Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Always and Never


Two words that’ll almost always make a liar out of you faster than any others are “always” and “never.”  The use of these words is strong evidence that the speaker has abandoned critical thinking, and has retreated into an irrational “emotional” position.
In the following, when I use the term “violence” I do NOT  mean “force.” I mean the illegitimate use of force, that is, the initiation of force in order to coerce or punish or VIOLATE an innocent person.  The use of force in order to PREVENT coercion or punishment of an innocent person is NOT “violence.” It does not “violate.” Self-defense is force, but it is not “violence.”
A police officer has the authority to employ a level of force necessary to make a lawful arrest, and no more. If an arrest requires ONE punch, and the officer uses TWO, that is, by definition, excessive force.  If the arrest is unlawful the officer has NO authority to make it at all. An unlawful arrest is some combination of assault, wrongful imprisonment, and/or kidnapping – aggravated by the fact that the officer is likely heavily armed. A person has a legal and moral right to protect himself/herself from assault.  Logic demands that there can be no legitimate charge of “resisting arrest” unless there was a lawful arrest in the first place.

Every individual has a right to resist an unlawful arrest, even up to the point of using deadly force, if necessary.
John Bad Elk v. United States (177 U.S. 529 (1900)).

In 2014, around 1000 people were killed by the police, as far as we know. (I don’t know the number of persons whom police assaulted non-fatally.)  It is unlikely that each and every one of these homicides was murder. It is equally unlikely that each and every one of these homicides was “justified.”  To be justified in using lethal force, the officer must have a REASONABLE belief that he/she or another person was in imminent threat of grave bodily injury or death, and lethal force was NECESSARY to protect themselves or that other person.  That is the ONLY acceptable reason for using lethal force.

If the error rate for police were a stunningly low 5% -- that is, if the police were right 95% of the time --- that would mean that 50 innocent people were murdered by the police in 2014.  It follows that there should be 50 indictments and convictions, and 50 officers in prison doing hard time for murder.  The question is, does the police error rate and the police conviction rate match up?  It should, unless there is some other variable in play. If it doesn’t, the question is, what other variable is in play?
Here are some things we know for certain:
      The overwhelming majority of victims of police violence are non-white, and the overwhelming majority of cops perpetrating that violence are white Therefore, however great a role It’s no surprise that most cops are White because the majority of the population is white. The question is,  is the number of non-white officers proportional to non-whites in the population as a whole?  What IS surprising is that the number of non-white victims is drastically out of proportion to the number of non-whites in the population.  There has to be a reason why, and we have to know what that is.   It is insufficient to explain that disproportion by asserting that non-whites commit more crimes than whites, because it is ALSO true that non-whites are disparately punished for the SAME CRIMES as whites, that is, non-whites receive harsher treatment, longer sentences, etc. The evidence strongly suggests racial bias is involved.
2.     A small percentage of the victims of police violence are White. Therefore, however much “racism” may play a part in police violence in general, it cannot explain each and every one of the incidents. We can’t just ignore those anomalies. We have to account for them.  We have to develop a theory of the crime that accounts for ALL the evidence. The question must be: What do ALL victims of police violence have in common?
3.     Police lie. We KNOW they lie. We’ve seen it on videotape. There is NO QUESTION about this. Police falsify reports, make false arrests, enter false charges, conduct illegal searches, and commit perjury on the witness stand. They plant evidence, including weapons.  They lie about their own actions, and they lie to cover up for the illegal actions of other officers. To deny this is to be completely divorced from reality.   Is it REASONABLE to suppose that each and every time this happens, the officer is caught on camera?  Or is it likely that there are occurrences when there is NOT and alert citizen standing by with a cell phone?   The answer MUST be that the incidents that are documented do not represent a comprehensive tally of police misconduct. That is, however bad we KNOW it to be, it is probably worse. The question is, what happens to the police officers who get CAUGHT doing these things?  These are CRIMINAL activities. The answer SHOULD be that the officers are immediately fired and prosecuted in each and every case.  But that is NOT the case.
4.     A small number of police officers intercede or attempt to intercede against other police officers on behalf of a victim of police violence. These officers have been fired or otherwise disciplined. I know of no exceptions, but it’s possible that there are some we don’t know about. (I would very much like to hear about those, incidentally.)
It is unreasonable to expect any individual police offer to be “perfect,” or for the police as a whole to be perfect. What is important is what happens when police officers either make “honest mistakes” or act with malice, negligence or “depraved indifference.”
As I said, two words that almost always make a liar out of you are  “always” and “never.”  If police are never indicted for murder because police killings are always “justified,” then you can be fairly certain of one thing, at least:
They’re lying.


No comments: