Comment Of The Day: “The Ethics Dilemma That Has No Solution: We Can’t Trust Police, But We Have To”

charlottesville-police-response-20170812

Well, I expected this one: Jim Hodgson, a frequent commenter, has an extensive background in law enforcement. Ethics Alarms is fortunate to have the benefit of his perspective, and I am grateful for it.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “The Ethics Dilemma That Has No Solution: We Can’t Trust Police, But We Have To”:

***

The scope of thought provoked by this post could fill volumes. I will try to be brief.

Some corrupt organizational cultures are so big and so corrupt that they seem to defy correction. This seems to be the case with big agencies like NYPD, Chicago PD, and perhaps Boston PD as well as others. Some of these agencies seem to have major corruption scandals every ten or fifteen years, which likely means there is some omnipresent level of corruption just below the surface. It boggles the mind (mine, anyway) to contemplate what would have to be done to set a large erring agency on the right path.

In the agencies I worked for, (200 – 250 employees max) just one incident involving one officer was a scandal. Yet, I can only comment accurately from my own experience. I entered law enforcement in 1974, at what I call “the end of the knuckle-dragging era,” when the first steps to upgrade police selection, training and supervision were just taking hold. My first agency required two years of college as a prerequisite to employment, and required us to remain enrolled in college until the completion of a baccalaureate or higher degree, pursuing the goal that the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice established in 1967, “that all police personnel with general enforcement powers have baccalaureate degrees.” This was, of course, presented by the Commission as “an ultimate” goal, but it was being actively pursued by some agencies.

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The Ethics Dilemma That Has No Solution: We Can’t Trust Police, But We Have To

Ellis arrest

A Netflix documentary that debuted last year crystallized my conclusions about the current attack on police, policing, and the justice system as a part of “white supremacy,” and the so far successful effort by Black Lives Matter and its allies among progressives and the Democratic Party to unravel the core values of American society as part of the “solution.”

The documentary is “Trial 4,” and it tells the disturbing story of how a black Boston teenager named Sean Ellis was railroaded into serving 22 years in prison for the 1993 execution-style murder of a Boston cop. Yes, it’s a documentary, so it is hardly objective, but it is even-handed for the genre, and to this long-time Boston native, it rings true in most respects. It also brought back memories of my U.S. race relations course in college, taught by the estimable Thomas Pettigrew, which convinced me that the plight of the black community in the U.S. was probably beyond repairing.

Ellis was finally exonerated just last month, as all of his convictions were either reversed or thrown out, with prosecutors (finally) deciding not to pursue any further action against him. Presumably he will get a large settlement from the city. He deserves one.

The details of the story are best followed by seeing the program, but key points are these;

  • The murdered officer, a white, Irish veteran officer, was a corrupt cop who was known on the force to be corrupt, but he was nonetheless honored in death as a paradigm of law enforcement virtue. Thousands of police officers, even from other states, came to his public funeral. The determination by his peers to find and punished the assassin who shot him five times in the face was intense.
  • The law-abiding police who knew the truth about the deceased officer, John Mulligan, never made any official complaints, hewing to the so-called “blue line.” In this they mirror all professional groups: doctors, lawyers, politicians, elected officials, and of course the clergy are all reluctant to blow the whistle even though basic ethical values require it.
  • Two of Mulligan’s fellow officers were running a series of illegal activities that Mulligan either was involved in or knew about, including overtime scams, planting evidence, arresting innocent black citizens and pressuring them into giving false evidence, and stealing drug money in legal and illegal searches.
  • These same officers (they flank Ellis in the photo above) took control of the investigation of Mulligan’s murder, and one of them manipulated his own relative to falsely identify Ellis as being at the scene of the murder. They also intimidated Ellis’s uncle, who was on parole and was threatened with being sent back to prison, to implicate his nephew.
  • Despite what looks in hindsight like huge, neon-flashing signs reading “Frame up! Frame up!,” the justice system lined up against Ellis and with the cops, even a supposedly reform-minded black District Attorney (who insisted of retrying the murder charges against Ellis after two hung juries mostly favoring acquittal) and the African American judge in the trials.

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Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 8/11/2020: The “Preparing To Welcome A New Dog” Edition

My wife and I will finally be welcoming a new dog into the family tomorrow. It’s been more than a year since we lost Rugby, and it was time–for me, way past time. We met “Spuds” yesterday, who was being cared for by a wonderful woman who rescues and fosters abused and neglected dogs. Poor Spuds was given up to one rescue organization by his owner as a puppy, then adopted by a horrible woman who kept him in a tiny room and seldom fed him. A month ago, when he was removed from this monster’s home, he was about 20 pound underweight and suffering from malnutrition. You wouldn’t know it to meet him. Spuds is all white with a brown spot over one eye and flip-over ears, obviously some kind of pitbull-terrier mix.  He’s 2 and a half year’s old, and, incredibly, trusting and eager to make friends with all dogs and people. He still has some rehabilitation to go through, but he’s a lively, athletic, loving dog with a sweet temperament, almost Rugby-like, but twice the size. Perfect.

1. “Nah, teachers aren’t out to indoctrinate children!”  Matthew Kay, who teaches English at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, wrote on Twitter that he is concerned about parents over-hearing their children’s Zoomed instruction from teachers like him:

“So, this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work? How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this? While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment — I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in the host conversations about gender/sexuality.” And while ‘conservative’ parents are my chief concern — I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia — how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?”

I have long advocated parents auditing their child’s classes just to prevent the kind of “teaching” Kay apparently engages in. It’s a basic tenet of practical ethics that if someone is a afraid of conduct becoming known, they know what the are doing is wrong, or may be viewed as wrong. Teachers have no justification for hiding the content of their classes from parents.

When Kay’s sinister comments prompted what should have been predictable criticism, he made his Twitter account private. Of course he did.

2. I saw this, thought it was too silly for words, then reader Michael sent me a link, and now I have to flag it.   I’ve seen “Kindergarten Cop” several times; it’s one of my wife’s favorites, and one of “Ahnold’s” best. The unlikely story of a huge police detective with an Austrian accent going undercover as a kindergarten teacher to catch a criminal before he can  kidnap and harm his estranged wife and their child, it’s funny and sweet, and intermittently exciting. However police-o-phobia is rampant during The Great Stupid, especially among hysterics and anarchists. So now that benign film has been declared dangerous.

Willamette Week reported that the movie was pulled from its slot at the Northwest Film Center’s drive-in summer cinema series in Portland after it was called offensive by deranged local author Lois Leveen. “There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the school-to-prison pipeline” she tweeted. Yes, that’s all it takes now for spineless administrators to cancel people, art, entertainment, anything.

Leveen even provided a perfect opening to shut her down with a curt, “You need help, Lois. Really. Trust us on this. This is pathetic” when, in an email, she compared “Kindergarten Cop” to “The Birth of a Nation.”

Right, Lois. And “Toy Story” is like “Triumph of the Will.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Tiffany Haddish

“I would hate to give birth to someone that looks like me, and then, knowing that they’re gonna be hunted or killed.”

—-Black comic and actress Tiffany Haddish, explaining  why she hasn’t had children.

Haddish made this astounding statement in an interview with Carmelo Anthony on his YouTube show, “What’s In Your Glass?”,  as she explained why she joined a Black Lives Matter protest.

“I’m a little older now and people are always like, “You gonna have some babies? When are you gonna have some babies? You gonna drop some babies?'” she babbled. “There’s a part of me that would like to do that, and I always make up these excuses like, ‘Oh, I need a million dollars in the bank before I do that, I need this, I need that.”

Then after an explanation that indicates that Haddish thinks she is living in the days of the Underground Railroad and her children would be pursued through the swamps by bloodhounds, like Eliza in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” she asked, “Like, why would I put someone through that?”

“And white people don’t have to think about that. It’s time to talk about that, and how we have to come together as a community and work as a unit. Maybe we don’t all agree on the same things, but we need to just find some common ground and move forward as human beings not as like, you know,” she concluded, making no sense whatsoever. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Cool-Down, 7/27/2020: Lots of Stuff Hanging Around The Runway

I have a long night of work ahead of me, so I don’t know what time it is.

Or care.

1. Res ipsa loquitur.  Oopsie! “Health company apologizes for falsely telling 600,000 US military members they were infected with coronavirus”

Tricare apologized for a poorly worded email that implied the recipient had  been infected with the Wuhan virus.

I guess the writer was a Rutgers English major.

On the bright side, it is better to get a false positive than a false negative.

2. Schadenfreude Alert! Seattle radio host  Paul Gallant  mocked President Donald Trump last month for suggesting Seattle’s riots were violent. Then, last night, the “mostly peaceful” demonstrations got his Starbucks. HIS STARBUCKS!!!

“I feel like I need to buy a firearm, because clearly this is going to keep happening. Enough is enough,” Gallant he added.

It was enough a long time ago, you pathetic jerk.

3.  Boy, when you can’t even trust the sports reporters…ESPN tweeted a video over the weekend of players from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the Seattle Storm leaving the court, and wrote, “As the national anthem was played, the @nyliberty and @seattlestorm walked off the floor as part of the social justice initiative.” For this display, the women were roundly criticized.

Then ESPN tweeted  “Correction: Players left the court before the national anthem was played, not during.” That’s what I call a material mistake.

Nevertheless, at last checking,  the original misleading tweet is still up.

4. This is presumably justifiable because all cops in New Jersey are racists, as proven by the fact that a non-racist cop in Minneapolis killed a black man.  Kevin Trejo, 21, of Westwood, New Jersey has been arrested for  spitting into the coffee of a police officer at Starbucks.  Police have evidence  that Trejo had done this repeatedly with officers.  Trejo claims to have only done it just once. Oh! Well that’s OK, then!

Question 1: Is this a violent offense?

Question 2: Why would any police officer chance ordering a beverage at Starbucks? Continue reading

News Flash: Derek Chauvin Is Not A Racist, And George Floyd’s Death Had Nothing To Do With Race. Let’s Think About That….

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin ignited national protests, riots, burnings and vandalism by keeling on counterfeiting suspect George Floyd’s neck until  he died. The reaction to the African-American’s death, all captured by a cell phone video, was almost immediately co-opted and exploited by the black anti-police, anti-white activist group Black Lives Matter, which emphatically added Floyd’s death to others it cites to prove the intrinsic racism of  U.S. law enforcement and the United States of America itself. The incident has transformed BLM into a national force in the midst of a crucial Presidential campaign, with one party endorsing it (despite the organization’s indisputable anti-US and anti-white, not to mention Marxist,  rhetoric, and almost all corporations feeling forced to publicly signal their support in pandering statements. The death of George Floyd even turned professional sports into a  massive race-obsessed propaganda machine for Black Lives Matter and its foundational assertion that the United States is built on racism, with the police enforcing white supremacy.

I think the forgoing is a fair, if perhaps unsympathetic summary.

Through all of this, one critical element has been prominent by its absence. Ethics Alarms flagged it on June 9, in a post titled, “The Question That Must Be Asked In Any Fair And Responsible Analysis Of The George Floyd Tragedy…” That question was, “How do we know George Floyd is dead because he was black?”

I wrote in part,

There is absolutely no evidence  that George Floyd is dead because he was black, and no evidence that former officer Chauvin had his knee on his neck until Floyd died because Floyd was black. This has been presumed, and no politicians or national leaders, and certainly no mainstream media reporters,  have had the integrity or courage to require more than that mandated presumption before accepting the narrative. No evidence of racism among the officers involved has been found, and you know people have been looking.  The proposition that any time a black citizen is abused by the police it is per se racism, that is, presumed racism, is logically and ethically absurd, and people should have the courage to say so. …

Of course, virtually nobody on the left wants to consider the possibility that Floyd is dead because he had a contentious confrontation with a bad cop who was a human ticking time bomb. If Floyd had been white, there would have been no protests or riots, although the injustice and the misconduct would have been exactly the same. Especially convenient for activists, and too hard to resist,  was the symbolic nature of a white cop having his knee on the neck of a black man: the perfect metaphor for white supremacy.

But if [Floyd’s] death is going to be exploited as the rallying point to justify protests, riots, and unhinged policy recommendations like abolishing police departments, if it is going to be the catalyst for compelled virtue-signaling speech from elected officials, celebrities, sports figures and corporate executives, isn’t it reasonable, indeed essential, to be certain that George Floyd’s death actually was what it is being represented as—a racist police killing?

Apparently that crack investigative journalism organization, the New York Times, realized that it was essential to show this, so it put a team of reporters on it—when, it’s hard to determine. However, tucked away in the lower right-hand corner of its front page on the typically slow news day-reporting Sunday Times, dwarfed by a giant feature on the death of Rep. John Lewis, and under the mandatory above-the-fold story about how the Trump Administration is responsible for the “raging” Wuhan virus, was the report on the results of the Times investigation, headlined, “In Minneapolis, A Rigid Officer Many Disliked.”

Guess what the report doesn’t mention. Go ahead, guess.

Race. Racism. We learn that Chauvin was often over-aggressive in his law-enforcement methods. We are told he was unpopular with other officers, most of whom  didn’t want to work with him. We learn he was rigid, and a workaholic. The piece begins with an account about Chauvin pulling his gun on four teenagers who shot a Nerf dart out a car window. All four of the teenagers were white.

The article contains not a single piece of evidence that Derek Chauvin is a racist. The reporters couldn’t find a single individual who recalled Chauvin using a racial epithet, —you know, the evidence that proved that Mark Furmin was a racist and thus O.J. Simpson had to be innocent—or anyone, even from Chauvin’s school days, who could recount an incident in his professional or private life suggesting racism. Chauvin’s wife wasn’t white, she was Asian. The entire article, which took up all of page A-17, runs 2,067 words. Not one of them is “race,” “racist,” or “racism.”

Yet we know, don’t we, that proof of racism is what the Times was looking for. The fact that Derek Chauvin was not a racist (except in the sense that Black Lives Matter tells us, which is that all whites are racists) was the news—rather crucial news, I’d say—to come out of the investigation, but not only did the Times “bury the lede,” it censored it.

I also believe, but cannot prove, that the Times knew there was no evidence that Chuavin was a racist long before it published the results of its investigation on July 19, after nearly two full months of fury over a “racist cop” killing a black man. Racism was the evil we were told had to be expiated by fire, toppled statues, violence and, apparently, revolution. If the metaphorical match that lit the fuse was based on a false assumption, the Times, indeed all of the news media, had an urgent obligation to reveal this as quickly as possible. I believe it did the opposite, intentionally, to avoid publishing anything that might stem the burgeoning insurrection’s momentum.  I assume that the investigation into Chauvin began shortly after the incident, and when the expected evidence that the officer was a virulent racist who killed Floyd because of the color of his skin didn’t materialize, the Times first extended the inquiry, and then held off publishing the results.

Sometimes democracy literally dies in darkness.

I asked “How do we know George Floyd is dead because he was black?” on June 9, and the news media took a month and ten days to supply the information that provides the answer, which they still haven’t had the integrity or courage to publish outright.

The news media hid the fact to allow a false presumption of racism crush America’s throat.

Confirmation Bias And A Societal “Big Lie,” Brought To You By Harvard And The New Yorker

She looks so smart and sure of herself! Surely we can trust what SHE writes…

The anti-police propaganda spreading the lie that most police are racist and brutal and therefore a greater threat to society than a benefit has become like the nine-headed Hydra of Greek mythology: nearly impossible to kill. Prime among the villains in this development are the news media, which has enthusiastically spread misinformation while refusing to do its job of clarifying facts rather than distorting them, and researchers and academics, who have become so cowed by the abusive hyper-ideological environment in which they work that they won’t even stand behind their own studies. As discussed here, after a peer-reviewed study showing  that the race of the officer or the civilian could not predict  fatal police shootings was used by defenders of police and critics of Black Lives Matte, the researchers were pressured into retracting their paper because it was being, they said, misused.

I know I’m sounding uncharacteristically frustrated this weekend, but I really don’t know how society fights deliberate disinformation in support of a destructive narrative when both the journalism sector and the academic establishment are in on the fix.

Here is a representative example from The New Yorker. The current edition includes a 5,000 word essay by Jill Lepore, who should be trustworthy: she is  a professor of American history at Harvard as well as frequent writer at The New Yorker and for other presumably legitimate publications.  Her topic is the history of policing in the United States, linking the early role of police in suppressing slave rebellions to police killings of blacks today. At one point she writes,

One study suggests that two-thirds of Americans between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four who were treated in emergency rooms suffered from injuries inflicted by police and security guards, about as many people as the number of pedestrians injured by motor vehicles.

Wait…what? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “A Cop’s Lament…and Threat (Plus A Poll)”

The article by the police commander who warns that cops might just decide that remaining on the job isn’t worth the abuse attracted a lot of readers very quickly. That’s a good sign; so are the results of the poll so far, in which over 90% have voted that either the warning ought to be taken seriously, or that his reaction is rational under the circumstances.

Don’t ask me about the two votes for not having any police. Maybe ex-anarchist commenter Fattymoon dropped by with a friend.

Here is Alicia (aka La Sylphide) ‘s very personal Comment of the Day on the post, “A Cop’s Lament…and Threat (Plus A Poll)“:

I know that what I offer here is anecdotal (and therefore criticized by some).

What this officer writes breaks my heart. I know my ex (a retired police sergeant) very well. We were married 24 years. I know his heart. I know the work he did. I know the programs he created and implemented starting from a place of nothing. I know the fellow police families we hung with and I know their hearts; the work they did, the neighborhoods they worked so hard with which to build trust, the tears they shed over lives they couldn’t save, the elderly they comforted, the bikes they fixed because the chain had come off, the calm they restored in the ER when bad news was delivered. This is my experience having been a police wife. Continue reading

A Cop’s Lament…and Threat (Plus A Poll)

Travis Yates has authored an angry and ominous post on the Law Officer website.  He is a  Doctoral Student in Strategic Leadership, a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a police commander. Titled “America, We Are Leaving,” his article expresses his disgust at the abuse being focused on police in the wake of the George Floyd incident, and vows to leave law enforcement as a result. He writes,

From chiefs to sheriffs to politicians, no one has our back. Now, the little we have, we are told they are going to defund us or even abolish us. Citizens with a political agenda will reign over us and all you have to do is wake up and put on a uniform to be a racist.

This weekend I received death threats for just doing my job. It would have been outrageous a decade ago and made national news.

Now, it’s just a Monday.

There will be more threats, more accusations of racism and more lies told about us.I used to talk cops out of leaving the job. Now I’m encouraging them.

The essay concludes with a threat and a warning… Continue reading

The Question That Must Be Asked In Any Fair And Responsible Analysis Of The George Floyd Tragedy…

…and yet nobody seems to be asking it.

That question is “How do we know George Floyd is dead because he was black?”

There is absolutely no evidence  that George Floyd is dead because he was black, and no evidence that former officer Chauvin had his knee on his neck until Floyd died because Floyd was black. This has been presumed, and no politicians or national leaders, and certainly no mainstream media reporters,  have had the integrity or courage to require more than that mandated presumption before accepting the narrative. No evidence of racism among the officers involved has been found, and you know people have been looking.  The proposition that any time a black citizen is abused by the police it is per se racism, that is, presumed racism, is logically and ethically absurd, and people should have the courage to say so. Yesterday a Trump administration official opined that all things being equal, Floyd would have probably met the same fate if he were white. That’s not an unreasonable opinion, and it shouldn’t be unspeakable, but to the extent the news media covered it al all, it was reported as an oddity, as if he had claimed that Fish People were walking among us.

Of course, virtually nobody on the left wants to consider the possibility that Floyd is dead because he had a contentious confrontation with a bad cop who was a human ticking time bomb. If Floyd had been white, there would have been no protests or riots, although the injustice and the misconduct would have been exactly the same. Especially convenient for activists, and too hard to resist,  was the symbolic nature of a white cop having his knee on the neck of a black man: the perfect metaphor for white supremacy. That it may have had nothing to do with white supremacy and everything to do with an angry cop deciding to teach a perp a lesson (as he may have done many times before) can’t even be considered. Continue reading