Re: Blue

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People should all give more shit to bad cops. Especially those of us who don't look like Ogged, and thus won't get deported and our genitals shocked.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:37 AM
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You're basically a ready-complaint-about-taxes away from becoming a libertarian, as far as I can tell. (But my sense of the meaning ascribed to that word is admittedly imperfect.) Radley Balko has done a series of posts that seem somewhat related to this. My specific recollection is that he has focused on the military-like ethic of the SWAT teams, and the way in which a competition for "cool stuff" has led to the increase in SWAT size and import. That really is the barest memory, and I'm particularly unsure about the last half of that sentence.

Still, interesting to see the commonalities, Shi'a.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:38 AM
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You're basically a ready-complaint-about-taxes away from becoming a libertarian

What? When did a love of heavy handed policing become a liberal position?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:42 AM
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I was watching cops today on I-270 N, north of the beltway in DC. There were a shitload. And they're always there doing the lousy oppressive speedtrap thing on the reverse commuters, because I-270 S is fucking jammed up, and while it's the DC metro area there's really nothing better to be doing, I guess.

And I realized that whenever I see a cop while in my car, my pulse quickens, I get nervous, then I realize how I'm reacting and I just start seething.

It doesn't help that two weeks ago a cop told me to put my feet down from the opposite seat on the subway.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:43 AM
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This is a weird thing about American cops. Like, even in a traffic stop, the expectation of total deference, keeping your hands in sight, and so forth. It gets explained as necessary for safety for the cops, and maybe it is, but it seems like an overreaction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:44 AM
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Musing: if part of the more normal relationship is due to fewer guns. It's a lot easier to subdue someone armed with a.. headbutt.

My brother-in-law is a new cop, and I should ask him if there's the same relationship to the police in Canada as there is in the U.S. My sense of it is yes, that it's very similar, but that might be mostly because I tend to be in that part of Canada during the yearly local memorial for the four slain cops and see all the lionizing of heroes pageantry.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:45 AM
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3: I was thinking of other complaints ogged has made as well. I don't think it's that liberals are for heavy-handed police intervention, but that such is (no longer) a major concern for many, and that even when there is concern, the explanations for the police behavior are slightly different.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:45 AM
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Right. It's a little weird to be saying these things the day after a cop was killed during a traffic stop, but it's also unsurprising and to the point that the suspect was killed by cops several hours later. In a limited defense of some of the practices of American cops, I guess I'd say that it's a big and scary country, and they don't know from incident to incident what part of it they're going to see.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:48 AM
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8 to 5.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:48 AM
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One of the bravest things I ever did was pass a cop who was driving too slow on I-5 near San Onofre; it's a 65, he was going 60ish and there was crowd building up behind him. I revved to 70 and went past, then slowed back down to 65+. He immediately pulled me over and yelled at me, told me my sunglasses were illegal (they had weird fabric sidecovers), made me take them off, and sent me on my way with a 'warning'.

I still can't believe I did it. I was so annoyed with him, though.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:49 AM
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This is a weird thing about American cops. Like, even in a traffic stop, the expectation of total deference, keeping your hands in sight, and so forth.

Are Canadian cops armed, Cala? Because it seems to me this isn't weird at all - just the inevitable outcome of a heavily armed society where cops are trained that any confrontation might escalate into a firefight. Of course they want to see your hands if you might be holding a machine gun.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:50 AM
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I used to give cops shit all the time when I was a teenager, usually in such a way that they'd try to be "cool" or negotiate with me and my friends w/r/t our "liberties" or whatever. Four years ago, right after I moved to NYC, a cop pulled up right after I threw a beer away on Chelsea piers, and I started up, basically, with a pathetic and confrontational routine mocking his martinetism. It should have ended in him giving me a fucking break, but I didn't know NYC cops. He almost arrested me, and I got a nasty ticket.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:52 AM
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One of the Things About America that I noticed after returning from a few years of expatriation was that I wasn't used to being so afraid of cops. To see a CHP cruiser would give me a jolt of adrenaline, even if I wasn't doing anything wrong.

It seems irrational, since now I live in a country where the cops are allowed to beat you up or arrest you for no reason, and where they perform a lot more random stops. But still, there's much less of a sense of cops being power tripping egomaniacs.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:52 AM
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early opponents of the US constitution worried that it made no provision against keeping a standing army, which, as everyone knows, is the shortest road to tyranny.

noah webster, writing in favor of the constitution, replied as follows:

"It is said there is no provision made in the new constitution against a standing army in time of peace. Why do not people object that no provision is made against the introduction of a body of Turkish Janizaries; or against making the Alcoran the rule of faith and practice, instead of the Bible? The answer to such objections is simply this: no such provision is necessary....In the same manner, the principles and habits, as well as the power of the Americans are directly opposed to standing armies; and there is as little necessity to guard against them by positive constitutions, as to prohibit the establishment of the Mahometan religion. "

yeah, no worry about standing armies in this country. as long as it's a republic.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:53 AM
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I don't think it's that liberals are for heavy-handed police intervention, but that such is (no longer) a major concern for many, and that even when there is concern, the explanations for the police behavior are slightly different.

It's funny, a lot of your comments seem to come from a much nicer world than the one I live in. Liberals I know get bent out of shape out of overagressive policing all the time. I'm thinking about big incidents, like unnecessary shootings, mostly, but the day-to-day tension as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:53 AM
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11: Yes, they are.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:54 AM
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I don't know, I read Balko et al, but my individual interactions with cops have been pretty good. I guess it's because I'm pretty visibly not an Iranian shoe, but I've been pretty surprised and how jumpy/paranoid they're not, given the dangers of their job.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:55 AM
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15: Didn't we have a thread a while back where Frowner, specifically, was talking about problems with cops? LB, I seem to remember you chipping in on that one as well.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:57 AM
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just the inevitable outcome of a heavily armed society where cops are trained that any confrontation might escalate into a firefight. Of course they want to see your hands if you might be holding a machine gun.

A lot less guns in the rest of Europe as well, but as I recall cops on the continent are frequently heavily armed and aggressive.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:58 AM
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I used to give cops shit all the time when I was a teenager, usually in such a way that they'd try to be "cool" or negotiate with me and my friends w/r/t our "liberties" or whatever.

Heh. A couple of times, as a teenager hanging out in a pack on a streetcorner with friends, we got asked to move along by police, and I was informally elected "Speaker to Cops" by virtue of the round Irish face and diffident manner -- I am, and even more so at sixteen was, very clearly someone who isn't going to be making any trouble. But I never gave them any lip -- I was raised to think of the police as dangerous armed people who would 'accidentally' kill you in a heartbeat if you screwed up and made them nervous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:58 AM
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here's the thread that I was thinking of.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:59 AM
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I've been pretty surprised and how jumpy/paranoid they're not, given the dangers of their job

Cop doesn't even make the top 10 most dangerous job in any list I have seen. Not to say it isn't more dangerous then office worker, but anything involving construction seem to be riskier.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:01 AM
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one of the weird things about getting old is that the cops start showing you deference just of an "excuse me sir" kind.

when you spent large parts of your first many decades as a powerless, alienated punk, it's a little disorienting. suddenly, through no efforts of my own, i look like a solid citizen. (esp. through the mid-section).

i'm reminded of a great feminist slogan that i can't quite reconstruct verbatim or source properly, but maybe someone here can help. it says, roughly:

being a middle-aged, middle-class white woman is almost as good as having civil rights.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:01 AM
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I think the post-9/11 shift in hostile interactions with cops is very obvious. I've always had hostile interactions with them, but I wasn't totally fucking scared of them until now. Policemen weren't my friends, but they were at least benign toward me. Now all crimes are basically equivalent with terrorist acts.

The presence of soldiers in fatigues holding machine guns with their fingers in the trigger---everywhere in New York!---is just too much. More police presence, even, would be fine. What good is a fucking machine gun going to do in the press of a crowd at the 34th St subways stop? or at LaGuardia Airport? It's going to murder a lot of civilians, and keep everyone in a state of constant fear and self-incrimination.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:03 AM
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"soldiers in fatigues holding machine guns with their fingers in the trigger"
That's a common sight in European train stations, even pre 9/11.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:08 AM
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A lot less guns in the rest of Europe as well, but as I recall cops on the continent are frequently heavily armed and aggressive.

True, it cuts both ways - armed cops are taught to use the damn things. OTOH, I remember seeing a bunch of policia municipal moving on a big group of hippies who were smoking a little too obviously in the middle of Granada. They made it very clear that they were extremely serious, but they didn't scream or wave their guns around, nor did they bust anybody. Obviously, every county is different, but.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:11 AM
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One of my dad's strongest memories of visiting Europe in the 70s is landing in Lisbon and seeing police with machine guns in the airport, because it seemed so bizarre compared to America.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:12 AM
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Here in Lake Wobegon all the small towns have SWAT teams, paid for by federal funds, I think. Use it or lose it.

The monthly police report here (pop. 1500) features traffic offenses, public drunkenness, stray dogs and the like. In the average month my guess is that there are fewer than ten actual crimes, mostly domestic assault, vandalism, and petty larceny. The police report is published monthly so I have data.

Recently there a domestic dispute that seemed like a hostage-taking brought 8 police cars from 30 miles around. It ended peacefully, unfortunately. A lot of firepower was left unused.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:13 AM
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I have to say, I was more than a little freaked out when the van full of cops nabbed me in London. Only one had a gun, I think, but they all had batons.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:13 AM
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When you are in a confrontational situation with the police, it often helps to remind them that your taxes pay their salaries.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:13 AM
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25--

in slight--very slight--defense of their presence, it's worth saying that they were all trained to use their hk's in single-shot mode. at least back when uk soldiers were patrolling uk airports, they were uncommonly well-trained, and not about to start spraying rounds at random.

now i see u.s. gi's in jfk looking like they're too young to drink, and think, not so much.

still, the whole thing sucks.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:13 AM
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My own experiences with the police have largely involved them trying (very successfully) to intimidate me and whoever I was with. I grew up and live in a place with a very violent and aggressive police force, so their threats were not to be taken lightly.

As a result, I'm basically terrified of cops. When my sister and I were driving back from school this summer, we went through a Border Patrol checkpoint and I was so visibly nervous that the guy there actually told me to relax.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:15 AM
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29. What the fuck were you doing that they had the gunslingers loose in London to manage it?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:15 AM
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The theory that cop scariness comes from an armed society seems a bit off-base. Were cops this scary in the 70's, or the 40's? They weren't toting assault weapons back then, but America has basically been at about the same level of armedness since, like, forever.

I think that it's mostly the drug war. Drugs fund and give purpose to well-armed gangs, which means that there are areas and types of policing in which there's a very real chance that some dude might just pull out a gun and shoot you in the face. Those attitudes then spread out from just those areas and types of policing into the rest of cop culture, through normal cultural diffusion methods.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:16 AM
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i'm reminded of a great feminist slogan that i can't quite reconstruct verbatim or source properly, but maybe someone here can help. it says, roughly:

being a middle-aged, middle-class white woman is almost as good as having civil rights.

The only time I've seen that was from Jo Walton on the Ni/elsen Ha/ydens' blog(s).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:16 AM
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"What seems to be the problem, officer" was the talking-to-cops line in my son's crowd.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:20 AM
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I should note that my own interactions with cops have been almost uniformly pleasant, but I'm not poor, black, or hispanic, and haven't been stopped in a neighborhood that is any of those things. I imagine that makes a rather big difference.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:21 AM
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35--
perfect--that's almost surely where i read it, too.

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006624.html

"As Jo Walton remarked to me in Glasgow last weekend, explaining her reluctance to visit the US any more, "Being a middle-aged white woman is kind of like having civil rights, but not really an adequate substitute.""


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:24 AM
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looks like i added the 'middle-class' clause.
not saying i'm more aware of poverty's effects on civil rights, just.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:25 AM
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I think my problem with cops was that I was in high school in the early-mid 90's. Somehow we got a hold of the list of reasons why professors were supposed to hand over students' names to the on-campus cop. Everything on that list applied to my friends and me---wearing flannel and loose jeans, having unbrushed hair, sleeping in class, cursing, smoking, hanging around campus during the evening, showing insubordination to teachers and administrators, etc. It was the first time I thought, "I'm being targeted by these fuckers." And it pissed me off because we all knew who the kids who were the drug dealers were, and they were the rich kids who wore polo shirts and drove fancy cars and said "Yes, sir." It's dumb that it took me until I was 13 to figure out how profiling was done, and that it made everyone's lives a little cheaper, but I'm glad I still got that when I was young.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:27 AM
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"professors" s/b "teachers," of course. Public school, y'all.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:28 AM
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i agree, professors should be teachers.

it's not my fault that so few of us are.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:30 AM
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24: living in New York, I'm actually much more comfortable around a police presence than I once was (though as a white guy I'm not one who would normally draw their attention). Post 9/11 one gets the feeling that, in their minds they have much, much bigger fish to fry, which leads to less faux gung-ho behavior such as "I'm gonna jack this guy up for an open container." I also wonder if those who were working as cops through 9/11 were somewhat humbled by it.

But between the UK and the US, isn't it just racial differences, more pronounced in the US, which lead to more brutal police? In the mind of a UK cop -- at least pre-9/11 -- who is the enemy within? The answer in the US is, on the other hand, obvious.


Posted by: dan | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:30 AM
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I missed 30. Very funny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:31 AM
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With respect to them, I should add that our totally rad teaching staff were the ones that handed over the list to us. They even let us check to see if someone else had reported us, so we'd know we were being monitored.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:31 AM
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My intuition is that the war on drugs has had a significant impact, but i can't quite figure that out. Perhaps its that police treatement of [insert local minority group] has become a bit better, and treatment of the rest of people in general worse, although still better than minority.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:32 AM
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I wasn't doing anything! I wonder if they weren't where they were for some sort of pre-positioning during the 2002 world cup...

I was just walking along, it was a little rainy, and no-one else was walking in that area (broad daylight, mind you).

Turns out I had a little knife clipped to my backpack and they were very curious about that. Who knew a 2" locking knife could cause such trouble?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:32 AM
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40:
???
Can they do that? My HS admin would have shit a brick over the thought of such a list, anywhere. Besides, the description given wouldn't have really narrowed it down much.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:34 AM
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I wasn't doing anything!

"I never done nuffink, guv!", the cry of the arrested Englishman through the ages.

No, I believe you. I assume they were in place as part of some sort of major operation, though, and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mobilising armed units, especially five years ago, is a bureaucratic hassle, and they don't subject themselves to it for fun.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:37 AM
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That reminds me of the drug searches that we had all the time in high school.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:38 AM
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Race, frontier heritage, Civil war heritage, Second Amendment, wide rich/poor divide, 66 years of military mobilization, and an increasingly institutionalized authoritarian agenda promoted both by mass media and big opinion leaders and policy entrepreneurs.

Lots of reasons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:38 AM
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48: War on Drugs, man. It was an odd school, because it was built in the late 60's and had extremely liberal general policies and awesome old battle-scarred fuck-tha-police liberal teachers, but the administration was becoming quickly fascist in the early 90's. The battles between the faculty and admin were legendary. The on-campus cop was friendly enough, but we all hated him.

It was a big school, too, about 3000 students in four grades.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:39 AM
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Im trying to figure out how suburbanization (affected by race, but still a separate phenomenon) affected it


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:39 AM
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I should say that I've had very few interactions with the police -- once when they came after my apartment was burgled, and were somewhat inappropriately fascinated by my roommate's sexy underwear, talking to them as a kid in the process of being rousted off street corners, and nothing impressively unpleasant. To the extent I'm coming off anti-cop, it's a combination of news coverage that emphasizes the extent to which the police can be reasonably expected to kill people rather than retreat or cope non-lethally with a threat (like, I'd expect the kid in the original post to have been shot in the US), and negative impressions from day to day interactions. It seems as if in a healthy society, a cop would be a good person to ask, say, for directions; to me, in New York, that feels inappropriate -- a cop isn't someone I'm allowed to speak to in the absence of an emergency.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:44 AM
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Cop doesn't even make the top 10 most dangerous job in any list I have seen.

It's a markedly more dangerous job than being an office worker, if only because of the amount of time cops spend in cars driving places. Driving is markedly more dangerous than sitting on your ass typing all day.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:45 AM
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Yeah, I forgot that. I think of it as part of the creeping authoritarianism.

Pee-testing was part of the labor-busting scheme, I'm convinced. MDs and lawyer are among the biggest drug users, but as I understand they're not routinely pee-tested. Pee-testing gives management generally enormously increased leverage.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:46 AM
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Markedly markedly markedly. The little man who sits inside my brain and tells me when I've written something stupid seems to have started the weekend early.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:46 AM
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53: Seriously, I think the move from policing on foot to policing mostly in cars is a major negative in terms of community relations. In a car you're confined and defensive, and not naturally interacting with the people around you. Someone on foot is doing much more peaceable interaction with their surroundings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:47 AM
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A few years ago, I googled the creepiest kid I knew in high school. He was the sort who dressed like it was 1930, but not in a cute way, and, when cast in historical plays, would inform the black and hispanic cast members that "their kind" would never have been tolerated in a realistic production. Etc.

Anyhow, googling revealed that he became a cop. He was in a local paper in Kansas for having shot a five-year-old to death.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:48 AM
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Surgeons have to do a drug test at the beginning of every shift, or at least they did at the last hospital where I went around reading all the signs I could find out of sheer boredom.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:48 AM
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27: In Mexico City in 1965 I noticed the regular street cops were armed with the (then) standard .38 caliber revolver. The crowd control cops at the corrida were packng submachine guns.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:49 AM
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On the other hand, you only need to read Low Life or Herbert Ashbury once to dispell you of the idea that there was any time in American history when it was particularly pleasant to be part of a demographic group that cops felt free to beat on.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:49 AM
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It seems as if in a healthy society, a cop would be a good person to ask, say, for directions; to me, in New York, that feels inappropriate -- a cop isn't someone I'm allowed to speak to in the absence of an emergency.

Totally agree. You've reminded me that I did ask a cop (a Chicago cop, so take it for what it's worth) where I could park, having driven to an accident investigation center after someone had crashed into me, and he recited, word for word, the parking laws of the city, "You can park in any metered space, or any space...." Pure obnoxiousness. You're not allowed to talk to them unless they talk to you or there's an emergency.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:50 AM
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54--
interesting--i actually *do* ask nypds for directions now, and get a polite reaction. more of that weird passing for respectability.

there's an amazing scene in the opening of one of fred & ginger's movies where fred is harrassing ginger on the street (trying to get a lucky coin back), and a cop intervenes. because fred is well-dressed, older, and male, the cop totally takes his side, dismisses ginger, and winds up threatening her.

it's as good an illustration of power in the service of the power-structure as you're likely to see in a film with kern & field songs.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:50 AM
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Radley Balko really is must-read on this stuff. Some of the stories that emerge from SWAT behaviour in the States are chilling, police-state-in-fact stuff. (As with most of these trends, Canada is a belated and somewhat half-hearted imitator of the US -- Canadian cops pride themselves on not having the "cowboy attitude" common south of the border -- but the similarities are troubling.)

The "War on Drugs" is a major motivator, and the War on Terrorism doesn't help either. The latter seems to give a green light to the worst anti-protester impulses of law enforcement.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:51 AM
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dressed like it was 1930, but not in a cute way

Snazzy!


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:51 AM
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The cops in my hometown pretty much are responsible for putting up sawhorses when there are parades. Around here now they're here to protect the undergrads from the black locals. Or at least that's how it feels to me and I'd bet most of the residents.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:54 AM
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The little man who sits inside my brain and tells me when I've written something stupid seems to have started the weekend early.

Heh. If I could get mine to shut up occasionally, I might be able to get some writing done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:55 AM
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64: Swing Time. I just Netflixed it.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:57 AM
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It's depressing to read this thread given that my current context for school police is "Never around when you need them, near-impossible to reach by phone/walkie-talkie even in an emergency, and unable to reliably provide a level of physical safety for students."

I mean, yes, all the other problems everybody is talking about upthread exist, and they're very bad. It's just that in this particular situation I would love to be able to complain about such things.

Blargh.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:00 PM
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"As Jo Walton remarked to me in Glasgow last weekend, explaining her reluctance to visit the US any more, "Being a middle-aged white woman is kind of like having civil rights, but not really an adequate substitute.""

Left unsaid is whether or not Walton headbutts policemen. When looking at primary sources, often the thing left out is the very thing you most want to know.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:02 PM
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I've never had problems with cops -- despite looking like ogged's kin, at (bearded) times -- but that's because almost everyone I grew up with 1) joined the military or 2) became a cop. Everybody's older brother was a cop, so I always saw them as people first, authority figures second.* A lot of the tension I see when people confront cops is caused by the way people approach cops. I should work in a Dog Whisperer reference here.

*Yes, this has changed a bit now, so much so I may even avoid driving through Louisiana, but you see my point.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:02 PM
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Nazi.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:04 PM
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69--
yeah, baby.
don't lose your confidence, when you slip/
be grateful for, the pleasant trip and just

fabulous film.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:06 PM
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Not long ago, I was having an... animated discussion in the street with my wife. There was nothing physical going on, but California doesn't like it when people shout at each other in public, and a motorcycle cop showed up quickly with a few squad cars right behind him.

The cop began to try to play mediator, a bit ineptly. The shock of being accosted, of course, got us quickly out of an arguing mood, but that wasn't good enough. He explained that he wasn't going to leave us alone unless we either parted ways right then, or if we demonstrated to his satisfaction that the argument was resolved -- not just a kiss-and-make-up thing, but by explaining to him what we were fighting about and why it was OK now. Since neither of us felt like discussing these private issues in the presence of an armed referee, we took the only other choice and let him make us leave in opposite directions.

"I'll meet you on the other side of the block," I told her, and walked off wondering whether or not this policy of forcing people apart was wise.


Posted by: Andrew Jackson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:09 PM
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Another factor leading to poor policing in the US is the effectiveness of "I pledge to put 100,000 new policemen on the streets" (or whatever number) as a campaign slogan. Whenever someone runs as a law and order candidate, they fulfill their promises by dumping a huge number of undertrained overarmed kids on the street. The infamous ramparts division in LA was the product of such a campaign, IIRC.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:10 PM
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72: I'm a generation away from growing up with cops -- my parents both came from cop neighborhoods in Queens, and when I was little had a fair number of cop friends, but no one I grew up with went that way.

I thought about being a cop when I was looking for work after coming back from the Peace Corps -- it seemed like a good 'patriotic New Yorker' thing to do. I can't remember how I got talked out of the idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:13 PM
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70: Um, I hope everything's okay.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:13 PM
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77: I thought about being a cop when I was looking for work after coming back from the Peace Corps -- it seemed like a good 'patriotic New Yorker' thing to do.

I still think about being joining the force and becoming some sort of detective (I've friends who did this, so I know, generally speaking, that it'd entail far, far less than, say, getting tenure). At this point, though, it's a pipe dream cured by watching a few episodes of Homicide.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:16 PM
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Radley Balko really is must-read on this stuff. Some of the stories that emerge from SWAT behaviour in the States are chilling, police-state-in-fact stuff. (As with most of these trends, Canada is a belated and somewhat half-hearted imitator of the US -- Canadian cops pride themselves on not having the "cowboy attitude" common south of the border -- but the similarities are troubling.)

The "War on Drugs" is a major motivator, and the War on Terrorism doesn't help either. The latter seems to give a green light to the worst anti-protester impulses of law enforcement.

Amen! I highly recommend that people read www.theagitator.com. In particular, read about Corey Maye and Savatore Culosi.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:17 PM
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I tend to put the desire to join the police force - much like the desire to join the military - down to either rampant naivete or sociopathy.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:22 PM
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Um, I hope everything's okay.

Oh, everything's fine for me. I'm just growly because the teenagers I work with are such good kids, by and large, and it makes me furious that they can't even feel safe when they come to school.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:24 PM
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fred is harrassing ginger

Swing Time. Brian Ferry covers The Way you Look Tonight from this movie, as well as September Song. Despite repeated listenings, I am unable to decide if the songs are aesthetically bankrupt schmaltz or brilliant. Some other covers on the record are schmaltz, but these two....


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:25 PM
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81--

the naivete is not so much the source of the desire as an enabling condition.

i mean--i take seriously lb's claim that she was moved by patriotism. or you might acquire the desire as the result of generalized philanthropy, thinking that cops just spend their days helping fellow human beings.

and that would be the source of your desires. the naivete just lets them flourish unchecked by reality.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:26 PM
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Largely as a result of the work of Bob Hare police departments in Canada screen for sociopaths. Many departments in the US have adopted the same policy. Unfortunately screening for sociopaths is not the same thing as screening for would be petty martinets.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:27 PM
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81: Oh, come on. It's a job that someone has to do, and better out of naive patriotism than out of a desire to bust heads. (which, btw, I'm not attributing to policemen generally.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:29 PM
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It's a job that someone has to do, and better out of naive patriotism than out of a desire to bust heads. (which, btw, I'm not attributing to policemen generally.)

The perception that you are wearing the white hat is a big job danger for police officers and for prosecutors. Suddenly, they have tunnel vision. Only they are the right of goodness and light.

Fortunately, experience tends to help people see the grays in the world.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:34 PM
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Fortunately, experience tends to help people see the grays in the world.

Have you recently had a close encounter?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:36 PM
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Lordy. The cops in my town are very professional but also very personable. By odd coincidence almost every cop I've talked to in Durham has registered so strong on the ol' gaydar that I wondered if it were broken. In my hometown, cops were just the high school bullies all grown up. The one with whom I was relatively friendly bragged of busting teenagers for drinking, confiscating (case - 1) cans and then using one can to run them in on their citation.

The one time I have interacted with what I'd think of as a "big city" cop I asked a DC cop for directions. He was extremely polite. It was the middle of the 1993 March on Washington and he said, without a hint of irony or sarcasm, "I'll answer that if you'll answer a question for me: why are you here, doing this march?" I responded that it was nice to feel like I was in the majority for a day. He nodded his head to that, gave me perfect directions and wished me a pleasant afternoon.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:37 PM
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82: It's not contradictory to think that cops should be both more present and better at interacting with people. I remember doing civil disobedience training during the wave of protests in the late 90's-early 2000s, and a CD trainer said, "don't ever talk to cop unless you need to report a crime." It all of a sudden made a lot of things that had seemed really complicated seem really simple.

Shortly after the protest period, I found myself in a respectable-seeming job, and an officer complained to me about all the "vegetarian terrorists" who had been squatting in a building during the protests.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:38 PM
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Add to that the fact that they seem to have internalized their own publicity as the "city's finest," and you have a group of trained, armed people who think of crimes against themselves as the worst possible transgression.

Heakens back to a Socratic Warrior class - only these warriors don't realize that they are in actuality the powerless drones. Senator's sons and daughters don't often become officers, now do they? No, no...their Harvard education and this nepotic system buys them much nicer blue designer garments, nothing like the uniforms of these 'boys'. There is a reason why those who "uphold" the law are screened for Low IQs. Fools don't know they are fools. (and I'm speaking from experience on this one...) If they did, the whole system would hiccup.


Posted by: thinking in type | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:39 PM
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with their fearsome improvised explosive rutabagas.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:40 PM
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86: My hypothesis is that someone who takes a job busting people's heads for the sake of naive patriotism will either grow dissatisfied or quit, or will develop an enthusiasm for busting people's heads.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:40 PM
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I tend to put the desire to join the police force - much like the desire to join the military - down to either rampant naivete or sociopathy.

Thanks! Am I a buffoon or killer, IYHO?


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:40 PM
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Have you recently had a close encounter?

No, but my clients do on a regular basis.

Being a police officer is like many other jobs. Some people do it really well. Some people do it poorly. Many people just make it through the day.

It can be a tough, tough job. But, an important component in the job is your discretion.

There are police officers who diffuse a situation. There are police officers who make it much worse.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:41 PM
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there are police officers who defuse rutabagas.

but few live to tell the tale.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:42 PM
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I wish I were clever enough to write a parody of the Law & Order opening but all I've got is that deep voice saying, "In the vegetable justice system..."


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:47 PM
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94: There's no need to make this snottily personal; I know people in the military and I'd say the same about them. Really, we're talking about unpleasant jobs that involve being violent to people for not that much money, within deeply flawed and often corrupt institutions that typically do more harm than good. So yes, I think people who choose to become cops and soldiers are either naive/misguided or pretty fucked in the head.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:47 PM
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and the need for cops here to be heavily armed...

This is nonsense. The militarization of US police forces is a pathology, not a necessity.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:51 PM
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Like SEK, LB is a Nazi. The fine points are unimportant.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:52 PM
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I used to work with a person who made it pretty far through the police academy, before washing out because she flunked the psych screening. Nice woman, but I'm glad she ended up with a job that didn't involve firearms. She had a bit of a temper.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:52 PM
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we're talking about unpleasant jobs that involve being violent to people for not that much money

They involve it, but as I understand things, not really all that often. I mean, there are some pretty obvious pathological reasons to want to be a cop, but there are perfectly good ones too, and I don't see that the good ones are necessarily victim to the bad ones over time.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:53 PM
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99: Seriously. Everyone should be reading Balko on this; the ridiculous overuse of paramilitary teams in the modern American police force - often in situations where the suspect or suspects were unarmed - is grotesque.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:54 PM
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within deeply flawed and often corrupt institutions that typically do more harm than good.

See, this is insane. Deeply flawed, I'll buy, often corrupt sure, but more harm than good? Tell me when you've got that peaceful, police-free anarchy running, and I'll be sure to come visit. I bow to none in my sour, cranky carping about US police, but that doesn't mean I'm not very happy that someone's filling that role in a reasonably competent fashion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:56 PM
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Since people are complaining about cops, I thought I'd balance things out by saying that I had an excellent experience with an officer here in Bay Village OH. There was a public dispute where one side called the police. The officer understood the situation immediately, and acted calmly to diffuse the situation. He demonstrated patience and skill. I didn't envy his job for a minute.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:57 PM
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A lot of cops choose not to live in the neighborhoods they police. This makes them seem like an occupying army.

will in 80:

Amen! I highly recommend that people read www.theagitator.com. In particular, read about Corey Maye and Savatore Culosi.

Cory Maye's case is really horrendous. It's even gained some international recognition.

nhsblogdoctor did a writeup. He used to have a little picture with a caption that said, "This blog supports teh campaign for Cory Maye or something like that." Maybe Radley Balko has something you can download.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:57 PM
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I still think about being joining the force and becoming some sort of detective

I knew someone--a big, brawny Irishman from Boston, no less--who quit his MA program in English Lit and went off to try to join the LAPD. That's what comes of reading too much hard-boiled detective fiction and way too much James Ellroy.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:58 PM
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There's no need to make this snottily personal

I didn't. You've made the naive/sociopath blanket statement not once, but twice now. Since that covers all extant reasons one might wish to become a cop/soldier, and I indicated earlier that I've thought of becoming the former, it stands to reason that I'm either misguided or a sociopath. I suppose the possibility of being both isn't excluded, which may be the source of our confusion.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:59 PM
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to diffuse the situation

Just because you're the second person to say this in quick succession, didn't he 'defuse' the situation? I suppose you could make an angry mob 'diffuse' away into the surrounding populace, but most other bad situations it's 'defusing' them or nothing. </beingalittlebitch>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 12:59 PM
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Breaking: I'm reading Tyler Cowen's stupid new book, and he features Megan From The Archives.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:01 PM
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I'm reading Tyler Cowen's stupid new book

Why?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:02 PM
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I've heard that becoming a cop is a good way to deal with writer's block.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:02 PM
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109: YOUR RIGHT.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:02 PM
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I mean, there are some pretty obvious pathological reasons to want to be a cop, but there are perfectly good ones too, and I don't see that the good ones are necessarily victim to the bad ones over time.

Yeah, but I don't see how you couldn't do as much good or more being, say, a public school teacher. But the job of public school teacher hasn't been nearly as glorified or glamorized as that of a police officer, let alone someone in the military. On the other hand, you're far less likely to kill someone in the course of teaching some kid how to read.

And no, Emerson, I'm not calling anyone a Nazi, I'm just saying people become soldiers and cops because of fairly unrealistic expectations of what it's like to be soldiers and cops - because they think these jobs are about serving the country and the community instead of the drug war and the military-industrial complex.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:03 PM
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111: Part of my Economics Sucks project. I look for bad things, not good things. Cowen does not disappoint.

This is for my next book, "Cursing the Darkness". It's a much less stupid version of my rants on Crooked Timber.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:04 PM
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109:

I would have put a comma after "situations" and an "in" prior to the word "most." But, otherwise, you are correct.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:05 PM
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Note, stras, that you are not just insulting SEK and LB, but also Idealist, and a couple other regulars who have served in the military.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:05 PM
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115: I see. I believe Megan's also been cited in Congressional testimony.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:05 PM
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I tend to agree with you, Stras. I was just takling my chance to call LB and SEK Nazis.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:05 PM
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LB: Go away and get back to work! Also see this.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:06 PM
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Deeply flawed, I'll buy, often corrupt sure, but more harm than good? Tell me when you've got that peaceful, police-free anarchy running, and I'll be sure to come visit.

You don't have to be an anarchist to think that policies enforced by the police - and the methods they've used to enforce them - have made crime worse rather than better. Nor do you have to be insane.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:06 PM
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I should say, too, that my friend was a smart guy and probably no worse than most of us. If he overly romanticized the idea of being a detective, I think he genuinely believed it was a career where he could do more good.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:06 PM
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I don't see how you couldn't do as much good or more being, say, a public school teacher.

Maybe they don't like kids. Or don't think they'd make a good teacher. There are any number of reasons a person would choose police work over teaching for public service reasons.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:06 PM
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109: YOUR RIGHT.

But is that her right from her perspective, or her right looking at her? Or are you passing on the right?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:07 PM
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typically do more harm than good

With just two or three exceptions, I've had all good experiences dealing with police, but I'm a middle-class white male. I'm led to believe that experience is not universal across all demographics.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:07 PM
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Note, stras, that you are not just insulting SEK and LB, but also Idealist, and a couple other regulars who have served in the military.

I'm happy to insult Idealist any chance I get. And really, if this is the first time LB and SEK have ever thought that maybe there's something mildly fucked-up about joining the police force within the present-day United States, I can only assume they haven't thought much about the institution all that much.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:08 PM
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I think stras is closer to being right about the military than the police, but this is mostly because I think our foreign policy is more corrupt than our domestic policy.

And even in the case of the Army, I have known intelligent, decent human beings who have joined. I don't really get it, but there it is.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:09 PM
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6: Cala, in most of Canada it is really quite different, or at least it was. There are pockets of increased militarization, and forces (OPP) with deservedly bad reputations, but no, it's really not the same. It was a long time ago, but I've had iteractions not unlike the video, and nobody got shot. For that matter I was once on the outskirts once of a largish altercation where a cop (somewhat stupidly) litterally got knocked silly, and the others cleared the place (20-odd of them) but didn't pull a single firearm.

I may be out of touch, though, perhaps things are much closer to US style now.


Posted by: Inne Apt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:09 PM
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121: have made crime worse rather than better.

Worse rather than better compared to a past baseline of better policing? I'd absolutely believe that. But worse rather than better compared to not having police at all is ridiculous.

And thank you, BG -- I'll try that 'meditating on a cup of coffee' thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:10 PM
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Stras: someone isn't naive just because they fail to share your worldview. The world is complex enough that two well meaning intelligent people can come to very different conclusions about it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:12 PM
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I was just takling my chance to call LB and SEK Nazis.

Procrastinating Nazis, John. (And I'm not procrastinating, thank you very much. I'm in the lull between having turned something in and waiting to hear back. It's the closest thing I have to a vacation, given that I'm still revising three conference presentations, two other chapters, and an article.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:12 PM
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And no, Emerson, I'm not calling anyone a Nazi, I'm just saying people become soldiers and cops because of fairly unrealistic expectations of what it's like to be soldiers and cops - because they think these jobs are about serving the country and the community instead of the drug war and the military-industrial complex.

I think you can make this argument for nearly any profession. Lawyers all bring bad guys to justice and defend the poor and say 'I object!', right? Doctors help sick people no matter their income? Professors love their discipline and the life of the mind?

That's all you meant by naivete?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:13 PM
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And even in the case of the Army, I have known intelligent, decent human beings who have joined.

I've also known intelligent, decent human beings who've joined the military, but I think they joined for incredibly naive and misguided reasons, and that they now risk throwing their lives away pointlessly for a lunatic's cause.

And if you can now only imagine that situation transplanted to, say, New York City, or Baltimore, or Detroit, and switch out Iraq with the war on drugs, you might see what I'm talking about with the whole "why would you ever want to be a cop" thing.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:15 PM
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128: Yeah, I'm not claiming any special expertise. Only going by the local news reporting on the anniversary of the Two Brave Officers who were shot.

Run-ins with Canadian law-enforcement = 0, unless you count hearing my brother in law talking about his training where they all got tear gassed so they'd know what it's like.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:16 PM
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I think you can make this argument for nearly any profession.

Really? Professors kill people?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:17 PM
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Now, now, Stras. Cala clearly means that your comment

people become soldiers and cops because of fairly unrealistic expectations of what it's like

is merely an instance of the general claim

people choose job X because of unrealistic expectations of what it's like to have job X

which is true. Being a plumber is not as exciting as the pornographic film industry suggests, as the Onion points out.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:20 PM
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No, that people join the profession out of naivete. I assumed that was your argument, as you were backing off of the sociopathy claim. If all you're saying is 'new cops are naive about what their job will entail', that's pretty much trivially true.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:21 PM
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Yeah, you'd think the bit where I explicitly quoted the 'fairly unrealistic expectations' bit might have been a hint.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:22 PM
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But, to answer your question, professors do kill people. In fact a bunch of us are going over to whack Emerson tonight. On a trolley.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:23 PM
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Fuck, I thought we were going to use the fat man.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:24 PM
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I can't remember where I hid Farber's body.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:25 PM
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135: I understand that Ward Churchill is much worse than your average murderer.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:25 PM
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>professors do kill people

Primarily by admitting them to graduate programs.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:26 PM
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134: run ins with canadian law enforcement = several hundred anyway, for what it's worth. Long ago, when the earth was green and i was trouble.


Posted by: Inne Apt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:26 PM
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If we're going to go the trolley route, I wanna put a flower on one of the tracks and I wanna throw the switch.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:27 PM
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Four cops busted down my front door pointing guns at me one time. They held me in an arm lock for a while before deciding that I wasn't the violent fugitive they were looking for. The only thing that sticks in my craw is the totally unapologetic attitude -- they were palpably disappointed that I wasn't the perp and I could tell they sort of held it against me.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:28 PM
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137: I made that claim in the context of my previous claims. That is to say, the police force/military are ugly institutions run by thugs, and if you're aware of this and are eager to join, you're probably a thug; if you're unaware of this you might entertain some notion that they're basically good institutions that fight for Truth, Justice, the American Way, etc., and are hopelessly naive; if you ARE aware of the character and structural problems of these institutions, and you join out of hopeful idealism in some belief that you can somehow transform them or something, you're still hopelessly naive. Clearer?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:30 PM
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And even in the case of the Army, I have known intelligent, decent human beings who have joined. I don't really get it, but there it is.

All the former Army and Air Force people I know are intelligent, decent human beings. Mostly, they look back on their military experience as a not-so-great job.

Of the former Marines I know, half of them are intelligent, decent human beings, and half of them are completely crazy. Mostly crazy in a fun way, but I still wouldn't want to be around if they had too much to drink and a gun.

The former Navy guys I know are all pathetic losers. They're not evil, but none of them seem to have adjusted well to civilian life.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:30 PM
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147: oddly, it is still possible to make parallel points about the academy.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:31 PM
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149: The difference, once again, is that joining the academy doesn't require you to kill people. No, really all joking aside, you really aren't going to have to kill or maim someone or anything, even for tenure. But the way the police/military thing is supposed to work is, you're taking this job in which there's a very good chance you'll be required to kill people, and it's being sold to you as a noble thing. The people who sign up for this are either the ones who are either gullible/naive enough to believe that is IS a noble thing, or kind of like the idea of killing people.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:36 PM
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But the way the police/military thing is supposed to work is, you're taking this job in which there's a very good chance you'll be required to kill people, and it's being sold to you as a noble thing.

How many cops do you think kill people in their careers?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:38 PM
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You really can't conflate the military and policing when it comes to killing. I would be shocked if more than 0.1% of cops had killed anyone.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:38 PM
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Stras, I should make clear that 149 was just a joke about the academy. While you're being, in my view, a bit toolish on this thread, 149 wasn't intended as a criticism of any argument you've made.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:39 PM
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You wouldn't talk to stras that way if he were a guy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:40 PM
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That's so true, ogged.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:41 PM
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No trolley around here, folks. They tore out the tracks and built a bike trail. They were just sick of all the fucking hypothetical examples coming through town.

Being a plumber is not as exciting as the pornographic film industry suggests, as the Onion points out.

My UPS guy says that UPS is downright exciting. He was getting tired of the constant kink, though. He was also a downright goodlooking guy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:43 PM
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We don't kill people to enforce the current power structure in the academy. We merely come up with elaborate justifications for the current power structure, constantly reassuring the powerful that they do, indeed, deserve their power, and helping calm the masses by reiterating that their problems are really just the way things are, always have been, and always will be.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:43 PM
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I'm pretty sure most police don't ever kill anybody.

A 2001 survey says that "From 1976 to 1998 police nationwide killed 8,578 suspects.. " The IACP says that there are about 660,000 police in the country. Charging ahead with the math we find that about 1 in 2,000 cops kills a suspect each year.

I dunno what the statistics for professors look like.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:43 PM
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Isn't the percentage of police officers who are 'required' to kill people quite low? I'd say you'd have to be pretty naive to believe that all you'd do is help the hopeless and rescue puppies, but you'd also be pretty naive if you thought you were signing up to get a license to kill.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:44 PM
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I'm way over my unsigned-post quota for the year. Time to slink away in non-anonymous shame.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:44 PM
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The military in my family came from a farm-labor family. Not a bad guy at all in the US, but I made sure not to find out what he was doing in Honduras.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:44 PM
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What FL said as a joke, I'll say in seriousness. Academics are responsible for reinforcing a lethal power structure, and have been since Confucius traveled China preaching filial piety and loyalty to the emperor and Aristotle outlined his doctrine of natural slaves.

Anyone who goes into the academy thinking their job isn't simply to kiss the ass of power is hopelessly naive.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:47 PM
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I was just musing that the few people I knew well and who were at least seriously tempted to join the military were, in my view, among the best people I've known, although they did have weirdly idealistic views about certain things. Both had motivations having to do with the fair distribution of labor.

During the don't-ask-don't-tell debates, some people made the point that, while military service may not be high on most gay people's priority list, it's a good ticket out of some bad circumstances, such as poverty, rural isolation, and so on, which is a useful reminder that the incentives differ for different people.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:49 PM
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I thought it was to educate the future. Increasingly I'm thinking I entered graduate school in order to revise this one paragraph.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:49 PM
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Rob, causal responsibility and intent are different things. By dragging you into a debate over trivialities, I will distract you from the pernicious effects of a power structure that rewards such trivialities.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:50 PM
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In all seriousness, I really believe that the master's tools can tear down the master's house.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:53 PM
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Naive.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:54 PM
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For the police side of 150 you can swap out "kill" and replace with "beat the shit out of people." The point is that these are jobs in which you're expected to be violent, and to do violence to others, and all too often in the service of bad and racist policy.

FL, I don't see how I've been toolish in this thread, except possibly for the crack about Idealist.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:54 PM
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166: the master does have some really nice tools.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:55 PM
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OT: It is raining here, glorious rain in sheets blowing sideways. I am soaking from the knees down after going out for a smoke with my umbrella. It is an act of will not to go run and jump and play and drench myself, late on a Friday afternoon.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:56 PM
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So strasmangelo's argument leads to the conclusion that we all need to be self-sufficient hermits, since other options lead to interaction with, and inevitably support of, the existing massively unjust social structure. This of course includes explicitly counter-cultural positions which just provide an outlet for the system to shunt off unwanted people and let them believe they have escaped it while they are being assimilated. The no-relationship policy vindicated!


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:56 PM
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"I've had all good experiences dealing with police, but I'm a middle-class white male. "

see, i'm not sure this is exactly accurate. or its too stimplitic.

As a similar demographic, the only real experience i ever have with cops is "oh crap, are they going to steal my weed?". I live somewhere where i don't really fear general property crime or stuff like that. the mere existance of police pretty much guarentees stuff liket ath. If i lived somewhere with more serious crime, i might see some benefits to police.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:56 PM
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Cala, you're a sociopath.

Stras, insofar as this makes any sense, I don't mean that in a personal way. You're just strident, is all, in a sort of SMASH THE STATE way that I find unappealing. Could be wrong, of course.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:58 PM
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169: I love when you talk kinky, Rob.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:58 PM
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171: What? Explain how you got there from my previous complaints about the drug war and the security state?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 1:59 PM
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173: Stras is the new McManus.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:00 PM
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You're just strident, is all, in a sort of SMASH THE STATE way that I find unappealing.

Oh, strident, right. Well, don't want to be strident around here.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:01 PM
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You can want to all you like, but I reserve the right to poke fun. That's what I mean by saying it's not really personal.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:03 PM
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In 126 you say that no one (in the United States, at least) should be a police officer under present conditions. If being a police officer is so evil that no one should do it, surely being part of other institutions which support the existence of the police is also fairly evil. All other institutions at least indirectly support the existence of the police.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:06 PM
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No, no, go right ahead. My apologies for talking about police violence in a less-than-jocular tone in a thread about police violence.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:06 PM
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In 126 you say that no one (in the United States, at least) should be a police officer under present conditions

This is not, in fact, what I say in 126, or anywhere else in this thread.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:08 PM
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I'm kind of interested in the difference between (1) those who feel powerless (despite not being so), and so enter the police or otehr institution, as a way of getting power over others, and

(2) those who feel powerful to begin with, and want to be police because it would be 'fun' to crack some skulls.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:10 PM
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Heading out now; sorry for the stridentness earlier.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:12 PM
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This is not, in fact, what I say in 126, or anywhere else in this thread.

It's a reasonable inference. You're splitting hairs.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:12 PM
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My apologies for talking about police violence in a less-than-jocular tone in a thread about police violence.

I love the smell of passive-aggressiveness in the morning. Smells like... a flamewar.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:12 PM
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Stras, you know I love your half-arab-wrong-religion self, but 81 is straight out of the trolling playbook.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:13 PM
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Despite your belief that everyone who wants to become a police officer is naive/misguided or fucked in the head (98), and that the institution does more harm than good (also in 98), and that they make crime worse (121), and saying as sarcastic understatement that it's mildly fucked-up to want to join the police, and that people who this hasn't occurred to haven't thought about the police (126), you think people should nevertheless join the police? Ok.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:16 PM
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#171. Yes. What I dislike about assertions like "Anyone who goes into the academy thinking their job isn't simply to kiss the ass of power is hopelessly naive" or "police are all hopelessly corrupt thugs" is that if these assertions are true, there's nothing to be done except concede such, hate them a little more, maybe congratulate yourself for recognizing it, and go on with life.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:17 PM
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if these assertions are true, there's nothing to be done except concede such, hate them a little more,

For some of us, this is self hate, so we have to skip the self congratulations part.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:28 PM
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neil in 146:

Four cops busted down my front door pointing guns at me one time. They held me in an arm lock for a while before deciding that I wasn't the violent fugitive they were looking for. The only thing that sticks in my craw is the totally unapologetic attitude -- they were palpably disappointed that I wasn't the perp and I could tell they sort of held it against me.

Wow, that must hae been really terifying. And I'm sure that they did't offer to pay for the broken door.

(The copy of Firefox that I'm using at the library is really annoyig, because it underlines words which are spelled perfectly correctly, e.g. "that" or "sure." This makes it useless as a spell checker.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:36 PM
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190 was I.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:36 PM
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Also, there should oviously be a parenthesis after "checker."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:37 PM
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It's not just the United States; I've never felt comfortable around police here in the Netherlands despite, you know, it being Holland and all that entails and me not being the stereotypical victim of police brutality.

The reason being is that the police is not here to protect us from crime, but to keep us in line. It is an occupying army and it always has been since the birth of the modern police force in Victorean England. The War on Drugs and the War on Terror are just excuses.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:39 PM
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I'm mildly pro-stras in this instance, probably not in perfect agreement but I at least agree that people should defend against stras's claims. WD's insistence that the only option is to opt out of all institutions is a reductio ad absurdum. The same for Populuxe in 188: the option before you is to imagine radical alternatives, even if it makes you annoying. At least you should recognize that what good you seek to do through these institutions is frustrated by the conditions in which they operate.

I like the spirit of civility and levity that prevails here in all aspects save grammar & usage, and kudos to ogged for his velvet glove, but it often feels as if the search for nuance is privileged over the search for truth. SEK admitted that Law and Order was part of his human resources decisions regarding police work, so it hardly seems unfair to suggest that there are more considerations in accepting a role as the paid arm of the violence monopoly than one's own back and forth between daydreams and television.

Nice guys join the army and help overthrow Latin American governments. People's choices aren't sacred.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:39 PM
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158: Charging ahead with the math we find that about 1 in 2,000 cops kills a suspect each year.

One on 2,000 per year works out to 1% during a 20 year career.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:42 PM
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God that sounds like cant; no more commenting for me when feeling righteous and anyway, this guy says it better.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:43 PM
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The thing is, stras hasn't offered a radical alternative, he's just denigrated what we've got. Yes, there are all sorts of bad things you can say about policing in the US generally, but attacking the police without noting that they fill an absolutely necessary role is ridiculous. Imagining ways to make policing better is a vital, necessary process. Impugning people's morals and rationality for wanting to be involved in policing at all lacks realism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:44 PM
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Impugning people's morals and rationality for wanting to be involved in policing at all lacks realism.

But it's sometimes a needed corrective to the refusal to judge the effect of people's choices because their intentions are good lacks seriousness. I favor of the occasional fit of radical pessimism. It's good for clearing the head.

Something else must follow; with this I'll point towards comity, albeit meta.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:50 PM
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Sure -- good intentions and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. But the radical pessimism stras is handing out is as silly and fact free as irrational valorization of the police, which notably wasn't going on in the thread before he went off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:52 PM
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Here's a radical alternative: Take the majority of the police forces manpower, and make them beat cops again. Take away many of the cars. Take away all of their guns. Have them live where they police.

Have a smaller number of better trained, actually tactical capable squads and more clear escalation protocols. These would be used to deal with the relatively small percentage of activity that needs tactical force.

I'm completely serious.


Posted by: Inne Apt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 2:53 PM
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I could go for that, except that I'd like to maintain or raise manpower, while taking away cars and guns mostly. (Bikes. Lots of bikes. For urban policing fast, nimble, and not conducive to an outsized sense of one's own dignity.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:08 PM
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Not reading the whole thread, but I seriously suspect that all this "I'm terrified of cops now" stuff (and I've had unpleasant run ins, too) has a lot to do with our collective educated/middle-class/white privilege. I mean, we're just not *used* to having someone treat us with such naked authoritarianism.

And I suspect that if there's been a shift, it has more to do with the drug wars than anything else. Yes, we all get that at a traffic stop someone *could* have a gun in the glove compartment, but the likelihood of their doing so is really incredibly low. I imagine cops are trained to use intimidation as a way of getting *immediate* obedience without questions or backtalk, and it probably works most of the time. Whether or not that training might change if there were more cops, or if their hours or duties were different, or something, I dunno, but it might: surely if you're under pressure or overworked or stressed you're a lot more likely to just bark at people, in any profession. I'm inclined to think that their jobs probably suck a lot more than they really need to, and that like everyone else they're probably being pressured to "work leaner" or whatever the cost-cutting down-sizing catchphrase is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:15 PM
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I'm sure that they did't offer to pay for the broken door.

I was just using colorful language. They thoughtfully unlatched the door before kicking it open, so I had enough time to stand up and say "Hello?" before that scene from Brazil started to play out.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:21 PM
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The other problem with the radical pessimism is that it seems flat-out unlikely to get us a better police force. I think even if LB and SEK are starry-eyed about police work, that a police force would be better off with them than without them.

This isn't to say oh, we must valorize the police and never question their commitment to protect and serve the people of Chicago or motives. Or to think that all the system needs is a few good men a hero in the General Lee fightin' the system.

Just that writing off everyone as naive or a thug... what's supposed to follow from that? That we ensure that no one liberal goes into the police force? That to me doesn't seem like it will help.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:24 PM
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Not reading the whole thread, but I seriously suspect that all this "I'm terrified of cops now" stuff (and I've had unpleasant run ins, too) has a lot to do with our collective educated/middle-class/white privilege. I mean, we're just not *used* to having someone treat us with such naked authoritarianism.

Probably true. Those in the African-american or hispanic community generally trust the police.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:25 PM
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Police wear uniforms, right? So they must be infallible, like Gen. Petreous?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:26 PM
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201: yes, i was assuming roughly current levels, and shifting the majority over. Not calling for a manpower decrease.


Posted by: Inne Apt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:27 PM
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SEK admitted that Law and Order was part of his human resources decisions regarding police work, so it hardly seems unfair to suggest that there are more considerations in accepting a role as the paid arm of the violence monopoly than one's own back and forth between daydreams and television.

It was Homicide, not Law & Order. It may seem like a small detail, but David Simon's vision of what happens in police departments isn't romanticizing. (I'd intended the mention quasi-sarcastically, inasmuch as no one who watches Homicide or The Wire thinks police work is all great heroics -- it's often tedium without relief, &c.) Also, as I mentioned, until I moved to California I pretty much knew all the cops who patrolled my area, and know what the job entails. It's a pipe dream, yes, but not naively considered. Just, you know, considered.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:29 PM
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205: Haha, Mr. Sarcastic. What I meant was that we seem collectively shocked, and collectively to agree that there's been some recent "change" in the way cops act. Whereas I'm pretty sure that most poor people (including poor whites), blacks, Latinos, Indians, etc., aren't at all shocked by the way cops treat them, even if it pisses them off enormously.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:33 PM
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205: I don't know about the change. I was scared of cops as a teenager, and Mom has unpleasant stories about the LA cops going back to the early 60s. (Not as an activist or anything -- as a law-abiding young flight-attendant.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:35 PM
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209:

I know.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:36 PM
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I'd be happy if the police were out in the problem areas. Don't get me wrong, I like seeing the police out to protect my little privileged self (or more correctly the undergrads with their iPods and Prada backpacks; it's always mildly amusing when the muggers get a grad student and get $7), but patrols outside of the immediate campus area might do some good.

Better to have the police presence there maybe than just besides the times someone's been shot.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:36 PM
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My prejudice against cops comes from being a teenager too, and being hassled by them, and being amazed and kind of outraged because jesus, I was a 15 year old suburban white girl, what the fuck did some adult carrying a gun need to be hassling me for?

Which was privileged of me, but nonetheless basically true. Except that I think he was surprised that I talked back to him, which I guess 15 year old suruban white girls aren't supposed to do or something.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:39 PM
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People often assume that bad things only happen to bad people.

Only bad people get divorced.

Only bad people get convicted of crimes or otherwise treated poorly by the police.

Only bad people lose their jobs.


An acquaintance called yesterday after getting fired. She said, "You mean they can just fire me and not pay me any severance?!?!?!?!"

I told her that she should be voting for Democrats.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:42 PM
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214: Yup. But even if you don't assume that, you're still likely to feel shocked and outraged when bad things happen, especially if you're an average middle-class American, for whom things *generally* work out pretty well. I mean, when Ogged got cancer, we didn't all just shrug and say "well, people get cancer every day, so?"


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:45 PM
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I'll repeat: read www.theagitator.com for stories about regular people and the police.

Ask yourself why the officer who killed Savatore Culosi is still working?

If my gun accidentally discharges and hurts someone, anyone think I am not going to jail???

There is a thin line that we walk. The Man is powerful.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:46 PM
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208: Homicide/Law & Order is a big enough difference that I'll concede the error.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:52 PM
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Well, I am an anarchist, and I do think we shouldn't have any police whatsoever. However, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that everyone who joins the police or military or some other function of the state's monopoly on violence is stupid or sociopathic. My family is full of active-duty, retired and ex-military people, and while a few of them might fall under that rubric, the majority of them certainly don't. But most of them do subscribe to ideologies that finesse the whole being-paid-to-kill-people question rather more than I'm comfortable with.

The fact is, the most important function of the police in the US is to preserve the color line. Since we last touched on these issues, a salient court case was decided nearby. Not noted in the linked article: When the wrongly arrested black guy said "Look, if this is a race thing, you've got the wrong black guy" the response was "Yeah, you all say that." Is there any other reasonable explanation for this situation besides 2 suburban pigs get a call that there's finally some excitement on their dull beat, see a black guy and flip into thumper mode for the hell of it?

Here are the things I know from living in this country:
1. There is no situation so bad that the cops can't make it worse.
2. Cops always lie. Always.
3. It doesn't matter how well you put on the ol' okey-doke: if you're one of the people the police are paid to keep in line, you are always a "fits-the-description" away from being brutalized, tortured, imprisoned or murdered by the pigs.

If you want a good, proceduralist liberal solution to this problem that doesn't force you to consider your own complicity too honestly, here's mine: Every black person in the US who meets the minimum qualifications should immediately apply to become a police officer, sherriff's deputy, FBI agent etc. For one thing, it would tie up the courts in civil rights litigation for the rest of our lives. And after awhile, white people would have to seriously consider the prospect that the police are there to control them as well as the gigantic black prison rapists of legend.

Alternately: Smash the State!

I know the police give you trouble,
They make trouble everywhere,
But when you die and go to heaven,
You'll find no policemen there.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 3:59 PM
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Hey, my dad used to sing that to us when we were little. I love that song.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:01 PM
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Which I suppose means that I come by my suspicion and distrust of the police honestly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:04 PM
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One of the interesting things about John Sayles' Matewan is that the local police (played by David Strathairn, his handsomeness a gurt big thumb on the scales of representation) takes the side of the strikers against the Pinkertons who are portrayed as sadistic brutes. I always wondered if that was kind of a wishful intervention on Sayles part, trying to imagine a world in which local police take the side of their neighbors. I don't think it plays out that way too often.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:12 PM
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My folx used to omit that lyric for some reason, but I learned it anyway.

I'll bet your folx didn't sing this one, LB:

(To the tune of "God Save the Queen" not the Pistols' version obviously)

God is a lesbian, she is a lesbian,
God is a lesbian, she is a dyke.
Send her Victoria, Mary and Gloria,
She'll lick clit on the floor with ya',
God is a dyke.

Sigh. The good old days of 1993...


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:15 PM
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I am an anarchist, and I do think we shouldn't have any police whatsoever.

One of these days maybe the anarchists will point out such a place that actually resembles somewhere I'd want to live.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:16 PM
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Elements of Style says, in discussing the first rule (form the possessive singular by adding 's) that "ancient proper names ending in -es" are an exception. Sayles is a name ending in -es, but not an ancient one. I think I'll stick with the awkwardness of "films by Sayles." The only films by Sayles I've seen are Lone Star and The Brother From Another Planet. Is Matewan worth while?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:22 PM
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I'm not sure how an anarchy with no police wouldn't just lead to people forming gangs for protection.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:22 PM
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They're all worthwhile, some are better than others. My wife likes Passion Fish best; I like a bunch of 'em.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:29 PM
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223 and 225 are right.

I'm not so sanguine about the notion that the police are always part of the problem, but certainly there are classes (and races) of people whom general law enforcement culture tends to be comfortable with treating differently than everyone else. Political dissidents and racial minorities especially. In Canada this tends to manifest most with aboriginal people when there aren't enough black people to hand.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:33 PM
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Yep. And given that they don't treat 'everyone else' that great either, this is a real problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:43 PM
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213: I come by my prejudice honestly. I was also a (14/15 year old) white kid from a nominally middle class, but spent some time in a different world.

To hit highlights: I've been beaten while restrained, beaten while not restrained, robbed, driven off into the booneys and left to find my way by foot, and once had a handgun placed in my mouth --- all by uniformed, on duty police officers. Add to that innumerable threats & minor (and not so minor) abuse. I've witnessed much worse done to friends. Much (but not all) of this happened in a country where the overall police presence is much better, as far as I can see (Canada vs. US)

I suspect this experience gives me pretty good insight into what it can be like for people in other targeted groups, with the odd aspect that I could effectively leave it.

The result of all this is that I am fully prepared to believe the worse of any particular police officer, on the other hand I try very hard not to project my bias too much, because I know it's there.


Posted by: Lyndon B.J. | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:44 PM
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The anarchists will be begging for the pigs when they become the Piggys of the island.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:45 PM
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I'm not sure how an anarchy with no police wouldn't just lead to people forming gangs for protection.

Haven't there been many sociological studies of, eg, the Sicilian mafia and whatnot in similar circumstances?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:47 PM
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If you want a good, proceduralist liberal solution to this problem that doesn't force you to consider your own complicity too honestly, here's mine: Every black person in the US who meets the minimum qualifications should immediately apply to become a police officer, sherriff's deputy, FBI agent etc. For one thing, it would tie up the courts in civil rights litigation for the rest of our lives. And after awhile, white people would have to seriously consider the prospect that the police are there to control them as well as the gigantic black prison rapists of legend.

What? There aren't any black cops in Minneapolis? There are a lot here, and by "a lot" I mean "very few, but still probably a higher proportion than in the general population."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:49 PM
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I was thinking the same thing. I'd believe that NY cops generally treat minorities worse than they treat white people, but I don't think that minorities are grossly underrepresented in the NYPD. I should look it up--maybe I'm wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:51 PM
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As for the "shock" stuff that b's talking about, I do think it often plays a role in developing attitudes toward the police. I had a friend in college who grew up in a very small town where the police knew everyone and were friendly, and became a raving socialist after getting beaten by cops in a nearby city during an antiwar protest. I found this understandable but kind of weird, since I came from a city with extremely violent, obnoxious cops and had always hated them. It was like, this is what disillusioned you about our society?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:53 PM
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231: That's what I was thinking of, mostly. I am not saying, in case any one is confused, that all police officers are saints. Just that thinking that if there aren't police to call to ensure order, history suggests people end up not weeping quietly and peacefully but finding some big, armed friends and taking care of the offender themselves.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:56 PM
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Or simply getting abused by others who do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 4:57 PM
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Man, if there weren't any police in our society, I woulda killed my old roommate.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:00 PM
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There is that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:00 PM
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237: You say that like it was a bad thing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:00 PM
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There were a lot of empty buildings in that neighborhood. I'll bet I could've found a place to stash the corpse.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:04 PM
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I've mentioned before, being shocked on a trip to Amsterdam in my late teens. They were moving me and my friend on -- not for doing anything illegal but because some cute French girls were braiding our hair (and feeding us apples) and the girls didn't have an official street trading license.

I gave them a bit of mild, easy-going shit, like I'd have done to a British cop and where I'd have expected, unless the guy was an asshole, to get some mild easy-going shit back. The guy started unbuckling his gun.

British cops can be total fucks when policing demos and when they are in heavily armoured groups, but on an individual level, I've generally found them pretty tolerant of people giving them shit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:13 PM
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Okay, blacks and Asians are underrepresented compared to the population of the city, Latinos about level with the city population, and whites overrepresented. But not at a crazy level like the FDNY, which is still really really really white.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:16 PM
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What kind of license do you get for feeding apples to tourists as you braid their hair? This seems curiously specific. (And also rather like something you'd do to a horse before showing it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:17 PM
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re: 243

They needed a 'street traders' license to do anything on the street, for money. We paid them something silly like $2 and they spent an hour feeding us their lunch and braiding our hair. I don't think they were really in it for the money ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:20 PM
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Nothing like enjoying your work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:22 PM
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The guy started unbuckling his gun.

Perfectly justifiable self-defense on his part. Those Scots are always picking fights and trying to be bad-asses. I've seen the movies!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:27 PM
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I wonder if the difference between British cops and cops elsewhere might be that British cops are often pretty much peers to the people they most often police? So you give them shit the way you'd give a friend shit, and they take it the way a friend would; whereas in the States, cops aren't usually from the ghettos they police, but they're also not usually from the middle classes who are offended by being bossed around. There just isn't much of a viable working class in the States any more.

Course I don't know if that's applicable to the continent more generally.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:27 PM
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224: Matewan is my favorite Sayles movie and my favorite labor movie.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:31 PM
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229: driven off into the booneys and left to find my way by foot

In Canadian winters (and true no doubt of the northern States) this "cute" little trick can be lethal. A number of mysterious Native disappearances in Saskatchewan were attributed to it in recent years until one of the guys actually made it back.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:33 PM
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I want to be clear. I know some outstanding police officers, both professionally and personally.

It is just a mistake to think that they all are like that.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:34 PM
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Matewan is my favorite Sayles movie and my favorite labor movie.

Really? I didn't like Matewan. I found the attempts to tie a story of labor and solidarity to the tropes of the Western -- a small band of heroes bringing order to a community terrorized by villains to be distracting.

I don't know what my favority labor movie would be, but I didn't like Matewan


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:35 PM
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246: Actually the Brits *do* have rather a reputation in Europe....


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:35 PM
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I just came across this, which is like a parody of the abuse of authority, but real.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:35 PM
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My Canadian father says it's one of the nicest ways to die, though. You just sort of go to sleep.

He himself is still alive, so I have no idea where he's getting his insider information.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:35 PM
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Well, yeah. The last time we had this conversation, I said that a fairly small percentage of wrongdoers can be very visible and very damaging. I'm sure nine out of ten cops are generally decent people, but the percentage that don't behave decently is still too high.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:36 PM
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254 to 249.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:36 PM
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My Canadian father says it's one of the nicest ways to die, though. You just sort of go to sleep.

He himself is still alive, so I have no idea where he's getting his insider information.

The Dalai Lama himself told me that when I die, on my deathbed, I will receive total consciousness.

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:40 PM
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Sweet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:40 PM
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250: It's not a mistake, will. I firmed believe every single one of them are like that. Also, they all have webbed feet and smell faintly like cabbage.

254: Better than being burned or drowned or shot, I guess. So that's eomthing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:42 PM
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Kids:

Don't go to school and be a lawyer. As you can see by LB and I procrastinating while still at the office on a friday night.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:43 PM
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"firmed" s/b "firmly" fuck I need to go home. I don't even have being a lawyer as an excuse.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:43 PM
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To the tune of "God Save the Queen"

Man, this comment managed to get Eddie Izzard's version stuck in my head:

God attack the Queen,

send big dogs after her

that bite her bum


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:47 PM
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I'm at the office, too, mostly because it is raining and I will have no one to give me a ride home for another hour.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:47 PM
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See, Rob, if you'd made a better choice in buying your house you wouldn't be stuck at the office in the rain. Whiner.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:51 PM
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As long as we're talking about police issues, can one of the lawyers here shed any light on ? As a layperson I don't understand it at all.

Despite the "unquestionably tragic" failure of Philadelphia police to protect the wife of a colleague from long-standing violence that ended when he shot her and killed himself, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the officers have immunity.
The 34-page opinion, which reversed a lower-court order, was the latest development in a civil suit filed by Jill Burella. She was married to George Burella, a 10-year veteran of the Philadelphia force when he shot her in the chest and then killed himself....
[...] In the suit, originally filed in February 2000, Jill Burella alleged that the Police Department knew her husband had a history of violence and mental problems but consistently failed to take action to protect her.
The three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that officers were unresponsive, but pointed out that the law does not give her "a constitutional right" to police protection.
Jill Burella did not allege any facts that suggested any behavior despite inaction, which the panel termed "deeply troubling and unquestionably tragic," but not sufficient under the law to deny the officers immunity.
"Although the Philadelphia Police Department's apparent disregard of Jill Burella's numerous pleas for help raises a serious question as to whether this was but one example of a larger pattern of mishandling domestic violence complaints, we cannot agree that the factual allegations and evidence . . . satisfy the requirements" for relief, the court said.
[...] According to the suit, George Burella was twice hospitalized for psychiatric treatment, once after a suicide attempt; was suspended without pay from the police force twice for incidents not related to his wife; and repeatedly violated protection-from-abuse orders, at least twice in the presence of other officers.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 5:59 PM
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Argh, should have read, "Can one of the lawyers here shed any light on this ruling?"


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:00 PM
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If you pass out drunk in a N. D. snowbank on New Years' Eve and don't die, however, it's less pleasant, as you lose 18 / 30 of your finger segments.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:05 PM
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I woulda killed my old roommate.

Your old roommate, Jackmormon? Does this mean that you finally got rid of him?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:06 PM
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267: John, you're totally making that up. You do not lack any finger segments.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:08 PM
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Witt, The basic rule is that barring specific legislation you don't have a right to anything in the U.S. Medicare is specific legislation entitling people to medical care etc.

Otherwise you have the right not to have the government do things to you. Sometimes that implies a certain "right to," as in you have a right to counsel (even if you can't pay for it) in felony cases, because the government is trying to do something *to* you, namely deprive you of your liberty. But take this explanation with a grain of salt, since IANAL.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:11 PM
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Emerson, do you work on commission for these guys or something?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:12 PM
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269: Ah, but who knows how many finger segments he used to have?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:12 PM
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272: True, I had not considered that possibility.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:13 PM
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270 helps. I had kind of assumed that police officers have the same sort of "obligation to report" with regard to violent offenders that, say, teachers and social workers have with suspected child abuse.

I can't understand from the newspaper article whether the court is saying that this woman's lawyer made the wrong argument, or that there is no right argument to be made, regardless of how egregious the police behavior.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:15 PM
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I looked at the article, and it's not really clear whether the ruling was that individual officers have immunity, or that the department isn't liable (that is, the article seems to imply both in different sentences). What BG says looks pretty likely as an explanation for why the department wouldn't be liable (I've never worked in this area, but I'd be surprised if there were negligence liability for a police department in this context).

Individual officers would be immune from suit under the doctrine of qualified immunity -- you can't sue a government official for a discretionary action unless they violated clearly established law.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:16 PM
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251: Sayles's particular mastery is in creating a community that's more of a protagonist than any one individual character. To the extent that that plays off of the privileging of the individual in the Western, I think it adds to the movie's artfulness. Also, man, I just cried.

255: The last time we had this conversation, I said that a fairly small percentage of wrongdoers can be very visible and very damaging.

The Malcolm Gladwell article on power-law distributions uses bad cops as an example of the hockey-stick graph.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:23 PM
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It was my sister-in-law's grandfather. He seemed to enjoy the shaking-hands part when he met new people.

He was from rural N.D., not from Elgin or one of the other big cities.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:26 PM
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I knew a guy in the Peace Corps who'd lost half a finger to a chainsaw, who really enjoyed holding up fingers in answer to questions about what time it was ("Three-thirty.")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:31 PM
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274: Witt, the article said that she had no constitutional right to police protection, and I think that their immunity from prosecution falls under some sort of Rehnquistian sovereign immunity bullshit. I'm too lazy to look this up, but it had something to do with Georgia and not collecting Revolutionary war debts which led to some amendment. States can be free from civil suit unless they allow it. Several laws do provide for lawsuits against states.

There was a horrific case about a boy who had been beaten so badly that he was paralyzed juxtaposed next to a E.U. Human Rights case on corporal punishment. Several social workers had reported the mistreatment of the boy, but the police never did anything. He sued the state, presumably the Dad didn't have any money, to get help with his medical care, and he got bupkiss.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:34 PM
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Heh, my father in law had lost a couple half fingers in WWII and yeah, he liked doing that same kind of thing. Apparently missing digit humor is universal.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:36 PM
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I don't know what my favority labor movie would be

Salt of the Earth, yo.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:42 PM
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At least, that's my favorite. But I haven't seen very many.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:43 PM
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The famous North Dakota story is the guy who had both arms torn off, walked home, and dialed 9-11 with a pencil in his teeth. His arms were reattached and now he gives inspirational speeches.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:43 PM
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So your point is that North Dakota totally sucks, but you can get a house there real cheap.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:45 PM
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Only costs ya an arm and another arm.


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:46 PM
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B, you're not going to fall asleep drunk in a snowbank or lose your arms in a farming accident. You'd love it!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:47 PM
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I might fall asleep drunk in a snowbank! You never know!

Farming accident, unlikely, though. Also I lived in Omaha for a long time and I did not love it (though parts of it were okay).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:50 PM
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You're more mature now.

Elgin is a Russian-German community. They have a quaint ancient culture.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:51 PM
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God, wouldn't it suck if my mom's family actually *were* from Elgin? I think they came from up thataway at some point back in time.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:52 PM
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"Mature" in the sense "adult and sophisticated", not in the sense "too old for fornication and adultery purposes."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:53 PM
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Yes, thank you for that clarification.

I dunno, my sojurn in Canada suggested to me that I'm "mature" now in the sense of "no longer willing to see living someplace I'm not crazy about as an adventure." That and "prone to seasonal depression."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:54 PM
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Your husband is German. He'd fit right in.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 6:57 PM
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I am not moving to buttfuck North Dakota, John, just because you need to unload a house.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:00 PM
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Lost both arms, etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:01 PM
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Boy, those reviews are really making me want to rush right out and buy that book.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:05 PM
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As difficult as this must have been for him to write, he has given a gift to anyone who has survived a similar ordeal.

That would presumably be referring to the book on tape version?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:06 PM
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People who have had both arms reattached is a real niche market.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:08 PM
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A similar ordeal need not be identical. Maybe they lost both their legs, say.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:09 PM
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No, no, it says "survived." They needn't necessarily have had their arms reattached.

I'm sorry, still giggling about "as difficult as this must have been for him to write." HAW HAW HAW.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 7:09 PM
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On Labor day weekend I was walking around the new baseball stadium going up in DC when a car with dark windows rolled up, and a guy in the back said, through the top of the window, "hey dude, I want to talk to you." Nothing good ever starts that way, so I started walking faster and the car followed me until four guys in flak jackets got out and said "stop, police." Those were the two happiest words of my life because it was either that or a violent mugging, as I figured it. They asked me for ID and whether I'd scored any crack, heroin, or pcp. I consented to a search and they then ran my ID for warrants. They were very disappointed I wasn't "hot." And they took the $15 in my wallet (change from a hot dog) as evidence I already had my cash out. And the only thing I did walk down the street in a bad neighborhood. I thanked them for keeping the peace and headed straight back to the subway.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:00 PM
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I remember being pulled into the back of a police van with a mate when we were about 15. They then shoved us about a bit [mildly, not raging brutality just shoved us into sitting down on the seats in the van] and tried to get us to admit to some burglary that had taken place nearby. Since we were actually on our way back from a rock concert 20 miles away we were having none of it.

Fairly sure if it hadn't been for the fact that I was a pretty lippy and self-confident teenager, they might have successfully intimidated us into admitting something we had nothing to do with.

On the other hand, a few years later when a friend got burgled, the police were very cool about ignoring the half-smoked joints he'd forgotten to hide before they arrived. I watched one of them spot them, and then studiously ignore them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:17 PM
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Cops count on ignorance and people to go along with their shit. "You don't mind if I search your car do you?" and such.

IME they tone it down if they think you're someone who knows a thing or two. Admittedly, it doesn't hurt to look like a clean cut WASP type who's inclined to get a lawyer if they pull someone egregious.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:17 PM
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Ah, but who knows how many finger segments he used to have?

If he lost 18/30 and ended up with 28 (8 fingers with 3 segments, and 2 thumbs with 2 segments) that would mean that he started with 70 finger segments. Presumably he just wrote 18/30 rather than 3/5 or 42/70 to disguise his secret.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:21 PM
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My cousin Wilf used to put his hand on the car window glass by my face and wiggle the stub of his finger at me. Whether he'd noticed my fascination with it, or whether it gave him a special bond, a license to be silly with children, I don't know.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:27 PM
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gswift is correct. But how do you know? Do you even have crime in Utah?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:28 PM
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Do you even have crime in Utah?

Fornication, sometimes even sodomy.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:48 PM
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And occasionally even . . . masturbation.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:51 PM
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Shocking. Do the Democrats commit crimes there too?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:54 PM
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And the only thing I did walk down the street in a bad neighborhood.

That's the neighborhood where I stay when I'm in DC. I guess I should be careful walking around there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:54 PM
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Only in their hearts.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:55 PM
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Do the Democrats commit crimes there too?

Democrats? What Democrats?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:55 PM
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Has 307 actually ever been illegal?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:55 PM
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310 to 308.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 8:55 PM
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Has 307 actually ever been illegal?

Yes. Mainly in schools, libraries, and in cars as you drive by school buses.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:00 PM
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And frowned on, but not technically illegal, in North Dakota snowbanks.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:04 PM
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This is a pretty awesome video of what I guess you'd call civil disobedience (although everything the guys do is legal) in New Hampshire (the video starts at about 1:30 in). Of course, a lot of cops would have just arrested them and dealt with the consequences (as there would likely be none), but it's amazing how much of the routine of being stopped by the police is legally resistible.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:11 PM
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That's disorderly conduct or indecent exposure. If it were illegal in itself, there'd bursting in on private behavior in rooms, as there has recently been, absurdly, in sodomy cases.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:11 PM
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317 to 314


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:12 PM
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312: Yes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:14 PM
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But how do you know? Do you even have crime in Utah?

Hey, I wasn't always a dad in the suburbs.

But my interactions with Utah cops have been pretty good. Been pulled out of cars at gunpoint a time or two back in L.A., arrested when I was 15 for blowing shit up, etc.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:16 PM
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Democrats? What Democrats?

I've actually got a Dem congressman. Not much of a Dem, but at least counts towards our controlling committees. Salt Lake City is minority Mormon, and has a Dem mayor. The state still heavily Repuplican, but things have gotten better in Salt Lake.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:20 PM
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1640 is a long time ago, though. Anything more recent?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:20 PM
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Yes, but that is only bc the Cops say "Hey! Arent you the guy who gets laid a lot?"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:20 PM
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Given the anti-masturbation hysteria of the 18th and 19th centuries, it seems like it would have been banned in at least some places, but I can't find any evidence of it. So maybe not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:22 PM
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In the law it's probably named "self-pollution" or "the hideous crime against Nature" or something like that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:33 PM
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Someone who has access to one of those legal databases might be able to find something.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:35 PM
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Onanism, perhaps, although the story of Onan in Genesis is not about that at all.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:36 PM
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eBay Yanks Mann's Giant Penis


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:41 PM
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In my country, it is Onanismo! With the exclamation always, at the end, standing just so. Onanismo! Welcome, familiar uncle. Onanismo!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:42 PM
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This is a pretty awesome video of what I guess you'd call civil disobedience (although everything the guys do is legal) in New Hampshire (the video starts at about 1:30 in). ...but it's amazing how much of the routine of being stopped by the police is legally resistible.

Open carry bitches!

These days, I think I'd rather donate to the NRA than my political party. At least I know the money will be used to do something, rather than sit around waiting to get bent over by the opposition.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:50 PM
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Is this the thread where we talk about brutality and injustice? Because those last two innings were a fucking war crime.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:00 PM
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330 gets it completely wrong. Fucking with cops to prove you can is just stupid. They're human beings and entitled to be treated as such. Provoking confrontation to assert your rights when they're doing something perfectly reasonable--and when you see a guy walking into a bar with a gun, it's perfectly reasonable to want to figure out whether he's homicidal or just a harmless gun crank--is asshole behavior. Cops are obligated to ignore asshole behavior--and those guys were remarkably professional--but that doesn't make it OK to act like an asshole to them just to test their professional.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:20 PM
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professionalism


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:21 PM
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I don't know, DaveL. There's a sense in which people doing it would be "provoking" the cops, there's another sense in which it would be refusing to be docile citizens implicitly consenting to the abrogation of our rights. Which is to say that the standards of interaction between cops and citizens are out of whack, and there probably isn't a non-controversial way to try to right them (if they can be righted).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:28 PM
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Professionalismo!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:32 PM
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Sure there is. Do what you do, and see if they fuck with you. If they don't, then all for the better. If they do, then get fucked with politely, incurring a minor annoyance cost to all involved, which, in aggregate, will reduce the fucking. This is what made Berkeley great.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:36 PM
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The problem is that getting in people's faces just makes their jobs harder and more unpleasant. It doesn't do anything to convince them. I recognize the problem you're talking about, and I agree that it's sometimes (often?) appropriate to refuse when a cop asks for something they're not entitled to, but if all they're trying to do is confirm that you're just fucking with them and then let you go on your way, it's asshole behavior to play coy. I don't have a problem with refusing to produce the license, but I do have a problem with refusing to interact in a normal human way. If the guy had just said "look, I have a legal right to carry this gun and I have no obligation to produce ID. Am I free to go?", I'd be on his side if the cop didn't disengage. But that was just an excercise in passive-aggressive Help Help I'm Being Repressed.

It's hard to Fight the Power when you're a harmless white gun crank, but as problems go, that's not a bad one to have.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:40 PM
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Also, Onan didn't beat off so much as use primitive birth control. So, the Catholics have a much better case against condoms than they do against (male) jerking off. Their case against female jerking off would be laughed out of God court.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:41 PM
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Well, these guys were engaged in a bit of theater to show where the lines ought to be drawn; I didn't take what they were doing as a model for everyday behavior. And a little theater now and again isn't necessarily a bad way to make a point.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:43 PM
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But the point they're making is Don't Fuck With White Gun Cranks, not Respect Civil Liberties. And a police force that feels abused by those who are in a position to abuse it may not react by thinking "gee, being abused sucks, we better not abuse people when we could get away with it."


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:52 PM
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337 neatly sums up my problem with "Roger and Me" and "TV Nation" (and Michael Moore's stuff in general).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 10:54 PM
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342 reluctantly seconded.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:02 PM
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I wonder if part of the difference here is that you're a lawyer, DaveL. I'm reasonably well-informed, but I actually don't know what directions from an officer I'm required to comply with. So I find the theater informative. And you seem be taking the scene as staged for the benefit of the police, whereas I see it as for the benefit of the audience.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:06 PM
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Aigh! Foolishmortal you stack error, you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:06 PM
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For you, o-stamp.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:07 PM
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Huh, I guess I did know all that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:10 PM
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But the point they're making is Don't Fuck With White Gun Cranks, not Respect Civil Liberties.

They've picked a particular civil liberty to make the point. It might not be the one you'd pick, but to do this kind of thing you've got to pick something specific. There's not much impact to just wandering the streets with a sign.

but I actually don't know what directions from an officer I'm required to comply with. So I find the theater informative. And you seem be taking the scene as staged for the benefit of the police, whereas I see it as for the benefit of the audience.

Exactly. And this gets back to what I was saying in 302. A lot of people genuinely don't know what their rights are, and the police exploit this.

A little pushback ain't gonna hurt the police.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:16 PM
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337 neatly sums up my problem with "Roger and Me" and "TV Nation" (and Michael Moore's stuff in general).

God, liberals have no idea how to influence the public at all.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:19 PM
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337: The problem is that getting in people's faces just makes their jobs harder and more unpleasant.

As a general point (I haven't watched ogged's video): I don't advocate getting in cops' faces for no reason, or doing it while it's just you and them on a lonely stretch of highway or something, but the notion that demanding your rights is "provoking the police" is deeply pernicious, insidious and authoritarian and should be confronted wherever possible. And where possible it should be done by making the jobs of the people indulging in those habits of thinking more unpleasant.

You are not going to "convince" the guy who is there on the street at that moment. But let's face it, you're not going to convince him anyway*; it's about changing the environment that allows those attitudes to flourish.

(* During the G-8 summits in Calgary, the city's relatively anodyne police service was briefing its membership on the threat potential of, I shit you fucking not, the Ranging Grannies.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:24 PM
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348: It's fucking depressing sometimes.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:25 PM
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348 is a real real true. I'm (gasp) not actually all that left, compared to stras et al, but I do feel the need to clasp pearls when Moore skims the truth. It's quite sad (and stupid) how I'm eager to take a beating for the cause, but I get anal about intellectual integrity.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:28 PM
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I don't provoke the police to their faces because I prefer to preserve my ability to do so in more subtle, distant ways. The polite, smiling shit disturber capsizes more authoritarian boats than the naively obvious shoal. Still, all power to the doofy gun nuts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:31 PM
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but I do feel the need to clasp pearls when Moore skims the truth. It's quite sad (and stupid) how I'm eager to take a beating for the cause, but I get anal about intellectual integrity.

Uh, that's not what 337, which you say sums up why you dislike Moore's works, is about.

A bit of theater can go a long ways.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 11:38 PM
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Oh, I know, 337 is bitching about going out of your way to be a problem, and then filming the consequences. Which is a-ok in my book, as long as a)you had a right to go about making an ass of yourself, and b)doing so had an instructive purpose, and furthermore c) you didn't misrepresent your shit, and d)you buy the cops and associated extras dinner for the trouble you've caused. To my knowledge, MM qualifies for a and b. If d occurred, I'd be a lot more forgiving about c.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:13 AM
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Also, 342 and 355 are way off base, and mildly racist.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:15 AM
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(Back from boy retrieval and dinner....)

I wonder if part of the difference here is that you're a lawyer, DaveL.

Nah, I don't know squat about criminal stuff. More a matter of having occasionally been on the receiving end of misguided attempts to Fight the Power when all the Power was trying to do was muddle through to something that everyone could live with.

The main thing is that I think we're at the limits of what laws and policies and regulations can do to control police culture and behavior. You change police culture by having departments run by people who are serious about respect for citizens and their rights. Privileged people doing civil liberties theater can be good for civil liberties, but very often it just ends up being about affirming privilege and building an even higher wall between the police and the rest of us. Nobody likes trying to work in a situation where every interaction is a potential confrontation, lawsuit, etc.

More broadly, you can't take discretion and judgment out of police work and you shouldn't want to. We've spent several decades now trying to develop laws and policies to ensure that police officers can't abuse their discretion to pick on the poor and powerless. We've had some success in changing the culture, but we haven't succeeded in developing the perfect set of rules and we're not going to. There are lots of problem departments that need to change dramatically, but I really think that's about changing management and organizational culture, not improving the rules.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:29 AM
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Here's a radical thought: maybe expecting police to accord people their rights does not in fact take discretion and judgment out of police work. Maybe that's a false dichotomy.

Misguided attempts to Fight the Power will of course happen, but if we're going to be expected to cut ninety kinds of slack for the police it seems perhaps not too out of line to extend the same courtesy to the citizenry they're policing. And "some success in changing the culture" is dubious; when you have an environment in which police forces make (often halfhearted) nods to diversity and ethnic tolerance but are increasingly militarized and gung-ho in general, it's hard to see it as a net gain.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:21 AM
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342 and 355 are either weird or possibly clever fake-outs or a comment's been deleted: which is it?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:23 AM
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338: It looks as though a comment above these two has been deleted.

I don't think that it's possible to engage in politics without (at the minimum) overstating your case. That kind of thing is as pervasive in expert centrist establishment politics as it is in dissident politics. (TV media politics might seem to magnify that factor, but look at the yellow journlism of a century ago.) I think that the dream of a completely transparent, fact-based politics is non-political -- that's actually where Nader went wrong; he went nuts when he figured out that reason is not enough in politics. (Nader was so anti-partisan that he wouldn't join the Green Party).

So I've always thought that it's suicidal (as sort of apolitical administrative dream) to try to enforce a level of scrupulosity on your own side that you're not able to enforce on your opponents, and a lot of liberals try to do this.

As a result, it's easy for conservatives to find liberals to say that Moore is as dishonest as Ann Coulter, Michael Savage Wiener, and Rush Limbaugh, when in fact he is not. ("We're no worse than them" is the most the conservatives hope for.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 4:28 AM
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Second: If there's a bad policy of any kind, it's hard to confront the policy without confronting and offending the individuals in charge of enforcing it, even though they didn't make the policy, can't change it, may be perfectly nice people outside work, and may even disagree with the policy they're enforcing. In many cases the intermediaries have been hired specifically to serve as a buffer protecting the big time people. To the extent possible, you should try to get around and behind these people, but that's not always possible. It's certainly not possible to spare their feeling all the time.

In any case, they signed up for the job. And you're usually not really trying to change their minds or behavior; in most cases the problem is policy, and they themselves don't have any power to change policy. (Gandhi and MLK did have a thing of acknowledging the personhood and humanity of adversaries, but this could just be a way of putting them on the spot more effectively and embarassingly.)

Second, aggressive police tactics are usually for a reason -- racial and class divisions being one kind of reason, and the imposition of ideology being a second. Around here in Lake Wobegon, as I've recently been finding out, it's traditional for young guys to confront and harass the police -- e.g., by stealing or egging the police car. (Something Keillor doesn't tell you). But there's there's no enormous class or racial divide, and the police will not be backed up if they go ballistic. (With the PATRIOT act this is probablt changing, as the American people become just another population to control).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 4:41 AM
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A Lake Wobegon story realistic about this, or about loneliness and driving vast distances for drugs, is interesting to imagine. Might blow up, like the Salon thing, might go by w/o a peep.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 5:56 AM
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But the point they're making is Don't Fuck With White Gun Cranks, not Respect Civil Liberties

While I think gswift is right that they're trying to show the latter, it really is just the former. Weird conversation with people on that freaky immigration board where someone in one thread was praising the brave white guy with a gun and in the other thread demanding that everyone should have a national ID and you should need to show it to cops at all time, because you have nothing to hide, unless you are illegal and 'well, I'd never be stopped anyway because I don't look like a troublemaker.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 8:31 AM
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I'd never be stopped anyway because I don't look like a troublemaker.

"What's that, officer? This old thing [points at Calabat]? Oh, it's, uh, for sporting. You know, sports. Tee-hee!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 8:41 AM
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Second Amendment News I: Apparently Saddam encouraged every household to arm itself.

Second Amendment News II: Minnesota's formerly innocuous and oft-abused Hmong have gained new respect since one of their deer hunting members returned fire and killed six indigenous honky deer hunters.

Hmog Deer Hunters form group.

The Hmong were a hill people recruited as allies by the US during the Vietnam War. Hunting was a normal part of their traditional way of life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 8:52 AM
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I love Hmong. Those people have had to put up with such an unbelievable amount of shit for, like, millenia, basically, but every time they're kicked off their land and have to settle someplace new, they manage to keep their culture intact. You go, tough-ass hill people! There's big populations of them in Modesto and Lowell, MA, as well as in Minnesota.

Good Hmong book.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 9:22 AM
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365: That was indeed a totally fascinating (if depressing) book.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 9:24 AM
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At the OHSU med school all freshmen read that book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 9:42 AM
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The Hmong eschatology is pretty cool, with Jesus returning in a Jeep, bearing rifles. They should have incorporated that in one of the Rambo movies.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 9:56 AM
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That's not all Hmong, just a subset. It is cool, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 10:03 AM
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In retrospect, I have to concede the truth of 186.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 10:06 AM
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But you're trolling on the side of the angels, generally, which makes it all okay.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 10:10 AM
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The idea that if there were no police, we would all immediately descend into a bella omnium contre omnes is a ridiculous non-sequitur that has been amply refuted by many anarchist theorists. There are many parts of the world, even today, that do not have anything resembling a police force, and people there are not subject to any more rape and murder than they otherwise would be. Furthermore, the situations in which we find the greatest amount of human misery and chaos (Iraq, Somalia) are those in which there are actually too many cops, where cops is read as organized political groupings trying to control the population. The popular image of "anarchy" which the state and capital have spent so much time and effort creating, is really just a sick mirror image of the hell we already inhabit. Here, in statist, capitalist society, we are more insecure in our persons than ever, as the Military Commissions Act, the Effective Death Penalty Act and the various machinations of the bureaucracy prove. We are at risk of being raped and murdered and robbed and brutalized as we sit here, and those of our compatriots who don't enjoy our relative privilege are at even greater risk. Why? Because it is profitable and empowering for our rulers that it should be so. Every sensational crime that the police mysteriously fail to protect us from is used to justify further measures of control. Do you really think that this is an accident?

If we're going to talk about naivete and sociopathy, what is more naive than thinking that, because you live in a civillization which creates a legal monopoly of violence for the powerful, you, the powerless, will be perfectly protected from there violence or anyone elses? And what is more redolent of the sociopath than assuming that all of your neighbors would instantly turn on you the moment the threat of official retribution was removed from over their heads?

There's four simple letters that explain everything you need to know about this question, and if you memorize them and hold them close to your heart, you'll never be far wrong in assessing a given problem of violence and control:

A.C.A.B.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 11:51 AM
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There are many parts of the world, even today, that do not have anything resembling a police force, and people there are not subject to any more rape and murder than they otherwise would be.

I used to live in one (that is, Samoa had a police force, but small and not so much on law-enforcement outside Apia), and there was shitloads of rape and other violence. Where are you talking about?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:02 PM
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372: what is more naive than thinking that, because you live in a civillization which creates a legal monopoly of violence for the powerful, you, the powerless, will be perfectly protected from there violence or anyone elses?

Right, because so many people on this thread have said this. Don't be an ass, dude.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:06 PM
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(One might also note that aside from the caricatures, 372 contains a lot of assertions that are rather conveniently self-sealing or nondisprovable. I think there's a lot that's honorable, important and interesting in the anarchist tradition, personally, but this is one of its most annoying habits.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:08 PM
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The anarchists are right that there's no direct correlation between the presence or absence of a strong police force (prepared to enforce laws with violence) and levels of crime in a given population.

However, that absence of correlation cuts both ways. There are places with strong police forces and high levels of violence, places with strong police forces and low levels of violence, places with weak police forces, etc. No lazy conclusions either in favour of anarchism or in favour of an authoritarian police state can be drawn.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:23 PM
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(BTW, for anyone else who would have had to look up A.C.A.B., but was too lazy, it apparently stands for All Cops Are Bastards.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:28 PM
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376: No, I think you can pretty well take a lazy position against anarchism with complete safety. Worth noting that there is a substantial difference between crime/violence and reported crime/violence. If there's no one to enforce a general rule, you learn to shut up and take it. You might even come up with reasons why that's the way it's meant to be.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:28 PM
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Actually, where I'd worry about the 'no correlation' point in 376 is the definition of 'strong' and 'weak' police force. I'd be perfectly willing to believe that there's no correlation between increased use of force by the police and increased public safety above a quite low minimum level of force - I wouldn't be surprised if you could get all the public safety benefits of policing with a very lightly armed, mostly non-violent force. But I'd really like someone to show me a place with effectively no functional policing and low levels of violence before I believed that was possible: Samoa's got the little-functional-policing but a whole lot of violence going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:32 PM
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Alas, the reports on stateless societies show endemic violence, usually organized according to kinship.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:34 PM
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re: 378

I really don't think that's true. There are large swathes of the world with no effective policing and in many of those places there aren't high levels of violent crime. It doesn't just come down to what people report or don't report.

That's not to argue that we [in the industrialized urban world] would be better off without a police force, of course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:34 PM
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re: 379

Samoa isn't necessarily going to be a particularly good example. Ex recto, my recollection is that many pacific island cultures, including Samoa, are pretty violent.

Ditto, for example, the reasons for the differing levels of violence between Scotland and, say, Denmark are not reasons that will appeal to different policing or justice systems. They'll be reasons that appeal to sociology, history, and economics.

I'm arguing nothing other than that the relationship between levels of violence in a society and the form that law-enforcement takes in that country are fairly loose. Emerson and LB are right, of course, that some places with little or no law enforcement are very violent indeed.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:40 PM
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I'd agree that Samoa is going to lean toward the more violent end of the scale, but really, where are the low-crime unpoliced regions? I find the claim that they exist (that is, someplace with no real policing, but reasonably useful crime data or pretty uniform anecdotal reports showing low crime) somewhere between surprising and unbelievable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:49 PM
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Scotland is an outlier in most respects, though not so much so as Wales.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:53 PM
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378: Color me suspicious. In particular, I suspect that, behind closed doors, women and kids are getting the piss knocked out of themselves by our standards. (They may understand what's happening differently.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:53 PM
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Costa Rica has much less of a gang violence problem than its more authoritarian neighbors (Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala). But it does have a police force (no military, I think), & I'm generally with LB on this one.

Defining cops as "organized political groupings trying to control the population" basically allows you to define any armed gang of marauders as "cops", which strikes me as sort of cheating: yes, if there were fewer armed gangs shooting people and violating human rights, there would be fewer armed gangs shooting people and violating human rights. But there are places where the police really don't shoot many people or commit many human rights violations, and there are many of other sorts of violent groups which are not affiliated with the state. (I don't think the word "political" really does the work there that you want it to do. I'm not sure there's a fundamental difference between the motivations of someone we'd call a warlord & someone we'd call the leader of a gang. I think that to fairly characterize a militia as "cops" & use their abuses as a justification for anarchy rather than an indictment of it, you need some sort of state affiliation.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 12:59 PM
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386 was me.

Tim, why are you suspicious of yourself?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:01 PM
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387: Because I'm not too bright. 385 to 381.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:05 PM
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re: 383

I'm not sure there is anywhere with absolutely no policing and a low crime rate, but any non-urban areas of really rather a lot of places are going to be areas with little immediate police presence. There may be the fairly geographically and temporally remote promise of future justice -- crime won't go completely unpunished -- while little day-to-day police presence acting as direct enforcement.

I wasn't trying to argue for some anarchist paradise. I'm fairly sure that you (LB) are right that some fairly low level but non-absent level of force is needed.

I just have a problem with the idea that most places are festering pits of barely suppressed violence held in check by direct enforcement of laws, which isn't really the case. Levels of violence vary widely, levels of direct and immediate police presence vary widely.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:13 PM
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The situation that seems to occur often is the death-squad one, where the same people, we are told, police by day and hunt by night. The extent to which the belief in the necessary collusion for this to be true undermines everything we think of as law-and-order, while hypocritically preserving the forms, seems like a problem across the world.

L'shanah tovah, Katherine, wherever you went.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:18 PM
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OT: http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2007/09/15/news/local/news04.txt



Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:20 PM
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Yay, Charley!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:37 PM
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That's fantastic, Charley.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:41 PM
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Whereas the Executive and Congressional Branches of government have adopted certain policies and taken certain actions, including suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus, enacting the Military Commissions Act, adopting the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process, and detaining individuals at Guantanamo Bay, and
Whereas, the members of the State Bar of Montana believe that such policies and actions are contrary to the fundamental principles of the Rule of Law, and
Whereas the members of the State Bar of Montana have a moral, ethical, and professional responsibility to speak publicly about the direction of our legal system,
Now, therefore, the State Bar of Montana adopts this resolution and calls on Congress and the President to take the following actions to restore respect for the Rule of Law:
1. Restore the right to habeas corpus.
2. Repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
3. Reform the Combatant Status review Tribunal process to provide fundamental due process protections.
4. Close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and transfer the detainees to secure military facilities in the United States where they can receive due process.



Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:44 PM
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The anarchists are right that there's no direct correlation between the presence or absence of a strong police force (prepared to enforce laws with violence) and levels of crime in a given population.

Right, but in fairness, no one here was arguing that the level of violence must be preserved lest we be run over by the hordes, just that with no mechanism to enforce laws (which seemed to be minneapolitan's initial claim) when there is what we would normally call crime, people either rationalize it, sufffer, or find friends to help them get vengeance.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:45 PM
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Charley pwns!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:46 PM
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I'll continue to pimp Charley. His reference to the City on the Hill is excellent.

Ronald Reagan's speech about a City on a Hill. How does the USA compare to Reagan's description now?


" And that's about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thng. The past few days when I've been at that window upstairs, I've thought a bit of the "shining city upon a hill." The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home. "


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:47 PM
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re: 395

Yeah, sure, I wasn't agreeing wholeheartedly with minneapolitan. My view on policing is more or less LB's in 379.

Also, congratulations to Charley.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 1:52 PM
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Congrats, Charley, and thank you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:04 PM
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390: thanks. There's a reform synagogue that's 5 min. from my new place--I was actually too late to get tickets this year but I think I'm going to take the class there, as I cannot resist the 5-minute-walk factor.

Charley, if you're reading this, you realize that you just made it even harder to get me to concede that red America is immune to the power of persuasion, right? ;) Seriously, that's aweseome.


Posted by: katherine | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:13 PM
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Sholem? Emmanuel? I don't know how far north you moved.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:14 PM
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Sholem. (unless you know something terrible about them, but I hope you don't, as their class matches pretty well w/ my schedule).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:17 PM
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Will, thanks so much for posting the link! I'll be letter-writing to my own state bar and newspaper now.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:19 PM
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400.2: Montana Red is pretty adamant about civil liberties.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:22 PM
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400: Montana's got a pretty strong tradition of activism. These folks were elected to the state legislature while doing anti-hate-group work.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:29 PM
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Off topic, but right now, Georgia are playing out of their skin against Ireland in the Rugby World Cup. Unbelievable.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:30 PM
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Charley and Will just made my cynicism look bad, I guess.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:31 PM
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I didnt do anything.

Of course, even a cynic has to be cynical about cynicism.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-15-07 2:46 PM
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So there's violence in some places where there aren't many cops. So what? That's a straw man if ever there was one. I'm not making any claims for "paradise" -- most anarchist societies that I can imagine would probably have some interpersonal violence. But I think that a) A functional anarchist society would feature much less interpersonal violence than the vast majority of statist societies throughout history. And b) A certain level of unpunished interpersonal violence would be a small price to pay for the other benefits of a functional anarchist society.

And where, statists, is your proof that the police protect anyone from a nontrivial amount of crime? We've got over 2 million in prison in this country, and there's still plenty of robberies, rapes and murders. And that's just outside prison walls. Those 2 million in jail are subject to a horrific amount of violence on the part of both their jailers and their fellow inmates. I'm no statistician, but from what I read, there's no consensus (and nothing close to consensus) among criminologists that anything the police do has much of a lasting impact on overall crime rates (except, cf. Mayor Daley, to preserve them).

This is a bit of a tangent, but I'd feel much safer in a society where the members of my community felt empowered to actually do something about the weird loner whose apartment has terrible smells coming from it for years on end, rather than just complacently imagining that they are "protected" by the police. Or, on a more everyday level, I'd like to live in a society where there were patterns and protocols of interpersonal dispute resolution that didn't rely on calling some assholes with Tasers and pistols and pepperspray to come and bust heads.

Anarchism isn't about a lack of organization -- it's about revolutionary self-discipline that organizes people more efficiently and more humanely that the alternatives.

The war of all against all? Can't you see you're talking about the way the system works?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 8:53 AM
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So there's violence in some places where there aren't many cops. So what? That's a straw man if ever there was one.

I think you need to review the definition of straw man.

And where, statists, is your proof that the police protect anyone from a nontrivial amount of crime?

Non-starter. Since this isn't the world of Phillip K. Dick, police departments are not so much charged with preventing crime as dealing with the aftermath of a crime.

No one here is basing their argument on the idea that without police the crime rates would skyrocket. They would probably even drop (especially since it's probably pretty hard to measure the crime rate when no one is arrested.)

What I'm worried about is what happens after the low-level of acceptable (to you) interpersonal violence. I want the domestic abuse victim to be able to call the cops rather than hope that her neighbors intervene... after all, her husband seems like such a nice guy. Or to take the other side, I'm really not a fan of lynch mobs or frontier justice.

This is not, again, saying that the crime rate would skyrocket. (That indeed might be a straw man.) It's just saying that I think there's way too much swept under the rug with 'functional'; is any potential anarchy that leads to violence going to be declared non-functional? (This is rather like McArdle denying that LB lives in NYC because everyone knows 'inner city school' means 'bad school.')


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 9:51 AM
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So there's violence in some places where there aren't many cops. So what? That's a straw man if ever there was one.

OK, here's some data from yer actual achetypal non-policed societies: hunter-gatherers.

Indeed, the crude homicide/warfare death rates per year lived are more than ten times higher among the Hiwi and Ache than among the Hadza or !Kung (1/100 and 1/200 per year for precontact Hiwi and Ache, respectively, vs. 1/2500 and 1/3000 for the Hadza and !Kung, respectively). Blurton Jones et al. (2002) suggested that this may be due to the more pervasive effects of colonial governments in Africa and the reduction of intertribal warfare. Even so, within-group homicide and infanticide rates are also much lower among African foragers, suggesting real cultural differences in violence rates.

What do regard as an acceptable homicide rate per annum? 1/100 or just 1/2500?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:17 AM
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The war of all against all? Can't you see you're talking about the way the system works?

You can't possibly be serious, except I know that you are. The places with no policing and low levels are violence are not densely populated urban environments.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:41 AM
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A certain level of unpunished interpersonal violence would be a small price to pay for the other benefits of a functional anarchist society.

Sure. If you're an adult male of a certain (very) bent, it probably looks like a potential paradise.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:47 AM
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Anarchism isn't about a lack of organization -- it's about revolutionary self-discipline that organizes people more efficiently and more humanely that the alternatives.

See, I just don't have any sense of how this is likely to work on any level beyond "And then a miracle occurs." This may be purely my ignorance, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:53 AM
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revolutionary self-discipline that organizes people more efficiently

Yeah, I was sort of wondering how this would be instilled and if there would be penalties for noncompliance.

And sometimes the weird loner is just Ogged, making his disgusting ethnic cuisine while commenting on the internet. Wait, suddenly the empowered-neighbors alternative looks pretty good...


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 10:58 AM
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'to live outside the law, you must be honest", said dylan.

"if men were angels, they would need no government", said madison.

in other words, 414 is right: anarchism is an adolescent pipe-dream.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:04 AM
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I've always wondered how anarchists propose to keep state-like organizational structures from breaking out all over the place, but I'm pretty ignorant on this topic.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:04 AM
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Ogged, have you read Anarchy, state and utopia? It's got a nice just-so story about the emergence of the night-watchman state in the beginning.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:05 AM
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have you read Anarchy, state and utopia?

Of course not.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:05 AM
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419--
then the state should mandate that you read it!
and imprison you for non-compliance!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:06 AM
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Oh, State, that's so like you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:07 AM
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Purely anecdotally, when the Anarchists briefly took control of Barcelona in 1937, the first thing they did was to send armed squads to close down the brothels. There are more angles on this than I can think of.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:08 AM
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Have you read "War Making and State Making as Organized Crime"?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:09 AM
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Or that other essay that I used to have that was more directly about the Mafia?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:10 AM
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Pierre Clastres--whose Archeology of Violence I've been meaning to read--thought that primitive societies used violence, against both other groups and (occasionally) their own leaders, to protect the autonomy of their kinship group and to prevent the concentration of power into a state (i.e., in order to preserve anarchism).


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:11 AM
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421--
it was a quasi-quotation of possibly my favorite passage from any article ever published in mind:

"Do I?" said the Tortoise innocently. "Let's make that quite clear. I accept A and B and C and D. Suppose I still refused to accept Z?"
"Then Logic would force you to do it!" Achilles triumphantly replied. "Logic would tell you 'You can't help yourself. Now that you've accepted A and B and C and D, you must accept Z!' So you've no choice, you see."


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:12 AM
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wait, i thought there was something wrong with that transcription. achilles real reply is even better:

"Then Logic would take you by the throat, and force you to do it!" Achilles triumphantly replied. "Logic would tell you, 'You can't help yourself. Now that you've accepted A and B and C and D, you must accept Z!' So you've no choice, you see."

it's the taking by the throat--that's the real source of rational normativity.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:14 AM
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The best article in Mind is "This article should not be rejected by Mind."


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 11:15 AM
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409: So there's violence in some places where there aren't many cops. So what? . . . And where, statists, is your proof that the police protect anyone from a nontrivial amount of crime?

This makes me curious. What exactly would you accept as "proof"?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-16-07 9:55 PM
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