Ferguson’s “How Dare You Challenge Our Narrative?” Protest


There was another large demonstration in Ferguson last night. This one appears to have been more proportionately and wisely managed by Ferguson police, who still had a bad day that didn’t do much to erase the impression that its leadership is not equipped to deal with the challenges posed by race politics in 21st Century America. The inexplicably delayed information on the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, including the name of the officer involved (who can now count on receiving death threats and having celebrities try to help vigilantes by tweeting his address), “infuriated”  Brown’s family and the African American community in Ferguson, on the theory that video showing Brown robbing a convenience store and assaulting its owner was an attempt to smear the victim of a racist killing, and to “justify” an execution.

It’s an unethical theory, and the news media and fair observers should reject it. Indeed, they have a duty to reject it.

A young man is dead, and that is a tragedy. Another young man, the one who shot him, is also involved, and his life, while not over, is going to be permanently scarred in the best case scenario. If “justice,” the word that the demonstrators in Ferguson and elsewhere are using as a mantra, is being used to mean what it is supposed to mean (and, it is not), then the young police officer deserves justice too. That means, at very least, waiting until all the facts are known that can be known, and making a dispassionate, objective, non-politically motivated analysis of what occurred, who was at fault, what crimes, if any, were committed, and how to prevent such incidents in the future.

Is that too much to ask? To insist upon?

So it seems.

The Ferguson demonstrators and the same lynch mob of pundits, columnists, race-hustlers and irresponsible politicians who gave us the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck have already made up their minds what happened, and who and what was at fault. They want to pre-bias the fact-finding process immediately, and to that unethical end have provided a relentless account, commonly referred to as a “narrative”—which is a euphemism for story, a word that properly suggests the possibility of fiction—that includes as unchallengeable the following “facts”:

  • Michael Brown’s death was a cold-blooded murder.
  • It was motivated by racism.
  • Brown’s killing exemplifies police antipathy toward African Americans, not just in Ferguson, Missouri but in the United States generally.
  •  The incident is further proof that America is a racist nation and that African Americans are being targeted for harm by law enforcement.
  • Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing in the event culminating in his death.
  • He was a  harmless, unarmed and innocent teen, headed to college, with a bright future, all proving beyond doubt that his death was a crime.
  • His death is good cause for all parents in the African American community to fear for the lives of their children.
  • No result short of punishing the officer responsible for Brown’s death will constitute justice.

To the contrary, none of these are established, objective facts. Some are opinions. Some are assumptions based on preexisting biases. Some are pure speculation. Some are almost certainly false.

The police had an obligation to release the video of the robbery and assault (all right, alleged robbery: the assault can’t be denied) to counter the politically-motivated effort to deceive the public and bias public opinion to the detriment of justice. The video suggests that Brown was not harmless, armed or not, and was capable of physical violence. It shows that he might have shared some fault in the altercation that led to his death. As a result, the video casts more doubt on the presumption that Brown’s death was an “execution,” or was racially-motivated.

Though the fact should be irrelevant to the incident, the video suggests that Brown may not have been the virtuous, innocent young lad headed for a bright future, for robbing convenience stores is not one of the indicia of future life success. When the prejudicial emotional argument “He was going to college! A bright and promising young life has been snuffed out by racist hate!” is being used by Brown’s parents and demonstrators to bias public opinion, news accounts and eventually the legal system against the police officer who shot the teen, it is fair for the officer’s employers to counter that propaganda. That he was headed to college is being plastered on signs and offered as proof that Brown could do no wrong. The video proves that this is nonsense, and pure sentimental manipulation.

Last night’s protest expressed outrage that the false narrative being put forward to preclude justice for Brown’s shooter had been exposed.


83 thoughts on “Ferguson’s “How Dare You Challenge Our Narrative?” Protest

  1. “The Ferguson Police department attempted to take control of the civil unrest surrounding the cold blooded killing of a teenaged boy by a police officer. They attempted to try and cover their hides by claiming that the victim had robbed a convenience store earlier that day. However that excuse collapsed when it was revealed that the officer had no idea about the robbery at the time of the shooting.

    And now as promised, Anonymous has shared the St. Louis public dispatch recording which reveals yet another problem in the Ferguson police claims, showing that rather than report the shooting, the officer contacted dispatch when a crowd began to form after the shooting. …

    Anonymous has already paralyzed Ferguson through shutting off the cities networks and phone system. They threatened to release the officer involved in the shooting’s information if the Ferguson PD did not, but the city blinked first.

    Anonymous still has one demand left, for Missouri’s senators and Ferguson’s federal representative to introduce “Mike Brown’s Law,” to require all police to be outfitted with video recording equipment. In Rialto, California, the outfitting of cameras on individual officers saw a dramatic improvement for the police department, with public complaints against officers dropping by 88%, and officers use of force being cut by 60%. The reality is, when people know that they are going to be held accountable, they think before they act. Behavior then reinforces itself.””


    It is beginning to appear as if the facts of this case support that narrative. Cops, judges, priests, prosecutors. Accountability is a reliable antidote to the abuse of power. Anonymous — my ethics heroes, because they always seem to be on the right side of every issue, and use their skills to keep the cockroaches in power from covering their tracks — has once again come to the rescue of an otherwise-defenseless populace.

    • How exactly does it appear at this point that the narrative is accurate? You’re shifting goal posts. The fact that the police department mishandled the aftermath is indisputable—it also has nothing to do with the incident itself.

      This—“They attempted to try and cover their hides by claiming that the victim had robbed a convenience store earlier that day. However that excuse collapsed when it was revealed that the officer had no idea about the robbery at the time of the shooting” —is dishonest. 1. He DID rob the store. 2. It doesn’t cover their hides regarding his death, as the shooting, if a crime, would be a crime whether there was a robbery or not. 3. I explained the justification for releasing the video, and you just ignored the point of the post, while COMMENTING on the post. 4. It si not appropriate to name such a proposed law, which I would support, after Brown, when there are no facts known now that indicate there was police wrongdoing that would have been captured by such footage.

      If your “ethics heroes” are “Anonymous,” which is a contradiction in terms since ethical agents don’t hide their identity, your analysis is and will always be suspect here. The groups is made up of outlaw, arrogant, misguided vigilantes who impede justice and selectively choose what “truths” they want to expose.

      • You’ve never been a whistle-blower, have you, Jack? The price is a high one. If they can’t find something on you, they’ll make it up. Julian Assange is Exhibit A.

        As you opined yourself, the ends (absolute judicial immunity, resulting in criminal rights violations going unpunished) justify the means (the public good, a proposition which is by no means proven). Pick a lane!!! If you are right there, you are wrong here.

        Think of Anonymous as your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. They’re just kids. But maintaining the King’s peace has been the common duty of every citizen since Magna Carta, and they are discharging that duty. (You sound like J. Jonah Jameson, to complete the analogy.)

        Anonymity is a crucial part of their strength. If you can’t see them coming, you have to suspect everyone. Basic Sun-Tzu.

        You were complaining about the narrative. I’ll agree on #6 not comporting with the facts (though Winona Ryder didn’t do time for shoplifting $5,500 of goods), but I was commenting on the accuracy of the narrative, which you claim is false. Similar incidents are admissible as evidence, and it appears that your conclusions are dubious. The cop didn’t know about the shoplifting incident, and can’t use that as an excuse. And it would seem that he didn’t even bother to call in the shooting, according to the dispatch audio.

        Power is in love with itself. Only courageous citizens like Anonymous can break up the bromance.

        • I’ll accept that anonymity is useful and even necessary when people with power would use the law to punish those who held them accountable. However, Spider-Man was one person (well, except for the Clone Saga, but let’s forget about that.) People could at least know that when Spider-Man showed up it was the same guy (see my reply to your reply to my reply to your post, below).

          Also, I agree that the assault on the video is not a reason to shoot a person. My understanding was that the video was released for the purpose of discrediting the idea that Brown was an unassuming, helpless kid who posed no threat and therefore there was no possibility that the shooting was in self-defense. The video introduces the possibility that it was self-defense by showcasing Brown’s physical fortitude and capacity for violence. However, introducing that possibility is all it does, and anyone capable of nuanced and rational thought should draw no further conclusions based on this video alone, if they can help it.

          P.S. How do you achieve bold text in posts?

    • They also released the name of the wrong police officer with the smug assertion that the authorities’ non-denial was confirmation. One might argue that this was an attempt to force the release of the *real* name, but the damage that could have been caused in the interim is more than a little significant.

      I’m generally on the same side as Anonymous, too, but vigilantism must have its limits ethically as well as legally. I think they handled this case remarkably poorly.

      • I think of the tale of Peter, getting out of the boat to meet Jesus, but falling into the water. At least, they are trying. Wasn’t it Jack who preached about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?

        • The Soviets were trying to create paradise on Earth too, and I think even Bush genuinely thought he’d be making Iraq a better place. Good intentions aren’t enough, dude.

          • Well, he couldn’t have made Iraq a worse place than what is would have been with whichever of the sadistic Hussein boys who successfully killed the other in charge. The final conventionalist verdict on the invasion will be out for along, long time. I still think it was the right and courageous thing to do based on what we knew at the time, or thought we knew, including that we thought the campaign would be handled competently.

            • Again, we will have to disagree. Pottery-barn rules: You break it, you pay for it. ISIS seems to have even less restraint than Saddam Hussein, and the uncivil civil war they are bringing to Iraq will make people long for the glory days of Saddam’s rule. This was predictable, and we certainly didn’t go in for humanitarian reasons. It was about oil and Saddam’s desire to trade in euros, undermining King Dollar. But just as our ancestors made the price of empire too high for Britain, they made it too high for us.

              You can’t spin that one into nobility. The war was based on a false and fabricated premise, just as LBJ fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

              • Wrong, and dishonestly so. It was based on Iraq’s violation of its cease fire conditions,( which the UN should have enforced but did not because it was profiting off of Saddam), and the WMD issue was frosting on the cake, to build political and public support. Your version is demonstrably false, a Democratic talking point and a lie.

                The argument that the justification was fabricated is in a trio with 9-11 conspiracy theories and the claim that Bush stole the 2000 election, and citing any of the three is proof positive, signature significance, of partisan hackery.

              • But just as our ancestors made the price of empire too high for Britain, they made it too high for us.

                Um… You do know that that war only ended when the fighting in the Mediterranean raised its costs to that level, right? That those costs were imposed by the French and Spanish?

                • Put too much stress on a bridge, and it will collapse. Our fight may well have been futile, but for certain conditions.

              • It is one of his most famous quotes, as people use it quite often. Sunlight is a disinfectant, which is what happened in the Wikileaks dump. Both Bush #43 and Hillary were outed as criminals, but Manning is the one doing time.

                It might be an over-simpflication, but it is essentially true. Put cameras on cops, and they start behaving themselves. Imagine that!

    • “Accountability is a reliable antidote to the abuse of power.”

      I agree with that, but my inconsistency meter is off the scale when you turn around and praise Anonymous. If we’re putting cameras on the police, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. But who’s putting cameras on Anonymous, the group that can make arbitrary demands of the government and shut off computers and communication? Where’s the inclusive balance of power? I don’t trust Anonymous to use good judgment about what they want, because they don’t “know that they are going to be held accountable,” so they won’t necessarily “think before they act.” How do I know they won’t come after me or someone I know? How can I trust them more than police, if they aren’t accountable for their actions?

      Digging out information is a noble cause, but the information and the interpretation thereof must be comprehensive as possible. These ham-handed “give us a name” ploys don’t get the information on what happened; they’re just reaching for a scapegoat. Blatant sarcasm follows: All human problems can be solved by finding the appropriate people to blame, don’t you know? Blatant sarcasm ends. People are easy to spot. The abstract concepts at work in our society are more difficult to identify and address with rational measures, but that’s the still the best option we’ve ever had.

      Leaping to the defense of a person you don’t know who because they are more similar to you than the person opposing them and refusing to acknowledge information that might indicate you are mistaken is a classic human weakness, and is a major source of conflicts on every scale.

      • The only real power Anonymous has is the power of information. Anyone can do what they do, including nefarious elements. So far, the proof is in the pudding: Anonymous and Wikileaks have a sterling track record. In the Manning data-dump, Assange turned over his information to some of the world’s most respected news organizations to vet. Edward Snowden gave his material to arguably the world’s best newspaper (The Guardian) and Glenn Greenwald. Sure, the revelations were damaging, but do you really think that the KGB or Mossad didn’t have what Manning had?

        Anyone can claim to be Anonymous. Their accountability is in their work product. They may have even saved our own 2012 election.

        Anonymous is necessary because our normal accountability mechanisms have failed miserably.

        • The issue I have is not with any extraordinary power Anonymous has, but with the fact that if they use that power maliciously they cannot be punished because we cannot find them, we cannot trace them, et cetera. That is what accountability means to me.

          Furthermore, information is not only very real power, but it can also be misused to disastrous effect, especially if the information is incomplete, irrelevant (but presented as if relevant), false, or a secret that is kept for a good reason (because those do in fact exist.)

          “Anyone can claim to be Anonymous.”

          If that’s the case, then “Anonymous” cannot be referred to as a cohesive entity, they cannot have a reputation, and you by definition cannot trust them or ally with them. Actually, I’m now boggled as to why the media doesn’t always refer to Anonymous as “unknown individuals claiming to be Anonymous” since that’s by definition what they are, since there is no certification process. In theory, we can guess it may be many of the same people each time, but in practice no instance of Anonymous can ever benefit from the reputation of previous good deeds, since it could be a completely different group and nobody could call them on it. There may be many splinter groups of Anonymous with varying degrees of ethical judgment (and there probably are). This is the same fallacy that underlies the joke “A person called ‘anonymous poster’ has a lot of good advice quotes attributed to them. You should listen to what they tell you.”

          “They may have even saved our own 2012 election.”

          Well, they didn’t help Gary Johnson beat Obama, so I fail to see how they saved anything. Please elaborate?

          “Anonymous is necessary because our normal accountability mechanisms have failed miserably.”

          I don’t disagree that our normal accountability mechanisms have failed, but I think what’s necessary is people who aren’t afraid to push for nuanced thought, intellectual honesty, and addressing the concerns of others.

                • Hardly. You staked out the position that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do you stand by that rule, or not?

                  If you stand by that rule, you have to support Anonymous, because there is no alternative. If you do not, then you will have to change your position wrt judicial immunity. Otherwise, you are guilty of special pleading.

                  • Unaccountable and cowardly vigilantes are by no possible interpretation “good.” And I reject your premise that there is no alternative to a bunch of arrogant, juvenile hackers with delusions of grandeur. As anyone with an iota of common sense does and should.

                    • “Cowardly?” These people are risking serious jail time in what appears to be a noble effort. (If you are a right-wing authoritarian, ymmv.) Altruism is a disease normally afflicting the young.

                      Camouflage is a tactic. American patriots used to hide in trees and take shots at columns of British soldiers marching by. Guerilla warfare places enormous stress on an opponent, as while you can attack anywhere, they have to defend everywhere. Anonymous is accountable to each other, as the Framers were when they pledged their sacred honor in the DoI. And I, for one, would not want to cross them.

                      If there is an alternative, where is it? Certainly not here. You aren’t cleaning up the cesspool of our courts; you’re actually defending a system where a district judge can knock up a comely litigant in exchange for favors without meaningful consequences. Suspension? That’s it?!? Kwame Kilpatrick lost his bar card, and went to the can. The least we should do is let the victim sue the guy into the Stone Age.

                      On the Internet, “an iota of common sense” invariably translates to “agrees with me.” So, where is this knight in shining armor, rendering Anonymous redundant? Common sense is notoriously uncommon, but unless and until you can point to an alternative, you can’t credibly claim that there is one.

                    • Let’s just stipulate from now on that the first word on all my replies to you is “nonsense.” You know, to save time. You are philosophically opposed to the concept of ethics or the validity of ethical systems, and support terrorism, vigilante action and anarchy. Not only do your statements make no sense in the context of an ethics blog, they can’t be defended by an inquiry into rightful conduct. If everyone behaved like Anonymous, violating laws when they felt it was justified by their political ends, avoiding accountability, society would be deadly, chaos, unlivable.

                      Duh. People who hide their identities while posing as heroes are cowards by definition. These people are risking serious jail time in what appears to be a noble effort. Appears to YOU, perhaps. Most criminals can rationalize their actions as noble. ‘

          • A strange conclusion, coming from a Gary Johnson anarchist. He’s even too extreme for me.

            Apparently, the group polices itself. (To Jack, this is perfectly acceptable when applied to judges.) So far — unlike the case with judges, as we saw in the McCree case — this has worked.

            Think of “hacktivists” as old-style journalists. When they told us the truth, we listened. When they spun news for a purpose like Fox, we tuned them out. Yes, information can be abused. By anyone. But so far, Anonymous has had a remarkable track record.

            “Well, they didn’t help Gary Johnson beat Obama….”

            Not that anyone was going to vote for him, anyway.

            Remember the 2004 election? Exit polls in states with electronic voting consistently showed Gore doing better than he officially did, but in states with auditable vote-counting systems, the exit polls were perfect. Exit polling is so good that in Third World countries, we use it to ascertain the integrity of vote-counting. Why the discrepancy, and why did it always go Bush’s way? For this reason, many reasonably concluded that the 2004 election had been stolen.

            Remember how Karl Rove melted down on Fox when it called Ohio for Obama last cycle? The back story was that Anonymous warned Rove that if he tried to do it again, they would stop him. My guess is that he tried, and they blocked him. It’s the best explanation for his actions that night.

            Again, Jack’s mantra is that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As the alternative is nothing — as a whistleblower myself, I know that the price is just too damn high to do it openly — Anonymous will have to do. When Jack backs off his position on judges, he will finally have the standing to object.

            • “A strange conclusion, coming from a Gary Johnson anarchist. He’s even too extreme for me.”

              I did mention nuanced thought, did I not? Libertarianism is not the same thing as anarchy, any more than conserving energy is the same thing as being a Luddite. To me, it’s about balance and the prudent use of resources. Of course hasty labeling is liable to lead to confusion on your part as people continue to be more complex than the caricatured labels you assign. Also, please elaborate on this extremeness of which you speak. Everyone has different concepts of “extreme,” so I don’t have an intuitive sense of what you think is extreme. Especially since Anonymous is anarchist in nature and yet you praise them. Perhaps you advocate a large central government balanced by anarchist hackers? I’m not sure how to reconcile these viewpoints.

              Hacktivists may reveal information like muckrakers, but the job description of muckrakers does not include “lock all the government filing cabinets and make demands” (they didn’t have computers back then). Also, you’d be surprised at how much humans suck at knowing when to tune things out. Mostly they just tune out stuff they don’t like rather than tuning out the stuff that presents an oversimplified picture of reality (like equating libertarianism with anarchy).

              “But so far, Anonymous has had a remarkable track record.”

              Correction: Unknown individuals claiming to be Anonymous have had a remarkable track record. That is, if we’re taking the anonymity thing seriously. If they want to be a standard secret organization that happens to call themselves Anonymous, that’s fine, but that defeats the point of everyone having the ability to act in the name of Anonymous. If they want to be able to have a track record at all, they need to be able to denounce impostors.

              Since I am capable of nuanced thought, I can judge that while unknown individuals claiming to be Anonymous may not be perfect, they can be beneficial, but also that while they may be beneficial now, they cannot be counted on not to screw something up in the future.

              I am not convinced that judicial immunity is a good idea, but it is distinguishable from anonymous immunity in that judges are ostensibly appointed or elected to office in some form of due process. A a society, we knew what we were getting into when we made them immune, whether or not it was a good idea in hindsight. As far as I know, nobody vets the unknown individuals claiming to be Anonymous before they start a ham-fisted, potentially beneficial attack. From whence do they derive their power? As far as I can tell, it appears to be from being sneaky. Sneakiness isn’t inherently bad, but I’d appreciate some sort of code of honor or something beyond “we’re doing it for the lulz.” I’m not going to shoot the sociopath fighting at my side, but I’m going to watch my back.

  2. It looks like someone live-tweeted the incident as it happened, before it became a “thing”. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/guy-appears-have-live-tweeted-michael-browns-shooting

    The tweeter says the victim (Brown) was running away when he was shot at, and it appears he was struck at least once. Brown then turned around, and put his hands up, when he was shot at least five more times before falling dead, where he was left to lie in the streets for four or five hours. If the time stamps on the tweets hold up, its going to be nearly impossible to argue any amount of justifiable shooting, no matter if the police release dozens of videos of the victim shoplifting.

    • There are so many “if’s” involved in that series of tweets as to make it virtually worthless. 1) was the guy actually there? 2) Did he, in fact, see anything? 3) Was ANYTHING he tweeted accurate? 4) Were the pictures he posted even of the crime scene, and what, if any, relevance do they have? Fortunately, social media postings are rarely admissible in a court of law, primarily because they are untrustworthy. If the poster will come forward and actually testifies and if his testimony agrees with his tweet, then maybe. Otherwise, it’s just a fictional account of an event.

      • The pictures do match other pictures of the crime scene, for what it is worth. But next to video, contemporaneous accounting of what happened, before it had a chance to be filtered, or harmonized with other eyewitness accounts has a great weight. His tweets agree with pretty much every other eyewitness account that Brown was running away when he was shot, then had his hands up when he was killed. Keep in mind that this is before this became a national news story, and before he had the chance to confer with other people. It cannot be easily dismissed.

        If the accounting is true, then it is easy to see why people became riled up about the press conference. Brown was shot in broad daylight, in front of a lot of witnesses. Rather than giving facts about the shooting, how many bullets were discharged, how many bullets hit brown, the angle of the bullets, was he facing front or back, from how far away, a police report or accounting from the officer in question, audio recordings of the call-in about the homicide, the press conference was mostly about Brown’s alleged shoplifting incident.

        It was an obvious clumsy attempt to smear the dead, with a basic “he had it coming” narrative. The boy is no longer alive to defend himself, or give his side of the incident, which at the end of day, could be pretty irrelevant if the police would have given some other facts. If Brown was 10-15 feet away and not facing the officer when he was shot, would it matter if he tussled with the officer earlier? Or if he was on his knees? You can release an unconfirmed video, but not the official report? The fact that they are not releasing relevant information is infuriating in and of itself.

    • What does live tweeting prove, I wonder? It’s not evidence. He would have to testify–4 or 5 hours? How would that be even possible? Why did this guy wait until now to come forward? Sure, this is part of the fact-finding process, but its not dispositive, and certainly not at this point.

      • Meanwhile, please stop spinning. That video isn’t of shoplifting, it’s of THEFT. And as I wrote, the release of the video was not intended to “justify” the shooting—I may institute a policy of not posting comments that amount to talking points in blatant disregard of the post being commented upon.

        • My crim law is pretty rusty — but I’m pretty sure you don’t get to be shot for petty unarmed theft without a trial first. We don’t shoot people for suspicion of committing a crime unless that person has a weapon and someone is in danger. If the police officer can prove that, fine, it’s a good shoot. If he can’t, it doesn’t matter if the guy just got done mugging old ladies and kicking their dogs.

          • Why did you write this, since it directly ignores what I wrote? Which part of “the release of the video was not intended to “justify” the shooting—I may institute a policy of not posting comments that amount to talking points in blatant disregard of the post being commented upon” was too subtle for you?

            Not one commentator, and certainly not me, has suggested that the fact that college boy Mike behaved like a cheap hood right before he was shot “justifies” the shooting. It still counters the obviously fake narrative that this was a nice, meek, inoffensive, college bound kid who wouldn’t hurt a fly, thus making the assumptions of the protesters premature.

            Seriously—why would you write such crap?

            • It’s not crap. I am not attacking you personally so calm down. The police here are utter idiots. Releasing piecemeal info that has nothing to do with whether or not the shooting was justified? Aren’t they trying to stop the rioting? This info could be part of an official report once fact gathering is concluded.

              • It certainly is crap. My post explains that the video was not designed to justify an “execution,”—so you write:

                “but I’m pretty sure you don’t get to be shot for petty unarmed theft without a trial first. We don’t shoot people for suspicion of committing a crime unless that person has a weapon and someone is in danger. If the police officer can prove that, fine, it’s a good shoot. If he can’t, it doesn’t matter if the guy just got done mugging old ladies and kicking their dogs.”

                Which is ridiculous and intellectually dishonest. There’s a rational reason to release the video, and one that makes no sense. And you gravitate to the latter to make the police look even more idiotic than they are.
                You want to argue that the police are idiots? Fine—I don’t dispute that. It still doesn’t indicate that they thought Brown’s thuggery justified a shooting—that’s the “justice” folks talking, that’s their spin. And again—the robbery video counters the Trayvon-like “this is a good kid with a bright future who wouldn’t hurt a fly” baloney used in the protests and sold to the media to “prove” Brown did nothing to provoke a deadly response, because he wasn’t like that. Well, the video proves he was not only like that sometimes, but he was like that right before the incident that killed him.

                What’s your solution? If they release it right away, the critics making the silly argument you made—that they are trying to “justify” his shooting—will make it anyway. Should they withhold it while the media publishes photos that make this guy look like a round faced kid from “The Sandlot” and not a big, hulking man-child, while his mother screams about how he was going to college, locking in an anti-police, “they’re hunting black kids” narrative before the facts have been sorted out?

                It’s relevant, just like the pot use is relevant, because we will have to sort out who did what, and proclivities matter. We were told that Wilson had won commendations…would a security video showing him harassing a black kid be worth releasing? Would the family and the protesters release it? Damn right they would. Would it PROVE anything about the shooting? No! Would it counter the “this is a model officer who would never shoot an unarmed black kid without a good reason” spin? Yes. Same thing exactly.

                • There should be NO releases of information until a full investigation has been made. That is what I would have done as police chief or prosecutor. All this speculating – on both sides – is disgusting.

                  • While people are rioting in your streets, the story of what happened is being made up and solidified by the media before your eyes, meddlers like Sharpton, Jackson and Holder are taking sides, the Huffington Post is saying “Arrest him!” (based on what?) and you saw a special prosecutor in Florida react to similar pressure by bringing a case against George Zimmerman that could never be proven or justly won? Good luck.

                  • I sort of agree with you, but I can guarantee a claim of “Whitewash!” in the absence of evidence. There are no good moves here for the police.

      • Fed. R. Evid. 803(1). Methinks you’ve been out of the courtroom too long, Jack. Live-tweets are most certainly admissible evidence.

        • Not THAT long. Tweets as evidence of what has been seen or heard rather than what the tweeter said or did may be hearsay, and thus inadmissible. These tweets may well be in that category, regardless of time stamp. The fact that someone tweets, “A Martian just sang “if I Were A Rich Man” in Times Square” doesn’t prove one did.

          • No, but it is admissible as evidence, assuming relevance. It is as valid as any other spontaneous present-sense impression or recorded recollection. Rule 803(4). Every lawyer ought to know that, Jack.

            Does it prove the case by itself? Of course not. But it is certainly evidence, and as certainly admissible. First-year civil procedure.

            • No, not if it’s hearsay, unless there is an exception. It’s like any other utterance…it doesn’t prove what happened, just that someone said it happened, and if they weren’t directly involved, it may well be inadmissible. Do you ever get tired of being wrong?

      • He didn’t come forward, people found his tweets. I think a tweet would be just as much evidence as a journal or diary entry of the incident, except it has date stamps to authenticate it, unlike journals. Those date stamps occurred at the time of the incident. It should probably pass the hearsay exception rules (excited utterance? present sense impression?) quite easily. He was apparently locked in his apartment building for a while by the police, who did not allow anyone to come in or out.

        I think a lot of the anger at the press conference was the fact that journalist and third parties keep finding these facts, while the police department has yet to interview any witnesses to the shooting, very basic stuff (the FBI finally ended up interviewing several witnesses, days after the incident). It shreds any appearance of neutrality when apparently the police department spent the intervening six days after the shooting hunting down a surveillance tape which they initially tried to use to say that the police officer was justified in stopping the two men. Documentary evidence on the internet quickly put a lie to that, so the story shifted to jaywalking.

        But the bare scramble to come up with another story as a cover to exonerate the cop shows that the police department isn’t searching for any kind of neutral justice in this shooting, they instead are merely searching for [i]justification[/I], thus the anger.

        • Deery, use the less than and greater than symbols, surrounded by an i for italics and a b for boldtype, with the / before that letter when you intend to close it. I’ve never tried the blockquote or strikethrough symbols, so I don’t know what will or will not work.

  3. Since this is predominantly a Leftist narrative, I think it’s important to lay waste to a glaring hypocrisy:

    – Lefties (some feminist lefties) argue that ALL men are dangerous and potentially violent murderous assaulters, college men especially included.

    – However, Michael Brown (a man) was going to college, which apparently negates violence and his “maleness.” In fact, it shows he is virtuous and innocent.

    Sophistry is being practiced here.

    Jack, I agree with you. It should go without saying that a young man lost his life, and it seems tragically. The police have squandered every opportunity after the event – not releasing pertinent information quickly, overreaction in the face of some protests (not all).

    There is a difference between criticizing the media and the constructed narrative which is used to incite violence rather than saying the “boy deserved to die.” I’m sorry that you occasionally get the short end of the “either-or” fallacy stick.

    • Hyperbole in light-hearted jest follows:

      If it turns out Brown was shot by a female cop, he would be declared innocent by the hard-line black Democrats and a cop-rapist by the hard-line female Democrats (all bets are off outside those categories). Hard-line female black Democrats would implode due to ideological paradox. The Democratic Party would schism, Anonymous would post the home addresses of both Brown and the cop, and Obama would say that both Brown and the cop could have been his children, prompting every remaining citizen to throw tomatoes at him.

      Joke ends.

      Thank you for highlighting the hilarious and frightening inconsistency in the Leftist ideology (if it qualifies as an ideology.) It’s important to call out these things.

  4. This situation is a clusterf*** of epic proportions, on every level. Just about every group and individual actor in it has behaved with some level of criminal stupidity, cynical exploitation, or unconscionable incivility (or all three at once).

    Start with Michael Brown, a teenage “boy” who was legally an adult and the size of an offensive lineman, who was caught on security video roughing up a store employee (allegedly in the process of stealing from the store) only a few minutes before being fatally shot by the police. The police didn’t know this when they encountered him, and in any case it’s no justification for the shooting, but it goes to show that…

    The people who are still painting Brown as some poor angel who could never have hurt a fly are willfully ignorant and emotionally blinded fools…except for the professional race-baiters like Al Sharpton and the lamestream media’s sundry other pundits, who can be relied upon to exacerbate any problem they attempt to solve or explain. Although…

    The Ferguson police seem to have handled the aftermath of the shooting in the stupidest possible way, which (whatever the truth may be) looks like they’re trying to hide an officer’s deadly malfeasance; we still don’t know even the most basic facts about the shooting itself, which does give the protesters a legitimate grievance…

    Which does not in any way excuse the violence and looting that has been going on…

    Which the Ferguson and St. Louis police again seem to have handled in the stupidest possible way, going out of their way to look and even behave like the jackbooted thugs their critics believe them to be, thus provoking more hatred and vandalism rather than calming the situation…

    And if that weren’t enough, they also seem to be ignoring looting when it happens right in front of them (and we’ve all seen the photos of store owners protecting their own property with their own guns), which leads to the inevitable conclusion that our government and our vaunted free press are paralyzed, incompetent, and on the whole, toxic to the civil order they should be upholding.

    And once again it seems that the American people as a whole are too ideologically blinkered or else mesmerized by the 24/7 flow of rumor/innuendo/outrage to step back and, instead of shouting about whatever preconceived notions they have, THINK about what’s really going wrong here…which makes me think our entire society is toxic to itself.

    Did I miss anything important? Can someone please convince me that I’m way off and there’s no reason to despair?

    • Ing, I really wish I could. Really, I do but your first sentence was spot on, this whole thing is a clusterfu**. This entire society has become so…BLAMELESS…nothing could ever possibly be our own fault. Everything we do is perfect, so it must be somebody else’s fault. And that attitude has led us into a morass of unequaled stupid responses that I am very much afraid are going to become the norm from now on. And if it does, as a country, as a society and as a culture, we are doomed. Like Jack said, look at the cast list.

  5. ALERT! I’m banning Steve Holland.

    He’s an odd case, to be sure: articulate, civil. I do this reluctantly, and that’s unusual.But he essentially rejects the concept of ethics, and he just doesn’t belong here. He endorses vigilante action, terrorism, open borders, uses every rationalization in the book, and most of the logical fallacies. When he has an arguably reasonable position, like opposing judicial immunity, he weakens it by the manner of his advocacy.

    His posts, therefore, are either distractions from the inquiry here, or waste everyone’s time. I’d rather write new posts than bat away old partisan claims that Bush lied, Bradley Manning is a hero, Hamas is like the Minutemen, and on, and on. Leaving such posts up pollute the site—I know I could ignore them, and that was my earlier solution, but it just warps the content and discourse.

    This ultimately is trolling in effect, though I agree that this is not Steve’s intent. But what he is doing isn’t like going on a global warming site and denying that there is global warming—it’s like going on a a global warming site and denying that there’s a GLOBE. It’s like having Rosie O’Donnell on “Meet the Press.”

    I’m sorry. If anyone really misses Steve’s posts, I’m pretty sure I can produce one on any topic.

      • I feel terrible about it, though. It’s the first time I’ve banned a civil commenter. I banned another ethics-immune commenter a year or so ago, a woman who would just make unethical arguments repeatedly without learning anything—“They were unethical to him, so he has a right to do the same to them!” type of thing, and eventually I realized that she was an a-ethical individual hanging out on an ethics blog, and the equivalent of a disruptive seminar participant who keeps asking irrelevant questions and won’t shut up.

        • And I understand why you’d feel bad about it…he was intelligent, articulate and more-or-less civil, but HE WOULD NOT LEARN. I got to a point I would not engage him, as he did not listen.

          • Just got the obligatory “you won’t tolerate dissenting opinions and are an unethical fraud” e-mail from Steve…this is the usual pattern. I’m sure that’s how he sees it. Sigh.

            • Normal circumstances, I would read this and let it go. However, I feel a need to defend you (not that you need it. You do a fine job on your own.). You not only tolerate but promote dissenting opinions. Ethics is a slippery field and you have always been willing to learn from (not sure why. You are WAY better than most of us.) all of us and to try, not always successfully, to teach us that ethics are a different arena than political beliefs, personal beliefs and actions. As I have said before, I have learned a lot from you, and as long as you will have me as a commenter, I will continue to do so.

      • I explained why. Commenters who don’t think there is such a thing as ethics and who have no interest in being open-minded on the topic are impediments to the process here. In the absence of a genuine effort to determine right and wrong, all is rationalizations, confirmation bias, demonizing, appeals to authority, cognitive dissonance, denial and cynicism, and sure enough, that was all we got from Steve. I’ve taken a lot of time to lay out the terms of the discussion…I am not interested in the comments of those who challenge the underlying premise of the forum.

  6. Pingback: Ferguson | David's Commonplace Book

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