Mid-EthicsTrainwreck Observations On Ferguson


1. This is traveling the identical route as the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman fiasco, and I wonder when the intentional similarity will begin dawning on the public, discrediting the participants and embarrassing the news media, which is as Pavlovian as the most conditioned canine.

2. In an environment where race grievance vultures lie in wait, the usual rule of prudence—an ethical value— for law enforcement becomes a fatal error. Now, if a police department waits and investigates before making an official report or filing charges when a white individual has killed a black one, it will be spun by those seeking to find sinister motives, and the news media will take the cue.

3. As in the Martin case, the victim was immediately portrayed by his family as being as threatening as a Care Bear, except for his race. Martin was introduced to the public by the news media with an old photo that made him look about 12. Michael Brown was introduced by his promising future: he was going to college, and his parents were proud of him, as if these factors are proof of unquestionable virtue and innocence. He was unarmed, and a teenager. But as I learned for the first time by seeing the surveillance video of the alleged robbery, he was a huge teenager. A man that big doesn’t have to be armed to be dangerous. Naturally, all public impressions of the incident were formed before any of this came to light. This also addresses the new outrage by protesters that the video was released to “justify” the killing. The video let us know that Brown wasn’t a harmless kid, and that’s valid information now.

4. Brown’s arrest was portrayed as random harassment, a case of “walking while black.” This may have been true: the officer says he was stooped not for the robbery, but for walking in the middle of the street. Did Brown think he was being arrested for the robbery, thus raising the stakes for him and perhaps provoking him to resist?

5. Upon the release of the video appearing to show Brown in the act of robbing a store and assaulting the store manager, an NAACP spokesman told Jake Tapper that “this didn’t justify in effect executing him.” That is a wildly irresponsible and dishonest statement, redolent of the “stalking” claims made regarding Zimmerman. There is no evidence at all that Brown was “executed” for the theft.  There is no evidence that race was involved in Brown’s death, except for the race hucksters like Sharpton and the NAACP for whom a black casualty at the hands of a white man is prima facie proof of racism.

6. The protests and calls for “justice” for Brown is just Martin redux. None of the protesters know what happened, or what that “justice” should be. If a huge petty thief resisted arrest and grabbed for an officer’s gun, dying in the struggle, he received justice, for example. “Justice,” at this point, is code for “Make Michael Brown another symbol of pervasive white racism in American that we can exploit for political gain, regardless of the facts.” It worked with Trayvon.

7. The police obviously botched this crisis at every turn. They race-grievance industry is well-organized and slick, but it is also predictable, or should be. The reason for the arrest should have been made public immediately, the name of the officer involved as well. Battling protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets just played into the racist cops narrative.

8. Maybe Brown’s death was triggered by race bias. Maybe a menacing teen made an officer feel that he was in danger. Maybe the whole incident was just a tragic series of miscalculations. It doesn’t matter. The facts don’t matter, and whatever the facts are, the response of the usual suspects trying to exploit a tragedy for extra yardage in the race grievance game will be the same, and will be largely aided and abetted by the news media. The passengers on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman ethics train wreck just got off when it stopped rolling, and boarded in Ferguson.

9. Race relations in the U.S. are going backwards, and if you want to know why, check the passenger list.

NOTE: this post has been updated.

47 thoughts on “Mid-EthicsTrainwreck Observations On Ferguson

  1. Jack, 1. Brown was not arrested for anything. 2. Officer Wilson was NOT AWARE that he was a robbery suspect at the time he stopped him. 3. Even if you assume that the officer knew it at the time, what gives him the right to play judge and execute him in the space of four minutes? 4. You feel strongly that African American leaders are responsible for “race baiting” and I imagine, using race as a way of gaining some advantage. I’m wondering what advantage we get from doing this? Think about it. What does the black community really gain from this? (And for the record, we disagree here) 5. The Ferguson Police Chief knew at the time of this mornings press conference that the robbery, and the shooting were NOT related, and he purposely mislead the press and public. 6. I’ve posted before about my hatred of the phrase “playing the race card”. The reason it bothers me so much is because each time it’s said, especially by someone who is white, serves to minimize or de-legitimize what is being said, making it no more important than a trivial card game. I take very seriously the fact that the police are killing black men at an alarming rate. It scares me. It should at least cause you to wonder if we might be actually telling the truth, instead of playing a dangerous game where the stakes are our lives.

    • I’m sure that you are telling the truth. I’m sure that many of the victims are placing themselves in harm’s way, recklessly, unnecessarily. I’m also sure that nobody has a reason in this case, at this moment, to maintain that the killing of Brown was unprovoked or race based. Since there is no such evidence, there should be no protests, calls for justice, Justice Department investigations and Al Sharpton, and yet there are. Why?

      “I’m wondering what advantage we get from doing this?” You? None. Mr? None. Them? It keeps them in business, maintains their place in the power game. When race relations improve, they are out of business.

      The fact that the stop was for walking in the middle of traffic rather than the robbery was revealed later today, and the post was changed to reflect that as soon as I could do it.

  2. So Rand Paul and all the rest of the conservatives expressing outrage are crazy? Am I the only one who felt shivers down my spin at the site of police in riot gear in of all places, Ferguson, MO? Come on! Step up to the ethics plate. If this were a riot of whites enraged that the black police chief was using excessive force against them, refusing to disclose basic information about a shooting, using riot police, arresting journalists, wouldn’t we all be enraged? Talk about unethical conduct — arresting reporters exercising their First Amendment rights! What is this? Ferguson, MO, or Ferguson, USSR? Come on, Jack. Show some spine here.

    • Hmmm…let me see, did I say they were crazy? (I think libertarians are deluded and naive, but not crazy.) I said they are inherently antagonistic to police. There is no way for police to win when demonstrators riot. If they fall back and let the rioters run amuck, as the LA police did during the King riots and DC police did after the King assassination, its anarchy. If they try to control the crowds, they will be accused of excess. Obviously minimizing harm is crucial, but it is a lot like warfare. I don’t think the ethical lines are as clear as you seem to think. I’ve witnesses riots where cops cleared away white kids and things got ugly. And the white kids were my classmates…and they provoked the police, who over-reacted.

      Is there anyone who is arguing that arresting the reporters was reasonable? No, and thus I don’t have anything to add to the matter. Stating the obvious is not my job here.

      • I think as soon as riots ensue…Martial Law should be established. THE END.

        If a group has a legitimate reason to protest and petition for redress of grievances, our system IS set up for them to deliberately and PEACEABLY do so, to seek republican succor and solution. Oh, our system IS set up to resolve conflicts that way…therefore any group that believes it isn’t…immediately is in a state of insurrection. Game on.

        As soon as a riot occurs? Sorry fellas, you’ve demonstrated no GOOD WILL or GOOD FAITH and so cut yourselves off from due process.

        Shoot anyone outside the regulations established outside the highest Officer’s MANDATE.

        And I only come to that conclusion after considerable meditation on the topic.

    • I knew as soon as complaints about the “militarization” of our police forces were raised, we’d see a tenuous agreement between Left and Right. Oh yes… both sides would claim what a horror it is for our Police to behave like a standing army… IT MUST END both sides would say.

      But there the agreement ends. Such a superficial agreement it would be.

      Look soon for Leftist solutions to the “militarization” of our Police Departments to involve more federal oversight and eventual consolidation of our local police forces into a nationalized force; with NO actual reduction in the level of “militarization”. Therefore, problem isn’t solved, only consolidated under Leftist control Fuck us then.

  3. The problem is that we still don’t know what happened. I have read accounts that say that Michael Brown attacked the officer in his cruiser, the first shot was apparently fired inside the car and the officer was injured, I have also read accounts that these riots are due more to protesters shipped in from Chicago than anything else. Until all this calms down and we start getting some kind of investigation, we don’t know if this officer just shot a kid because he was in the street impeding traffic, if Michael Brown attacked an officer who shot him in self-defense, or something else completely. When noone knows what happened, stating that an officer played judge and executed a man in four minutes sounds a lot like race-baiting. I am no fan of the often-outrageous actions of police officers (of which there is ample evidence on YouTube, for example), but rushing to judgement when the facts of the case are so murky is no better than the prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence, fabricate evidence, or coach false testimony because they feel they need to convict someone they are ‘sure’ is guilty.

    • You’re right. We don’t know. But surely you must question the familiar refrain of “he tried to take my gun”. At the same time that cops say they fear for their lives based on suspects being armed, doesn’t it seem strange that an awful lot of unarmed suspects feel the need to reach for a cops gun, and wind up dead for it? Based on my own personal experience, I’m on high alert any time I hear the police use “he reached for my gun” as a justification for killing someone.

      And I’m not a race baiter, but do see and acknowledge the role that race plays in human interaction. We need to be more honest about it. We also need to acknowledge that the color of your individual skin and experience will largely influence how you perceive these conflicts. I understand and respect how you might feel. All I ask in return is a small attempt at understanding how blacks might feel. Especially given the shear number of times this is happening. When does coincidence morph into a pattern? Or better yet, when might you even consider that there might be some degree of truth to what many black people say about there dealings with the police? Are we all lying???

  4. A large amount of the distrust between the police and the public occurs when conflicting reports of an incident are reported with neither side having proof as to what really happened.
    Two years ago I was in the basement of the local police station where I read the instructions for the taser that the police here in New Zealand use. It showed that the taser had an attached video-sound recorder which started recording whenever the taser was armed.
    A recorder could be fitted to any police gun so that whenever the police officer drew their gun from its holster the recorder would start recording.
    Police should also be required to use wearable cameras and record their interactions with citizens.
    The use of the recorders would go a long way in helping the police prove that whenever they used force they had a legitimate reason to do so.

  5. I will suspend my judgment with regards to the shooting. We don’t yet know what happened. Withholding certain critical facts such as the position of Brown’s wounds (if he was shot in the front or in the back) and any injuries the officer may have sustained is certainly a mistake, as Jack notes. It projects an impression of cover-up, whether there is one or not. What is *not* a “mistake” is the conduct of the Ferguson police/army. It is clearly an intentional display of a fascistic orientation, fortified with battlefield arms to back it up.

    One of the ideas that I’ve learned from Jack that is of special value to me is the notion of certain acts carrying “signature significance”– they reveal core characteristics and values about individuals or organizations. I believe that the response to these protests is an ongoing act of signature significance for this suburban militia. Armored snipers perched atop siege vehicles, wearing masks and training military-grade weapons into unarmed crowds unambiguously reveals that the authorities in Ferguson are not protectors. They are not public servants. They view the community as an enemy– one they are prepared to destroy. Their naked physical aggression against media is something I’ve never seen in my lifetime, and it screams aloud that they fear no consequences from violating the 1st Amendment. They unambiguously believe they are a law unto themselves.

    While we’re on the subject, how is transforming a civic police force into a military organization not a de facto violation of possee comitatus? The loss of American social, cultural, legal, and ethical capital that is demonstrated here is sobering, saddening, and unmistakable.

    • The paramilitarization is a danger, as you astutely point out. It seems to be in part a reaction to terrorism threats as well as the availability of heavy arms to criminals. When the stuff is available, the police will want to use it. Employing it against unarmed civilian protesters, even looters, is, as you say, offensive.

      • And that’s the rub. We don’t want to militarize our police…but if top of line equipment becomes available, how can we say no to our LOCALLY controlled forces?

      • It would seem that our police will always be an odd balance between a militaristic force and a civilian force. It’s original beginnings were in smaller towns and villages, where social control was mere peer pressure away; where night watches of volunteers or semi-professionals constituted the only official law and order outside of the actual courts.

        It wasn’t until our cities got much bigger, much more diverse, in which individuals could be easily lost in the quagmire that we saw the rise of the modern police force. The police’s earliest beginnings were inspired by the military, as the founders of most of them immediately sought to instill, as a stated goal, a military style discipline and culture in the police force. It would then follow that the development of police forces would be a race between keeping up with the complexities of the modern era – population explosion, density, diversity, eroding civic education while not becoming a military force.

        1) Our cities are massive. This has the tendency of removing the police from the community. Sure, they drive through the communities, and some often walk and interact. But long gone are the days the officer may come from the neighborhood he polices. I don’t see this as an insurmountable problem.

        2) The plethora of laws and regulations our police are compelled to handle have them increasingly actively looking for trouble as opposed to passively observing, which would free up mental energy to interact and to educate. The same plethora of laws has made us all lawbreakers and regulation violators at some point, slowly eroding our respect of the law (whether we admit it or not). On my way to the office this morning (and it’s a short drive), I passed no less than 4 speed traps as they canvassed that section of the highway, as they do periodically. Sometimes, commuting between our suppliers, about a 30 mile drive (crossing about 5 cities), I have passed upwards of 10 individual speed traps.

        With the thought “surely you all have something better to do” on the mind, and likely shared with hundreds others on the road, erosion of respect is inevitable, as well as feelings of separation from that same force.

        3) Entire subsets of the greater community have, since birth, been maliciously educated to see the police as enemies and oppositional – educated by parents, media, and entertainment. I have no solution to this other than – just stop.

        4) Part of our fear that the police are being militarized stems directly from the fact that we just witnessed 2 wars in which our military was actually “police-ized”. We saw our Army compelled to engage in policing another nation. We soon stopped realizing they were conducting extremely aggressive police work and assumed, hey, that’s just war. But it wasn’t just war, and when we see our police behaving the same way (like police) we start to worry that they are too militaristic, when in all reality, we’ve just forgotten what WAR actually is.

        5) However, that does not alleviate the fact that the military, military training, and military hardware has rubbed off on the police forces. This may stem alot from discharged veterans flocking to the police forces or just simple emulation. Either way, the police gained the knowledge and desire to look and act like soldiers (an culture that IS set apart from the civilian world) when they need to act more like Andy in Mayberry.

        6) Yet, I don’t see why police should not have access to the best technology, the best vehicles and the best equipment. I think where the forces have gone wrong is not in acquiring these technologies, but in developing more advanced and more nuanced procedures that govern usage of the new hardware. If a riot seems imminent, that doesn’t mean bring out the SWAT team with tanks and snipers on every rooftop like Maidan in Kiev. It may mean give them a warning order to be prepared to upgrade, but in the mean time, stick with a lower force level response. Perhaps it is SWAT team on the scene, but dressed like ordinary beat cops. I won’t begrudge a police force an MRAP or two…I will ask them to keep the armored cars in the garage until they have to issue a warrant on a known drug kingpin known for surrounding himself with a half dozen body guards.

        I won’t keep them from having M-4’s or Sniper Rifles or tear gas. I will ask them to keep them in the locker when the only problem is a peaceful gathering.

        What if the gathering gets out of hand? Then ratchet up the force level. Then and ONLY then.

        See, the military gets the benefit of showing up to a fight ready to dole out 2 or 3 levels of destruction more than a situation warrants. The police? Facing their own people? They have to tip toe and actually be a little riskier and wait until the situation calls for ratcheting up the escalation of force.

        Also, you don’t need woodland camoflauge. You don’t need camoflauge, you aren’t supposed to be hiding from the community.

        7) OR we need to decide at what level of our police forces we want those forces to be handling certain situations. If we don’t want our local police looking like special forces mounted in APCs, then we shouldn’t expect them to handle situations calling for it, but rather, hold those elements at the state level. If we don’t want to arm our local police to handle drug kingpins and armies of bodyguards, then we need to decide that drug kingpins are the business of higher levels of government. But that would require a colossal reality check on our culture’s part.

          • I don’t produce requisite volume of quality work to be profitable for you.

            But if you are hiring, I can telecommute, I need 3 months of vacation time, and at least $120,000 starting salary.

            Oh and a company car.

            Lets see what other reasonable demands can I make that reflect entitlement culture…

            Oh almost forgot, I’ll need to take the first year off (with pay) since we’re having a daughter in December.

        • A reality check that we are not likely to see. Our culture, our society, has become too polarized for such a reality check. Note the response to calls for body cams: they will keep our police from the kinds of excesses we saw in Ferguson, and the lessening of complaints about police PROVES it, where body cams are used. Well, that’s a possibility, yes. But the lessening of the complaints may also be due to the fact that now, the idiocy behind the complaint can easily be seen. It is just as likely that a body cam would show Wilson getting clocked in the eye as that it would show him cold-bloodedly killing Brown.

  6. From the looks of what I’ve read and observed it would seem that a young male (lacking in solid parenting– go ahead and crucify me for that) just got done robbing a store and was feeling cocky and strong. Walking defiantly down the middle of a street (as no considerate person would do), he was in no frame of mind to listen to authority…hell, he just showed he was THE authority.

    Yet, *constituted* authority confronted him and asked him to remove himself to a sidewalk. He resisted.

    From there, things escalated. I don’t know what happened… a struggle? Shots fired? Then Brown began to flee? Did he flee after being shot or before…donno?

    Did the officer then fire again after he began to flee? If so? Probably police excess.

    If no? I donno.

    Certainly doesn’t compel reasonable citizens to riot, vandalize, and loot….

    The whole thing is a stinking mess derived wholly from a lack of education in CIVICS.

      • Race has absolutely NOTHING to do with situation.
        EXCEPT what was added after the fact by a sub-culture, which at this point I’m past giving allowances for, that needs to accept there is a considerable illness pervading it.

      • I’m at about 30% motivation that the only real way to know one is doing good is by moving to the Sinjar mountains and expending oneself by killing as many members of ISIS as possible, because that seems at this point to be the only for sure clearly good fight in this world these days.

        I’m sick of this world and knowing too many people have been given everything they need to make a good life for themselves, but they’d rather do the crap they do to be victims and eggers-on of victims.

      • http://bit.ly/1vePmCo

        Jack, does this sound familiar? All of the roles in this instance (cops shooting unarmed victims??, a failure to communicate quickly and efficiently, interest group mouth pieces and protestors) are present. Reading it identified for me that again, not that much separates us. Given this case was not nearly as charged because, well for obvious reasons. But it struck me how similar the police behavior was, and how angry it made people. Maybe that’s all we’ll agree on here. But it’s a start, and hopefully adds something to the discussion….

    • Many 18 year old males are plain stupid. Their brains are not yet fully formed. (This is a fact) They make mistakes, and do dumb shit. Regardless of their race. It’s a male thing not a race thing. But what makes it shift to a race thing is when black kids are shot and killed for being male, and white kids that engage in the same type of behavior are not. Neither kid should be killed for being young and dumb. Neither kid deserves to be killed for petty theft or jay walking. But a black kid is dead.

      And on the subject of rioting, my impression is that it has not been a major component in this case. After the first night, it did not appear to be wide spread. And Thursday night, there was none of it. Regardless, it’s not the main issue. And I don’t mean to trivialize lawlessness and destruction of property. It’s wrong period. I just happen to think that it pales in comparison to a dead teenager…

      • You don’t know what the fuck the happened do you?

        Until you do, I don’t care about what the fuck your pronouncements are regarding “if it was a white kid it wouldn’t have happened”.

      • And it isn’t a “male thing”. I (an aggressive but civilized male) wouldn’t have walked down the middle of a street potentially impeding traffic because my parents bothered to teach me what the fuck I should do in civil society.

        Thanks, but I don’t care about “rebellious teen” arguments anymore.

        OH OH! I also, even with modicum of what good parenting I had, would not have robbed a god damned convenience store and then felt like I was the king of the fucking world afterwards…

      • In short, I don’t care about your apologetics. The kid was a jackass and probably got what was coming to him before age 25.

        The cop was probably a jack ass too.

        The mob was an even bigger jack ass and the police jackasses as well.

        This was a colossal meeting of jackasses.

        All lacking good parenting and good civics education.

          • Say what you must. Your apologetics rely on “teenage males are out of control and should be understood in that light” (bullshit) and “black kids are targeted by white authorities unfairly” (bullshit).

            I’m tired of those fallacious arguments.

          • Urban, his responses may be many things, but “comical” is not one of them. He is pissed. I have rarely seen him use the invective he has used in responding to you. And just a by-the-bye, when a black kid is shot, it is usually another black kid who does it. Rarely is a white kid the perpetrator. And when white kids do the shooting, an event that happens much less frequently than with black kids, they are pretty eclectic about who they shoot. And, like it or not, if this had been a white kid who was shot by a cop, there would likely have been no rioting, looting or arson. Certainly no rock-throwing or Molotov cocktails.

            • Yes. Sorry about the expletives. I’m simply beyond frustration at the way these things go and more frustrated by those who ought to know better but still play the games.

            • Maybe I missed something here. My post had nothing to do with kids shooting each other. You correctly point out that typically, black kids shoot black kids and white kids shoot white kids. The discussion I was having is that the police shoot black kids at an alarming rate, and they shoot white kids at a rate much less so. (I think this is good by the way) I also think it unfair for you to say that white kids shoot less. Case in point, many of the school shootings are perpetrated by white kids. Regardless, we all are influenced by our own lives and knowledge. I’m not hear to pass judgement on you or yours. Now Texagg seemed to take issue with my pointing out that all kids regardless of race have brains that are not fully developed, and as a result, are not treated the same by law. To my knowledge this isn’t even a controversial practice. It’s why we mostly send kids that run afoul of the law to juvenile facilities instead of jail. All of these arguments were my attempt (failed it seems) at backing away from a race based argument. You also made a point of saying “You don’t know what the ‘eff’ happened”. I specifically said as much in the first line of a previous point. But for whatever reason, my writings set you off. And that’s where you lose me. I like this site and the way Jack moderates it because he generally attracts people with solid arguments and a perspective that I don’t always share or think about. I choose to engage (mostly with Jack) those that understand that while i have a different perspective, it has no less value than yours. Anything outside of that sort of framework doesn’t interest me, and I won’t respond to.

              • Then you will likely not be responding to either me or Tex (we are different people, so you’ll know) and quite frankly, I will not be responding to you, at all in the future. I find your arguments and your logic to be specious, and, although you seem fairly intelligent, you are not amenable to reason or to reasonable presentation of facts.

  7. Inability to handle delayed gratification? Rob a cigar store, jack a car, harass an uninterested woman, assassinate some pirates on recon, blow up robots… while young men are expressing frustration and impatience as violence, the problem is across the board. Entry level would advance to middle and then higher, but work that advances is clogged with seniors.The rest of us vent about losing ground over the last few years, but they can’t handle the frustration. The good raising isn’t just the clothing and education, but handling setbacks and need to work harder for some things. One of the saddest families I know has a child who needs to learn ‘No,’ and that parents can’t hover all their life… and you can’t help because it’s not illegal support a child. This violent frustration will continue for boys and girls learn a tantrum won’t keep you out of the slammer.

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