Comment Of The Day, From The Epic Commenter Donnybrook In This Week’s Open Forum

battle-marvel

I was reading with interest, amusement and edification the comment thread in the recent open forum in which two, then four, then even more veteran Ethics Alarms participants got into a heated—but admirably rational and fairly fought—debate over  Steve Witherspoon‘s social media battles with a near-parody of a progressive member of the Madison Metropolitan School Board.  The donnybrook eventually extended to the ethics of public figures blocking critics on social media, apology ethics, race-based school policies, mass-incarceration, and more.

In addition to Steve weighing in were Michael R,  Jutgory, Humble Talent, Paul W. Schlecht, and late entrants slickwilly, Here’s Johnny, and Chris Marschner.

It was kind of like an “Avengers” movie, but more intelligent.

In making the choice I have for this Comment of the Day, I am not declaring any winner. Indeed, there are conclusions in the post to follow that I disagree with, and I’ll be back at the end with some of my own comments.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the Ali Muldrow thread in the recent open forum:

“What I’m hoping for is less crime committed at school thus requiring fewer arrests and that is what you should be hoping for too.”

I think this is a useless truism. In a conversation about whether certain group are being treated differently than others or whether we ought to arrest children for being disorderly at school, saying “I wish people committed fewer offenses.” is a non sequitur.

As an aside: And this is a question Ali didn’t ask properly: Do you think that children should be arrested for being disorderly? And what do you think “disorderly” in that context entails?

Ali Wrote: “Explain to me how arresting people makes the world a better place, how prisons and detention centers are keeping Americans safe?”

To which you commented: “In all seriousness; anyone that writes that kind of question is completely blinded by their own bias, or they’re a blithering idiot, or they’re trying to justify the elimination of police, prisons and detention centers.”

I think this is an Americanism. Ali said that America was one of the most deadly nations on Earth. That’s not true, she should visit the Congo. But it is somewhat ironic that “The Land of The Free” has three times as many incarcerated people per capita that any other nation on Earth. Does American exceptionalism mean that Americans are also exceptionally criminal, or are you maybe doing something wrong? My take is that America locks people up for a ridiculous number of non-violent crimes, but your mileage may vary. And I don’t think “Well did he break the law or not?” is a good response to “Should this crime carry jail time?” or even better, “Should this be a crime?”. People learn how to be better criminals in jail, it stunts their lives both financially and socially, it’s permanently scarring, and sometimes fatal. While it is necessary to remove people from society or otherwise punish them for some things, sending people to criminal boot camp for jaywalking *is* counterproductive, it *does* make the world a worse place. (and I realize jaywalking is not that kind of crime, that’s hyperbole.)

“As for the statistics that both you and Ali are using, or misusing; you must review these cases based on the facts of the case. All cases are different in their own unique ways even if they were arrested at the same time doing the same thing. Just because statistical data shows that a “black, male first time drug users are *significantly* more likely to serve jail time than white, female first time drug users, as a stark example” doesn’t mean that implying or saying that the statistic proves that’s solely because he’s a black male and she’s a white female. Boiling down statistics to simple identity politics is not presenting all the facts, it agenda propaganda bull shit and I don’t condone abusing statistical data in such manipulative ways.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard “I don’t want to be confused by facts” as directly as this before in my life.

I *don’t* have to look at these on a case by case basis, because while you’re right in that individually outcomes might differ because circumstances will differ, the law of large numbers dictates that the more cases you compile, the more accurate the averages will be, and when you compile tens of thousands of case studies, like people have been doing for decades, and on average black people are disproportionately impacted by the justice system; specifically, explicitly, and this is important: For largely the same input, then you have *some* kind of systematic problem. This isn’t even particularly controversial, you just have no idea what you’re talking about.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/16/black-men-sentenced-to-more-time-for-committing-the-exact-same-crime-as-a-white-person-study-finds/

I’m back.

My reaction to both the thread and Humble’s comment was, I believe, affected by my having recently read an article in the most recent Harvard alumni magazine about a professor’s “startling” revelations about the “roots of mass incarceration.” I did not find the professor’s opinions and arguments startling; I did find them facile, intellectually dishonest  and unoriginal. Much of her case reduces to “poor people commit most crimes, so the way to address criminal conduct is to eliminate poverty, not to punish criminals.” So, we must assume, the government can reduce incarceration, crime and poverty to acceptable levels by taxing the working, law-abiding population into dependence and near-poverty, and paying the rest to stop committing crimes. Easy-peezy!

This, of course, is familiar social justice warrior cant and nonsense from the Sixties and before, beginning with the false premise that anything forces someone to commit crimes. (Ethics. Remember ethics?) The theory is easily debunked because the vast majority of Americans in the same life situations as those who do commit crimes, don’t, and they are better off for it. The article also managed to blame all manner of government and school policies—and racism and discrimination, or course—for the over-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the prison system, without ever mentioning such powerful cultural factors as the disproportionate number of children born to unmarried mothers in the black community, absent fathers, poor community role models, gang activity and the acceptance of destructive and anti-social values. (Why are Asian-American under-represented in the prison population?  It’s a mystery!)

The arguments arrogantly put forth by Muldrow and others are constructed precisely so that real, unpleasant, damning factors and their implications can be ignored. As Joe Biden says, “truth” over “facts.”

Some observations on specific Humble points:

  • “In a conversation about whether certain group are being treated differently than others or whether we ought to arrest children for being disorderly at school, saying “I wish people committed fewer offenses.” is a non sequitur.”

It’s not a non sequitur. The starting point for a solution to “Too many blacks and Hispanics are being arrested and jailed” is “They need to stop committing crimes.” Very few people of any race or ethnicity end up in jail if they obey the law, just like almost no unarmed blacks get shot by police if they do what the police tell them to, and don’t resist arrest. People who commit crimes are treated differently from people who don’t. Groups that perpetuate  cultures that encourage criminal activity will naturally become identified with criminal activity to the detriment of law abiding members of the group.  The fact that biases cause members of some groups to be treated more severely than members of other groups is a second tier question that only matters to those who have committed crimes. Yes, the disparity is wrong, and needs to be addressed, but it is within every individual’s power to make that problem irrelevant to them. Obey the law. It just isn’t that hard.

As for whether we should be arresting children for being disorderly in school: What a useless question! The general answer is  you don’t, unless by disorderly we mean out-of-control, violent, defiant, dangerous, and making the education process impossible. Take fighting for example. Statistics in New York City schools suggest that black students get in fights  far more often than white students. Does that mean that arresting more blacks students than whites is proof of bias, or proof of different behavioral pathologies in black communities?

  • “And this is a question Ali didn’t ask properly: Do you think that children should be arrested for being disorderly? And what do you think “disorderly” in that context entails?

Whoa. It isn’t that she didn’t ask that question properly. She asked a different question, a ridiculous question, and Humble is cleaning it up for her. Steve’s adversary wrote, “Explain to me how arresting people makes the world a better place, how prisons and detention centers are keeping Americans safe?” She didn’t say students;  she said people. She didn’t reference schools at all. As a general question, this is idiotic, and Steve’s reaction (“In all seriousness; anyone that writes that kind of question is completely blinded by their own bias, or they’re a blithering idiot, or they’re trying to justify the elimination of police.”) is fair.

There is no rational argument to be made that arresting lawbreakers doesn’t benefit civilization, or that prisons and detention centers do not make America and Americans safer. The policies that the Harvard Magazine article flound to be responsible for “mass incarceration” arose primarily in the Seventies. America’s crime rate was through the roof in the Seventies. It is far, far lower now. James Taranto, late of the great “Best of the Web” blog in the Wall Street Journal, used to mock pundits who wrote that it didn’t make sense that the prison population was growing even as the crime rate was falling. No, he pointed out, it makes perfect sense.

  • “I don’t think I’ve ever heard “I don’t want to be confused by facts” as directly as this before in my life.”

I don’t think Humble thought this through. I have spent a lot of time in various courts. I was struck not too long ago by a series of sentencing decisions I observed by a white, female, pretty clearly compassionate judge. It was notable that most of the white juveniles appearing before her to be sentenced had their parents in attendance, and the lawyers made that known.  All of the young black defendants did not have their parents present. Most of the white kids dressed neatly and spoke directly to the judge—I know there are socio-economic reasons for some disparity in dress, but it doesn’t require a rich family to tuck in your shirt—while the black kids looked down, mumbled, and did not demonstrate respect for the court.

The black kids, for the most part, had many more past drug arrests; they had truancy records. Despite similar offenses bringing them before the court, the white kids, on average, got lesser sentences.  This, I assume, is what Steve was referring to when he prompted Humble’s rebuke by writing,

Just because statistical data shows that a “black, male first time drug users are *significantly* more likely to serve jail time than white, female first time drug users, as a stark example” doesn’t mean that implying or saying that the statistic proves that’s solely because he’s a black male and she’s a white female.

Family support. Communication skills. Respect for institutions and authority. Community norms. These are part of the package, and the problem, and their impact cannot be fairly or productively summarized as “racial bias.”

44 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day, From The Epic Commenter Donnybrook In This Week’s Open Forum

  1. Well, it happened again. I sometimes post a long article before the final proofing. This time, seconds after hitting “publish,” i got a phone call on a family matter, and it was a long one. Thus this post was online with a lot of annoying typos, which I just eliminated, but far later than I intended. I’m sorry.

  2. …..In addition to Steve, originally known here as “Zoltar Speaks.

    Wait, wouldn’t have been ethical to have announced a name-change? I thought Steve was perhaps Zoltar’s brother and perhaps a radioactive experiment on the father’s part gone very very bad.

    See? The innocent of heart are always the most gullible . . . 🙂

  3. I suspect my family would make an interesting case study. We were poor. Exceedingly poor. My parents had two children, and barely had enough to eat and keep a roof over us. My brother and I took different life paths for a while. He drank, and ended up incarcerated for drunk driving at a felony level, twice.
    I have never been arrested, went to college, and generally would be considered successful. So, both white, poor, and raised by the same parents. The primary difference was our choices. We made different choices, and ended up on different paths. During my brother’s second incarceration, we talked about those differences, and after his release, he got off his path and changed his life simply by changing the choices he was making. Maybe that seems like a simplistic breakdown, but it’s actually the result of personal accountability rather than making excuses for bad choices.

    • Great story, Michelle. Congratulations. But don’t tell it to a lefty unless you want to be told, “Check you’re privilege. You’re white.”

      • Lefties see my family now, and lecture me on my ‘privilege’ all the time. Funny, privilege in my family looked an awful lot like hard work.

        • Privilege is what conscientious parents bestow upon their children. It’s a good thing. It’s what my parents and grand parents gave me and what Mrs. OB and I have tried and continue to try to bestow upon our children and grand children.

  4. I’d like to dedicate this post to Steve and his Blinding White Teeth . . .

    Jack writes in response to Humble Talons: This, of course, is familiar social justice warrior cant and nonsense from the Sixties and before, beginning with the false premise that anything forces someone to commit crimes. (Ethics. Remember ethics?) The theory is easily debunked because the vast majority of Americans in the same life situations as those who do commit crimes, don’t, and they are better off for it. The article also managed to blame all manner of government and school policies—and racism and discrimination, or course—for the over-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the prison system, without ever mentioning such powerful cultural factors as the disproportionate number of children born to unmarried mothers in the black community, absent fathers, poor community role models, gang activity and the acceptance of destructive and anti-social values. (Why are Asian-American under-represented in the prison population? It’s a mystery!)

    It is impossible to assert that a marginalized community — Blacks, Latinos, American Indian — by virtue of having been effectively excluded will not, as a response to exclusion, tend toward excluded activities and illegal activities. Having studied to some degree Black rebellion literature of the 60s it became immediately clear that the ‘spirit’ operating in that literature, and within the souls of those activists, was a rebellious spirit. Dangerous really. It (they) had been wronged, it recognized it had been wronged, and in response it was going to *get even*. It is true that this will-of-rebellion manifested itself well before WW2, but it seems a fact that in the Sixties it became empowered and virulent. A spirit of rebellion was let loose generally and like an acid it ate away at *established structures* and accepted boundaries. Another option certainly was available, of course, and that option would have involved thorough will to cooperate with the surrounding structures. But given the reality of exclusion from ‘white society’ that would have been an humiliating option. “Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees’.

    Rebellion is very America as well . . .

    I have little doubt that the freeing of the enslaved African Americans of the South, and their near-complete lack of amalgamation in the South when the white resistance movement began its efforts to deal with the Norther intrusion, and most certainly in the North where they were most often more marginalized and more alienated, though they were supposedly *free*, effectively pushed black culture into areas of *deviancy*, as it might be called, simply because this was the principle territory left open to it. A territory to be explored as it were.

    The spirit of rebellion is a complex phenomenon or series of phenomena, as is ressentiment: conscious and unconscious will to *get even*.

    The whole issue however stems from the absurd notion — absurd if you really examine it in detail, and honestly — that it is possible and desirable to incorporate a primitive people into the cultural norms and the social structures of a people who had lived under civilizing social structures for at least 1000 years, that is Europeans. No matter how the issue is looked at, there is no aspect of the Black Experience that can be said to have been willed nor assented to. Every aspect of the Black Experience in white, Protestant America, as just a continuation of the original processes: capture and enslavement. But in a sense enslavement is even worse when it is said to be ‘freedom’. The idea of taking African Americans and molding them into essentially white citizens did not pan-out. In truth it cannot pan out unless the whole process is policed by a powerful activist the therapeutic State. It still has not panned out as there are still black ghettos (for example the one Michael Brown came out of) that show their resistance to the ‘White Man’s Project’. This is simply a fact. And if it is seen more clearly it can be understood and dealt with intelligently.

    And all other present social conflict — take as a perfect example the Covington Catholic Boy Incident — stem from the same cultural assimilation problem. There it was especially obvious: Black and American Indians showing themselves opposed to European social projects, the essential project of Americanism. They resent it, they do not want to be a part of it, and they refuse to be a part of it. But by acting through rebellion and non-cooperation that make those European social projects impossible. And there you can clearly see and understand the function of >i>ressentment.

    In such a general situation it seems to me to follow that those in the minority classes, those who have these links and investments in rebelliousness, will definitely tend to be represented more within the judicial system because of links to illegal, *anti-social* activities.

    One major reason why Asians are not represented in extreme in the prison-system, and perhaps in the rebellion-mode, is intuitively revealed. They cooperate. They are capable of cooperation because of a similar intelligence quotient to Whites (even somewhat greater). There you have it.

    • First-Degree Robbery: A robbery occurs when a person forcibly takes property from another person. During a robbery, the perpetrator often uses or threatens to use a weapon. Penalties for armed robbery can include jail time of up to fifteen years and probation, and fines may also be imposed that can reach up to $20,000. Most state statutes specify degrees of robbery based on the severity of the crime. Penalties will typically vary according to these degrees.

      In no place in that article is the method of robbery mentioned. Just that it was ‘first degree’. Having been robbed at gun point and seeing the barrel of the pistol aimed at my head, I came to the conclusion that using a weapon — a gun especially — must mean that the one who uses it has forfeited his/her right to live. Because, the gun could go off accidentally or if you resisted they might have shot you.

      It does not matter if it was $50.00 or $25,000.00 or $100,000.00 — or even $1 — what matters is that it could have led to a death and would have led to death or wounding if the one suffering the robbery had resisted it.

      • Ooooh, the principle of forfeiture! I think Western law could use a reintroduction of that idea. It could put an end to litigious criminals who seek financial gain by sanctioned civil robbery after their initial attempts are thwarted. Just the other day, I heard of a case in which a would-be thief fell through a roof that had become soft from disrepair and sued the property owner for his injuries. It would seem the utilitarian conclusion our legal system deliberately incentivizes is that, if you wake to find an injured intruder in your home, you should break his neck in such a way as it looks like an outcome of the accident.

        Not so if we considered the intruder to have willfully abandoned his right not to appeal to the property owner’s responsibilities regarding his well-being – an only sane thing to imagine.

        • Benjamin wrote,

          if you wake to find an injured intruder in your home, you should break his neck in such a way as it looks like an outcome of the accident.

          No, no, no! There will be a family that will sue you (the property owner) for the death of their husband, father, brother, child.

          • Maybe! It’s possible there’s a family while it’s certain there’s an injured sneakthief. Utilitarianism and game theory demand one and only one action. This leaves the question: why does the civil justice system demand that we murder injured cat burglars? It must hate them even as it makes every ostensible attempt to cater to them with the stolen money of innocents.

    • The headline on that NBC article illustrates the spin we get from the MSM. They point out the $50 and call it stealing. The average reader will not go all the way through the story but will tell people how a poor black guy got 36 years for “stealing $50”..

      As Alizia correctly points out, the base offense was a Robbery, the taking of property from the victim by way of force or threat of force. Here in CA, and I imagine in Alabama too, first degree robbery would be what we call Armed Robbery. It could be armed with a knife, baseball bat or a gun (not intended to be an inclusive list). The idea is that the offender is willing to seriously injure, or even kill the victim if they do not “give it up”. This was not mentioned in the story.

      This is misinformation that feeds the false narrative of the black guy receiving a draconian sentence for what appears to be a minimal offense. At least the story told us that the reduction in sentence and subsequent release was due to the change in status of the prior conviction that triggered the “three strikes” sentencing, and not the marquee offense, the robbery.

      I would be willing to make a small wager (being a fixed-income pensioner) that reading the actual court papers associated with the robbery to include the police reports and statements of witnesses and victims, would cause one to come away with a different level of concern for this man than the present article left us with. Some of us anyway.

    • I saw that story. A lawyer posted it on a lawyer Facebook page. The “WTH”, “WTH”, and “Anybody hear of ‘Les Miserables” following tgecarticles BY LAWYERS who obviously did not read the story was revealing. You really had to dig to find out it was an aggregated robbery, and the charge wad the fourth strike against this creti . . . erm . . . model citizen, and under the mandatory sentencing guidelines, the punishment was intended to be harsh.

  5. Id like to see more Jack-level breakdowns of long commentariat arguments here. I missed the brouhaha but it was cool reading an objective analysis of it.

  6. You’re braver than I am, Jack (and kinder in your description of the event). Considering the unfortunate tendency of some involved in that exchange to go abusively off the rails when challenged, I stayed well away from the “donnybrook”. It was worth it to stay less stressed.

  7. Before I get into this, I really do think that two different conversations are being had here, I think in particular that a lot of the people commenting on this only read what was quoted, and not the conversation as a whole. Because it was posted in a .jpg format, converting it into text is burdensome, but frankly, I don’t think that what is being seen as a response for Muldrow actually responds to what she said. It’s like Olypmics level cherry picking, and I can’t tell whether it’s because they don’t have enough reference to understand her, or they’re really trying hard not to.And in particular in the case of Steve, who actually had the conversation…. I have no idea what to think.

    “This, of course, is familiar social justice warrior cant and nonsense from the Sixties and before, beginning with the false premise that anything forces someone to commit crimes. (Ethics. Remember ethics?) The theory is easily debunked because the vast majority of Americans in the same life situations as those who do commit crimes, don’t, and they are better off for it.”

    But that’s not who we were talking about. I think I made myself pretty clear in that I was talking about people from whatever walk of life that happened to have committed the same crimes, and were treated differently. We’ve had this discussion before, hell, you awarded my a COTD the last time I brought this up too, except last time you seemed to understand what I was saying. Now, I admit I’ve gone a little bit out on a branch here, because I haven’t seen anything that proves that those racial differences, those fingers on the scales, start as young as school-age. I just have no idea why they wouldn’t. It makes sense.

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/05/21/comment-of-the-day-the-most-unethical-sentencing-fallacy-of-all-lavinia-woodward-gets-the-kings-pass/

    “In a conversation about whether certain group are being treated differently than others or whether we ought to arrest children for being disorderly at school, saying “I wish people committed fewer offenses.” is a non sequitur.”

    “It’s not a non sequitur. The starting point for a solution to “Too many blacks and Hispanics are being arrested and jailed” is “They need to stop committing crimes.”

    Maybe, but that wasn’t the question being asked. Muldrow was not as clear on this as I was, but I think that someone could reasonably interpret what she said the same way I did. For instance; In her first response to Steve, she said:

    “The most likely reason a student will be arrested is disorderly conduct, the second most likely reason a student will be arrested is resisting arrest.

    Not every student that commits a crime gets arrested, so the data we have on arrests is not the same as the data we have on crime, and in fact crime is more common than arresting people.

    Are you hoping we will arrest a whole lot more students at school and expose far more children to incarceration which I feel is developmentally inappropriate.”

    She said:

    -Students are mostly arrested for being disorderly
    -Not all instances of being disorderly result in arrests
    -Would you like there to be more arrests?

    This is contextualized by how she said that minority student are more likely to be arrested than white students. Now, if she thought that the only reason that minority students were arrested more often was bias, then she’s wrong. If however, she’s saying that she thinks that minority students who are disorderly are more likely to be arrested than white students who are disorderly… Then she probably has a point. I would be amazed if the disparity statistics don’t apply here.

    What was most important though, was her question: Do you want more children arrested? Because she wasn’t saying that those children weren’t disorderly, or that being disorderly wasn’t arrestable, she was implying that if the system was fair, more white children would be arrested, and that being arrested at that age was developmentally crippling.

    Answering that with: “Those people shouldn’t commit crimes” *IS* a non sequitur. Frankly, arguing that it wasn’t a non sequitur because you were answering a question that no one actually asked is… Really dumb. More, you’re not even consistent on this…. You said, and I quote: “As for whether we should be arresting children for being disorderly in school: What a useless question! The general answer is you don’t, unless by disorderly we mean out-of-control, violent, defiant, dangerous, and making the education process impossible.” So if most of these kids are arrested for being disorderly, and we all agree that being disorderly *shouldn’t* be a crime, then how is an affirmation that these kids should commit fewer crimes relevant?

    “Very few people of any race or ethnicity end up in jail if they obey the law, just like almost no unarmed blacks get shot by police if they do what the police tell them to, and don’t resist arrest. People who commit crimes are treated differently from people who don’t. Groups that perpetuate cultures that encourage criminal activity will naturally become identified with criminal activity to the detriment of law abiding members of the group. The fact that biases cause members of some groups to be treated more severely than members of other groups is a second tier question that only matters to those who have committed crimes. Yes, the disparity is wrong, and needs to be addressed, but it is within every individual’s power to make that problem irrelevant to them. Obey the law. It just isn’t that hard.”

    Again…. Useless truisms. I don’t think that Muldrow was saying those kids weren’t displaying those behaviors, and even if she was, I sure as hell wasn’t. The question was: “Should those behaviors be arrestable?” and, if yes: “Once those behaviors are observed, is the response to them race-neutral?”

    “Take fighting for example. Statistics in New York City schools suggest that black students get in fights far more often than white students. Does that mean that arresting more blacks students than whites is proof of bias, or proof of different behavioral pathologies in black communities?”

    Maybe. It depends on whether everyon who gets in a fight is zero-tolerance arrested. As an aside… This must be an Americanism. I can’t imagine schools regularly calling for police to break up fights and charge minors with assaults. It seems like gross overkill. But that’s kind of a variation on the theme. You didn’t touch this with a ten foot pole:

    “[i]t is somewhat ironic that “The Land of The Free” has three times as many incarcerated people per capita that any other nation on Earth. Does American exceptionalism mean that Americans are also exceptionally criminal, or are you maybe doing something wrong?”

    You have a national culture of incarceration that is unique, and doesn’t really seem to produce any measurable positive outcomes in any kind of comparison. Should a schoolyard fight be an arrestable offense? I suppose at some point they would have to be, but I don’t think that the people in authority are very good at sorting those cases out.

    “Whoa. It isn’t that she didn’t ask that question properly. She asked a different question, a ridiculous question, and Humble is cleaning it up for her. Steve’s adversary wrote, “Explain to me how arresting people makes the world a better place, how prisons and detention centers are keeping Americans safe?” She didn’t say students; she said people. She didn’t reference schools at all. As a general question, this is idiotic, and Steve’s reaction is fair.”

    Well… See…. This is why I think you may not have actually read the exchange yourself, because Mudrow *absolutely did* ask that question, specifically in her second reply. The conversation was dozens of comments long, and just as a cherry on the top, while I was responding to what Steve had quoted her as saying…. I don’t think it actually appeared in the conversation he posted. I can’t find it. I believe that Muldrow wrote it, I’m sure that Steve was copy/pasting from somewhere, but I find it really interesting that you’re telling me the question that appeared in the conversation, didn’t, while the comment that didn’t, did.

    “There is no rational argument to be made that arresting lawbreakers doesn’t benefit civilization, or that prisons and detention centers do not make America and Americans safer.”

    I mean… I thought I took a pretty good crack at it when I wrote:

    “People learn how to be better criminals in jail, it stunts their lives both financially and socially, it’s permanently scarring, and sometimes fatal. While it is necessary to remove people from society or otherwise punish them for some things, sending people to criminal boot camp for jaywalking *is* counterproductive, it *does* make the world a worse place. (and I realize jaywalking is not that kind of crime, that’s hyperbole.)”

    Which again… You didn’t touch. You have people serving 30 year prison sentences for smoking the same plant that Bill Clinton “did not inhale” and that Barack Obama did. I can’t imagine what the argument that argues that paying someone’s room and board for decades for the grave crime of smoking pot makes America safer even looks like… But do try.

    “I have spent a lot of time in various courts. I was struck not too long ago by a series of sentencing decisions I observed by a white, female, pretty clearly compassionate judge. It was notable that most of the white juveniles appearing before her to be sentenced had their parents in attendance, and the lawyers made that known. All of the young black defendants did not have their parents present. Most of the white kids dressed neatly and spoke directly to the judge—I know there are socio-economic reasons for some disparity in dress, but it doesn’t require a rich family to tuck in your shirt—while the black kids looked down, mumbled, and did not demonstrate respect for the court.”

    “Family support. Communication skills. Respect for institutions and authority. Community norms. These are part of the package, and the problem, and their impact cannot be fairly or productively summarized as “racial bias.””

    I mean…. Sure? Again… I think you’re having a separate conversation. I feel like I need to remind you that we were talking about children getting arrested in school for being disorderly. It’s like you picked up this one comment about whether incarceration is generally a good thing out of a several thousand word exchange and pretended that was what the conversation was about.

    To what those comments actually said… I’m sure that you are describing reality…. But are you defending it? I’m confused, because you seem to be saying those things like they’re somehow good. You described a system where someone’s sentence doesn’t depend on the facts of the case, but whether they tucked in their shirt or mumbled at sentencing, or if they have parents. Even if the bias there isn’t racial, you have to admit that you just described a problem for a system where justice is supposed to be blind. I think perhaps that you’ve fallen into the trap of arguing that something that is self evidently bad is good, because at least it isn’t racially biased.

    • I’ll have to come back to this to do it justice, so I admit THIS is cherry-picking, but:

      1. “You have people serving 30 year prison sentences for smoking the same plant that Bill Clinton “did not inhale” and that Barack Obama did.”

      No, you really don’t. If someone is in prison for mere smoking pot, then its the end of a Three Strikes situation where other serious felonies are involved. Selling pot, yes. Possessing large amounts to sell, yes. Not for smoking. Maybe some poor schmuck, somewhere, but
      gross mischaracterization” fits that sentence.

      2.Now, if she thought that the only reason that minority students were arrested more often was bias, then she’s wrong. If however, she’s saying that she thinks that minority students who are disorderly are more likely to be arrested than white students who are disorderly… Then she probably has a point. I would be amazed if the disparity statistics don’t apply here. What was most important though, was her question: Do you want more children arrested? Because she wasn’t saying that those children weren’t disorderly, or that being disorderly wasn’t arrestable, she was implying that if the system was fair, more white children would be arrested, and that being arrested at that age was developmentally crippling.

      Her argument is incoherent, and you’re getting there. I pulled my son out of one of the largest, most integrated high schools in the nation because in almost every class, the teacher had to try to stop persistent disruptive behavior overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) from black students. This frequently took up 20-30 minutes, and the teacher was apparently without tools to deal with it. The fear of belong accused of disparate treatment has paralyzed the public school system. No, I don’t want more kids arrested. I want kids to know that disrupting class is wrong, early, and permanently. So if black kids, for what ever reason, and frankly, I don’t care why in this context, disrupt classes more frequently than white kids, and the teachers have no way to address the problem that doesn’t get them sent to a re-education camp, then calling the cops, as a last resort, is the best of bad alternatives.

      3. An individual’s demeanor before the Court is always a legitimate factor in sentencing.

      More later.

      • 4. “What was most important though, was her question: Do you want more children arrested? Because she wasn’t saying that those children weren’t disorderly, or that being disorderly wasn’t arrestable, she was implying that if the system was fair, more white children would be arrested, and that being arrested at that age was developmentally crippling.”

        Yes, punishment is developmentally crippling. So is not being able to be educated because poorly acculturated kids disrupt classes and teachers are afraid to deal with it effectively because they will be called racists. The question “do you want more kids arrested?” is a cheat. No, I don’t want more kids arrested, or adults arrested. I do want there to be consequences for anti-social behavior; for kids who are not pre-inclined to be disruptive to see that it’s a bad choice, and for whatever punishment there is to be administered in a color blind fashion. If the only way to achieve these three goals is to have more white kids arrested, so be it. Her solution, which I can’t discern, is useless and ignores reality for ideology.

      • “No, you really don’t. If someone is in prison for mere smoking pot, then its the end of a Three Strikes situation where other serious felonies are involved. Selling pot, yes. Possessing large amounts to sell, yes. Not for smoking. Maybe some poor schmuck, somewhere, but “gross mischaracterization” fits that sentence.”

        Look, I admit that 30 years would be extreme, but you know as well as I do that those cases exist. Then go back from there, how many people are serving a ten? A five? Two years less a day? The fact of the matter is that America *does* incarcerate people vastly disproportionately from the rest of the world for non-violent crime, and does not get better outcomes for doing it. I wish that I had used the people who are in jail for failing to pay fines incurred for cutting hair without an aesthetician’s license, or something, because I always underestimate your ability to get hung up on your modern-temperance movement views on pot.

        “Her argument is incoherent, and you’re getting there. I pulled my son out of one of the largest, most integrated high schools in the nation because in almost every class, the teacher had to try to stop persistent disruptive behavior overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) from black students. This frequently took up 20-30 minutes, and the teacher was apparently without tools to deal with it. The fear of belong accused of disparate treatment has paralyzed the public school system. No, I don’t want more kids arrested. I want kids to know that disrupting class is wrong, early, and permanently. So if black kids, for what ever reason, and frankly, I don’t care why in this context, disrupt classes more frequently than white kids, and the teachers have no way to address the problem that doesn’t get them sent to a re-education camp, then calling the cops, as a last resort, is the best of bad alternatives.”

        I don’t know how you think comments like this relate to what we’re talking about, or why you think they do you any good. Are you saying that the only choices are doing nothing or throwing kids in jail? I feel like there should be some kind of middle ground in there somewhere. The thing is that I don’t think you’re actually that dense, I think that if you wanted to, you could have thought of that middle ground. I think that you’re choosing not to because it’s not convenient for your argument.

    • HT,
      Putting the Facebook discussion in a jpg format soe it couldn’t be edited was the proper format to put this in. Your complaint is a bit petty.

      If you’re going to talk about what I wrote then quote me word-for-word and stop paraphrasing what you think I wrote, you’re giving the wrong impression and I really don’t appreciate it.

      • The right format for making a creepy stalker file for a local school board member? I suppose you might be more of an expert on the topic than me, but forgive me, I’m skeptical. Please link me to an authority on Facebook shitpostery that says that cut up jpegs of online conversations is the generally accepted form of disbursement.

    • HT,
      It’s a bit troublesome that you complained about the format of the discussion bing in a jpg making it difficult to directly quote but yet you spent the time to quote Muldrow word-for-word but you chose to paraphrase what I wrote. Should I claim that your choice is racism or bigotry? 😉

      Here was my reply in full…

      ” Ali Muldrow asked, “Are you hoping we will arrest a lot more students at school and expose far more children to incarceration…”

      Ali that question has a false implication built in it and appears to be a backhanded smear. NO Ali; that’s not what I’m hoping for and anyone without an agenda to smear opinions they disagree with would not ask such a implication loaded question.

      What I’m hoping for is less crime committed at school thus requiring fewer arrests and that is what you should be hoping for too.

      Ali, based on what you wrote, it appears that you are hoping for less arrest in schools regardless of the level of crime in the schools. Now if I’m somehow misunderstanding your intent, please correct me and state it outright that you want less crime in schools that would in-turn result in less arrests in schools.”

      non sequitur: a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.

      I initially answered her question with a resounding NO! Then I answered her “are you hoping…” question with what I hoped which is a statement that logically follows what she asked.

      You’re wrong, my answer was NOT a non sequitur.

      Do you want to try again or do you give up.

      • Steve… I’m struggling here. What do you think your point is? How do you think that answers her? Because I get it… You said words, and you believe those words, and those words even seem to be on the same topic as the conversation at large, but they don’t actually do anything.

        Everyone in this conversation has said at one point or another that it doesn’t make sense to arrest kids for misbehaviour… So why do you think “What I’m hoping for is less crimes committed at school” is on topic if you don’t believe the base actions involved are even a crime?

        • Humble Talent wrote, “I’m struggling here. What do you think your point is? How do you think that answers her? Because I get it… You said words, and you believe those words, and those words even seem to be on the same topic as the conversation at large, but they don’t actually do anything.”

          I’ll answer your ridiculous questions with a question for you; how obtuse can you be?

          Humble Talent wrote, “Everyone in this conversation has said at one point or another that it doesn’t make sense to arrest kids for misbehaviour… So why do you think “What I’m hoping for is less crimes committed at school” is on topic if you don’t believe the base actions involved are even a crime?”

          You’re unethically twisting this and I think you’re doing it intentionally.

          I’m talking about actual crimes, as in misdemeanors and felonies, not misbehavior. There is a difference between simple childish misbehavior and actual crimes. I don’t know what the laws are where you are, but in the State of Wisconsin where Muldrow is a school board member here’s the law…

          947.01  Disorderly conduct.
          947.01(1)(1)  Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.

          (2) Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading a firearm, or for carrying or going armed with a firearm or a knife, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or the firearm or the knife is concealed or openly carried.

          946.41  Resisting or obstructing officer.
          (1)  Except as provided in subs. (2m) and (2r), whoever knowingly resists or obstructs an officer while such officer is doing any act in an official capacity and with lawful authority is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
          (2) In this section:
          (a) “Obstructs” includes without limitation knowingly giving false information to the officer or knowingly placing physical evidence with intent to mislead the officer in the performance of his or her duty including the service of any summons or civil process.
          (b) “Officer” means a peace officer or other public officer or public employee having the authority by virtue of the officer’s or employee’s office or employment to take another into custody.
          (c) “Soft tissue injury” means an injury that requires medical attention to a tissue that connects, supports, or surrounds other structures and organs of the body and includes tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, fat, synovial membranes, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.
          (2m) Whoever violates sub. (1) under all of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class H felony:
          (a) The violator gives false information or places physical evidence with intent to mislead an officer.
          (b) At a criminal trial, the trier of fact considers the false information or physical evidence.
          (c) The trial results in the conviction of an innocent person.
          (2r) Whoever violates sub. (1) and causes substantial bodily harm or a soft tissue injury to an officer is guilty of a Class H felony.
          (2t) Whoever violates sub. (1) and causes great bodily harm to an officer is guilty of a Class G felony.
          946.41(3) (3) Whoever by violating this section hinders, delays or prevents an officer from properly serving or executing any summons or civil process, is civilly liable to the person injured for any actual loss caused thereby and to the officer or the officer’s superior for any damages adjudged against either of them by reason thereof.

          946.415  Failure to comply with officer’s attempt to take person into custody.
          (1)  In this section, “officer” has the meaning given in s. 946.41 (2) (b).
          (2) Whoever intentionally does all of the following is guilty of a Class I felony:
          (a) Refuses to comply with an officer’s lawful attempt to take him or her into custody.
          (b) Retreats or remains in a building or place and, through action or threat, attempts to prevent the officer from taking him or her into custody.
          (c) While acting under pars. (a) and (b), remains or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon or threatens to use a dangerous weapon regardless of whether he or she has a dangerous weapon.

          I don’t give a damn if people dislike the law and ignoring the laws that are put in place to try to keep our society civil and safe is not an option.

          Muldrow is intentionally trying to rationalize away any behaviors from a student as “they’re just children”, as if they’re all 4 year old children. Young adults, as in teenagers, committing crimes is NOT childish behavior that should be rationalized away as childish behavior. That rationalization is enabling young adults to get away with all sorts of crimes and teaches the wrong lessons to young adults at an very impressionable time in their life when they should be being taught about individual responsibility; this is a scourge on our society.

          Are you going to ignore these facts and continue down your path of obtuseness?

          • I’m not being obtuse, I have no idea under God what you think your point is.

            It’s funny, I was actually thinking that your brand of idiotic term-dropping, stubborn resistance to facts, and rampant strawmannery reminded me of your other pseudonym, before it became apparent that you were in fact the same person.

            I stopped responding to you for a reason. Several in fact. I don’t think you’re reasonable. I mean that literally, I think you’re too stubborn and unintelligent to actually allow reason to change your mind, added to that you’re cripplingly partisan and that makes you boring, and my life is made better by orders of magnitude.

            You are officially back in the group of people I blatantly ignore, it’s a very exclusive club, the only other member being Alizia, because I respect my time more than to waste it on you.

  8. When I wrote…

    “Just because statistical data shows that a “black, male first time drug users are *significantly* more likely to serve jail time than white, female first time drug users, as a stark example” doesn’t mean that implying or saying that the statistic proves that’s solely because he’s a black male and she’s a white female.”

    There could be a plethora of reasons that people could be sentenced differently for what’s perceived as the “same” crime. Boiling the differences down to one or two different reasons like race and/or gender and ignoring anything else about the individual cases is intentionally intellectually dishonest and will inspire bigotry and hate instead of working on real solutions to help stop criminals from committing the crimes to begin with. As far as I can tell, Muldrow’s pattern shows that she’s intentionally being dishonest with her unethical claims and innuendo, it’s apparent that she’s intentionally lies about others that challenge her and she’s become a willing parrot of unethical propaganda against police and the justice system by twisting statistical data to imply that the police and justice system is evil.

    • I don’t think we’re going to agree. Frankly, I don’t think you have the base of knowledge to understand why arguing against trends in favor of anecdotes is so…. Backwards.

      If I were arguing that the reason a specific sentence was unjust, you would be absolutely correct. On the micro level, detail is important But I’m talking about thousands, tens of thousands of cases… When you see the kinds of correlation we do, not just sentencing disparities, but damn near every level of the justice system, but act like it’s not only possible, but probable, that everything is functioning as intended…. I just think that beggars belief. I don’t think it’s reasonable. It’s like pretending a mountain isn’t grey because a couple of pebbles in it are brown.

      • Humble Talent wrote, “I don’t think we’re going to agree.”

        Oh I’m quite positive that we’re not going to agree on this but it’s not why you think it is.

        You choose to be unreasonably trapped within someone’s propaganda laden statistical tunnel vision and focus only on racial disparities while intentionally disregarding any other individual considerations for sentencing, which is exactly what Muldrow is doing with statistics; I choose a different approach – use common sense and evaluate all the facts not just the facts regarding race. Muldrow is clearly a very vocal social justice warrior and might have some underlying tendencies toward racism against white people but why are you limiting yourself? By the way; here is another important interruption of the same racial disparity data that’s being ignored, why are so many individuals in the black community choosing to commit crimes or better yet why are so many individuals of all races in the United States still choosing to commit crimes – shouldn’t reducing crime across the board be the thrust of societal focus?

        Humble Talent wrote, “Frankly, I don’t think you have the base of knowledge to understand why arguing against trends in favor of anecdotes is so…. Backwards.”

        Frankly, I don’t think you have you have the base of knowledge to understand why arguing against basic common sense is so… Backwards.

        That might have sounded a bit like tit-for-tat, but after the conversation we’ve had over a couple of different threads I think it’s a fair statement.

        It’s time to end it; we’re both beating a dead horse.

        • Damn my poor spelling and damn the ignorant spell checker…

          “here is another important interruption of the same racial disparity data that’s being ignored”

          …should be…

          “here is another important interpretation of the same racial disparity data that’s being ignored”

        • Steve, my position on this has not changed since I posted on this two years ago, link above. You have made this very deeply personal, and your inability to stop huffing your own darts is clouding your ability to think through what it is I’m saying. That’s not my fault, it’s your problem.

          • Humble Talent wrote, “You have made this very deeply personal.”

            So I’m the one that’s made this personal? You wrote it so it must be fact, right.

            Think what ever the hell your heart desires if it helps you sleep at night.

  9. Here is another reason that I dislike the use, or better yet the misuse/abuse, of statistics.

    As we all likely know banks are routinely audited by outside sources to check for accuracy. Yesterday I got a piece of mail from a company that I’ve never done business with and I’ve never heard of. The mail was sent from a non local city that I wouldn’t be expecting mail from because I don’t know anyone who lives there and I don’t do business with any company from there. I opened it and found a single piece (3½” X 8½”) of paper with the printed logos from our local bank and the following statement on the top…

    “Our Auditors have selected the following account for verification. Please review the information shown below and furnish details of any discrepancy to: [company name and address]. If information is correct, no action is needed.”

    Then the paper included our home mortgage account number, interest rate, maturity date, and current balance as of a specific date that was mid month between payments. I read it a couple of times to confirm what I read, then I looked at my wife and said these people are idiots.

    I checked and my bank confirmed that there was a audit in process and that the company that sent the mail to me was the auditing company.

    This morning I sent the auditors the following email…

    You sent us a form about your audit of ******* Bank asking us to verify our current mortgage balance as of 8/16/2019. Maybe you don’t realize, as a CPA you really should know, that people will not know the exact balance of their mortgage on any given date without calling the bank to get the balance. It’s a rare individual indeed that would have a daily mortgage amortization program since the first day of their mortgage that could accurately answer the question you posed. Asking what you asked requires the individual to either guess or call the bank you are auditing for the balance and BOTH of those options defeats the purpose of your auditing verification question.

    I can tell you that the value of our mortgage is relatively close to the amount that you put on the questionnaire but I cannot confirm that it is correct.

    Your question is simply not reasonable, and therefore not logical, for an average person to answer; as a CPA doing a bank audit you really should be able to do better.

    Lastly; your questionnaire could potentially return a false sense of accuracy. With the amounts of junk mail that people receive, receiving a piece of mail from a completely unknown source will likely be thrown in the trash. Plus, your statement “If information is correct, no action is needed” actually inspires recipients to ignore it and you will interpret that lack of response as a confirmation of accuracy and you do not know that is in fact true. Your method of getting accurate information is terribly flawed.

    So here we have what is essentially a statistical survey using predefined methodology that will interpret any lack of response as confirmation of accuracy. This is a complete failure in logic!!!

    Over and over again we see that the results and the extrapolated interpretations of statistical data can be manipulated in many ways, both intentionally and unintentionally, but there are people that tell us that we must accept statistical data as actual “fact”.

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