Recently in Social Factors Category

In a free country, peaceful protesters get to say what they want, see Snyder v. Phelps.*  While I think people who wallow in belligerent grievance are all wrong, in both doctrine and temperament, they have the right to speak what is in their minds and hearts.  Indeed, sometimes, I'm grateful they do, so that the rest of us can hear it without a filter.

This is one of those times.  Listen for yourself.

*  N.B.  This does not apply on college campuses.

"Hands Up," for Real This Time

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Those eager to tar the police as racist thugs made full use of the "Hands Up" meme in the Ferguson episode, pushing the idea that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown as Brown had his hands up in submission, trying to surrender.

Forensic and credible eyewitness accounts showed this story was fabricated. Brown, who moments earlier had undertaken the strong-arm robbery of a convenience store, did not have his hands up.  Instead, after having scuffled with the officer and attempting to wrest control of his revolver, Brown came at the officer again.  It was at that point that Wilson shot him.

The truth most fortunately persuaded the grand jury, but is simply irrelevant to the race hustlers and police haters who have never given up their fake slogan and, indeed, used it all over the country in demonstrations this weekend

Attacking America's Strength

Tell me how much of this you've heard in the last few weeks:

--  The police are "over-militarized' racist assassins who bully and murder citizens for no particular reason, except perhaps that they're black or act disrespectfully.

--  The armed forces (except for Bowe Bergdahl and Bradley Manning) are rapists and thugs.  They sexually harass, abuse and brutalize whomever they want  -- and that's just in this country.

--  Most recently, the personnel in the CIA are torturers who do it for fun, then lie about it to Congress.

If you've been living outside a cave, you've head all of it, over and over. And some, though hardly all, of the people you've heard it from are country's "leaders."

Q:  What do the targets of this acid have in common?

A:  The police, the military, and the intelligence services are the people who protect us when the Holier-Than-Thou crowd goes clueless.

Q:  What happens when you pour acid on the people who protect you?

A:  Ummm.......well...................

Lies Piled Upon Lies, a/k/a the Culture War

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Let's face it, white males are a bunch of pigs.

Or so the Culture Warriors would have it.

The problem is that, unable to make this narrative stick by telling the truth, the thing to do is, ummm.......make stuff up.

The Internet ink was not dry on my last post about the Ferguson "hands up" hoax aimed at white police officer Darren Wilson when I found in my inbox this article from today's Washington Post.  It would seem that the breathlessly reported and appalling story of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity was also a hoax. The Post story does not use that word, but it leaves next to no doubt that a hoax is what it was.

What's going on?

When Pigs Fly

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I have often written about how psychological mush threatens to wash away the standards without which we are unlikely to continue to have a functional culture, much less a functional law, and still less a functional criminal law.

Some of the erosion has taken the form of the newly-minted Freedom Not To Be Offended (this replaces the very-old-fashioned freedom of speech).  Some of it has taken the form of simply Making Stuff Up and then protesting (or rioting) when you can't sell the Stuff You Made Up (see, e.g.,  Kent's Ferguson-related post titled, Truth Matters).  

But some of the washing away of anything a normal person might regard as sanity can show up in unexpected places, such as Seat 19D, now occupied by the "emotional support animal."

Truth Matters

David A. Lieb and Holbrook Mohr have this story for AP, headlined, "For some, location of Brown's hands irrelevant."

The word spread within minutes of Michael Brown's death -- a young black man with his hands raised in surrender had just been shot by a white cop.

Soon, "Hands Up. Don't Shoot!" became a rallying cry for protesters in the streets of this St. Louis suburb and a symbol nationwide of racial inequality for those who believe that minorities are too often the targets of overzealous police.

Yet the witness accounts contained in thousands of pages of grand jury documents reviewed by The Associated Press show many variations about whether Brown's hands were actually raised -- and if so, how high.

To some, it doesn't matter whether Brown's hands literally were raised, because his death has come to symbolize a much bigger movement.
I disagree.  Truth always matters, but especially when the goal is to cure or at least ameliorate a pathological condition, whether medical or social.

The Price of Accommodating the Mob

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From the Washington Post, on the day before Thanksgiving (emphasis added):

Even in the best of times, survival rates for small businesses don't inspire loads of confidence. Fifty percent of them close after four years.

But Natalie DuBose of Ferguson, Mo., did not open her shop in the best of times. She opened Natalie's Cakes and More in downtown Ferguson in June. In August, police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

The city erupted.

DuBose's customer base evaporated. She went two weeks without a single person walking into her shop, she told local media. Then things turned around. After interviews with local radio and television stations, her community turned out to support her business.

"By the time I got back from [local radio station] KMOX, I had people outside the door," she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. What's more, they kept coming. The single mother of two, who raised the funds to open her shop by selling her cakes at a flea market, could breathe a little easier.

Then, this week, DuBose was faced with another crisis. After news broke that a grand jury would not charge Wilson, rioters broke the glass of her storefront Monday night. They damaged baking equipment.

Meet Natalie DuBose of Ferguson. Her cake store just went up in smoke for some social justice. Finally, they're taking the fight right to the heart of the problem, people who make and sell pastries.

Trayvon and Mike

The title of this post is taken from a Powerline entry by my friend John Hinderaker. His short essay ends with these words (emphasis in original):

[In the name of the welfare state narrative], Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin have to be victims, not aggressors.

Still, the truth is that they were victims. Not victims of a mythical white power structure-the concept is laughable as applied to either [the Walter Mitty-like] George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson. And certainly not victims of a racist judicial system. On the contrary, in both cases America's court system rendered the right verdict under tremendous pressure to bend the truth to political expedience.

Rather, Martin and Brown were victims of an African-American culture in which the family has been pretty much destroyed, government checks have largely replaced employment, education is disparaged, criminality is respected, and racial animosity is a sign of authenticity. That culture...has been an utter disaster for millions of young black men like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

Racism, the All Purpose Excuse

Time has an opinion piece titled, "Ferguson: In Defense of Rioting."  Its closing paragraph reads:

Instead of tearing down other human beings who are acting upon decades of pent-up anger at a system decidedly against them, a system that has told them they are less than human for years, we ought to be reaching out to help them regain the humanity they lost, not when a few set fire to the buildings in Ferguson, but when they were born the wrong color in the post-racial America.

I won't go into the obvious difficulties with riots.  I want to make only one point  -- that the Ferguson riot had next to nothing to do with the expression of dissent, about racial issues or any other.

You don't smash the store windows of private businesses and rush in to gobble up bunches of sweatshirts and sneakers and video games because you've got a political grievance.  You do it because it's neat, it's exhilarating, and most of all, because you can  --  because a weak, self-flagellating culture has handed you an excuse; because the cops are too intimidated by "militarization" talk to do anything; and because, just to be clear, stealing stuff is easier than buying it.
This article in the Georgetown student newspaper, written by a student who "understands" why he was mugged, is a parody.

I mean, it is a parody, right?

Will someone tell me it's a parody?


The Other Ferguson Tragedy

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Jason Riley has this column in the WSJ:

Racial profiling and tensions between the police and poor black communities are real problems, but these are effects rather than causes, and they can't be addressed without also addressing the extraordinarily high rates of black criminal behavior--yet such discussion remains taboo. Blacks who bring it up are sell-outs. Whites who mention it are racists. (Mr. Dyson accused Mr. Giuliani of "white supremacy.") But so long as young black men are responsible for an outsize portion of violent crime, they will be viewed suspiciously by law enforcement and fellow citizens of all races.

A Well Heeled Race Hustler

The New York Times, of all things, has a long and revealing article about the financial shenanigans of the Reverend Al Sharpton.  Why this article appears only in the New York/Region section of the NYT is a mystery, since Rev. Sharpton is a national figure to say the least (I have written about him and his escapades many times before, e.g., here, here and here).

The short of it is that Big Al (well, not so big anymore; he's slimmed down remarkably from the days of the Tawana Brawley hoax) seems to have accumulated a lot of dough, even while not being too keen on paying taxes or other debts.

By the way, I thought this paragraph particularly interesting:

Behind the scenes, he has consulted with the mayor and the president on matters of race and civil rights and even the occasional high-level appointment. He was among a small group at the White House when Mr. Obama announced his nomination of Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to become the next attorney general.

My goodness.  I wonder whether Rev. Al knows something about Ms. Lynch that the rest of us should be interested in finding out about.

UPDATE:  A respected journalist has objected to my snarky phrase, "...of all things..."  He points out that the NYT has done articles that exposed then-Gov. Spitzer, and Congressman Charlie Rangel's tax and apartment issues.  While it is certainly true that the NYT is a (if not the) leading journalistic organ for the Left, it has indeed done some excellent investigative work not flattering to Democrats.  I don't know that I'd call my characterization of the Times a cheap shot, but it wasn't the most expensive one either. I regret any offense it might have given to the numerous call-it-as-you-see-it reporters at the Times.

Estrangement from Common Sense

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Peggy Noonan has this column in the WSJ, comparing her great-aunt's acceptance of needed health measures upon her immigration from Ireland a century ago and the irresponsible quarantine-breaking of some people returning from Ebola-infected areas today.  The broader point comes near the end:

It must be noted that all this--the quarantine argument, the travel ban--is another expression of the deep, tearing distance between America's professional and political elites, who operate as if they are estranged from common sense, and normal people, who are becoming more estranged from the elites, their oblivious and politicized masters.

That distance has been growing all my adult life, but the Ebola argument has brought it into sharper relief. The elites should start twigging onto it. They are no longer immediately respected, their guidance is not reflexively taken. They seem more immersed in political thinking--what is the ideologically enlightened position to take, where's the boss on it?--than in protecting public health.

Or thinking commonsensically, like your great-aunt.

Which is too bad because great-aunts built America.
Those that Ms. Noonan calls "normal people" I call "persons of sense."  The other side is not just "elites."  It started that way, but the dearth of sense among educators,  media moguls, and the celebrities that too many people look up to have caused a spread of Common Sense Deficit Disorder throughout our society. 

This is one of the greatest dangers to our society today.  It looms in the background of the actual root causes of crime -- permissive parenting, standardless schools, and acceptance of excuses for wrongdoing.

School Discipline and Criminal Law

Gary Fields and John Emshwiller have this article in the WSJ on the overuse of police arrest and the juvenile justice system to deal with misbehavior that should be addressed with school discipline.

This article makes some very valid points, but it is disappointing in its failure to fully explore why the use of traditional school discipline has declined, and at one point it goes completely off the rails:

In recent decades, a new philosophy in law enforcement had been applied to schools. It was "deal with the small stuff so they won't go to the big stuff, and also it sent a strong message of deterrence," said James Alan Fox, the Lipman Professor of criminology at Boston's Northeastern University.

The zero-tolerance approach started as part of the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, Mr. Fox said, but it expanded to other weapons, then to drug contraband and "finally into ordinary violations of school rules, disrespect, skipping. It eventually became an across the board response to discipline."
Fox is seriously trying to equate "broken windows policing" with "zero tolerance" nonsense?  The two are nearly diametric opposites.

But the primary emphasis here should be understanding why traditional school discipline has declined and fixing it.  School administrators just don't want to punish misbehaving kids like they used to.  When they do punish, their instrument of choice is suspension, exactly the wrong thing to do with a kid who doesn't want to be in school anyway.  Suspension has gotten so absurd that some schools suspend kindergarteners.  What are these people thinking?

Comparing American Cops with Islamic Terrorists

The title of this entry is taken from Heather Mac Donald's article in the City Journal. Her subtitle is, "With His UN Speech, Obama Sinks to a Shameful New Low."

The article begins:

President Obama has announced to the world that America's police officers are as disruptive to civil society as Middle Eastern beheaders and Russian-backed rebels. Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, he agreed with "America's critics" who point out that America, too, has "failed to live up to [its] ideals; that America has plenty of problems within [its] own borders." He went on to explain the particulars:

In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri--where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by globalization and greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.

All the more important, then, for Obama to set the record straight. The idea that the Ferguson riots were the result of a predatory police force tantamount to sectarian murderers in the Middle East is a poisonous calumny. The threat to America's blacks comes almost exclusively from other blacks, not from the police. Every year, thousands of African Americans are gunned down by other African Americans, with no attention from the media and local government officials. 

The anti-white bigotry, and specifically the anti-white cop bigotry, of this Administration is appalling, and the responsibility for it rests less with Eric Holder (although there too) than with his boss.

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