Friday, December 26, 2014

To the Point

  We don't see things as they are,
we see them as we are
--Anais Nin

Amidst today's talk concerning police procedure vis-a-vis the deaths of black Americans sparked by the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, there is an unasked question, namely:

"Would the police have acted any differently if the suspect were white?"

If the answer is "No", then the shooting in Ferguson was not a racial incident from the police perspective. The answer to the question is discrete from how the event was perceived by the black population. Moreover, that precipitating event was a discrete event from each future police engagement with a black citizen.

Unfortunately, the concatenation of all following (or preceding) events is a human overlay, and humans have a compulsion to finding meaning or connection; we are pattern-makers. (We must be wary of our tendency to apophenia, as Lisa's Cambridge friend reminds her.)

Law enforcement officers have an unfortunate and built-in adversarial relationship with many of those those whom they must police. They are not filming a Hollywood police procedural and do not have the luxury of several takes. A pretty simple formula for not getting killed would be to not engage in crime, to not point a weapon at an officer and/or engage him in any physical way. Otherwise, it is an easy guess that the outcome will be an extremely violent one.

Lisa has a deputy sheriff friend who explained to her that many officers develop a poor attitude because they are dealing predominately with confrontation and shady characters on a daily basis. He, as a very Christian person, is able to access his faith and maintain a charitable outlook, but he allows that it is difficult in his position. He and his other deputies wear bullet-proof vests daily, a reminder that all do not welcome his appearance on the scene, despite and indifferent to his charitable outlook.

This is the law, which has no exceptions for race. So the question is:

"Do we have a race problem, or a police problem?"

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My humble opinion is that, generally speaking, we have neither a race problem nor a police problem. What we do have is a set of problems arising from a scurrilous media and a craven political culture.

Police interact with citizens every day in a myriad of ways and only a minute % of those interactions results in physical violence on the part of police. Yes, it's a no brainer - if you don't want to be roughed up or shot by police, comply with them; to the point of being obsequious if necessary. If you feel that an injustice is being done, get a lawyer and deal with it in court. It's quite simple.

A caveat is the (seemingly) increasing number of incidents where LEOs, using paramilitary tactics and "no-knock" warrants toss flash bang grenades into homes and come busting in with itchy fingers on triggers. But this is part 1 of the political problem. Posturing politicians getting "tough on crime", making and strenuously enforcing laws against every day vices; like cigarette smoking. Taxes are meant to lower demand for cigarettes, but instead create a black market. Ditto the failed "war on drugs" and the soon coming "war on guns".

Proposition 1: These "wars" make criminals out of millions of Americans that aren't bothering anyone. More reasons for police adversarial confrontations with citizens ultimately translates into more unfortunate results. We are a nation of prudes and do gooders; puritans that will use the coercive power of the state to save the souls of sinners - or at least punish them for it's own sake as well as pour encourager les autres.

When a minority (mostly minority = black) does not comply with LE and is injured or killed, elements of the political class may elevate the incident to the level of a celebrated case.

Proposition 2: The political class is cynical and foments division along racial lines to capture votes and power.

The media is perpetually interested in a juicy scandal and will aid and abet the political class in its effort to divide along racial lines.

Proposition 3: The media abuses the 1st amendment. It is largely a libelous institution that seeks to create an emotionally charged atmosphere with the primary emotions charged being anger, fear and outrage. Reasoned argument based on facts play little role in media presentations. The media understands and plays off the human tendency to become entrenched along tribal (e.g. racial lines).

Proposition 4: The effects of the media's emotional manipulation of the population creates a feedback loop with the cynical politicians' policy making. The media whoops the people up and the people turn to politicians to do something about that which the media has caused them to fear.

Yes, in places like Detroit and Cleveland we have racial problems. We also have many other areas of the country where whites, blacks, reds and yellows and all shades in between live and work together rather harmoniously. I think the latter is more the norm.

Proposition 5: Where we do have racial problems, the political class and the media have played a role in the development of those problems.

Your mileage may vary.


Friday, December 26, 2014 at 5:31:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

In Western Canada, we have both a police and a race problem. Our native population suffers disproportionately from various social ills. Our police and justice system does not treat them fairly (which tends to accentuate the various social ills).

Recognizing the systemic problem is a basic step in fixing it.

Friday, December 26, 2014 at 7:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Yes, basically esp. your "Proposition 3"

The media ... is largely a libelous institution that seeks to create an emotionally charged atmosphere with the primary emotions charged being anger, fear and outrage.

Add in Corollary 3:

People are largely foolish when it comes to their emotions, esp. when they think they are protecting "them and theirs".

Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 1:22:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a fit of holiday season nostalgia I visited a high school friend's FB. He had this sad incident from a few days ago posted: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/wayne/2014/12/24/shooting-grosse-pointe-detroit-teens/20857915/

More than 30 years after I left, nothing has changed (I would have shot the gunman, but I'm sure these kids were unarmed and probably feared guns). Any how, a bright young teenage girl from my home town and school is dead and a couple others wounded pretty badly. The art. says they were buying/smoking pot (like that's an excuse for their deaths), but a subsequent art. says autopsy proves the parents correct. The girl never used drugs.

Progressives talk about systematic racism of whites towards blacks. 30+ years later and it is still an offense meriting summary execution to be driving in Detroit while white. If that isn't systematic, I don't what is, but we'll never hear about it in the media. The progressive meme is the rule of the day.

It occurs to me that if progressives did not promote the meme and ignore the other side of the coin, they'd be out of a job; no longer to able to feel moral superiority.

Our culture seems stuck in a good guy/bad guy cartoonish morality play. Life isn't that simple. This is another issue at the heart of what ails us.

Are we just fucking stupid in the US of A?


Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 3:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...


Please offer evidence that this young person was killed by a black simply because she was white. Further, please offer actual evidence that this generalizes into something that could be likened to "an offense that warrants summary execution".

Finally, please offer evidence that this is 'systematic'.

A quick glance at the department of justice statistics suggests that mixed race persons are the preponderant demographic for likelihood to be a victim of violent crimes. The next demographic are American Indians and then Blacks. Whites are the lowest demographic (ignoring the native Hawaiian/islander demographic where there are too few victims to get a statistically reliable rate)

While not disproving your "summary execution" theses, it does seem to make it less likely.

Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 1:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ael, Of course I meant "systemic" in stead of "systematic".

As I said by way of comment on the previous post, back when I lived in the same town and went to the same school as Paige Stalker (the recent victim), a journey through East Detroit to get downtown was fraught with danger. We carried guns and were prepared to use them because breaking down or stopping at a red light could mean getting killed by blacks. To have actually gotten out of the car and walked around any where along a 12 to 15 mile stretch of the route would have been suicide. I knew someone whose throat was slashed and died and someone else who was beaten within an inch of his life. Blacks would shout threats at us and throw bottles at our car.

If you don't believe me, you are welcome to take a stroll through there yourself. If you don't mind, let me know when you plan to do it so I can take a life insurance policy out on you. I'd like to retire early.

The only reason more whites aren't killed is that whites avoid the area.

Now, in the current case, the Assistant Detroit Police Chief said this, ""The kids in Grosse Pointe — they think it can't happen to them," he said. "People shouldn't blame the people in Detroit; your kids are buying drugs there."

Really? Don't blame the people (i.e. blacks) of Detroit? Hey, they were white kids buying drugs in an all black neighborhood. So they deserve to die? What kind of logic is that? btw, the deceased was found to have 0% drugs in her system. There is no proof that drugs were purchased.

That has been the attitude of the city since when I was a teenager. The city has for decades had a black mayor, a black city council and a heavily black police force.

What if a black was lynched in a predominantly white town and the white police chief shrugged and said, "Well them blacks come around these here parts looking for white women. You shouldn't blame the good folks of Klanville for what happens when they do".

But the assistant chief was repeating the known wisdom. If you're white and you come into Detroit, you should expect something very bad to happen to you. Is that not systemic?

One more thing about this recent case. The attacker was wearing camouflage utilities and had an assault type weapon with a 30 round magazine. He also had some kind of vest that may have been of the body armor type. That's not your typical hommie. Sounds more like a black panther kind of thing. I'm willing to guess he waited on the Grosse Pointe/Detroit border to follow whites crossing into the city so he could ambush and execute them. Again, an emerging systemic violence much like the murders of the two cops in NYC.

I can only speak to the situation in Detroit b/c that is what I have knowledge of. Other cities may be different, but I doubt it.

hope that helps clarify.


Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 2:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...


The existence you describe is beyond dismal, and I'd have to string a lot of adjectives together to come even close to capturing it.

fr. the Detroit Free Press:

"A vehicle rolled up on the group.

"A man dressed in camouflage got out and ordered the teens to get out of the car. He had an assault rifle.

"The teenage driver panicked and started to drive off. The gunman started firing rounds.

"In the end, police say, upwards of 30 bullets were fired by a man who may have been wearing a bulletproof vest."

It may have been random, but it was certainly a targeted kill.

Such things are obscene and shocking in a Western civilization, but would not be out of line in a predator-prey situation in (pick your African nation.) This is simply an observation in line with Wade's book. It is certainly not to excuse the behavior in any way.

Ditto Afghanistan. Wade suggests that "bringing democracy" to a peoples not suited, by dint of societal evolution, to such a practice is destined for failure.

I'm always sorry to hear of such grievous losses.

Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa,I don't think a Canadian or European can really understand. Here's map of homicides in Detroit. Note: these are people that actually died. How many more dots would there be for wounded or raped?

I lived a few blocks to the east (right) of Chalmers - the border of the white section of the map on the lower right hand side. My routes into the city were Jefferson or Mack and sometimes 8 mile Rd. That is where my perspective comes from.


Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 1:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

I will admit that I don't know about current conditions in Detroit. However, it is not completely foreign to me. A while ago, I spent some time working at the Bell Main central office doing telecommunications work. I stayed in a predominately black neighborhood and walked to work downtown each day.

Once I stopped at a bank branch where everyone I saw (customers and workers alike) was black. I carry the image in my head because I was changing some Canadian cash into American cash and nobody knew what Canadian cash looked like (and whether the funny colored paper I was offering was actually Canadian money). Finally, the supervisor dug out a binder with a bunch of photocopied money from around the world and she compared the money in the binder to the money I was offering and agreed to the exchange. All this when Canada was practically in sight across the river.

Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 10:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...


You have a great example here of American ignorance of anything outside of their borders. (Like the HSA agent who detained a journalist for having a "District of Columbia" license as she/he did not recognize D.C. as being in the U.S.)

I wonder how the bank supervisor ascertained the rate of exchange? You might have benefited by a direct 1:1 conversion (?!?) Inquiring minds want to know.

Were you in Detroit? If so, obviously not one of the more dangerous areas, as walking would not have been advised, and your company would have been remiss to have not briefed you.

Monday, December 29, 2014 at 2:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...


I scanned your opening sentence in this dialog, and it really states the problem:

we have neither a race problem nor a police problem. What we do have is a set of problems arising from a scurrilous media and a craven political culture.

...by extension, a media/political problem implies a "human" problem, and that is so. We construct these edifices which serve as societal bulwarks, but they are populated by us, alas.

You can run but you can't hide, or as they say, wherever you go, there you are.

Monday, December 29, 2014 at 2:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ael, If you were downtown D when making the currency exchange, that area is pretty safe; esp. in the daytime. It's getting there that takes one through ambush alley. Yes, Windsor is right across the river. Wonderful city, as most of Canada is.

Lisa, agreed that it is a human problem and, as such, I ponder the implications for the continuance of our Republic.


Monday, December 29, 2014 at 3:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...


We would be wise to contemplate the implications of our "loose stringing" in most every venture we undertake. If we were more mindful, we might be able to fend off the almost inevitable degradation of almost every project we undertake.

Monday, December 29, 2014 at 7:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Entropy is a law. Nothing in human endeavor lasts forever.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 2:15:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...


Yes (as in "Ozymandias".)

I meant premature ruin, or warping of intention.

Of course, there are those who would argue that if the thing cannot sustain, then ruin or warping is the logical trajectory, but I don't like such sophistry.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 11:06:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, IMHO, at the end of the day we are all tilting at windmills, but the battles that we choose and how we fight them are what define our souls.

Or perhaps it's the other way around; our souls define the battles we choose and how we fight them.

Or both.

I always liked Hendrix philosophy as expressed in, "If six was nine"; though I struggle sometimes with its truth.

Thin gruel for those who swore to defend the constitution and/or love the country.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 3:42:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Ultimately each lives his own life (and dies his own death.) Live and let live. Each defines his own dignity, and chooses his own master.

It may affect the world, or not at all. IMO, the prime determinant for one's behavior is, "How does it sit with me?" Far from narcissism, it seems the truest compassion, for if I know me, I know you, too.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 11:59:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, Lisa. But that makes me wonder how we can maintain a coherent nation state, if we have a wide variety of - and often conflicting and competing - cultural outlooks impacting each citizen's assessment of "How does it sit with me?".

People tell me to not worry about it. Probably good advice for my personal well being. But if not me, who then?


Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 12:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

avedis asks,

how we can maintain a coherent nation state, if we have a wide variety of - and often conflicting and competing - cultural outlooks impacting each citizen's assessment of "How does it sit with me?"

In terms of the minutiae of policy matters, things will always be a tussle, but one imagines that in the more essential questions of life, there would be a general accord among those who buy into the Western humanistic tradition (i.e., Don't kill unless your life is in imminent danger, etc.)

Yet in the violence we see in our inner cities, we wonder how the Golden Rule broke down. ISTM most people serve a god, and have an idea of neighborliness. It seems to break down when we deprive our "neighbor" of the same humanity which ourselves possess. Perhaps it breaks down when humanity and dignity leave the self. Then there is no standard for which to strive, and all becomes base and grubby, and it's a war of all against all.

Worrying does no good. If one can implement a solution, that's great. Barring that, find a safe haven for oneself and one's own, and prosper in that milieu.

Friday, January 2, 2015 at 1:29:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home