Friday Open Forum If You Have The Stomach For It…

I have to confess, this past week has me feeling overwhelmed. There may have been other weeks where the mendacity, corruption and hypocrisy were more apparent, and the prospects for a healthy nation and an ethical culture seemed dimmer, but I must have repressed those memories.

Yesterday, fraudulent GOP House member George Santos said that he had “led an honest life,” Joe Biden excused the latest discovery of classified documents in his garage by saying the garage was “locked,” and three more Virginia high schools admitted that they had withheld notice of National Merit Scholarship awards from students. The school superintendent, who is an DEI consultant and who pledged to seek “equal outcomes” for all students, swears these were independent, unrelated “mistakes.” All made by six high schools in her state. Coincidentally.

Give me hope today.

22 thoughts on “Friday Open Forum If You Have The Stomach For It…

  1. I don’t know if this offers any hope. I would hope some of the commentariat with law enforcement or legal backgrounds weigh in on this topic.

    I recently became aware of an activity labeled “audits” in which self-appointed “auditors” establish themselves on public property near what some may consider sensitive facilities like post offices, police stations, etc., and begin filming anything and everything for the purpose of an anticipated police response and interaction. There is a YouTube channel called Audit the Auditors which rates the behavior of both sides. Apparently, for many of the auditors the goal is to goad the officers into violating the auditor’s Constitutional rights for the purpose of exposing overzealous police behavior and then uploading them to social media and to some degree, I don’t know how much, financial profit.

    I find the practice of purposely engaging in perfectly legal behavior for the purpose of enticing an engagement with the police for no other reason than to find police misconduct somewhat unethical. A form of the “niggardly principle”. The reason I said somewhat is that I take issue with some of these “auditors” who push the limits by continuing to goad the officers using epithets (perfectly legal) or continuing to argue with the officers. This is a case of you may have the right, but it does not mean you should. The question then becomes when you should.

    Conversely, there is some really questionable police behavior happening which could be fueling a great deal of anti-cop sentiment. While lying is legal as an investigatory tool for police officers to lie to elicit information, misrepresenting laws to intimidate those who they encounter is equally unethical given that it is a form of an appeal to authority; with them as the authority on the law.

    Many of these videos revolve around a subject’s unwillingness to identify citing no reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime having been, in the process of, or about to be committed. If an officer cannot immediately articulate a suspected offense but simply offers up generalizations such as terrorism, drug activity in the area, or some other rationale that could apply to virtually anyone else in the vicinity, I have a hard time with an officer demanding identification for simply going about one’s business. Given that all these videos are everywhere on YouTube why don’t police forces recognize the tactic of deny providing the LEO an ID and walk away when a person states they are merely filming and claiming they have “No Reasonable Suspicion” to demand ID instead of continuing to engage and risk escalation which was the goal of the citizen in the first place. On the flip side, when an officer responds in the negative to the query “am I being detained” by the subject why doesn’t the subject merely walk away. In such a case I would think the police officer has a higher duty of care to deescalate. Unfortunately, it appears that many times the LEO’s ego impedes his or her ability to resolve the matter quickly and efficiently when his or her behavior at the scene seems to undercut the assertion that the subject is not being detained.

    I realize that certain furtive behaviors could easily give rise to an officer’s suspicion like seeing a group of people loitering around a liquor store and peeking into the store occasionally without going in, or seeing a person testing multiple windows on a residence late at night as was the case with Henry Louis Gates’s tirade. These are all legitimate reasons to investigate why the individuals are behaving in such a manner. Creating videos in broad daylight on public property or easement is not a furtive behavior in my opinion. Other citizens, who call the police need to realize they have no expectation of privacy from videographers or photographers outside and the only recourse they have is to shield their faces if they do not wish to be in a photo.

    As I process the issues of these videos, I recognize that many of the officers were goaded into the behavior that ultimately got them in trouble. That is not an excuse. Some of the videos indicate no antecedent events or post encounter actions by law enforcement so evaluating the totality of the circumstances is impossible so I draw no conclusions as to right or wrong. Yet a significant number do show law enforcement really pushing the bounds of their authority and many going way beyond that scope.

    I understand the argument that these videos do not represent the behavior of most officers across the nation and there are millions of encounters that do not result in any use of force. But, given the prevalence of so many videos from all parts of the country with different departments that argument we cannot say for certainty that the argument is valid based on the limited video evidence available to the public. If the citizenry is ignorant of their rights, it makes it easy for law enforcement to convince citizens to waive their rights under the implied threat of force or arrest. That to me is why obtaining video of police encounters is not only advisable it may help these officers understand the limits to their authority in a free country.

    • Interesting, CM. There was a story in the local Phoenix paper last week about a black Wall Street Journal reporter standing outside a branch bank asking customers about their savings accounts. Which struck me as kind of weird. The guy was dressed in shorts and a T shirt. The cops showed up mysteriously and hand cuffed him and put him in a patrol car before he was released. Maybe the whole thing was a setup of the nature you describe. This makes me wonder whether the guy really was a WSJ guy?

      • Evidently the WSJ says he is one of their guys. But I wonder about the person who videoed the incident. Still sounds fishy to me. A WSJ writer based in NYC goes to Phoenix to research an article about savings accounts to ask people leaving a bank branch about their accounts? He didn’t want to dress up because he thought that would make people think he was selling something? So he dressed like, I don’t know, a panhandler? And the cop showed up entirely of his own accord, without any involvement by the bank’s staff or any other departing customers?

          • OB
            I read the article and it somewhat patterns the police response in the cases of these auditors. I do think someone from the bank called and the officer did not just roll up on him because it said the officer immediately went into the bank and talked to someone. It appears that a trespassing charge seems to be the go-to response to detain an individual, but my understanding is that in order to trespass the individual must be told his presence on the premises is not welcome and he must be allowed to leave when told to do so. This can take the form of a no trespass sign or a verbal command to leave but I doubt such a sign would exist in front of a bank entrance in which the public uses to access the facility. There is no indication that any bank personnel interacted with the WSJ reporter which means that no verbal command to leave could take place. The officer cannot allege trespass as a crime in such a case and if he is being detained by the officer he cannot leave if ordered by the bank.

            The WSJ reporter should have talked to the branch manager and explained his purpose beforehand to alleviate any foreseeable fears by customers and to ensure he was either allowed on the property or ascertain where public property began to avoid any misunderstanding. Legitimate activity sometimes needs permission, so I think the responsible thing to do up front is to get permission for lawful interactions with customers or employees first.

            It is these types of events that get the public’s attention. Moreover, because videos or stories that raise people’s emotions or validate preexisting notions of the world will be disseminated far faster and wider than mundane posts, even if this is a one-off event it will be believed as what is usual and customary. When we see behavior like this, it is not unreasonable to conclude that this officer abuses his authority on a regular basis like a liar when caught cannot be trusted to be uttering the truth later even though the utterance may be true.

            What is shocking is that some of the PD’s own video catch officers joking about making people pay for not obeying. In one example two officers were laughing about the blood on their uniforms which belonged to a 76-year-old woman with dementia who was tackled to the ground by 2 officers (1 male 1 female) because she did not immediately obey the officer by continuing to walk away. She suffered a dislocated shoulder and numerous abrasions. That case cost taxpayers 3 million dollars and while the officers were criminally charges, they were given qualified immunity in the civil trial. I understand the need for qualified immunity but the bar to get it must be raised.

            I have always wanted to give police the benefit of the doubt, but I can understand why so many fear encounters with law enforcement when it appears that some of the training leads to escalating physical encounters and the qualified immunity may be affecting the behavior and psychology of law enforcement officers. This needs to be examined.

        • But I wonder about the person who videoed the incident.

          Many people will videotape police interactions with minorities because they can. Some of these wind up on social media channels as content. There appears to be a lot of these “auditors” who spend their days looking for police abuses. The person taking the video may have no relation to the reporter he just happened to be nearby and caught the event on his cellphone.

          This was kind of the reason for my initial post on this issue. I am torn between seeing these auditors as a positive when they capture true police misconduct and seeing them as agent provocateurs who instigate opportunities for the police to lose their temper and agitate them to get that reaction. Police officers are human, and everyone has a breaking point. It is unreasonable to assume every police officer will be able to withstand some of the behaviors these “auditors” exhibit. As such, it is not ethical to behave in a manner specifically designed to elicit an outburst. They should just shut up and go about their business.

    • I too have been wasting a lot of valuable time watching You tube videos of “journalist auditors”. What bothers me most is the officers’ chesting up to the videographers while the officers ask them to step back.
      The officer is provoking the camera person to raise a hand to prevent the uniform from entering their personal space which is said to be about 18 inches. Should a hand be raised or the officer touched, the uniform can say they were assaulted or threatened and then cuff and charge the them. Professional LEOs need to understand that the public expects that their inquiries can be made from a reasonable distance and that just because they are “the law” that any order that they give is lawful.
      Being considerate of the police is always a good idea. They are good at reading body language, facial expressions and probable intentions. Thinking back, I have been forgiven twice as many well earned traffic tickets than I have paid. Intentionally provoking anyone with a camera I find to be unethical even if it is legal.

    • Many of these videos have entered my virtual world. I have another name for these ‘auditors’, they are individually and corporately “assholes.” Their goal is to “expose” for the purpose of making the LEO officer appear foolish. I find these to be noneducative but mere pablum for the provocateurs. In every video, there is the absence of the “golden rule” by the videographer.

  2. ”It’s always something, to know you’ve done the most you could. But, don’t leave off hoping, or it’s of no use doing anything. Hope, hope to the last.” – Charles Dickens

  3. Can’t we now just abandon the fiction that Biden is making his presidential (or any) decisions? Sure he’s stupid and corrupt, that’s been known for years, but the DNC (sometimes through Ron Klain) has been dictating appointments and policy from the start of his last campaign. “Dr. Jill” probably picks out his clothes and reminds him which color is the ice cream he likes.

    It looks like they may now well be maneuvering to push him out of running again. Classified docs show up at his facilities and, instead of finding their way to the nearest burn barrel, the news is released to the public (not before midterms, of course). The Chicoms are miffed at the loss , but now know where those lost pages from Hunter’s hand-offs to them actually were. Formerly unconcerned with legalities AG, Merrick Garland, having been assured of lucrative roles in upcoming Walking Dead spinoffs, has appointed a (Republican!) special prosecutor. Joe, already a prime candidate for such a TV part himself, seems as befuddled as always. The only thing that seems to be holding back the deluge for the moment is that the sycophantic media don’t all appear to have gotten the memo or sniffed the wind yet: “Joe is toast! Mayor Pete’s our boy now; keep covering for him.”

    Aside: SloJo’s “Secret docs/Corvette/locked garage” response to Peter Doocy reminded me of Rocket Raccoon, in Guardians of the Galaxy (Rocket is a cartoon, like Joe, but sentient.):
    Rocket: “”Don’t touch that. That’s a bomb.”
    Quill (outraged): “So now you’re just leaving bombs around?”
    Rocket: “I was gonna put it in a box!

      • Possibly-dumber-than-Joe Congresscritter Hank (Guam might capsize) Johnson has actually floated the idea that Trump planted the papers.

    • Other cartoon Rocket, Rocket J. Squirrel. Addressed by Bullwinkle Moose: “Thay, Rock. There seems to be skullduggery afoot!”

    • Addendum:
      In the comment above I (half) jokingly suggested that Joe’s “Garage Papers” were separated from a batch given by Hunter to the Chinese. I almost went with a hypothetical about Hunter lifting a few papers from Joe’s desk while he was visiting and stashing them in the garage for later retrieval, but thought that might sound too much like a real conspiracy theory.

      Last night, it started being reported that Hunter had actually lived at that property for a time, and even reported it as his residence. Earlier emails, now being revived, indicate he paid for various repairs and expenses there, and that there was also some type of permanent employee in residence (no word if he were Chinese). Hunter has mentioned having to give “half his salary” to “Pops”, and there was another report saying he mentioned paying $50K/month in “rent” for the property (that not yet verified, that I know of). Can you say “Chinese (Money) Laundry”?

      Maybe some conspiracy theories are becoming facts.

  4. Do you think it’s fair or ethical to have public utilities pay once for a forever easement or should it be like everyone else and a renewable lease? This is in the context of the thousands of miles of new power lines being constructed in the name of green energy (wind and solar).

    • Demeter
      I would think that such leases could mirror the type cell phone firms employ to mount their repeaters on existing towers. There is no reason why land owners should not share in the revenue streams generated by virtue of the high tension lines that lie on the land

      • Chris, they are adamant they are a public utility and therefore can not do such a thing to the public… (this is Xcel energy). I question if we should use public utility lines for privately owned wind and solar projects, but I don’t know enough about the dynamics of this to say for sure.

  5. Here is a pro-abortion argument I found in the comments section of a Reason article.

    https://reason.com/2023/01/13/the-janes/?comments=true#comment-9876178

    THE “LYING LOTHARIO” PROBLEM: Well, a lot of pro-lifers are men, and I would bet that even those pro-lifers who are women? Very few of them have found themselves in the following shoes: Lying Lothario endlessly says “Love ya, babe, Love-ya, Love-ya, Love-ya, NOW can I get down your pants?” After she falls for him and he gets her pregnant, the abuse (from him) begins, and she finds out that he has 7 other “Love-ya, Babe, my One and Only” babes on the side, 4 of them also pregnant by him! So abortion is “veto power” against scumbucket men. If these behavioral genes get passed on and on, humans will evolve into something like elephant seals, where the men most skilled at lying and fighting off the other lying men, get a harem of 40 babes, and the rest of the men get nothing (other than caring for the resulting babies)! So abortion is empowering women to fight off this sort of thing… And reserve their baby-making powers for men who are less lying scum, and will actually make good fathers to the children. (Hershel Walker is THE Hero of the Lying Lothario these days!)

  6. Give me hope today.

    Once there was a man trudging along, down in doleful dumps, and a voice came down from above, saying “Cheer up! Things could be worse!” So he cheered up, and lo, things got worse.

    You know what Nietzsche thought about hope, that it was the last evil out of Pandora’s Box and worked to trick mankind into putting up with all the other evils. If you doubt that, remember that Obama used an appeal to hope in just that way (whether he intended that result or not).

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