Author Archives: SHG

You Can’t Handle The Truth (Update)

Early this morning, Brian Tannebaum started twitting angrily, which in itself is nothing particularly noteworthy.  This time, however, it was about the banning from twitter of @1938loren, the twitter account of Loren Feldman.  I never followed Feldman, but apparently he was banned under twitter’s harassment policy. Banned.

Without any clue what Feldman may have said or done to be banned, it doesn’t change what this means.  For those who felt (note the word “felt,” rather than “thought”) that they were harassed by whatever it is that Feldman twitted, their actions in having him banned from the twitters means that those who wanted to read Feldman’s twits are denied. He has been silenced for all, not just those individuals who found his twits disturbing.*

This reflects the next extension of the purification of the interwebz, the delusion of Cyber Civil Rights feminism that not only demands the right never to hear or see thoughts that hurt their feelings, but demand that these thoughts be silenced, denied to everyone.  This is where it goes beyond their claim of right to never be subjected to unpleasant thoughts, to their claim of right to ban all ideas they find disagreeable to everyone.

At The Guardian, Jessica Valenti panders to the sensitivities of would-be censors by asserting that technology companies, the platforms like twitter, that transmit speech, could end online harassment tomorrow, if they wanted to. Continue reading

Favored Treatment: It’s Not Just For Killing (Update)

While the controversy swirls around whether a police officer committed homicide or, because it’s such a hard job, just made a testosterone-fueled miscalculation when he shot somebody, the question of systemic favoritism toward police gets caught up in the details.  After all, cops aren’t perfect, and they aren’t on a suicide mission, the First Rule of Policing notwithstanding.  They can be both reasonable and wrong.

But this does nothing to explain wife-beaters and drunks.  None of the pat excuses culled from the media relations talking points explain why a drunk cop in a car gets a pass.

The second time he was arrested — after he was found passed out in his car with the engine running in September 2012, a half-empty can of Coors Light lying on the floor — he was a state trooper, charged with keeping the roads safe from drunk drivers.

Simpkins, 41, admitted that he started drinking beer after a softball tournament, went to a bar and drank some more, then went to another tavern and kept drinking before heading to the Wendy’s in Stoughton, where he was found asleep at the wheel, according to the arrest report. Continue reading

The Dangerous Line of Respect

Aside from the truly hardcore stupid, one thing has grown out of the failure to indict the police who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, coming atop the  killing of Tamir Rice and Akai Gurley.  People who usually exercise their mind by watching the latest episode of Real Housewives of Somewhere are starting to question whether maybe, just maybe, we have a problem with cops.

When that happens, so too does the pushback, the inevitable forces that bolster the most simplistic ideas and basic fears and prejudices that keep society in line.  There are brilliant people of all political flavors, even those you personally disagree with.  And then there are good looking people who are dumb as bricks, but adore being famous and truly believe what they say.

One such dolt is Jeanine Pirro, to whom Fox News has given a soapbox to suck up the demographic they can squeeze away from Nancy Grace.

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The Nasty Little Secret of Progressive Statistics

Cristian Farias pointed out the twit to me:

Marshall Project

For the self-proclaimed messiah of criminal law reporting, I would have expected something a tad deeper than “research suggests” repeating the same phony stats that are being used to trivialize the risk of false rape accusations.  But then, when the self-proclaimed messiah of criminal law reporting stands for the finest in progressive values, why not?

This is why not. From Jack Chin at PrawfsBlawg: Continue reading

No Threat At All

The grand jury in Frederick County, Maryland returned no charges against Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris, the cops who killed Robert Saylor for not leaving a movie theatre.  Saylor had Downs Syndrome, but the cops claimed they couldn’t figure that out because they were too busy killing him.

At Cal State Monterey, a CSU Monterey Bay police officer was called to a dorm because a student was suicidal.  He handled it all wrong. The student lived.

A union official said the officer did not feel it was necessary to use a Taser on the unarmed 150-pound victim who was distraught.

“Our officer did not believe he was any threat at all,” said Jeff Solomon, the union’s president.

Instead, the unnamed officer spoke with the student calmly, de-escalated the situation. Continue reading

Focus: The Problem With Diffusion

Was the killing of Tamir Rice not enough?  What about Michael Brown?  Or Eric Garner. Or Akai Gurley. Or . . . wait a moment.  While each of these stories bear common threads of death at the hands of police, each is worthy of its own, individual, independent examination.  They may be similar, but each is different. Each involves one human being, its unique set of facts and circumstances, its specific cry for attention.

Too often, a post here about a specific case gives rise to someone who feels compelled to focus not on the content of the post, but all the others.  There are always others. So many others.

The thing is, Conor Friedersdorf posted a whole slew of videos of cases like this that were equally as bad, and all of which seemed not to result in police officers being indicted. I’m also confused as to exactly why Michael Brown became the cause celebre as opposed to these cases with clearcut video (yet still, as you note, defended by a disturbing percentage of the population). It’s not as though in these cases with the clearcut video justice was done.

It seems like the more ambiguous and disputed the evidence, the more likely it is to be the one that becomes national news. There’s a partial exception for Randall Kerrick shooting the FAMU football player Jonathan Ferrell who was knocking on someone’s door for directions, but even that one seemed to go away quickly. (Granted, in that case he was fired and arraigned for manslaughter quickly, thanks to NC having no collective bargaining for police, but then it totally dropped off the media radar.)

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Tamir Rice: Did Rookie Cop Loehmann Have To Kill Him?

After the video of Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann went viral, many argued that the rookie, having been driven so close and left to deal with a gun, Airsoft though it may have been without its orange cap, had no choice but to shoot.  That was his story. That was his father’s story.  And that was how it looked to some former cops who commented here.

One commenter, JCC, turned out to have exceptional credentials to offer his opinion.

[A]s it happens, I’m retired from a large, urban U. S. police department, where I spent slightly less than 32 years. Part of the time (about 3 years), I commanded the homicide detectives and was in charge of all police-related shooting investigations (when someone was injured). Over the years, I have taught hundreds of detectives, at the local, state and Federal level, in multiple states in how to conduct (among other things) homicide investigations.

Shortly after the release of the video, it was learned that Loehmann was not merely a rookie with the Cleveland police, but a reject of the Independence Police Department. Continue reading

When There Are No Men To Blame (Update)

After the “shitstorm” hit, that the Rolling Stone article about the UVA gang rape wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, I checked the twitter feed of one of my favorite feminists, Amanda Marcotte, who writes for Slate’s XX Factor.  I actually felt bad for her, trying so desperately to salvage some tiny thread of dignity when her world view was shattered.

The problem was that she didn’t need to demean herself.  That one article turned out to be so poorly vetted as to raise substantial doubts as to its veracity, or the blind faith that replaced journalistic integrity in reporting it, proves nothing more than that this one instance isn’t what it purported to be.  Any thoughtful person realizes this, just as any thoughtful person realizes that one anecdote doesn’t prove the opposite.

The problem for Marcotte, of course, is that she, along with those who suffer from the same myopia, argue the opposite.  When a rape occurs, whether it’s what the law considers a rape or of the amorphous variety that appeals mostly to Jezebel readers, it doesn’t prove all men are rapists or that our society is built on rape culture (whatever that is) under the auspices of the patriarchy.  Live by the sword, get embarrassed by the sword.

But what salvages her honor, to the extent she believes it to be intact, is that she has the patriarchy to blame.  What if it was just among women?  Who then to blame? Continue reading

Worthy of Execution

Rarely have I said this, but I’m going to now: Yale law professor Stephen Carter’s opening sentence is profound:

On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce.

Unsurprisingly, his 1Ls aren’t ready for a statement that deep, that real.

Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.

The point isn’t that they will, or do, or even do so often that it’s a pervasive problem.  It seems that way sometimes, but it’s not. Given the number of police interactions daily, the number of people killed by police is a relatively small number. But for the person killed, the family and friends of the person killed, the number one is all that matters. Continue reading

The New Revenge Porn: Racism

Assuming every legislator, from Congress to state, decides to end the blight of revenge porn by criminalizing all expression that its advocates demand.  Problem solved, right?  Ah, have you forgotten the apocryphal story of Timmy and the rat?  Those who truly seek to do harm, when foreclosed from one avenue, will find another.

Via Gawker comes the next new thing.

It’s a well-known fact that unsourced, unverifiable, anonymous Tumblr posts are an agent of social progress and meaningful change. So it’s surprising that some prick used “Racists Getting Fired,” an enormously popular new web attraction, to smear his ex.

The premise of RGF is simple, and a perfectly representative product of 2014 Internet: send screenshots of people saying racist shit on Facebook or Twitter to their employers, get them canned, and thus end American racism, or something. This is foolproof until someone uses the formula to frame someone who didn’t actually say anything racist.

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True Confessions: They Shoot Blacks, Don’t They?

Eric Adams has a singularly unique position in the controversy over the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and, well, every person of any color needlessly killed by a cop.  He’s the Brooklyn Borough President. He’s a former New York State Senator.  He’s a former NYPD captain.  He’s the epitome of the establishment guy.

He’s also the co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.

Adams offers an op-ed in the New York Times today that addresses issues that need addressing, that admits truths that need admitting.  Remember, this is a career cop turned career politician, and there can’t be background less suited to acknowledging the harsh reality on the streets than a guy in positions dedicated to making excuses and rationalizing harm. Yet, here’s Eric Adams:

As a 15-year-old, living in South Jamaica, Queens, I was arrested on a criminal trespass charge after unlawfully entering and remaining in the home of an acquaintance. Officers took me to the 103rd Precinct — the same precinct where an unarmed Sean Bell was later shot and killed by the police — and brought me into a room in the basement. They kicked me in the groin repeatedly. Out of every part of my body, that’s what they targeted. Then I spent the night in Spofford juvenile detention center.

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