Comment Of The Day: “Another Unarmed Black Man Is Shot And Killed By Police In Atlanta, And Facts Don’t Matter”

In these police-involved shootings where the victims are African-Americans, facts really don’t matter to the activists, protesters, race-hustlers, and all too often, the news media. Tragically, all has unfolded as the Ethics Alarms post foresaw when I wrote it last night, but then an idiot could have see this coming from the moment the police were called.  I’ve said that I am 75% serious when I suggest that the policy should be that the police will refuse to interact with any African American lawbreaker or suspect, because  it is a no-win situation. If black communities want to be protected from non-white criminals, then let them agree on reasonable terms or handle it themselves.

The more I read, hear and watch, the more that percentage ticks up.

Here is the Comment of the Day, by James Hodgson (who actually knows something, though facts don’t matter during the George Floyd Freakout), on the post, Another Unarmed Black Man Is Shot And Killed By Police In Atlanta, And Facts Don’t Matter”:

I was previously a TASER instructor and have experienced the effects of the weapon many times in training scenarios. (My experience ended with the X-26 Model which my agency was using at the time of my retirement in 2014.) Powered by compressed nitrogen in the weapon’s cartridge, the TASER fires two small barbed darts (they look like straightened fish hooks) intended to puncture the skin and remain attached to the target individual. The darts are connected to the TASER by thin copper wires and carry an electric current which disrupts muscle control, causing “neuromuscular incapacitation”.

The TASER is marketed as “less-lethal” since the possibility of serious injury or even death exists any time the weapon is deployed, especially if it is deployed incorrectly or by untrained persons. Officers are trained to scrupulously avoid any TASER shots above the shoulders due to the possibility of serious eye injury from the darts and/or delivery of the electrical current to the head/brain. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives, August 21, 2014: “Wishing Ethics: What Should We WANT The Outcome To Be In Ferguson?”

finger-crossed

[This seems to be a propitious time to re-post this essay, from the peak of the Micahel Brown shooting upheaval. I’m going to wrestle my fingers to the ground and avoid making any comments on it now, and leave such reflections to the comments.]

The simple answer to the question in the headline is: we should all want the truth to come out, whatever it is, and be dealt with honestly and justly. I don’t think that result is possible, unfortunately, just as it proved impossible in the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy.If the truth could be determined, however…if an experimental, advanced video recorder just happened to capture everything that occurred between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown, including in the squad car; if it captured the incident from all angles, and we could hear and see everything that transpired between them, what would we want that to be, recognizing that the tragedy cannot be undone?

Would we want it to show that Mike Brown was murdered, that he was fleeing for his life when he escaped the car, then turned, fell to his knees ( as at least one witness claims) and was gunned down with his hands in the air? Obviously many Americans, including Brown’s family, the Ferguson protestors, many African-Americans, civil rights activists, police critics, politicians and pundits, have an interest in seeing this be the final verdict of investigators, for a multitude of reasons. The grieving family wants their son to be proven innocent of any fault in his own death. Others, especially those who prematurely declared Officer Wilson  guilty of “executing” Brown, have a strong interest in being proven right, for even though it would not excuse their unfair and irresponsible rush to judgment, such a determination would greatly reduce the intensity of criticism leveled at them.

[Side Note on Ethics Dunce Jay Nixon: That won’t stop the criticism here, however: Whatever the facts prove to be,  Gov. Jay Nixon’s comments are indefensible, and inexcusable. Now the Democrat is denying that they meant what he clearly meant to convey: calling for “justice for Brown’s family” and a “vigorous prosecution” can only mean charging Wilson, and that is what those calling for Wilson to be arrested took his comments to mean. If the Governor didn’t mean that, as he now claims, then he is 1) an ignoramus and 2) beyond incompetent to recklessly comment on an emotion-charged crisis in his state without choosing his words carefully.]

Or should we hope that the facts exonerate Wilson? After all, shouldn’t we want the one living participant in this tragedy to be able to have some semblance of a life without being forever associated with villainy? Certainly his family and friends, as well as member of the Ferguson police force who want their own ranks to be vindicated, and police all over the nation who have had their profession attacked and denigrated in the wake of the shooting, fervently hope that the narrative pushed by the demonstrators is proven wrong.

Others want to see Wilson proven innocent for less admirable reasons. They want to use the incident to condemn police critics, and undermine and discredit civil rights advocates, especially long-time ideological foes like Al Sharpton. They want Eric Holder to look biased, (he looks biased anyway, because he appears to be taking sides) and to make the case—one that a single episode neither supports nor can possible rebut—that police do not have itchy trigger fingers when their weapons are pointed at young black men.

From the standpoint of ethics, which means that the best outcome will be the one that does the most good for society, the choice is complex.  Continue reading

Another Unarmed Black Man Is Shot And Killed By Police In Atlanta, And Facts Don’t Matter [UPDATED!]

As Samuel L. Jackson says (repeatedly) in “Jurassic Park,” “Hold on to your butts!”

An unarmed black man was shot and killed in a confrontation with police last night in Atlanta, and protesters are already gearing up. The Atlanta Chief of Police quickly resigned, which is either smart or cowardly, I’m not sure which. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms already called for the officer who fired the fatal shots to be terminated—no investigation, no due process. This is the procedure Colin Kaepernick favors.

What happened? Oh, nobody knows for sure, but that doesn’t matter any more, right? It’s a black man, shot by police, so there is a presumption of racism. We’re still in the middle of the George Floyd Freakout, so the incident is automatically part of the same narrative. Facts don’t matter, logic doesn’t  matter, fairness and consequences don’t matter. Activists are looking for an excuse to protest, or worse. See the photo? The only facts anyone cares about is that a black man was shot by police. It wouldn’t matter if he were rabid and tried to bite the officers like the zombies in “World War Z.”

Last night’s incident began about 10:30 p.m. outside a Wendy’s  on University Avenue. Wendy’s employees called the police after receiving a complaint about a man asleep in his vehicle in the Drive-in line, which forced other customers to go around his car to get their food at the window.  Responding to the call was the police’s first mistake. They should have asked if the man was black, and upon receiving an answer in the affirmative, should have told Wendy’s, “Sorry, you’re on your own.  We’d deal with it if the guy was white, but we can’t afford any situation these where a black guy might get gets hurt. Let him sleep it off. ‘Bye!” Continue reading

Zoom Ethics: And You Thought The School Board President Who Had To Resign Because He Drank A Beer In His Home During An Online Meeting Was Crazy…

This is even worse.

The post about the scandalous swig of beer was less than a month ago, but in comparison to the events of the last couple weeks, the Covina, California story doesn’t seem anywhere near as nuts as as it did at the time. Then, Ethics Alarms was concerned with privacy and officious inter-meddlers dictating how citizens get to behave in their own homes. I even called the incident a “freakout”! Now we know what a real freakout looks like.

The poll on whether poor Brian Akers, the ex-president of the Charter Oak Unified School Board who impulsively guzzled a beer while on camera during a remote board meeting was unfairly maligned was pretty decisive:

I won’t bother to poll today’s Zoom ethics story. If I did, my question might be, “How could you justify continuing to let your child go to a school with employees like this?”

In Baltimore County Maryland, a 5th grade teacher at the Seneca School saw a BB gun hanging on the wall in an 11-year-old student’s bedroom.  The Horror. She notified the principal, who alerted the school safety officer, who then called the police, who made an unannounced visit to the student’s home.

The child’s mother, Courtney Lancaster, a military veteran, has extensive knowledge of guns, how to use them and how to store them, and she is ticked-off. Continue reading

On The “Facts Matter” Front…Heather MacDonald’s Testimony, And The Washington Post’s Deception

Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary regarding the local and national upheavals over police policies. MacDonald could be said to be watching her warning come true, as she wrote in  The War on Cops (2016), a New York Times bestseller, that raced-based attacks on the criminal justice system erode the authority of law and putting lives at risk. MacDonald is no mindless ideologue . A graduate of Yale and Stanford Law School, she is a prolific and best selling author, and has won many awards for her writing. Nonetheless, you will never see her on panels or as a guest on news shows anywhere but Fox News. Intelligent and persuasive advocates for conservative positions are not welcome in the vast majority of the broadcast news media, for the same reason Senator Cotton’s op-ed in the Times prompted an editor’s resignation and the paper’s abject promise to avoid publishing upsetting non-conforming  views in the future.

McDonald was invited to testify by Republicans on the committee (of course) but her statement should (but won’t) be considered by policy-makers and citizens of all political persuasions, if facts matter to them.

Among McDonald’s points yesterday: 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

Ten Inconvenient Truths Of The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck

1. George Floyd was not an admirable man. That shouldn’t and doesn’t matter, of course. What happened to him at the hands of four police officers shouldn’t happen to a dog. However, cognitive dissonance makes it difficult for emotion and anger-soaked people to accept that their martyrs are imperfect, so we are always forced to endure this process. In fact, the argument against police brutality would be cleaer and more persuasive if it were based on the fact that even the worst criminals should never be abused. Instead, the message conveyed is that what happened to Floyd is especially wrong because he was the salt of the earth. It wasn’t, and he wasn’t.

2. The officer was not trying to kill Floyd. He knew he was being recorded; he had to know that if Floyd died, he would be in terrible trouble.

3. Minnesota has already botched the prosecution. The first inept act was the governor and others widely publicizing the claim that Chauvin “murdered” Floyd. This will make a fair trial difficult, and if he is convicted, will automatically support an appeal. Then the radical, race-obsessed Attorney General, Keith Ellison, made it easier for Chauvin’s defense lawyers by over-charging, and worse, set out a precedent that may make policing impossible.  Former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains:

The second-degree murder charge is now the main charge against all four officers. Essentially, the theory is that they committed a felony assault when they subdued a suspect who was resisting arrest. During the course of carrying out that “crime,” prosecutors allege, Floyd’s death resulted. 

While the point may be subtle, this is saliently different from the theory of third-degree murder — i.e., depraved-indifference murder. In the latter, prosecutors would concede that it was lawful in principle for the police to subdue Floyd, but argue (correctly) that their manner of doing so was recklessly indifferent to human life, causing his death. By contrast, the new “felony murder” count, spearheaded by Keith Ellison, the radical leftist state attorney general, puts police on notice that they can be charged with a crime — felony assault — for doing their job, which routinely involves physically restraining suspects who resist lawful commands.

Any experienced law-enforcement officer will tell you that it is common for suspects to resist arrest by lying on the ground, claiming to be ill, waving arms to avoid being cuffed, and refusing to be placed in a squad car. Cops, of course, may not use excessive force when that happens. They must, however, be permitted to use sufficiently superior force to detain and transport uncooperative arrestees. In Minnesota, thanks to its election of the new breed of progressive prosecutor who rails against the justice system’s purported institutional racism, police officers who use force in arresting dangerous criminals now run the risk that they will be the ones who face criminal charges.

4. If, due to Ellison’s unethical zeal, the officers are acquitted, there will be more riots, because the vast majority of the public doesn’t understand the justice system, and the vast majority of the protesters don’t care about due process and the presumption of innocence.

5.  The attacks by the Left on police could (and should) lead to the elimination of police unions, which, in turn, could and should lead to the abolishment of public employee unions generally. That’s a conservative agenda item, because public unions have been a mainstay of big city Democratic support. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/2020: “If” And Silver Linings

Good Morning!

My father’s favorite poem, which I read at his funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery in 2010—-was it really that long ago?—is especially relevant and valuable now. Some of the woke-addled have “canceled” Rudyard Kipling because of his offenses against presentism (and because he ended “If” with female-excluding nouns). This is like cutting off your nose to spite your face, or perhaps lobotomizing yourself to spite your character. However you choose to describe it, not being able to channel “If” when all about you are losing their heads—like now—is a severe and unnecessary handicap.

1. “Forget it, Jake. It’s The Times.” Nobody at the Times protested, as far as we know, when the paper, over the weekend, ran a story titled, “Vote for Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren’t on the Bandwagon” that claimed, “Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump.”  The article attributed this revelation about George W. Bush’s intentions (and Jeb’s) to unnamed sources “familiar with their thinking.” This is the variety of fake news Ethics Alarms categorizes as Psychic News, based on mind-reading and nothing else. Speaking on behalf of Bush 43, a spokesman  told the Texas Tribune, “This is completely made up. He is retired from presidential politics and has not indicated how he will vote.” Ford reiterated this statement to the Times, indicating that the former president would stay out of the election and speak only on policy issues. Has The Times retracted or corrected its claim? Of course not.

I would personally be shocked if George or Jeb voted for Trump, given how much the Bush family hates him for his personal insults against them, but that doesn’t mean a newspaper can declare as fact that they won’t. Their other big scoops were that Colin Powell wouldn’t vote for Trump, against based on those who have read his mind, though we know he voted for Clinton in 2016 (he said so) and that Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump in the impeachment trial just to stick a metaphorical thumb in the President’s eye, would also abstain. Oh…I almost forgot Cindy McCain, who wouldn’t even invite the President to her husband’s funeral. The Times says she’s not supporting him either. Stop the presses!

The silver lining here is that the evidence that the mainstream news media is biased and untrustworthy is becoming so obvious that those who deny it increasingly brand themselves as fools or liars. Continue reading

A Whole Lot Of Resigning Going On

There have been a lot of interesting resignations in the last couple of days, all with ethics implications.

1. Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian  announced his resignation from the company’s board. This was an apparent capitulation to  critics who claimed Reddit didn’t do enough opinion censorship, the new rage among tech companies and social media platforms.

Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, who lost her position under fire for being censorship-minded, criticized the tech company earlier last week after it published its mandatory George Floyd letter. Pao responded by accusing the social network knowingly of profiting from hate. “You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long,” Pao tweeted. Smart–she knew that in the throes of mass virtue-signaling and white flagellation, nobody would have the guts to ask her, “Who gets to define hate, Ellen? You?”

Lacking the fortitude to make an argument, Ohanian, who is married to professional tennis player Serena Williams, said he would commit to using future gains from his Reddit stock to serve the black community and focus on curbing racial hate, because, as we all know, throwing money around has been so effective at that.  Ohanian said he would donate $1 million to former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. Then he said that he wanted his replacement to be black, Not experienced, fair, wise, savvy or effective. Black. That’s what matters. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Fortunately, The Ethics Argument Regarding The Riots Is A Slam Dunk. Unfortunately, An Astounding Number Of People Don’t Care Enough About Ethics To Acknowledge This.”

This looks like a job for…The Team Robbery Stoppage Unit!!!

This is a rare Comment Of The Day species for Ethics Alarms, the entirely satirical post. Satire is, of course, on of the most venerable and effective way of making arguments; unfortunately, few are skilled at the craft, and fewer still in the public are smart enough to appreciate satire, especially in 2020, when aversion to hurt feelings and offense has almost blotted out the sun of enlightenment and the twinkling stars of humor.

This masterpiece was inspired by the thread discussing the bonkers proposals to replace local police forces with social workers and community organizers, a development which I view as signature significance for a political and social movement that has jumped the shark.

Here is johnburger2013’s Comment Of The Day on the post, “Fortunately, The Ethics Argument Regarding The Riots Is A Slam Dunk. Unfortunately, An Astounding Number Of People Don’t Care Enough About Ethics To Acknowledge This.”

Can you imagine the conversation?

Setting:A nondescript convenience store on the corner of Huntington and Vine. 9:23 a.m. on a partly sunny Tuesday, with 30% chance of rain some time that day. Store Clerk is restocking the Little Debbie Moon Pies, when an agitated person enters the store brandishing a firearm.

Robber: “This is a robbery!”
Store Clerk: “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
Robber: “Give me all your cash!”
Store Clerk: “Sure! Don’t shoot.” (Presses the emergency call button under the counter.)
Robber: “C’mon! Why are you dawdling?!”
Store Clerk: “My boss changed the password on the cash register and didn’t tell me the new one. I am trying to reset the password so that I can give the money to you but the WIFI is down and it’s taking longer than it should. Give me a second.”
Robber: “WHAT?! Smash the damn thing and give me the cash!”
Store Clerk: “Hey! Don’t be so pushy! And don’t use that kind of language. This is family-oriented business and there might be children around. Besides, we all have problems. Why, this very morning my cat escaped and I am heartsick she is lonely, so give me a break.” Continue reading