The temptation to choose sides

One of the most unfortunate social behaviors of human beings is that in the presence of any dispute, they feel a strong need to choose a side. And then stick with it, even when their chosen side behaves very badly.

I’m reminded of this with particular force in the aftermath of Ismaayil Brinsley’s revenge assassination of two policemen in New York. The facts couldn’t really be any clearer here; Brinsley planned to murder police in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, announced what he planned, did it, and then shot himself through the head to avoid capture.

Since then, reactions to the incident have divided along predictable lines – made more predictable by Brinsley’s being nearly as perfect a real-life nexus of evil as one could ask for. Marxist? Check. Koran-spouting jihadi? Check. Violent felon? Check. Nutcase? Check? (I think we can stipulate that shooting his own girlfriend in the stomach establishes the last.)

Brinsley’s apologists, ranging from the street protesters chanting “Death to cops!” up to New York City Mayor diBlasio, have not behaved creditably to their cause. The Mayor’s responsibility, as the City’s chief executive, is to ensure the discipline of the police while supporting their mission of maintaining order. He has done neither, siding with the death-to-cops protesters in demagoguery so blatant that the New York police have both figuratively and literally turned their backs on him. The calls for him to resign seem quite justified.

After Brinsley’s mini-murder-spree, the temptation for any reasonable person to weigh in on the side of conservatives and the cops is great. And yet…and yet…important distinctions are in danger of being lost. On the evidence we have, Michael Brown was a violent thug who deserved the death he got, but the live-on-video strangulation of Eric Garner was a genuine atrocity. The New York medical examiner deemed it a homicide.

But because humans are excessively tribal, it’s difficult now to call for justice against Eric Garner’s murderers without being lumped in with the “wrong side”. Nor will Garner’s partisans, on the whole, have any truck with people who aren’t interested in poisonously racializing the circumstances of his death.

I don’t have a fix for this problem. But someone needs to be pointing out that both of the pseudo-tribes that have sorted themselves around this dispute are behaving badly. “Death to cops” is totally out of line, but the New York police had innocent blood on their hands before Ismaayil Brinsley did on his. There should be an accounting for that, not by assassin’s bullets but by a trial in which justice can be seen to be done.

217 thoughts on “The temptation to choose sides

  1. “What do we want?”
    “Dead cops!”
    “When do we want them?”
    “Now!”

    Go on, try to convince me that these folks aren’t at least partly responsible for the murders of the two cops in Brooklyn.

    And while you’re at it, you can try to convince me I should ignore the Palestinians dancing in the streets on 9/11.

  2. “There should be an accounting for that, not by assassin’s bullets but by a trial in which justice can be seen to be done”.

    But that is exactly the point.

    There was never to be a trial. A prosecutor that could indict a ham sandwich couldn’t indict (sent to trial) a cop. Therefore if the former is undesired, and latter is foreclosed, what is your third alternative?

    The system of which police and prosecutors are in unholy alliance won’t do justice when it involves one of its own.

    I know you say you don’t have a better solution, but you should pray (or despair at nature and reality) for an alternative to assassination. In a world where collateral damage and collective punishment exist.

    Personally, I think assassination evil, but in the drone wars it has been justified. If it is justified to assassinate a preacher, and his teenage son who sat in a cafe, what of someone who has actually killed and his colleagues?

    When you condemn “an assassin’s bullets”, there is far more you condemn, but have not mentioned to my knowledge.

  3. Tribalism is a pretty natural thing that arises out of rational ignorance. It is hard even for the most thoughtful to formulate a solid opinion on every topic, and for those who haven’t taken the time to dig deep and understand themselves it is well nigh impossible. The cost of doing either is quite substantial, so tribalism is a useful intellectual shortcut to help with this problem. However, like all abstractions it leaks.

    On the flip side, one of the purposes of the criminal justice system is to moderate the impulse for revenge, to provide a putatively legitimized mechanism for getting justice. If that mechanism fails then people do tend to go outside of it insofar as they can. So when, for example, Snowden cannot find redress for his grievances he has to take an extra judicial route, or when Jefferson can’t find redress for tea taxes, George Washington takes King George to task in an illegal manner.

    Of course this Brinsley was a product on the most extreme reaction to it all. In many respects he is like the Islamic terrorist, an outlier with extremely destructive capacity. But the baying mobs in New York are right to demand justice, though this execution of two decent, hard working policeman is about as far from justice as I could imagine.

    In fact the aspect of tribalism is really writ large here in two different ways. First of all the idea that cops are fungible. “They killed one of ours we will kill two of theirs” as if these two cops had anything whatsoever to do with the original take down. One cop is pretty much the same as any other, right? Not. And the other thing is that although the mob is right to bay for justice, does anyone think for a minute that had Garner been a white boy that they would be out on the street? Of course not. They don’t demand justice, they demand justice for their tribe.

    The irony of those who rend their garments over racism being the most racist of all is, as always, utterly lost on our craven, cowering, empty headed press.

  4. “I have never taken anybody’s life, but I have often read obituary notices with considerable satisfaction.” — Clarence Darrow (often misattributed in a slightly different form to Mark Twain)

    I don’t advocate killing random cops on the street, but if they keep being considered to be above the law, more such incidents will definitely happen.

  5. Seems like diBlasio chose his words poorly. History has not been kind to emperors who pissed off the praetorian guard.

  6. @Jay Maynard:

    Go on, try to convince me that these folks aren’t at least partly responsible for the murders of the two cops in Brooklyn.

    I believe they are, just as I believe that a lot of the really vicious anti-abortion rhetoric has been partly responsible for murders at abortion clinics.

    But I also believe that most people can and do tone down their rhetoric when confronted with the reality of the nutcases acting on it, and that the people who don’t do this run a significant risk of being marginalized.

  7. >Eric, do you fall into your own trap when you characterize the arresting officers in the Garner case as murderers?

    Have you watched the video? They never even bothered to declare that Garner was under arrest. They descended on him like a pack of dogs because he protested being hassled. They wanted him beaten down and and broken to their will and clearly didn’t care how much force they had to use to achieve that. Yeah, I’ll call that murder.

  8. Here’s something I’m thinking about with no conclusion yet– it seems likely that if there hadn’t been all the publicity about killing by police, Brinsley would have killed a couple of random members of the public on his way out of the world. Would have have been better? Worse? Merely different?

  9. @Parallel:

    > have you considered carefully the arguments from experienced police officers…

    Speaking of tribalism…

  10. ESR, Garner was not “strangled.” He died of a heart attack. While IANAL, not all homicides are crimes. I don’t think the medical examiner’s use of that term is as meaningful as you seem to imply.

  11. @Nancy Lebovitz:

    I guess the question is — was an externally-supplied focal point for anger required, and if so, what were the necessary parameters of it?

  12. I guess it’s too easy to blame this on binary thinking in Facebook culture, et al, as it’s been around much longer. Though I have decided that it is not worth having discussions with people who can’t see, and balance issues in their heads, in shades of gray. It’s when any one single issue becomes the entire litmus test of your credibility everywhere else that it becomes endemic.

    (That’s what I find somewhat nice about A&D. You can get slapped silly here one day, yet come back and make a solid case for something else tomorrow. It’s robust like that!)

    I think the fundamental problem is Absolutism (obligatory Christopher Hitchens quotes here if you are so inclined). As a rather good example, one of the conditions of my grandfather’s contract to pick a rice field in the Old Country, two centuries ago, was a box of cigars. To smoke? Sure! The man loved smoking till the age of 91 but, more importantly, he smoked to keep the malaria-infected mosquitoes in the rice field away. Is smoking, as it is presently demonized, unequivocally bad in that situation? No. Yet tell that to anyone carrying the purified vessel of wisdom on smoking and you are most likely only going to find only two shades of smoke (one just plainly rebellious anymore) on that issue.

    Yin-Yang smoke. LOL!

  13. Eric, I’m going to have to call BS on your claim that Eric Garner wasn’t informed he was under arrest. Looking at http://youtu.be/g-xHqf1BVE4 starting at the 1:00 mark the person recording clearly says the officer is “trying to lock him [Garner] up”. Or are you referring to a different video that I haven’t seen showing the entire interaction between the cop and Garner, that rules out the cop informing Garner he was under arrest?

    Can you at least entertain the alternative hypothesis that the officer was waiting for backup to effect the arrest of a clearly uncooperative large strong subject? Would you rather the cop hurry up the arrest and escalate up the force continuum to unquestionably lethal force? Do you want big people to deter cops from making arrests by complaining and shoving cops?

  14. >Eric, I’m going to have to call BS on your claim that Eric Garner wasn’t informed he was under arrest.

    In the video, I did not hear any cop say “You’re under arrest” and demand that he lawfully comply before they mobbed and killed him.

  15. I guess I still feel that from the left this is still both sides against the middle. The best solution against bad, over aggressive, and racist cops would be to fire them. I am willing to bet that in almost every precinct in this country a simple poll of the force would easily identify the worst cops.

    However the progressives that wants the bad cops gone are the same progressives that have cheered on and encouraged massive public sector unions to be allowed for government workers, including the police. These unions will fight to the end to protect their own. The very solution that could eliminate the problem they are marching about is a solution they themselves have made impossible to carry out.

  16. Tribalism is a pretty natural thing that arises out of rational ignorance.

    It’s a lot more deep-seated than that. Psychological research has repeatedly demonstrated that the human brain categorizes people based on age, sex, and us/them. The first two are obviously immediately relevant for reproductive reasons, and the latter is quick enough approximation of friend/enemy to let you throw your stone first.

    Interestingly, the criterion for the us/them distinction is quite malleable in real time. The most blatantly obvious personal characteristic is skin color, so that tends to be the default (leading to the false claims of insidious universal racism), but a group of New Yorkers who divide down white/black lines will instantly group up against someone of any race wearing a Red Sox hat.

  17. Evolution has wired us to have a proclivity for group association. In early ancestral times, it likely aided in food acquisition and protection against outsiders. In the modern era (and in particular the current communication overload era), memetic manipulation of group behavior has become a dominant environmental factor. Large cohorts of population are becoming more herd-like, and the cause-effect cycle for this phenomenon is viciously accelerating. Modeling this pattern of techno-social mutation can be a potential tool for estimating future consequences.

  18. “Hoob-a-da-doob-a-da!”
    “Flung-a-lung-a!”
    “Sheeb-a-da-deeb-a-da!”

  19. Eric, the only extant video has been edited. You can’t assume that we know all that went down during that confrontation, or that we will ever know.

    A coroner’s ruling of “homicide” merely means that someone’s death was caused at least in part by the actions of another. It says exactly nothing at all about the legality of that action. The ruling in Michael Brown’s death was homicide, too.

    The same use of force experts who you accept in cases of self defense are saying that the use of force in the Garner case was not inappropriate. Are they experts, or are they not? If they are, then Garner’s death was not the cops’ fault.

  20. >The same use of force experts who you accept in cases of self defense are saying that the use of force in the Garner case was not inappropriate. Are they experts, or are they not? If they are, then Garner’s death was not the cops’ fault.

    Jay, I’m an expert in the uses of the relevant kinds of force. I’ve actually performed subdual and blood chokes, and had them performed on me. And I saw murder done in that video.

  21. I think they are all wrong. But isn’ t this the place where the Freedom of Speech is considered to rule supreme?

    As far as I know, you are allowed to shout whatever you like in the streets of the USA. Words are not supposed to kill, I was told here. And from the reports, it looks like Ismaayil Brinsley was just looking for an excuse to kill someone, anyone.

    Men running amok is of all times. The target of the violence depends on the politics of the time, but the violence itself is of all times.

  22. The death of those two NYC cops was a tragedy, but the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown were tragedies too. While the deaths of the cops was the result of the actions of one nutjob, the deaths of Garner and Brown were due to systemic features of the American police force.

    What’s more, grand juries voted not to indict the police officers responsible for killing Brown and Garner; whereas if Ismaayil Brinsley were caught he would almost assuredly be indicted, tried, convicted, and executed for his actions. (Probably a motivating factor in his suicide.)

    So, lone nutjob on the one hand, complete systemic dysfunction of the American law-enforcement and judicial systems on the other. Is giving more attention to the latter, which is clearly a much bigger problem, “choosing sides”? We are deeply into “no justice, no peace” territory here — America has not the moral high ground to take a proper stand against the Brinsleys of the world.

  23. ESR, I’m confused. I thought you say you’re an anarchist of some description, but here you are demanding a trial, presumably in the only court rooms around, those of the government. Not only that, but this is not the first time you seem to support the police as existing organisations, which suggests as well, that you support them doing their job, rather than alternative ways of keeping order in society. (An interesting article was posted in Rolling Stone recently on the topic.)
    I would be interested in a post on the topic of the role of police (or other means of “keeping the peace”) in your ideal society.

  24. >I would be interested in a post on the topic of the role of police (or other means of “keeping the peace”) in your ideal society.

    Due process in an incident like this wouldn’t look very different than it does now. The common law and the courts predate the monopoly state, and I expect them to survive it. The main difference is that cops and judges would be paid by crime-insurance companies rather than taxes.

    The largest relevant difference is that the confrontation wouldn’t have happened in the first place; nobody would be strangling people to death for violating tax regulations.

  25. @Michael:
    Libertarian anarchists advocate total privitisation of the state, with private police departments and courts. (I personally cannot forsee this working, but that may be a failure of my imagination, not the proposal.)
    For them, preference:
    Private law enforcement > State law enforcement > No law enforcement

  26. Eric Garner wasn’t strangled, and it wasn’t for breaking a tax regulation.

    He died from a heart attack caused by his terrible physical condition, and his decision to respond to overwhelming force with resistance when he was in no physical shape to do so.

    Force was used against him – legal, justifiable force – because he chose to resist arrest rather than comply.

    You still haven’t said how you know he was never told he was under arrest when the only extant video is an edited version.

  27. >He died from a heart attack caused by his terrible physical condition

    That’s not what the medical examiner said. The medical examiner affirmed that the chokehold killed him.

    >You still haven’t said how you know he was never told he was under arrest when the only extant video is an edited version.

    I said that I heard no declaration of arrest and summons to comply. Can you point me at a time in the video at which this occurred?

  28. If Eric Garner wasn’t murdered, he must have been committing a crime for which the cops killed him while attempting a legitimate arrest. The claims for crimes he committed are limited to resisting arrest and/or selling loose cigarettes. One can only legitimately be arrested upon being accused of a crime meriting the arrest, which leaves only the claimed selling of cigarettes.

    The Declaration of Independence states the purpose and scope of governments within the USA: to “secure these rights”, of which the unalienable right to life is explicitly named. Further, all legitimate governmental powers are derived from the consent of the governed. I as an individual have no authority to tell someone like Eric Garner that he cannot sell his property (cigarettes) to anyone willing to buy them, and therefore the government of New York City has no authority to do so.

    If I, as an individual, attacked and killed Eric Garner because I wanted to physically stop him from selling his property to a willing buyer, I would have committed assault and murder. As government agents have only authority derived from individuals, the cops had no cause nor authority to attack and kill Eric Garner.

    The reasoning for these claims stems from the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of law within the USA, that an individual’s right to life is unalienable, that the purpose of government is to secure such rights, and that governments’ power is a derivative of the individual’s power.

    Necessary consequences of possessing an unalienable right to life include the exclusive ownership of the body you inhabit in addition to any property obtained from laboring with your body.

    Eric Garner was victimized at least twice by cops on the day he was murdered: once by the assault over the claimed commerce involving his cigarettes, and again by his death at the hands of the same cops. I believe that any claim otherwise is an argument that Eric Garner did not exclusively own his body nor his body’s labor as a consequence of having a right to life; that Eric Garner was owned by someone other than his own self; that Eric Garner was a slave.

  29. >Eric Garner was victimized at least twice by cops on the day he was murdered: once by the assault over the claimed commerce involving his cigarettes, and again by his death at the hands of the same cops. I believe that any claim otherwise is an argument that Eric Garner did not exclusively own his body nor his body’s labor as a consequence of having a right to life; that Eric Garner was owned by someone other than his own self; that Eric Garner was a slave.

    All correct. And those like Jay insisting that Garner was in the wrong for not having immediately submitted to the police are advocating a slave mentality. They are licking the boots of the oppressors.

    Sometimes conservatives disgust and anger me beyond words. This is one of those times.

  30. @Jeff Read, tz:

    Exactly which law would you expect the grand jury to indict the police officers involved? Go look at the relevant statutes. In order to indict, the grand jury needs to find that there is reason to believe that all elements of a crime can be shown in a trial.

    The reason that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich is because in most cases it is easy to provide at least some evidence that all of the required elements of a particular crime have been committed. In cases such as these, it’s the exact opposite: there’s lots of evidence of bad outcomes and the actors responsible, but those actions don’t line up with any particular statute so as to be able to criminally charge the officer.

  31. Jay Maynard wrote, “Force was used against him – legal, justifiable force – because he chose to resist arrest rather than comply.”

    Is it *ever* legal for me to resist police who are attempting to arrest me?

    Could I have legally resisted Daniel Holtzclaw if he had attempted to rape me while on duty as a police officer as he is alleged to have actually done to others?

    Could I have legally resisted to the point of killing my would-be policeman/rapist?

    Does the case of John Bad Elk vs United States affect your views?

  32. “I said that I heard no declaration of arrest and summons to comply. Can you point me at a time in the video at which this occurred?”

    No, I can’t. But you can’t prove it didn’t, either, because the video does not contain the entire record. They don’t have to use the words “you’re under arrest”. From an article at Findlaw:

    The rules regarding what an officer must do while making an arrest vary by jurisdiction. Generally, an arrest happens when the person being arrested reasonably believes that she is not free to leave.

    It’s pretty obvious that Garner believed he was not free to leave when he said that thy weren’t going to take him to jail today.

    “The medical examiner affirmed that the chokehold killed him.”

    Specifically, from CNN:

    The New York City medical examiner’s office also offered pertinent facts when it classified Garner’s death as a homicide this summer. He died because of a “compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” the office found, while also calling Garner’s “acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease” contributing factors.

    That’s enough to make it homicide. It’s not enough to make it murder. Murder requires that the force used be unjustified. The force used to restrain Garner was justified by his resistance. And he still wasn’t strangled; that term applies only to compromise of the airway by external compression, and Garner’s airway was not compromised.

    And while you are an expert on the use of force, you are not an expert on the use of force in the law enforcement context.

  33. >That’s enough to make it homicide. It’s not enough to make it murder. Murder requires that the force used be unjustified.

    In order for the use of force to be justified, the entire chain of causation has to be ethically correct. The cops put themselves in the wrong, and moved their violence into the category of murder, because they applied force disproportionate to the civil offense of which Garner was accused. New York state law (and that of many other jurisdictions) distinguishes between “crimes” and “civil offenses” for exactly this reason.

    Garner died during the commission of felony assault on him. The police committed that violent felony by exceeding what both ethics and the law admit as commensurate force for a minor civil offense – a malum prohibitum rather than a malum in se. Under the eggshell skull doctrine Garner’s fragility does not exonerate them.

    One proper response would be a lawsuit charging them with conspiracy to violate Garner’s civil rights under color of law. Appropriate because while the nominal offense was selling loosies, it’s clear the actual offense for which he was murdered was backtalk – daring to reject the authority of his ‘betters’.

    It deeply disgusts me that anyone claiming to care about liberty would defend the cops in this.

  34. I’m sorry if my opinions disgust you, Eric. I come at this from years of experience on the street, and from a practical appreciation of the disparities of force involved.

    To answer PeaceableGuy’s question “Is it *ever* legal for me to resist police who are attempting to arrest me?”:

    In New York state, the answer to that question is a flat, unequivocal “no”. Your avenue for redress is in court, not on the street.

    The same answer goes for Eric’s “And those like Jay insisting that Garner was in the wrong for not having immediately submitted to the police are advocating a slave mentality. They are licking the boots of the oppressors.”

    I am not advocating meekly submitting. What I am advocating is a recognition of the practical situation: You cannot win that fight. You can win later, but you cannot win at the time of the arrest. The cops can and will bring overwhelming force to take you in. If you resist, you bring the consequences on yourself.

    You have to be alive to win.

  35. “To answer PeaceableGuy’s question “Is it *ever* legal for me to resist police who are attempting to arrest me?”:
    In New York state, the answer to that question is a flat, unequivocal “no”. Your avenue for redress is in court, not on the street.”

    Only in a purely pragmatic sense can I agree that the “avenue for redress is in court, not on the street.” (As a general rule, if someone resists the police, the police will respond with overwhelming force, agreed. However, by no means does this require that the police always have the legal or moral authority to use force.)

    With that out of the way, does New York State government answer to no one (save perhaps the voters)? Does absolutely everything they say go? Upon what foundation does the authority of New York State government rest upon? Most importantly: what happens in a case where New York State government employees act without the force of law?

    You may find two US court cases of interest: Marbury vs Madison, and Norton vs Shelby County. Both recognize essential truths, but Norton’s wording is very blunt: “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.”

    Lastly, consider a situation where a police chief tells an underling to go arrest someone, the policeman tries to effect the arrest but is resisted, and during the struggle over the attempted arrest the arresting policeman is killed. Who committed a crime in this situation? If you review the case of John Bad Elk vs United States, you may be surprised.

  36. > The common law and the courts predate the monopoly state, and I expect them to survive it.

    The police don’t. There’s a legitimate argument that they are (and always have been, though the increasing use of military hardware puts a finer point on it) the “standing army” the founders often warned against. The fact that cops call everyone else “civilians” is a huge warning sign about their institutional culture.

  37. >The police don’t. There’s a legitimate argument that they are (and always have been, though the increasing use of military hardware puts a finer point on it) the “standing army” the founders often warned against. The fact that cops call everyone else “civilians” is a huge warning sign about their institutional culture.

    Agreed. However, most versions of libertarian theory include a role for civil police operating in a recognizably similar way to the way they do now. But without the de facto (and sometimes de jure) legal immunity they now have; this would tend to prevent abuses.

  38. esr> Brinsley’s apologists, ranging from the street protesters chanting “Death to cops!” up to New York City Mayor diBlasio, have not behaved creditably to their cause.

    May I ask on what basis you are calling diBlasio a Brinsley apologist? I’m getting the opposite impression from my first Google hit on “diBlasio Brinsley”.

  39. >May I ask on what basis you are calling diBlasio a Brinsley apologist?

    The fact that his most public reaction wasn’t to condemn the “Death to cops!” chants, but speculation about how the police might abuse his biracial son. That was diBlasio endorsing Brinsley’s motivating theory that the deaths of Brown and Garner were race crimes. The way di Blasio averted his eyes from protesters’ attacks on police is also pretty damning. “Alleged”, my ass – those attacks were captured on video as dispositive as the recordings of Garner’s murder.

  40. PeaceableGuy, John Bad Elk has been superseded by later law, both statutory and case law.

    The government of the state of New York answers to its courts. Not only that, but I would not be at all surprised to see Bill de Blasio roll over and admit liability to appease the mob.

    New York law permits arrest for violations committed in front of a police officer. That the cop said that Garner sold loosies to “the guy in the red jacket” says that that’s what happened. Should the offense be an arrestable one? Reasonable people can differ; I’m inclined to believe that it should not. But, in our society, the law is the law. We are a society of laws. Resist what you see as unjust laws all you want – but remember that you must sill accept the consequences of doing so. To do otherwise is to strike at the foundation of our society, with consequences far more severe than those of merely breaking a law against selling loosies.

    Consider this. We agree that thug culture is the cause of the destruction of the inner city and its residents. What happens if that culture has no laws to restrain it? And no thin blue line to protect the rest of us?

    I still believe that, fundamentally, Eric Garner died because he picked a fight he could not win. He took his life into his hands, and lost it. He may well be right…but if so, he’s dead right, and still just as dead.

  41. Eric, we get that you don’t trust government with any use of coercive force, in any situation. But you’ve fallen into the trap of dehumanizing anyone who disagrees with that absolutist position. Slave mentality licking the boots of oppressors? Murdering packs of dogs? Those are not the words of a General Semanticist making a compelling case for social change rooted in a reasonable evaluation of evolutionary psychology. Rather, that is demagogic, emotionally charged rhetoric that bypasses all reason to appeal to limbic doggie brain “us vs. them” tribal instincts.

    Are you capable of killing your Buddha of radical libertarianism long enough to appreciate why (at least) Jay and I are put off by that sort of rhetoric?

  42. >Eric, we get that you don’t trust government with any use of coercive force, in any situation.

    That’s actually not true. But it’s not the main point here, either. It doesn’t take a “radical libertarian” to see Gestapo-like excess in that video; anyone who gives a shit for liberty under the U.S. constitutional system should be enraged by it. This is not what the founders of our country bled and died for.

    >Are you capable of killing your Buddha of radical libertarianism long enough to appreciate why (at least) Jay and I are put off by that sort of rhetoric?

    Yes. Yes, I am. And my carefully considered reply to your “put off” is “Fuck your tender feelings, you authority-worshiping bootlickers.” If the video of Garner’s murder isn’t enough to make you angry, your purported love of liberty is a pretense – a sham thinly disguising order-worship as abject as a fascist’s.

    This is why I consider being described as a “conservative” an insult.

  43. “But without the de facto (and sometimes de jure) legal immunity they now have; this would tend to prevent abuses.”

    It would also prevent cops sticking their necks out to protect others unless they knew that, even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, they would be held blameless. This is a recipe for making cops ineffective.

  44. “Jay and I are put off by that sort of rhetoric?”

    I should note here that I am giving serious consideration from withdrawing from this and related discussions here because I value Eric’s friendship far too highly to see it ruined over this disagreement.

  45. Jay Maynard, I brought up John Bad Elk to show that the US government has, through its courts, officially recognized (not established) that government actors operating outside the bounds of law are acting criminally. Courts do not make law any more than scientists make reality. Exceptions are merely illegal acts attempting to assert that might makes right.

    Insofar as cops protecting others, perhaps some non-superseded court cases would be of interest to show that courts show recognition of the physical reality that cops cannot teleport, and due to this limitation, are not liable for the safety of any particular individual, even in cases where the average reader is likely to consider the cops as downright negligent? Warren vs DC (cops didn’t bother to walk to the door to check on a reported rape in progress) and Castle Rock vs Gonzales (paper restraining orders don’t actually restrain much… and police aren’t liable for the consequences). These are “good” decisions that reflect both legal and physical reality.

    Cops are not responsible for your safety – YOU are responsible for your safety. Aruging for the preservation of immunity for cops so that cops will “stick their necks out to protect others” is arguing from a false premise.

  46. >Cops are not responsible for your safety – YOU are responsible for your safety. Aruging for the preservation of immunity for cops so that cops will “stick their necks out to protect others” is arguing from a false premise.

    That is correct. It isn’t the cops’ job to protect others; their job is to maintain civil order. Both their charters and the case law are clear on this.

  47. Jay Maynard on 2014-12-23 at 08:46:45 said:

    > I am not advocating meekly submitting. What I am advocating is a
    > recognition of the practical situation: You cannot win that
    > fight.
    You can win later, but you cannot win at the time of
    > the arrest. The cops can and will bring overwhelming force to take you
    > in. If you resist, you bring the consequences on yourself.

    You certainly can’t win that fight if you’re all alone. If police abuse continues as it has, though, there will be a million Brinsleys, and the cops will be no more. I’m not advocating that, yet, but unless the cops learn quickly that they are the servants of the people, not our masters, I will.

    I’m clueless to understand the training cops get that the second they say “you’re under arrest”, the subject is to go lax, and let himself be handcuffed and kidnapped, or the cop will escalate violence to lethal force, if he finds that necessary. I see no reason whatsoever to arrest anybody who doesn’t pose an immediate threat of violence to innocents. Give him a summons to appear for arraignment. If he doesn’t show, use stronger means.

    I don’t take kindly to being kidnapped. Resisting cops may be a bad strategic decision, but unless I’ve committed an actual crime, intentionally harming a person or his property, in other than self defense, I have every right to defend myself from kidnapping, using whatever force I find necessary, even if it’s called “arrest” and done by a legal thug sporting a fancy uniform, funny hat, and shiny badge.

  48. >If police abuse continues as it has, though, there will be a million Brinsleys, and the cops will be no more. I’m not advocating that, yet, but unless the cops learn quickly that they are the servants of the people, not our masters, I will.

    Likewise. It’s our responsibility as free citizens under the Constitution to resist abuses of power by any means required up to and including the use of force. The police’s authority can survive a nutcase like Brinsley, but if they get to the point where people like me are ready to shoot them it’s game over.

    I’m not there yet either. But I’m a damn sight closer to it than before I saw Garner murdered.

  49. Eric, you need to stop and go review how demagogues frame and edit video to elicit the sort of reason-suppressing rage you’re expressing in this comment thread. Your genius level intellect is failing you here; your red curtain of rage is apparently preventing you from evaluating that video with the skepticism due every other popular media product.

    Would you give the same unthinking acceptance to a video depicting the suffering and trauma of a patient on the operating table dying from a gunshot wound, accepting uncritically the voice over decrying the number of children killed by guns in America, without wondering whether the video producer had left out key aspects of the situation? Like, oh say, the fact that the patient was shot by a woman being forcibly raped at knifepoint?

    Get a grip man.

  50. >Like, oh say, the fact that the patient was shot by a woman being forcibly raped at knifepoint?

    So, you’re claiming that Garner did something that actually justified his being beaten down and killed by six policemen? And what was that, pray tell? What are you proposing was edited out that could make what we saw less than an an utter atrocity? Are we to suppose that he raped a woman at knifepoint during the jump cut? Is that your argument?

  51. Jay Maynard wrote, “Consider this. We agree that thug culture is the cause of the destruction of the inner city and its residents. What happens if that culture has no laws to restrain it?”

    In light of that Norton vs Shelby County case I’d mentioned previously, I’ve had to ask myself, “what is the ultimate foundation for laws within the USA?” If I stop at the founding document, the Declaration of Independence, the answer is clear, if difficult to accept at first.

    The purpose of and foundation for governments within the United States is the securing of unalienable individual rights, to specifically include the right to life. This has FAR-reaching implications for those “conservative” (as I once considered myself) and shatters the foundations of those government-dependant types of the modern “liberal” variety. Government is NOT a legitimate agency which the winning voters can righteously wield as a club to strike those with whom they disagree, with nag-notes, fines, kidnapping, encagement, or execution.

    Governments’ sole purpose is the securing of unalienable rights which government has zero authority to infringe upon. Unless your life or your property are threatened by my force or my fraud, you have no more recourse to force me to do your bidding than you do as an average Joe on the street. This is inconvinent. This involves dealing with annoyances, either with patience, or attempts using reason and persuasion rather than force of either the first or third party variety.

    Intervention, fact-finding, or punishment in the event of damages to life and property? Yes.

    Interferring with drug manufacture, possession, or use? Dress codes, curfews, or safety checkpoints? Redistribution of property? “Social justice”? Education of children? Each and every item not clearly in harmony with securing an individual’s right to life, self-ownership, and exclusive ownership of the fruits of the body’s labor? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    The mere existence of an unpleasant or objectionable culture, thuggish or otherwise, is not the business of government nor its agents, so long as no crimes against persons or property are being committed. When crimes are indeed committed, only those individuals who committed the crime can be counted among the guilty and therefore subject to the sword of government.

    If these principles are not followed, the rule of law ceases to functionally exist. Without the rule of law, all we’re left with is the rule of man, a dictatorship run at the point of a gun covered only by the most threadbare of disguises.

    The Declaration also has harsh words to say about such dictatorships, words involving both rights and DUTY. It is my fervent hope that enough individuals who think themselves supporters of the rule of law will examine their premises to identify just exactly what the “rule of law” means, to include its limitations.

  52. @esr
    ” It isn’t the cops’ job to protect others; their job is to maintain civil order. Both their charters and the case law are clear on this.”

    That is different in different countries.

    For example, in the UK, the rule is “To serve and protect”. The “protect” part is to be taken quite literally:
    Responsibility of the Police to Protect Citizens
    http://www.ehow.co.uk/list_7573433_responsibility-police-protect-citizens.html

    Se also Police officer: Job description
    http://www.prospects.ac.uk/police_officer_job_description.htm

    Police officers work in partnership with the communities they serve to maintain law and order, protect members of the public and their property, prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for all citizens. They use a wide range of technology to protect individuals, identify the perpetrators of crime and ensure successful prosecutions against those who break the law.

  53. >For example, in the UK, the rule is “To serve and protect”.

    Many U.S. police departments use that motto as well. Nevertheless, the U.S. law is clear: the police are not liable and cannot be accused of failing in their duty for not protecting individuals from individual crimes.

    I don’t know what British law says on the topic. Knowing what I do of Anglo-American common law, however, I will be rather surprised if “protect members of the public and their property” turns out to impose an enforceable duty to protect individuals on the British police. Similar language has not been found to do so in the U.S.

  54. I think Eric is framing the Garner tragedy in the context of an adverse macro-trend and his passion is justified. This case isn’t solely about an unnecessary death and potential misconduct by an important social institution; it’s also a symptom (and potential bellwether) of a systemic national dysfunction that if unchecked can take us to a very bad place.

    My observation is that a very large cohort of the US population is becoming incapable of reasoned thought and rational decision-making. This is largely due to affluence displacing hardship, and minimizing the Darwinian selection driver.

    Both the police and protesters are acting in response to their herd memetics, and leadership within government is almost universally bad. The stupidity meme is winning, and that’s a serious problem.

  55. I find myself in a strange position where I agree with both Eric and Jay on this matter.

    On one hand, I haven’t been able to find anything that the police did which was illegal. I’ve read through the closely-related statutes and there isn’t anything that I can see that the police could be convicted of. And the guy was fat and stupid. Yes, people have a requirement to comply with an arrest. In my ideal fantasy-world, police wouldn’t even need handcuffs because people would comply with lawful arrests. (My ideal fantasy world also includes police who don’t ever abuse their authority.) The police have a critical role to play in the maintenance of civilization as we know it, and that certainly isn’t improved by making the job of the police harder.

    On the other side, Eric makes several good points as well. The “crime” was ridiculous, both by a law of the State as well as an obvious side-effect of the policies of the State, and warranting at worst a citation. The police were over-aggressive in dealing with a trivial issue, to the point of man’s death. The people who sign up to engage in this type of behavior (which is by no means a one-off incident) have no moral standing and are indeed engaging in a massive violation of the civil and natural rights of the people.

    Everybody involved in responding to created incentives. The real solution is for the associated legislatures involved to change the incentives, but that won’t happen. The People don’t want others smoking, because it is dirty, disgusting, and Unhealthy so they raise the prices on cigarettes. But The People don’t want to pay the taxes, so they skirt the laws. But legitimate businesses and the State don’t want Other People skirting the law, so they ask for the laws to be enforced.

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

  56. Garrett wrote, “The people who sign up to engage in this type of behavior (which is by no means a one-off incident) have no moral standing and are indeed engaging in a massive violation of the civil and natural rights of the people.”

    Exactly what are these “natural rights of the people”? What limits are they subject to? What things, if any, can override them? What limits are those overriding things subject to in turn?

  57. Jay, if I am being peaceful and cooperative, and a policeman does something that I believe is threatening my life, I will kill him, and … the courts will be my redress. I will not let him kill me and leave it to my estate to seek redress.

  58. @esr
    “Knowing what I do of Anglo-American common law, however, I will be rather surprised if “protect members of the public and their property” turns out to impose an enforceable duty to protect individuals on the British police.”

    Many countries in the world have a legal duty to rescue for everyone. This includes the UK. The legal bar is higher for police officers.

  59. I think part of the problem here is that so few people can imagine a world in which the police had a much reduced role. Take for example the recent siege in Sydney, a siege managed by massive police action, and ultimately resolved by massive police action.
    But think about it for a moment. One nut job with a gun can cause all that trauma? And not even a semi auto weapon, he had a shotgun. Out of all the people in that cafe one single armed civilian who was a decent shot could have ended the siege three minutes after it started.

    The siege was eventually resolved when the brave cafe owner took his life in his hands and tackled the gunman with his bare hands. He and another woman ended up dead. How ridiculous that that man had to tackle the guy with his hands rather than a concealed weapon? I mean the situation seems like something down the rabbit hole it is so nuts, so backward.

    The news media is all freaking out about lone wolves as if there is no known solution to it, when the solution is so obvious that only those utterly blinded by their own preconceptions would not see it.

    Again, the problem is that we have neonatized ourselves to the point where we need babysitters with badges and if we don’t do what nanny says we get a major spanking. How pathetic for a putatively free people.

    And, I agree with Eric, even if the guy had not sustained any injury at all, or what microscopic edits might have taken place, any lover of liberty looking on at that video should be sick to their stomach.

  60. >The news media is all freaking out about lone wolves as if there is no known solution to it, when the solution is so obvious that only those utterly blinded by their own preconceptions would not see it.

    For you blinded Europeans, the solution is lots of armed civilians, all the time. It’s what the Israelis do as explicit policy to counter “lone-wolf” terrorism, and it works.

  61. >Out of all the people in that cafe one single armed civilian who was a decent shot could have ended the siege three minutes after it started.

    There were, what, 15 people in that cafe? In a sane civilization all but a handful of the men and a significant minority of the women would have been armed. A dozen pistols against one shotgun doesn’t end well for the bad guy.

    Don’t tell me I’m fantasizing. This is what the Israelis actually do about the problem, and it’s why Hamas has retreated to firing Qassams from over a border.

  62. Scott Alexander over at Slate Star Codex has a much longer piece on this topic, examining how signalling behaviours cause the controversial cases to rise to the top of public discourse, further encouraging partisanship and non-rational discussion. As he puts it, looking at several different topics with this same pattern, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action.

    http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

  63. >Scott Alexander over at Slate Start Codex has a much longer piece on this topic

    That piece is very good, though somewhat differently focused than mine – he’s more examining on how pseudo-tribes behave after they’re already established. I recommend it.

  64. My observation is that a very large cohort of the US population is becoming incapable of reasoned thought and rational decision-making. This is largely due to affluence displacing hardship, and minimizing the Darwinian selection driver.

    I disagree with your diagnosis of an undeniable symptom. I believe that that inability is deliberately inculcated by the Cathedral of ((government education) and (media)); I’ve seen thoughtful friends whose opinions I highly respected turn into incoherent duckspeakers in two years of graduate school.

  65. @Winter

    For example, in the UK, the rule is “To serve and protect”.

    Many countries in the world have a legal duty to rescue for everyone. This includes the UK.

    [citation needed] on both counts (significantly, neither of the sites you, um, cite in the earlier comment is that of an actual UK police force). For what it’s worth, as an Englishman I only recognise “protect and serve” as a slogan of the NYPD.

    Furthermore, as far as I can tell, you’re simply wrong about duty to rescue. Civil law countries have one, but, right or wrong, common-law jurisdictions like the UK generally don’t, (see http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2013/06/26/the-good-samaritan-doctor-and-the-human-tissue-act/; http://sixthformlaw.info/01_modules/other_material/tort/1_duty/2_duty_omissions.htm, both from the first page of Google results for “duty to rescue uk”).

  66. @Phil R.
    > Furthermore, as far as I can tell, you’re simply wrong about duty to rescue.

    You know this reminded me of something related. I know a couple of doctors who tell me that the legal situation in the USA is almost the opposite of duty to rescue today. For example, one guy I know who is an obgyn, was driving in the car with his wife and they saw a car accident where one of the parties was injured. They got out to see what was going on, and the driver had some bleeding head injuries. The doctor would not help, but instead as quietly as possible whispered to his entirely unqualified, wife what to do until the ambulance arrived. Why? Because his helping that person exposes him to immense personal legal risk should something go wrong, and his malpractice insurance would not have covered him.

    I called him a coward, but all the same I am not totally blind to his point of view.

  67. What mystifies me is why Eric or anyone else believes that anyone is defending the NYPD in the Garner affair. Nobody, to the best of my knowledge, has defended the cops involved. The only thing which approaches a “defense” is the people who point out the cops didn’t know Garner had a heart condition. But nobody’s saying it was a good job well done. That’s a straw man.

  68. >But nobody’s saying it was a good job well done. That’s a straw man.

    Is it?

    Then tell me. Who’s going to face disciplinary action or firing for that atrocity? Is anyone with authority to do so saying “We screwed up. We’re not going to train cops to dogpile and choke a man to death because he talked back to them, using a trivial civil offense as a pretext.”

    Are there going to be any consequences? Any at all?

  69. >Where and how does diBlasio support murdering cops?

    First sentence of quoted article: “Amid criticism that he’s fanned tensions between the public and police”. His public utterances justify that criticism. If he were serious about supporting the NY cops he’d have visited the victims’ families before he ran his mouth about being afraid the cops would hassle his “biracial” son (nice inflammatory choice of adjectives there).

    Then he should have come down like a ton of bricks on the cops who murdered Eric Garner. That might have calmed things down a little. As it is, the murderers will walk and the police feel – with justification – like diBlasio is on the side of people screaming “Death to cops!”

    Nice worst of both worlds there, idiot! He should resign.

  70. “On the evidence we have, Michael Brown was a violent thug who deserved the death he got”

    This is ridiculous. Is there a prior criminal record you can point to? No, there is not (see http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/brown.asp) The most one can do is speculate that it’s possible he could have had some juvenile offenses that are not in the public record (because Missouri does not make these public). But that out does not apply to violent felonies. According to Cynthia Harcourt, a lawyer for the juvenile officer of St. Louis County Family Court, Michael Brown had NO juvenile cases involving serious felony charges or convictions, including murder, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Those felony records would not be required to be confidential and would have been released, but none exist for Michael Brown. Nor was Brown facing any criminal complaints at the time of his death.

    Was Michael Brown a criminal? Yes, he was a thief. Was he a “violent thug”? That strikes me as extreme overreach. Does shoplifting merit the death penalty, as Eric is suggesting? Not in my moral universe.

  71. >Was Michael Brown a criminal? Yes, he was a thief. Was he a “violent thug”? That strikes me as extreme overreach.

    You didn’t see the video of Brown beating up a Pakistani storekeeper half his size? Yes, violent thug. I’d have shot him for that myself, if I’d been there and a loud FREEZE! hadn’t stopped him. Yes, violent thug – even if you don’t believe he attacked Darren Wilson, for which there was plenty of evidence.

  72. Kevin S. Van Horn: Michael Brown is on video assaulting the shopkeeper. That means “violent thug” is not an overstatement, and it’s more than “shoplifting.”

  73. I notice that assumption of the completeness of the (edited) video has been silently dropped.

  74. >I notice that assumption of the completeness of the (edited) video has been silently dropped.

    Until someone can spin an even remotely plausible theory of what could have been in the jump that justified lethal violence, yes. The only thing that would come close is if he tried to attack the cops, and the reports don’t even hint at that.

  75. @ Christopher Smith – “I’ve seen thoughtful friends whose opinions I highly respected turn into incoherent duckspeakers in two years of graduate school.”

    This is part of the affluence problem. Colleges and universities all over the US are now being used as indoctrination centers and babysitting services rather than confer actual educational improvement to their herds. And these institutions are charging enormous fees for this adolescent vacation in LaLa land. This madness is a luxury of the wealthiest countries, whose children will never know real hardship, nor learn that existential struggle is as necessary for the individual as it is for the species.

    This problem could be mitigated by wise leadership, but that is in very short supply these days.

  76. >I will kill him …
    And then they will send backup and put you in an even more lethal situation.

    >lots of armed civilians
    Shame that there’s not much one can do with only a folding pocket knife with an under 3″ blade.

  77. Oh, I agree the cops should be disciplined — as in “find another line of work not involving the use of force against humans” disciplined — since prosecution appears to be off the table. But even the most law-and-order conservatives in this country think it was clearly excessive. (And law-and-order conservatives are a dwindling breed since 2008, if not Ruby Ridge.)

  78. >>I notice that assumption of the completeness of the (edited) video has been silently dropped.

    >Until someone can spin an even remotely plausible theory of what could have been in the jump that justified lethal violence, yes. The only thing that would come close is if he tried to attack the cops, and the reports don’t even hint at that.

    You made a claim, that they never announced he was under arrest. You used the video as proof of that- an incomplete, edited video. That video cannot prove your claim.

    You’re emotionally invested, and not fully rational. (Making spurious unsupported claims?) You’re showing signs of affiliating with the tribe of those who reflexively loathe conservatives.

    What happened to Garner is fairly clearly wrong. Yet, looked at with less emotional fury, what the police did was not illegal. Note I didn’t say it wasn’t wrong. What does that tell you? The law is wrong. Look there.

    People aren’t going to like to hear it, but it bears repeating: The police are charged with enforcing the law, and maintaining public order. The maintaining public order part is relevant. I grew up in NYC. I remember it as being a crime-ridden shithole, which it was. (Riding the subways in the 80’s, when I did it 5 or 6 days a week, was adventure.) The ‘Broken Windows’ theory, and police doctrine it’s based on, has *worked*. NYC is now the safest major city in the country (*much* safer than it was when I left) precisely because of a police policy of aggressively enforcing the law even regarding ‘minor’ violations. NYPD acting exactly the way that causes you to call them murderers, has substantially improved the quality of life of *millions* of people. And has, if you look at NYC’s homicide rate, saved lives.

    If you don’t want a law enforced, and if it isn’t worth using force to enforce, don’t make it a law. It’s really pretty simple.

    Overuse of SWAT teams is a thing. Flashbacks in baby’s cribs is a problem. This isn’t that. Conflating them is, well choosing sides.

  79. > (Making spurious unsupported claims?)

    Not what it appears. I’d forgotten about the jump cut at the time I said they never lawfully announced the arrest order. I still suspect strongly that they did not, but agree that the jump cut creates a doubt.

  80. Eric: “You didn’t see the video of Brown beating up a Pakistani storekeeper half his size? Yes, violent thug. I’d have shot him for that myself, if I’d been there and a loud FREEZE! hadn’t stopped him.”

    I had not seen the video before now, so I Googled it and watched the link at http://topconservativenews.com/2014/08/entire-video-of-micheal-brown-shoplifting-and-assaulting-store-owner/.

    I saw Brown shove the shopkeeper once, and take one menacing step towards the shopkeeper before turning around and leaving perhaps as long as one second later.

    So yes, we have Brown on film committing an act of violence. He was not a good person. It would have brightened my day to see him doubled over from a good gut punch in response to his actions.

    However, this is a far cry from the life-threatening menace I’ve seen portrayed in this forum. The level of violence I saw in that video does not rise above that of your average schoolyard bully. It does not even reach the level of violence I myself suffered at the hands of elementary-school bullies when I was 9 years old. Unlike the shopkeeper, I actually had visible injuries, and was dripping blood all the way home. By your disproportionate standard, Eric, those 10/11-year-old boys deserved to be shot.

    More to the point, Brown’s low-grade thuggery doesn’t come within a mile of the level of violence cops routinely dish out to anyone who happens to irritate them. To believe Wilson’s story, you have to believe that Brown was not just homicidally violent, but suicidal as well. To believe the story told by Brown’s friend, you just have to believe that Wilson was a typical cop with a short fuse and zero tolerance for any hint of disrespect.

  81. >By your disproportionate standard, Eric, those 10/11-year-old boys deserved to be shot.

    No. Boys that age and size aren’t capable of lethal threat empty hand.

    >To believe Wilson’s story, you have to believe that Brown was not just homicidally violent, but suicidal as well.

    I don’t have to believe anything but the physical evidence, which tells me that Brown was running headlong towards Wilson when he was shot. So, yeah. Violent, suicidal, and probably stoned out of his mind at the time.

  82. Greg wrote, “What happened to Garner is fairly clearly wrong. Yet, looked at with less emotional fury, what the police did was not illegal. Note I didn’t say it wasn’t wrong. What does that tell you? The law is wrong.”

    Look to the US’ Declaration of Independence to examine the documented purpose of governments within the USA. When New York law violates both the Declaration and the US Constitution, what is the legal status of such a law-breaking law? (A Fourth Amendment violation was committed in that Eric Garner’s very person was unreasonably seized, as his Declaration-declared unalienable right was violated when cops said they attempted to enforce a law that denied Eric Garner’s right to exclusively own his body and property acquired with the use of the same).

    Humans exist regardless of whether or not law exists, whereas governments cannot exist without law that creates and defines such governments. In a free country, all that is not prohibited to a free person is allowed. The reverse is true of governments in such a country: government actors are allowed only to operate within the narrow confines of the law. When government agents use force and act outside the bounds of law, such activity is “outlaw” – literally criminal.

    For years, I lived with the same cognative dissonance many of ESR’s readers are likely grappling with. In my case, I wondered how could a government whose authorizing law included a specific prohibition against ANY restrictions on the keeping and bearing of arms also pass and enforce the 1934 National Firearms Act which blatantly violates said authorizing law? How could the first Prohibition ultimately require not one but TWO amendments to the US Constitution to create and destroy, yet Second Prohibition is being enforced to this day without there being any shred of delegated authority in the Constitution and no amendment to even attempt to give the related law a legal foundation of any sort? (For those “but but the militia!” folks, refer to current US Code title 10, section 311.) Therefore, finding the actual foundation of law is critically important to evaluate the validity of law. This is an individual responsibility of self-owning free humans, a statement recognized in principle by US courts.

    It is well recognized by US courts that there are laws written into law books which are non-laws – laws that have the same legal effect as if those laws had never been passed. This is crystal-clear in the reading of Norton vs Shelby County, which merely affirmed the long-established recognition found in the opinion within Marbury vs Madison circa 1803.

    “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.”

    In that same manner, a law that disregarded Eric Garner’s unalienable right to life, by claiming he wasn’t the exclusive owner of his body (required to live) by claiming he didn’t exclusively own property obtained by his body’s labors (the cigarettes), is no law at all. IS no law – no ruling needed or legislative repeal needed: the law simply has no legal force.

    When a number of individuals attack and ultimately kill a lone defender while acting completely outside the scope of law, what are the applicable colloquial terms? How can they be other than “assault” and “murder”?

  83. > by claiming he didn’t exclusively own property obtained by his body’s labors (the cigarettes), is no law at all.

    The high-minded libertarian principle that there is an inalienable right to property that cannot be limited by the government isn’t actually enshrined in the constitution, you know.

  84. Random832 wrote, “The high-minded libertarian principle that there is an inalienable right to property that cannot be limited by the government isn’t actually enshrined in the constitution, you know.”

    I know. That’s why I wrote, “look to the US’ Declaration of Independence to examine the documented purpose of governments within the USA.” The Constitution wasn’t the legal document which created the United States of America – the Declaration was. High-minded or not, you’re not really debating with me over the existence of unalienable rights… you’re arguing with the Declaration.

  85. Interesting and novel line of argument, that being arrested is unconstitutional and also slavery.

    I’m not sure I agree. A similar line of argument could support self-defense also being unconstitutional, and also slavery. When some drunken bozo in a bar takes a swing at you and you put him in a hammerlock while he calms down, you’re not enslaving him I don’t think. (Yes sarcasm.)

  86. To head off a certain line of thinking… there’s another term for selective enforcement of the law. We call it ‘corruption’.

    You don’t solve problems with the law by asking the police to not enforce it, or to only enforce certain laws. That way leads to a worse disease than what you’re trying to cure. So the proper way forward is to fix the law.

    Removing the Sullivan Act would be a great start.

  87. Police need probable cause to arrest– I haven’t heard anything which suggests they had that for Gardner.

    I agree that what Brown did to the shopkeeper was assault– he shoved the shopkeeper in a way which was unlikely to cause injury– but this is way short of evidence Brown was an extremely dangerous person.

    Brown was publicized as a victim of police assault, and *then* the tape of him pushing the shopkeeper was released. This was bad luck for people who wanted to present him as a thoroughly innocent victim, but it’s not evidence that there’s a tendency to choose controversial cases. This mistake has cost Scott Alexander a lot of credibility with me.

    Discussion of how black off-duty police have been treated in NYC

    Is it relevant in the Garner case that NYC had a general policy against choke holds? Those holds may have been legal, but the police department had decided they were too dangerous to use. More than I thought would be available about chokeholds and NYC

  88. >he shoved the shopkeeper in a way which was unlikely to cause injury

    Uh…have you ever been slammed against a hard surface by someone that large? Because that’s what I think I saw, and “unlikely to cause injury” is not how I’d describe it.

  89. >Police need probable cause to arrest– I haven’t heard anything which suggests they had that for Gardner.

    Directly witnessing someone committing a crime counts. Something about “I saw you sell one to the guy in the red shirt”…. of course that could have been made up CYA malarky, but it would have to be compared with what other witnesses there saw (or didn’t see). But tentatively, the video suggests they had probable cause.

  90. In the video, I did not hear any cop say “You’re under arrest” and demand that he lawfully comply

    Since when is there any requirement that they say these magic words? He clearly knew he was being arrested; what more is necessary? Do you also subscribe to the peculiar superstition that war must be declared with a specific magic formula, and if the right words are not intoned a state of war does not take effect?!

  91. nobody would be strangling people to death for violating tax regulations.

    He was not strangled; there was no damage to the throat. And it’s not a tax regulation. (That makes the law less justified, not more; every state or crime-prevention company has to collect taxes/fees, but there’s no need for nanny-state laws at all.)

  92. The reasoning for these claims stems from the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of law within the USA,

    There’s your mistake. The Declaration of Independence is irrelevant to US law, and always has been. It’s a political manifesto, not a constitution.

  93. The reason that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich is because in most cases it is easy to provide at least some evidence that all of the required elements of a particular crime have been committed.

    More precisely, prosecutors don’t usually bring a case to the grand jury until they’ve already determined to their own satisfaction that there is a prima facie case. Most of the time the grand jury will look at the same evidence that led the prosecutor to that conclusion, and reach the same conclusion themselves. Cases like the deaths of Brown & Garner, if they had not been political, would never have been presented to a grand jury in the first place. The prosecutors knew there was no case, but presented them anyway, so that the no-bill wouldn’t be blamed on them.

  94. esr, I have never been slammed against a hard surface. I just watched the video again, and the shopkeeper is pushed against a medium-weight display, which moves a little. The shopkeeper stays on his feet and doesn’t seem disoriented or injured.

    Still, if that much had happened to me, I might well be shakey for a couple of days from the emotional effect. I don’t like Brown, but I don’t think what he did counts as a serious attack.

    One of the things I’ve been taking away from this discussion is how few bright lines there are in this world, and how much discussion goes into whether what happens is important enough to take seriously.

  95. All correct. And those like Jay insisting that Garner was in the wrong for not having immediately submitted to the police are advocating a slave mentality. They are licking the boots of the oppressors.

    1. Whether we like it or not, there are laws, and it’s not the cops’ fault for enforcing them.

    2. The arrest was lawful, but even if it hadn’t been, it’s unlawful to resist an unlawful arrest. Again, we don’t have to like that law, but it is a law, and we can’t fault the cops for enforcing it.

    3. Regardless of all the above, someone in Garner’s condition shouldn’t resist any attempt at force on him, whether by cops, kidnappers, or muggers, since he is likely to kill himself in the process, as he did.

  96. Is it *ever* legal for me to resist police who are attempting to arrest me?

    Not in most states, including New York.

    Could I have legally resisted Daniel Holtzclaw if he had attempted to rape me while on duty as a police officer as he is alleged to have actually done to others?

    Yes, you are still allowed to resist rape. You could probably even resist the arrest, if you had good reason to believe it was going to be followed by rape. Your defense to the charge of resisting arrest would be necessity.

    Could I have legally resisted to the point of killing my would-be policeman/rapist?

    Yes, it is lawful to use deadly force to resist rape, even by a policeman.

    Does the case of John Bad Elk vs United States affect your views?

    John Bad Elk was in about 1900. The laws have changed considerably since then.

  97. The cops put themselves in the wrong, and moved their violence into the category of murder, because they applied force disproportionate to the civil offense of which Garner was accused. New York state law (and that of many other jurisdictions) distinguishes between “crimes” and “civil offenses” for exactly this reason.

    This simply isn’t true. Neither NY nor any state, AFAIK, regulates the amount of force to be used to effect a lawful arrest, beyond saying it should be as little as the arresting officers, in their professional judgment, deem necessary. Once they decided to arrest him, they in fact used as little force as possible. It was impossible to arrest him with any less force than they used. This is exactly how they are trained at the academy to perform an arrest, and they are told that this is the safest and best way to do it. Even if you disagree with that training, you can’t call them criminals for believing and following it. And it would be the height of moral perversion for the very government that had given them this instruction to hold them criminally responsible for following it!

  98. >This simply isn’t true. Neither NY nor any state, AFAIK, regulates the amount of force to be used to effect a lawful arrest, beyond saying it should be as little as the arresting officers, in their professional judgment, deem necessary.

    We know this cannot be true, because it would mean there would be no legal recourse against instances of (for example) kinetic raids deploying excessive force. Victims do win those actions, though less often than they should.

    And in any case, do you as a self-described libertarian really want to be in the position of granting the police ethical carte blanche to escalate force? When a conservative like Jay does this it is disgusting but at least not inconsistent with his explicitly stated principles; a libertarian should know better.

  99. Lastly, consider a situation where a police chief tells an underling to go arrest someone, the policeman tries to effect the arrest but is resisted, and during the struggle over the attempted arrest the arresting policeman is killed. Who committed a crime in this situation? If you review the case of John Bad Elk vs United States, you may be surprised.

    There is no question: the resister did. John Bad Elk is not law.

  100. Milhouse wrote, “There’s your mistake. The Declaration of Independence is irrelevant to US law, and always has been. It’s a political manifesto, not a constitution.”

    I find it extremely difficult to see how it can be claimed that the Declaration is irrelevant to US law, as law IS government:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security”

    The Declaration may not fit into legal pigeonholes such as “case law”, but it is nonetheless the founding document of the “united States of America”. Government (law) purporting to arise from that document and the surrounding events – as the Consitution does – would do well to note the explicitly-stated purpose of such governments… and individuals’ duty in response to governments that disregard their purpose.

    Is there not a self-evident, unalienable right to life that each individual possesses?

  101. This is totally legal material and IANAL nor am I American so if you are a lawyer, especially one who practices in NY, feel free to quote something that shows where i’m wrong but…

    Since when is there any requirement that they say these magic words? He clearly knew he was being arrested; what more is necessary?

    From N.Y. CPL. Law (§ 140.15)
    “The arresting police officer must inform such person of his authority and purpose and of the reason for such arrest unless he encounters physical resistance, flight or other factors rendering such procedure impractical”

    And having watched a few videos, i’m not entirely certain they didn’t do this. I found a Time article which seems to have a chunk of video that isn’t shown in other ones where Eric Garner seems to respond to something with “take me down for what?” Certainly there’s a lot of police conversation that you don’t hear on any of the videos.

    >Is it *ever* legal for me to resist police who are attempting to arrest me?

    Not in most states, including New York.

    I think you’re technically wrong, but practically right here.
    N.Y. Pen. Law (§ 205.30) clearly limits the class A misdemeanor of “Resisting Arrest” to resisting an “authorized arrest” so if it’s an “unauthorised arrest” then by the law as written it is not illegal to resist arrest (and US law is founded on a concept of legal unless explicitly illegal, that’s why these things are worded so tediously).

    Having said that… whats the bar for an “authorized arrest” in cases where there is no warrant?
    “a police officer may arrest a person for: […] (b) A crime when he has reasonable cause to believe that such person has committed such crime, whether in his presence or otherwise.”. That’s a pretty low bar right there. How do you prove that the cop didn’t really believe, at that time, that he saw Eric Garner selling Loosies to “that guy over there”?

    So ultimately I think you’re technically wrong. I think instead of making resisting arrest illegal, NY has gone the route of making it effectively impossible for an “unauthorised” arrest.

  102. Time article link seemed to disappear, perhaps it’s in moderation. Link is “http://time.com/3016326/eric-garner-video-police-chokehold-death/”

  103. “But without the de facto (and sometimes de jure) legal immunity they now have; this would tend to prevent abuses.”

    It would also prevent cops sticking their necks out to protect others unless they knew that, even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, they would be held blameless. This is a recipe for making cops ineffective.

    If every person is expected to know the law, and ignorance is no excuse, then that goes doubly so for policemen. If they do something illegal they should be subject to the same liability that you or I would be. If that makes them cautious about taking actions of dubious legality, wonderful. They should be cautious.

    However, if they’re in the process of actually protecting someone, i.e. they can point to an actual person who was in danger, and show that their actions seemed necessary at the time to protect him, then I believe anyone would have immunity under so-called “good samaritan” laws, and that should certainly include policemen.

  104. Jay Maynard, I brought up John Bad Elk to show that the US government has, through its courts, officially recognized (not established) that government actors operating outside the bounds of law are acting criminally.

    As indeed they are. However, the law currently in most states is that even if an arrest is unlawful, and therefore the policeman is acting criminally, it is a crime to resist that unlawful arrest. The victim of such a kidnapping has a legal duty, in most states, to submit to it peacefully, and then challenge it later.

  105. It isn’t the cops’ job to protect others; their job is to maintain civil order.

    Actually that’s not correct. The police force has no duty to any individual to protect them, but it is certainly part of each policeman’s job description to protect people if at all possible. If they fail to do so, the victim has no cause of action, either against them or the force, but the policemen who neglected their duty to their employer will generally be fired.

  106. In light of that Norton vs Shelby County case I’d mentioned previously, I’ve had to ask myself, “what is the ultimate foundation for laws within the USA?” If I stop at the founding document, the Declaration of Independence, the answer is clear, if difficult to accept at first.

    The founding document of the USA is the constitution, not the Declaration of Independence.

  107. Milhouse wrote, “The founding document of the USA is the constitution, not the Declaration of Independence.”

    You’re wrong on at least one point (two by my count). What did governments within the united States rest upon for a legal foundation prior to 1787? Under what law did the federal US government operate under from 1777 until 1787 (or thereabouts)? Specifically, what then were the Articles of Confederation?

  108. Jay, if I am being peaceful and cooperative, and a policeman does something that I believe is threatening my life, I will kill him, and … the courts will be my redress. I will not let him kill me and leave it to my estate to seek redress.

    And if your belief was reasonable, then I expect the courts will agree with you. But the key there is that the policeman is doing something that you reasonably believe is threatening your life. Merely arresting you is not threatening to your life, even if you are as unfit as Garner; the threat comes only if you resist, which you have no legal right to do.

  109. Actually, Eric, Israel has some pretty insane gun laws. Other than soldiers, most civilians do not have the legal right to own guns, let alone carry them, and most or all of the customers in that cafe would have been unarmed. But there would have been an armed guard at the entrance, paid for by a security surcharge on each customer’s bill. No, it makes no sense.

  110. >Other than soldiers, most civilians do not have the legal right to own guns, let alone carry

    But if you are in a quite large class of people connected with the military (including reservists) and you don’t have a concealed weapon to carry in that cafe, the police will issue you one so you can do it.

    Unless that’s changed since I checked last?

  111. >’We screwed up. We’re not going to train cops to dogpile and choke a man to death because he talked back to them, using a trivial offense as pretext.’

    One thumb up for dogpiling. It’s a lot safer for the victim to have ten guys grab him by all limbs, throw cuffs on and call EMT, than a wild fight one on one. Yes, on video it’s ten guys charging one guy. Oh well. This is routine police blotter stuff, amplified by video and tribal ‘what side are you on?’ I’m no expert, but I once moved a drunk angry woman from one strapped down stretcher to another, and having ten of us holding every limb was lots safer than having a one on one. Safer for her. Safer for fat guys who might die of asthma too. Maybe the cops in the cases discussed were all Nazis, maybe Officer Friendlies- I don’t know. Nobody but them knows. Eric, if you can tell a fatal chokehold from a momentary headlock one Officer Friendly of many throws on cuffs- from this video? For sooth.

    Two thumbs up for less Nanny State crap. Two thumbs up for body cameras- not just for police. Second Amendment should be for all tools useful in stress situations for all citizens.

  112. >I notice that assumption of the completeness of the (edited) video has been silently dropped.

    Until someone can spin an even remotely plausible theory of what could have been in the jump that justified lethal violence, yes.

    The violence was not lethal. It was exactly how police are taught to effect arrests against resisting suspects. And what may be missing in that jump is exactly what you seem to be hung up on: a verbal command to submit to arrest.

  113. The Constitution wasn’t the legal document which created the United States of America – the Declaration was.

    That is 100% wrong.

  114. Police need probable cause to arrest– I haven’t heard anything which suggests they had that for Gardner.

    They had plenty. Not only did they have multiple complaints against him, but they also saw (or believed they saw) him sell a cigarette to a person in a red jacket. That’s enough to arrest him. And he clearly knew he was being arrested, whether they used any specific verbal formula or not.

  115. The root issue over Eric Garner’s death doesn’t depend on missing video or verbal commands.

    The root issue is whether or not the DoI is just a bunch of crap spewed by rebels that fought off the current boot on their necks as justification to put their boots on the necks of others…

    … or that there is indeed a self-evident and unalienable right to life that every individual possesses which is completely outside the authority of other individuals and governments to violate.

  116. Is it relevant in the Garner case that NYC had a general policy against choke holds? Those holds may have been legal, but the police department had decided they were too dangerous to use.

    No, because no choke hold was used on Garner. The hold that was used is not a choke hold, and the NYPD does not ban it, and in fact trains its officers to use it (how else do you think they learned it?)

  117. The Declaration may not fit into legal pigeonholes such as “case law”, but it is nonetheless the founding document of the “united States of America”. Government (law) purporting to arise from that document and the surrounding events – as the Consitution does – would do well to note the explicitly-stated purpose of such governments… and individuals’ duty in response to governments that disregard their purpose.

    It is not the founding document, and the constitution does not in any way derive or arise from it. The constitution arose from the Philadelphia convention, and the ratifying conventions held in the several states. Its authority derives entirely from them, and not from anything written in 1776.

  118. . What did governments within the united States rest upon for a legal foundation prior to 1787?

    The USA did not exist then. There were only the several states.

    Under what law did the federal US government operate under from 1777 until 1787 (or thereabouts)?

    There was no federal government.

    Specifically, what then were the Articles of Confederation?

    A treaty between sovereign states, much like the UN.

  119. Milhouse wrote, “The constitution arose from the Philadelphia convention, and the ratifying conventions held in the several states. Its authority derives entirely from them, and not from anything written in 1776.”

    Okay, I’ll play along: where did the authority for the Philadelphia Con-Con and subsequent events prior to the ratification of the US Constitution originate from?

  120. And by the way, the Articles of Confederation didn’t rest on the Declaration of Independence either. They rested purely on the decision of the sovereign states to enter into an alliance. The DoI was purely a political manifesto, explaining to the world at large why the states (formerly colonies) had chosen to rebel against the UK. It never had any force of law, and it never formed the basis for any government.

  121. Okay, I’ll play along: where did the authority for the Philadelphia Con-Con and subsequent events prior to the ratification of the US Constitution originate from?

    From the subsequent ratification. The Philadelphia convention completely smashed its terms of reference. Until its work was ratified, its decisions had no legitimacy at all.

  122. By the way, if people are going to invoke the Founders regarding Garner, they should read up on the Whiskey Rebellion. Even the Founders enforced taxes.

  123. You avoided the question. “… where did the authority for the Philadelphia Con-Con AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS …”

    The question includes asking about the source of authority to deem legitmate the work of the Con-Con. (Don’t worry – I’ll stop once/if we make it to King George.)

  124. JonCB, you may be right about New York. I don’t remember whether I looked it up myself or just read it somewhere and forgot. But for instance, here’s the law in Texas. As you can see, it is explicitly made illegal to resist an unlawful arrest. So long as you know the person kidnapping you is a policeman, you are under a legal duty to go along. And AFAIK that is typical of the law in most states.

  125. The question includes asking about the source of authority to deem legitmate the work of the Con-Con.

    That authority came from the ratifying conventions themselves.

  126. Milhouse wrote, “That authority came from the ratifying conventions themselves.”

    In case I’m missing something beyond the obvious circular argument, I’ll ask: upon what then did the authority for the ratifying conventions themselves rest?

  127. In case I’m missing something beyond the obvious circular argument, I’ll ask: upon what then did the authority for the ratifying conventions themselves rest?

    Their inherent sovereignty as representatives of the people who elected them. I’m not making this up; this was expliicitly the authority the conventions themselves claimed. They explicitly rejected any other source for their authority.

  128. Milhouse wrote, “Their inherent sovereignty as representatives of the people who elected them”

    It’s okay, we’re just working through a problem to find the answer, regardless of what it turns out to be. Anyway, my response:

    Then their claim to inherent sovereignty stemmed from their being representatives of people who elected them. Predictably, I now ask where the authority to delegate such power to the representatives originated from. (Feel free to trace the source back closer to its origin as far as you’d like on your own. I’m loathe to make my own assumptions at the moment.)

  129. Victims do win those actions, though less often than they should.

    Given how it seems that law enforcement look after their own (and that is worldwide, Australia is really no different), i’m amazed victims ever win. I’d guess that the ones they win are the extreme cases.

  130. Predictably, I now ask where the authority to delegate such power to the representatives originated from.

    The power to delegate is inherent in any person. They claimed that the people had the authority to establish any kind of government they liked, and thus they could elect a convention to ratify the constitution, which would then derive its authority from that ratification. They specifically did not have the constituiton ratified by state legislatures, so that it would not be thought to derive its authority from those legislatures.

  131. Unless that’s changed since I checked last?

    No, I think you’re correct, but that depends on a soldier happening to be in the cafe. The idea that ordinary people should be free to carry the means to defend themselves from any threat that might arise, that people should rely for their defense on themselves rather than on the state, seems foreign to them.

  132. @Phil R.
    About duty to rescue in UK. I was indeed wrong. That is found on the continent (civil law), not under common law. A mix up on my side.

    @Phil R.
    About the duty to protect of the police in the UK, see the link below. But I assume here that police.uk site is informed on these matters.

    The first bulit point on the first item:
    http://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/operations/operational-planning/core-principles/

    The police have core operational duties which include:

    protecting life and property
    preserving order
    preventing the commission of offences
    bringing offenders to justice.

  133. We know this cannot be true, because it would mean there would be no legal recourse against instances of (for example) kinetic raids deploying excessive force. Victims do win those actions, though less often than they should.

    That happens when the force used really was excessive, and the plaintiff can (or appears able to) demonstrate this to a jury’s satisfaction.

    And in any case, do you as a self-described libertarian really want to be in the position of granting the police ethical carte blanche to escalate force?

    I don’t know want to be in that position, but I can’t imagine how else it could be. There should be a lot fewer laws. Laws that don’t protect anybody from harm should be repealed. But so long as there are laws, and police to enforce them, it must be lawful to use force to make arrests. Indeed, before there were police everyone had the legal right to make arrests, and for the most part they still retain that right. And that includes the right to use as much force as reasonably necessary to effect the arrest. (Indeed, under current US constitutional law, citizens potentially have greater power than police; in Tennessee v Garner the Supreme Court struck down the Fleeing Felon rule as applied to state actors, but not as applied to private actors. So where state law still enshrines the rule, a person making a citizen’s arrest of a felon may shoot him in the back if he tries to run, while a policeman may not.)

    BTW, in case anyone was wondering, I do not recognise a moral duty on any individual to obey the law, but I do recognise the right of states to exist and to make and enforce laws. States have a duty to make their laws track as closely as possible to objective right and wrong, but they will always be less than perfect, so even in libertopia there will be some mismatch between the law and morality as any individual sees it. If you break a law and get caught, I don’t think you have a moral duty to cooperate with your punishment, but I do think that the state does no wrong when it punishes you with or without your cooperation. It has to, because it can’t just defer to each person’s own sense of right and wrong.

  134. It is argued civiliana carrying concealed weapons would stop lone wolf attacks. The obvious response of the (suicide) attackers is to start shooting and killing immediately. As is done in Israel by arabs.

    On the other hand, recent lone wolf attacks in France showed that the attackers lack firearms too. So the number of killings is considerably reduced. Actually, it seems to me that an average school shooting in the USA claims many more lives than an average year of lone wolf terrorist attacks in Western Europe.
    (Before you ask, I did not do a statistical analysis on validated data on this)

  135. @Milhouse
    “However, the law currently in most states is that even if an arrest is unlawful, and therefore the policeman is acting criminally, it is a crime to resist that unlawful arrest.”

    And it could not be otherwise. Only the courts can establish the legality of an arrest. And the police, as representatives of the state, can make arrests as part of their duty.

    It just is not nice if you live under a dysfunctional legal system which seems to consider almost every action of the police as legal by definition.

  136. Milhouse wrote, “The power to delegate is inherent in any person. They claimed that the people had the authority to establish any kind of government they liked, and thus they could elect a convention to ratify the constitution, which would then derive its authority from that ratification”

    Thus it appears to me that you’ve identified the ultimate source authority for the US government as resting with the consent of the people. (Hm, that sounds familiar…) If you agree with this, I also agree, and so move to the next critical point:

    Since a person cannot delegate something they do not already possess, how can authority derived from individuals (no matter how numerous) change the ownership of the bodies which other individuals inhabit, who either exist at the time of delegation, or many years later?

  137. Garner is no symbol, no Winston Smith, certainly not a slave. If this guy’s our Mr. Smith we are doomed. A softball team of Garners would be a suicide pact. A softball team of normal folks is just a softball team. There was no murder done.

  138. @PeaceableGuy
    “Since a person cannot delegate something they do not already possess, how can authority derived from individuals (no matter how numerous) change the ownership of the bodies which other individuals inhabit, who either exist at the time of delegation, or many years later?”

    What you say essentially means that no child is bound by the rules of its community. This would include the rules about the distribution of property and the rules about ownership.

    Does not sound as a very sensible standpoint.

  139. @ Milhouse

    One perspective is that the US status quo is still in reasonably good shape, the rule of law is still an effective social pact, and the Garner incident is simply a tragic anomaly. Move along, nothing to see here.

    Another perspective is that this country has been devoid of sound political leadership for a very long time and the cancerous growth of government has become a non trivial problem. More laws combined with more nannyistic enforcement of chickenshit offenses is a recipe for social friction. Ignore this problem at your own peril.

    Eric has correctly pointed to the root issue. After the grand jury exonerated the police in the Garner incident, DiBlasio should have stepped forward and admitted that a bad thing had occurred and that other means would be employed to assure accountability and amends. No one has faith in governmental leadership, and for good reason.

  140. The root issue has not been addressed. A tell-tale hallmark of a racial supremacy is the idea no one outside that ethnic group is allowed to murder one’s own. The sole reason we know about the Garner case is because of the incessant racial profiling, lies and exaggeration of our social justice warriors.

    Over 5,500 blacks were killed by other blacks last year in circumstances that were actual murder compared to the false notion Garner was murdered. Where are the protests? That is not a principled reaction to death or the odds of death but one of racial supremacy that ignores in-house murder as a clannish act that is no other ethnic group’s business. The silliest thing is to see so many naive middle class whites effectively take up by proxy the equivalent of Jews fronting for neo-Nazis. The idea of Jews laying down in malls for neo-Nazis is too deliciously stupid and choco-rat Orwellian for me to even wrap my mind around.

    The hashtag #blacklivesmatter then has an Orwellian stink of truth about it where one death by black is a tiny fraction as miserable as death by white. Portraying that as some unwilling to repent un-Ticktockman fighting Thoreau’s empty-headed taxmen built of clay makes it all the worse and makes the term “useful idiot” come to life. There is in fact a principled argument to be made there but I’ll not have it dictated by racist magnifying glasses like Ta-Nahesi Coates or Al Shaprton.

  141. I might add that calling Garner’s death a “murder” is to have us believe that every act of taking a person resisting arrest into custody is attempted murder.

  142. Since a person cannot delegate something they do not already possess, how can authority derived from individuals (no matter how numerous) change the ownership of the bodies which other individuals inhabit, who either exist at the time of delegation, or many years later?

    You’re arguing libertarian theory, or anarchocapitalist theory, but the USA was not founded on libertarian principles, let alone anarchist ones. The premise on which it was founded was explicitly that the people of the several states (meaning the majority in each state, since there were obviously dissenters) had the authority to establish a new federal government over themselves and everyone else, bypassing the authority of their existing state governments. A government that would have the authority to tax people, impose laws on them, and punish them for breaking those laws, all without their consent.

    You may say they had no right to do this, but your opinion is irrelevant; the point is that they asserted they did have such a right, and it was on the basis of that right that they established the USA. In fact not only did they think the majority in each state had the right to impose this new government on the minority, but also that the majority in 9 states had the right to impose it on the majorities of the other 4, should they not consent to it. They also asserted the authority to impose this new federal government on their own states, i.e. the already-existing entities that had until then been their only governments. (Had the states been consulted about the new federal government they would almost certainly have consented, but they were deliberately not consulted, because it was thought to be none of their business.)

    You may conclude, if you like, that the USA is illegitimate. Indeed if you’re an anarchist you already believe that of all states, including the USA. But you cannot argue that when the government thus established makes unlibertarian laws they are automatically unconstitutional, or contrary to its founding principles. Still less can you argue that unlibertarian laws made by states or cities (which were not established by the constitution or the DoI) are automatically unconstitutional or contrary to their founding principles.

  143. Milhouse, since it appears we do agree that the source of authority for the version of the USA that exists now was delegated from a collection of individual people, there are only two possible outcomes that arise from that condition:

    One is the affirmation of the claims written in the Declaration, including an unalienable right to life, government created from the delegation of authority of the people, and that the purpose of government is to secure that right (not violate it).

    The other is that government exists by the same mechanic as does a lone mugger or a large “protection racket” gang: naked force alone.

    In the former, there are hard limits on what government agents can do; in the latter, there are NO limits. In the former, individuals have an unalienable right to life; in the latter, we get Dred Scott vs Sandford (black people aren’t human) and Wickard vs Filburn (you participate in commerce by NOT participating in commerce).

    This line of reasoning is not new, is not newfangled ideology thought up by pampered libertarians of the modern age under the blessings of US freedom – it was discussed before there ever was a free English-derived nation in North America.

    I’m perfectly okay with people asserting that government authority rests upon naked force alone, so long as this position is made clear. There still won’t be a problem between the two ideological camps until one initiates violence against the other… which is then settled one way or the other by the use of force.

  144. Yep. It’s all operating pretty much as designed, the same tyrannical crap that’s been imposed on the sheep since time immemorial. We sheep have a few options, submit, ignore, walk away, or fight. Since the planet is full of tyrants, ignore or walk away don’t have much chance of working, for long. We pretty much have to fight. Wish it weren’t so. Starting with cops makes lots of sense, they being the tip of the tyrants’ spear, but they’re just tools of the real problem, and we’re not going to solve the problem by dulling the tools. We have to eliminate the worship of authority, and make it impossible for ANYONE to attain non-consensual power. Which is mighty difficult given the nature of reality, where physical force rules.

    Personally, I think it’s pretty much hopeless. Too many of the sheep don’t care, or actually like their prison. So I dance a lot and meditate a lot, and look forward to getting liberated and leaving the manifestation for good.

  145. Eric has correctly pointed to the root issue. After the grand jury exonerated the police in the Garner incident, DiBlasio should have stepped forward and admitted that a bad thing had occurred and that other means would be employed to assure accountability and amends.

    Neither accountability nor amends are called for. The only thing that went wrong is that there should never have been such a law in the first place. The only thing de Blasio could possibly do about it would be to repudiate the political ideology in which he was raised by his communist parents, and to which he has devoted his whole life, and decide to lobby the city, state, and federal governments to try to get them to reverse this law which he has until now vigorously supported. That’s not going to happen.

    I do not believe Garner did anything wrong. But nor did the police. There should never have been a grand jury inquiry in the first place, since it was clear from the beginning that there was no criminal case to be made against any of the policemen.

  146. > Then their claim to inherent sovereignty stemmed from their being representatives of people who elected them. Predictably, I now ask where the authority to delegate such power to the representatives originated from. (Feel free to trace the source back closer to its origin as far as you’d like on your own. I’m loathe to make my own assumptions at the moment.)

    Unless you’re going to claim that everything about it is illegal because they weren’t authorized by the King of England, I’m not sure where you’re going with this? They have legitimacy because they fought a revolutionary war and won.

  147. One is the affirmation of the claims written in the Declaration, including an unalienable right to life, government created from the delegation of authority of the people, and that the purpose of government is to secure that right (not violate it).

    The other is that government exists by the same mechanic as does a lone mugger or a large “protection racket” gang: naked force alone.

    Why are those the only two options? The founders of the USA believed the people had the authority to establish any sort of government they liked. They were not bound by, and did not rely on, the claims made in a specific political manifesto written by different people 12 years earlier, in support of a cause that was over by then. They did write into their constitution some limitations on what the new federal government could do, and in order to obtain ratification they agreed to include a whole new set of limitations, but they certainly did not think these limitations ought to apply to any government, or that any government that was not limited in these ways was illegitimate.

    Nor did they agree to limit the new federal government in anything like the way that libertarians would have liked. The new government was free to make laws that had no connection to protecting individuals from aggression, and to impose taxes, and to arrest people, with violence if necessary, for failure to pay those taxes. See the Whiskey Rebellion.

  148. They have legitimacy because they fought a revolutionary war and won.

    This was after the revolution was already over. They claimed legitimacy simply because the people of the several states (or rather majorities in 9 of the 13 states) elected delegates who decided that way.

  149. Remember, they sent the constitution out for ratification without the Bill of Rights. Had it been ratified as is, they would have regarded that as perfectly legitimate. The only reason they added the BoR was because too many state conventions said they wouldn’t ratify it without it.

  150. By the way, look who’s behind the NYC protests. There’s a value to choosing sides; whenever ANSWER takes a side, all decent people belong on the other side. (Yes, I know this is not logical. When two rival and equally evil groups take opposite sides, what are good people to do? The USSR was on the right side in WW2, but the Third Reich was on the right side in Finland.)

  151. Milhouse wrote, “Why are those the only two options?” (regarding authority delegation from people versus naked force)

    Those are the only two options because those are the only two sources from which governments in the United States of America can draw authority from. EVERYTHING subsequent to the moment of government creation is irrelevant in comparison to the original source of authority used to establish that same government.

    Yes, the history of the USA is quite horrific, littered with the initiation of force against others. Whether or not those acts were *illegal* depends on what the source of governmental authority factually *is*.

    A government sourced from the authority of the individual cannot exceed the power of an individual, regardless of the number of individuals involved. A massive protection racket gang is no more legitmate than a lone mugger. Two or more people cannot deprive a third person of life, liberty, or property by ANY source of authority other than that of force, nor can any institution created by the authority of two or more individuals.

    If force is the ultimate source of authority for the USA, then we can honestly discuss the ramifications of that in the context of Eric Garner and others like him in similar situations. What seems dishonest or ignorant to me is attempting to both claim that US governments can do whatever their agents please (legislatively, judicially, or executively) so long as at least one other element of that same single entity supports the action, without also acknowledging that the only functional source of authority for many of those actions is literally resting on nothing but the same naked force that a dictator or tyrant uses, along with the exact same lack of limitations.

  152. Milhouse, please excuse me for not addressing several of the other points you’ve raised. All the unaddressed points rest upon the root issue I’m hammering on, that the ultimate source of authority for US governments is one of only two things: delegation from individual humans, or raw force.

  153. >All the unaddressed points rest upon the root issue I’m hammering on, that the ultimate source of authority for US governments is one of only two things: delegation from individual humans, or raw force

    This is true, and I find it disturbing that you have to make such an elementary point to someone who, claiming to be a libertarian, should already understand it.

  154. ESR, I claimed to be a libertarian ten years ago, and back then, when someone made the exact same claim to me that I am now making here, I rejected it. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an exact reason for rejecting the premise at that time, but “it sounded false” is probably close enough.

    Since I do highly value truth, I started digging for the most fundamental authoritative source I could find to resolve the many obvious conflicts in US law and government (2nd Amendment vs NFA et al, Prohibition vs War on Drugs, ad nauseum). Looking back to there from here, I see a bright, shining line (that others admittedly had already described to me) that points directly at the source of authority for government as the root issue that then shakes loose a thousand leaf issues, one way or the other.

    A decade prior, I would have been aghast to be told that I supported and was participating in a tyrannical political system based on nothing but the use and threat of force. I suspect that what keeps the hopelessness Bill St. Clair has expressed mostly at bay from myself is that I believe that if a slowboat like me could be shown the truth and eventually test it and come to realize its validity, then there’s hope for a great many others… and that as anecdotally evidenced by the lack of complete chaos and upheaval in all areas of the USA, that the overwhelming vast majority of people here ultimately do not want to live their lives using nothing but naked force, either.

  155. Milhouse wrote, “Why are those the only two options?” (regarding authority delegation from people versus naked force)

    Those weren’t the two options you presented. The two options you presented were naked force versus the specific model envisioned in the DoI, limited in the specific ways that document imagines governments ought to be limited. Those were not the options the people who actually founded the USA thought they had.

    A government sourced from the authority of the individual cannot exceed the power of an individual, regardless of the number of individuals involved.

    Neither the authors of the DoI nor the founders of the USA agreed with this. That doesn’t make it false, but it does mean that the USA was not founded on this principle.

  156. Specifically, the founders of the USA claimed their authority derived from the people, not the individuals who make up the people.

  157. Milhouse, what is this amorphous entity you refer to as “the people”, and from what does its authority originate?

    On a separate note, I am not blind to the fact that you have pointed out errors I made. I will take pains to be correct on those points in the future. In spite of that, points of fact (the Declaration had no direct legal force on the version of the USA created by the US Constitution) and even points of opinion (Founders, writers of DoI, did not agree that government authority is sourced from the individual) are not material to the question of just where does the source of authority for governments ultimately originate? Debating such topics is pointless if the root issue isn’t identified and resolved first.

    For sake of clear discussion, I believe I can concede every point to you save one: that governmental authority is either derived from the delegated authority of individuals, or by nothing but force and the threat of force. That single question’s validity and its answer will provide the basis for all the other issues raised, from the motivations of the Founders to the death of Eric Garner.

  158. @PeaceableGuy
    People that lived two centuries cannot bind those that live now. Whatever happened then can only affect those who live now because they want to honor now the laws then installed.

    Which means that the government of the USA gets its authority, just as every authority that ever existed, because enough people accept their authority. And, obviously, enough people are willing to enforce this authority.

    Everything else are customs, empty words

  159. Au contraire my dear Winter. The USA government, and all those existing now that I know of, get their authority from the barrel of a gun. I.e the phrase “might is right” is what all governments claim as their ultimate authority, and the reason they are able to enforce their rules and laws on the rest of us.

    As you say, those that lived in the past can not enforce themselves on those of us in the present. Yet, if I were to not pay the taxes the government demanded of me (because I /don’t/ accept the government’s authority), I would rapidly find myself forced to pay. Or if I didn’t pay, then I would be dragged off by people with guns. And if I attempted to defend myself against those people, then…

    OK, skip taxes. Whatever something else, like wishing to partake of some drug (like THC or LSD) that the government has decided is too dangerous for me to take. If I do, and they find out, then the men (and possibly women) with guns come to take me away (white coats? haha, to the funny farm). Their only authority the guns that they carry.

    And if enough people don’t recognise the authority of the men with guns? Then they still all get shot. Or else a civil war starts. Neither option is that great.

  160. @Michael
    “And if enough people don’t recognise the authority of the men with guns?”

    The people with the guns are just people too. You need special constructions to get them to shoot their neighbors. I do not think the USA is yet at that point.

  161. > You need special constructions to get them to shoot their neighbors.

    Constructions like convincing them to regard those neighbors as “thugs”?

  162. @Random832
    No, isolation, stationing (far) away from home.

    E.g., the Chinese troops used to suppress the Tian An Men protests were from the other side of China.

  163. but teaching them to regard those neighbors as “thugs” would probably also work.

  164. @kn
    “but teaching them to regard those neighbors as “thugs” would probably also work.”

    Probably. But in practice, tyrrants seem to rather rely on total social isolation between those supposed to fire the guns and those at the receiving end of the bullits.

  165. @Winter:

    I am having a hard time squaring that isolation theory with proven indoctrination powerful enough to make kids rat out their parents.

  166. @ Milhouse – “Neither accountability nor amends are called for.”

    Tell that to the families of the two dead police officers who had nothing to do with the original Garner incident.

    As Eric has indicated, your perspective on the Garner incident is indeed troubling, and probably explains why there is no likelihood of a sane remedy.

    A man died needlessly because police over-reacted to a chickenshit ordinance. If that state of affairs continues without accountability or amends, then retribution is very likely to become more common as well.

    And that will not be the end of it. Law-abiding citizens will start to view the police as potentially dangerous enemies and then arm themselves (legally or not, as it does matter when the threat is lethal) in order to fight back in self defense.

    And don’t kid yourself about where this can lead. When the tipping point is reached, it will be the police who are hunted. As you have pointed out in your historical retrospective, just because we had one revolution in 1776, does not preclude us from having another in this century.

  167. >http://crooksandliars.com/2014/12/protester-confronts-fox-affiliate

    I’m not sure it means much except some Baltimore editor insisting “we need if-it-bleeds-it-leads footage as good as they’re making in NYC”.

    Now, if it turns out that every news outlet that covered them – or even a mere majority – was faking the death-to-cops chants, that would mean a lot. But I think we can take it for granted that most news organizations other than Fox are ideologically more likely to exert censorship in favor of making the demands of black people look justified and reasonable, if that’s required. So most of them faking that seems highly unlikely.

  168. @Patrick Maupin
    “@Winter:

    I am having a hard time squaring that isolation theory with proven indoctrination powerful enough to make kids rat out their parents.”

    There are few tyrranies that powerfull. In such cases, the grip on the population is so thurough that resistance is isolated anyway.

    In most cases the ruling elite is an isolated minority, e.g., Sadam in Iraq, Assad in Syriah, or the elites are otherwise isolated, e.g., the Securitate in Rumenia or the Songbun castes in North Korea.

    Even in Eastern Europe, foreign troops were called in to suppress mass revolts (Hungary and Chechoslowakija).

  169. Nancy Lebovitz on 2014-12-26 at 12:33:37 said:
    > What do you guys make of this?
    > http://crooksandliars.com/2014/12/protester-confronts-fox-affiliate

    This is cspan:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZfbrItDvrU

    Basically what the fox affiliate did was listen to the tape, misunderstand what they were saying and cut the video at that point.

    Listening to the longer tape *doesn’t help* if you first hear it wrong. It was *bad* reporting, but understandable in the face of:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/12/22/last_week_nyc_protesters_chant_what_do_we_want_dead_cops_when_do_we_want_it_now.html

  170. ” I am having a hard time squaring that isolation theory with proven indoctrination powerful enough to make kids rat out their parents.”

    And how powerful does it have to be for that? If the kids are young enough not to fully understand the consequences of what they’re doing, you don’t think they’ll “rat out their parents” as revenge for being made to eat their vegetables?

    Let me know when someone comes up with indoctrination that can make parents rat out their children.

  171. “Listening to the longer tape *doesn’t help* if you first hear it wrong.”

    Sure it does, because what they heard it as makes the next line make no sense.

  172. Random832 on 2014-12-26 at 15:08:24 said:
    > > “Listening to the longer tape *doesn’t help* if you first hear it wrong.”
    > Sure it does, because what they heard it as makes the next line make no sense.

    For *DECADES* I heard this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGF_0AcHaGs

    As big ol’ jed and the light house. Didn’t make *ANY* sense.

    A couple of young idiots protesting and what they are saying doesn’t make any sense? Against a backdrop of *other* protestors saying the same thing, 3 decades of Hip-hop artists and Punk singers ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKtZoI3XaVQ ) singing about killing cops?

    Yeah, who am I going to believe, some whiny protestor, or my own lying ears.

  173. Winter, the mechanics of what you claim are true, that government functionally operates because large numbers of people support, fund, and “believe” in government regardless of its legitimacy.

    However, that does not change the fact that the *source* of any government’s power comes from either force, or from the authority of the human individual. When that is thrust upon supporters of government, it often clashes with the supporters’ premises. Even if the supporters ultimately choose to side with force as an acceptable authority source, prompting at least some people to cease debate from a false premise is a step towards convincing them that force is an invalid foundation to build governments for free people on.

  174. @Random832:

    And how powerful does it have to be for that? If the kids are young enough not to fully understand the consequences of what they’re doing, you don’t think they’ll “rat out their parents” as revenge for being made to eat their vegetables?

    Exactly.

    You didn’t think you were disagreeing with me, did you? :-)

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  176. “Homicide” is a legal finding of death, and not the same as “murder.”

    There are only five legal ways to die–homicide, suicide, accident, natural causes, and unknown.

    A finding of “homicide” means the cause is known and applied by an outside agent. That is all.

    If one dies during the commission of a crime, the criminals are deemed to have performed the act, since their actions led to it.

    IOW, Garner murdered himself when he made the stupid decision to ignore 6 cops using physical means.

    I disapprove of the event, but the nomenclature is descriptive, not accusative.

  177. It would also be helpful if people didn’t reduce the moral landscape of cases like these to the false dilemma of only two options, “murder” (which implies intent if not malice) and “justified” (which implies nothing was done wrong and perhaps the dead deserved to die). In law and the real world, there is a whole moral landscape between those two extremes which includes manslaughter, negligent homicide, wrongful deaths, and so on such that it’s possible that the police are guilty of some wrongdoing but that it falls short, perhaps far short, of murder. Not all homicides are murder or justified.

  178. >Not all homicides are murder or justified.

    In law, a wrongful or negligent death caused during the commission of a felony crime – including conspiracy to deny civil rights under cover of law – is described and treated as murder. That is the applicable category when police kill a man nominally over a trivial civil offense but in fact for backtalk.

  179. Each and every interaction between humans has the likelihood of a bad outcome. The same is true for interactions with the police. The best solution here is to minimize the number of interactions.
    In the case of Garner, the criminalization of the sale of ‘loosies’ is pointless. The only purpose of this law is to maximize the revenue of the state, not to create or maintain public safety.
    Every new law should come with the knowledge that enforcement may require the use of force that could lead to injury and/or death … so new laws should be created with care and old laws should be ‘sunsetted’ (which will have the side-effect of keeping politicians from creating new laws).

  180. “There should be an accounting for that, not by assassin’s bullets but by a trial in which justice can be seen to be done”.

    No, this is not the problem. The problem is that the grand jury correctly applied the law and determined that, according to the law, the officers did no wrong. Mr. Gardner’s death and the actions of the officers are only symptoms. The way the police operate is directly a result of the laws that protect them when doing so. The situation calls not for a one-time exception to try the officers involved, but an institutional change to make the criminal justice system, from cop to prosecutor to judge, accountable for their actions. Mayor DeBlasio knows he could be a strong force to make this happen, but he is so much in the political pocket of the lawyers and unions that he’d much rather act as if he is powerless and use the tribalism you reference as support.

  181. I’m shaking my head here. This video was EDITED. Something was taken out. Something between Garner ranting and raving and the police moving in to carry out the arrest. Eric asks, “What are you proposing was edited out that could make what we saw less than an an utter atrocity?” Perhaps the police told him he was under arrest and he told them he wasn’t going to cooperate. Maybe he got out of control and started acting physically threatening. But I do know that whatever it was, it was worth the time and effort for whoever put out the video to load the video into a video editor, cut out whatever it was, and resave it as an edited video for release on youtube. This is propaganda. Edited. This video was not released to show what really happened. It was edited and released to inflame people and stir up race riots. If the purpose of this video was to show what really happened, it wouldn’t have been edited. Of that I am sure. Fade edits don’t just happen. They are deliberate and done for a purpose. The editing of this video is a huge, huge part of this story.

    For what it’s worth, the missing portion of the video is exactly the point where the police might have talked to and tried to reason with the suspect. It is exactly the point where the suspect might have said or done something that would have made the police decide to place him under arrest rather than let him go. It is exactly the point where the police might have told the suspect that he was under arrest. It is exactly the point where they might have asked him to cooperate and he might have refused. To my eye, the police don’t appear to be jumping him like they are the ones out of control. Their attitude seems to be along the lines of, “Ok, if you insist on doing this the hard way, we’ll have to do it the hard way.” Those are a couple of very strong, likely possibilities for what happened during the part of the video that the propagandists felt they had to edit out in order to get the effect they wanted.

    At this point I am inclined to give the police the absolute full benefit of the doubt as to what happened during the deleted portion of the video. As far as I’m concerned, they had a big man who absolutely needed to be arrested resisting arrest and they got him to the ground and into handcuffs in the manner that was safest for the officers and bystanders. I call bullshit on this edited propaganda video. Anyone taking it at face value should know better.

  182. Just a note on conservative vs. libertarian:

    One of the more useful political / analytical tools that I’ve seen actually separated conservative and libertarian into two separate axes so that the opposite of conservative was liberal; the opposite of libertarian was authoritarian. Thus, you could have a conservative libertarian or an authoritarian liberal, depending on how the person’s beliefs sorted out.

    When I took this poll some years ago, I ended up pretty squarely in the middle on the conservative/liberal axis and about halfway from the center down toward libertarian on the libertarian/authoritarian axis, which sounds about right to me.

    All that said, there are a lot of nominal conservatives who seem to be quite outraged by the failure to prosecute in the Garner case. So am I.

    Have you seen the reports on the police killing of a 95-year old man here in Chicago? One of the officers in that case is actually being taken to trial.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/kass/ct-john-wrana-kass-met-1123-20141121-column.html

  183. @Patrick Maupin “You didn’t think you were disagreeing with me, did you? :-)”

    You are now backing away from the implicit claim that convincing children to turn in their parents requires particularly powerful indoctrination, on the scale of what works on adults.

  184. @Random832:

    OK, I’ll stop being snarky and just come out and say it: “HITLER AND THE NAZIS PROVED YOU CAN SLOWLY BRAINWASH THE POPULACE INTO KILLING THEIR NEIGHBORS WITHOUT TOTALLY ISOLATING THEM.”

    Now, it doesn’t count when you explicitly invoke Godwin, but what about when you’ve been provoked into it by someone whose sarcasm detector has fallen out of calibration?

    Ooops — think I lapsed back into snark mode again. Anyway, have a happy New Year, and don’t forget to get that thing checked.

  185. @Patrick Maupin – and here this whole time I thought you were talking about the Soviets. For a Nazi comparison to work, you’ve got to consider that an identifiable difference (such as religion or ethnicity) allowing the targeted group of “neighbors” to be dehumanized is a factor making it easier.

  186. Random832 on 2014-12-29 at 16:57:28 said:

    @Patrick Maupin – and here this whole time I thought you were talking about the Soviets. For a Nazi comparison to work, you’ve got to consider that an identifiable difference (such as religion or ethnicity) allowing the targeted group of “neighbors” to be dehumanized is a factor making it easier.

    Fascist, Nazis, communists, whatever. What’s the last paragraph or two of Animal Farm?

    You’re hung up in believing that the Nazis only prosecuted Jews, they also went after gypsies (Europeans don’t care much for gypsies. Mostly with good reason.) Homosexuals, Communists, trade-unionists, and basically anyone who wasn’t a “Good German”.

    Hell, the Stasi is another example.

    It happened here in the US:
    http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/12/16/i-feel-the-sky-tumbling-down/#comment-227116
    http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/12/16/i-feel-the-sky-tumbling-down/#comment-227135
    http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/12/16/i-feel-the-sky-tumbling-down/#comment-227143

    It’s not whether it can or can’t happen here, it already *has*.

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  188. > You’re hung up in believing that the Nazis only prosecuted Jews, they also went after gypsies (Europeans don’t care much for gypsies. Mostly with good reason.) Homosexuals, Communists, trade-unionists, and basically anyone who wasn’t a “Good German”.

    A list of outgroups isn’t going to do much to convince me that they had super-strong indoctrination to get people to kill / turn in their neighbors who aren’t in those outgroups.

  189. @ PeaceableGuy

    Government is a human invention. It comes into existence when a group of humans choose to associate themselves cooperatively and then formalize the relationship. Other humans can then elect to join the association (immigration); and still others can be incorporated by acquiescence or indoctrination (e.g. children born into the group). And then there are those who either overtly (or covertly) reject association with the preexisting group and have a dilemma on their hands.

    There is no “authority” that validates this type of association, it simply comes into existence as an evolutionary social mutation. If it works, it will persist. If it doesn’t, then it will lapse.

  190. @PeaceableGuy
    I think Milhouse is saying that rather than the Declaration of Independence creating a political entity known as “The United States of America”, it instead created thirteen independent States of America that created a confederation under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which was later {transformed into | replaced by} a federation under our current Constitution. (Since the ConCon was authorized by the Congress of the AoC, and the Constitution itself holds that all laws, treaties, etc. entered into under the AoC are valid, I lean toward the “transformed into” side.)

    So rather than being the founding document of one United States of America, it was instead the founding document of the thirteen States of America as free and independent states.

    This does not in any way change the fact that the legitimacy of the state governments who sent delegates to the Congress under the Articles, and delegates to the ConCon, is based upon the principles you’ve outlined here. Governments derive their just powers to protect the rights of the people from the consent of those people. To repudiate that is to renounce their own existence.

  191. TomA, wrote, “Government is a human invention. It comes into existence when a group of humans choose to associate themselves cooperatively […] There is no “authority” that validates this type of association”

    It looks to me as though you yourself claimed that one avenue for the creation of government is from human individuals choosing to cooperate. That, and the historical fact that many governments in the form of kings and tyrants have been forced upon people through the gun or sword, it seems that we may actually agree that “there are only two sources of governmental authority: delegation of individual authority, or raw force”… or did I miss something?

  192. @Random832:

    > A list of outgroups isn’t going to do much to convince me…

    The point is, it is exceptionally easy to create a list of outgroups.

  193. @ PeaceableGuy – “or did I miss something?”

    History reveals many examples of how humans have formed associations in the past. Some of these have been voluntary constructs based upon individual participant consent, and others have been forced associations such as tyrannies and slavery. That is the nature of the evolutionary stew in which our species has evolved.

    All of these permutations are social mutations, and their longevity has been a proxy for their success. Darwinian selection does not care about morality.

  194. TomA wrote, “Some of these have been voluntary constructs based upon individual participant consent, and others have been forced associations such as tyrannies and slavery […] All of these permutations are social mutations, and their longevity has been a proxy for their success. Darwinian selection does not care about morality.”

    TomA, I’m not sure I’m following you. You seem to make the claim that free will doesn’t exist by referring to “voluntary constructs based upon individual consent” as “Darwinian selection”. If this is what you claim, thinking about this for a short while still seems to indicate that such a concept (voluntary Darwinism) is paradoxical.

  195. @ PeaceableGuy

    First, artificial selection is both real and common. Think domestication of plants and animals to select for specific traits.

    Second, human intelligence allows us to make choices about all kinds of things in life (including various modes of association). To the extent that these choices help us survive and thrive, then they “work” in an evolutionary sense. Making choices that get you killed at an early age will keep your genes out of the gene pool.

    This is just a description of reality, that’s all.

  196. TomA, if there is human decision-making going on, then those choices in regards interactions with other humans on both the individual and governmental scale reflect either voluntary cooperation or raw force. I don’t see how your “description of reality” changes that situation.

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  198. @ PeaceableGuy

    You’re trying to simplify this facet of human behavior into two options, but life is messy and highly variable. There are numerous scenarios, influences, and motivations that may impact on the decisions we make; even those that involve an interaction with a government. At one end of the spectrum could be pure volitional consent and the other end could be a gun on your forehead with comply or die. In between could be persuasion, coercion, blackmail, brainwashing, deception, bribery, and insanity (to name just a few).

  199. TomA, in regards to interactions between individuals and government, all the shades of grey you mentioned *still* boil down to voluntary consent or force.

    Persuasion, blackmail, and bribery rest on voluntary cooperation; brainwashing does as well, as long as the means is not forced on the recipient (e.g. most entertainment products).

    Coercion is generally based on force (e.g. “do this, or we break your legs”).

    Deception is irrelevant to my assertion, as the deceived individual acts voluntarily. (This is not to excuse the use of fraud, but a government cannot draw authority from or operate on fraud alone. Though some governments appear to do so in some areas, such as those in the US where it comes to firearms, drugs, etc., enforce the fraud upon individuals who see through it with force.)

  200. @Patrick OK, I’ll stop being snarky and just come out and say it: “HITLER AND THE NAZIS PROVED YOU CAN SLOWLY BRAINWASH THE POPULACE INTO KILLING THEIR NEIGHBORS WITHOUT TOTALLY ISOLATING THEM.”

    Recent events have encouraged me to try to do a little background reading to attempt to understand the history of modern Turkey. It’s confusing, it’s messed up, I still don’t have a proper grasp on it, but I know it’s had more of an influence on the modern world than anyone fully appreciates.

    Anyway, look at the genocides. Not just Armenian, there were several. You don’t need much in the way of brainwashing, or isolation, or really much of anything. To have people happily help kill their neighbors you just need existing fault lines/divisions/differences (Turkish/non-Turkish minorities, Muslim/non-Muslim minorities in this case) and an existential crisis. In Turkey’s case it was primarily fear of outside (primarily Russian) aggression and paranoia about internal minorities aiding the aggressors. Hysterical fear, combined with old animosity and just a hint of greed (the neighbors you kill *own* things, hint hint) are plenty.

    Anyone who things it’s important to “never let a crisis go to waste” should scare you silly.

    Mehmed Reshid was Hitler foreshadowed.

  201. > The point is, it is exceptionally easy to create a list of outgroups.

    And harder to produce soldiers who will shoot whoever they are ordered to without doing that sort of prep work.

  202. @ESR

    >I don’t have a fix for this problem.

    I managed to reduce my own tribalism in the recent years. The method is gradually reducing the amount of, and narrowing the kind of, and even choosing the platform of online discussions I participate in. Online discussions are very prone to be tribalistic and Tumblr and Twitter are the worst. Generally, it is a quantity problem. If you write a long article, you can calmly analyse all sides of an issue. If you discuss something IRL with close friends over a coffee, you can use metacommunication to signalize that you are not making a four legs good, two legs bad case. But the low bandwidth of a Twittr post or short blog comment or Reddit comment is very, very hard to keep out of that zone.

    Most importantly, what helped is understanding how little my own influence is. When one is young and hot-headed it is temping to think that if I would just find the right words to express my oh-so-perfect views I could make a change in the world. I had to grow up and realize how voiceless I am – the gigantic amount of online content generated drowns out all but a few voices. This realization helped tapering off low-bandwith publishing – a million Reddit comments change NOTHING and are forgotten by everybody in a day, but one long and well argued article always has a chance to change a few minds, and one of those minds may just have some power strings to pull. So I am more and more moving towards keeping silent unless I can write a long article on some moderately well read platform.

  203. And while you’re at it, you can try to convince me I should ignore the Palestinians dancing in the streets on 9/11.

    At least they looked surprised, unlike the Israelis who apparently were.

  204. @Patrick Maupin
    “HITLER AND THE NAZIS PROVED YOU CAN SLOWLY BRAINWASH THE POPULACE INTO KILLING THEIR NEIGHBORS WITHOUT TOTALLY ISOLATING THEM.”

    Bad example. What happened in the camps was a secret. Some effort went into trying to destroy the evidence when the Reich fell. People suspected (very) bad things, but the general population had no idea how horrible it was.

    What the Nazis showed was that you can create a tyranny bad enough that you can keep the populace quiet while some insane elite corps is doing the mass murder in the shades. And it probably could only work because it was during a horrible war.

    I think that the movie “Fatherland” renders the ideology well (not the practice, just the image projected).
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109779/

    I think Russia is a much better counter example. But the Russians have hanged their neighbors at least from the times of Ivan the Terrible. They never needed a specific ideology for it.

  205. @JessicaBoxer

    >First of all the idea that cops are fungible.

    That is called dehumanization and really it is the oldest and No. 1 determinant of violence. It is borderline impossible to use violence against someone we consider fully human. Violence is, by its very nature, a radical disregard of the autonomy of the Other, treating a body as a merely material obstacle to remove.

    Another issue is that the police forces, military forces etc. of the world are even easier to dehumanize than say a random person who is of a different race or nationality than ourselves, because their uniform and operating procedures dehumanize them to a certain extent on their own. Their own organization denies them a large amount of their humanity i.e. autonomy, turning them into followers of orders, halfway between humans and _tools_. This is why their enemies can easier dehumanize them too.

    (Wait, now I sound a bit like a progressive. But actually this subset of postmodern or whatever theory I actually find correct. It all follows from the Kantian faculty of reason.)

  206. >Out of all the people in that cafe one single armed civilian who was a decent shot could have ended the siege three minutes after it started.

    There were, what, 15 people in that cafe? In a sane civilization all but a handful of the men and a significant minority of the women would have been armed. A dozen pistols against one shotgun doesn’t end well for the bad guy.

    Don’t tell me I’m fantasizing.

    I find it interesting that in a thread about how a lone gunman shot two armed police officers wearing vests that being armed is somehow the panacea for crime or violence.

    This is what the Israelis actually do about the problem, and it’s why Hamas has retreated to firing Qassams from over a border.

    You mean other than abducting teenagers?

  207. Pingback: Glenn Reynolds | Self-serving pols and unions get a boost stoking racial tensions | Congress Arizona

  208. @Winter:

    > What happened in the camps was a secret.

    I didn’t realize the jews interned themselves.

    ISTM there were two kinds of Aryan Germans — those who knew, and those who didn’t want to know.

  209. Patrick, who knew what about the death camps may have varied a lot. IIRC, I read in a book about Treblinka, people escaped from the camps and went back to the ghetto to give a warning….and weren’t believed. (Probably this book.)

    I think that from the modern point of view, the Holocaust is this hugely obvious event, but it was close to unprecedented in Europe, there were some efforts to keep it secret, and it was hard to believe that a civilized nation would do such a thing.

  210. nht wrote, “I find it interesting that in a thread about how a lone gunman shot two armed police officers wearing vests that being armed is somehow the panacea for crime or violence. […] other than abducting [unarmed] teenagers”

    ESR pointed out that armed cafe patrons are a hard counter to a lone hostage-seeking gunman; he did not claim that being armed is a cure-all for crime. It is dishonest to say that advocates of the right to bear arms believe a gun to be a magical ward against harm.

    Being armed provides options for responses to evil. Example: if someone attempts to kidnap you while you are armed, you have the option to resist your own kidnapping with force. If you are unarmed, you have few, if any, options.

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