Sunday Evening Ethics, 5/31/2020: Riot Disinformation And Ethics Lunacy

Hot enough for ya?

1. Let’s see exactly how much disinformation the pubic will follow and tolerate.

  • Yesterday I and everyone else heard Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz claim that most of the rioters were from out of state,  claiming that “the best estimates” were that “outsiders” comprised about 80% of the people arrested. It was nonsense. The arrest statistics showed the opposite was true. As of 11am CST on Saturday, a sample of data from the Hennepin County Jail’s showed that 86% of those arrested provided a Minnesota address to police. Later in the day, St. Paul released arrest information showing that two-thirds of people arrested since Thursday gave police in-state addresses.
  • CNN reporter Reza Aslan actually tweeted that Trump supporters were doing the rioting. Accountability for this ridiculous, straight up lie? None.
  • Cherry-picking isolated episodes from riot scenes around the country, Slate wrote that “Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide,” and that “law enforcement officers escalated the national unrest.”

2.  Let’s see exactly how much disinformation the pubic will follow and tolerate, (cont.) A typical effort: on Thursday, a New York Times front page story announced “Fury in Minneapolis Over The Latest in a Long Line of Police Killings.” What was that “long line”? It was nowhere to be found, at least not in the article. We are told that the Minneapolis police have received “many excessive force complaints, especially by black residents.” Complaints do not equal misconduct. We are told that “Mr. Floyd’s death — and the recent shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia — has also prompted comparisons to previous killings involving the police and black people, including those of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.”

Those are terrible, dishonest comparisons, though, and competent journalism is obligated to explain why. Ahmaud Arbery’s was not a “police killing.,” in addition to taking place in Georgia. Michael Brown, despite the apparently immortal false narrative (“Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”) , was not police brutality or misconduct. Eric Garner’s case does provide the basis for some comparison, but that case was in New York, and five years ago. Nor is there any credible argument that the officers in that case were deliberately trying to harm Garner.

3. Oh, never mind. Details, details. We are told by the Times that blacks have accounted for more than 60% of the victims in Minneapolis police shootings from late 2009 through May 2019. Absent details, however, that’s a loaded statistic. How many of those shot were armed? How many were resisting arrest or threatening officers? . African-Americans account for about 20 % of the city’s population; how much of the city’s crime are they responsible for? We are told they are more likely to be pulled over, arrested and have force used against them than white residents, according to Police Department data. Is there any reason for that other than racial bias? Are we supposed to assume racial bias?  Obviously we are.

We are told about Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman who was fatally shot by a black police officer in 2017, and whose family was awarded $20 million in a settlement with the city three days after the officer was convicted of murder.  The Times story also mentions  Chiasher Fong Vue, who was killed in December of last year during a shootout with nine officers.  In the midst of what was a apparently a domestic dispute,  Vue  emerged from his home holding a Soviet-designed assault rifle. He ignored police commands to drop the weapon, pointed it at the officers, and was brought down by  more than 100 bullets. That’s not exactly the George Floyd scenario, is it?  Also the deaths of Vue and Ruszczyk didn’t trigger any rioting and looting. Are we really supposed to believe that those incidents were even faintly on the minds of the Minneapolis rioters?

Also never mentioned in the article: the fact that Floyd was under arrest for what appears to have been criminal activity. The fact that he was being legitimately detained does not mitigate the circumstances of his death, but it is still essential information without which the account and the understanding of the police consuct is distorted.

4.  Somehow, I think this is worthy of disbarment: Two Brooklyn lawyers, including an Ivy League graduate corporate attorney, are facing federal charges for tossing a Molotov cocktail into an NYPD vehicle early yesterday morning during a NYC protest regarding the police killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Lawyer Colinford Mattis, 32, was charged along with fellow attorney Urooj Rahman with the attempted attack on an empty police cruiser parked outside the 88th Precinct station house.

5.  The academic view: Steven W. Thrasher, Ph.D., an apparent lunatic who is paid as the Daniel H. Renberg chair of social justice in reporting at Northwestern University, as well as an assistant professor of journalism and a faculty member of the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, writes at the previously mentioned Slate, which has now apparently jumped the shark entirely,  that

“…there should be absolutely no confusion about the logic of destroying a police station in response to the police killing of George Floyd. You can agree with or disagree with the action. But you cannot deny that there is a logic in targeting a police station after the police have lynched a man in broad daylight, on video. It’s an attempt to create a different order in the society.”

Uh, ethics? Logic? This guy teaches students at a  university? Let’s see:

  • The death of Floyd was not a “lynching,” symbolically or otherwise. It was brutal, stupid policing. The officer was not trying to kill him, just brutalize him. That’s unconscionable and criminal, but not a “lynching.”
  • There is no logic in burning down a building in pure revenge for what a single or several individuals headquartered there may have done. There isn’t even a logical argument to be made. Obsviously the act is irredeemably unethical, as well as illegal.
  • Oh, look! Earlier, Thrasher refers to “the police killings of Michael Brown or Freddie Gray.” There was scant evidence that police “killed” Freddie Gray, and the killing of Mike Brown was justified.

So would Thrasher argue that it would make sense for police officers to set the NYC Bar offices on fire because of what those two lawyers did? Why not?

11 thoughts on “Sunday Evening Ethics, 5/31/2020: Riot Disinformation And Ethics Lunacy

  1. Antifa (domestic terrorists) cells were activated once the opportunity was presented. Presto! Violence, rioting and disorder in nearly every major city and many second tier cities.

    The real danger is when (not if) the militias decide to engage with Antifa and their mobs on the streets as the police retreat from their responsibilities. When that happens the average person will be forced to choose sides under real duress. Then it all could go very pear shaped.

    If you live in a city, any city, gas up your car now, have a go bag packed, and the strongest available methods of self defense at hand.

    Our enemies foreign and domestic are watching very carefully.

    • The big cities are not fighting the antifa types, at least yet. But that is not going to be the case for smaller police forces. They’re not going to back down.

      I also don’t fear the malitia / “boog boys” as they are not going to target bystanders nor the police. If you’re not rioting, they’ll leave you alone. I don’t see a need to pick sides.

      That said, I’m so glad of two things: my choice 24 years ago to flee to the countryside and the fact that the covid lockdown means I’m entering my third month of remote work. I have the privilege of not being affected so long as we don’t go into complete breakdown.

  2. I’m glad to see you link #4. I was going to email you that as a tip if you hadn’t. I don’t know the charges as the articles I’ve read don’t say other than federal changes. I’m guessing it would be manufacturing a destructive device and / or terrorism. Arson for the purpose of intimidation is now terrorism. That’s what they charged the ranchers that led to the redneck standoff in Oregon.

    Princeton law graduate, promising career and it is all over now.

  3. Regarding the slate article:
    The nearest city to me was hit yesterday. We didn’t have rooftop Koreans, we had a local militia group team up with the business owners. One of the business owners has been a target of antifa before and there was chatter they were coming after her.
    There was a peacful protest until 11:30. Then it turned violent. Of course lots of people were claiming the police escalated first. The problem with that claim is the police were ready with loads of surveillance. The police department has already released footage that shows they didn’t start a riot response until after the crowd was pelting them with rocks, bottles and bricks. To top it off, someone shot a fireworks mortar into their line. So the slate writer can go pound sand for here at least.

    The antifa crowd did not get their way. The mall in the area had reinforcement security. Several windows were broken and the thugs were faced with swinging batons from inside and the cops outside they were rounded up.

  4. Where the heck is the president in all of this? For that matter where are the governors? It just seems like they are all fiddling while America burns. Meantime the anti-Trump GOP are seizing the chance to call him a failure and a traitor.

    • Steve,
      Perhaps staying silent for now is the best thing he can do. Does anyone believe that the rioters will listen to him if he offers a conciliatory tone and if he takes a tough stance he is compared to Bull Connor.

      For all those demanding Trump give unifying speeches (Pelosi) your rhetoric in which you call him a racist has effectively rendered that impossible. Few of you can be trusted to give us the unvarnished truth in your quest for power.

      Our collective leadership has failed miserably in terms of effective governance. I lay this all at the feet of Obama and HRC who have done everything they can to create us versus them camps using race as the means to do so. They have farmed out the violence to third parties (Antifa) in order shield themselves from culpability.

      I will admit Trump bears some responsibility but his behavior in my opinion has been reactive and defensive rather than offensive. Had his administration been afforded the same level of assistance we might not have seen his trolling tweets.

      • Nope. As always, it would be nice to have him express himself in ways that a junior college grad could be proud of, but…the Julie Principle. I think the American public that isn’t insane is sick of the news media trying to spin the riots in favor of rioters and against the country (and Trump), and want a clear, if ham-handed statement of what’s really going on, with appropriate outrage.

        • I listened to his speech and thought it was appropriate. He also walked to St. Johns Church as a symbolic move. The Twitter reaction was that he was a despot planning to use the military on citizens, Anderson Cooper tried to imitate Don Lemon in outrage over the idea of bringing in federal troops. None ever mentioned that he has waited patiently for requests from the governors for federal assistance that is required except to put down insurrections.

          Sure, it would be nice for him to give an uplifting speech to the nation but as long as Fox’s Chris Wallace and others at other networks dismiss or outright deny the existence of an organized Antifa group and criminal networks exploiting the protests he can say just about anything and only his supporters will accept it as factual because the media wants him out and the only power they have over him is how they paint his presidency. When the media starts fact checking themselves and the political hustlers with the same zeal they fact check Trump’s opinions I might think differently

          The media is loving this. Between the pandemic which made TV the only available entertainment and now the riots. More eyeballs and more ad revenue; what’s not to love. They even put on ads that say Stay Home we will be here for you. The media’s massive presence at the riots adds fuel to them. We don’t need ’round the clock coverage of the looting and mayhem. We need to have it quelled.

          Several days ago someone discusses that Chauvin’s wife dumped him after this and some said she did so as not to be cast as a social or professional pariah. Everyone arrested and convicted for looting should have their picture prominently displayed and permanently etched into the historical memory of the Internet. For most of these looters they will go about their daily lives without punishment and then claim it is unfair for store owner, who watched hundreds of black youths loot her store and others, or who they had beaten senseless when she tried to stop looters in the past, to pay close attention to them when they come into her store. Who has a more reasonable basis for fear the business person who has been looted and beaten by a mob of black teens or a black kid who has been told to fear the police by persons who may have an interest in painting the police negatively?

          These rioters are the tsunami that permanently erodes common ground. I have empathy and sympathy for the families of all those unjustly killed at the hands of the police and will stand with them to exact legal justice but the idea that blacks and minorities need to fear police is one that is created by excuse makers and race baiters. Nothing the president can say can wipe away years of black propaganda.

  5. 1. How much disinformation will the public tolerate?

    My guess is, as much as people are willing to hand out, as long as it pushes the emotional buttons that seem to work for the vast majority of Americans.

    4. Disbarment

    I doubt it will matter. The crime of which they are accused carries a mandatory minimum 5-year sentence.

    But yeah, they should be disbarred.

    5. Academic view

    Boiled down to its essence, he wants the same thing BLM wants — revenge. Not just against the officer, but against a symbol of the “system.”

    To these BLM and Leftist morons, justice is revenge, and revenge is justice.

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