not as a bridge between the two parties. Not dissimilar to the ACLU, anther civil liberties organization that picked a side in the culture wars.Report

  12. Swami says:

    Thought provoking as usual, Will.

    My question is with this supposedly “undeniable” fact…

    “Castile was killed by a cop in a country where it is more dangerous for a black man to exercise his Second Amendment right than it is for a white man; that is undeniable.”

    This is just being asserted with no proof, and I didn’t notice any in the linked article.

    You then give at least a reasonable rationale for this position as follows…

    “If the main criteria that makes a shooting justified or not is the level of fear an officer fears, then a heightened fear of African-Americans makes it a racial issue. Even if you believe the extra fear is justified because of crime charts, it creates a situation where black people’s right to own a gun is hindered due to the actions and predispositions of others. That’s not how rights are supposed to work and if it works that way it is not so much a right as a privilege granted to some by the authorities.”

    We seem to be going back to argument by anecdote recently championed by Chip in his position that cops/whites/society are systemic racists. I certainly agree with you that the reasonable position of gun rights advocates should be that fear of a man having legal possession of a gun — regardless of color — is no defense for shooting him 7 times. But this does not prove in any way that blacks are more likely to be killed for possession of legal arms than any other race.

    You and the quoted author just keep asserting something with no support other than an anecdote. Is this in fact true, or is it just something some people just assume is true?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

      Are you familiar with any of the research on implicit bias?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        You shouldn’t ask using the word “any”. It opens the door to an answer like “Oh, I’m very familiar with the criticism of Implicit Bias!”

        Instead ask something like “Are you familiar with Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald’s work on implicit bias?”

        This way you can nudge people toward the conversation you’d rather have.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

          That’s kind of the boat I’m in. I had the general impression that implicit bias was in that “too handy to get rid of but too flawed to last” zone, like a college romance one year after graduating. Simply referring to it doesn’t strengthen an argument.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

            It’s mostly useful for HR departments and consultants to HR departments.

            Make people take the annual training, fire the ones who show too much resistance to some of the more outrageous assertions, then don’t change anything else.Report

            • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

              That’s not really the purpose. It’s used as favorable evidence in discrimination lawsuits and EEOC complaints. Mitigation of liability is the underlying reason for virtually all compliance training. Any learning, while at times beneficial, is mostly incidental.Report

          • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

            I have never seen a compelling argument that the concept is useful. Maybe ‘implicit bias’ as defined in these studies exists. My gut tells me that it almost certainly does at least in some general and aggregate sort of way. But it’s also impossible to prove or disprove as a causal factor in any particular incident, nor does it lend itself to problem solving.

            I suppose knowing that it probably exists is better than not knowing that information but I’m at a loss as to why anyone finds it important. Unless you’re the people who make the training that every company has to buy for the reasons I mentioned to Jaybird.Report

      • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

        Yes. Could you complete the argument though?Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

          What about the argument feels incomplete?Report

          • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

            What is the point you want to make? Is it that implicit bias proves that cops kill more blacks carrying firearms legally than Hispanics, whites, Asian Americans and Native Americans? Or something else? If this is your point, then what are your recommendations?

            I might actually agree with them. I am not a big advocate either way on the second amendment.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

              Well, that wasn’t your question. Your question was regarding the following quote: ““Castile was killed by a cop in a country where it is more dangerous for a black man to exercise his Second Amendment right than it is for a white man; that is undeniable.”” And whether or not that is undeniable.

              So, the question it seems you are asking is: Is it more dangerous for a black man to exercise his Second Amendment right than a white man?

              You then quote a section on officer fears.

              If you accept the research regarding implicit bias, then it would seem to serve as evidence that officers are more likely to be fearful of Black men and that this would make it more dangerous for them to exercise their Second Amendment right than White men.Report

              • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

                Okay. Thanks. Implicit bias is a supporting argument. It certainly isn’t undeniable proof. But it starts to form an argument.

                Do you have recommendations then? What are the implications of implicit bias on second amendment rights, law enforcement institutions and so on?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

                Elsewhere, Oscar has laid out good recommendations for how police weapons should be handled, including keeping guns in the car so that they are less likely to reach-and-pull on a possibly biased instinct and instead can make a more intentional choice that may allow them to override some implicit biases.

                Why did the officers who approached Castile need a weapon on them? It was a traffic stop. Leave the gun in the car.

                I’d look at training.

                And I’d look at consequences. We need better ways of holding cops accountable when they do things like shoot people who’ve done nothing wrong. Period.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                Now I’ll pose some questions for you:
                Do you think what happened to Tamir Rice or Philando Castille or John Crawford would have happened in the exact same way if they were white? Obviously, I’m asking you to indulge in some conjecture but I’m curious how you imagine those various scenarios playing out with white men.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

                What if the answer is “I don’t know”? If I told an officer that I had a gun in my car, I’d put my hands on the steering wheel, not move them, and tell him where the gun is. If Castille did those things, he shouldn’t have been shot. Likewise, if a white man did those things, he shouldn’t have been shot. Absent evidence, I’m not going to say that a white man in the exact same situation wouldn’t have been shot.

                And I’m not saying Castille should have been shot.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:

                I think that’s a reasonable response. Counterfactuals are necessarily challenging. And we’re just never going to have the exact same set of circumstances occur. This isn’t a lab study.

                A major challenge is we just have bad data on all this. We don’t even have good data on how many people are shot each year by the police. How the fuck is that the case?

                If we had detailed accounts of every officer-involved shooting. If we had universal body cams. All of that would go really far in understanding what is happening.

                Right now, everyone throws out stories. We mention Tamir Rice. I haven’t heard of a white kid dying in similar circumstances. Does that mean it has never happened? If it has never happened, that is probably somewhat meaningful. If it has happened, that is meaningful, too.

                “I don’t know” is probably the right response, in all honesty. Swami is unconvinced that it is “undeniable” that it is more dangerous for Black men to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights than White men. That’s reasonable.

                But I also think most reasonable people would say it isn’t “undeniable” that it is equally safe/dangerous or that it is more dangerous for White men.

                So, basically, we can’t really deny any of the possibilities. So where does that leave us? Well, *one* place it leaves us is with many, many stories of Black men being shot by the police and — seemingly — not the same number or types of stories of White men being shot by the police. Do we not have all the stories? We probably don’t. Let’s get the stories. Let’s get the data.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                The FBI does require that PDs track use of force and report it to the FBI.

                Problem is, it’s an un-funded mandate, which means it’s basically voluntary, involves no data formatting/reporting standards, and the FBI has no ability (or willingness) to punish PDs that don’t do it.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Ultimately, with regard to 2A rights and cops, it boils down to an expectation that the armed government agent that is supposed to have specific training on such things needs to be managed by the citizen who does not have such training.

                That is what is being said when people say, “If Castille had just done this…”Report

              • Philip H in reply to Pinky says:

                If Castille did those things, he shouldn’t have been shot.

                According to contemporenous reporting – including his girlfriends live stream of parts of the incident, he was shot while reaching for his ID and his concealed carry permit, which he had told officers he had and told them he was reaching for. He had also apparently told them he had a legally owned and carried gun in the car and told them where it was. The officer who shot him is alleged to have yelled gun as Mr. Castille’s hands arrived at his wallet in his pants – which again he is reported to have told officers he was reaching for.

                Based on no less then the NRA’s own “educational materials” he was doing everything right when he was shot.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

                If he was moving his hands from the steering wheel after telling an officer that he had a gun in the car, the shooting was inevitable. When an officer makes a stop, the last thing he wants in unpredictability. You do what he tells you to, and nothing that he doesn’t tell you to.

                I just googled this, and the NRA says the following:
                “As soon as you hand the officer your driver’s license and concealed-carry permit, your hands should go right back on top of the steering wheel. At that point, he is probably going to ask you if you are actually carrying and where your firearm is located. For goodness sakes, don’t reach or point towards your gun. Just keep your hands on the steering wheel and tell him the location.”


              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                But this just proves the point, that an officer has permission to summarily shoot any citizen who is holding a firearm under any circumstances.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Right. Pinky’s argument here – that when being detained by the police they can justifiably shoot you (or taze you, or chokehold you, etc) at any moment – is exactly what people are objecting to. I’m not sure why this basic point continues to be so elusive.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

                You need to read up on the incident, because the officer put Castille in an impossible position.

                Basically, Castille was carrying in a holster on his back hip, right near his wallet. He could not reach for his wallet without also reaching for his gun, and the officer was telling him to get his wallet out.

                What the officer should have done is instructed Castille to exit the car while keeping his hands visible, and the officer could secure the weapon.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

                My point is positive, not normative. I’m not saying an officer has a right to shoot you regardless of the circumstances. I don’t think that drunk college girls deserve to be sexually assaulted, Nazis should be punched, or countries that coyly deny having WMD’s while refusing to comply with inspection protocols deserve to be invaded. I’m saying it’s foreseeable.

                The odds are high that, right now, July 3, someone’s being driven to the emergency room carrying his finger in a bag of ice. Odds are lower, but nonzero, that someone’s looking around for their buddy who went for a swim in the river, and can’t find him. I’m not happy about those things. Some balance of societal regulation and individual prudence can reduce the odds, but never to zero.

                I mean, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re already having this conversation. Some people wearing masks will die, some people not wearing masks will be fine. If you tell a cop you have a gun in the car, you don’t move your hands. When he asks you for the permit, or asks you to move, you repeat the command back to him as a question before you move.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

                When the cop tells you to get your wallet, and you tell him that is where the gun is, and the cop screams at you to not reach for the gun, but to hurry up and get your wallet out (while he has a gun pointed at you)…

                Again, the officer has the training and the gun already pulled, the obligation to do shit right is ALWAYS on the cop. If the cop panics and fails to think and give clear instructions, and someone gets hurt, blaming the citizen is just a way to deflect accountability.Report

              • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy, re your hypothetical and implied argument, I recommend you read this essay by John McWhorter.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Kazzy says:

                The problem is that police always bring their gun because of all the cops who’ve been killed conducting simple traffic stops. A big part of police training is videos of officers who made fatal mistakes.

                For example, people are often rather horrified that a police officer will shoot somebody and then handcuff the person as they’re bleeding on the ground, instead of rendering immediate aid. That’s because there were so many officers who did the latter and got killed because the suspect, though riddled with bullets and obviously not long for this world, still had enough energy to reach into a pocket, pull out a pistol, and kill the officer.

                One area where they are trying to improve outcomes is in dealing with mentally ill people. Mentally ill white’s are about five times more likely to be killed in a police encounter than mentally ill blacks, so there’s been some focus on coming up with better alternatives for handling the typical scenarios. This is your “naked homeless guy with a samurai sword” encounter, and although technically represents a valid use of lethal force in self-defense, obviously could be handled in a better way, such as perhaps with a tranquilizer gun and a net.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to George Turner says:

                “…all the cops who’ve been killed conducting simple traffic stops.”
                How many per year?

                “That’s because there were so many officers who did the latter and got killed because the suspect, though riddled with bullets and obviously not long for this world, still had enough energy to reach into a pocket, pull out a pistol, and kill the officer.”
                How many?

                Surely, they have data on this.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Kazzy says:

                Lets keep in mind that policing is about 28 down the list of most deadly professions.

                Nurses and health care aides deal with mentally ill people daily and yet hardly ever shoot anybody.

                This is what I am talking about, that fear-based mindset which in turn causes the “confront and subdue” strategy.

                There seems to be a very powerful and heavily invested constituency for this view of the world where death and danger is lurking always and everywhere, and we have no one to trust but our guns.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Kazzy says:

                Six officers were murdered in traffic stops last year, and that’s with body armor and following all the paranoid procedures. Three were killed while trying to restrain or handcuff a suspect. The FBI keeps statistics on all that because part of their job is to help police make less mistakes, and to come up with new procedures that will be safer or more effective.
                For them, you could categorize it as “workplace safety.”Report

              • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

                6 officers out of more then 800,000 (https://nleomf.org/facts-figures/law-enforcement-facts). 6 out of the 135 officer deaths. 4.44% of police officer deaths. 0.00075% of the police officer population. Yep, that’s a reason to pull a gun at every traffic stop.

                Except of course George’s other statistics are hokum too:

                Overall, in 2019, 24 percent of all police killings were of black Americans when just 13 percent of the U.S. population is black – an 11-point discrepancy.


              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                I never know how to feel when we start throwing “PER CAPITA!” around in discussions of law enforcement.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H says:

                Agreed, it’s statistical noise, but thanks to crap like Killology training, and ‘everyone goes home at night’ attitudes, cops have become even more inept at assessing risk than the average person.

                Regarding traffic stops, I do have to wonder if that statistic of 6 (OMG It’s a total war on cops! Thank God the military doesn’t have casualty rates like that at home, in peacetime…) could be further reduced if the police did not treat every traffic stop like a game of “How many of this persons rights can I violate in the hopes of making an arrest?”Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                At the same time, and to the same point, 235 African Americans were killed by police last year. Out of a demographic of 48 million. So, just like the number of police shot on the job that Phillip H brings up, it is statistical noise.

                Do we want to reduce BOTH of those numbers? Yes, of course. But if we are going to go down a statistical black hole on one end, it would help if we did the same on the other end. Either we are doing an utterly shit job of assessing risk on all fronts in this country right now, and we need to dramatically step that up. Or, we are simply playing political games and should look at all data in that light.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Aaron David says:

                Again, and I keep having to say this, when it comes to agents of the government killing citizens who did not pose a true clear and present threat to those agents, it’s not about the numbers of dead, it’s about the accountability.

                If a cop is killed by a citizen on the job, you bet your sweet ass the police pull out all the stops to find and bring to justice the killer.

                If a cop kills a citizen on the job, the police collectively shrug, and if the citizens get uppity about it, they pull out all the stops to tarnish the hell out of the dead citizen so as to invoke a post hoc justification, or (if they wound or kill a child or fellow upstanding citizen that they can’t tarnish) they go on and on about how hard it is to be a cop and us citizens just can’t possibly understand the stress they are under*, etc. ad nauseum.

                Focusing on the numbers, or, IMHO, race, is a red herring. Focus on the fact that they can beat or kill with impunity, absent appropriate moral or legal justifications, and recognize that that is a serious problem that does not need large numbers to be an issue.

                *while refusing additional mental health support because tough cops don’t need that sissy stuff…Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                This is where the hyper-focus on lawful but unjustified killing of black men or anyone at all can start to miss the point.

                If all we’re talking about is deaths It’s pretty easy to hand wave those away on statistical grounds. If on the other hand the deaths are understood as the worst-case scenarios of a broader accountability problem (which they are) it becomes a lot harder to look away.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oh, I am not disagreeing with any of that (hence my comment about reducing all of the numbers) I was really talking about risk, statistics, and how if we look at one we need to look at all of them.

                As you say, disparities in police actions are separate and in my eyes a much more important issue than focusing on either the numbers or race or economic status of people involved.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Aaron David says:

                And that isn’t to say the question of disparate impacts by race is not important (because it is).

                But focusing on race, or numbers, or what not confuses the larger systemic issue.

                I mean, if we don’t deal with that accountability issue, and instead make the police be hyper vigilant about not appearing racist, those cops that really need to get their violent power trip on will just target some other demographic that won’t raise trouble, like the homeless/runaways/mentally ill/illegal immigrants…

                Oh, wait, I’m being handed a note…Report

              • Swami in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Well said as usual, Oscar

                And since Ferguson, as per my discussion below with Stillwater, there are almost two thousand extra black people murdered each year.

                Externalities matter too. That should be my next protest sign.

                EXTERNALITIES MATTER!Report

              • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

                At the same time, and to the same point, 235 African Americans were killed by police last year. Out of a demographic of 48 million. So, just like the number of police shot on the job that Phillip H brings up, it is statistical noise.

                Except its not : https://www.statista.com/statistics/1123070/police-shootings-rate-ethnicity-us/Report

              • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

                Hi Kazzy,

                Thanks I agree with all your recommendations. My gut, which is by no means incontroversial proof, is that cops are slightly more likely to shoot threatening people than less threatening people. Since a near majority of all violent crime comes from a miniscule segment of the population, my guess is every cop of every color and level of training is more wary of this segment. I keep using the analogy of the Japanese grandma. Cops are not afraid of them, because statistically speaking 99.999% of them are not dangerous.

                Since the rate of violence is objectively close to two orders of magnitude higher for black males than white females, I think black males are much more likely to be accidentally shot than white females.

                Training, accountability and transparency will probably reduce this level of deadly mistakes, but it will never eliminate it.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami says:

                Personally, my target has never been elimination, merely reduction and accountability.

                Hell, at this point I’d be satisfied if any questionable use of force merely resulted in the cop having their credentials permanently pulled so they could no longer carry a badge or a gun in uniform anywhere in the US (the department could keep them employed in a support role, for all I care).

                I’d like more accountability/liability, but that would be a good start.

                This idea that somehow graduating the police academy means a lifetime of employment is nuts. The military never promised me a permanent job just because I finished my initial training.Report

              • Swami in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yeah, my point being that failure to eliminate it will logically lead to an occasional video “proving” to statistically challenged people that cops are all racist pigs.

                That narrative, plus ubiquitous cameras and a dishonest media and politicians guarantees the narrative of racist cops is unstoppable.

                There will always be at least one anecdote, and that is all that is needed.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

      Last time you said there isn’t any evidence of racism in police departments I linked to a DOJ study which you agreed demonstrated racism in the Ferguson police department. Since you’re again saying there isn’t any evidence, here’s another link and quote from a DOJ investigation into the Chicago PD:

      We have serious concerns about the prevalence of racially discriminatory conduct by some CPD officers and the degree to which that conduct is tolerated and in some respects caused by deficiencies in CPD’s systems of training, supervision and accountability. In light of these concerns, combined with the fact that the impact of CPD’s pattern or practice of unreasonable force fall heaviest on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods, restoring police-community trust will require remedies addressing both discriminatory conduct and the disproportionality of illegal and unconstitutional patterns of force on minority communities.

      Bold added!Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

        The reason I don’t like to rely on data alone is for the same reason historians do, that what gets compiled as “data” is really just anecdotes of lot of government officials.

        A police report is, quite literally, just a story that the officer writes down.

        Even the most fundamental raw data of policing- “How many crimes are being committed?” is itself a subjective and arbitrary story that the police get to make.

        Data isn’t a bad source of information; Its just incomplete and needs to be measured against other sources like personal testimony.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          “Data isn’t a bad source of information; Its just incomplete and needs to be measured against other sources like personal testimony.”


          Think about that next time you tell some sniveling racist poor-hater that “data is not the plural of anecdote” and then go on to fling a bunch of statistics about crime.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

            You really, really have to be careful when you pull out the whole “data is important except when personal testimony is more important” trick because if you only use it when it serves your personal ends, it presents identically to a shenanigan.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Again, no historian or scientist would say such a thing.

            Jane Goodall claiming to observe apes using tools is an anecdote; A hundred other naturalists claiming the same thing is data.

            One guy claiming racial bias is an anecdote; A hundred others making the same claim is data.

            People on the internet love that phrase about the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but like most internet bromides, its based on a foolish misunderstanding.

            Anecdotes are considered unreliable because they might be anomalies; But when the number of them grow large enough, the idea that so many anomalies align becomes itself an absurd claim.

            I jumped into the convo between Stillwater and Swami because I saw it heading in that direction, where the big claim (that black people are routinely treated with disrespect and hostility) was going to be debated using statistics.

            Except it can’t. How people are treated, whether they are afforded respect and dignity, is fundamentally un-measurable; Trying to extrapolate it via statistics will always be a game of secondary measurements and pattern-matching.Report

            • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              TL/DR; Jesus is real!Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              You could have picked Prescott Jernegan as an example of a grifter or Alan Sokal as an example of a provocateur or Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons as examples of prematurely enthusiastic people who were wrong.

              But you chose Jane Goodall.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think what I like is when Chip says “you can’t just look at a huge mass of data, you have to consider individual anecdotes, because when there are many consistent individual observations doesn’t that mean there’s a pattern and we can draw conclusions?”

                …like, dude, what do you think data is?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                10,000 anecdotes == Data.

                But if you’re hoping to have your priors confirmed, all you need is one.

                But it has to be the right one.Report

        • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Chip this is absolutely total nonsense. There is no way that a reasonable, informed human being believes that black violent crime in the US is in any way similar to that for other races. Zero point zero zero.

          If you really think that all these inner cities (where the crime is) often run by black mayors and often by black police chiefs with large proportions of black and non white officers and diversity departments which hold annual diversity training are making up the murder data from cities like Chicago, then you are totally delusional.

          I lived near Chicago for twenty years. The level of conspiracy to fool all of us that the murder epidemic there isn’t in black communities by black males would be beyond the level of faking the moon landings.

          You are just kicking up dust on the topic for rhetorical purposes.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

            Which is probably why I didn’t make such a claim.

            My point is that the “hard data” of how many crimes are committed by anyone, black or white, isn’t as “hard” as one might think.

            Most crimes aren’t like murders, where there is an objective fact like a corpse.
            Most crimes are only crimes because the officer says so; Did the pedestrian jaywalk or not, did the car swerve over the line or not, did the person become unruly or not.

            Often, the officer is telling the truth. Just as often, he is lying. Here is where I cite any of the thousand or so videos from the past month where officers deliberately escalate and provoke citizens into giving them “plausible cause” to make an arrest.

            And most often, the petty arrest is a pretextual arrest, meant to open the door to a search for more incriminating evidence.

            Crime statistics are just like any other statistic, prone to the same biases. Garbage in, garbage out.Report

            • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              But the data doesn’t have to be perfect to support the obvious claim of excessive rates of violent crime. Perhaps with perfect accounting we would find that three percent of the population doesn’t commit about 50%of violent crime. Maybe the real number is 40 or 60 (I can argue that the numbers could be biased down).

              At any of these numbers, the rate of police abuse is roughly proportionate to crime rates, hence a solid indication that the problem is primarily general accountability, not specifically racism.Report

      • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:


        Thanks for the comment and link. But what I thought I was arguing with Chip about was whether or not violent interactions between cops and blacks were proportionate to crime rates. He kept just stating that the books on crime were cooked by the cops and their cronies, and therefore the best appraisal of the system was his anecdotes, which prove cops are racists. I kept saying anecdotes and media reports are BS, and even easier to bias than the reports.

        I specifically mentioned in that post and the one preceding it that,
        “I am not suggesting the police never abuse force, nor am I even suggesting that there are no racist cops anywhere. I am suggesting that the disparity in violence and death rates is explained by the huge disparity in criminal activity.”


        “Even assuming that there is a degree of racism, which certainly seems plausible, it isn’t sufficient to make up for the fact that half of all violent crimes are being committed by this subsection.”


        “You are right that cops probably treat a random belligerent black teen different than a random docile Japanese granny. It would be illogical to treat the two individuals the same. Point is they run into thousands of times more of the former than the latter.”

        You linked to data that supported the that in Ferguson, at least, police is appear to be racist in various ways. I hope the authorities have acted upon this and corrected it, though that may not be a safe assumption. But I still believe that when 3 percent of the population (black males from teen through forties) commit half of all violent crime, that cops are going to both interact more and treat this sub segment differently than they do Japanese grandmas. Any statistical comparison between how many violent interactions occur between cops and Japanese grandmas vs black teens is going to “prove” systemic racism or disparate impact or whatever. It will do so even if there was never another racist act ever again. The disparate impact is intrinsic to the outrageously incomparable rates of violent crime between the two segments of the pop. There is also the issue of which group is more belligerent when interacting with officers, but I know of no data one way or another on the issue.

        I used to live in the Chicago area. I am sure there are some racist actions by cops. But the problem in Chicago is not too much policing but too little. The city needs to get much much tougher on gang violence, which sadly is disproportionately made up of young black males. Concentrating on blue on black violence will increase black on black murder by orders of magnitude more than it reduces cop abuse. It is exactly 180 degrees from what someone who actually believes black lives matter would reasonably endorse. Indeed, it is what a Klansmen would love to see.

        Intentions — even good intentions — which lead to bad outcomes are bad policy. I completely support holding cops accountable. I am sure this will reduce racist actions. However, the disparate rates of violent interaction between young black males and cops will only be eliminated when the crime rates and violence rates get roughly proportionate.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

          Concentrating on blue on black violence will increase black on black murder by orders of magnitude more than it reduces cop abuse.

          The suggestion here seems to be that disproportionate use of what DOJ refers to as “illegal and unconstitutional” force in minority communities is a necessary component of reducing inner city gang violence. Or are those two things severable? Is it possible to reduce illegal uses of force while also reducing gang violence? Seems to me it is.Report

          • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

            Of course. The key is to concentrate on the real problem which is police accountability, training, transparency etc. The faux problem is to pretend that cops are all racists as proven by another anecdotal Chip video played 24/7 on every media source for months on end.

            I just read an article showing US murder rates of blacks has gone up significantly since Ferguson. I fear that this is nothing compared to what we will soon be seeing coming out of places like Chicago which are seeing cops afraid of doing their jobs.


            I am 100% behind police accountability. Black Lives Matter is a total complete distraction from the real issue and the net effects will be to have more black deaths.

            To solve a problem it must be framed correctly.Report

            • Swami in reply to Swami says:

              But the question we need to ask, is who really wants to solve the problem? Obviously not those kicking up the dust clouds of obscurity on the issue.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

              Black Lives Matter is a total complete distraction from the real issue and the net effects will be to have more black deaths.

              What’s “he real issue?Report

              • Swamis in reply to Stillwater says:

                Good question. I was referring to police accountability.

                But this obviously is getting crossed up with the other very real issue of black murders. By framing this latter issue as primarily one of blue on black violence, we are losing sight that the issue (statistically speaking) is excessive black, especially black on black, violence.

                By focusing on the .1% of deaths caused by cops the BLM organization is obfuscating the 99.9% of deaths caused by out of control violent crime which the police and other institutions should be addressing. They are in effect betraying their very name.

                This is bizarro levels of crazy. There are thousands of murders of blacks primarily by criminal blacks and somehow the narrative becomes that the problem is out of control cops.

                Police accountability is a real issue, as is out of control black violence. The solution will involve addressing both, and doing so in ways where our actions in one area don’t cause the problem to get worse in the other.Report

              • Swami in reply to Swamis says:

                By the way, what do you think the real issue is?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                Reining in the popo.

                I’ve never really understood why some folks get hopped up about the racism angle when we start discussing these issues. For starters, if racism in the police force is an entry-point into a serious discussion about police reform, I’m 100% on board poragmatically. For seconders, I remain absolutely baffled that anyone could seriously claim that there *isn’t* racism in policing given all the evidence that there is, not to mention the long and currently hotly celebrated history of racism (as a cultural historical marker, mind) in the US. Third, effectively all the proposals for reform I’ve heard are steps in the right direction, some small, some big. And we wouldn’t have arrived at the point where reform is *actually* on the table without a massive outpouring of shock and revulsion at George Floyd’s death.Report

              • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think the article I linked to earlier made this clear. Ferguson was the last “spark” and the net result of our actions appears to have led to a substantial increase in dead black males, at a rate of over a thousand violent deaths per year.

                The issue was framed incorrectly and all our efforts led not to fewer deaths but considerably more. Let me quote from the article.

                “The shooting of Michael Brown, and the riots that followed, in Ferguson in 2014 led to a massive increase in anti-police activism and police pulling back from urban African-American communities. What were the consequences of that?

                The consequences were thousands of extra deaths, extra violent deaths, as African-American males killed each other in increased numbers. Those lost black lives were many, many times greater than the number of African-Americans killed by police. Especially they were many, many times greater than the number of unarmed African-Americans killed by police.

                Is there a problem with police violence in the US? Absolutely, and it affects people, particularly poor people, of all ancestries. It also varies enormously by region, far more than by ancestry of the person killed (or of the police who killed). The way to tackle it is to build a coalition of citizens to have better trained, more accountable police.

                To turn it into a problem of race is to turn these issues into a posturing falsity, a matter for performative outrage not remotely based on the truth. ”

                The issue is being framed incorrectly and the results of us fucking up the issue will probably be even more crime, more black on black predation and more young dead black males who deserve better.

                But white people can feel better about themselves. There is always that.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                Swami, the fact that police departments can unilaterally decide who gets policed, and how, is (to me) evidence that police powers need to be reined in and substantively reformed to make them responsive *to* communities needs and desires. From what you’ve said on this thread, I take it you have a different view of that: that illegal and unconstitutional uses of force are the price minority communities pay for having higher crime rates and the only way to lower those rates is to *allow* cops to continue to act that way.

                I’d also add that there’s lots of reporting that inner city minoritites actually won’t call the police when crimes are being committed because they fear being arrested -ie., overpoliced – themselves, or because they don’t trust cops in general.

                Here’s a quote from an Atlantic article discussing the issue:

                “Police misconduct can powerfully suppress one of the most basic forms of civic engagement: calling 911 for matters of personal and public safety,” the authors wrote in the study. The author’s conclusions may also shed some light on the controversial “Ferguson effect,” that is, the idea that a rise in crime follows a high-profile incident of police brutality.

                According to this hypothesis, crime rates in black communities in Ferguson went up because trust in the police went down after Michael Brown’s death.Report

              • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                We both agree that cops need to be “reigned in and reformed.” Since nearly half of all adverse police actions occur to a portion of three percent of the population (because they commit nearly half of all violent crime), then those three percent will see the lions share of the benefit. In addition, we both agree that racism or even just implicit bias likely affects this three percent more too. Again, the key is reform and accountability, as racist actions are clearly an example of police abuse. (Disparate treatment isn’t if proportionate to crime).
                Mistrust of cops is also clearly something that should be reduced with better accountability and reform.

                As to the hypothesis that “crime rates in black communities in Ferguson went up because trust in the police went down after Michael Brown’s death.” I don’t necessarily disagree that this could very well have been a contributing factor in the thousands of extra black murders. Do note that the hypothetical “mistrust” effect has been national, not just in Ferguson.

                And now we are repeating the same thing but this time multiplying it by a factor of ten. Blacks will be more mistrusting. Cops will be more reluctant to enforce their duty in black neighborhoods because all it takes is one biased video… And the very fact that cops go to where the crime is guarantees that half the films will be in these black neighborhoods.

                I predict a substantially higher black on Black murder rate and increases in minority crime rates. The media and politicians and protestors are trying their hardest to send this image. The proper framing is as I have done…

                1) Most cops are good.

                2) But there are some bad apples.

                3) All Cops need to be held accountable, and the primary beneficiaries of this accountability will be in minority urban neighborhoods (where the majority of crime occurs).

                But the BLM framework detests this framing. Net result of the BLM movement is more dead black males. Perverse.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                I think you’re wrong about that Swami. You’re criticizing BLM for incorrectly framing the debate around these issues rather than criticizing cops for how they respond to this type of criticism. Cops rebel against *any* criticism of their behavior and tactics regardless of the skin color of the person making the arguments. I think that’s the bigger problem here, one which I think is correctable but which you’ve baked right into the cake.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                I need an asterisk up there. It’s more accurate (at least from my pov) to say that *cop unions* rebel against any criticism or proposed restriction on their current behavior, regardless of who makes it or the circumstances, and the same resistance – down to the rhetoric and arguments invoked – is adopted by members of the public as well. Discussions about qualified immunity are a good example. If we allow civil suits against cops it will be impossible to fully staff a police force, so the argument goes….Report

              • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                Sorry, I am not following your comment. I am trying to respond but it just leads to more questions. Could you please clarify, as I would hate to repeat what the three people did below to the discussion on unions.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                Your contention is that elevating the racial aspect of the police brutality will undermine black people’s interests because cops will be less likely to police inner city violence due to the elevat3ed risk of making mistakes caught on video.

                My response was that cops refuse to police at the merest criticism from anyone* who demands reforms to their practices and culture, which – and this is the point – fundamentally undermines community trust in police, leading to an escalation of bad policing/increased crime.

                The more succinct way to say it is that your belief that BLM, or any reform movement for that matter, must take into account *the feelings* of the police when advocating reform measures requires those reformists to drink the poison which already infects the well. If the cops don’t want to do what the community, as stipulated by the political PTB, demand, then the community should be willing to write the entire police force off and start over.

                As an aside, part of the reason I hold this view is that I believe that on balance the big city cop shops and the rest of the CJ apparatus, on balance, do more harm than good right now such that being cop-free for a short period of time would actually be an improvement over the status quo even if less than ideal.Report

              • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                Thanks for the clarification. I truly value your comments and insights.

                Yes, I do indeed believe “that elevating the racial aspect of the police brutality will undermine black people’s interests because cops will be less likely to police inner city violence due to the elevated risk of making mistakes caught on video.”

                In addition, I believe wildly exaggerating charges of racism propagandizes black people to confuse the admittedly imperfect medicine (cops) with the disease (crime and dysfunctional culture).

                I don’t necessarily disagree that cops react negatively to anyone criticizing them for any reason. This seems almost guaranteed based upon my understanding of human nature and institutional sclerosis.

                However I in no way am arguing that we should elevate the “feelings” of the police. I am also fine with experimenting/replicating efforts to do a complete restart of the police. Sounds like a great idea to me. I wouldn’t allow there to be a vacuum though. As a classical liberal, I believe we should explore competing institutions and organizations, where communities can choose their police service. Constructive competition for community service.

                If I was a betting man though, I would predict that the net effect of our protests will sadly be cops and politicians that allow crime and black murder rates to escalate to 1980s levels again in inner cities, all in the name of fairness and BLM.

                I predict an iatrogenic outcome.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                Do certain policies contribute to the inner violence you worry will escalate? Can changes be made which would reduce the incentives for that type of violence? Seems to me you’re running a hypothetical in your head where only one variuable is changed – the politicization of how black communities are policed – and concluding that change will have a negative impact on those communities. But is anyone advocating reform limiting their proposals in such an arbitrary and restrictive way?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s a cycle, BLM criticizes cops, cops withdraw from black communities, crime rises in said communities, cops use the rise in crime to deflect criticism and justify a brutal crack down in black communities; BLM criticizes cops…Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I get your point but I’d phrase it a bit differently:

                Cops murder a black man; BLM gets riled up; city managers (like Bill De Blasio) say they’re going to institute mild and non-controversial police reforms; police go on strike/stop policing.

                BLM is the messenger. Don’t shoot the messenger!Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                And we don’t need to go further back in the timeline than the recent protests to see this very thing happening.

                Cops violate protestors civil liberties by assaulting them; city managers fire/suspend the guilty officers; the rest of the force goes on strike/stops policing.

                The behavior we Americans tolerate from our cops is truly something to behold!Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Hey, Striking is a protected American Right! Why do you hate Union labor?!


              • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                See my comment below to Oscar. BLM is not the messenger, it is the propaganda machine trying to dishonestly frame a police abuse problem (with a degree of racism) as a disparate treatment problem.

                I am simply making a prediction of what the outcome will be. I will give 5 to one odds that crime rates and murder rates go up in black areas. Any takers?

                I thought not. You all know the net result if this fiasco will be more black deaths.. What I can’t get his how everyone can be so callous with human life.

                Framing matters on problems.Report

              • Swami in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                It is a positive feedback cycle. Cops are not usually castigated by the media when they abuse non blacks, but they are demonized 24/7 when they abuse blacks. Net result is they follow the incentives and police the areas which need the least policing and ignore the areas needing the most.

                The solution is to focus on police abuse, not black police abuse. The latter is solved if and when the former is corrected. Focusing on the latter will result in negative outcomes for actual black people but great outcomes for those wishing to use victimhood as a rallying cry.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                Would a gatekeeper please liberate a comment stuck in moderation? Thanks.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                The reason police reform is so important is that one agent of the state murdering a civilian IS worse than a hundred civilians murdering each other.

                Its axiomatic that a brutal state is also a corrupt state, and a corrupt state is also an incompetent state.

                These things all run together. Without a basic respect for human dignity and worth, the state is incapable of fulfilling its core mission.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Does this insight help you understand why some people might have opposed Police Unions in 2019 or before?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                As we’ve learned during these protests, from cops goingon strike to union chiefs braying to the media, police unions have become a vehicle for defending cops right to a monopoly on the illegal use of force.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Monopoly on the illegal use of force is bad, but so is firing teachers.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Stillwater’s use of the term “vehicle” is apt.

                Private schools and homeschooling have long been the vehicle of choice for racism, along with “freedom of association” along with “states rights” “Law and Order” and whatever other tool they may want to use.

                Yet I oppose eliminating private schools as a way of combating racism.

                And once again, I’m happy to strip police unions of any role in disciplinary proceedings and have discipline handled entirely by outside civilian boards.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m glad that you’re happy to strip their role in disciplinary proceedings.

                But that wasn’t what I asked.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I assumed the “No” was implicit.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So… you have looked at the last 2 months and you still don’t understand how someone in 2019 might oppose Police Unions?

                Fair enough.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh, we “understand” all right.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                I “hope” your “property values” remain “high”.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                In my neighborhood? Not likely — at least by some folks’ ideas of what makes property values drop.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Some people think that crime does it.

                Others think that cops are a weapon to be trained against the riff-raff who might move in.

                Who can say? (Better not fire the bad ones!)Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                Come to my neighborhood if you want a look around. But be careful who you call “riff-raff.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Are the folks most likely to be offended by being called “riff-raff” equally opposed to the firing of bad police officers?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                Equally to whom? I haven’t said a word against firing bad police officers and neither, so far as I can tell from the comments around here, has anyone else. But setting up and effective and fair system for doing it — with or without police unions — is hard work. Bumper stickers are of limited use.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Well, the wacky thing, is that *EVERYBODY* supports bad cops being fired.

                Then it’s pointed out that Police Unions are responsible for bad cops not being fired.

                And some people then say “well, we need to oppose police unions then”. And others say “Wow! This stuff is really complicated. It really makes you think.”Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                And some are right and some are wrong and some disagree that what has been “pointed out” is, in fact, true, or, if true, all that important when it comes to solving the problem. We’re all entitled to our particular obsessions about the best way to go about things. Sometimes obsessions lead to the necessary hard work; sometimes, they just take up a bar stool better used for arguing about hockey.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Well, the wacky thing, is that we’re not even at “Police Unions, given their documented behavior, need to be abolished”.

                We’re at “I don’t understand how someone could be opposed to Police Unions”.

                And this ignorance is being used in service to maintain the status quo. Again, it’s not even about whether or not you agree that Police Unions need to go.

                It’s about not even understanding why someone would think that they should.

                Remember: My question was “Does this insight help you understand why some people might have opposed Police Unions in 2019 or before?”

                And the *ADMITTED* answer was “no”.

                We’re not even in “disagree” territory. We’re in “I don’t understand why someone might hold that opinion” territory.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Thats your big beef?
                That I can’t understand why someone might hold a foolish view?

                Ok sure, I can easily understand why some might want to get rid of police unions or homeschooling or capitalism.

                Can you also understand how some people might feel that way?

                So where does this leave us?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It’s not my “beef”. It was the proposition that had me boggled.

                Hey, if you think that opposing police unions is foolish (but you understand how someone foolish could think it’s a solution), that’s actually better than where we were before.

                With that in mind, I’ll take your (apt!) statement that:

                “The reason police reform is so important is that one agent of the state murdering a civilian IS worse than a hundred civilians murdering each other.”

                And I will argue that police unions make police reform impossible.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We’ve all seen this move before, Jaybird asking if someone “understands” why someone else thinks something. For example, can you “understand” why people voted for Trump? The boring answer, of course, is “yes.” Trouble is, people have different “understandings,” and my understanding of, for example, why the people I grew up among voted for Trump may differ from Jaybird’s preferred “understanding.” Then those with a different understanding are accused not of having an incorrect understanding — which would involve actual arguments about, say, facts –, but of not having any understanding, or lacking “understanding” in general, or lacking empathy for whatever group we are strenuously urged to “understand” in the preferred way — possibly based on mistaken assumptions about where one lives or how much one makes. Tiresome, I know. And, to answer your question, it leaves us nowhere.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Of course I understand why someone voted for Trump.

                I can even come up with explanations that are not “because they are bad”.

                And when I think about a country-wide situation where people are having protests and riots over police abuse and a total lack of accountability, when I start thinking about the institution of the police and their total lack of accountability, I can’t help but keep noticing the police unions being somewhat central to the inability of even Democratically-led cities to reform police departments.

                And so when I see someone say that they can’t understand how someone would be opposed to police unions, I find myself confused.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                It must be frustrating when people don’t want to engage in substantive discussions on a topic that interests you, whenever you feel like inserting it into a discussion of something else. And then having a meta-discussion of what people “understand” when you ask about their understandings. Can you understand why this keeps happening?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Oh, well then. Let’s just go back to talking about how important police reform is and how we, seriously, need it.Report

              • Swami in reply to Jaybird says:

                My take on this thread is that pretty much everyone agrees that unions should be reformed, at a minimum.

                This is actually a higher level of agreement than most topics.

                By the way, I agreeReport

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ah, but can you understand why this leads some people to support socialism?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, you understand Jaybird’s argument against unions perfectly well. You disagree with him.

                What I don’t understand is why you can’t just say that. “Jaybird, I totally get your opposition to public unions and cop unions are good example of the inherent problems they present, but I oppose getting rid of them and think they can be reformed for the better.”

                Or, is that a conversation you don’t want to have?

                My two cents is that cop unions won’t *allow* themselves to be reformed (because both leadership and the “few bad apples” want to maintain the status quo) so we’re stuck with an either/or situation.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I thought that’s what I was saying, in the comment about how we can strip police unions of disciplinary procedures.

                But I suspect you’re right, that they themselves will force it to be an either/ or thing, in which case the union will be collateral damage in pursuit of the bigger target.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                in which case the union will be collateral damage in pursuit of the bigger target.

                Or not. Which is why getting clear on the role cop unions play in maintaining our FUBARed criminal justice system is important. Cops, and cop unions, will present that either/or choice to the public on the assumption that most folks will back down. And I’m sorry to say this, but the wishy-washy amongst us – like you and CJ – strike me as their target audience.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Its true that in times where there is a lot of fury and polarization, nuanced positions get hard to hold.

                Its equally true that times of crisis provide cover for a lot of other agendas to be pushed through in all the chaos.

                But in the end, I wouldn’t let unionization prevent reform.

                By the way, has anyone studied the existing nonunion police forces, to get an idea of what such a future might hold?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yes, they have. You can Google it.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Stillwater says:

                Chip, you understand Jaybird’s argument against unions perfectly well. You disagree with him.

                What I don’t understand is why you can’t just say that. “Jaybird, I totally get your opposition to public unions and cop unions are good example of the inherent problems they present, but I oppose getting rid of them and think they can be reformed for the better.”

                Or, is that a conversation you don’t want to have?

                At least you understand the difference between “disagreeing” and “not understanding” and are willing to acknowledge the difference. But Chip’s argument, as I understand it, is precisely what you say he isn’t saying. He seems perfectly willing to have that conversation with someone who also wants to have that conversation. If there’s someone else out there who wants to have that conversation, which would get into nitty-gritty, specifics, and issues that can’t fit on a bumper sticker, maybe he can have it. Any volunteers?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to CJColucci says:

                “I’d like to have a serious discussion about police unions.”

                CJ and Chip: “You’re not being serious, you’re just up to your old tricks again.”

                “No, I’d seriously like to have that discussion.”

                CJ and Chip: “Right. SUUUURE. Like I haven’t heard all this anti-union shit a million times from conservatives. Dude, you hate unions.”

                “No, that’s not it. There’s an argument here that’s worth discussing.”

                CJ and Chip: “Well, nothings stopping you from having it we’re both here for it why are you whining so much just start it already we’re both perfectly willing why haven’t you started the discussion yet”Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Have you read my comments here?

                It doesn’t seem so.

                I’ve said about five times how I fully support stripping police unions of their ability to shield officers from discipline (hey, now its six!).
                I’ve suggested other ways to handle bad cops like civilian review boards.
                The only part of police unions I am supporting is their ability to negotiate pay and benefits.

                Isn’t this an example of “having a serious conversation”?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, here’s what you said upthread to Jaybird;s question about whether you understand why people oppose police unions:

                That’s your big beef? That I can’t understand why someone might hold a foolish view?

                In your view, opposing police unions is a “foolish” view. So I’d say that no, you’re not having a serious discussion about the topic. What’s even more interesting is that you’ve conceded that police unions will likely *not* agree to substantive reform and force an either/or choice on the public. Yet you seem to *still* think that opposing cop unions is “foolish”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                You don’t think that a reasonable person can consider the total abolition of police unions as foolish?

                I haven’t yet seen a response to my proposal for limiting police unions to only pay and benefits.

                What is the objection to this?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That’s not the question Chip. It’s the converse: can you imagine that sme people think total abolition of police unions isn’t foolish?

                Sure you can. You just refuse to admit it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I can imagine that “some people” think just about anything so OK, I concede the point.

                So, about this proposal of limiting police unions to just pay and benefits.

                Good idea, or not?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Do you mean the proposal Jaybird offered to you a few weeks ago? The person you think holds foolish views about police unions?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Hey, if he offered such a proposal, I must have missed it in all the chatter. So bad on me.

                But would be happy to see it come to pass.

                Does this mean we are all in agreement?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you still believe that anti-public union views are foolish, then I regret to inform you that we are not in agreement.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Stillwater says:

                Exactly. You understand perfectly.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to CJColucci says:

                That was supposed to be in response to the 4:05 comment.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yeah. The wacky thing is that I see how someone who supports socialism is likely to see the need for a very, very strong police force.

                And, as such, yeah. You pretty much have to support police unions to get the buy in from the cops to enforce the laws that socialism will entail.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                With that stance, you could equally argue that it’s important that the state not stop lynch mobs, because lynch mobs are going to lynch and it’s better to let a hundred people get lynched than to kill one Klansman.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to George Turner says:

                No, you can’t argue that equally.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                This has been today’s history lesson on the end of Reconstruction.Report

              • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

                And when exactly was Klansman killed to stop a lynch mob? I’ll wait.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Sorry I missed this comment.

                Oddly I agree. Problem is up you are framing it as mutually exclusive.

                A Police killing is more important. But the 100X size of the civilians killing each other means that it is important too. Very, very important to anyone who values life above political posturing.

                The key is police reform which does not lead intentionally? or not to more crime and murder in inner cities. That is what I have been arguing for.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Swami says:

      It probably won’t satisfy your curiosity entirely, but the Lyman Stone article goes into a lot of the racial data. It could be that this does not extend to gun possession specifically – that gun possession does not play a role and that police are no more afraid of a black man with a gun than a white man – but I find that unlikely.

      At the least, African-Americans are suspicious of second amendment advocates because they believe they are not protected if they carry (from cops or from Stand Your Ground, for that matter). If they (and I) are mistaken, the NRA et al could do a lot to alleviate these concerns by criticizing gun possession police shootings regardless of the race of the person shot. They could have started with Castile.Report

  13. LeeEsq says:

    Speaking of hollow rights, the Trump administration is attempting to eliminate all of asylum by using administrative procedures. I hate these people so fucking much. These changes are going to be challenged immediately. In the mean time, every American citizen on this blog should register their disgust in the public comments. Please don’t let the American Nazis get away with this:


    • Swami in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Why should we be pro asylum? Is it currently being used legitimately, or is it just an “administrative” work around of legal immigration?

      I am very pro legal immigration. I would support millions coming legally each year. But I am not sure if why I should be a fan of asylum. But I am open to any arguments pro or con.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Swami says:

        Outside of some cases like Syria and Iraq, very few people qualify for asylum, which requires a group or individual to be horribly oppressed by a government. Virtually nobody in the Western hemisphere should qualify for it.

        Asylum is for political prisoners and genocide victims, not people wanting to get away from an abusive spouse, a local street gang, or to escape gambling debts.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Swami says:

        Most central american countries (and many of their south american neighbors) lack functional economies and functional governments because they were proxy battle grounds during the cold war. Their citizens form the caravans that occasionally mas son our southern borders and die crossing our southern deserts because our Border Patrol dumps out water caches left for them. Since we broke their countries and we have an abysmal record building nation states in our own image (see Iraq), the least we owe those folks is asylum.Report

        • Swami in reply to Philip H says:

          So the problems in SA are our fault? We should have just let them go full Cuba/Venezuela, and then everything would have been hunky dory?

          Again I am pro legal and extensive immigration. But this is just a rationalization on your part of why you support bending the rules to get the desired outcome.

          I certainly agree we should not interfere in other countries, and certainly not to try to force our institutions onto their culture. As to whether we should have interfered to help keep Russian influence out (especially if invited to) I am less certain. And I suppose I even agree that if we do break a country that we should offer increased numbers of legal immigration.

          Seriously, I think Central Americans can offer valuable services in the US. We should have a process to bring in a reasonable number of the best and brightest and/or hardest working.Report