2 months Ago
The first rule of policing
The post Dallas Cops Fight For the First Rule of Policing by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) defines that rule as “make it home for dinner”. No matter what else is going on that day or how a given situation develops, the first rule is self-preservation. Everything else—including gunned-down innocents—can be handled later and usually papered over with the help of others, both on the force and on the bench.
This post discusses a shooting incident in Dallas, in which a 48-year–old officer was, believe it or not, actually found guilty of using “deadly force […] without fear or justification” and summarily fired. A mere mortal would have been charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” or perhaps even “attempted murder” and would most certainly not be getting even a part of their pension, but let’s not quibble. The termination of employment is enough of a pleasant surprise that we should enjoy it.
The decision leads to an effort to revamp policy to avoid future, similar incidents, which isn’t sitting well with the rest of the Dallas police force. Not being able to shoot people that “surprise” them or aren’t otherwise already lying face-down on the sidewalk in tasered glory is going to seriously impinge on their ability to “get home for dinner”.
It’s understood that a cop’s life is on the line in a way not found in most other jobs. But
This amounts to the same protections demanded by torturers and their backers in US federal employ. Because they’d like to be able to use torture if they deem it necessary, they also want it to be legal. Such a priori legalization benefits only the person who intends to do harm. Anyone who would wield such power carefully would also be willing to bear the responsibility and blame should something go wrong.
Engendering fear of police to this degree is going to cause a backlash that can only end in a death-spiral of violence, one that has arguably already begun quite some time ago.
This just in: court does not believe bullshit planted-drugs story
The post 2d Circuit: Aw, Come On. That Can’t Be True by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) tells the tale of a court that “[did] the unthinkable: reject the government’s allegations as “unreasonable.””
The situation involved an arrested and handcuffed bystander. He was “arrested for being in the vicinity after a fight occurred”, which I didn’t even know was a thing. He allegedly managed to squirrel away drugs into the backseat of a police vehicle. To this, the court found that,
Nicely put. Greenfield goes on to mention that this case really is noteworthy because, while the conclusion is obvious to we lay-people, it is not a foregone conclusion that upholding the “laws of physics [trumps] the rule of law […] when it comes to contraband”.
Kelly Thomas’s killers found innocent
The post The Outrage of the Kelly Thomas Cops’ Acquittal by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) discusses the recent conclusion of the case against two officers who beat a mentally handicapped man named Kelly Thomas to death.
The beating was captured on video (YouTube). After officers antagonized him for just over 15 minutes, Thomas stands up. This is enough for the officers to pull out their nightsticks and go to work on him. For once, the description of a YouTube video includes some useful information:
You can hear him screaming for help and apologizing as the beat continues for about 10 minutes, culminating in his motionless body lying on the sidewalk under a pile of about a half dozen officers. When he was finally taken to the hospital, he looked like he’d been run over by several trucks (Friends For Fullerton's Future) (brace yourself; it’s pretty horrific).
The officers charged for this beating/murder were acquitted by a jury of their peers. As Greenfield put it:
This should be the end of the matter. The cops were tried and found not guilty. That’s all we can do in America because of a little thing called the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. However, “the Thomas family has called for a federal prosecution for the denial of Kelly Thomas’ civil rights”. They can do this under something called “dual sovereignty”, which (sometimes) allows a person to be tried at both the state and the federal level for the same crime. Greenfield provides a lucid, logical and well-written summary:
Cartoonist Ted Rall published the following cartoon at the end of 2013:
The first couple of panels document the most recent transgressions that the Obama administration has made under the auspices of the NDAA—the National Defense Authorization Act. These include sweeping away constitutionally guaranteed rights in a manner breathtaking even for citizens who survived eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration.
The final panel shows a soldier wondering how this can be, while another patiently explains.
Purely out of morbid curiosity, I visited Healthcare.gov to see what’s going on over there. I’d heard so much.
Here are some comments additional to those embedded in the screenshot:
Shutting off stylesheets yields relatively semantic content. There are a few too many icons that could have been moved to the stylesheet instead.
Having all of those repeated sets of icons in the page reduces usability for the disabled, who are actually quite likely to be browsing a government insurance site, actually. Still, it’s better than a lot of other pages in this regard.
Let us soldier on and see what kind of plans there are.
Well, that was pretty straightforward and easy and not at all slow and broken. Thumbs up for the federal government, amirite?
Deep breath. Let’s go see what New York State has to offer. Apparently, it has its own site to handle ACA applications. I’d heard about that. It’s a rich state and state-level trumps federal-level every time, right? This is gonna be good.
And so my journey comes to an abrupt end, my interest wanes and my basic faith in the utter awfulness of all software is restored.
Hat tip to Peo for the links.
3 months Ago
So there is, apparently, a redneck actor on a fake-reality show called “Duck Dynasty” who turns out to be, in real life, an anti-gay bigot with completely humdrum and bigoted ideas of everyone’s place in society.
I’ll let you gather your wits as you recover from your shock.
Also unsurprisingly, he thinks that white guys with beards, guns and inappropriate sunglasses sit at the top of the heap.
A&E, which broadcasts this paragon to culture, pulled on his leash and suspended him for a little while.
There are good odds that he will be back when the storm of righteous indignation has blown over and everyone who never cared about Duck Dynasty in the first place is no longer paying attention.
You could, however, count the seconds until the social networks exploded with outrage for “taking away” said bigot’s right to free speech.
This is not an accurate synopsis of the situation.
Phil Robertson retains his right to free speech. He lives in a country that shows an inordinate amount of restraint vis à vis moronic opinions like his.
Calling his opinions moronic is also not, in any way, limiting his free speech.
His employer is also not limiting his right to free speech. Said employer has simply decided to take away the megaphone that they had given him. They calculated that they would be better off without him for a while.
No one is entitled to a nationwide platform to disseminate boring, hateful and insipid ideas.
He is free to tell all of his friends and passersby in the street all about his ideas.
None of us, however, has the obligation to listen. Such an obligation on our part is not implied by Robertson’s right to free speech.
We have, in fact, always been a country that allows free speech while at the same time ensuring that no one is really listening to anyone else.
We’ve got that down to a science.
Robertson is a run-of-the-mill Bible-thumper who thinks that his opinions are refined because other people who know even less than he does told him that they were.
He has climbed a molehill of thought and thinks he’s planted a flag on Everest.
He got fooled into thinking that the fancy GQ interview was a good place to let the world see just how awesome and smart he is, how he’s got it all figured out—and how homosexuals are to blame for all that ails us.
Just like the Negros before them.
And the Mexicans.
And the Communists.
And the Jews.
And the Poor.
File under: Storm in a Teacup.