Shooting Back.

For at least three years now— probably longer— I’ve been worrying at a perpetually-unfinished blog post that tries to take an economic approach to murders committed by cops. I’ve never posted it, for reasons that should be obvious when I outline its essentials. The basic argument is that conventional attempts to reform police behavior are doomed to fail for two reasons:

  1. the cost (to a cop) of gunning down the average black person in the street is low; and
  2. the cost of not covering for your buddy when he guns down someone in the street is high.

I don’t believe these are especially controversial claims. We all know how rare it is to see a cop indicted, even when there’s video evidence of him choking the life out of someone or shooting them in the back. The astonishingly high rate of “equipment failure” experienced by body cams on the beat is old news. When you’re used to that level of invulnerability, why not indulge in a little target practice if you’re so inclined?

Likewise, the Blue Wall of Silence is news to no one. It is very difficult to get a cop to turn in their fellows because their very lives may depend on their partner having their back at a critical moment. You get a rep as a rat, your backup may just look the other way for that critical half-second when a real threat draws down on you. (I once compared civilian-police interactions to dealing with snakes in the desert: 95% may be nonpoisonous, but it’s still a good idea to pack an antivenom kit when you head out. No, said the person I was talking with, the cops are worse: with snakes, at least the nonpoisonous 95% don’t go out of their way to protect the other five.)

So: cost of murder low. Cost of turning in murderer high. These are the economics of Homicide: Cops on the Street. Seems to me, the only way to change the current pattern is to change those economic costs. For example, what if you increased the cost of not turning in a bad cop? What if, every time you didn’t turn in a badged murderer, you yourself stood significantly higher odds of getting killed?

What if we started shooting back?

Not at the guilty cop, of course. He’d be too well protected, too on guard by the time the word got out. But what if, for every cop who gets away with murder, some other random cop within a certain radius— say, 200 miles— was shot in reprisal? It wouldn’t matter that they were innocent. In fact, their innocence would be central to the whole point: to make the nonvenomous 95% stop covering for those “few bad apples” we’re constantly being told is the heart of the problem. The point would be to raise the price of collusion enough make those 95-percenters think twice. Simple economics.

From Ross, 2015.

From Ross, 2015. Risk Ratio (of getting killed by police): Black-and-Unarmed to White-and-Unarmed.

Of course it’s not justice; you’d be killing an innocent person. But we’re way past the point at which justice should have any say in the matter. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of justice in the number of people who get gunned down by police on an ongoing basis. There’s little justice in the statistical finding that on average in the US, unarmed blacks are 3.5 times more likely to be gunned down by cops than unarmed whites (over 20 times as likely in some corners of that benighted country). Anyone who tells you that you must remain polite, respectful, and most of all nonviolent while your fellows are being mowed down like mayflies has either chosen a side (hint: it ain’t yours), or drunk about ten litres of Kool-Aid.

When it comes to game theory, tit-for-tat remains the most effective strategy.

*

I never published that blog post. Never even finished it. The solution seemed way too naive and simplistic, for one thing. In a world of rainbows and unicorns cops might do the math, realize that murdering unarmed black people endangered themselves, and change their evil ways— but if we lived in a world of rainbows and unicorns, cops wouldn’t be murdering with impunity in the first place. In this world, it seems a lot more likely that things would simply escalate, that police forces across the US— already militarized to the eyeballs— would go into siege mood, feel increasingly justified in shooting at every shadow (or at least the dark ones). They’d rather put the whole damn country under martial law than lose face by backing down.

It also didn’t help that I’ve known some very decent people who happen to be cops— one a 9-11 first responder, another who actually reads my books and writes his own— and while that wouldn’t change the logic of the argument one iota, random assassination is still a fate I wouldn’t wish on good people. Because when it comes right down to it this is wish-fulfillment, for all the economic and game-theory rationales I might invoke. It was born in my gut, not my neocortex. Every time I read about another Philando Castile or Alton Sterling, I want to start throwing bombs myself. (My greatest disappointment in Bruce Cockburn welled up when he back-pedaled on “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”.)

I want the fuckers to pay, and I know they won’t.

Oh, maybe this month’s killers have some rough times in store— the public documentation of those crimes was so incontrovertible that the politicians don’t really have the option of sweeping them under the rug. But viral videos of murder in progress didn’t send Eric Garner’s killers to jail. Nobody got indicted for the murder of Sandra Bland. The killer of Samuel DuBose is at least awaiting trial, but given the history of such proceedings dating back to Rodney King I’m not counting on any convictions. And those victims are the lucky ones, the ones “fortunate” enough to be gunned down on camera. What about the greater number whose deaths happen out of camera range, whose killers are free to make up any story that fits without fear of contradiction or scrutiny by a legal system which continues, unfathomably, to treat the word of a police officer as golden?

They keep getting killed. And we keep rending our garments and sending them our fucking thoughts and prayers, and the moment they block a road or stop a parade or express a fraction of the rage that is their due we back away and tell them that they won’t get anywhere with that kind of attitude. We trot out the same insipid MLK Jr. quotes about the virtues of nonviolence, about peace being the only way to achieve “dialog” or “brotherhood”— as if the people who have them in the crosshairs give a flying fuck about any of that. We tell them to have patience, to let the system work because we’ve got the evidence now, everyone saw it on YouTube, no way those fucking cops will walk away from it this time— and yet they do. Time and time again. The cops walk away from it.

Photo by Jonathan Bachman. According to the Atlantic article from which I cadged this photo, a number of readers sided with the police.

Photo by Jonathan Bachman. According to the Atlantic article from which I cadged this photo, a number of readers sided with the police.

Why should the black community care about alienating us? Why should they give us another chance to express our shared anguish and deepest sympathies, only to have us wag our fingers at them the moment we’re inconvenienced? A quarter-century after Rodney King, why should they believe that the next time will be different, or the next, or the time after?

What’s left to try, except fighting fire with fire?

That is where my game-theory imaginings came from: not some rational step-by-step multivariate analysis, but vicarious rage. And while I might be able to construct such an analysis to yield the same result; no matter how rationally I might to put that argument; no matter how many of you I might even convince— all I’d have really done would be to craft a clever excuse to let my brain stem off the leash. I try to be better than that.

Which doesn’t make keeping it to myself all this time feel any less like a betrayal of some principle I can’t quite put my finger on.

*

Anyway, I never posted it. And now the scenario’s been realized anyway: five cops dead, six others critical. All innocent, so far as we know (although if they were black civilians, I’m sure Fox would already be pointing out that they were no angels…) All shot in direct retaliation for the murder of black people, for the sins of their brethren.

The only deviation from my own scenario is that the shooter didn’t get away alive. They blew him up, used a robot carrying a bomb on its arm like it was delivering a pizza.

The usual aftermath. People “coming together”. Pastors and politicians urging calm. The same old Kingisms and Ghandi-isms popping up like impetigo sores all over Facebook. Everyone expressing support for the members of the Dallas Police Force, chiefed by a black man who has, by all accounts, turned that department into a model of progressive policing and perhaps the worst target Micah Johnson could have chosen. (Although it bears mention that that same progressive chief, and those same progressive policies, are apparently quite unpopular with the DPF rank-and-file.) As usual, none of this seems to have had much impact on the tendency of certain cops to gun people down and lie about it afterward (I mean, Jesus— by now you’d think they’d dial back the shootings on account of the optics if nothing else). So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

Except now, here and there across the US, these other people have begun threatening reprisals against other cops. There’ve been some actual shootings. Copycat attacks, you might call them. Or perhaps “inspired reprisals” might be a better term.

Micah Johnson is becoming a role model.

So what now? Have we finally reached critical mass? Is this a smattering of isolated blips, or the start of a chain reaction? Have we finally reached a tipping point, will black lives matter enough to starting shooting back? Given the stats on the ground, who among you will blame them if they do?

For my part, I’m more glad than ever that I didn’t make that blog post. At least nobody can blame me for the events of the past few days. (Don’t laugh— following my post on Trump’s burning of America, I had at least one long-time fan renounce me completely for “throwing [him] under the bus”, as if my thoughts might have even an infinitesimal impact on the unfolding of US politics. Some people seriously overestimate my influence on the world stage.)

I have no idea what’s in store. I’m not sure I want to find out.

All I know is this: if we are, finally at long last, starting to reap the whirlwind— no one can say it hasn’t been a long time coming.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday July 11 2016at 12:07 pm , filed under politics, rant . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

87 Responses to “Shooting Back.”

  1. Very glad you didn’t finish and post the above referenced blog. Better to leave economic analysis to the methodological dualists (chief among them Mises, Rothbard, and Hoppe). I recommend reading Anatomy of the State by Murray N. Rothbard. You’ll never look at state power in the same way again.

    Incidentally, after recently reading Mises’ Theory and History I’m beginning to wonder if Lee Smolin isn’t trying to introduce a form of praxeology into the physics community. Ignoring Time when describing physical action in mathematical models is similar to ignoring choice, or individual value judgments, when analyzing human action in statistical models–most economists are guilty of this, save the Austrian school. The Austrian school is thusly the only school capable of rigorous prediction.

    (Rothbard also wrote an essay that is of great interest to the future of science called Science, Technology and the State. It discusses funding at length and will likely shake the world of most scientists with research aspirations.)

  2. They have a reason to feel fear. They know, deep down, that the control they have on the populace is tenuous. Authoritarians never seem to understand authority comes from beneath, from the people willing to follow or at least not cause problems. Authority does not comes from the top and anyone who argues as much doesn’t understand power or group dynamics.

    I feel as you feel. A gut wrenching need for violent reprisal, because it appears that violence is all they understand. In truth, the solution is to make them toothless. Remove the laws they enforce, remove the sanctions the impose, remove the revenue they depend on. Starve them like kudzu, keep trimming until their resources are used up.

  3. “95% may be nonpoisonous, but it’s still a good idea…”

    I never thought I’d have to point out the difference between poison and venom to my favourite biologist, but here we are.

    It bites you > bad things = venomous.
    You bite it > bad things = poisonous.

    There are only two poisonous snakes I’m aware of. One is the common Garter Snake of North America, which in certain populations is known to eat toxic salamanders and become themselves poisonous as a result.
    The second is the Tiger Keelback (Rhabdophis tigrinis) from Japan, which gets its poison from the toads it eats. Interestingly, the Tiger Keelback biochemically processes the toad-poisons to make them even more deadly, which it then secretes from glands on the back of its neck when threatened. Even more interestingly, a mother Keelback with sufficient stored toxin can pass on some of it to its brood, giving them a head-start in life.

  4. I’m about to leave the ‘burbs and head to the “near North” of the city. There’s a BLM March going on, in the center. It could drift anywhere, especially if it gets rowdy. Wish me luck.

  5. Hello, Peter. Long time lurker, since I was gripped by Blindsight. Big fan of your necrotizing fasciitis posts. Disgusting, I know.
    Also necrotizing seems to be the proto-fascistic tendencies of Bipolar America, where Might makes Right and By God we shall make this Country Great again.
    Kneejerk reactions like “Shooting Back” won’t invert the tendency. Public outrage won’t invert the tendency.
    I propose a massive Sexual Awareness Bombing Campaign. With everyone busy experiencing the Yellow Fever, Black Chocolate and Finger Lickin’ Latin (Work In Progress), there won’t be anyone left to shoot a gun (refractory period and all). How to implement this, you ask?
    Easy, there’s this weaponized oxytocin delivery system I’m working on in my basement. Bit of a side project, though.
    Still trying to figure out this Cold Fusion thingy.
    (best read in the voice of Sam Rockwell)

  6. I remember you posting a similar “modest proposal” in a reddit thread long ago and have been lightly worried you might get some blowback from that in light of recent events.

    Anyway, I know it’ll never happen, and may not even be workable even if it could magically be decreed, but my own “born in the gut” solution is a rule: In cop-TV shows they often have this trope where if you’re an officer who’s had to shoot somebody you have to go to mandatory counseling. And of course, with domesticated animals like dogs, there’s often a rule like “if you bite X number of people, you’re put down.” Let’s merge the two philosophies and put them together with cops: if you’re a cop and you kill someone, for any reason, you lose your job. You can’t work in that department ever again. Maybe you can move to another one, which gives some leeway to “good cops who were just doing their job”, but for that department, you’re done. No appeal, and no judgement implied (that is, inherently… if it was an actual murder as opposed to self-defense, you’re still criminally responsible).

    Now, deciding to kill somebody can’t just be a matter of spite, because it has consequences regardless of whether your cops lie about the suspect resisting. Because even if it was, you still lose your source of income. If you want to work in the same field, you have to pick up and move you and your family.

    If you truly believe you’re in a life or death circumstance, you’d still act, but you’re more likely to go for disabling shots if that’s possible, and you’re extremely motivated to do your absolute best to make sure medical treatment is provided once a suspect is down, and few people are going to gun down a suspect who’s on the ground just because they gave them trouble.

    Then again, I’m sure if they implemented it, we’d have cops suddenly teaching each other how to put suspects in persistent vegetative states without killing them.

  7. I’ve actually been waiting for this. The endless RW drumbeat of “war on cops” when no such thing actually exists, making cops hyper-vigilant. Training that has changed over the last 36 years from service orientation to an “us vs. them” mentality. The fact that now everyone has a camera and social media has truly turned us into Marshall mcCluhan’s global village, giving everyone access to indefensible actions by cops. It’s the perfect storm of positive feedback loops.
    Want to change things?
    1) National standards. Mandatory psych screening. Make the academy two years long. Treat it like an actual profession. And then PAY THEM like professionals. This is where municipalities and taxpayers begin to squeal like Ned Beatty in “Deliverance”. You want change? Suck it up and do it.
    2) When bad cops are found guilty of nefarious acts, the settlement money comes out of the police officer’s pension fund. Experienced officers will yank rookies up by their short and curlies if they even look like they’re about to pull some shit. Watch how fast it happens.

  8. Treat it like an actual profession. And then PAY THEM like professionals.

    Are US police poorly paid?

    Here in Toronto a constable makes $91,482, an officer $97,237 — and that’s before overtime, paid duty, and retention pay. Almost 80% of Toronto police make more than $100,000 a year. Last year the top earner was Constable Abdulhameed Virani, who made $242,524. Qualifications are a grade 12 diploma and 24 weeks of (paid) training.

    This is the police force who’s members assaulted and detained citizens without trial during the G20 protests. Who’s members think that pointing a gun at someone is de-escalating the situation.

    Compare to nurses who make $53,040 to (after 25 years) $78,000. Engineers* at $45,401 to $88,853 (depending on field and experience). Teachers* at $33,414 to $92,279.

    Whatever the problems with the Toronto police, I don’t think lack of pay is the cause.

    *Data from Payscale.com

  9. There is a campaign that puts forward laws in the US that need changing

    http://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision

    I’m reading The New Jim Crow to get educated because it was recommended in a post about all of this.

  10. There’s little justice in the statistical finding that on average in the US, unarmed blacks are 3.5 times more likely to be gunned down by cops than unarmed whites (over 20 times as likely in some corners of that benighted country).

    @Peter Watts

    Tell me, do you believe whites and blacks are equal and interchangeable in everything but appearance?

  11. And another article that is worth reading. On exactly the same topic.

    Police brutality in the US is a real problem. Trump, however, has no better ally than Black Lives Matter.

    Identity politics is killing solidarity and fuelling fascism
    choice quote:

    The pus-filled boil of identity politics, quietly swelling since the 80s, really only burst within the past couple of years. And now, the identity fascists are dismantling all remnants of cross-community solidarity as rapidly as possible. Every progressive movement of recent years is collapsing as identity politics moves in. Among the most spectacular examples has been the undermining of the campaign against police violence in the United States. A few years ago, thanks to smartphones and social media, and campaigns such as Copblock, a bright light was shone for the first time on the astonishing violence of US policing. Although there was clearly a strong racial element, police violence was meted out across all communities. If there was a particular “identity” group at the receiving end, it was overwhelmingly poor, young men, of all races.

    ^^you gotta face it.

    If left-wing abandons majority proles and keeps shitting on them, the proles will naturally gravitate towards fascism (which is, in many ways, a left-wing movement. Collectivism, social solidarity, anti-capitalist notions etc, except animated more by by xenophobia and fear instead of envy and resentment).

    Is it surprising, therefore, that poor whites would now also choose to unite around their racial identity? Are the rise of Donald Trump or of Nigel Farage so surprising in this climate? This new ascent of the fascist right was clearly preempted and driven by the rise of fascist politics on the left. We have no chance of resisting the rise of of the far-right in Europe and America if we adopt fascist methods and ideas ourselves. We need to rediscover the solidarity of the old left: we must stand shoulder to shoulder with those who suffer, however much – or little – they resemble ourselves.

    ^^was it ever like that in the UK? If it ever was, it was not a metastable state of affairs.

  12. Given the stats on the ground, who among you will blame them if they do?

    Hard to blame them… given that even the vastly over-educated manage to get outraged by simplistic “stats on the ground”.

    List of fatal snake bites in the United States.

    Don’t these animals know they need to bite more women and obvious-by-name black people if they don’t want to get accused of ism?

  13. Daniel: I feel as you feel. A gut wrenching need for violent reprisal, because it appears that violence is all they understand. In truth, the solution is to make them toothless. Remove the laws they enforce, remove the sanctions the impose, remove the revenue they depend on. Starve them like kudzu, keep trimming until their resources are used up.

    Chicago is reaping the fruits of that approach.

    Shootings are up 30%. 43 shot just this weekend, 4 fatally.

    So far this year, there have been at least 344 homicides in Chicago. That’s 102 more than this time last year, according to data kept by the Tribune.

    102 more dead. As a heartless lunatic who knows most of these were criminals of one sort or other, and that this increase is probably eugenic, I feel grim satisfaction. Do you feel the same, brother?

  14. Chris: I never thought I’d have to point out the difference between poison and venom to my favourite biologist, but here we are.

    It bites you > bad things = venomous.
    You bite it > bad things = poisonous.

    Actually, I did know that, and the first draft read “95% may be nonvenomous, but it’s still a good idea to pack an antivenom kit when you head out.” But that was two “venom”s in the same sentence, and it was repetitive and singsongy, so I swapped one of them out so it would flow better.

    I’d kinda hoped no one would notice.

    Divided Loyalty: Easy, there’s this weaponized oxytocin delivery system I’m working on in my basement. Bit of a side project, though.

    That is an awesome solution. The only down side would be the sight of crowds of protestors and armored cops lying together in a big pile in the street, cuddling.

    Then again, that’s a lot better than the current state of affairs.

    Peter D: I remember you posting a similar “modest proposal” in a reddit thread long ago and have been lightly worried you might get some blowback from that in light of recent events.

    And surprisingly, that one comment got about twice as many “likes” as any other comment I made on the whole thread. Kind of telling.

    Steve Holley: 1) National standards. Mandatory psych screening. Make the academy two years long. Treat it like an actual profession. And then PAY THEM like professionals. This is where municipalities and taxpayers begin to squeal like Ned Beatty in “Deliverance”. You want change? Suck it up and do it.
    2) When bad cops are found guilty of nefarious acts, the settlement money comes out of the police officer’s pension fund. Experienced officers will yank rookies up by their short and curlies if they even look like they’re about to pull some shit. Watch how fast it happens.

    Wait, I thought they already had mandatory psych screening. I’m almost sure I’ve read stories about folks who washed out of the academy because they failed their psych profiles.

    I like the pension-fund idea, though. Both effective and nonviolent. Much better than gunfire. (Although @Robert is right about the pay thing; at least here in Toronto, the cops have money coming out their asses.)

    U. Ranus: Don’t these animals know they need to bite more women and obvious-by-name black people if they don’t want to get accused of ism?

    That’s a pretty spurious correlation, Uranus (in fact it’s so spurious I wondered if I should even bother replying; you couldn’t possibly be serious.) Ross broke his data down across counties; he corrected for space. The stats did not report “Blacks killed”, but “Blacks AND Whites killed (and Latinos, actually), in the same area, armed vs. unarmed, relative to each other. Your attempted snake rejoinder, in contrast, is like saying the Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is clearly racist because it overwhelmingly bites Australians.

    Pretty sure you knew that though. Did you actually read the paper?

  15. Y.: Tell me, do you believe whites and blacks are equal and interchangeable in everything but appearance?

    That’s an interesting paper, but not directly comparable; it deals with people who’ve gone through a formal classification system, as opposed to those who got gunned down in the street in the absence of any structured legal framework. It also relies heavily on self-reporting. (Beaver et al admit this is a limitation right there in the paper, although their attempts at mitigation strike me as a bit wonky for reasons I don’t want to go into now because I’m on vacation). Ross, in contrast, uses “unauthorized” sources, which are ironically more reliable than official ones because the official ones are heavily censored, self-reported (by the cops, not their victims), and frequently just unavailable.

    To answer your question, though, no: I do not believe whites and blacks are equal and interchangeable in everything but appearance. And that’s where we get to Beaver et al‘s findings that Yes, blacks are disproportionately targeted in all these areas when you only look at race, but when you factor in intelligence and violence those differences lose significance, so really the police are only targeting the stupid and the violent. Who just happen to mostly be black.

    Putting aside for the moment the inherent problems with IQ as a metric in the first place, I actually don’t have a problem with those findings, as long as you don’t stop there. For one thing, if I was trapped in the structures that seem to characterize a lot of these victims, I’d probably be violent too; and Mother Jones recently made a pretty good argument that poverty in the US pretty much forces people into criminality as a means of (among other things) funding municipal budgets. And we haven’t even started into the neurological effects of growing up while drinking water out of lead pipes.

    In other words, I have limited patience for any system that kicks the shit out of someone for years along a whole range of metrics, and then clucks disapprovingly at them for antisocial tendencies as though they were somehow inherent.

    On the other hand, I was more sympathetic to that Identity Politics argument you linked to. The author’s examples are sometimes bullshit (sorry, but a 12-year old girl being killed by a stray bullet intended for someone else — however tragic— is not analogous to deliberately gunning someone down in cold blood, and the fact that Barnett resorted to such duplicity weakens his whole argument), but yeah: identity politics does, as far as I can tell, by and large suck.

    But hey: even if I granted all your points, we’d only be expanding “police vs. blacks” to “police vs. civilians”. That’s kind of where my gut started anyway— the badged and the brutal against the rest of us— but given that certain demographics seem to be way more in the crosshairs than my own, it seemed a bit questionable to try and include white guys among the list of targets. Kind of a douchey #alllivesmatter move.

  16. Before you replied, I had only skimmed the paper’s abstract. Deeper within:

    The USPSD does not have information on encounter rates between police and subjects according to ethnicity. As such, the data cannot speak to the relative risk of being shot by a police officer conditional on being encountered by police … heterogeneity in encounter rates between suspects and police as a function of race could play a strong role in the racial biases in shooting rates presented here.

    Which is the implied point I made, and yours too:

    Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is clearly racist because it overwhelmingly bites Australians

    This is ridiculous because you know about the encounter rates.

    (Related gripe: They tried to compensate somewhat by looking at arrest rates (assault-related and weapons-related) by county and race. But as far as I can tell, they did no analysis using the white/black ratio of these arrest rates. Why?)

  17. Peter Watts,

    For one thing, if I was trapped in the structures that seem to characterize a lot of these victims, I’d probably be violent too;

    There’s more to it even than that:
    There’s been research done that shows the stress of the Holocaust has been passed on down at least three generations of Jewish Holocaust survivors.
    Anecdotally, knowing people who were victims of childhood abuse, I’ve watched how the effects of that abuse played out in their lives and in the lives of their children. Perpetuating patterns of behaviour, even in those who were conscious of them and were trying to escape them through therapy and counselling and sheer willpower.
    And that’s from a single abuser.
    Now imagine the effect on a people of abuse on the scale of enslavement, transportation, slavery and concomitant abuses – beatings, rape, murder committed with impunity.
    Eventually ‘freed’ to be second, third, or fourth class citizens, struggling to have their rights recognised – finally achieving *theoretical* legal equality within the last generation.
    It’s insane to assume that this has not had a lasting effect, and although some to much of that maybe cultural rather than biological, it’s going to take more than wishful thinking to help those people move out from under it.
    So – black communities in the US are more violent? I argue that it’s cultural rather than genetic, and that it has causes that are quite easy to recognise.
    “White guilt” isn’t going to help anyone – challenging racist people, racist actions, and racist decisions (institutions being a set of protocols for making decisions, and being capable of racism on that basis) in order to protect the legal equality of blacks and other minorities.
    FWIW from a non-American.

  18. I’m disgusted by your insinuation that nothing is getting better.

    After police brutality and lynchings and torture going back for as long as anyone can remember, at least police shootings get into the news now. Fifty years ago cops could flat out hang black guys in public and get away with it, because no-one who mattered cared. In Mexico they still can. In the US, there’s more scrutiny on police violence than there ever was. Now surprise surprise, that doesn’t change overnight the behavior of hundreds of thousands of cops. But it does nudge it into the right direction. Bodycams do drive up the cost of misbehavior, at least by creating the necessity to circumvent them. Cellphone cameras have a greater effect, and with cameras getting better they can work from further away and become ever harder to snatch away. Support networks for victims of police violence exist and will swoop down to assist people stomped into the ground who even twenty years ago would have had to recover by themselves.

    Discussions of policy need to be fact-based. Ignoring inconvenient facts in the service of your side’s narrative is exactly why politics is so irrational.

  19. There’s an interesting idea floating around where police need to carry liability insurance. If they don’t kill their quota of black people, the insurance rates remain reasonable. If they end up shooting someone, the insurance covers their court costs, but the insurance company works as an independent review board to determine the circumstances of the alteracation.

    Even if the cop gets off, the insurance company will most likely find the cop was at fault and jack up the rates. Four or five dead black people later, the cop has to decide if it’s financially worthwhile being a state-sponsored nigger hunter, or quit and re-enter the private sector to appreciate how the other half lives.

    People should be focusing less on what cops are doing in the field, but what they are doing behind the scenes. For example, police have formidable unions and everyone’s bound by some unspoken rule. If regular citizens established similar organizations among themselves, working as a single entity to promulgate their agenda to an increasingly deaf government, then government might begin working for the people once again.

    If we can’t beat em, join ’em by playing their game.

  20. James Russell,

  21. Against an intelligent adversary, every plan with more than two steps fails.

    I do appreciate the search for a viable strategy, though.

    Perhaps as many people as possible should film every policeman they see, by default. Not just during demonstrations, not just during every single traffic stop, just every time you see a cop, get your cellphone out, film, and tell your friends to do it too.

  22. James Russell,

    Against an intelligent adversary, every plan with more than two steps fails.

    I do appreciate the search for a viable strategy, though.

    Perhaps as many people as possible should film every policeman they see, by default. Not just during demonstrations, not just during every single traffic stop, just every time you see a cop, get your cellphone out, film, and tell your friends to do it too.

  23. dataset here http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/2015

    collection of papers https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jvr6rq20pnt7rv1/AAAWgL–cXmiBUisILuJeQaMa

    .
    ├── Cognitive or Unconscious Bias, Threat, Stereotype
    ├── Historical Context (pre-2000)
    ├── Interventions and training programs to reduce civilian deaths from police shootings
    ├── Legal
    ├── __MACOSX
    ├── Medical Involvement
    ├── Militarization of Police
    ├── non-peer reviewed
    ├── Non-peer reviewed
    ├── Non-US police or race research
    ├── Perception & Perception Influence
    ├── Physiologic Response, Stress, Cortisol, Adrenaline, Etc
    ├── Policy statements
    ├── Public Health
    ├── Race & Employment
    ├── Search strategies
    ├── 1. READ ME FIRST.docx
    ├── 2. Relevant articles on PubMed that Chelsea doesn’t have access to – can anybody else find these.xlsx
    (with a bunch of toplevel pdfs that I’ve elided)

  24. I’m going to try and convince them to use zotero to organize that stuff so I made a group for them. I don’t know if they are interested. If so, I’m going to try and add all those papers they have to it.

    https://www.zotero.org/groups/race_and_policing_research

    My friend also suggested they try and not only use pubmed, maybe google scholar. Maybe I could try helping with that too.

  25. (completely offtopic. I have two zotero collections for Peter’s stuff on Echopraxia and could make a group in case fans are interested. I didn’t want to make one without asking because I didn’t want to squat the namespace.)

  26. This post reminds me of the discussion doomsday machine in Dr. Strangelove.

  27. There’s an essay in Umberto Eco’s collection “Travels in Hyperreality” in which he talks about terrorism. The gist of his argument is that terrorism is not a threat to the modern autocratic state, because terrorism is precisely the enemy against which it is *best* equipped to defend itself. Terrorism is, in fact, a blank check for the state to do whatever it wants. At the time he was writing, ‘terrorism’ meant the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof, rather than Al-Qaeda, but everything we’ve seen in recent years has confirmed his predictions.

    Your idea of shooting cops “pour encourager les autres” is terroristic in nature, and it will fail for exactly the reasons Eco (and you) predicted, i.e. it will lead to cops who are increasingly disposed to shoot first and ask questions later, increasingly isolated from the citizenry, and increasingly kitted out in a way that would make Heinlein’s starship troopers feel under-dressed.

    ‘Tit-for-tat’ looks fine in simple game-theoretic contexts, but it really doesn’t hold up in the real world where things are not only more complex, but human emotions hold sway. “We won’t give in to the terrrrorrrrisss ….” slurs every red-faced authoritarian, ever, thumping his fist on the table.

    Mass shootings are essentially tantrum-throwing for overgrown toddlers with a fetish for black rifles and body armor. Micah Johnson’s actions won’t make innocent black motorists one whit safer, or reduce by even one the number of avoidable deaths at the hands of jumpy cops. All it will do is make The Hate even jumpier — my cop neighbor was wearing his body armor under his T-shirt when he left for work this morning — and more likely to kill. Most likely, more people will die as a result of Johnson’s actions.

    Eco’s essay concludes by saying that if terrorism is the enemy that authoritarians are best equipped to handle, the one they’re least able to deal with is democracy. If we want cops to behave better, we all have to demand accountability, both at the personal and institutional level. That’s what BLM is asking for, but they can’t do it alone. So long as everyone who doesn’t happen to be in the favored prey populations (i.e. black, Hispanic) for authoritarian policing just sits on the sidelines and mutters “But _all_ lives matter”, nothing will change. Except that, as you predict, we will see more Micah Johnsons: angry losers who don’t have a prayer of achieving their claimed goals, but who just want to make someone bleed for the pain they feel.

  28. AngusM: So long as everyone who doesn’t happen to be in the favored prey populations (i.e. black, Hispanic) for authoritarian policing just sits on the sidelines and mutters “But _all_ lives matter”

    oh man I am not talking to my family much about this because I hate hearing bingo squares like #alllivesmatter. ugh ugh ugh.

    holy fucking shit, this world.

  29. Cop killing wasn’t a big deal in the 1800s. For a number of philosophers, it was even seen as an ethical act; police exist to uphold property laws, and property laws are largely irrational or forms of violence and exclusion.

    In the US, police themselves first evolved or came into existence to manage slave plantations.

    And so far from evil or transgressive, cop killing was seen as one’s moral duty!.

  30. “The Austrian school is thusly the only school capable of rigorous prediction.”

    Only in the sense that it challenges capitalism more than most post-classical economists. It’s “small government”, “end the fed”, “deregulate everything” ethos still solves nothing. It ignores how money is created, ignores that profit has the same effect as interest, and at the end of the day leaves you with the same big old debt based pyramid scheme.

    “Authority does not comes from the top and anyone who argues as much doesn’t understand power or group dynamics..”

    Yeah, but it doesn’t matter if authority is conferred upon the top by sheer faith and belief from the bottom. The authority they wield is still real and strong.

    “and increasingly kitted out in a way that would make Heinlein’s starship troopers feel under-dressed.”

    lol

    “Eco’s essay concludes by saying that if terrorism is the enemy that authoritarians are best equipped to handle, the one they’re least able to deal with is democracy.”

    Yes, but what’s the root of violent crime in the US? Poverty, inequality and a system which exists to exploit people. When has “democracy” ever changed that? In the UK, back when Dickens wrote, the poor were killed by cops just like they are in America today. The UK didn’t “solve these problems” and “save the poor”. It just killed them all, a long, slow genocide, until several unfortunate generations disappeared, and the violence lessened or went oversees.

  31. AngusM: The gist of his argument is that terrorism is not a threat to the modern autocratic state, because terrorism is precisely the enemy against which it is *best* equipped to defend itself….: Eco’s essay concludes by saying that if terrorism is the enemy that authoritarians are best equipped to handle, the one they’re least able to deal with is democracy.

    I agree with the parts where you agree with me, but I’m not sold on Umberto’s take re: the ineffectiveness of terrorism. If terrorism doesn’t work, why does it have such a central role in the arsenals of powerful nations? For example, the US’s foreign policy in Latin America across most of the 20th century was pretty much all-tewwowism-alla-time. (they weren’t just overthrowing regimes– they were killing nuns for chrissake). And while I’m not quite so looped in to Russian foreign policy, the words “Putin” and “polonium” seem to pop up in close proximity more often than random chance would suggest.

    Of course, you could argue that state-sanctioned acts aren’t terrorist by definition because they have the legitimacy of a formal government behind them. Fair enough. But in that case, let’s be consistent with our definitions: “terrorism” is what happens when individuals or small groups use the same tactics that governments do.

    All of which doesn’t address your (and my) larger point about whether such strategies would prove effective. We agree that in this case, they wouldn’t— but I think that’s a function of relative budget, not a failure of principle. Give enough Micah Johnsons the resources of your average hypermilitarized police department and you might see a commensurate increase in effectiveness.

    As it stands now, I think there’s no shortage of cases where the police have used terrorist tactics. Pretty effectively, as it turns out.

  32. EMP,

    Rothbard lolzy. Praxeology at its very best. Might as well tattoo “boot goes here forever” right on your forehead

  33. Peter Watts,

    “Throwing a bomb is bad. Dropping a bomb is good.
    Terror, no need to add, depends on who wears the hood.”
    [“Ethics for Everyman”, Roger Woddis]

    Of course when the state does it, it’s not called “terrorism” (at least by the state). Eco was speaking about the effectiveness of terror tactics directed against a state by small groups, and concluded that they were not just ineffective, but counter-effective. When the state puts its resources behind a terror campaign, things are necessarily different. That’s how states get their way.

    Could non-government actors deploy terroristic tactics on such a scale that the state is forced to modify its behavior? Possibly. I think that’s what Al-Qaeda tried to do, and it succeeded to some degree. But you could argue that Al-Qaeda did not succeed in forcing the US to comply with its stated goals (which can be approximately summarized as “Butt out of the Middle East”); rather, it induced the nation-state to take (probably) ill-advised actions that were (probably) harmful to its own interests. Asymmetric warfare often has this jiu-jitsu aspect to it: use the larger adversary’s strength against them. But forcing your enemy to blunder into a concrete pillar isn’t the same as getting them to agree to your demands.

    I suppose you could say that the IRA’s terror tactics made the UK government more interested in coming to the negotiating table. It’s worth noting, however, that the talks started after the IRA shifted from targeting individual politicians, soldiers or civilians, and began attacking economic targets. States will absorb large numbers of losses among hoi polloi without blinking, but if you go after The Money, then you get their attention.

    If I’m right about that, then shooting cops is not a good tactic: cops are as disposable as the rest of us in the eyes of the state.

    Give enough Micah Johnsons the resources of your average hypermilitarized police department and you might see a commensurate increase in effectiveness.

    Well, yes. But at that point are you launching a terror campaign, or raising a revolutionary army?

  34. Afterthought: the other important thing that the state brings to terror, besides greater resources, is control of the narrative (which is the point of the quote from the Roger Woddis poem above). The actions of non-state actors can be framed as terroristic; the actions of the state as virtuous. And this extends even to minor cases where the state is not directly threatened: if a man is shot at a traffic stop, or a mild-mannered SF writer is beaten up at a border crossing, the authorities will immediately recast the event in terms of what those injured did to provoke the impartial servants of law and order to take such extreme action. And some percentage of the population will accept this version of events unquestioningly.

  35. Peter Watts,

    All of which doesn’t address your (and my) larger point about whether such strategies would prove effective. We agree that in this case, they wouldn’t— but I think that’s a function of relative budget, not a failure of principle. Give enough Micah Johnsons the resources of your average hypermilitarized police department and you might see a commensurate increase in effectiveness.

    I would cite Pablo Escobar’s campaign against the Columbian government to prevent his extradition as one example to support your case. Of couse, he didn’t have more resources than the US Govt and when we decided to help the Columbian’s get him, the was done (again, neatly supporting your point).

    Terrorism can work but it’s got to be relentless and grinding and it is ugly as hell.

  36. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere many times, either the reason we are seeing news coverage of a nothing-new phenomenon, or even if there is an increase, the reason it is happening is so we can move toward mercenaries in place of police. The nation state thing is played out and it’s time for the multinationals to have their turn at the helm. This was the dream of a certain private military corporation founder who’s tied in to the RelRight anyway. The only surprising thing is it hasn’t happened yet.

    I know, sounds like what leads up to the world we see in the Rifters trilogy.

    PS, there’s massive raiding of state worker pension funds now. They’re kinda screwed and, how’s this for analysis, taking it out on the wrong people.

  37. Y.,

    Read the paper PW linked in the post. Far more rigorous and clearly shows that there is a real effect.

  38. Getting WordPress error in your ‘Contact Me’ area, so I am 1) notifying you, & 2) sticking what I was gonna send you here.

    Scientists report that maybe when your immune system is not working right, you go autistic to lessen social contacts. Precis = http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160713143156.htm

    Seems like your kind of strange.

  39. Your blog post reminds me of LONESTAR (1996) by John Sayles. Evil sherrif Charlie Wade was in the habit of stopping hispanics & blacks, telling them to fetch him any firearm they had & then gunning them down when they stood in front of him, gun in hand. He starts to do this one night with his deputy present & the deputy freaks out, shooting him dead. The deputy & other folks bury him in the desert, steal $10K & tell everyone the sheriff skipped town.

  40. EC: Yes, but what’s the root of violent crime in the US? Poverty, inequality and a system which exists to exploit people. When has “democracy” ever changed that? In the UK, back when Dickens wrote, the poor were killed by cops just like they are in America today. The UK didn’t “solve these problems” and “save the poor”. It just killed them all, a long, slow genocide, until several unfortunate generations disappeared, and the violence lessened or went oversees.

    The argument is that differential offspring survival rates due to inherited wealth have cause the native British population to consist mostly of descendants of the upper classes.
    Not that they all got ‘killed’ by the police.

    And this was a good thing. You don’t get to be upper-class in a dog-eat-dog world by chance. And it’s not by chance that for example in Sweden, people descended from former nobility are still vastly over-represented in elite occupations. Even though conventional wisdom in regards to social mobility would say they should not be.

  41. AngusM: Mass shootings are essentially tantrum-throwing for overgrown toddlers with a fetish for black rifles and body armor. Micah Johnson’s actions won’t make innocent black motorists one whit safer, or reduce by even one the number of avoidable deaths at the hands of jumpy cops. All it will do is make The Hate even jumpier — my cop neighbor was wearing his body armor under his T-shirt when he left for work this morning — and more likely to kill. Most likely, more people will die as a result of Johnson’s actions.

    The angry white privileged men of America have made the argument that a good way of seriously inconveniencing the Federal Gov’t of the United States (in the event it’d try to, for example, confiscate weapons from citizens, or start disappearing people) would be targeted assassination of senior state employees and security personnel. (not beat cops, but police brass seen as supporting anti-constitutional measures, FBI agents, D.C. bureaucrats etc)

    Some high up NSA or Dept of Justice official catching a bullet while standing on his balcony in the D.C. suburbs because he was deemed to have acted against the constitution of the US would be far harder to spin as ‘senseless’ violence than random cop killings. Especially if there was a slick propaganda video explaining why civil forfeiture, or mass surveillance and data collection are a gross violations of the ideals of the founders of the US..

    Of course, this is not something some PFC engineering puke can pull off. Then ^^ the interview above is with former SEAL team member who has written a series of novels about what the US would look like with a ‘dirty’ civil war in place.

    I believe that the Constitution will remain our most important defensive bulwark. The Constitution will be our most effective litmus test for separating the oath takers from the traitorous oath breakers. Former military and LE leaders should take every opportunity to remind their active duty brothers of their sworn oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They should also politely remind them that Team Liberty will have a very long memory when it comes to dealing with traitors. There will be no statute of limitations for traitors, and justice might eventually be dealt out under the well-known Rule 308. Loyalty to the Constitution must be a constant theme, both among friends and on social media. No active member of the military or LE will be permitted to plead ignorance when it comes to upholding the Constitution. We must remind them of that fact as often as possible, until it is ringing in their ears.

    ^^ I guess you now understand why the Feds consider ‘domestic right-wing extremists’ to be much more of a threat than say, Islamic terrorism. (which has been made to disappear, with what Ft.Hood massacre being spun as ‘workplace violence’ despite the perpetrator being tied to actual mid-east dwelling terrorist s)

  42. Sheila: oh man I am not talking to my family much about this because I hate hearing bingo squares like #alllivesmatter. ugh ugh ugh.

    holy fucking shit, this world.

    Not ideal world, eh?

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/07/study_cops_kill_more_whites_than_blacks_but_minority_deaths_generate_more_coverage.html

    It is really funny though. The police shooting stats exactly mirror the disparity in interracial killings.

    It seems like our gracious’ host’s idea of ‘tit for tat’ has somehow already been implemented, on a racial basis.

    30% of people shot by police are black. That’s 2x as much as their population share.

    Now interracial killings (all causes) look like this

    Blacks killed by whites: 7.6 percent.
    Whites killed by whites: 82.4 percent.
    Whites killed by blacks: 14.8 percent.
    Blacks killed by blacks: 90 percent.

    Yay for diversity!

  43. Robert,

    Hi Robert,
    Wow. Canada must really value police officers. Cops in the US get much, much less than that. Larger departments approach that kind of pay (maybe $70k) but most smaller departments are in the $20-35k range. And most agencies are smaller agencies.

  44. Peter Watts,

    Hi Peter,
    I can assure you that psych screening is NOT mandatory. In FL it is recommended by CJSTC but it’s voluntary. There’s some fucking loons wearing a uniform.

  45. Peter Watts: In other words, I have limited patience for any system that kicks the shit out of someone for years along a whole range of metrics, and then clucks disapprovingly at them for antisocial tendencies as though they were somehow inherent.

    You mean I’m not just naturally horrible? I feel so misled. 😉

    BTW a large and link-full post I wrote immediately before this one vanished entirely and forever, I suspect, the instant I hit the “submit comment” button. Could be the time I took to compose it. Cheers,

  46. Mr Non-Entity: BTW a large and link-full post I wrote immediately before this one vanished entirely and forever, I suspect, the instant I hit the “submit comment” button. Could be the time I took to compose it. Cheers,

    If this happens to you an annoying number of times, and if you use firefox, you could try https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/its-all-text/

    I have it launch gvim for me when I need it. When you need it, you really need it.

  47. One of the things that make me really doubt the entire ‘systemic racism’ narrative (that is, post civil rights’ era) is, that it’s smacks of Soviets.

    My dad tells me that communist news here of course never mentioned how comparatively wealthier western countries were. Embarrassing.

    But one thing was always in the news: how American beat blacks. And cadres used it as an argument of last resort. ‘But the capitalists are racist and they beat black people there’.. etc.

  48. Steve Holley:
    Peter Watts,

    Hi Peter,
    I can assure you that psych screening is NOT mandatory. In FL it is recommended by CJSTC but it’s voluntary. There’s some fucking loons wearing a uniform.

    Meaningful psych screening of police would create disparate impact, so it’s no go in the US.

  49. @ Sheila: once again, perfect solution. Thanks so much. Now all I have to do is remember to use it. That error hardly ever happens, but almost every time it does happen, it happens here.

    @ All: Law-enforcement (“LE”) agencies across the States are hardly uniform in their organization, operations, or the hiring requirements for their personnel or management. The more wealthy communities tend to be able to hire the better-educated and/or more-experienced officers and administrators… but they don’t necessarily make the effort to do so. It’s fairly rare, or I hope it is, that the rich hire idiots because they think that will better exclude the “undesirable element”. That has a tendency to backfire.

    The real problems, I think, are seen when you have far-from-wealthy communities, where crime is more of an survival skill than a character defect. These generally don’t have the tax base needed to hire the better classes of applicants and those better classes of applicants probably aren’t likely to apply. These places wind up lowering the bar, so to speak. Additionally, crime and organized crime can start to intergrade with the corrections and LE systems and organizations and the difference between the sides of the badge can be increasingly different to discern.

    Additionally, in many places, politics intrudes on what ought to be primarily a purely-professional system. Elected sheriffs could be elected on the basis of professionalism or they could be elected on the basis of populism along any number of axes. Sometimes, when “a new broom sweeps clean”, it might be sweeping out corruption and intolerance… or it could be sweeping out the last vestiges of professionalism.

    Additionally: we seem to be mostly discussing officer-involved shootings where race is a factor. Keep in mind, please, that in much of the US, there aren’t all that many black people and people in general don’t have all that much contact with officers. In such places, you might wind up with a lot of white-on-white incidents. Yes, poverty seems to be a lot more responsible for creating criminals than is race.

    We are coming up on Year 8 of the economic “Great Recovery” and while the rich are back to getting rich, the poor are not. They never were, and whatever opportunities might be returning for the experienced and the educated, people from the street have only the hope of some of the crumbs from the tables of the rich, crumbs falling down to where the poor folks live. I would venture the opinion that the easiest case to be made, and the least difficult to support, would be that while the degree of desperation may not be increasing so much and in fact may be thought to be much ameliorated since, say, 2009, the duration of the desperation may be arrived at breaking point in a greater percentage of the population. Progressivism, social justice movements and the like, are largely the creature of the Middle Class and as the Middle Class is eroded, so are its precepts which had been written into law and conscience, and are now obscured in law by the wartime patches for internal security such as PATRIOT Act, and are eroding from conscience because it somehow seems like luxurious over-expenditure of effort and goodwill to think of strangers as being as worthy of rights and respect as are we ourselves. Besides: it’s summer and traditionally that is when tempers rise with the temperatures and “stuff” gets more frequently right out of hand.

    What can be done? A nationwide standard for hiring police, comparable to what we have for teachers and librarians. As always, one problem is and will remain: finance. In the States, there are national level funding mechanisms that help rural jurisdictions afford vehicles and fuel, but there’s not much help in paying salaries that will attract the quality of people that won’t lose their temper and make deadly bad errors in judgement.

    As always, these things take time… though the more the pressure builds for reform, the more speed you will get. For now, a lot of the pressure is coming from breakage in the system and there will be a lot of piecemeal patching and “fighting fires”. The political pressure needs to be put on and kept on, for systemic and institutional reform. First we need to put an end to the ridiculous waste inherent in the failed “war on drugs” and that is happening already, however slowly; more difficult but perhaps nowhere near as large, for-profit prison management and construction corporations.

  50. Y: The argument is that differential offspring survival rates due to inherited wealth have cause the native British population to consist mostly of descendants of the upper classes.

    Bullshit. Y chromosome analysis indicates over half of all men in the British Isles are descended in the male line from the original Paleolithic Iberian migrants. This ranges from 50+% in the Danelaw to 98% in parts of Wales and other out of the way areas. I believe the average is in the neighborhood of 70%. Plus the next biggest group is Neolithic. And to emphasize, this is the Y chromosome; so we are not talking about conquerors killing the men and breeding with the women. The peasants have basically continued to keep their heads down, do their work and leave behind more descendants in bulk, if not per capita, than any particular batch of overlords.

  51. Y.: Yay for diversity!

    As a reminder, I don’t interact with you much because engaging with you on race is like the experience of talking to a creationist about evolution (I know you feel that I am the equivalent of the creationist here, no need to repeat yourself).

    It’s no loss. Other people do interact with you, thus you get a supply from them.

    regards

  52. Y.: The angry white privileged men of America have made the argument that a good way of seriously inconveniencing the Federal Gov’t of the United States (in the event it’d try to, for example, confiscate weapons from citizens, or start disappearing people) would be targeted assassination of senior state employees and security personnel. (not beat cops, but police brass seen as supporting anti-constitutional measures, FBI agents, D.C. bureaucrats etc)

    Some high up NSA or Dept of Justice official catching a bullet while standing on his balcony in the D.C. suburbs because he was deemed to have acted against the constitution of the US would be far harder to spin as ‘senseless’ violence than random cop killings. Especially if there was a slick propaganda video explaining why civil forfeiture, or mass surveillance and data collection are a gross violations of the ideals of the founders of the US..

    You might want to take a trip in the WayBack Machine and start looking at the Ruby Ridge (Idaho, USA) incident of 1992. We can concern ourselves less with that and more with the aftermath, which wasn’t obvious nor immediate… and how could it be? At the time, there was no internet and there were barely BBS systems so the general public got whatever information the media fed them, which was at the time not much other than “bread and circuses”. But the other “cankers in the rose”, so to speak, they all heard about the massacre, the betrayals, the general un-American-ness of it all. Now add the incident at Waco’s Branch Davidian compound and all of this was not long after and not entirely different from the MOVE house bombing in Philadelphia PA USA of 1985. Not long thereafter, it started coming to the attention of the public via backchannel. Add to this that at the time, whatever the general populace thought about police shootings — racially tinged or otherwise — they were damned well concerned about Botched Paramilitary Police Raids (CATO Institute). See also Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America. Balko, Radley. July, 2006. Cato Institute, Washington DC.

    At that point, damn near exactly what Our Gracious Host nearly called for — doubtless impelled by his own sense of anger, to say nothing of the Western precept coming out of Leviticus 19:16 — quite nearly happened nationwide and in fact something did happen which was about as far from useful as could be conceived: the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA.

    Tim McVeigh’s heinous crime came, insanely, in the ramp-up to Senate hearings in September-October 1995 which resulted in significant revisions in rules-of-engagement in field operations etc etc. (See remarks of FBI Director Louis J Freeh from Oct 19, 1995.) How much farther we might have seen reforms go had there not been the backdrop of national fury due to the Murrah Building attack, we will never know. Just keep in mind that until 9/11/2001 it was the most destructive attack (outside of Indian Wars) in the Continental US.

    Arguably, had McVeigh et al not acted, internal processes in the legal and legislative system might have done a great deal to rein in excesses in police power, especially at any level governed by Federal standards. Even so, the rules of engagement at the Federal level changed significantly, and popular movements in defense of the Second Amendment swelled their ranks and finances soared to new heights as more and more people came to understand that the country had been right on the edge of casual operations by domestic death-squads holding (but hiding) their Federal badges. Very few could possibly support McVeigh et al in blowing up a downtown office building that had a goddamn daycare where 15 children died. Had they blown up a comparable building full of suits and uniforms with demonstrable complicity to Ruby Ridge and Waco? That being a different generation from today, the country might have pretty much stood and cheered. Until the costs to innocence became clear, many people had stood and cheered. Again, see Freeh’s testimony. In the end, it became a lot harder to get the materials to make bombs… and a lot of previously loose-cannon agencies found themselves locked down in a hard harness. This is almost strange, since the loosed-reins attitude came out almost exactly contemporarily with the inauguration of Bill Clinton. Interestingly, history does not much associate Clinton’s first term with the Murrah Building bombing, not in the same way it associated George W Bush’s first term with the World Trade Center tragedies of 2001. History does note, however, that President Bill Clinton signed into law the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, one of the greatest expansions of police power in history including expansion of the Federal death penalty. As a sop to the “militia wackos movement”, restrictions on police power were enacted, but are seen as almost unenforceable and are in fact effectively unenforced.

    A lot of people do not quite understand that there is already this balance of power here in the States, and that the ongoing crisis is just one of the latest of episodes of fine-tuning. We are very well armed and LE knows it; LE is very well armed and well-organized and well-funded and we all know it. And as long as we all know that we are armed to the teeth, we will all have a tendency to keep our hands in plain sight and to smile a lot as we negotiate. We’ll also be watching to see how legal cases work out. Don’t expect to see widespread support for any courses of random violence. Do expect this year’s elections to be even more contested than usual… especially at the Democrat convention.

  53. Steve Holley,

    Economics, pensions – connecting the action of shooting with unavoidable negative consequence. Hmm.

    Hmmmmmmm.

    Okay, works like this: you shoot someone, you’re done as gun-carrying cop. Doesn’t matter why, no more armed interaction with the public. Desk job for life. If you change employer, too bad – you’re on the list. You had your chance on the street, and it didn’t end well. Next please.

    You still have to do the inquiry and face the music if you fucked up. But even if you got a medal, no more gun. Welcome to the motor pool.

    You get the gun on the condition you don’t use it. If you use it, the gun goes to the someone else. Someone with fresh ideas on how not to use it.

  54. There is a less-violent economic approach though…

    http://www.postandcourier.com/20160715/160719620/refusing-to-pay-legal-fees-police-group-says-walter-scott-shooting-and-lies-not-part-of-officers-duty

    Economic ruin through bankruptcy caused by legal fees in cases where perfidy is proven. In the US, where even the idea of a social safety net for the less-well-off is apparently considered ethically wrong, that’s not quite a death sentence but it’s definitely going to affect your overall lifespan in a negative way.

    And relying on the desire of an insurance company to not pay out on a claim seems more reliable in the US than relying on an altruistic sense of justice from any third party…

  55. Sheila: As a reminder, I don’t interact with you much because engaging with you on race is like the experience of talking to a creationist about evolution (I know you feel that I am the equivalent of the creationist here, no need to repeat yourself).

    It’s no loss. Other people do interact with you, thus you get a supply from them.

    regards

    I say the same about you. Being against biology and psychometrics and all that is a completely incoherent position to hold for anyone else but a creationist.

    Anti-racism(an article by black academic John McWhorter – It’s a creed).

    Why else would people refuse to believe what is in front of their very nose?

    Despite all this, I kind of like you (I mean, what I know from your writings).

  56. Apparently there were multiple cops killed in Baton Rouge last night.

  57. You ought to read this book:

    http://www.npr.org/2015/09/25/443334499/pulling-back-the-curtain-on-darpa-the-pentagons-brain

    The militarization of police and the tracking and tracing of the population in the US has barely begun. It’s been done extensively outside the US already.

    The claim that autonomous weapons can be given a target, trusting it will reliably recognize only that individual, is — overblown.

  58. Hank Roberts: The claim that autonomous weapons can be given a target, trusting it will reliably recognize only that individual, is — overblown.

    You can whack whomever is speaking into a phone and has the right voice.

  59. Taking what are historical, cultural, and socio-economic factors and trying to shoehorn them into genetics is no different than stating people in Flint became ill because they failed to adapt to ingesting lead or elsewhere failed to be bulletproof, i.e. it’s their fault. It’s both bad science and political.

  60. > whack whomever is speaking into a phone

    Throwaway phones, add chips with recorded voice on them, leave them hidden, call them up, have them play the targeted voice, and you’ve got drone bait.

    Next?

  61. “A suspect was killed at the B-Quik gas station on Airline Highway, according to the Baton Rouge police, who were also using a robot to see if the man had explosives.”

  62. Hank Roberts:
    > whack whomever is speaking into a phone

    Throwaway phones, add chips with recorded voice on them, leave them hidden, call them up, have them play the targeted voice, and you’ve got drone bait.

    Next?

    Because the operators or software would be so dumb as to fire at phone that no person is talking into..

  63. > the operators
    “autonomous”

    > or software would be so dumb
    Yes.

  64. PS, seriously, “Y” — read the book.
    http://www.npr.org/2015/09/25/443334499/pulling-back-the-curtain-on-darpa-the-pentagons-brain

    Then reread the opening post by PW here.

  65. Hank Roberts:
    PS, seriously, “Y” — read the book.
    http://www.npr.org/2015/09/25/443334499/pulling-back-the-curtain-on-darpa-the-pentagons-brain

    Dude, spot and match person from flir + voice from said phone thru intercept and boom. But I think the wave of future is really small drones that get you while you sleep, give you cancer or drug resistant tb or necro fasciitis..

    Or just a flying sniper rifle…

  66. Y.,

    I’m in the software being dumb camp. also technology. people. I like reading comp.risks for fun (and despair). Good examples for how things fail in creative and face palming ways http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/

  67. Every law enforcement officer came from an extended family, lives in a neighborhood with others, attends social functions of some sort, likely has friendships or associations with others not in law enforcement.

    The human problem is corruption, and the people who are corrupt are all those surrounding the officers who are not doing A Right Thing by encouraging one another and these officers to engage responsibly, think critically, act with thoughtfulness, and change their ways.

    So long as our individual corruption and lack of discipline prevents us from holding one another and especially ourselves accountable, we will continue along this way, creating further systems of control over us while blaming one another for the failure of the system. Our own infatuation with our own personal corruption prevents us from seeing that all of our political and social systems, once they seek to change the world through collective agents, actually increase the amount of disorder and confusion in their environments in the long run. {See Boyd’s always relevant, brilliantly concise “Destruction and Creation” (pdf)} They will all fail. They will all succumb and be replaced. That is what people fear without understanding: fidelity to something else than the systems. What is deeper than society or politics is change. What cannot change, ceases to act.

    When we are not ourselves corrupt, then we are available for real dynamic change. That change in ourselves comes from an appreciation for the value of individual autonomy and for the struggle taking up that kind of moral responsibility demands.

  68. Deseret: It’s both bad science and political.

    If ‘cultural, social historical and economical factors are so important, why is that identical twins reared apart (in different cultures even) will turn out to have similar personalities, interests and even tastes?

    There’s the famous case of the Jew/Nazi twins, (half-Jews, one went with dad one with mom) who when they met each other for the first time discovered they were wearing almost the same clothes. Later it was found that despite completely different upbringings, both had same quirks, habits, similar mannerisms and so on and so forth.

  69. Based Watts. I could see the analogues with the other argument you made in that other blog post. In fact, I thought this was what you were hinting at when you made that other post. I agree with you that police brutality is a major problem, but I can’t help but think the alt-right may be right on their economic analysis: Soros funding BLM, coercing it to become more violent, while flooding the US and the EU with islamic migrants in order to help weaken the economy after taking a position that shorts stocks. Turmoil = profit.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-08/how-george-soros-singlehandedly-created-european-refugee-crisis-and-why

  70. Y’s persistently diarrhoeic, peristaltic gut-churn over the rightful position of one group/race/demographic vs another… a strange pre-occupation with no clearly stated aims or end-goals… is sometimes beautifully symptomatic of things in general, so I have to ask:

    Does he actually bring anything concrete to the discussion? I am not smart enough to tell. Because many people spend a fair bit of time disabusing him of his own notions. Or is he just allowed to hang around because it provides everyone else with smug evidence of their magnanimous stance, in matters of free speech and open discourse?

    When you think of issues around terrorism, police brutality, politics (identity and non) and all the other plagues of the current era, don’t you think your interaction in this lovely walled garden is actually the larger problem, in microcosm? That we’ve lost the collective agency to pull someone to the side and calmly tell them they are being a fkg dimwit? And then take away the things they might use to hurt people (guns, accounts on social media, whatever)? We/you can’t, can we? We’ve thrown out all the babies with the bathwater because the bathwater was so very awful. Religion is no longer a moral compass. There are no shared media experiences anymore. There are no reliable homogenous, glocally applicable life patterns anymore. Beyond the most primal (and therefore the most problematic), there are barely any shared references anymore, period.

    In this moral vacuum (God – I hate those words, but I can’t do better right now), a highly virulent, memetic cancer seems to be doing the rounds. Its hallmarks seem to be rigidity, and an almost autistic inability to let go of an idea that you happen to like (or not like), plus a hotly over-driven pattern-recognition engine. Let loose in the giant echo chamber of netspace (where signal-to-noise ratios have been tending asymptotically to zero since inception, afaic) this thing is ravenously scooping out skulls. AND WE LET IT. We let corporations let ppl post the most awful things, stoking each other into severe one-track thinking at best, and killing sprees at worst.

    Since the problem is fundamental and systemic, things like politics and activist movements that seek to address macro-scale symptoms can really only feed such a thing. This is not a reason to discourage such activity; I’m not anti-BLM. And fighting fire with fire (inhumanity with inhumanity) / killing cops whatever is game-theoretically STUPID, because 1) police brutality demographics, especially the black demographic have garnered nowhere near enough social capital to hedge against that bet, and 2) one side gets way more dice rolls than the other. This isn’t even going to be a fight amongst equals, so sorry; not gonna work (gonna make people stop and feel something maybe, but not gonna WORK).

    Whether they be brutal cops or whether they be tit-for-tat cop killers (or radicalized islamists), the common thread is that , usually, everybody pussy-footed around these people’s insane rhetoric and waved away their anger management issues and bizarre worldview in which everything was black and white and only one thing mattered. People saw they were off the rails, and then promptly got on with their own lives, instead of trying to correct anything, confront / counsel / caution them, or alert a third party. After that it all just gets compounded by the ubiquity of guns and the ubiquity of trigger-happy cops.

  71. Except people don’t have that perception. You don’t confide your crazy ideas to people who aren’t receptive to the message. Look all the teeth gnashing Republicans are doing now, Trump is crazy, he is this, he is that, he is off the rails. Yet his supporters that have stayed mostly quiet have come out of the woodwork because they have a champion now. A rich, successful spokesperson for all the things they have been thinking but have been afraid to say due to instant vitriolic hate they received. Look at Brexiters too now. As soon as the vote was done, everyone knew at least a third of people around them are anti-immigration and overtly racist incidents spiked what 300-400%?

    People don’t change their minds when presented with evidence. This is known. They just bury their true self in a box and bide their time.

  72. I actually totally agree with the above insights, except I didn’t think it would be useful to model people as dimension-less, immutable, fatalistically-doomed corpuscles bumping randomly into each other in hopelessly unknowable ways. But, maybe that’s the only effective way, if as you say people are wont to be quiet and devious all at once. Fair enough.

    I’m making a right pigs ear of saying that people are, ultimately, failing people. It is a naive and simplistic idea, but sometimes…

    Ah, never mind.

  73. I think we’re all doing the best we can with what we got. Which is a sad, miserable thought, but there it is. With the way internet is today, you are three clicks away from being validated in almost any conceivable opinion. Democritus, baby killer? Sure, why not. Uppity urban black wizards disturbing the public order for nefarious purposes? There you go.

    People are simply being true to themselves and their pack, our natural heuristics tools are maladaptive for the kind of society we have. I think it’s better to say we are failing humanity as a whole. My bet is the Chinese with their PoI style social networking that rewards ‘dutiful’ citizenship and dabbling heavily with gen-engineering to be the first who try and make something truly different work. I don’t think any of us in the West will consider it a utopia however.

  74. Online communities have cultures in part based on the admin rules. From my standpoints, I think Metafilter and Charles Stross do a good job at moderating comments enough to result in interesting and nuanced conversations. I don’t know how much work it takes on Stross’s part, but on Metafilter it requires payed staff.

    Over here, the conversations aren’t so nuanced whenever anything having to do with culture comes up. The loudest extreme voice dominates first, which establishes a norm (even if the majority of readers aren’t the norm). So, my thought is that people who would participate who have interesting and complex things to say don’t bother and let the extremes win.

    At my hackerspace, we have a very small number of toxic people who end up dominating things whenever they start acting out. The membership policy requires 100% consensus of a board to be able to decide on discipline issues, so a friend of a toxic person can block any meaningful action. So, we have years of toxicity and it’s extremely difficult to expel bad actors. When I was on the board and talked to previous boards, all of them recommended getting rid of consensus and moving to super majority or something else. When I was on the board, we got to read responses to our requests to know why people canceled membership. Usually the reasons we heard were normal ones — not enough time, not enough money, moved. We’d have some cultural ones too, that had to do with islands of toxicity in the environment. I haven’t noped out of this hackerspace, but I have noped out of being a board member.

    There have been other communities I noped out of. A user group in my area. Which I might return to, having followed changes there over the past few years.

    I’m not noping out of here, but I am disappointed in the comments section because I think the conversation could be so much more. I don’t know how to quantify that. Also, perhaps I’m wrong.

    Here is an old talk (“historical” in internet years) that talks about cost in terms of software projects.
    https://youtu.be/-F-3E8pyjFo
    How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People
    Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman (Google)

    Every project runs into people who are selfish, uncooperative, and disrespectful. These people can silently poison the atmosphere of a happy developer community. Come learn how to identify these people and peacefully de-fuse them before they derail your project. Told through a series of (often amusing) real-life anecdotes and experiences.

    and more recently, a look at how much money toxic people cost a company.
    https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/how-toxic-are-toxic-employees/

  75. AngusM: But at that point are you launching a terror campaign, or raising a revolutionary army?

    I’d

    strangefriend: Your blog post reminds me of LONESTAR (1996) by John Sayles.

    say that armies are quite capable of instilling terror. If the only difference is one of scale, maybe we don’t need two such completely distinct terms.

    dhlight: Scientists report that maybe when your immune system is not working right, you go autistic to lessen social contacts.

    Cool.

    strangefriend: Your blog post reminds me of LONESTAR (1996) by John Sayles.

    I really liked that movie. Very deliberate pacing.

    Y.: Now interracial killings (all causes) look like this

    Blacks killed by whites: 7.6 percent.
    Whites killed by whites: 82.4 percent.
    Whites killed by blacks: 14.8 percent.
    Blacks killed by blacks: 90 percent.

    Yay for diversity!

    That white-on-white percentage looks pretty comparable to the black-on-black to me. Random chance dictates that people are more likely to get nailed by the demographic with which they’re in most overwhelmingly-frequent contact. Hell, were those numbers even corrected for the usual age/income/education/etc variables?

  76. Mr Non-Entity: there is already this balance of power here in the States, and that the ongoing crisis is just one of the latest of episodes of fine-tuning. We are very well armed and LE knows it; LE is very well armed and well-organized and well-funded and we all know it. And as long as we all know that we are armed to the teeth, we will all have a tendency to keep our hands in plain sight and to smile a lot as we negotiate.

    Wow. You’re own intramural cold war as status quo.

    Can’t say I envy you.

    Winter67uk: You get the gun on the condition you don’t use it. If you use it, the gun goes to the someone else. Someone with fresh ideas on how not to use it.

    You know, that sounds really good but even I can’t help thinking it’s too harsh. Surely there are some cases where there simply isn’t any alternative to using your gun; seems unfair to penalize people for taking the only available option.

    Then again, maybe I’m making the perfect the enemy of the good. Maybe, even if that system isn’t fair sometimes, it’s still way more fair than the status quo. So, still a step up.

    Mark Dennehy: Economic ruin through bankruptcy caused by legal fees in cases where perfidy is proven.

    I do like this. And it is less bloodthirsty than my gut response. The problem, though, is that it depends of the shooter getting arrested in the first place, and way too often— even in the face of video evidence— these guys don’t even get indicted.

    Y.: Despite all this, I kind of like you (I mean, what I know from your writings).

    Having had off-blog dealings with the lady, I gotta say she’s no fundamentalist; she seriously considers opposing points of view and responds logically to them. In my experience.

    I do like the friendly-disagreement thing way more than the vitriolic thing, just in general.

    Y.: If ‘cultural, social historical and economical factors are so important, why is that identical twins reared apart (in different cultures even) will turn out to have similar personalities, interests and even tastes?

    Why does it have to be either/or? Seems to me that cultural/economic and genetic factors pretty much all have to be important. The problem arises when certain cultural and economic conditions tend to occur more frequently with specific demographics for historical rather than genetic reasons; you get shitloads of confounds and spurious correlations and you gotta tread really carefully. And do a lot of residual analysis.

    Summerblind: Soros funding BLM, coercing it to become more violent, while flooding the US and the EU with islamic migrants in order to help weaken the economy after taking a position that shorts stocks. Turmoil = profit.

    That article has some interesting stuff (I never knew that Soros hung out with Popper, for one thing), but there’s a pretty obvious bias running through the text. Thumbnailing Black Lives Matter simply as a group “which has been involved in outbreaks of social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland” — while technically true— is a pretty obvious attempt to describe resistance against wrongdoing as the instigation of wrongdoing. Goes to credibility.

  77. Leona: Does he actually bring anything concrete to the discussion? I am not smart enough to tell. Because many people spend a fair bit of time disabusing him of his own notions. Or is he just allowed to hang around because it provides everyone else with smug evidence of their magnanimous stance, in matters of free speech and open discourse?

    Little of this, a little of that.

    Leona: don’t you think your interaction in this lovely walled garden is actually the larger problem, in microcosm? That we’ve lost the collective agency to pull someone to the side and calmly tell them they are being a fkg dimwit?

    Leona, I’m kinda surprised that don’t seem to think we do that here. People tell each other they’re fucking dimwits all the time. Way more often than I’m comfortable with, actually. And if you think there’s anything “smug” about letting that go down, I’d ask you to go back and look at the vile shit people have slung at me over the years. Go back and reread the loving descriptions of physical violence that Requires Hate’s brain-dead shitstains left on this blog. Look at the right-wing nutbars who shat all over me during Squidgate; some of them kept posting here after they’d been banned from other blogs for the things they were saying about me there. I was their target, and yet I was the only one who gave them the platform to keep shooting.

    Smug? Give me a fucking break.

    Which is not to say that the ‘crawl lacks any moderation stands at all, mind you. I have, in fact, banned Y from posting on more than one occasion. And given the peculiar double-standards of the world’s RequiresHates, I doubt that today I’d give them the free rein I once did. But I try to err on the side of noninterference, because the fundamental premise of empiricism is that we can all be wrong about anything. I don’t like rudeness on this site— I don’t even like brutal brusqueness to be honest, I really really wish this place could feel like a bar where good friends hang out and argue about things— but wouldn’t I be guilty of “tone policing” (as the SJWs like to call it) if I shut people down for insufficient mildness? (That’s not rhetorical, by the way; if there’s some way to let people express honest opinions while at the same time never offending others, I would very much like to know what it is so I can implement it.) People say stupid things on this blog all the time. I say stupid things here all the time. People tell me I’m full of shit. Whichever position is left standing when the dust clears gets conditional acceptance, pending further developments.

    There are bloggers out there who describe their places as the equivalent of their living rooms. We are guests in their homes, we are expected to follow house rules and to play nice and to avoid making anyone uncomfortable. Scalzi’s place is like that. Stross’s too, to a lesser extent. Many times I wish the ‘crawl was more like those places, but I’m not willing to pay the price to do that, at least not yet. I don’t want to turn the ‘crawl into an echo chamber for a single political perspective; I don’t want people to feel offended when they come here, but if the price of avoiding offense includes avoiding challenge it’s not a price I’m willing to pay. Which means sometimes the ‘crawl can be an unpleasant place sometimes, for me as much (or more) than anyone.

    I will not pander. If you want a comfy couch and the guarantee that all encountered opinions will be comfortably compatible with your own, there are lots of other places to go.

  78. First, I want to thank Our Gracious Host for continuing to be both our host, and so gracious.

    Leona: […T]he common thread is that , usually, everybody pussy-footed around these people’s insane rhetoric and waved away their anger management issues and bizarre worldview in which everything was black and white and only one thing mattered. People saw they were off the rails, and then promptly got on with their own lives, instead of trying to correct anything, confront / counsel / caution them, or alert a third party. After that it all just gets compounded by the ubiquity of guns and the ubiquity of trigger-happy cops

    I have come to the conclusion, correctly or otherwise, that at least in part these corporations providing the social-media platform are “paid” to do so as a mechanism enabling the tracking, the viewpoint into the mental status, cognitive processes, and world-view of potential mass-casualty perpetrators.

    Yes, I know that ostensibly the payment for operating these media is to “deliver eyeballs to advertisers” but that can’t be economically viable, I don’t think, cconsidering how many people either use ad-blocker software or simply don’t buy the products advertised. Possibly this would be grist for the endless mill of analysing the costs/values economics of altruism. Do the social-media, with benefit to society, offset costs of operation in non-intuitive economies? Do elements of law-enforcement — or perhaps more frighteningly and potentially far more pervasive, private investigation and activism firms — contribute to operating expenses so as to have this ringside seat next to the “bully pulpit” of the internet’s ranters and ravers? Why pay for actual investigation when you can hire a college summer intern to read tweets and generate summaries?

    Almost anyone generating a sufficiently interesting or coherent diatribe will get some dialog, whether or not they respond appropriately is a harder outcome to guess. See also the clear descent into madness of mass-shooter Jared Loughner online, in which he was becoming far more than outre and more clearly beyond batshit. It’s one thing in rhetoric to deny the consequent, yet in psychiatry it’s rare but frightening to encounter someone who will both deny the precedent and then expect that by verbally denying a precedent that everyone else will start believing that the concrete consequences of the precedent have ceased to exist. Yet this is what Loughner does… and what his friends did was effectively nothing. Many people died and “Gabby” Giffords is still recovering.

    I guess there are not enough people with the right qualifications paying attention to all of the losers, Leona. Or perhaps so many people have reported on people who turned out to be investigative dead ends… and perhaps so many of the people reporting have themselves turned out to be less-than-reliable.

    Additionally, outside of severe cases such as Loughner, as John Rodriguez says, people “[…] don’t confide” [their] “crazy ideas to people who aren’t receptive to the message.”

    @ Peter Watts, who responded to me pointing out the balance of power between what I can call “overly Libertarian” people and the government agencies that love to suppress them:

    Wow. You’re own intramural cold war as status quo.

    Can’t say I envy you.

    Well, it’s not just me that thinks of it that way; this goes back to Thomas Jefferson: “[…] what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.”

    This has been one of the things that is hardest for the “traditionalist American” to get across to so many of our fellow Western Democracy allied nation’s citizens and subjects. Philosophically there is a case to be made for a more sedentary and affable “sovereign citizen” than is usually made by the radicals who had purloined that label. Canadians, so far as I can tell, and the Australians as well along with many of the other Commonwealth nations, have generally had very good government for so long that they haven’t much interest in feeling rebellious against much except poor electoral choices by their fellow citizens, which eventually ought to be over with the passage of time. Former PM Harper for example, stress on “former”. The French, however, understand; they had their own quite bloody (and terrifying) revolution. I admit to some ignorance and curiousity as to how the French handle this internally in their culture. Presumably with more wine and better bread. Americans? Well, perhaps a bit more ready to call for a readiness to rise against tyranny. In some ways it works out pretty well and rather peacefully; many of those most vocally opposed to “tyranny” are already ranking members of organizations from which we might expect any tyranny or autocracy to emerge. Practically a Hegelian dialectic is ongoing at all times, only with more saber-rattling than has been seen in such a context outside of the revolutions in, say, Russia or China.

    Sure it’s crazy, but we’re used to it. Cops shooting civilians on a rising curve? Not used to that, and not used to people shooting at cops, we thought that was pretty much over since the last time it was high in the 1990s at Peak Crime. Now, though, perhaps the saddest thing of all is that about half of people shot dead by US police are disabled and/or mentally ill (PDF). If you want something else to be angry about, another US national disgrace is this sad dialectic between cops killing the unmedicated madfolk on the one hand, or alternatively, having a police-adjunct agency masquerading as mental healthcare forcibly medicating people with cut-rate medications bought in bulk from the lowest bidder on government contract.

  79. Peter Watts: There are bloggers out there who describe their places as the equivalent of their living rooms. We are guests in their homes, we are expected to follow house rules and to play nice and to avoid making anyone uncomfortable. Scalzi’s place is like that. Stross’s too, to a lesser extent.

    I picked Stross’s blog rather than Scalzi’s for an example. I read both, but Stross’s blog seems to have more people who disagree with each other.

    (hmm, I haven’t done an analysis to check my gut instinct. maybe there is an algorithm that take the corpus of all comments on a blog and give a disagreement score.)

  80. Sheila,

    Stross’ blog tends to have disagreements about a lot of things, but it stays mostly polite. A lot of the people posting there use their real names, which makes disagreements — even strong ones — easier to deal with. IMO, anyway.

    Most people also stick to attacking the ideas they disagree with, not the poster. This helps tremendously. As do the moderators who police the blog when Charlie isn’t around.

    The goal of the blog, though, is to generate publicity (and sales) for Stross, and to keep him amused. To that end the moderation rules are unevenly enforced. (Apparently) amusing trolls are allowed free reign, and have at times virtually taken over the comment section.

  81. Re:
    Peter: I will not pander. If you want a comfy couch and the guarantee that all encountered opinions will be comfortably compatible with your own, there are lots of other places to go.

    But you do pander, because you are well-intentioned. You just gave an example of where people came after you on your own blog, and you let them stay (at least for a while) in spite of their sheer ingratitude and pure hate. That’s your prerogative, but what I was saying was, people don’t actually have to be so rigidly and uncompromisingly kind, in all situations. I think intellectuals, scientists and people who prefer facts over opinion and dialectic and debate over hot air are very torn on this issue, but they are nevertheless (by dint of being human, and by dint of living in a non-ideal word), allowed to break their own rules sometimes. As long as they’re honest that that’s what they’re doing, when it’s done, I think it might be okay. It can be more constructive in the end than clinging doggedly to the ideals that let people come and crap on you on your own blog. I’m not convinced those horrible people taught you, of all people, something that you didn’t already know or couldn’t have figured out by yourself. And your audience is pretty smart too, so ditto. I was not here for most of that though, so I could be completely off.

    And I’m not whingeing for some kind of “safe space” for myself – I literally, finally, have no horses in any of these effing races littering the human condition anymore… and I have had enough annealing encounters online to fully understand that any such mediated security is an illusion. I’m trying to point out that any ideology has its operating limits. Even something that usually scales very well – such as letting people express themselves in whatever way they want to, wherever and to whomever. I think I’ve insulted this blog with my words “microcosm of a larger phenomenon” – and I do apologize… but at the same time I think the pendulum is all the way over, for free speech this, freedom that, consitution the other, and whatever else inbetween.

    We need a third way.
    I’m not gonna post any more, having dragged this thread askew.

    ps: @Mr Non-Entity – I agree: the twitters and facebooks need the shitty traffic just for traffic’s sake, and are likely in cahoots with law enforcement so that the really virulent accounts have enough time on there to leave incriminating breadcrumbs. Sucks for everyone else in the meantime.

  82. >> Winter67uk: You get the gun on the condition you don’t use it. If you use it,
    >> the gun goes to the someone else. Someone with fresh ideas on how not to use it.

    > You know, that sounds really good but even I can’t help thinking it’s too harsh.

    Sounds to me like the very definition of a “properly regulated militia” — it applies to the armed civilians, not to the police.

  83. @Summerblind

    True that Soros has attempted, perhaps succeeded in coopting BLM. But making it more violent? More like pulling all its teeth and making it play nice with the power structure unless I’m missing something important.

    Am familiar a little with zerohedge and sometimes agree with him. That the Democrat elite want anything substantially different from the GOP where our multinational corporate overlords are concerned, though, I consider to be a tribal/competing cartel Republican talking point. If BHO and HRC were 1/10th the radical left that they consistently get accused of being, we might be seeing less of these intrasocietal issues.

    @All

    Mark Ames wrote a book called Going Postal where he traces the causality of many workplace shootings to Reaganomics. Interesting to note that violent crime in general is way down in the US with only mass shootings being on the upswing.

  84. @Summerblind:
    Soros funding BLM, coercing it to become more violent, while flooding the US and the EU with islamic migrants in order to help weaken the economy after taking a position that shorts stocks. Turmoil = profit.

    Where is the rationality in that argument? He is rich, but not THAT rich, assuming he had that kind of power he could get the same or better leverage on his money by destroying the economy of small to middle size countries rather than take on giants. And if you still think he has the power and is doing that, why not short the market with everything you got? If you do well enough you might even get a seat on the Musk Mars Colonial Transporter, which is where I assume all the rich people will go once they realize that they fucked up this world…

  85. https://google.com/search?q=crime+by+race

    How many resist arrest?
    How many deal drugs?
    How many rape?
    How many commit murder?
    How many are involved in a gun fight?
    How many commit burglary?
    How many are repeat offenders?
    How many kill cops?

    Now do that per capita.

    Ain’t statistics somethin’, Peter?

  86. T. gondii: Ain’t statistics somethin’, Peter?

    Yeah, statistics really is something. You should try it sometime, instead of linking to an open-ended Google search that returns a hundred and seventy-eight million hits.

  87. Off-topic but finally saw Force Awakens. Weird trend with Adam Driver not being your typical Hollywood type. If he were younger, he might look a lot like the kid from The Island.