Monday, July 11, 2016

Hi, it's Stupid

We've had no commentary over the weekend on the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five Dallas police officers last week. Here's the rushed reaction I posted at my place on Friday.

A happier Dallas protest moment, September 24 2015, from NBC-DFW.
Back in the day when Left Blogistan was just a couple of mud huts and a stray cow, and I was a dumbstruck lurker, there used to be a poster at Kos (I think, even that detail is getting vague) calling himself Stupid, who would always begin, "Hi, it's Stupid to say..." and go on to say something so naive and helpless that none of the smart and savvy news junkies was smart enough to think of it. As in—

Hi, it's Stupid to say there's something left to be learned from the horrible events in Baton Rouge and St. Paul and Dallas over the past week. We know it all already, don't we? And yet nothing changes.

Except it does, you know. What I've been learning, listening to the radio all morning (including a wise Mayor Bill de Blasio on his weekly call-in on WNYC):
  • The murder of black Americans by police isn't getting worse; it seems to be getting worse because we know more about it, day by day, but the use of violence by US authorities against black folks has always been there, and always been murderous. We don't have great numbers (see The Guardian's tally for some of the best information there is), but it's clear that what's changing is the quality of our information, led by the cell phone video. Just as the incidence of rape in our society hasn't been growing, but the courage of women to report rapes has, so that we hear and talk about it more. Awareness is growing. And more information is a kind of progress in itself.
  • Many municipal police departments are making serious progress in learning how to engage with people in African American communities, recognizing themselves as servants of the community rather than an occupying power, integrating the forces themselves—ironically or should I say "ironically" the Dallas police are one of the standout successes, and their handling of last night's demonstration against police brutality was apparently noteworthy just because it was done so well, with demonstrators and officers chatting and posing for selfies together, etc., etc.
  • Police in the UK still work for the most part without firearms; this is because firearms are so rare among the citizenry, because gun control is effective. I would like to see police like that here, but it's really too dangerous for them not to. (Not that Alton Sterling or Philando Castile posed any danger to the officers who killed them, if they were carrying guns at the time of their deaths.) I would like to see the Second Amendment repealed once and for all; it hasn't served the purpose it was meant for since 1812, when our standing army began creeping into existence and the concept of the well regulated militia became essentially irrelevant. Along with the Third Amendment, which has been been flouted unceasingly since that time, as far as I'm concerned. Old de Blasio was suggesting on the radio that he sensed an evolution in that direction really going on.
It's terrible, terrible, for everybody on the fault line: for the young black man in constant danger and his girlfriend with her phone at the ready in case she needs to start filming; for the young officer of whatever race who's inadequately trained and terrified and unable to tell a threat from a will-o'-the-wisp; for the dead and their families; for our political system that feels as if it had swallowed a razor blade in 1787 for no good reason. But it can get better, if we concentrate.

Another startling note of hopefulness (re Minnesota in particular) from Zandar. Update: Also a really lovely piece by Stephen Waldman at Washington Monthly on how BlackLivesMatter and the nation's police forces can truly unite around the common goal of gun control.

27 comments:

aimai said...

I"m sorry I didn't put anything up but I'm just so depressed about the state of the country. I agree that its always been this way, and part of me thinks that a great awakening is on its way. But I've also stumbled across the everyday and overt racism of pretty much every white person I bump into these days--secretaries at the doctor's office, the radiologist examining my foot, somebody I bump into at a store. What used to be anodyne encounters seem to be a moment when, seeing my skin, they decide to unload their Trump and BLM related grievances, sure in the secret handshake that they think white skin is. As soon as I talk back they shrink back and retreat back into resentment against priviliged, liberal elites. Its impossible to make headway with people whose only source of power is their grievances against black people and immigrants and whoever they can find to kick at.

Jeff Ryan said...

The statement about the Third Amendment was a joke, right? Or am I missing something here?

KenRight said...

found on comments on Kunstler Clusterfuck blog

No less an authority than the New York Times publishing the results of a study conducted by an African-American professor of Economics at Harvard:

nytimes.com/2016/07/12/upshot/surprising-new-evidence-shows-bias-in-police-use-of-force-but-not-in-s…

Tidbits: “…when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias…”

“… In the tense moments when a shooting may occur, are police officers more likely to fire if the suspect is black?…
in tense situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot a suspect if the suspect was black. ”

Ten Bears said...

So what you're saying, Ken, is cops didn't kill those two kids in cold blood last week, aeh? It didn't happen.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Ten Bears Kenny thinks if he says "African American Harvard professor" it's a magic formula that will force us all to believe anything he says, because we're all deluded leftists. Because he's an idiot he gives an incomplete URL for the Times story, which is here. The story, which he's too stupid to read, tells us that the relevant question wasn't studied:
The study did not say whether the most egregious examples — the kind of killings at the heart of the nation’s debate on police shootings — are free of racial bias. Instead, it examined a much larger pool of shootings, including nonfatal ones.
The study found, as you would expect, that black people are "more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police." Since the results on shootings are such an outlier they are clearly problematic, though I'm not prepared to go beyond the Times article and claim I know what the problem is.

Yastreblyansky said...

But your point is more important, people like Ken are just looking for ways to deny reality.

Yastreblyansky said...

And this from Washington Post: Unarmed black men are five times as likely to be shot and killed by police as unarmed white men, 40% of the unarmed people shot and killed by police in the US are black men though they only make up 6% of the population, and
About 13 percent of all black people who have been fatally shot by police since January 2015 were unarmed, compared with 7 percent of all white people.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Jeff, Sorry, that was a kind of joke, but it's not working very well yet. It's in development. I do feel that the money we spend on feeding and housing the permanent armed forces in the US is a violation of the spirit of the 3rd Amendment. True, we don't have to keep them in our houses, but we do have to support them at great expense.

Ten Bears said...

I read the Times article, Yas, and am both well aware of what it said and that Kennyboy was picking diggle-berries. After aimai's lament I just...

I've wondered about that upkeep thing. I kinda' thought that's where you were going but just couldn't see the framework. Seems to this Vietnam veteran that the tax burden foisted upon the individual family to finance the war machine is not unlike the personal expense of housing enemy militia.

Ken_L said...

Al Gore's crusade after the White House was climate change. Obama would do the country a service by making his, repeal of the 2nd amendment. The tedious Groundhog Day argument after every shooting atrocity serves no useful purpose whatsoever. Making changes to background checks or banning a certain kind of weapon is fiddling on the periphery of the problem. Either come out for constitutional change followed by common sense regulation, or accept that gun deaths are just one of those prices paid for the American lifestyle.

Jeff Ryan said...

@Yastreblansky: Erm, King George billeted his troops in people's homes against their will.

Otherwise, where on earth would you have the army sleep? Holiday Inn?

Jeff Ryan said...

@Ken_L: Climate change was Gore's cause before he was elected VP, too.

As an historical and Constitutional matter, I despise the Heller and NRA interpretations of the Second Amendment. But it really is a good idea to just can the damned thing. I'm not really worried someone is going to disarm the National Guard.

Yastreblyansky said...

LIke I said, TB, the point you made is more important than the one you could have made and I did. I just went and did it anyway because that's what I do. But I also did want everybody else to know.

And what aimai said too, as pretty much always.

Ken_L said...

Imagine if Obama went on an "Inconvenient Truth" style speaking tour in 2018, touting the dimensions of America's gun violence, the successful way other countries have dealt with gun regulation, complete with awesome movie ... It could reframe the whole debate from dead-end rehashing of stale talking points once every few months to a sustained discussion of the core problems. Some kind of circuit breaker is needed if any progress is ever going to be made.

Jeff Ryan said...

@Ken_L: There's certainly worse ways he could spend his time.

And since he never did get around to taking everyone's guns, he'd have an advantage getting taken seriously.

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Ten Bears said...

I think you may be on to something, Jeff, Ken, but... I'm a bit concerned about the ju-ju in even mentioning this, but we've managed to get nearly through President Obama's tenure without something untowards happening to he and his family. I would strongly suggest upon return to civilian life Mr Obama stay home for a while, spend more time with the girls, maybe write a book. And when we consider Al Gore's limited success in spreading that message, why put yet another target on yourself? I am sure Mrs Obama agrees.

petrilli said...

Yes, repeal the 2nd amendment. It's an anachronism. Justice Ginsburg has said as much. But it will take years of national socialization to do it. That said, Reliable statistics on police shootings are notoriously hard to come by, since most police departments don't report them. Where would they report them to? Republican congress has an agenda to defund and kill any attempts by fed agencies to study gun violence seriously or to define it as a public health problem. I think maybe they've learned from the 1964 surgeon general's report long term effect on tobacco use in this country. They know that the national high esteem for firearms can deteriorate the same way.

Jeff Ryan said...

@TB: This is why I believe Heller must be reversed for the ahistorical, intellectually dishonest opinion it is. But mostly because it stands constitutional interpretation on its head, and otherwise is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Following such a reversal, the long, arduous, potentially dangerous road toward repeal of the Second Amendment can begin. Put another way, we are told senseless slaughter is simply a price we pay for freedom. This is a base lie and, worse, is a lie told in service of profit. But reversal of Heller, and the campaign to repeal the Second Amendment, will likely spur violence. This is unavoidable, if we are ever to stop the mayhem and murder sanctioned by Heller.

No other progressive nation puts up with this insanity. The blood is on LaPierre's hands, along with those of the gun industry and the late, unlamented Antonin Scalia. Those of us who have studied the Second Amendment extensively knew that a decision like Heller would be nothing less than a constitutional trump card (pun somewhat intended). It's past time we change the game.

CWolf said...

The "puopose" of the second amendment was to preserve slavery so VA would ratify the USC.
Thom Hartmann explains it well here:
https://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery/

Jeff Ryan said...

@CWolf: Only if you don't know history.

For one thing, the Constitution was ratified before the Bill of Rights was even proposed. (And it wasn't proposed as amendments, just additional provisions of the Constitution.) The Bill of Rights could not have made VA ratify the Constitution because it didn't exist a the time.

Patrick Henry and George Mason opposed both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so Hartmann's claim that Madison was taking his instructions from Henry is patently false. Additionally, and contrary to Hartmann's claim, Jefferson did not prompt the Bill of Rights, since he was in Paris while both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were created. He did correspond with Madison over the Bill of Rights, but the submission by Madison was Madison's own.

Hartmann's claim that Madison substituted the word "state" for "country" in the Second Amendment is false. Congress did that during its debates over, and revision of, the Bill of Rights. Hartmann is totally talking out of his ass here.

Hartmann conflates the creation of the Constitution with the ratification of the Bill of Rights, which is historically unforgivable. The Constitution was drafted in 1787. The Bill of Rights came about in 1789.

Ten Bears said...

The Second Amendment provides recourse for the tyrannies imposed upon the majority by a minority. Justice Marshall wrote something to that effect two hundred years ago. Didn't say anything about a tyrannical government, he said tyrannies imposed upon the majority by a minor. I would argue that the gun-owning Christian Retards, though many, are in fact a minority imposing a tyrranies upon the rest of us, upon the majority. That is the only reason I would be hesitant to repeal her. Would you face the mob with only rocks?

petrilli said...

The 2nd amendment as a bulwark against tyranny is a lie that has never been true. There's no proof that the 2nd amendment or the existence of an armed population has ever stopped our government from anything. In fact every example in our history of armed citizens challenging the government with guns has ended badly for the those citizens. Repeal of the amendment won't in itself outlaw owning firearms. It will open the way for sensible regulation. Maybe a gradual ban of semi-automatic weapons through buybacks like Australia did. As with Racism, gun violence is the inherent vice that is disintegrating this brittle society one yellowed, crumbling page after another.

KenRight said...

Far from denying reality I confirm what liberals cannot. Of course Filipino and white cops are prone to overreact, consider the behavior they witness.
The answer obviously is what real black socialist-nationalists and others have been advocating for many past decades. Ethnics policing their own, to minimize the misunderstandings.

Ten Bears said...

What the hell do Filipinos have to do with it? What are you, ten years old?

Jeff Ryan said...

@petrilli: Just so. No constitution provides for its own destruction, and armed resistance to the federal government is defined as treason.

The Second Amendment expressly involves the militia. And one role of the militia in the Constitution is to suppress insurrection. Guaranteeing a "well-regulated" militia cannot, at the same time, grant a license for armed revolt. This notion has plagued the entire debate, thanks, especially, to a number of legal scholars who really should know better.

Jeff Ryan said...

@TB: No, it does no such thing. (I don't know what quote you're referring to.) The Second Amendment merely guarantees to the states that Congress, which is granted sole power to arm the militias, will not disarm them. Period.

The Second Amendment speaks to military matters, not individual rights. It essentially modifies the militia clauses in Article I. It does not change the role of the militia, one part of which is to suppress insurrection. It has nothing to do with "tyranny."