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Everything posted by FeatherFall

  1. I think this issue bears focusing with greater resolution. There was a system of race-based oppression and, yeah, there are multi-generational effects. But who really benefited from the past oppression? The labor market of poor white people was negatively effected by black slave labor. This primarily benefited those whites who were *slave owners* not all whites. Sure, poor whites were far better off than black slaves (and afterward "free" blacks in the Jim Crow era). But how many people actually reaped the rewards of these atrocities? This website says that the highest rates of slave ownership in 1860 were in Georgia at 49%. That's shockingly high. But it also mean most families didn't own slaves.
  2. I want to thank the OP and everyone else. This discussion has lead me to be more interested in the history of policing. This article is written with some heavy bias, but it nevertheless makes some good points. Among other things, it traces modern police forces back to a convergence between occupied Northern Ireland and southern US slave patrols. People interested in researching occurrences of police misconduct more thoroughly may want to start with the Cato Institute's police misconduct website.
  3. Nicky, you've had a lot of questions directed toward you. I understand the difficulty in responding fully to everyone. I'm sorry I couldn't be more brief with my own response. I'm sorry, I misstated my point. Police have access to the evidence against them prior to providing a statement. I don't know what the objectivity of juries has to do with this issue. If you'd like to explain further, please do. Perhaps pointing us toward the studies in question will help to illuminate your thoughts on the matter. Based on what you've said (and omitted) about the system, it appears you believe that the system begins and ends with a trial. I don't have a comprehensive list of alternative methods for distributing justice, but I do have some suggestions for where we can direct our attention. States' attorneys routinely overcharge suspects in the hopes that they plead to lesser charges; I'm inclined to regard this as extortion. It seems to me that this method is not used with the same frequency on police officers. In so far as this method is at play against the six officers entrusted with Freddie Gray's safety, it is also wrong. We have technology now that allows us to record all aspects of custody. I think that is a meager investment considering how much easier it would be to determine justice and how it would alter immoral police behavior. Please also consider that a prosecutor needs police cooperation in convicting a subject; that means police hold power over prosecutors, which ensures a level of cooperation other people simply won't get. I don't know how to begin to address that problem. I don't even know if addressing it is possible, but it nevertheless remains a serious problem. There also seems to be a revolving door between the law firms that argue in front of a court and the judicial appointments on the court. Again, I don't know how to address this issue, but it bears some measure of attention. Please take a moment to remember that my contention was about a culture that exists among law enforcement and prosecutors. My above suggestions were merely procedural. But I'm a little jealous of Don Athos for thinking of a good point at the end of his last post. Police are pressured into immoral behavior on a daily basis. I don't know how strong the influence is between such behavior and the different category of immoral behavior that includes brutality and evidence manipulation. But I suspect there is an important link. This particular influence exists for prosecutors as well. It also is the easiest problem to find a solution for; just change the laws so they are moral. Of course, a solution easily found is not necessarily a solution easily implemented. I don't know that it "proves" anything. "Evidences" may be a better word. If the term is as old as you say, it seems to me that it evidences the historical context of current police culture. It helps us figure out how we got to where we are today. It shows us that this culture isn't new. But it has become easier to see with modern recording equipment and social media. Credible allegations. These aren't criminals resisting handcuffs while screaming "you're hurting me." These are multiple lawyers alleging routine and extremely serious criminal misconduct on the behalf of a large number of police. Denying access to a lawyer while erasing the custody record strikes at the very heart of the "system" you hold so much faith in.
  4. Edit: Actually, from what I can tell this is not being dealt with. It's just on our radar. :Edit http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site
  5. I think that most people who commit moral wrongs tend to think of themselves as good people and rationalize their actions. So there is certainly a continuum of cooperation. Evil "Collusion" would be on one end, like the Wisconsin John Doe investigations. On the other end you'd have prosecutors giving cops the benefit of the doubt, refusing to investigate beyond a cursory glance (like what I suspect would have happened with Walter Scott were there no video). Now, keep in mind that last parenthesized bit is on the extreme end of the spectrum. A cursory investigation may be forgivable if a prosecutor doesn't have video of the cop (presumably) moving the tazer, didn't have non-autopsy evidence of rear-entry bullet wounds, etc. In the middle you have borderline cases that we'd argue about here, like the Eric Garner case. But yes, I think collusion happens often enough that it's a widespread problem. By the way, have you heard about the secret detention centers in Chicago? That police brutality was so widespread that it required infrastructure. Of course, it was discovered and is being dealt with on some level. But in order for things like that to happen you need a police/civic culture that accepts things like that as normal. Edit: There are other indications that "culture" is at play. It is widely speculated that Freddie Gray was the victim of a "rough ride." I'm told that in Philadelphia they call it a "Nickle Ride." Whether or not that happened matters in the Freddie Gray investigation. But put that aside for a moment. What sort of police culture do we have when there are slang terms for handcuffing someone and having the driver of a van slam them around in the back?
  6. I assume Nicky was responding to me, in part. If not, I'll at least own up to making the claim. I'm actually extremely surprised that anyone would balk at the notion of prosecutor/judicial/LEO collusion. I suppose that's why we have these discussions. Nicky, we've heard Don Athos's alternate interpretation of the stats you mentioned. Ultimately I couldn't say for sure, but I have a third interpretation. I'll start by conceding a lower conviction rate could indicate overzealous prosecutors who target police. But only in some jurisdictions. So that in and of itself does not dispel "Blue Culture," because it's likely that different jurisdictions have different relationships with their prosecutors. Please also consider that police almost always have access to view the evidence against them prior to trial - in many cases they have access to handle that evidence. Also consider that their training and career require regular trips to the witness stand, which leads to skilled testimony that is far more helpful to them than your average defendant's. Edit: I meant that police have access to the evidence against them before providing a statement.
  7. I haven't seen evidence that police are targeting people by race. There is evidence that they are targeting poor people in black communities, but race doesn't appear to me to be a primary factor. I think the real issue is what I'll call, "Blue Culture." It involves an incestuous relationship between prosecutors, judges and police departments. It encourages police to get involved where they don't belong, in many cases simply to generate revenue, and to protect their own at the cost of public safety and the rule of law. Here are some examples of "Blue Culture" causing the death of white people: Kelly Thomas Samantha Ramsey David Hooks May 5th Edit: Cameron Redus
  8. While the moral premise of private charity can come from the same premise that justifies socialism, the crucial element of force is still important enough to draw a meaningful distinction. Not to mention the fact that private charity can come from a different premise. You can see that premise at play when some charities vet their beneficiaries. Systematic benevolence actually sounds pretty great when we keep in mind the idea that duty-based "benevolence" is really not benevolence at all.
  9. Crow, I don't know what you're referring to when you wrote "evasion" in your last post. You're going to need to spend a little bit more effort explaining your position if you want me to understand. Are you saying that benevolence can't be combined with the non-initiation of force? That believing as much is an evasion?
  10. Yes, I disagree in part. For one, I'm not immediately sure where to being parsing out the morality of the horseplay example. The other examples conflate a legal and possibly ethical use of force with a use of force that is neither legal nor remotely ethical. Remember that an apples-to-apples comparison to the Garner case involves a situation where your average Joe is legally justified in using force. There is also some relevant context dropped from your example, such as the lack of an attempt to choke the victim to unconsciousness, unforeseen health concerns, etc. We've gone over that stuff to exhaustion, so I understand not wanting or needing to rehash it again. But considering how fraught with confusion this topic is I feel the need to point that out. Are you disappointed because I think headlocks aren't as big a deal as you do, or that I said you're trying to hang a man who committed no crime? If it's the latter, remember that I'm speaking of legal crimes. It's probably a good time to share that one of my first reactions to this situation was that any kind of conviction would be right, even if we had to get creative with the law. So I'd find the position understandable, even if it's not right.
  11. I still don't know how you'd square this with the notion that, as it seems to me, your average Joe can use a temporary chokehold without it being considered deadly force. It seems to me that you're trying to find a loophole to hang this cop for something that isn't a crime. Ex post facto, indeed. Cops may be held to different standards than your average person. But I submit there are more just punishments for failing those standards to which other people are not held; jettisoning them from the police force, or docking pay, or demotion. I object to double standards for police, but let's not react by imposing an inverse standard. Let's just hold everyone to the same standard.
  12. As long as we're having them to commit to something that won't happen, why don't we have them get rid of the false alternative entirely and combine benevolence with the non-initiation of force?
  13. To which article do you refer? It seems to me that shelters, socialized or not, will bar their doors to the homeless when at capacity. The poor guy had alcohol issues and apparently lost access to housing after someone secured it for him. This isn't a free-market/socialized care issue, this is a personal health/growth issue. Some people aren't going to make it in any system. Whether this particular guy's problem was due to early childhood experience, a genetic predisposition, or something else I don't know. But sooner or later the doors to any shelter will close, even when they aren't being shut down "due to ordinance and code violations." It's a resource problem that socialism is just as susceptible to, if not more so.
  14. Prohibition by law is different from prohibition by policy. The choke hold appears to be prohibited by policy but not by law. This implies that any citizen may legally use such a choke hold under certain circumstances. Earlier I wrote, "appears," because it isn't clear if the duration is a factor, if this officer will face departmental repercussions or if he is protected by the kind of undue veneration you mentioned. I have some more thoughts, but it's getting very late.
  15. The medical examiner seemed to lay blame in equal parts to the choke hold and to the act of pinning Garner to the ground. Presumably you don't think the second act should be prohibited. Until I see evidence that the medical examiner drew further distinction between those two actions, I can only conclude that they are of similar severity; that is, reasonable arrest measures that unpredictably triggered a prior health condition. I am not aware of any further info on the matter, which is regrettable. But it is my understanding based on available information that Garner, while handcuffed, was still breathing and that an ambulance was called for him. Without combing through the details I don't have access to, that seems like a reasonable response to his pleas. So much for the second context. Regarding the total context, you're right; this isn't justice. Aside from being incredibly stupid, I haven't judged Garner's resistance negatively. He didn't take any violent actions and just wanted to be left alone. In cases where officers enforce immoral laws, there can be no justice within the legal system. The only thing the legal system allows us to address is the proper action within the second context. Any justice you want to effect will have to come from outside of the legal system. What do you propose?
  16. It appears to me as if a grand Jury had something to say about what was necessary in the Garner case. If not what was necessary, at least what was permissible.
  17. This topic is frustrating because it requires us to employ more than one context as we evaluate different aspects of the encounter. Let's leave aside the question of moral versus civil law for a moment and assume, for the rest of this paragraph, that the legal is the moral. A citizen's responsibility when confronted with a legal arrest is to submit to detention. A reflex is an involuntary response of the nervous system; Garner's response was clearly not reflexive. The man was actively resisting. An officer's job requires non-lethal force when resistance is offered. I don't know what "over the top" means, so I have to assume it is a fair approximation of "lethal force" in this context. To assume that a prematurely released chokehold amounts to lethal force because chokeholds are not sanctioned by the department is to assume too much. Please consider that the technique was taught to the officer in training and must, therefore, be employed with some regularity throughout the country. Now it's time to shift context a little bit and talk about the threats police face when they decide nonlethal force is necessary. Clearly, Garner didn't represent a threat; he wasn't violating anyone's rights. But an arrest necessarily becomes a forcible affair when resistance is offered. At that point officers must asses the danger to themselves if force escalates past non-lethal. I'll call it a "threat-response calculation" (I have no idea what an officer would call it). I assume that the longer an encounter lasts the greater the chance of the suspect escalating force. I don't fault police for assuming a sense of urgency and using more aggressive nonlethal tactics when subduing stronger people. Of course, whether or not such aggression was "nonlethal" in the Garner case is a separate issue. But simply from a threat-response context, I am baffled by your insistence that Garner didn't represent a greater threat than your average person. I really can't wrap my head round it. Nicky's response included a mention of the grand jury process. They are privy to much more information than we. They concluded that there was not enough evidence of lethal force to warrant a trial. They, apparently, thought that the stress of a typical arrest was enough to have triggered Garner's health condition, and that the temporary choke hold did not deviate enough from the typical arrest to change the nature of the encounter. This is a form of justice. Having said that, I am suspicious of the grand jury process because it allows prosecutors too much control over what is presented to the jury. The incestuous relationship between police and prosecutors is legendary. When the grand jury testimony is hidden, as it was in this case, I suspect a biased presentation. But suspicion is not proof, and I haven't seen enough evidence to conclude that this was, legally speaking, a malicious or negligent homicide. If you would be kind enough to point me to new grand jury testimony or evidence of grand jury manipulation, I'd be happy to review it. Until then I'll tentatively conclude that nothing improper happened during the arrest. Again, I didn't see anything that I'd object to, other than the enforcement of a non-crime. I agree that this wasn't a defensive or retaliatory encounter. But we must take care to confine the different aspects of this discussion to their separate contexts. Two contexts relevant to your point come to mind. The first is the enforcement of a non-crime (which makes the arrest an initiation of force). The second is the use of force progression in a legal arrest and the threshold of negligence/malice when prohibited tactics are used. You and I are both aware that cops enforce both moral and immoral laws. We are also aware that policy decisions regarding arrests will affect the enforcement of both types of laws. I am comfortable with the force progression that I believe was used in the Garner case. I am deeply disturbed that it was used on Eric Garner. That's why I prefer to focus on the laws police enforce. I'm not willing to completely give up police, but I could be convinced to have them give up enforcing a slew of crimes, even real/moral crimes. I fully understand such a change could only come at the expense of normal people taking more responsibility for protecting themselves, and probably effecting arrests themselves. This would lead to a shift from scrutiny of police arrest tactics to scrutiny of citizen's arrest tactics. That seems to me like it could be a good thing, considering how biased I believe the prosecutors are in favor of police. It would also help to support the idea that the arresting agent is no different before the law than the suspect. But for now I'm inclined to just focus on the laws, not the people who enforce them. I've addressed some of this in my response to Eiuol above. The grand jury process is a form of justice, and from what I've seen I agree with their conclusion - as it pertains to the second context (force progression, negligence and malice). Please keep in mind that a non-indictment does not imply a total lack of accountability. This officer may be disciplined by his department. Actually, I don't know that to be the ultimate problem. Consider the second context I mentioned in my response to Don Athos, above. Police use of non-lethal force was sanctioned during the Garner arrest. For us to include a citizen in a comparable situation, we must construct a context where that citizen's use of non-lethal force was justified. Now, I understand that police are treated differently. Police are less likely to be indicted for any transgression, but it isn't a given that a citizen would be indicted simply for grabbing the neck for a few seconds (again, assuming their use of non-lethal force was justified). I disagree that this disparity is due to a lack of objective law; I believe it is due to a lack of consistent enforcement, through a sort of "regulatory capture" corruption of the grand jury process. In any case, I don't believe the Garner case is an example of this - from a force-progression perspective. But again, from a moral law and felony murder rule perspective, Garner was murdered.
  18. I thought you said that you hadn't read it, but you must have referred to the other two works. I was surprised to read that you weren't interested in them. I think these would be the first place to start when studying Rand's rhetoric. She isn't known primarily for her public speaking but rather her fiction and nonfiction. The strength of your thesis may benefit from quoting what Rand had to say about rhetoric then quoting examples of her doing it. The Art of Nonfiction focuses much on the process of writing, which is probably irrelevant to your purpose. But chapter 8 is about style and may be of value. It has subsections on emphasis, transitions, rhythm and drama. Chapter 3, Judging One's Audience, may help to explain why some criticize her use of the axiom, "existence exists." As a stand alone sentence it is tautological, redundant and meaningless. But she assumes her reader is familiar with the deeper meaning that there is futility in attempts to constrict lines of reasoning that deny existence (she either assumes this or tries to explain it). I'm interested to know if the criticisms quoted in your thesis were drawn from pieces intended for Objectivist audiences. Perhaps I'll look into it if I have time. The Art of Fiction may offer you much more to work with, as it focuses less on the process of writing. This book focuses on style in three separate chapters. The book quotes examples from Rand and and about 8 other authors including Victor Hugo, Thomas Wolfe and Sinclair Lewis. It wouldn't take long to scan these two books for material, so I think it's still a good idea this late in the process.
  19. Ilya Startsev, I'm curious to know if you ever got around to reading The Art of Fiction, The Art of Nonfiction or Atlas Shrugged.
  20. Black markets are cracks in civilization that propagate barbarism and violent aggression. Legitimize the markets and bleed out the barbarism. In the mean time, I like your suggestion. But this seems too easy; I don't think it was a satisfactory example of my idea, but maybe the examples don't need to be hard. After thinking on it a bit, I've come to the conclusion that we're all morally justified in ignoring immoral laws, and there should be an explicitly recognized plea of innocent because the law is immoral. Cops should have a similar defense when and if they decide to defy orders. Taking such a plea should be taken as an admission of committing the act in question to dispense with courtroom procedural shenanigans. Jury nullification amounts to this in fact, but courtrooms often prohibit discussion of it. They should be required to discuss it in every case. On the other hand, we can't convict people in the courts of moral crimes that are not legally prohibited. But that doesn't mean we lack recourse; ostracism comes to mind.
  21. I alluded to the following in another thread. I think police should ignore immoral laws. But it gets difficult when we want laws enforced that aren't on the books - like racketeering charges and applying the felony murder rule to the cops in the Eric Garner case. Or to take a less controversial issue, the theft of drugs from a drug user. Do you prosecute a guy for stealing something nobody had a *legal* right to, and then ignore the laws prohibiting possession? It seems less justifiable to me.
  22. I hope I didn't give you the impression that I wanted new people to execute the same strategy. A new strategy is implied by different goals. You can try to achieve the same goals with different strategies, but you can't use the same strategy to achieve different goals.
  23. I don't think we can draw that conclusion from the Iraq war. That war strategy was botched because of a failure to properly identify an enemy and victory conditions. Bad philosophy. It is great evidence that we can't trust Republicans to wage wars (which isn't to say we can trust Democrats). For now I'm willing to wait for someone more capable. It will probably be a while.
  24. DonAthos, I don't think the force is defensive when police are arresting someone. I'd call it retaliatory force. And there certainly should be restrictions on what police can do. Such restrictions will impose a greater risk of a suspect escaping, but that's not a big deal if people retain the means to defend themselves. And of course we will hold people accountable for breaches of policy, on a case by case basis. Most people are at least partly responsible for how they interact with police. A little girl is not. But we're getting ever farther from the previous issue and I'm having a harder and harder time seeing how they relate.
  25. Eiuol, he sure looks obese to me. Perhaps a google image search of Gilbert Brown will change your mind? Edit 1: I don't know why you think it matters if he is resisting violently. Perhaps you think what the police did to Garner would have been ok if he was violently resisting rather than merely dodging their handcuffs? I'm not familiar with the police progression of force, but it's my understanding that the police are allowed to get aggressive when people show resistance like that. I can't say for certain whether it's right or wrong, but apparently you think its wrong. Why? Edit 2: Look, I don't know what purpose this serves. It sounds like you're trying to deny that garner's size represented a greater threat than your average Joe's.
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