Dilemmatizing the NRA

So, the Washington Post publishes yet another bullshit article on gun policy.

In this one, the NRA is charged with racism because it doesn’t leap to defend the right of black men to bear arms without incurring a lethal level of police suspicion.

In a previous blog post, I considered some relevant numbers. At 12% of the population blacks commit 50% of violent index crimes. If you restrict to males in the age range that concentrates criminal behavior, the numbers work out to a black suspect being a a more likely homicidal threat to cops and public safety by at least 26:1.

I haven’t worked out how the conditional probabilities crunch out if you have the prior that your suspect is armed, but it probably makes that 26:1 ratio worse rather than better.

Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist. They’re doing what crime statistics and street-level experience train them to do, and they’re right to do it. This was true even before the post-Ferguson wave of deliberate assassinations of police by blacks.

The NRA would, I’m sure, love to defend the RKBA of a black man who isn’t a thug or gangbanger. So would I. The trouble is that when you’re considering police stops nice cases like that are damned thin on the ground.

Seriously, the victims in these stop-and-shoot cases pretty much always turn out to have a history of violent behavior and rap sheets as long as your arm. Often (as in the recent Terence Crutcher case) there is PCP or some other disassociative anaesthetic in their system or in arm’s reach.

It’s hardly any wonder the NRA doesn’t want to spend reputational capital defending the RKBA of these mooks. I wouldn’t either in their shoes; this is not racism, it’s a very rational reluctance to get one’s cause entangled with the scum of the earth.

I cannot help but think that articles like the Post are intended to put the NRA on the horns of a dilemma; remain silent in these cases or be falsely accused of racism, versus speaking up and hearing “Aha! So all that other posturing was bogus, you think it’s just fine for hardened criminals to have guns!”

Sigh…

124 thoughts on “Dilemmatizing the NRA

  1. The only reason there even appears to be a conflict is a deliberately dishonest and bad choice of metrics on the part of the AG’ers.

    I’m loathe to go “he was a convicted criminal and should’t ever have a gun again” – especially given my knowledge of history, the habit of the soviet union declaring undesirables crazy/criminal, and motions toward that sort of thing here, and would actually argue that any criminal who’s served his time and is legally free to go about his business, no longer in jail, should have his rights restored. At the same time – you either have law-abiding ones like the black CC holder who wrote about his experiences with a pullover (hint – he followed Chris Rocks guide on how not to get your ass whipped by cops, all was friendly), or the thugs with histories of violence who already don’t obey laws saying they shouldn’t be armed.

    And yes, the cops have to deal with them, and they are dangerous completely out of proportion to their percentage of the population (it is interesting how arrest percentages match up with race of victim statistics collected, as reported by black people…. ). And it’s entirely possible the Charlotte shooting the gun was planted / dropped – but given the timing the gun on the ground photographed by reporters was likely not dropped as fake evidence.

    Also factor in – remember your earlier article on how the news deliberately minimizing race/etc. would cause distrust? How many of these recent shootings have had relatives fire up their cameras, and later proven to be complete and total BS? “Great guy”, “didn’t have a gun”, “had a concealed permit”, “I’m his girlfriend” – etc.

  2. I had the good fortune of being in classes taught by two different professors in two different colleges. They both emphasized the susceptibility of statistics to error and misuse. It’s worth noting that statistical errors occur in both the natural and social sciences. I won’t deliver a long discussion on this; I think that case has already been demonstrated by others more knowledgeable than I. (I own guns, for what it’s worth.)

    Regardless of statistics, we are all distinct individuals. We all deserve to be judged as such, not as fungible members of some larger class. Certainly, police should always be cautious. They must also have courage and self-restraint. Look at the recent Crutcher case in Tulsa. You can easily find good video of it. The police shooter was charged with manslaughter soon afterward.

  3. The thing is, the NRA does “leap to defend the right of black men to bear arms without incurring a lethal level of police suspicion” but only in that they do so for all people. The NRA is all about Constitutional Carry. Black, brown, yellow, or white, if you don’t need a permit to carry concealed, the police lose a lot of power to hassle people. “I suspected he might be carrying a weapon” is no justification for any type of stop any longer. Since Missouri passed Constitutional carry, I expect St. Louis to get quite a bit more peaceful after 1 January.

  4. Colion Noir (NRA supported commentator) needs to get a lot more coverage and “air time” than he does:

    “These are the same people who tell me I shouldn’t own a gun because I’m Black and as a result can’t control my inherent violent tendencies, same people who wanted to make cheap guns (Saturday night specials) illegal so poor black people couldn’t afford to own guns. Same people who think we don’t have an individual right to own guns for protection while they live in gated communities with guards. The same people who have been the leaders for decades of some of Americas most broken cities and allow them to stay that way to keep the people in those communities dependent on their leadership. The same people who were willing to let a black single parent woman who bought a gun after being robbed twice go to jail on a felony because she made a mistake didn’t know her permit wasn’t good in a neighboring city just to make an example out of her and only dropped the charges after the NRA made such a big fuss about it. And you want to talk about equal gun rights? This whole you’re black so let me tell you how inferior you are in this country so I can manipulate your emotional response to vote against your self interest but help keep me in office is starting to get real disrespectful.”
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BKtcnRjh0jL/

  5. “the victims in these stop-and-shoot cases pretty much always turn out to have a history of violent behavior and rap sheets as long as your arm.”

    Maybe you should browse http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/; you’ll find endless instances of police killings that don’t fit that pattern.

    Also take a look at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries. The numbers are muddled by the fact that they’re not relative to population size, but even once you make that adjustment, American cops kill far more often than cops in other developed countries.

    There is a problem in this country with overly aggressive, hyper-violent cops who are shielded from the consequences of their actions by DAs, judges, juries, and legislatures. The fact that cops are not held responsible for their actions in the same way a private citizen would be is the fundamental issue here. By framing this as a *racial* issue, however, the mainstream media have successfully diverted attention away from the real problem. They can count on liberals to play up the racial angle, and they can count on conservatives and libertarians who are sick of race baiting to object to the allegations of racism, with the issue that COPS CAN LITERALLY GET AWAY WITH MURDER getting lost in the subsequent uproar over race.

    • >you’ll find endless instances of police killings that don’t fit that pattern.

      It could be. I didn’t actually find any in a quick skim of the site you directed me to – stories about heartbreaking miscarriages of justice, yes, but none of the racially-loaded stop-and-shoot cases that have Black Lives Matter exercised.

      But I shall lay that aside and ask a different question: if police shootings of black men without histories of violence and long rap sheets are so common, while do all the high-profile cases – the ones that attract national-media attention – look like they do?

      Over and over again it’s Saint Trayvon and Saint Brown and Saint Crutcher and Saint Scott – until we find out about the burglary tool, the PCP in the car, the gun in the video. I am not an unthinking pro-cop apologist – I roundly condemned the murder of Eric Garner – but there us a repeating pattern here of Black Lives Matter and their ilk choosing to make causes celebres out of criminal lowlives who arresting cops were quite justified to fear.

      One has to suspect that activists make protests around these cases because they don’t have any better ones – any actual martyred innocents. I really don’t see any other interpretation that makes sense.

  6. @Jerry: Eric has often stressed that the individual is not the group, and that it is better to see the former than the latter. The catch here is that when a given police officer first meets a given person, there’s no way to know the individual; all they have are surface features like clothing, visible behavior, and ethnic phenotype. The time available to get to know the individual is limited. Bucking the group identity urge is an uphill battle in this case.

    The #1 thing I can see anyone doing to avoid getting hurt at the hands of rational police is to behave intelligently. The catch is that anyone behaving intelligently is highly unlikely to earn a report to the police in the first place. So if the police are called, it’s more often on someone who isn’t paying attention. Any officer can rationally default to that.

    If I switch hats and argue the side of the citizenry, I could see cases where a bright individual is seen as a perp. This fellow seems to do a good job of displaying both sides: https://www.facebook.com/archdukedostuff/videos/1322171807810676/

    Then again, aforesaid fellow is rare, IMO. I think it’d be great if there were more of him, and maybe one thing to do is figure out how to make more.

    As for the NRA, I have to believe there are plenty of exemplary black gun owners out there. NRA could have a potential out by actively seeking them, and publishing positive pieces on them, for anyone who cares to read. It ought to address the concerns of BLMers who honestly think too few blacks are presented for recognition. They don’t even have to insist that most black gun owners are like these; all the NRA has to do is say “here are some that we’re proud of”. It saddens me that I can’t think of any outside the military OTTOMH.

    [Aside: the posting software is complaining that I’m posting too fast again. I’m guessing it’s because there’s too frequent posting in aggregate. Harumph.]

  7. esr wrote: “…are being rational, not racist. ”

    Maybe so, but they’d still be deplorable according to the next president of the United States.

  8. J. Random Criminal injures [person]

    JRC will be tried and punished, but not punished by a method that restores the victim in any way shape or form.

    JRC is thrown into prison to “pay his debt to ‘society'” (the most ludicrous concept ever invented), where he will be beaten and raped into a hardened criminal, utterly destroying his ability to contribute to civilization (how does he “pay the debt” again?).

    JRC “pays his debt” (a supposed “payment” that the victim never sees), and is released on parole because we are humane.

    JRC forever has the criminal branding, regardless of future behavior. Many jobs are illegal for him to have, and he can’t defend himself against an attacker (aka: he is considered less than an animal).

    To the powers that be: Make up your fucking minds either criminals are not reformed, and you can make their future lives hell, or they are and you can do your feel good bogosity.

    Maybe so, but they’d still be deplorable according to the next president of the United States.

    Tell me, do those blinkers cut off every source except for CNN? or can you also see MSNBC and Vox? Either way, you are now on the list of people who I need to gloat at mercilessly on Nov 9th. Part of a distinguished crowd I might add, as it encompasses most of Sarah Hoyt’s followers too. At the rate things are going Hillary! will be lucky if she doesn’t have to fight a coup against her party attempting to replace her with someone who isn’t dead in the water.

  9. > @Kevin

    > There is a problem in this country with overly aggressive, hyper-violent cops who are shielded from the consequences of their actions by DAs, judges, juries, and legislatures.

    You may need to consider that we have both overly-violent “law enforcers” (vice peace officers) AND a population that has a higher rate of aggression and shorter-term time preference and is prone to vastly more violence and crime (Colin Flaherty documents this extensively). The mutual reinforcement spiral of the two is only one factor leading into both – add in victim olympics and increased state control of the population as a “good thing” as well.

    > @Foo

    > To the powers that be: Make up your fucking minds either criminals are not reformed, and you can make their future lives hell, or they are and you can do your feel good bogosity.

    Amen.

    If they have “done their time” then they have “paid their debt” such as it is, and if they are NOT safe enough to try and restore their rights and freedom, then what the f**k are they doing out?

    While subject to the whole paradox of the pile, there are some “crimes” that are obviously minor and the perpetrator can be reasonably trusted down the road, and others that… well…. take serial killers. Somewhere in between is the “let them go or not” line. And I’m reminded of the opening scene in “Going Postal” where the hangman is asked if capital punishment deters crime, and the executioner replies that in teh general sense, he didn’t know, but that in the specific sense, no – one who had been hung had committed another crime.

    >>Maybe so, but they’d still be deplorable according to the next president of the United States.

    >Tell me, do those blinkers cut off every source except for CNN? or can you also see MSNBC and Vox? Either way, you are now on the list of people who I need to gloat at mercilessly on Nov 9th. Part of a distinguished crowd I might add, as it encompasses most of Sarah Hoyt’s followers too. At the rate things are going Hillary! will be lucky if she doesn’t have to fight a coup against her party attempting to replace her with someone who isn’t dead in the water.

    Scott Adams has a lot of insight related to this – and far too many conservatives haven’t caught on that to keep what we have in the Bill of Rights – which is more important to me than the system of the Constitution – losing with grace will not be allowed to remain an option for much longer if Hillary/etc. win. Kratman has some interesting articles recently over at EveryJoe on some of this.

  10. @Paul Brinkley: On 9/11/01, many first responders arrived at the WTC site and did their jobs to help, protect, and aid those in need. They are to be commended. Especially noteworthy and commendable are the hundreds of firefighters who rushed into one of the towers and up numerous flights of stairs to try to rescue trapped victims. They had to know that this was very dangerous to themselves. They did not cower in fear or run away. Tragically, they and thousands of others lost their lives. Courage in the face of known or unknown danger is part of the job they undertook to do.

    Police likewise undertake to face danger. If they do not have the ability and willingness to suspend judgment and await the facts, they should not be police officers. It is fear, bigotry, or other unacceptable mental dispositions that prompt police officers to be too violent, too quick on the trigger. If they can’t observe any person and act only on facts, not suppositions based on racial statistics, which certainly do not apply to all members of that race, they are unfit to be police officers.

    I would not ask anyone to go on a suicide mission. But facing danger is what the police officers volunteered, were trained, and are paid to do. What would we think of medical personnel who refused to treat sick people because they might contract an infection?

  11. I note that people are still talking about replacing Hillary, but it’s too late. Deadlines have passed. Ballots are printed. Early voting has already started in some places. The DNC can’t just call up 50 states (and thousands of counties?) and tell them to change a name on the ballot.

    True, they did that in the NJ Torricelli/Lautenberg election, but that was a state totally controlled by Democrats, with a state supreme court that was willing to violate state law for the sake of the Party. Most states are controlled by Republicans at the moment.

    AFAIK, the best they could do would be to say: “Vote for Hillary, which means you’ll get Tim Kaine as President and a VP to be named later.”

  12. Jerry, I think you’re somewhat confused. You say you don’t want police officers to go on suicide missions, but you think they should… go on suicide missions anyway? Of course, you don’t think what you’re asking them to do is suicide, but I think that’s only because you didn’t think it all the way through.

    True, they’re not facing certain death. …But they are taking a risk, as you say. When faced with risks, managing risk is wise; ignoring it is foolhardy. And managing risk inevitably means looking at the statistics available, and applying Bayesian reasoning. Eric just provided statistics; they aren’t mere suppositions, and dismissing them as such is, as above, foolhardy.

    Perhaps what you really seek is better information – maybe a way to tell a dangerous person from a safe person, independently of ethnic phenotype. This would be a good thing, in my opinion. How do you propose to get it?

  13. @Paul Brinkley: Let me clarify. As you acknowledge, I would not send someone to face certain death. But we all face risks in life. We do not walk down the streets with automatic or semi-automatic weapons spraying bullets around ourselves in all directions to ward off the ever present possibility of danger. Nor do I accuse the police of this. But when they act on presumptions and statistics, they are doing something akin to this. It is different in degree but not in kind.

    Police officers are called upon to face risk, arguably all the while they are on duty. They know what the risks are and choose to accept them. No one is forced to become a police officer. The same is true of people in various other occupations.

    What would you think of a white juror who, immediately upon observing that a defendant in a criminal case is black, decided that the defendant is certainly or more likely to be guilty just because he or she is black? That would accord with your reliance on statistics. It would violate various laws and be ethically and morally repugnant to many people.

    Ethnic phenotype is a poor thing to rely upon. It is a very slippery slope. Caution in approaching individuals and holding fire in the absence of genuine evidence of an actual and imminent threat making it necessary to apply lethal force are unavoidable parts of the job of the police. I wish I had something better to offer. That there is nothing better does not justify reliance on a tool whose reliability is far below 100% and whose application will result in the unnecessary slaughter of thousands or possibly millions of people.

    Our host on this forum carries a pistol. I should like to think he would not fire upon someone based upon ethnic phenotype. I should like to think that he would not fire in the absence of genuine evidence of an actual and imminent threat making making it necessary to apply lethal force. (By the way, this is the legal standard in New York State. WARNING: The previous sentence is just a paraphrase and a personal opinion. It is not legal advice and may not be relied upon as such by any person or other entity for any purpose. Be sure to consult a licensed and qualified lawyer for any legal advice or service that you wish to rely upon or may otherwise need.)

    Take a look at the conflict between Israelis/Jews and Palestinians/Arabs. There is evidence that some Jews launch unprovoked attacks on Palestinians. There is also evidence that some Palestinians launch unprovoked attacks on Jews. Jews are less frequently attacked by other Jews. Palestinians are (I surmise) less frequently attacked by other Palestinians. Do whatever statistics you derive from these incidents lead to the conclusion that every Jew should preemptively attack every Palestinian and that every Palestinian should preemptively attack every Jew?

  14. Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist.

    This does not follow, unless you smuggle in an assumption that “Black men of a certain age are not disproportionately more likely to behave suspiciously, despite being disproportionately more likely to commit acts of violence.”

    Or to put it another way, you have to smuggle in an assumption that young white men show suspicious behavior as often (or nearly as often) as young black men, but that with young white men this “suspicious behavior” is usually a false positive. It seems to me, however, that “blacks commit a disproportionate share of violent crime” should carry over into “blacks are disproportionately likely to engage in suspicious behavior.” If you want to claim that this is not so, then [citation needed].

    • >It seems to me, however, that “blacks commit a disproportionate share of violent crime” should carry over into “blacks are disproportionately likely to engage in suspicious behavior.”

      I think this is obviously true, but don’t see how it bears on the general argument.

  15. @Jerry: It is clear that you think police should not act on presumptions and statistics. Let us stipulate that this is the claim that I believe you are mistaken on.

    I agree that police are called on to face risk, and choose to accept certain risks. We are so far disagreeing on how much risk they are called to face, and whether they are permitted to manage it. I believe that requiring police to do nothing to manage risk is a good way to wind up with zero police.

    What would I think of a white juror who immediately concluded that a black defendant is more likely to be guilty than if the defendant were white? I would think several things:

    — that that white juror is hopefully aware that he is far from done, since the whole point of a jury trial is to permit ample time to gather more information than just ethnic phenotype;
    — that that white juror is hopefully aware that “guilty given black > guilty given white” does not lend any insight into “guilty given black > innocent given black”, which is closer to the question of interest, though still of little use given aforementioned purpose of a trial
    — that, respectfully, you seem to still be confused, since you’re bringing this scenario up.

    To put it another way (necessarily wordy, so I hope you parse it as intended): your claim that a juror would infer that a defendant would be more likely to be guilty given that he is black, than he would be if he were white, while technically in accordance with statistics, also has nothing whatsoever to do with a juror’s job. It may, however, have critical consequences on a police officer’s job, namely, at the brief interval during which the officer is establishing first contact with an individual.

    That difference between juror and officer-during-first-contact is virtually all of the reason why we accord a lot more moral weight to a conviction in court than to a shooting in a hot situation.

    Same with your Israeli / Palestinian scenario. Call them Is and Ps for short. If I-on-I attacks are less frequent than P-on-I attacks, then it follows that an I may infer that a P is more likely to attack him than another I; but that has nothing to do with whether a P is more likely to attack him than to not attack him. Likewise for a P assessing an I.

    Police, by contrast, are specifically called only when someone is suspected of causing trouble, so their base chance of trouble is significantly higher across the board. it also happens to be modified higher if the individual is black than if he is not; if male than female; if aged 15-30 than if 60+; if heavily built than if scrawny; etc.

    Ethnic phenotype does indeed provide a suboptimal signal for reliability. The problem here is that you seem to not yet recognize that a first contact scenario is innately suboptimal.

    That said, there’s more information immediately available even so, such as gender, build, age, dress and behavior, and I suspect that if we inspected a reasonably large number of encounters, we would find that for each factor – take dress and behavior for example – well-dressed and well-behaved people are significantly less likely to suffer poor treatment from police, while badly dressed and badly behaved people are significantly more likely to suffer poor treatment, and that both occur regardless of ethnic phenotype.

    Note that finding singleton examples of a poorly treated well-dressed, well-behaved black man or good treatment of a badly-dressed, misbehaving white man are sufficient to show specific unfair treatment, but insufficient to demonstrate some sort of nationwide trend – the apparent holy grail for some people.

  16. To put it in terms that gore a different ox, consider the following:

    In a certain country, a Prestigious University admitted a disproportionate number of Jews and Asians, compared to their representation in the general population. And there were accusations of favoritism made, especially since past administrations had been notorious for open favoritism toward Jews and Asians.

    But Rabbi Foo said: “No! I believe in merit and reason, and there are good reasons to expect a disproportionate number of Jews and Asians would be admitted without any favoritism at all. And it is a Bad Thing to witchhunt for favoritism where none exists, or to use ‘disproportionate impact’ as proof, rather than merely evidence that might be evidence for a false conclusion.”

    And many were convinced by Rabbi Foo’s words, but many were not, and there was much flamage.

    But then it came to light that the admission office was giving a second look at substandard applications from Jews and Asians, with an eye to admitting the applicants after all, while not giving that second look to applications from others. And a great shout went up: “Behold! Prestigious University is continuing its bad old ways from the past, giving invidious favoritism to applications from Jews and Asians. And to make it worse, Rabbi Foo has been lying to us about it!”

    And Rabbi Foo answered, “No, it is *rational* to take a special second look at substandard applications from Jews and Asians. For Jews and Asians are disproportionately accepted to Prestigious University on merit, and from this we can conclude that substandard applications from Jews and Asians are disproportionately likely to be false negatives, and that rejecting them without this special second look would be improper.”

    Now the exercise for the student is: Is Rabbi Foo correct in his reasoning and his claim, or is he wrong in one or both of them?

  17. Yes, articles in WaPo are designed to hurt the NRA. WaPo is biased against gun rights, and, well, biased against every conservative cause. This is hardly news.

    I am a paid subscriber (I got a surprisingly goo ddeal). I read it daily. The anti-conservative bias is a constant, low level annoyance. What is new and striking, however, is the sharp rise in anti-Trump bias, coupled, of course, with a “nothing to see here” attitude towards Hillary’s various problems. They have gone from maybe 2 biased “news” articles per day to about 10. The editorials have always been about 8:1 liberal to conservative, but hey, they are editorials and supposed to be biased.

    I experience shadenfreude as newspaper staff contracts. They deserve it – a bunch of liars hypocritically violating their never believable claims of objectivity.

  18. @ Paul Brinkley:

    We certainly do differ on the issue of risk management. How far is it legal and ethical to go is not something that lends itself to mathematical precision. Police officers are likely to confront people in distress at difficult times, be they guilty or not, dangerous or not. With that said, we should consider the screening of applicants for police jobs and the training of recruits. In western Europe, police recruits receive far more training. Maybe we should try that.

    I worked for many years for a unit of government in a public building frequented by numerous police officers. I have observed and encountered many officers on various occasions there and elsewhere. (I have never been arrested or charged with a crime. I have racked-up a few minor traffic infractions in over 40 years of driving. Never was I, a white, middle class male, mistreated by police in these encounters.) Some police officers clearly have friendlier, less aggressive, more reasonable demeanor and attitudes than others. A few should not be police officers. They are too ill-tempered. (I have two nephews who are police officers. The more experienced of the two has excellent judgment and temperament. The younger has little experience but seems to have potential. Two more nephews are state-level corrections officers, both experienced. They have the proper judgment and temperament.)

    “That difference between juror and officer-during-first-contact is virtually all of the reason why we accord a lot more moral weight to a conviction in court than to a shooting in a hot situation.”

    What makes a situation hot? When does it get hot? Who decides? Why do shootings occur? Is the cause always the same? Is the cause always good?

    “The shooting of Amadou Diallo occurred on February 4, 1999, when Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss. The officers fired a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of The Bronx. The four were part of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit. All four officers were charged with second-degree murder and acquitted at trial in Albany, New York.[1]
    “Diallo was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and a firestorm of controversy erupted subsequent to the event as the circumstances of the shooting prompted outrage both within and outside New York City. Issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, and contagious shooting were central to the ensuing controversy.” — From wikipedia. (Apologies for incorrect formatting. That is not my forte.)

    Yes, this is just one incident out of many. It is not the only such. Diallo had his wallet in his hand. Perhaps he thought that this non-uniformed gang wanted to rob him? The police mistook the wallet for a gun. Could the police have approached more closely and gotten a better look at what was in his hand? Could they have identified themselves as police and called out to Diallo to drop it, raise his hands, or hit the deck? The police, to their credit, soon after acknowledged that they made a mistake but insisted that they were in genuine fear for their lives. How many other people, bystanders, in the same position would have felt thus threatened by Diallo? Could this mistake have been avoided?

    “Police, by contrast, are specifically called only when someone is suspected of causing trouble, so their base chance of trouble is significantly higher across the board. it also happens to be modified higher if the individual is black than if he is not; if male than female; if aged 15-30 than if 60+; if heavily built than if scrawny; etc.”

    Are the police ever called when there is not suspicion of trouble reported by some third party? Are third party reports from dispatchers always fully and correctly relayed to the police responding? Do police ever stop people for minor traffic infractions that are far less serious than some crimes?

    Do police ever stop people because they look “suspicious”? What is the definition of suspiciousness? Are black males, by definition and/or statistical data, suspicious, more so than whites? Does any person ever stopped by the police have good cause to resent a stop for no good cause?Could such people display disagreement or offense without being seen as highly dangerous and deserving of summary execution? I can do that and get away with it, but I’m white.

    I know of one jurisdiction in which the police have stopped cars on the basis of their presence in “a high crime neighborhood”? The occupants might be the unfortunate and innocent residents of such a neighborhood. They might just be passing through. The courts consider this a lack of probable cause.

    Is every high school or college player on a football team, by definition not scrawny, more suspicious and deserving of a rush to judgment?

  19. …there is a repeating pattern here of Black Lives Matter and their ilk choosing to make causes celebres out of criminal lowlives who arresting cops were quite justified to fear.

    One has to suspect that activists make protests around these cases because they don’t have any better ones – any actual martyred innocents. I really don’t see any other interpretation that makes sense.

    ESR, I have heard one cynical explanation that makes sense: that BLM types prefer to protest the deaths of violent morons like Michael Brown because they want people to be intimidated. A Rosa Parks type (dead or alive) and a message of racial amity are not intimidating to anyone. To protest in the name of the thugs is thus a form of dominance display, to make people afraid of confronting either the Michael Brown types, or the activists supporting him.

  20. “…stories about heartbreaking miscarriages of justice, yes, but none of the racially-loaded stop-and-shoot cases that have Black Lives Matter exercised.”

    That is because, as I said, the racial aspect is a smoke screen. IIRC, most of the people cops kill are white, not black. Grigg has written of many cases of abusive and criminal behavior by police, and I have encountered many from other sources. Invariably the department, DA, judges, and juries bend over backwards to excuse behavior that would get you or me tossed in the slammer immediately.

    As one example, for you and I to justify shooting another person, the standard is that a *reasonable* man in our position would believe that his life is in danger. For a cop the “reasonable man” requirement is dropped. All a cop has to do is *claim* that he feared for his life, and it is nearly impossible to disprove this claim, as nobody else is privy to his internal thoughts and feelings.

    This article by Eric Peters discusses this double standard some more:

    http://ericpetersautos.com/2015/12/04/gangsters-with-badges/

    One point he makes, that nearly everyone overlooks, is that every time a cop points a gun at a person who is not actually endangering or threatening to endanger anyone, that cop is committing a felony — or would be, if we held cops to the same standards as mundanes. Because of this exclusion, cops feel free to point lethal weapons at people who are no danger to anyone, purely for the purpose of intimidation. Any gun owner who has had any gun safety training knows that such behavior is reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, and gets people killed.

    • >Guess you missed this one, which took me about 20 seconds to find:

      OK. Unless that account grossly distorts the facts, that one was bad – worse than the murder of Eric Garner.

      I think a slightly weakened version of my question still stands, though. Why is this not the case generating demonstrations and chin-tugging editorials?

  21. Often (as in the recent Terence Crutcher case) there is PCP or some other disassociative anaesthetic in their system or in arm’s reach.

    Yeah, but in the cases where the drug is “in arm’s reach” — who put it there? There’s video footage of a cop dropping the gun they “found” at the scene when they killed Keith Lamont Scott. This is standard police procedure when they shoot the wrong guy: plant a gun on them so it looks like they did themselves and/or were a credible threat to the officer. Cops have also been known to keep cocaine-laced baggies around for the purposes of conveniently “discovering” them on the person of a particularly obstreperous civilian (for example one who objects to being stopped and frisked).

    So when one of these shootings of an apparently innocent black person occurs and police later “find” drugs or guns at the scene, my first reaction is to paraphrase Chris Rock and say “Ya’ll ain’t finding shit, ’cause ya’ll was leaving shit.”

  22. @ESR

    There was an essay on either SSC, or LW, and I cannot remember either the essay name, or the concept name. But it was about memeplexes specifically choosing bad arguments as (IIRC) combination faith tests for the members, and dominance displays against enemies.

    /me trundles off upon a quest for the Legendary Ring of Memory +5

  23. I note that people are still talking about replacing Hillary, but it’s too late. Deadlines have passed.

    The catch with a presidential election, though, is that voters aren’t electing the president, they’re electing electors. In Texas, for example, the law clearly states that in the case of withdrawal or death of a party candidate, the electors go to the candidate’s party.

  24. > I think a slightly weakened version of my question still stands, though. Why is this not the case generating demonstrations and chin-tugging editorials?

    Another aspect may be a prospiracy that sees self-defense as criminal and wrong, and is attempting to demonize self-defense-homicide as the most unjustified and evil form of homicide possible. In this view, cops have guns to enforce the law, and are abusing the public’s trust if they use their guns for the criminal purpose of self-defense. So that Walmart case is less problematical because it was more about enforcing “the law against guns” (or the law that ought to be against guns) and less about self defense by the cop. Likewise, the Eric Garner case is fading away from memory because the cops who killed him were “enforcing the law (good)” rather than “acting in self-defense (bad).”

    And then there’s the Cory Maye case that would have been an absolute bonanza for the usual Racial Grievance Mongers – except for being rendered utterly toxic and untouchable because Cory Maye used a gun to defend himself and his little daughter.

  25. >> It seems to me, however, that “blacks commit a disproportionate share of violent crime” should carry over into “blacks are disproportionately likely to engage in suspicious behavior.”

    > I think this is obviously true, but don’t see how it bears on the general argument.

    It means that once a young man is tagged as “suspicious” (by whatever colorblind criteria is used), then adding “black” as a filter doesn’t put him in a pool that’s more suspicious or more dangerous. So using “black” as a criteria isn’t justified after all.

    Consider the following rough-model argument:

    A cop knows that 2% of young white men and 20% of young black men he encounters on his beat are Up To No Good. He has a colorblind criteria for “suspicious behavior” that catches all of the young men Up To No Good, but also an innocent 2% of white men and 20% of black men. That means that whenever the cop stops a young man, there will be a 50% chance that the guy is Up To No Good.

    As a result, the cop will be stopping a disproportionate number of black men relative to the number of blacks in the population. (The cop will be stopping 40% of all young black men encountered vs 4% of all young white men encountered, half of whom in each case will be Up To No Good.)
    This will be hard on the innocent black men who get stopped, but I can’t blame the cop for that, as long as the cop’s criteria for “suspicious behavior” is colorblind.

    Now consider a new cop who sees that young black men are disproportionately Up To No Good vs young white men, and decides to apply a broader standard of suspicious behavior to blacks than to whites. I can’t see any way that this can be considered rational, rather than invidious racism; it just imposes stops on more innocent young black men for no benefit.

    And for a third case, consider a situation where 2% of young black men are innocent but behaving suspiciously, 16% are Up To No Good and behaving suspiciously, and 4% are Up To No Good but avoiding suspicious behavior. A cop in this case might decide to apply a broader standard of suspicious-if-black behavior, so as to stop an extra 18% of the young black male population who are innocent and behaving black-suspiciously (but not white-suspiciously) in order to catch the 4% who are Up To No Good and behaving black-suspiciously but not white-suspiciously. I’ll accept that an argument can be made for this being “rational,” but I’d have to side with the blacks who get stopped because of suspicious-if-black behavior that would have gotten a pass if they’d been white.

    There’s also the small problem of distinguishing between case 2 and case 3 in the real world, in the face of interested parties attempting to blur them for their own benefit.

    • >Now consider a new cop who sees that young black men are disproportionately Up To No Good vs young white men, and decides to apply a broader standard of suspicious behavior to blacks than to whites. I can’t see any way that this can be considered rational, rather than invidious racism; it just imposes stops on more innocent young black men for no benefit.

      I think your argument is almost sound. However, it ignores conjoint probabilities. (Which may come down to your case 3.) I can give a very concrete case of this.

      One of the statistical facts about the black population that goes with lower average IQ is higher time preference. One of the consequences of high time preferences is poor impulse control, especially under intoxicants. Black youth with alcohol therefore has to mean something different to a peace officer than white youth with alcohol, and more likely to rise above the threshold for a Terry stop.

      >I’d have to side with the blacks who get stopped because of suspicious-if-black behavior that would have gotten a pass if they’d been white

      I have a lot of emotional sympathy for this position. But reality is what it is, and if such profiling leads to more efficient policing (that is, fewer stops and less police violence overall coupled with more effective crime deterrence) then I have to call it a good thing. Yes that means it sucks to be black and I would prefer it were not so, but reality continues to be indifferent to my feelings about such matters.

  26. @esr:

    Even if 100% of violent crime in the US is committed by black males, the NRA should be making the argument that law abiding blacks should exercise their 2nd amendment rights without incurring a lethal level of police suspicion. To fall short of that absolutist standard would be racist indeed, especially given the abstract, theoretical, and no-less-absolutist reasoning that the NRA has been propagating on why we all need to be drowning in guns.

    • >Even if 100% of violent crime in the US is committed by black males, the NRA should be making the argument that law abiding blacks should exercise their 2nd amendment rights without incurring a lethal level of police suspicion.

      I actually don’t know whether the NRA is failing this test of principle. Possibly it might be.

      But the cases cited in the Post article aren’t a demonstration of this, because there is a confounding factor in the cases the Post writer is in love with – namely, that those blacks were dangerous thugs. So if you argue that the NRA is failing its test based on that evidence, you really are asking the NRA to revoke one of its other premises.

  27. The problem is the police have become a foreign occupying army of traffic ticket tax collectors like the Redcoats the colonists hated.

    And they are trained to be paranoid, and heads they win, tails they get a taxpayer funded vacation and the taxpayers pay

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/us/training-officers-to-shoot-first-and-he-will-answer-questions-later.html

    There are no police that live in and are part of that neighborhood.

    Imagine if we outsourced policing to the very polite Japanese and they started shooting whites and blacks “for not obeying direct orders”.

    I’m personally for everyone to have a gun. Especially the weak and law abiding as the strong need it less and gun control is another law ignored by Criminals.

    Here in Wyoming, almost everyone is packing, mostly because of lions and bears, and it is part of the culture. No one gets shot. An armed society is a polite society. Even anarcho-libertatian: Don’t violate the NAP amd I won’t shoot you.

  28. I think a slightly weakened version of my question still stands, though. Why is this not the case generating demonstrations and chin-tugging editorials?

    Because the purpose of the demonstrations and editorials isn’t to improve policing and prevent innocent deaths. They are deliberately encouraging a racial schism in order to improve their political fortunes.

    If actual bad shootings were highlighted, people from both sides of the political spectrum would come together to solve the problem. Blacks wouldn’t feel marginalized and they wouldn’t feel as strong a need to vote for the political party that promises to protect them.

  29. @esr
    >Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist.

    I think that that is all very well for you. You, a private citizen have every right to make these choices.

    However, the police do have different obligations than you since they are servants of all the public and so have to treat people as people without regards to categorical profiling. Certainly individual behavior is a perfectly reasonable thing for them to judge by (so if you behave like a gangbanger, or walk like you are on PCP, or have a weapon drawn or ignore reasonable requests.) But making assumptions about behavior based on categorical evidence is really not acceptable for police officers.

    And as we hear constantly the police are great doing a dangerous job, etc., we have to remember that police work isn’t especially dangerous based on actual numbers. It certainly isn’t the safest profession, but there are far more risky ones, and you’ve got to take the good (and police officers get many benefits from their role) with the bad. According to this, police work is the 15th most dangerous profession, behind construction workers, farmers and taxi drivers.

    http://time.com/4326676/dangerous-jobs-america/

    Having said that though, I live is Chicago, which is a blood bath right now. And that is absolutely on the shoulders of BLM. Here in Chicago more people are shot randomly in a weekend than all these cases of police unjustified killings in the past few years. The reason is not difficult to understand — the police have definitely pulled back.

    Is it in fear for prosecution if they make a mistake or is it just a bit of a “fuck you, you animals, if you want to live in a zoo, knock yourself out”? I think it is probably a bit of both. Which is absolutely appaling for the large majority if decent, law abiding black people condemned to live in these cesspools of gang activity. Every weekend we hear about some 6 year old girl caught in the crossfire of punks who run rampant without police to quell them.

    For sure, BLM killed more black lives than rogue cops ever did.

    The ever perceptive Heather MacDonald wrote a great piece on this:

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/chicago-brink-14605.html

    • >I think that that is all very well for you. You, a private citizen have every right to make these choices.

      And they have an actual duty to make those choices. If they don’t use all the inferential tools available to police as efficiently as possible, they’re not doing their job.

  30. > One has to suspect that activists make protests around these cases because they don’t have any better ones – any actual martyred innocents. I really don’t see any other interpretation that makes sense.

    I second the recommendation of the SSC “toxoplasma of rage” essay for another interpretation that makes sense.

    If everybody involves agrees that some incident is entirely clear, the cop was fully in the wrong and had no reasonable excuse for what he did – then there’s no controversy. Controversy is what sells papers and gets people to share stuff in their Facebook feeds and prompts hand-wringing editorials.

    If the cop’s actions were unambiguously bad and the perp’s conduct and appearance unambiguously good, then:
    (1) the cop is likely to face actual disciplinary action without any need for protests and editorials demanding this
    (2) declaring “I support the victim!” or “I am mad at that evil cop!” doesn’t work well as a virtue signal to show your friends how good a person you are. (It’s like shouting “Kittens are cute!” or “Exercise is probably good for you!”)
    (3) If you share your sentiments over email/twitter/facebook/snapchat/whatever anyway, you get no pushback – nobody is willing to argue against your trivial assertion, so the argument dies down right away.

    On the other hand, suppose the incident is questionable such that one can make a case for either side being right. In that case:
    (1) The cop probably won’t get disciplined absent a public outcry, so protests/editorials are more likely to have positive effect at achieving “justice” for the side protesting.
    (2) Declaring which side you support does serve as a virtue signal. In fact, the MORE questionable the case, the STRONGER a virtue signal it sends when you broadcast that you support side A even despite all the evidence against it.
    (3) When you share your sentiments with the world, lots of people will want to chime in to disagree with you, creating robust arguments. Links that spawn such arguments will “trend” and show up in feeds on twitter/FB as “your friend commented on X”

    Thus, the modern media landscape selects for cases that are terrible examples of the underlying principle being appealed to. To find out whether there are any good examples supporting the notion that “racist cops are killing unarmed peaceful black men with impunity” (or whatever the claim is), one would have to look somewhere other than just at the examples that show up in the news.

  31. @Jessica

    > However, the police do have different obligations than you since they are servants of all the public and so have to treat people as people without regards to categorical profiling. Certainly individual behavior is a perfectly reasonable thing for them to judge by (so if you behave like a gangbanger, or walk like you are on PCP, or have a weapon drawn or ignore reasonable requests.) But making assumptions about behavior based on categorical evidence is really not acceptable for police officers.

    So how do we tell the difference between purely “categorical” profiling and behavior-based, when the behavior is to a vastly outsized degree a pattern of one categorical group?

    It’s worth noting that in reports of criminal suspects BY black victims, the vast majority of them are… black. And the percentages for arrests / stops are in line with the percentage of suspects.

  32. I wrote: That difference between juror and officer-during-first-contact is virtually all of the reason why we accord a lot more moral weight to a conviction in court than to a shooting in a hot situation.

    Jerry wrote: What makes a situation hot? When does it get hot? Who decides? Why do shootings occur? Is the cause always the same? Is the cause always good?

    A situation is “hot” in this context when either party has insufficient time to gather informatoin and make a fully informed assessment of it. If a figure is moving swiftly toward you, you don’t have time to stand there and ruminate over whether that figure is going to move past you, stop, knock you over, attack, etc. A man ten feet away might be upset but not otherwise threatening, or may be on PCP and would be capable of killing you even if he were thirty feet away. Choosing not to shoot may result in damage to you and others.

    A consequence of this is that your decisions in hot situations will sometimes not be what you would have made if you had had more time. Reasonable people understand this, and attempt to estimate what you knew and could have known at the time you made your decision. Unreasonable people conclude that you’re guilty if you would have made a decision differently based on information they gathered after days of reading articles about it.

    Jerry wrote: Are the police ever called when there is not suspicion of trouble reported by some third party? Are third party reports from dispatchers always fully and correctly relayed to the police responding? Do police ever stop people for minor traffic infractions that are far less serious than some crimes?

    Are you suggesting police should be held responsible for things they can’t control?

    Jerry wrote: Do police ever stop people because they look “suspicious”? What is the definition of suspiciousness? Are black males, by definition and/or statistical data, suspicious, more so than whites? Does any person ever stopped by the police have good cause to resent a stop for no good cause?Could such people display disagreement or offense without being seen as highly dangerous and deserving of summary execution? I can do that and get away with it, but I’m white.

    You’re still doing that thing. “This thing could happen, ergo, it happens all the time.”

    Like, if you want to assert that it has happened, and offer examples, great, do that, and we’ll condemn those specific instances when it happened. A lot of my point here is that if you hunt for and produce a few unfair cases, and a few cases that look unfair at first, but not when we dig into them a little bit, and then try to ignore that and claim an epidemic of bad cases, then it makes your whole line of reasoning look bad.

    And tying that with the above: pointing out a case where it turned out someone wasn’t a threat, but that was only knowable after several hours, counts against your reasoning here.

  33. Re: Chicago violence

    Last August, while climbing Mt. Shavano in Colorado, I met a woman on the trail who was an ER nurse visiting from Chicago. She had become separated from her friends, and so I guided her to the top and we chatted for a few hours on the way up.

    Eventually, I asked about the reports of violence and she said that the news reports and statistics don’t do justice to actual extent of carnage that is playing out in the city these last several years. As an example, she talked about the routine use of triage to screen incoming patients because gun battles would result in up to a dozen gun shot victims arriving within a few minutes. By law, they have to utilize all available means to treat any admitted patient, and she talked about how ER doctors often spend hours (not to mention expending enormous resources) trying to revive a young man with half his head blown off, but still showing a pulse. When these situations occur, regular ER cases (non-gun violence) can wait many hours before getting any help.

    Quick note to Eric (if you are reading these comments). What gives? This is very strange conduct by your WordPress screening system.

    • >Quick note to Eric (if you are reading these comments). What gives? This is very strange conduct by your WordPress screening system.

      Er, what are you talking about?

  34. @esr:


    > I actually don’t know whether the NRA is failing this test of principle. Possibly it might be.

    They are failing the test of course. And that is reason enough to brand them racist. The Post’s article is a crude, poorly written article even though it makes the correct conclusion on this question.


    > namely, that those blacks were dangerous thugs.

    What exactly is a “dangerous thug”? A black man on a pharmaceutical? A black man on a pharmaceutical within arms reach of a gun? A black man carrying a gun within arms reach of said pharmaceutical but who is not under the influence? A black man on a pharmaceutical talking on his cell phone, mistaken by an officer for a gun?

    It’s not so simple. And the reason it is not so simple is in major part because we’re drowning in guns. If those guns were out of the picture, and say knives were to replace them, lot of these situations would be far less dangerous and far less “thuggish” to require the use of lethal force.

  35. Uma, why do you hate women and small men so much? You must have been abused by your mother and small stature father as a child to have that much hatred for people like that, such that you want them to suffer at the hands of any testosterone rich, aggressive male with the mass, upper body strength, and temperament to dominate smaller men and all women.

  36. @Paul Brinkley: I have enjoyed our exchanges. Thank you. This is a complex subject within a complex country. There are no easy answers. It is clear that we disagree on some of our premises and preferences. Our exchanges appear to be at a stalemate. I suggest that we can both retire from the dais of debate with honor.

  37. Over and over again it’s Saint Trayvon and Saint Brown and Saint Crutcher and Saint Scott – until we find out about the burglary tool, the PCP in the car, the gun in the video.

    But we don’t kill white people for guns in their cars (unless those guns are also in their hands.) We might put handcuffs on the white person and make sure that they are legally entitled to own the gun and legally store it in their car, but we don’t shoot white people for simply having a gun in their car.

    We don’t kill white people for having “burglary tools,” whatever “burglary tool” means. Possession of a “burglary tool” isn’t even a crime, particularly when you consider that I have tools in my car that could be used for burglaries (except that I use them to change my tires.) As a network tech who is sometimes called up to do light construction, I also carry lots of tools which could be used for burglaries, but as a white person I’ve never been shot for those tools. In fact, when pulled over, the police haven’t even commented on my tools!

    And possession of PCP isn’t an offense which merits execution under any of the legal codes in the U.S… so you sound like you’re saying that “…burglary tools, PCP or a gun in the car deserve immediate, extrajudicial execution.” This kind extremist argument is why I don’t take you seriously when you write about politics! The sad thing is that you don’t mean to come off as extremist, you just can’t see any kind of sane middle ground which says, “He should have been arrested for PCP but the cops should not have killed him!”

    . . .

    That is because, as I said, the racial aspect is a smoke screen. IIRC, most of the people cops kill are white, not black.

    This is not true when you consider that Blacks are about ten percent of the population. IIRC Blacks are shot by police at about 2.5 times the rate of whites as a percentage of the population. Unarmed Black people are shot by police at about 3 times the rate of white people as a percentage of the population.

    In other words, in a population of 100 people, with a range of racial types similar to the population make-up of the U.S. if we shoot four white people and two Black people, we have shot about 8 percent of the white population and 20 percent of the Black population.

    . . .

    One of the statistical facts about the black population that goes with lower average IQ is higher time preference. One of the consequences of high time preferences is poor impulse control, especially under intoxicants. Black youth with alcohol therefore has to mean something different to a peace officer than white youth with alcohol, and more likely to rise above the threshold for a Terry stop.

    Which takes us full circle back to the idea of racism as a proximate cause for these problems, in this case environmental racism; there’s been some very good work done recently correlating high-crime areas with high-lead areas, and of course these are the very poor areas we call ghettos… Lead’s effect on the developing brain is well-known and naturally these areas are last in line for remediation.

    I had an “aha”moment about racism recently. Do you know why some of the bridges in New York are only seven-and-a-half feet high? And why is there a six-mile wall down the center of Detroit?

    • >so you sound like you’re saying that “…burglary tools, PCP or a gun in the car deserve immediate, extrajudicial execution.” This kind extremist argument is why I don’t take you seriously when you write about politics!

      You’re reading in what’s not there. I make no claim that PCP or burglary tools of whatnot justify extrajuducial killing. No, what they do is explode the narrative we immediately get after these incidents, according to which the shooting victim was the next thing to Mother Theresa.

      And…they take the victims well out of the category the NRA can be reasonably criticized for not defending. Which the relevance to the OP.

      In fact, with rare exception like the murder of Eric Garner, the facts that trickle our after these shootings generally vindicate the police response to go on high alert and prepare to exert lethal force. Note carefully that I think the police can still be culpable for murder even when that initial judgment was correct. In the Lacquan McDonald case, for example, we had a thug high on PCP with a knife; the cops were justified in considering him a lethal threat but not in emptying a clip into him when he was down.

      >Blacks are shot by police at about 2.5 times the rate of whites as a percentage of the population. Unarmed Black people are shot by police at about 3 times the rate of white people as a percentage of the population.

      Considering the much higher propensity to criminality in the black population, those figures are remarkably low and suggest that the cops are displaying exceptional restraint. Remember: 12.5% of the population, 52% of murders and index crimes. That’s a 6:1 ratio; the cops would have to be shooting six times as many blacks as whites, per capita, before they’d be treating the populations with equal lethality per expected frequency of criminal act.

      >Lead’s effect on the developing brain is well-known and naturally these areas are last in line for remediation.

      No, that isn’t it. You don’t get the same crime crates, or degree of lowered average IQ, in non-black populations living in the same lead-exposed areas. You also *do* see those differences where lead exposure can’t be a factor. Unfortunate; I’d actually be happier if this hypothesis is true, as I find the explanations the facts actually point at grim and depressing.

  38. Useful Statistical Link I:

    From the Abstract

    “The results provide evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being {black, unarmed, and shot by police} is about 3.49 times the probability of being {white, unarmed, and shot by police} on average. Furthermore, the results of multi-level modeling show that there exists significant heterogeneity across counties in the extent of racial bias in police shootings, with some counties showing relative risk ratios of 20 to 1 or more. Finally, analysis of police shooting data as a function of county-level predictors suggests that racial bias in police shootings is most likely to emerge in police departments in larger metropolitan counties with low median incomes and a sizable portion of black residents, especially when there is high financial inequality in that county.”

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0141854

    • >the probability of being {black, unarmed, and shot by police} is about 3.49 times the probability of being {white, unarmed, and shot by police} on average.

      That’s a better ratio than I’d have expected. Wake me up when it goes over the roughly 6:1 that would be statistically justified by the observed difference in propensity to criminality.

  39. Useful Statistial Link II:

    From the Washington Post:

    “U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/?utm_term=.65263a8d916b

    • >unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.

      That’s close to, but still under, the equal-treatment level suggested by the 6:1 difference in propensity to major crimes.

  40. > And they [cops] have an actual duty to make those choices. If they don’t use all the inferential tools available to police as efficiently as possible, they’re not doing their job.

    What is the cops’ job? Or rather, what do you think the cops’ job ought to be?

    • >What is the cops’ job? Or rather, what do you think the cops’ job ought to be?

      What it says in the books: maintaining civil order and peace.

      Ideally, we want them to do this with a minimum of force. Any heuristic which increases the probability that they will stop people who are in the process of committing a crime and will not exert force against others.

      Therefore, profiling – even racial profiling – is the correct thing for them to do if it shifts those probabilities in the right directions. Conversely, if they fail to profile rationally and efficiently, they are not doing their job right and avoidable harm will not be avoided.

  41. > U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each.

    Look, this is problem that a lot of the web commentariat fails to grasp. 100 incidents of *anything* in a population of +350,000,000 isn’t statistically significant of anything, and is useless for a hypothesis. It is the textbook example of mathematical noise, the sort of data pseudo-scientists present when they pretend to read tea leaves.

    If handed 100 results in a sample size of 350K, with only a single, binary variable (white / non-white), the a rational person should be repulsed. That idiocy doesn’t dismiss the statistically significant racial gap in criminality. But the number of police-shootings-by-race is a subset which doesn’t tell us anything useful, because the sample would be too small no matter which metrics we used. For all we know, tall people are more likely to be shot by cops, or people who wear a lot of brightly colored clothing, or people who saw the movie “The Usual Suspects”, etc.

    tldr; Don’t use scientific language to score a political point if you don’t have the slightest grasp of the method behind it.

  42. > The NRA would, I’m sure, love to defend the RKBA of a black man who isn’t a thug or gangbanger.

    Ah, the often neglected “unless you’re a thug or a gangbanger” clause in the Second Amendment.

  43. > No, what they do is explode the narrative we immediately get after these incidents, according to which the shooting victim was the next thing to Mother Theresa.

    Eh, maybe, but unless only the “next thing to Mother Theresa” has a right to bear arms…

    > And…they take the victims well out of the category the NRA can be reasonably criticized for not defending. Which the relevance to the OP.

    …this doesn’t follow from it. I mean, you literally just called out “having a gun” as the reason the NRA shouldn’t defend one of them. I don’t know what “burglary tool” this is, or even which incident you’re referring to, but you’ve not addressed Troutwaxer’s point about the flexible nature of that category in general.

    • >I mean, you literally just called out “having a gun” as the reason the NRA shouldn’t defend one of them.

      Context is everything. I certainly don’t think having a gun is evidence of bad character, quite the reverse in fact. Readying to use it when a policeman stops you, on the other hand…

  44. > Even if 100% of violent crime in the US is committed by black males, the NRA should be making the argument that law abiding blacks should exercise their 2nd amendment rights without incurring a lethal level of police suspicion.

    Where have you been the last couple of decades?

    The whole point of “shall issue” concealed carry law is to take discretion of permit issuance out of the historically racist hands of government actors like police and prosecutors. And the data show that concealed permit holders are statistically significantly more law abiding than cops.

    When I took a Texas CCW class in the year 2000, the instructor told us that cops are relieved and de-stressed when the standard traffic stop license plate check comes back flagged with the vehicle owner having holding an issued CCW.

    So to anyone afraid of being stopped for “driving while black”? GO GET YOUR CCW!

  45. Look, this is problem that a lot of the web commentariat fails to grasp. 100 incidents of *anything* in a population of +350,000,000 isn’t statistically significant of anything, and is useless for a hypothesis.

    You are deliberately ignoring the very important factor here: Whites outnumber black by a 5 to 1 ratio, which should make it obvious that (using these numbers) unarmed blacks are being targeted five times as often as unarmed whites. This is the injustice which is being pointed at.

  46. You are deliberately ignoring the very important factor here: Whites outnumber black by a 5 to 1 ratio, which should make it obvious that (using these numbers) unarmed blacks are being targeted five times as often as unarmed whites. This is the injustice which is being pointed at.

    And you are deliberately ignoring the black criminals outnumbering white criminals by a *SIX* to one ratio. Statistics don’t stop happening just because you are only able to see the world through Everything Is Racist glasses.

  47. @Mark B: It seems to me that you are saying that the relation of the sample size to the population size, and not just the sample size itself, matters (more than very little)? That’s one of the more common misconecptions about statistics. A sample size of 100 in 1000, 100 in 250 million or 100 in a trillion is about the same in usefulness. Read more for example here: http://stats.stackexchange.com/questions/123865/the-population-size-does-not-affect-the-sample-size

  48. >Therefore, profiling – even racial profiling – is the correct thing for them to do if it shifts those probabilities in the right directions. Conversely, if they fail to profile rationally and efficiently, they are not doing their job right and avoidable harm will not be avoided.

    And if cops profile when it is not rational and efficient for them to do so then they are not doing their job right and are causing avoidable harm.

    In addition, racial profiling is inherently damaging to civil order and peace even when it is “rational and efficient”; having no racial profiling is a Schelling point, and moving away from it requires a stronger justification than a claim of “it’s rational and efficient” that not everyone agrees with.

  49. To get back to the original point: “Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist” doesn’t follow from “young black men commit a disproportionate share of violent crime.” Not without further information – information about the ratio of “behaving suspiciously” is skewed for blacks vs whites.

    It could easily be true, in encounters with young males, that white males who are behaving suspiciously are both much rarer and more dangerous than black males. In which case it would be rational to react more negatively to a random *white* male behaving suspiciously, even though black males commit a higher proportion of lethal assaults.

    • >To get back to the original point: “Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist” doesn’t follow from “young black men commit a disproportionate share of violent crime.”

      I think it does follow. Straight up Bayesian inference.

      >It could easily be true, in encounters with young males, that white males who are behaving suspiciously are both much rarer and more dangerous than black males.

      Six times more dangerous? No, especially not given what we know about the distribution of criminality.

      Because I am an honest person, I will at this point observe that something not entirely unlike your thesis is true. There is a statistics blog called La Griffe du Lion that once pointed out that racial differences in the distribution of propensity to criminality have an interesting pattern; whites have a lower mean than blacks or hispanics, but enough wider dispersion that the right end of that tail reaches a level of severe criminality nonwhites don’t match.

      This is not relevant to cop stops, though, as these white supercriminals are intelligent and have high impulse control. They don’t randomly shoot policemen, they become serial killers racking up huge covert body counts and going uncaught for years, sometimes decades. Police behavior doesn’t adapt to this because it’s too rare and doesn’t expose cops to direct danger.

  50. whites have a lower mean than blacks or hispanics, but enough wider dispersion that the right end of that tail reaches a level of severe criminality nonwhites don’t match

    Meaning something like that you expect more black muggers but more white serial killers?

    • >Meaning something like that you expect more black muggers but more white serial killers?

      Exactly so.

      There’s something funky about white males, statistically speaking. La Griffe du Lion explains that when you look at propensity to criminality, IQ, and various other measures, the species-typical pattern (exhibited by nonwhites of both sexes and white females) has a narrower dispersion than white males exhibit.

      It’s as though the white Y chromosome has some kind of regulator, or anti-regulator, that rolls the dice on morphogenesis differently. I have an extremely speculative theory about this that takes off from William H. Calvin’s “glacial pump” theory (see his book The Ascent of Mind).

      He thought that behavioral plasticity and intelligence had been selected in hominins by rapid alternations of climate during the last Ice Age, making it impossible for them to settle into any fixed adaptive strategy. I think the unusually wide dispersion of various statistics in white males reflects expendability – we’ve been shaped by the glacial pump to adapt to rapidly changing conditions by trying lots of different genotypic/phenotypical stances toward the environment. This is a meta-strategy women wen’t shaped for because the scarcity value of their ovulations favors not spending them on crazy experiments.

  51. >Straight up Bayesian inference.

    No, your Bayesian inference gets eaten by blacks displaying suspicious behavior disproportionately often. To save it, you need to show that the skew in “behaves suspiciously” among blacks is much smaller than the skew in “commits crimes.”

    Another constructed example:

    In a certain town, 1% of all the motorists pulled over commit assault against the cop, with the percentage being slightly higher for white motorists than for black: 1.1% vs 0.9%

    Half the motorists pulled over are black, even though blacks make up only 10% of all the motorists in the town. As a result, 45% of the assaults against cops are by blacks, even though (again) blacks make up only 10% of all the motorists in the town.

    The claim “black motorists commit a disproportionate number of assaults against cops” is true. But it is also insufficient to support the claim “cops are rational, not racist, when they fear a greater chance of being assaulted when they pull over a black motorist and take greater precautions against that possible assault.” In fact, this claim is false (by premise) in this example.

    • >No, your Bayesian inference gets eaten by blacks displaying suspicious behavior disproportionately often.

      That’s confirmation, not getting “eaten”. Unless you think suspicious behavior is negatively correlated with criminality.

  52. PCP “within arm’s reach”, that is, “planted”?

    “Let’s sprinkle some crack on him and get outta here.”

  53. @esr

    No, I’m claiming that once you apply the suspicious-behavior filter, applying the race filter doesn’t buy you any additional information.That a higher proportion of blacks committing crimes means a higher proportion of blacks behaving suspiciously and not a higher proportion of suspiciously-behaving blacks being guilty. That “a randomly selected black is more likely to be a criminal than a randomly selected white, therefore a suspiciously-acting black is more likely to be a criminal than a suspiciously-acting white” is not a valid Bayesian inference. And that this is because suspicious behavior is positively correlated with criminality.

    • >No, I’m claiming that once you apply the suspicious-behavior filter, applying the race filter doesn’t buy you any additional information.

      But I have already shown one instance where it does. The because of the population mean differences in impulse control, joint observations that a person is black and using alcohol or drugs tell you more than the sum of those observations about expected risk.

  54. > That’s confirmation, not getting “eaten”. Unless you think suspicious behavior is negatively correlated with criminality.

    I believe the proposition being discussed was that suspicious behavior is less strongly correlated with criminality for black people than for white people. If this is the case, then once you’ve stopped someone for suspicious behavior, they are less likely to be a criminal if they are black than if they are white.

    • >I believe the proposition being discussed was that suspicious behavior is less strongly correlated with criminality for black people than for white people.

      Eh? Excuse me, when did anyone even propose that?

    • >When you examine other violent crimes, they drop to about 26% of violent crimes where the race of the offender was known.

      But incorporating that statistic and assuming the best case, the 6:1 ratio of criminal propensity is still no less than 3:1, and the danger ratio of a young black male relative to baseline is still upwards of 13:1. These are still numbers quite large enough to justify a differential police response.

      But rationally, a cop’s danger evaluation during a Terry stop ought to be tied to the differential in murder rates more than anything else – after all, the prompt threat is of being killed by a felon resisting arrest. So in the specific case of Terry stops I don’t think this correction buys you much.

    • >When you examine other violent crimes, they drop to about 26% of violent crimes where the race of the offender was known

      It occurs to me that that does match the racial disparity in shootings reported by Troutwaxer pretty well. So if their threat response is actually calibrated to “violent crime” rather than “murder”, police behavior looks close to statistically optimal.

      That is interesting.

  55. I don’t think you can get away with a “differential police response”, at least not in any meaningful way, without a change to the Constitution.
    14th Amendment, Section 1:

    No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    At the end of the day, if you are a policeman and you answer honestly under cross-examination that you would not have stopped the defendant were he white, the ACLU is going to have a field day with you.

    • >No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

      Which is satisfied if objective criteria of good policing are applied to all parties. Failing to do this denies equal protection to non-black persons.

      (And yes, before you ask, I do consider “affirmative action” a gross violation of the Equal Protection clause.)

  56. > Eh? Excuse me, when did anyone even propose that?

    How are you not getting that? I mean, you’re free to disagree that it’s true in fact, but it pretty clearly is what “blacks displaying suspicious behavior disproportionately often” actually means. Putting it in symbols, “P(black|suspicious)/P(black|criminal) > P(white|suspicious)/P(white|criminal)”. Which entails, through simple arithmetic, “P(black|criminal)/P(black|suspicious) < P(white|criminal)/P(white|suspicious)”.

    (I read “disproportionately” as “disproportionately to the incidence of criminality”, I’m not sure to what else it could be meaningfully said to be disproportionate)

    • >(I read “disproportionately” as “disproportionately to the incidence of criminality”, I’m not sure to what else it could be meaningfully said to be disproportionate)

      Ah, now I see what the problem was. That’s not what I meant at all, and you hared off down the wrong chain of conditionals.

      My generative model is that blacks display suspicious behavior to policemen more often than whites for exactly the same reason they commit a share of violent crimes disproportionate to their fraction of the population. That is: lower average IQ, lower average impulse control, higher average time preference.

  57. >No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Which is satisfied if objective criteria of good policing are applied to all parties. Failing to do this denies equal protection to non-black persons.

    If your ‘parties’ are whole races rather than individuals, this is the same deliberately-wrong interpretation that anti-gun folks apply to the Second Amendment. The right to equal protection, just like the right to keep and bear arms, is an individual, not collective right. If you as an individual would be stopped for the same conduct that would be ignored in me, then you have lesser, not equal, protection of the laws.

    • >If your ‘parties’ are whole races rather than individuals,

      No, of course the parties remain individuals. You don’t seem to be thinking very clearly.

      The right to equal protection is the right to be treated impartially by the law. “Impartial” doesn’t mean always behaving as though we know nothing about rational risk assessment. If it did we would treat violent psychotics with the same presumptions we apply to sane people.

  58. And given the assertions you’ve made about poor impulse control, it’s hard to swallow that without also considering that a group who has poor impulse control is also more likely to engage in ill-advised but ultimately harmless posturing (verbal hostility, AM I BEING DETAINED, I KNOW MY RIGHTS, etc) that reads as “suspicious” and provokes a violent response from police when they can get away with it.

    Not everyone’s impulses are towards violence.

  59. >>> A cop knows that 2% of young white men and 20% of young black men he encounters on his beat are Up To No Good. He has a colorblind criteria for “suspicious behavior” that catches all of the young men Up To No Good, but also an innocent 2% of white men and 20% of black men. That means that whenever the cop stops a young man, there will be a 50% chance that the guy is Up To No Good.

    I will note, in support of my interpretation of Deep Lurker’s proposition, that this means:

    P(W|S) = 4%
    P(B|S) = 40%
    P(W|C) = 2%
    P(B|C) = 20%
    P(W|~C|S)/P(W|~C) = 2/98
    P(B|~C|S)/P(B|~C) = 20/80

    So he is clearly suggesting *some* mechanism that is causing a large number of innocent black men to behave suspiciously or have their behavior considered suspicious.

  60. > Ah, now I see what the problem was. That’s not what I meant at all, and you hared off down the wrong chain of conditionals.

    What you meant? You’re not Deep Lurker.

    > My generative model is that blacks display suspicious behavior to policemen more often than whites for exactly the same reason they commit a share of violent crimes disproportionate to their fraction of the population. That is: lower average IQ, lower average impulse control, higher average time preference.

    Even so, why wouldn’t that mechanism also cause a higher proportion of suspicious behavior displayed by innocent and ultimately non-dangerous black men?

    • >Even so, why wouldn’t that mechanism also cause a higher proportion of suspicious behavior displayed by innocent and ultimately non-dangerous black men?

      It would. But reasoning from this to conclude that a random suspiciously-behaving black is less likely to be a violent threat is exactly backwards, even perverse – after all, we know that propensity to criminality is higher in that population and (if we are not blinded by political correctness) we know why that is so.

      Hm. In fairness to Deep Lurker, I just imagined a set of contingent probabilities under which his analysis makes sense. If the probability that a given black were to behave suspiciously were so high as to be effectively uncorrelated with the the probability that he is engaged in criminal activity.

      I don’t think that’s the world we live in, though. Police tune their criteria of “suspicious” from experience of what criminals are like, so behaving suspiciously is more likely to be a true signal than a false one.

  61. Anyway, regardless of what you think their actual values are, the variables work against each other in a bayesian sense, which is what Deep Lurker meant by “gets eaten by”. The greater P(B|~C|S) is, the less value race has as a predictor of criminality in someone you’ve stopped for being suspicious, because the people represented in that variable make a greater proportion of your stops.

  62. @esr:

    >There’s something funky about white males, statistically speaking. La Griffe du Lion explains that when you look at propensity to criminality, IQ, and various other measures, the species-typical pattern (exhibited by nonwhites of both sexes and white females) has a narrower dispersion than white males exhibit.

    Are you sure it’s not a matter of the metrics involved being designed using the average white male as the definition of a normal individual and being better at measuring direction in the space of possible mental builds from the point used to define normalcy than at measuring distance from that point?

    Analogically, British accents sound closer together to an American than American accents do, even though there is much more variation in accent in Britain than in America, because British accents tend to all lie in the same direction in the space of possible accents from the average American speaker. Or, if you can only measure direction and not distance, the positions of stars in Andromeda show much narrower dispersion than those in the Milky Way.

    • >Or, if you can only measure direction and not distance, the positions of stars in Andromeda show much narrower dispersion than those in the Milky Way.

      I don’t think the analogy holds very well. We can in fact measure the relative performance of all populations directly with tests. So we don’t only get direction, we do get distance.

  63. > It would. But reasoning from this to conclude that a random suspiciously-behaving black is less likely to be a violent threat is exactly backwards, even perverse – after all, we know that propensity to criminality is higher in that population and (if we are not blinded by political correctness) we know why that is so.

    But if propensity to suspicious behavior is even higher than the amount by which propensity to criminality is higher, then the conditional probability inverts. If you cannot recognize this, you fail at Bayesian forever. This is isomorphic to the medical test false positive example.

  64. P.S. And if it’s exactly the same, then the conditional probability is equal, as in Lurker’s example (where the conditional probability is 50% for both white and black people stopped.)

  65. > I don’t think that’s the world we live in, though. Police tune their criteria of “suspicious” from experience of what criminals are like, so behaving suspiciously is more likely to be a true signal than a false one.

    Even granting that police are somehow immune to confirmation bias (suppose they arrest someone on that suspicion, and by the time they’re exonerated they’re no longer in the police officer’s sphere so that counts as a true positive rather than a false one. Suppose they shoot someone due to misjudging them as a threat and they’re promptly surrounded with an echo chamber congratulating them on defending themselves) counting innocent people’s behavior towards “their experience of what criminals are like”, that still only gets you as far as the point where the conditional probabilities are equal.

  66. And “behaving suspiciously is more likely to be a true signal than a false one” just means P(S|C) > P(S|~C). It doesn’t mean that P(SB|C) > P(SW|C) even if P(B|C) > P(W|C) *and* P(B|S) > P(W|S).

    For example, suppose:
    P(W|C) = 1%
    P(S|C) = 2%
    P(SW|C) = 50%
    P(B|C) = 5%
    P(B|S) = 10%
    P(SB|C) = 50%

    Even though P(B|C) is 5 times as much as P(W|C), since P(B|S) is also 5 times as much as P(B|W), that means P(SW|C) is the same as P(SB|C), which matches, entirely within your set of assumptions, Deep Lurker’s claim that any value of race as a distinguisher within S is “eaten by” the increase in suspicious behavior (and therefore the representation of innocent people in stops)

    [All these examples are of course simplified to where P(C|S) = 1 across all groups]

  67. For your conclusion to be true, P(B|S)/P(W|S) must be less than P(B|C)/P(W|C), or, as Lurker put it, “To save it, you need to show that the skew in “behaves suspiciously” among blacks is much smaller than the skew in “commits crimes.””

  68. Er, sorry, in my last example I meant to change the numbers so that P(S|C) > P(S|~C) was true. Please consider the numbers changed to 3, 4, 75, 9, 12, 75, in the order they were originally given. Under this set of probabilities, suspicious behavior is still “more likely to be a true signal than a false one”, but there’s still no difference between races given that someone has acted suspiciously.

  69. Eric’s crazy gun politics posts always seem to attract an awful lot of race-related theorising of various stripes.

    All fascinating to watch from a non-Murkan perspective – sort of like a vaguely obnoxious fishbowl.

  70. Children growing up in poor neighborhoods (and especially blacks and Hispanics) are culturally inculcated to be wary of police because they only see them when something bad has happened and typically some member of their tribe gets hauled off in handcuffs. This wariness can translate into an appearance of suspicious behavior even when no criminal conduct has occurred.

    Conversely, all humans (cops included) are genetically predisposed to note visual cues and instinctively respond with caution and apprehension when they encounter a potential threat scenario. This innate proclivity is not going to go away as a consequence of late-in-life politically correct police officer re-education or a hand-wavy blanket accusation of racism and government mandated behavior modification.

  71. >>The whole point of “shall issue” concealed carry law is to take discretion of permit issuance out of the historically racist hands of government actors like police and prosecutors. And the data show that concealed permit holders are statistically significantly more law abiding than cops.

    An excellent point.

    But it only really makes sense to those aware of the racist roots of gun control in the US.

  72. “Eric’s crazy gun politics posts always seem to attract an awful lot of race-related theorising of various stripes.

    All fascinating to watch from a non-Murkan perspective – sort of like a vaguely obnoxious fishbowl.”

    Very few gun discussions in any part of the world involves a full on, chalk throwing, argument about whether one’s opponent has “failed at Baysian forever”.

    Which is a phrase I will now endeavor to use at a meeting someday.

  73. “Suppose [police] shoot someone due to misjudging them as a threat and they’re promptly surrounded with an echo chamber congratulating them on defending themselves”

    At present, this case does not occur – the echo chambers condemn police for shooting anyone even when the police are defending themselves.

  74. > If they have “done their time” then they have “paid their debt” such as it is, and if they are
    > NOT safe enough to try and restore their rights and freedom, then what the f**k are they
    > doing out?

    It’s kinda like software development–we don’t have formal proofs that people are “ok”, and there’s only so much unit testing and QA we can do. Eventually you have to throw it over the wall and see how it works in production.

    Really, it’s the only test that matters.

    I have argued that restoration of rights (full etc.) should be automatic, either a general time, or as a part of the original (and maybe subsequent sentences), and I do think that’s the right way to go about it.

    I also think that sentences should contain two distinct parts–punishment, and ‘rehabilitation’. You get sentenced to ${years} hard labor (anything from working in the prison laundry or breakin rocks in the hot sun to moving telephone poles from one side of the warehouse to the other and back), and you’re not done with that until you’ve done the time AND earned a HS diploma (or GED, whatever). Then you move on to “step down” unit where you are essentially trained in certain “middle class values”. You are still in prison, but you’re given classes on things like budgeting–and given “credits” to work with to “pay your bills”. Taught the sort of hygiene that most of aspergers types in SiliconValley can even understand. Turn people with no education and no skills into people who can get and hold a job.

    Or we can take a national forest and turn it into coventry.

  75. Jerry on 2016-09-24 at 15:22:26 said:
    > @Paul Brinkley: On 9/11/01, many first responders arrived at the WTC site and did their
    > …
    > the hundreds of firefighters who rushed into one of the towers and up numerous flights of

    There were hundreds of police who did exactly the same thing.

    And there were more than a few civilians who went BACK inside more than once to get total strangers out. There was one guy (red bandana, I’m sort of ashamed that I can’t remember his name and had to google it. Welles Crowther. Shame he died before he could reproduce.) who was missing and presumed dead. His body was found in the rubble of the first floor surrounded by firefighters. He had stayed to provide whatever assistance he could.

    Don’t you use those brave men to push your idiotic agenda. It’s disgusting.

    > Police likewise undertake to face danger. If they do not have the ability and
    > willingness to suspend judgment and await the facts, they should not be police officers.

    You have no f*king idea of what you are talking about.

    This guy was my buddy: http://www.odmp.org/officer/17827-police-officer-nels-daniel-dan-niemi

    We weren’t BFFs, we weren’t on speed dial with each other, but we broke bread occasionally, and shot together once or twice a month. He was a hell of a guy, and left behind a wife and two kids because of some scumbag piece of shit.

    Suspend judgement my bleeding ass.

    With VERY VERY few exceptions[1], when the police shoot someone that someone has not only broken the law, but has been given SEVERAL instructions on what to do to avoid getting shot, beaten or choked out.

    The law is often an ass, but Eric Gardner insisted on violating not only man’s law, but also natures law–don’t let your mouth write a check your diabetic, asthmatic, obese ass can’t cash. If he’d gone quietly and fought it in court, or if he’d have kept in shape with a little exercise he’d be ok.

    If Michael Brown had stayed home and listened to Jimi Hendrix CDs after getting high rather than trying to be Mr OG Gangsta–stealing cigars, strutting down the middle of the street and GETTING IN A FIST FIGHT with a cop you (probably) wouldn’t even know where Ferguson MO IS.

    Same with that jackass in Charlotte–The police repeatedly told him to put the gun down, then they shot him.

    Laquan McDonald? Waving a knife around, slashing tires of a police car and smashing it’s window are NOT indications of peaceful intent. Especially after they’d been called because you were using that knife to break in to cars and trucks.

    What the ignorati in the suburbs do not “get” is that these cops know (mostly) the people they’re dealing with. They work the same areas day after day, year after year. They internalize the body language and cultures of the areas they work. It’s like going into your office every day. You know who the hard workers are. You know who to go to get unusual problems solved (usually me, because I’m the guy who works in the spaces between job descriptions), and you know who the useless turds are. The “wally”s (Dilbert).

    Yes, some cops are violent. Some unnecessarily so[1].

    But they are NOT soldiers, and they are going to do what they have to go home at the end of the day so their daughter doesn’t wind up like Dan’s:

    http://ww3.hdnux.com/photos/10/01/63/2104518/15/920×920.jpg

    It *is* a cops job to confront people and deal with them. Most of the people they deal with are normal, some are evil and some are broken. Cities would do better to cut WAY back on their landscaping budgets and shift that money to police training.

    They would also do better to stop sending police in and expecting them to be social workers.

    But here’s the thing you have to get, you have to “grok”. There ARE evil people in the world, and there ARE broken people in the world, and you have two choices, let the police deal with them, and understand that sometimes lines get crossed, or learn to deal with them yourself because the cops are going to pull WAY back and just show up with buckets and mops when it’s over.

    Me, I’d rather take option one, but I also study 2 martial arts, am a “super gun owner” and never leave the house without a gun and a knife. So really I’ll handle it either way.

    [1] There are 900 thousand police in this country. They interact with non-police all day long, so you’re going to be able to generate a long list of exceptions because cops are mostly people.

  76. Pingback: Sunday Wrap-Up | Countenance Blog

  77. Profiling: how comes the discussion revolves so much around race, not class? Would any policeman have the same instincts about a black man in suit vs. one who looks thuggish? Would they see the average white guy the same way as some smelly dude with face tattoos, loud and drunk?

    Speaking from a European background where we tend to profile more by class (although immigration and terrorism is changing it quickly) it is strange.

    For example @Troutwaxer was your color the only reason the police never questioned your tools? How about a Waingro (http://www.kevingage.com/assets/kevin-gage-heat-37.jpg) type with a Hell’s Angels jacket and death’s head bandana driving so crappy beaten up pickup and looking shifty?

    How to put it… seems to me sometimes America became “class-blind” in a way that while sound all idealistic and fair, does not necessarily help correct predictions either.

    Then again class may not even be the most correct term we are looking for here, especially not if people just equate it with income. But the Waingro character Kevin Gage played so well in Heat wasn’t simply “poor”. “thrashy” is closer but not the exactly accurate term either. Equating class with education is somewhat better but still not perfect. Ultimately class may not even be the word we are looking for here.

    Modern sociology simply lacks the terminology to describe the Waingro type problem, or to describe the difference between a law-abiding black car mechanic and some thug. I have tried to discuss it with people online, and failed, I like to use the term class, neither its usual definitions like income or education really explain it.

    I have only one good way to try to describe it. We are talking people whose whole way of dressing, carrying themselves etc. suggests violence, has a subtle or not so subtle threat in it. This is the lowest “class”, then above them we have the normal folks who go about their business, and then on top we find specifically polite and smooth people whose highly diplomatic behavior is the literal opposite, it suggests the avoidance of conflicts. Does this make sense?

    • >Profiling: how comes the discussion revolves so much around race.

      Because racial grievances make better agitprop for the American left. It’s that simple, really.

  78. >Profiling: how comes the discussion revolves so much around race.

    Because racial grievances make better agitprop for the American left. It’s that simple, really.

    To add to a summary which I endorse, there are strong enough correlations that “race” is often at least partially proxying “class”. I won’t blink twice if at night I encounter a large black man wearing a suit, whereas I am plenty likely to unobtrusively avoid a young white man in a hoodie and torn jeans if he’s walking aggressively.

  79. No, not only that. Cristopher Smith is close with the concept “walking aggressively”. If you look at the stereotypical pattern of a prison subculture, the basic idea is a zero-sum violence competition, you constantly have to prove you are prone to erupt at the slightest provocation or else you quickly become someone’s bitch. You are basically a warrior in war of all against all or shifting coalitions. This is actually more than a subculture, at some level I am afraid this is really the natural state of uncivilized humankind and clearly maps to much of primate behavior, it is so widespread, relevant concept “honor cultures”, that it is not a stretch to call it natural or biologically normal.

    What is abnormal, then, in a positive way, is being civilized. We can also map this to the concept “dignity cultures”. Civil quite literally means not a warrior. A civilized society is one where your status is not necessarily based on fighting skill or monkey bullying politics. While self-defense is always on the table and you can transform into a watchdog when if that is needed, generally when two civilized people meet they don’t normally expect violence, hence they don’t relate as warriors but closer to how traders or diplomats relate.

    Using this model, it is clear why one would have been wary of meeting the late 2pac Shakur late night in a street: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/2pac/imasoldier.html

    See, this is an almost perfect description of the life of a raiding Viking or any other tribal-warfare situation. I am not even raising the question of blame now, just stating it is these kinds of “soldier” traits that tend to make people wary and perhaps policemen shoot too early. This can be anything, the gait, tats, hair, piercings, clothing, anything that suggests a threatening attitude, anything that suggests the person is coming from an, well, call it subculture then, where that is largely how you get status or protect yourself. Clear, there are white “soldiers” as well, nazi skin bikers and suchlike, the same prison-fodder type but it seems to be far rarer.

    These models only work if you are pessimistic enough to have a highly conservative outlook. If you think crime needs an explanation, that is a pessimism fail. History is war, and war originates in raids that are much like crime. However brutal it seems, 2pac and his white nazi skin biker counterpart are the biologically normal human males. It is decency that needs a special explanation, not the lack of it. And I’d begin explaining it at trade making people realize being civilized pays off. You can pretty much track the process of this through history. For example while we can admire Roman architecture and laws, you can see how their civilizedness was still a thin veneer that pretty often came off. It did not really stuck on thickly until the 1600’s or so.

  80. The media are not even pretending to be honest reporters. They are simply the propaganda arm of the criminal organization doing business as the Democratic Party. This in turn amounts to a shell company owned and run by the Left-Right Ruling Party that Angelo Codevilla clearly described six years ago:

    http://spectator.org/39326_americas-ruling-class-and-perils-revolution/

    There’s a very serious problem here for cops and for anyone who lives in areas dominated by young black and hispanic gangs. But it’s not going to change anytime soon, even if Trump gets elected (as I hope). Causes, slogans, and movements come and go, the video cameras show up, reporters bathe in the flashes from the lightbar on the cruiser and get their footage — and it all comes round in the end to The Narrative.

  81. Take special note of “Killed for telling police you lawfully own a firearm and have a conceal-and-carry permit” in Kevin S Van Horn’s linked article.

    (Who wants to bet that the response is going to be that a small amount of weed in the car made him a “thug”?)

  82. I have worked for the military for the past 30 years including 11 years as a cop, now I’m disabled and still serving today and I read a comment above that got me riled up. A good friend Marine Gunny Sgt has a dad who is a cop and served as one for over 25 years in CO. He recently sent me this video. Watch and learn folk….

  83. “Take special note of “Killed for telling police you lawfully own a firearm and have a conceal-and-carry permit” in Kevin S Van Horn’s linked article.”

    Sorry, I couldn’t make it past his first, pitifully stupid example.

    It was a herculean effort to make it that far.

    Perhaps someone has a better, more cogent point to make.

  84. I just encountered an article that is germane to this discussion:

    http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/a-crazy-woman-with-a-baseball-bat

    When it comes to discussing police shootings, we have a tendency to focus on the cultural and racial aspects of people who get shot. This article makes the point that police officers selected to be non-intimidating (and, I would add, selected to be diverse — in the context of this article, I’m thinking in particular about hiring women to be police officers — but really, it’s anyone who is small and physically unimposing, whether male or female) — and then give them barely a smidgen of training in hand-to-hand combat, or even the tools that they carry — when a crazy elderly woman comes such a police officer with a baseball bat, about the only competent thing that they could do is shoot the poor soul.

    This is certainly justifiable self-defense, undoubtedly, but it’s also the case that, justified or not, someone with much better training and physical abilities (the author is 240lbs and regularly trains and does weightlifting — but admits he’s an anomaly among police officers) would be able to handle in a safer way. The author hopes we could fix this, but realizes that hope alone isn’t sufficient for fixing such issues…

  85. A number of years ago I visited Toronto, Ontario, and I noticed that every cop I saw on the street was (1) male, (2) stood six feet tall or taller, and (3) was trim and solid, not fat. These guys, by physical presence alone, completely dominated their immediate surroundings.

    I know they encountered situations where they’d call for backup immediately. But in the case of a violent citizen with a baseball bat, they had the ability to get in the person’s face like a Marine drill sergeant and take command of the situation.

  86. >Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, …
    That does not depend on the chance of that guy being a threat relativised by the chance of some other hypothetical guy being a threat. It depends on the absolute chance of that guy being a threat. I’m open to the possibility of it being significant (although I don’t put a high prior on it) but you have not posted stats or arguments in that direction.
    (the other possibility is that I start shooting everyone because the chance of someone alive shooting me is infinity times the chance of someone dead shooting me)

  87. The press puts in a huge effort to report accurately about guns. Consider this:
    “While waiting for nearly an hour for special forces to arrive in the southern Jordan city, and facing an indiscriminate hail of bullets from the castle’s walls, dozens of ordinary citizens took up their own licensed guns, clubs, and stones in an effort to draw the IS fighters out.”
    (fromchristian science monitor, dec. 21 2016;
    http://archive.is/a2MJ6#selection-2283.1-3220.1

    The reporter checked that all the guns were licensed, as were the clubs and stones!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *