Re: Danger To The Community

1

Ugh. Every story I read about a city jail sounds like something from a third-world country.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:21 PM
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Two guys I've dated have had similar experiences due to unpaid parking violations. System's pretty well broken.

I swear to God, the worst part though, are the comments at the linked stories, going on about how the people brought this on themselves, breaker of leash laws and rider of bicycles that they are.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:22 PM
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Great. We can follow up our engrossing discussion of dieting Scotsmen with a chat about the police. Shorter thread: boo brutality, Stras, police unions are the real problem, anecdata.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:26 PM
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Compliance culture, baby. That really is the worst part.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:26 PM
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Grump it up, Labs; there's a spot in county with your name on it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:27 PM
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3: Dude, it's your damn blog. You can, like, actually post stuff that you'd want to talk about.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:29 PM
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Labs to Sgt: as a white man, sir, I believe you meant to arrest my swarthy Iranian friend. Here, let me write down his address for you.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:29 PM
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Oh, we would just ruin it for him, Cala, and his self-loathing doesn't allow him to actually post. Fuck it, I'm going to turn myself in and finger him as my accomplice "on the inside."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:33 PM
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4 is right. Matt's comment about United Airlines at AS's blog reminded me that I was just thinking the other day that all this is connected. Because we live in a country in which even the most minor failure to follow along in every detail can result in the government fucking you over, this behavior is repeated in everything from local police to the most quotidian sales interactions. United fucked me over seriously last week, and any appeal I tried to make to customer service resulted in threats to cancel my travel arrangements altogether. You ride your bicycle on the sidewalk because traffic's too hairy that day? You deserve to be treated like a convicted terrorist. You fail to report that urinary tract infection from five years ago to your health insurance provider? You get dropped from care, sicko. You knew someone who the government mistakenly thought might be associated with terrorism? Guantánamo, asshole. I know there's a big difference of scale, here, but pointless martinetism at the top of the authority chain seems to result in a culture-wide insistence on 100% docility. No one exists to serve the people in a culture like that because they don't have to. They can always find something you did to deserve whatever treatment they feel like dishing out.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:35 PM
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Let's start with the anecdotes: the system's much more broken than any individual cop. In the one saga of the Minor Vehicle Infraction, the cop pulled over my friend for speeding and running the information returned "oustanding warrant." Could have been anything from murder to failure to signal a lane change.

This just means we have more people against the wall, but also makes me think rooting it out is going to be very hard.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:35 PM
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Shorter thread: boo brutality, Stras, police unions are the real problem, anecdata.

Can I add a thank you to the Supreme Court (and Souter in particular) for establishing that it's perfectly ok to book someone for committing a fine-only misdemeanor?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:39 PM
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Labs is white? "Gayatollah" is not an ethnic gay joke?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:39 PM
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The mention of leash laws got me to click thru. That, and not adequately cleaning up, may get me waterboarded yet. I don't know if they can waterboard my dogs.

Too shy to comment there, but condolences to SEK.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:40 PM
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They can always find something you did to deserve whatever treatment they feel like dishing out

Right. Insty and I are in agreement about this. We're all lawbreakers, so it's just a matter of luck and circumstance whether we get chewed up by the "justice system."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:41 PM
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Labs is extremely white.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:41 PM
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really, please, these policemen are just underpaid professionals doing their best in a system they didn't design, and using the only sanctions they have at their disposal to make it work, just like the primary school teachers.

this troll brought to you by the French colloquialism "et mon cul est du poulet"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:42 PM
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Whence the enormous cock? You mean all this time it's been enormous for a white guy?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:42 PM
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14: "To live outside the law, you must be honest conform".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:43 PM
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Eastern Europeans are said to have the girthiest cocks.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:44 PM
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The BBC Have Your Say site is usually full of the 'you must have done something wrong/no smoke without fire/hail the helmeted masters' mob. It is surprising how compliant people can be.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:44 PM
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It's like that Icelandic tourist a couple weeks ago. Overstayed a visa! Illegal! Lucky all she got was a ticket back, the criminal.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:52 PM
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19, 20: hail the helmeted masters

So it's the Ashkenazim whom we should fear?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:53 PM
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22: No, silly. The Ashkenazim don't have helmets. It's a covenant, yo.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 4:58 PM
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When I was in secondary school. a friend of mine once rolled out of a chip-shop, drunk as bedamned, and sat with his supper into the back seat of what he believed to be the taxi parked outside. He ordered the driver to take him home. Of course, it was a squad car and the guard was highly amused. I sometimes wonder what would happen to someone who tried that in the U.S.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:06 PM
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I agree with this post.

Look at how police treat people who video tape the police doing their job.

www.theagitator.com is the best site around on this topic.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:07 PM
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Gawd. Reading those two accounts really made me appreciate very much indeed that in my country the police can't keep you locked up for more than six hours without charging you with something. (Unless they can figure out a way of claiming it's terrorism-related, of course, in which case it can be months. "My dog was off-leash!" - "Your dog's a terrorist!")

But mostly, just, ugh.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:10 PM
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Yeah, Radley Balko is one of those few libertarians who seem to give a shit about rights applying to anyone other than themselves and their wealthy friends.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:11 PM
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I had a little trouble last fall with an old speeding ticket -- nothing like this stuff, just some aggravation -- but what it really brought home to me is that in the Information Age, nothing is out of date. There will be a shake out period during which stuff from the 90s causes problems, until it's all gone.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:12 PM
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re: 24

A friend of mine from Belfast tells a story of them all walking home drunk one night. One of them wandered into petrol station, and pulled down his balaclava, giggling, 'this is a stick up' and then ran out.

He says they were very very lucky not to be shot [they got a lift home in a nice grey Landrover for their troubles].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:18 PM
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the police can't keep you locked up for more than six hours without charging you with something.

Would that have made a difference in any of these cases? It sounded to me like both were "failure to appear for an outstanding warrant", albeit for a trivial offense.

Of course, the options seem to be a) spend lots of money on larger booking facilities and staff to run them, b) legalize large classes of things that are currently offenses, or c) give police more discretion to let educated articulate high-SES folk off.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:18 PM
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4 and 9 are dead on. We're basically getting used to a culture of petty tyranny. I remember in Holland seeing a couple of cops dealing with a somewhat disruptive homeless guy, and they actually treated him gently -- talked him down, calmed him down while separating him from others and waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I was really struck by it, because it made me realize that in the U.S. there's a decent chance the guy would have been slammed to the ground and brutalized at the first signs of disobedience. And the crowd probably would have cheered.

"Don't tase me bro!". Snicker, snicker. Really funny.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:21 PM
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a) spend lots of money on larger booking facilities and staff to run them, b) legalize large classes of things that are currently offenses, or c) give police more discretion to let educated articulate high-SES folk off

I think the answer in these cases is a more palatable variant of your b: don't lock people up for minor infractions. Of course, it would also be nice to have minimum standards of decent treatment for people who are locked up, but that's probably too much to ask.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:24 PM
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Of course, the options seem to be a) spend lots of money on larger booking facilities and staff to run them, b) legalize large classes of things that are currently offenses, or c) give police more discretion to let educated articulate high-SES folk off.

The fact that you see options as so limited is itself symptomatic of how we've accepted badly run public institutions. Interesting how you mix right-wing and left-wing forms of helpless resignation.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:25 PM
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25:Y'all say the leash laws are "trivial offenses", but let me tell ya, them bikers and joggers are the worst of the liberal fascists, worse than the schoolteachers.

I'm trying to remember where I saw the World Privacy Report on Surveillance with Black Amurrica & Black UK. "Worse than China? No way the US is worse than China"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:28 PM
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The fact that you see options as so limited is itself symptomatic of how we've accepted badly run public institutions. Interesting how you mix right-wing and left-wing forms of helpless resignation.

OK, you don't like my options. What's a different one? Preferably something other than "Option B, but with a pony."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:31 PM
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Oh, and is everybody aware that David Simon, Wiredude himself, showed up in MY's comments to spank the kid? I know ogged is aware.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:31 PM
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I live in such a sheltered world that I have been able to hold on to my adamant conception that people whose salary I pay are literally public servants. By my standards, cops (and bureaucrats) are truly servants to every last member of the public and should be looking to help them until they are under physical threat.

This is not compatible with what I take to be the more widespread cop mentality, that we are not their employers but instead dangerous opponents. My world is nicer, but I am due for a rude shock.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:35 PM
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36: Bob, I saw your comment over there and my comment would have been like yours: "I agree with DivGuy."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:43 PM
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OK, you don't like my options. What's a different one? Preferably something other than "Option B, but with a pony."

The "option" is to run the justice system much, much better than we do now, for the same amount of money we currently spend. Some rules changes would probably be necessary, but nothing radical. I don't know what you do for a living, but if anything that you had management responsibility for was run this badly, would you tell your boss that you couldn't do anything without more money or some massive systemic change? My guess is you'd step up to the plate and make it happen.

This has nothing to do with a "pony". Do you think it's some kind of magical feat, beyond human capacities, to guarantee that people with an overdue traffic ticket don't have to sit around in urine and vomit for days on end, with no decent food or water? In the richest country in history? Basically, if we wanted to change it, we could.

I suspect that the real sense of helplessness you're pointing to is the feeling that we as individual voters, or as random blog commenters, have no power over this and no real ability to affect it. There I agree with you, but it's not because these things are impossible to change. It's because our political systems are dysfunctional in ways that make it very difficult to accomplish even relatively simple things.

them bikers and joggers are the worst of the liberal fascists,

Did anyone see the fairly positive NY Times book review of "Liberal Facism" last weekend?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:47 PM
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39 was me, sorry.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:48 PM
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39.2: I did see that, PGD. I knew their review would be positive, although I think I predicted a rave in the Sunday Books section followed by a more critical one by like John Leonard in the weekday books section.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:51 PM
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Grew up in a NY suburb, my parents once got a notice for an overdue parking ticket for NYC. They had documentary evidence that their car was not in NYC the day the ticket was issued- turns out it was a partial plate match, they had written down an F instead of an E, maybe because snow was covering the bottom of the plate. So there's no way they could have paid or appealed the initial ticket since it was not affixed to their car. It needs to be pointed out that if you treat everyone like in the linked stories, there are many cases where there is nothing you can do to avoid being thrown in jail for 44 hours, aside from never having bad luck.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 5:55 PM
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Basically, if we wanted to change it, we could.

This is, of course, key.

The penultimate paragraph quoted in the linked post points to Giuliani's New York and racial profiling. This is what we don't particularly want to change.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:02 PM
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The only reason there's so much anecdata in these discussions is because most of the people here can't walk out the door on a summer night and expect to see some abuse of police power within the hour if they stand on a busy corner in their neighborhood. The real, statistically valid data is out there, in profusion, and if we were motivated, we could reel it off at the drop of a hat. Fortunately for virtually all of us, we're only put in the kind of situation that would make that imperative a couple of times in our lives, at most.

When I listen to the people I work with, who are mostly white, middle-class suburbanites, it's like they live in a different world entirely. They really do sincerely think that anyone in jail must've done something terrible in order to get there. And, simultaneously, if one of their friends gets pulled in on a DUI, or for failure to pay child support or whatever, then it's a great injustice, and the police must've made a huge mistake. I don't understand how they can be so unconscious of the world around them, but they are.

The "Stop Snitching" movement is 100% right on. A few unprosecuted crimes are in no way too high a price to pay in order to stymie the police.

The stool pigeon is the comin' race.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:04 PM
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Years ago, I was walking my dog through my mostly white yuppie neighborhood of Chicago (Andersonville). I see a set of keys hanging from the lock of the driver's side door of a nearby car. Hmm, I think. I leave them there -- in case the owner rushes out -- and memorize the license plate number so that I can tell it to the cop that I will surely see on my walk, for our very safe neighborhood hosted a constant stream of patrol cars. And indeed, within a block, I see a cop, hail him, explain the situation, give him the plate, he runs it, and gives me the address so that I can go knock on the door and give this person their keys.
How scary is it that I did all of this mincing happily in my white middle class cocoon without thinking for one second (or rather, until I was marching up the key person's house) that my relationship with the cops in Chicago was NOT EVEN A LITTLE like the relationship the cops had with the majority of the city's residents. (I mean, I once drunkenly attempted to take a swing at a cop [long story] and friends grabbed me and the cop never did anything more than raise his eyebrow at me like I was an annoying little gnat.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:11 PM
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OT: Remember how we were talking about government funding of foreign-language learning, like Arabic and Chinese? I just ran across a description of the National Security Language Initiative, announced by our president on Jan. 5, 2006.

According to this fact sheet , the program is an umbrella for a variety of activities being undertaken by the departments of Education, State, and Defense, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

As best I can tell after a quick glance, the program is funded to the tune of $115 million. I believe in technical budgetary terms this is known as "a sneeze."

(N.b. I cannot tell how much of this was new money versus existing line items shuffled around. And don't hold me to the $115M figure either, I'm at work and am looking for another document entirely.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:13 PM
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It's not just the cops, though (as plenty of people have pointed out). *Everyone* has this attitude: it's all American. You don't like your situation? Quit bitching! You brought it on yourself! You should have made better decisions! Etc. etc. It's the dark side of the belief that everything that happens to me is entirely *up* to me.

If we didn't think that way, then abuse of police authority would, like, actually piss people off.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:13 PM
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The "Stop Snitching" movement is 100% right on.

This doesn't quite follow from the rest of what you're saying, which I pretty much agree with. I fear and distrust the police as much as the next urban person of color, but I also fear the street crime. People want to rid their neighborhoods of violence and drugs. The Stop Snitchin movement frightens and shames people into underreporting crime that ought to be reported. To say that it's 100% right on seems a little nuts to me. 25% right on, maybe.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:18 PM
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I recently got hit on in a bar by a cop. He wouldn't have gotten anywhere anyway, but among the efforts to impress was a story about how he schooled some rookie on how to properly write a report -- cough, cough, make shit up cough. I mean, not that it was a big shock that there are cops who falsify their reports -- but that they actually brag about it to civilians.

(And for the sake of fair and balanced, I much more recently hung out with a very nice cop who is lucky enough to be married to my friend and knew enough to realize that the war stories about how scrupulously he taught his rookie to adhere to Miranda were far more impressive.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:18 PM
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It isn't just the police - I've been checking out the proposed mental health legislation for the upcoming GA and it appears our lawmakers believe anyone with mental health issues should be committed.

I especially liked the electronic examination after 48 hours of confinement provision - how in the hell do you accurately determine competency/danger from a phone call or video monitor?!?


Posted by: tantalus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:19 PM
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I think the answer in these cases is a more palatable variant of your b: don't lock people up for minor infractions. Of course, it would also be nice to have minimum standards of decent treatment for people who are locked up, but that's probably too much to ask.

I disagree, because of what Minneapolitan said: your average comfortable middle-class person believes that "criminals" are a separate class who deserve whatever they get. Not locking up middle-class dog owners makes it a lot easier to believe this; what needs to change is shit like "no tolerance" laws and the idea that once you've done something, anything, wrong, you deserve to be punished.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:19 PM
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51 was me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:21 PM
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It's the dark side of the belief that everything that happens to me is entirely *up* to me.

Don't buy it. India is noteworthy for nearly the exact opposite of the "everything that happens to me is entirely *up* to me", and is not known for its scrupulously honest police forces.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:27 PM
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When I listen to the people I work with, who are mostly white, middle-class suburbanites, it's like they live in a different world entirely. They really do sincerely think that anyone in jail must've done something terrible in order to get there. And, simultaneously, if one of their friends gets pulled in on a DUI, or for failure to pay child support or whatever, then it's a great injustice, and the police must've made a huge mistake. I don't understand how they can be so unconscious of the world around them, but they are.

I've never known anyone who was in jail for more than a night. In order to think the police are tyrannical surburbanites have to ignore the evidence around them, not the reverse.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:28 PM
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48: What jms said.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:29 PM
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Honest to God I can't believe I read an seemingly intelligent American write the sentence I'm not saying America is a police state. I'm fifty-three years old and this shit has been going on non-stop at least since I was a teenager. The U.S. is a police state, and a majority of the fat stupid people who vote like it that way, because they hate you.

That majority, by the way, is exceedingly fond of the word "freedom."


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:29 PM
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48: I agree, but I was amused to hear someone (can't remember who!) say to the police in NYC at some community policing meeting that the "Blue Wall of Silence" was the original "Stop Snitchin'" movement.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:31 PM
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I did see that, PGD. I knew their review would be positive

I was still a little shocked, even after all this time. How could such an obnoxious piece of propaganda get a review that was breezily amused, perhaps a little patronizing? Wow.

This is, of course, key.

yeah, we want it that way. It's gone beyond racism though. It's a subtle sort of sadism that's woven its way into public attitudes. Our bread and circuses -- identify the evildoers, stigmatize, punish, the crowd laughs.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:32 PM
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In order to think the police are tyrannical, surburbanites have to stop ignoring the evidence outside their own social circles around them, not the reverse.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:33 PM
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The night I spent in jail - about 20 years ago - was a real eye-opener for me. I was a young guy, but I had significant social capital and knew how to operate the legal and media levers - and the cop who busted me had good reason to know that. After I was released from jail, CNN picked up the local coverage of my story, and I was able to bring a semi-successful complaint against the cop with internal affairs. They dropped charges in exchange for my agreement not to sue. But I learned that anybody can be kidnapped off the street by police without recourse. I hadn't known that before.


Posted by: Rutherford B. Hayes | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:34 PM
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53: I wasn't saying that people imbued with that kind of authority wouldn't abuse it if we weren't such an arrogant culture. I'm saying we'd be less inclined to assume that their victims deserve it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:35 PM
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59, I don't see how that differs from what I said.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:37 PM
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"Basically, if we wanted to change it, we could."

You could also, you know, pay your parking tickets, clean up after your dog, keep him on the leash, etc. I certainly won't believe you could change the system until you could do things like that. Really, those are not such hard things to do. Jails should be better and people should be treated better, but my god, pay your fucking ticket or go to court or whatever. (When you get hit by an ass-hole riding his bike on the sidewalk or bit by someone's 'nice' dog you might think it's not so cool, too.)

Finally, the people supporting the "stop snitching" idea are, frankly, morons. By far the biggest victims of crime are poor people, mostly victimized by a small sub-group of viscious bastards. They'd be much better off to snitch them out every chance they could.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:37 PM
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By far the biggest victims of crime are poor people, mostly victimized by a small sub-group of viscious bastards. They'd be much better off to snitch them out every chance they could.

Yeah, but they wouldn't benefit in the short run, because the criminals would retaliate. Unless, of course, the cops could be trusted to protect the snitchers.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:38 PM
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62: I was emphasizing that the important words in your sentence are "around them." There is an urban university near me where I once witnessed two 10- or 11-year-old black girls being hassled by a white cop for (AFAICT) being on campus. The idea of course is that they were only there to steal bicycles.

I bet a lot of people on that campus would be able to say a sentence just like your 54, and honestly mean it. And in its own way, it's true. But they're literally witnessing it happening all around them, and yet they're not noticing it.

(I'm leaving the office now, so if I don't answer your next comment, it's not intentional rudeness.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:40 PM
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63, 64: Not to mention that most people in truly poor neighborhoods *do* know someone who's in jail.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:41 PM
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Suppose your teenage daughter came up to you and told you she's going out on a date with a cop. How would you feel about that?


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:45 PM
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Like any good liberal, I would refrain from judgment until I had met the cop personally.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:47 PM
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And indeed, within a block, I see a cop, hail him, explain the situation, give him the plate, he runs it, and gives me the address so that I can go knock on the door and give this person their keys.

Madness! You picked up a stranger's keys so the police gave you the person's home address? It's like the Andersonville police are watching the mad ax murderers and egging them on.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:47 PM
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69: I know, right? It is total madness and I didn't think a thing of it until I was at this person's door.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:49 PM
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But that kind of police discretion is actually ok with me. Oudemia isn't a crazy killer and the cop could see that. Fine by me.

By the way, Unf pointed me to this blog but a right-wing Chicago cop.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:52 PM
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It's a subtle sort of sadism that's woven its way into public attitudes. Our bread and circuses -- identify the evildoers, stigmatize, punish, the crowd laughs.

While this sounds a nifty explanation, it seems too glib.

A couple of things: cases of incarceration for ridiculously minor outstanding warrants are a function of overreliance on following the rule-book. This is a function of -- call it an obsession with accountability, a sort of scientism. Punch in the social security number, see "outstanding warrant," proceed accordingly. No human judgment need intervene. We have promoted this sort of mechanized societal response to what's increasingly become a chaotic situation. We're out of our element (and are frightened).

And I'd venture that it's financially and statistically driven: police forces have to show results, to demonstrate through the numbers that criminals are being taken off the streets. It really wouldn't be surprising that such a mandate reinforces easy profiling. Insofar as that profiling succeeds in putting away lower-earning members of society, we look, well, more affluent.

I feel I'm writing the utterly obvious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:55 PM
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73

Oudemia might be a crazy killer. Are you or aren't you, Oudemia? Out with it.

Also, that's one lazy cop. Like, he can't take the damned keys to the door himself? Not like those energetic New York cops, who recently appropriated all the lost and found functions of the entire metro area, and will, from here on out, be devoting approximately 60% of their resources to the noble if daunting task of reuniting all of the city's lost wallets and orphaned gloves with their bereft owners.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 6:58 PM
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It really wouldn't be surprising that such a mandate reinforces easy profiling. Insofar as that profiling succeeds in putting away lower-earning members of society, we look, well, more affluent.

It may just be my own biases showing, but I'm more inclined to think of the overreliance on following the rulebook as the easiest possible way to counter accusations of profiling. "We're not biased; everyone gets treated the same" etc.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:01 PM
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73: Well, there are actual answers to this. (Besides the me as crazy killer thing -- that you will never know!) The cop was on his way to a call and didn't have any time (he told me this when I asked him to run the plate) and he did ask me if I lived in the neighborhood (basically code for "are you a tax-paying citizen" in Wire-speak) and then answered his own question by noting that I was walking my dog, so of course I lived in the neighborhood.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:02 PM
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You people assume that Oudemia isnt a crazy killer because she is white???

Bitch (Or somebody else is correct) the urban poor often know somebody who has been treated poorly by the police.

Criminal defense lawyers love poor urban juries because they are more likely to believe that the defendant might not actually be guilty simply because they are the defendant.

This is an interesting thread for an overwhelmingly white middle class blog.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:05 PM
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74: It justifies accusations of bias, which is increasingly important these days, but there's no doubt that one still needs a reason (profiling) to check the rulebook in the first place.

And by the way, my I feel I'm writing the utterly obvious wasn't meant to be snotty. I just found myself writing increasingly haltingly, wondered why, realized it was because it seemed obvious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:06 PM
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Another things:

If a cop pulls you over for no reason or a cop searches your car without probable cause, how many of you take the time to complain?
5 percent? Maybe.

(BR has become my own little w-lfs-n - attempting to correct my spelling before I post.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:07 PM
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63: Finally, the people supporting the "stop snitching" idea are, frankly, morons.

But you see, Matt, this is exactly what we're talking about: "Anybody who gets hassled by the cops deserves it, because they're criminals!" Of course, it's never the case that the real "vicious bastards" of our society -- the CEOs and major stockholders of the corporations that poison and maim and exploit -- are "brought to justice". No, it wouldn't make sense to go into their boardrooms and country clubs and gated communities to arrest them, even though it's as easy as pie to get a no-knock warrant for a suspect in a minor drug-dealing or assault case and blow down the door of the wrong house and shoot up the kids' bedrooms.

Matt, once you start applying the same discipline to the rich and powerful that you visit on the poor and disenfranchised, I'll be willing to take your argument about minor infractions making people into "criminals" seriously. Until then, I'm going to have to assume that you're a vicious, no-nothing bastard.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:07 PM
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"know-nothing" obviously. But feel free to substitute "mugwump", "flat-earther", "John Bircher" or similar as you see fit.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:08 PM
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So you'd have no problem with your teenage daughter going out with a guy who could rape her with absolute impunity? Actually my objection is not that specific cop, who likelier than not is a real swell fella, but the institutional impunity. The blame for that belongs to the legislators who find it easy and profitable to give police added powers and remove their responsibilities and liabilities, but who find it politically suicidal to ever revoke any of those powers and immunities. To blame for those legislators are the hordes of suburban imbeciles who always robotically vote for the toughest available law-n-order candidate.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:10 PM
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63:

Matt, your attitude is charmingly naive, though unfortunately shared by way too many people. Did you actually read this thread before you waxed indignantly? You're displaying exactly the attitude others here have pointed out is what leads to these cases of police abuse and furthermore you fail to realise, though it's pointed out to you that everybody is guilty of something and a cop that doesn't like you can always find something to book you on. If only resisting arrest.

For example: here in the Netherlands you are supposed to wear ID at all times [1] but the police can only cite you for it if you cannot show it while commiting another crime or misdemeanor like e.g. running a red light. So after one year of this law, a study was released and surprise surprise, it turned out quite a few people got tickets solely for not showing IDs, despite this being specifically forbidden. More nastily, an environmentalist activist who refused to ID herself when arrested at a demo was threatened to be kicked out of the country as an "illegal immigrant".

[1] I don't.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:11 PM
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Police officers are essentially like every other type of professional. There are some excellent ones. There are some horrible ones. There are a bunch of people in the middle, just getting by.

However, the true test of your justice system is how you treat the least powerful. It is easy to give the nun a fair trial.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:13 PM
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Waxing indignantly could be dangerous. I recommend waxing carefully.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:14 PM
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Where is Marvey??!?!?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:15 PM
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I recommend waxing police officers indignantly, then water-boarding them, then tying them up in uncomfortable positions for a day or two, then threatening them with dogs, then beating them so badly that you need a doctor to get them into shape to be beaten again, then deleting all the evidence that these things occurred.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:17 PM
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THERE IS NO MARVEY ONLY ZUUL


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:23 PM
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97 murders in San Francisco this year. We have one of the lowest conviction rates of any major city, in no small part because witnesses get intimidated out of testifying by this "stop snitching" bullshit.

Never mind how much it hurts me (white professional who lives in a nice neighborhood) to have my car broken into and my stereo and tools stolen - i.e. a minor inconvenience - vs. how much it hurts a friend-of-a-friend (poor woman living in not-so-great part of oakland) who had her car broken into and massage table stolen - i.e. can't work, can't afford to replace right now, can't pay rent, facing eviction.

People who support "Stop Snitching" are either tragically shortsighted or horribly enwhiteled.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:24 PM
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So I should get rid of my hat that says "Nobody Talks, Everybody Walks"?

So Zuul is her name now?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:28 PM
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88: People who support "Stop Snitching" are either tragically shortsighted or horribly enwhiteled.
This would be true if and only if snitching actually worked. But it doesn't. The racist criminal justice system convicts people of color whether or not there's significant evidence against them. Why? For this simple reason: COPS ALWAYS LIE. Anyone who doesn't believe that is either monumentally ignorant or hypocritically enwhiteled.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:29 PM
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you'd have no problem with your teenage daughter going out with a guy who could rape her with absolute impunity?

Certainly no more of a problem then I have with assuming that anyone my teenage daughter dates is a potential rapist.

That said, the facts are that any guy dating a woman can pretty much rape her with impunity.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:29 PM
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People who support "Stop Snitching" are either tragically shortsighted or horribly enwhiteled.

Well, I'm no fan of Stop Snitchin', but enwhitelment isn't the right critique. As a white professional myself, I am surprised when I come across law-abiding working-class urban folks who distrust police more than they distrust criminals - but it happens much too often to ignore, or to write off as enwhitelment.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:30 PM
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I disagree with 90. The overwhelming number of Cops do not lie.

However, I would agree that a signicant number are not afraid of embellishing or outright lying.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:31 PM
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the 100% pro-stop snitching position is ludicrous, though 25% right-on I could buy. And the current combination of draconian punishment of ordinary schmoes for minor screw ups & immunizing the powerful for high crimes is deeply fucked.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:31 PM
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The other issue is that snitches are remarkably unreliable. (When the snitches have something to gain from snitching. ie reduced sentence or being charged with fewer charges.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:33 PM
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COPS ALWAYS LIE. Anyone who doesn't believe that is either monumentally ignorant or hypocritically enwhiteled.

Lots of cops lie -- early and often in the traditional Chicago style. But there are, in fact, honest cops out there.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:36 PM
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The racist criminal justice system convicts people of color whether or not there's significant evidence against them.

Maybe in Minneapolis. As I said, the murder arrest - never mind conviction - rate in San Francisco is less than 50%.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:37 PM
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93: Come on. If it was you in the dock, and the cops were "embellishing", I don't think you would see it as anything other than rank falsehood. Any cop who performs their duties competently and professionally, without recourse to perjury, suborning perjury or falsifying official records should quit the force and start regrowing lost limbs for people, because they would be a living saint.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:38 PM
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Yeah. I'm not so much with the 'stop snitching' as with the 'stop bribing and threatening people to snitch'. A plea deal to make one conspirator turn against coconspirators (when you have at least enough evidence to convince the police that they are conspirators) I can see, but when you're offering people deals to testify against strangers, you're not going to get anything but selfserving lies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:39 PM
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97: As I said, the murder arrest - never mind conviction - rate in San Francisco is less than 50%.

Nothing follows from that except that, in addition to being deceitful, cops are lazy and unimaginative.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:39 PM
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But "stop snitching" isn't about jailhouse informants or whatnot. It's about witnesses to neighborhood crimes refusing to help the police.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:40 PM
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101: Which is why I do disapprove of it. There's something wrong with 'snitching', but the wrongness isn't witnesses truthfully testifying, but cops obtaining unreliable testimony through bribery or extortion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:42 PM
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Well, I'm no fan of Stop Snitchin', but enwhitelment isn't the right critique. As a white professional myself, I am surprised when I come across law-abiding working-class urban folks who distrust police more than they distrust criminals - but it happens much too often to ignore, or to write off as enwhitelment.

Hence the "misguided or enwhiteled". I think someone who distrusts police more than they distrust criminals and turns to "stop snitching" in response is misguided. I think that someone secure in the knowledge that they are unlikely to fall victim to violent street crime and espouses "stop snitching" because all cops are assholes is enwhiteled.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:50 PM
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102: No, I agree. I think I was responding more to Will in 95.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:51 PM
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101:

It is about both. Co-defendants always have incentive to turn on each other and to minimize their role and maximize the other people's role.

minneapolitan:

I've seen a lot of officers who could have embellished and didnt.

For the most part, you figure out fairly quickly which officers will embellish and which officers tell the truth no matter what.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:53 PM
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63: But no one was hurt by the lawbreakers, unfamousMatt. They weren't even convicted as if I read the article correctly the judge tossed out all the charges. (And in one of the cases, the "outstanding warrant" was "a court error." Bad criminal! Getting a court error! Shoulda been grateful) So we're back to shitty treatment for essentially nothing. Justifying it by sniffing "well, you shouldn't have broken the law, easy fix"? I like it when bicyclists drive on the street instead of on me, too, but 44 hours in a cell to have an infraction dismissed is pretty fucking dumb.

76: One of the more depressing instances of civic life was listening to all the people in my jury pool insist how much they thought all black people were guilty so they wouldn't have to serve (or maybe they were just unusually honest racists.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:54 PM
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For those doing criminal defense, there are certain lawyers who always race their clients to cut deals and certain lawyer who try to keep the defendants from ratting each other out.

Typically, unless one defendant is a Michael Vick who will be paying the bills for your family while you are locked up, the co-defendants end up ratting ecah other out.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 7:55 PM
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Certainly no more of a problem then I have with assuming that anyone my teenage daughter dates is a potential rapist.

Wait, how long have you had a teenage daughter? Is she hot?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:02 PM
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So, any Iowans here?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:06 PM
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Even if there's a warrant out for your arrest, you still have to be charged with whatever crime you've allegedly committed, don't you?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:09 PM
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So, any Iowans here?

What? They're not playing in any BCS bowl game. Oh wait, you mean *that*.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:10 PM
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no one was hurt by the lawbreakers

Hey, bikes on sidewalks are both irritating and dangerous. And leash laws really ought to be obeyed.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:12 PM
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Are you sure you don't want to change your pseud to LF?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:14 PM
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Compromise!


Posted by: F, L | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:15 PM
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Hi Jesurgislac!

I dont know what you mean.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:16 PM
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"bikes on sidewalks are both irritating and dangerous"

Sometimes. Sometimes not. Surely less irritating than being locked up for 44 hours.

Other things that can be irritating & dangerous: speeding. And yet, I don't really want people sent to jail for it.

I don't actually want our current immigration laws enforced, either. Ideally, we'd have sane laws that were enforced instead of crazy laws that aren't. But forced to choose between crazy laws being perfectly & imperfectly enforced, I'll take "imperfectly."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:16 PM
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I think someone who distrusts police more than they distrust criminals and turns to "stop snitching" in response is misguided.

And yet, law-abiding people with more experience than you or I in these matters are hostile to police. Absent some pretty compelling rationale, I'm inclined to defer to their expertise.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:28 PM
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some pretty compelling rationale

It's really fucking bad for half of all murders to not even result in arrests?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:32 PM
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the "stop snitching" campaign is commonly understood as/accompanied by a threat of violence for giving evidence?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:36 PM
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I think someone who distrusts police more than they distrust criminals and turns to "stop snitching" in response is misguided.

This depends on the person. Can the person trust the police to maintain order in his/her community? The answer is often no, if the police don't make his/her community a priority, or don't know enough about his/her community to intervene without screwing up a lot of the community's norms.

Therefore the person has no apparent reason to trust the police. And therefore there's someone else that he trusts more, and often that's a person or organization that breaks the laws now and then, because the laws seem arbitrarily applied or because the police can't be trusted to enforce order.

You can tell I read the Sudheer Alladi Venkatesh book here. I recommend it.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:37 PM
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112: You're trying to make me hurt you.

117,118: Isn't this one of those funny collective action/tragedy of the guns and butter type problems? It's arguably better if everyone trusts the police enough to help them make arrests but damned if I'm going to be the one to stick my neck out.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:44 PM
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the "stop snitching" campaign is commonly understood as/accompanied by a threat of violence for giving evidence?

Since it makes cooperating with police investigations of crimes a violation of communal ethics and thus makes violence or threats of violence against those who do cooperate less objectionable, absolutely.

"I don't think Joe should have shot Bob, but Bob should have known better than to tell the cops Joe stole his stereo."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:45 PM
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119, yes, for Christ's sake. Its defenders here seem to be imagining it as a friendly, ground-up movement led by community organizers. Really, it's people who killed people killing more people so they can get away with killing people.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:48 PM
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"Matt, your attitude is charmingly naive, though unfortunately shared by way too many people. Did you actually read this thread before you waxed indignantly? You're displaying exactly the attitude others here have pointed out is what leads to these cases of police abuse and furthermore you fail to realise, though it's pointed out to you that everybody is guilty of something and a cop that doesn't like you can always find something to book you on. If only resisting arrest."

Having spend a god-awful lot of time around police officers (my father is one) and having a law degree, and having spend quite a lot of time around criminals, I'll counter that you are, in fact, the one who is naive and doesn't know what the fuck you're talking about here.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:50 PM
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123: But criminals have been trying to intimidate witnesses throughout history. We're trying to understand why it's becoming more convincing to people now.

124: You appear to be an asshole.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 8:55 PM
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I'm sure some of its appeal IS police/criminal justice system suckiness, & just generalized solidarity w/ the people you know over outsiders. I also fully understand that it might make perfect sense for an individual not to risk reporting even a serious violent crime, and I wouldn't think much of someone who called the cops on their friends or family for, say, drug possession.

I've argued in the context of the whole torture/rendition/etc. debate: Jack Bauer fantasy scenarios are a fucking hell of a lot less common than witness tips, & I'd be a whole lot less likely to call the cops about suspicious activities by someone in my neighborhood if I thought he was going to be disappeared & waterboarded than investigated & given a fair trial if the evidence warranted it.

But none of this makes 44 defensible.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 9:06 PM
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125: That's a good question, although I don't think it's been the one guiding the snitching discussion in this thread.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 9:07 PM
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I'm still mad about the time Matt (not the famous one) said that Labs saying he was getting a blow job from a student wasn't funny.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 9:08 PM
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Also, dude, Matt, there are plenty of non-famous Matts around these parts. Pick a better name. Sifu Tweety really wants to call someone "Marvey," for instance.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 9:56 PM
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'Sup, Marv!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 10:07 PM
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Maybe it can be "Marv E. Lust" to, you know, man it up a bit.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 10:12 PM
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Having spend a god-awful lot of time around police officers (my father is one) and having a law degree, and having spend quite a lot of time around criminals, I'll counter that you are, in fact, the one who is naive and doesn't know what the fuck you're talking about here.

This actually doesn't support your case nearly as well as you think it does. Both you and minneapolitan are being hyperbolic, but you're probably a shade further from the truth.

But we've been through this before. The problems with policing as currently in the US of A aren't because there aren't honest, `good' cops (there are, but perhaps not enough) or that there is a majority of lying `bad' cops (it's clearly a minority). The main problems are a) militarization of the police is a stupid idea, and it's being strongly pushed counter to the general interest. b) growing demand for bodies without enough incentive has lead to lowered standards and mis- (see a) or inadequate training and mentoring. This results in insufficient competence for the job in a large percentage of working police and c) a (some places very, very) broken professional culture, which is in part cause by (a) and reinforces (b) --- particularly by instilling and worse, reinforcing, an us-vs-them mentality, which is counterproductive.

I don't believe for a moment that most of the police force is `bad' in any reasonable sense of the word. I do believe that only the best of them consistently rise above the flaws in the system they are working within, and exercise the good judgement to avoid it's worst biases and failings. The average cop is just a guy trying to do his job with insufficient resources, the wrong training, and an often toxic work environment. By merely keeping his or her head above water in this nasty environment, they contribute only to the momentum that is already there. It's an exceedingly rare force these days where the momentum doesn't have an ugly side. And then there are the scum. I'm sure they are a small percentage, but every police force I've had anything to do with had a disturbing number of actual, bona-fide scum. The problem is they are rarely rooted out unless they do something so egregious it can't be covered for. Until then, they are more likely to be protected out of a misguided sense of brotherhood.

And hence we get enforcement side of the mess we're in: sloppy no-knocks killing innocent people with little or no recourse, near ubiquitous racial profiling, widespread abuse and police violence unchecked ... but only in the `wrong' neighborhoods. A very different system of enforcement (and justice) depending on where you live, who you know, what color your skin is. And this only covers the practice if the better cops, not the dregs.

We shouldn't forget though, there is a pile of judiciary and legislative malfeasance that contributes to problems as well.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 2-08 11:11 PM
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Sure, bash the police now, but you'll be singing a different tune when you run screaming from the house after a Miss Arizona contestant kidnaps you at gunpoint and bites you.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 5:30 AM
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Out in the country, or back in the slums,
They knock for the addicts, deadbeats and bums,
Whatever the motive, whatever the crime,
Each one of us will hear it in time:
That old knock on the door, knock on the door,
Here they come to take one more, one more.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 5:33 AM
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They've locked up the kids, they've locked up the sick,
They've lied and deceived and they've used every trick.
And now every night, when the iron bars slam,
Two point one million know that "law" is a sham,
It's that knock on the door, knock on the door,
Here they come to take one more, one more.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:11 AM
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It's entirely possible to agree with 132, and still believe that a majority of people in jail committed the crimes for which they are doing time. Even if not exactly in the way the jury believed they did.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:21 AM
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136: Perhaps, but that doesn't comfort as much as you might think. If the police and prosecution are comfortable bending the rules because they "know" the suspect is guilty, then the rules cease to have meaning.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:36 AM
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(But obviously you of all people already know that.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:36 AM
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Ugh. Our car was broken into. Glass everywhere. Not too much stolen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:53 AM
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137 -- I'm not looking for comfort.

The idea, though, that a reasonable response to this is for witnesses to refuse to tell what they know seems pretty counterproductive. You have a crime victim who is giving an account. Witnesses who might add or subtract from that account are silent. The police act on the information they have, including their gut. The jury hears from the cop and the victim -- if it gets that far: more likely, the arrestee pleads to something.

A community can go on strike until it gets better police. While this would seem to lead to more crime in the short run, it would lead to less, I suppose, if the strike succeeds, and better police are provided. The mechanism for getting from point A to point B isn't really all that clear to me though.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:53 AM
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For me, it boils down to these ideas:

1. the police work for us.

2. I do not want the police busting into houses except in extremely rare circumstances. They should not be breaking down doors at midnight without serious, serious crime and serious, serious information to back it up.

3. We have spent entirely too much money on the War on Drugs. Too many police departments are too focused on those issues.

4. The police should not be tasoring people who give them a hard time about speeding tickets. Officers who do those things should be fired.

5. Police officer actions that are called into question should not be reviewed by people who are concerned that if the police officer is found to have done something wrong, their locality will have to pay money. Too much protecting of self-interest.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:45 AM
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via http://www.theagitator.com

Courtesy of the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy:

Each class at the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy is allowed to choose a slogan that is printed on its graduation programs, and the class of 43 graduates came up with "Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it."

They should bring this class back and start over. Perhaps they should fire the instructors and/or the people who recruited the cadets.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:49 AM
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141: May we add to your list the videotaping of police interrogations?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:49 AM
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Oudemia:

Absolutely! I had that one in my brain, but took a call.

Also, all police cars should have the stops video taped.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:51 AM
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140: Even if you leave aside witness intimidation, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where the witnesses believe that telling what they know won't serve justice. Katherine's point up above about Guantanamo is a good one: if a person believes that the consequences likely to come to the person are worse than they deserve, they'll probably keep their mouth shut. And if the person believes, rightly or wrongly, that the cops & prosecution don't care about getting the facts right, just getting someone, they might not speak up. Would you call the cops on a schoolyard fight if you believed that something like the Jena 6 would result?

Illegal immigration doesn't help matters either. People won't come forward if they think that helping the police means they'll be rounded up and deported for speaking up.

Add to that the usual reluctance of people to want to get people they know in trouble, and while it's counterproductive in the long run, it sure looks reasonable from the perspective of an individual deciding whether to come forward.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:52 AM
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Cala's point is a good one. Has anyone hear looked at the federal sentencing guidelines? Sweet Begebus! How many people here know someone who has done cocaine? The person who gave them cocaine? They are what is called a dealer. Bye, bye for a long time.

The same goes for many state crimes. There are lots of mandatory minimums that are shocking to my conscience. If you have a good prosecutor, they reduce the charge. If you do not, your client is hosed.

In Virginia, driving on a suspended license gets you jail time. If you have a good public transportation system, it isnt such a big deal. If not, then it becomes debtors prison for the poor.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:59 AM
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146: Exactly. Cocaine's the rich kids' drug; how many Ivy League kids you think would help the cops find the dealer? He's an okay kid, and a good student, he doesn't deserve to have his life ruined over some fun.... Same thing, just a different scale (& probably more chance of life actually being ruined.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:04 AM
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They should bring this class back and start over. Perhaps they should fire the instructors and/or the people who recruited the cadets.

I think that was idiocy on the part of some of the cadets. According to the AP account, the cadets chose it, and the attendees of the graduation like that sheriff and the director of the program were not happy when they found out. Also sounds like it ticked off some of the other cadets or instructors or something as a pic of it was anonymously sent to a bunch of news outlets.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22394933/


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:27 AM
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Two point one million know that "law" is a sham,

Seriously, every person in jail was railroaded in? Gah.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:29 AM
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148:


A very large part of their instruction should been teaching them why that slogan was unacceptable and grounds for termination.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:30 AM
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Having spend a god-awful lot of time around police officers (my father is one) and having a law degree, and having spend quite a lot of time around criminals, I'll counter that you are, in fact, the one who is naive and doesn't know what the fuck you're talking about here.

Then go ask daddy how many people he stitched up because he was sure they were guilty even if the evidence didn't support it.

You have a law degree yet you still think it's right to lock people up for 44 hours for allegedly cycling on the sidewalk? Shows how much that's worth then. Are you one of those public defenders who falls asleep defending their client's case?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:53 AM
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124: Having spend a god-awful lot of time around police officers (my father is one) and having a law degree, and having spend quite a lot of time around criminals, I'll counter that you are, in fact, the one who is naive and doesn't know what the fuck you're talking about here.

Well, thanks for explaining upfront where you come from, but can you elaborate on your insults? I mean, exactly what part of 82 (the comment you quoted) was so naive? It seems to me that 82 said that
(a) regardless of whether these things should be punished, the specific punishments received for these (alleged!) crimes like in the linked post were appropriate,
(b) the attitude that they are appropriate exists and is unhealthy, and
(c) it's very nearly impossible to go through life without committing some crime. (My car is now three days past inspection, to choose a benign example.)
Based on your lifetime experience of obeying police officers, which of those do you disagree with?

125a, 127: Ahhh, that's interesting. We assume that attempts to stop witnesses from talking are more convincing today than in the past. But based on what? The existence of the "stop snitching" campaigns/counter-campaigns might seem like proof by itself, but then again it could be just a catchphrase for something that's been around for a while.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:53 AM
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152: argh.
(a) regardless of whether these things should be punished, the specific punishments received for these (alleged!) crimes like in the linked post were INappropriate,


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:56 AM
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140 -- I'm not looking for comfort.

Then I guess I'm missing the point of your observation/speculation that: "a majority of people in jail committed the crimes for which they are doing time."

I wholly agree that the "stop snitching" thing doesn't sound like a reasonable or effective response to the various abuses/corruption.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:00 AM
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146, 147 --

Cocaine's the rich kids' drug

Right. And crack is the poor kid's drug. And guess which of the two is subject to the more draconian sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:05 AM
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I'd like to ask something related to all the followers of this thread. I currently have an itch to switch careers, and one idea is police work (it would be years down the road. What's your take on the career for the person who wants to be a good cop, and also be satisfied with the job? I'm aware there's a horde of reasons not to - danger, stress, overtime, the fact that you're frequently dealing with people who will hate you and lie to you, etc... Basically, can these drawbacks be lessened enough to make it worthwhile, and by what sort of methods - i.e., choosing one's locality, career track, etc.? What kind of personality makes it better? Should I look into it more, or forget it?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:23 AM
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danger, stress, overtime, the fact that you're frequently dealing with people who will hate you and lie to you, etc.

Except for the danger, this description seems to apply equally well to law firms...

I will say that I know a few people in law enforcement at both local and federal levels who (a) really enjoy their work, and (b) I feel confident in believing have managed not to get sucked into the culture of fudging and dissembling. I don't know any of them quite well enough to know how they pulled it off, though.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:35 AM
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What's your take on the career for the person who wants to be a good cop, and also be satisfied with the job?

Some people really enjoy it. A guy in my church back home was a retired police chief, and he loved police work. My brother is a cop now in an Atlanta suburb, and he enjoys it as well. Definitely possible to want to do it right, and enjoy the job.

I've also thought about it lately. I've heard Salt Lake is a decent dept. to work in, and it would be a hell of a lot better retirement than the company I work for now. Finishing my chem/biochem degree isn't looking so hot what with the drug companies laying off thousands of those people lately.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:41 AM
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Minivet, I suspect that carefully choosing the police force to join would make all the difference. A friend of the family is a bike cop in Berkeley: he seems to believe that he makes a real difference in people's lives.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:18 AM
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Oh yeah, bust some Mormon heads, gswift! You need to become a cop just so you can tell us about it. The one cop I know has dozens of hilarious stories, not all of which include being shot at.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:24 AM
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I think being a cop is a great idea, especially in a progressive department in a medium-sized city that isn't too overwhelmed by problems or corruption. If you're intelligent you'll most likely be able to move from the street up to a supervisory type position where you can use your street-level experience to change policy, at least at the local level. Front line public administrators can make a huge difference in peoples lives. Too many smart people cluster in a few well-trodden paths like lawyer, academic, etc. and too few go into those careers.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:43 AM
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The one cop I know has dozens of hilarious stories

And let's not forget gross. From an email I got from my brother regarding the experience of discovering a guy who died in an armchair wearing only boxers, in front of a space heater. Yeah, the dude was in there for quite some time.

When the coroner gets there and your have to help him load the body onto the gurney. You grab a leg, the coroner gets the other leg, and paramedics get the arms. You lift him to have a steady stream of thick, chunky, dark liquid pour from what I can only imagine is his ass. Then, as the medic twists slightly to get the body on the gurney, he gloves the guys arm. By gloving, I mean like when you pull off your gloves, that happens with a guys skin, muscles and everything else exposing the bone and the medic is left holding a fistful of human meat in his hand. It gets better because the body hits the side of the gurney and the guys stomach bursts open and the most nightmarish sort of Campbell's Chunky stew of decomposing organs come splashing out onto the carpet.

Just another Friday night.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:37 AM
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