A Cat May Look At A King, But A Citizen May Not Criticize A Cop

Print This Post

You may also like...

80 Responses

  1. Kilroy says:

    sounds like someone is asking for a little extra strip search next time they visit a courthouse. Enjoy.

  2. Blah says:

    Let me get this straight – the cops responded to a blog post criticizing them for ignoring the law by ignoring even more laws?

    Why are we supposed to respect the "boys in blue" again? Someone refresh my memory here.

  3. Clark says:

    @Blah:
    > Why are we supposed to respect the "boys in blue" again? Someone refresh my memory here.

    Because they will jail you, beat you, taser you 33 times, anally rape you with a broom handle, shoot a pepper ball into your eye and kill you, take a running start and body check you into a concrete wall and paralyze you, mock you, spit in your food, grab your genitals and twist, kick you in the head, threaten your children, or put you in solitary confinement for two years without a trial.

    Cops are a gang of lawless thugs, enforcing only two laws: "I'm the boss" and "other cops are never wrong".

    We should use the law (what remains of it) and our speech to destroy their corrupt monopoly of force.

    …and until we achieve that, we should do our best to pretend to respect them.

    The skull, ribs, or rectal tissue you save may be your own.

  4. Clark says:

    > If it’s not about what’s just, or right, then we need another fucking revolution. Let the blood flow through the streets. Let the blood run in the police stations.

    God-damned right.

    Rick Horowitz is my hero.

  5. Grandy says:

    It's Friday Morning in America, and do YOU know what DANGER YOUR CHILDREN are facing in schools today? Stay tuned!

  6. Bear says:

    @Blah: "Why are we supposed to respect the "boys in blue" again?

    You aren't. You're supposed to fear them.

    If they wanted respect, they'd act respectably. But that's hard; they have to control their tempers, act with proper restraint. It's easier to be a bully and lose your temper and use restraints.

    Extending "sovereign immunity" to scumbags breaking laws they enforce on us tells you everything you need to know.

    Cue "most cops are OK, there's just a few bad apples"* in… 3… 2… 1…


    * Good cops would be acting to stop those few bad apples. That happens so rarely that it gets press when it does happen. And yes, I used to be a peace officer, and yes, I did resign over crap like that.

  7. azteclady says:

    More than, "most cops are OK" I think it's "I've been lucky so far, I've only interacted with OK cops"

  8. Dan Weber says:

    Rick is a crank. But I say that affectionately. We need more cranks.

  9. Clark says:

    @Bear:

    > Cue "most cops are OK, there's just a few bad apples"

    That's 100% true.

    …from a cop perspective.

    Most cops are OK – they'll perjure themselves, plant evidence, lie to a citizen, cover a brother officer, agree that they saw the perp acting suspiciously, obey the unwritten rules about logging overtime that wasn't actually performed.

    There are a few bad apples, tho. The "school boys" and the "rats" and the "finks" who are clearly commie-loving-faggots and don't respect the badge, and tell the truth, refuse to support a brother, and so on.

  10. David Aubke says:

    "Have you spoken up?"
    In what way?

    Every time I read a story like this, I get angry but don't know what to do with the anger. Are you suggesting sending a message directly to the Fresno County Sheriff's office? Whether snotty and insulting or respectful and constructive, I don't see that as a productive task. I don't think they care what we think.

    What are some constructive things regular folks who have not yet been directly victimized by the police department can do to help the situation?

  11. Chris says:

    I'd like to forward this thread to john mccain and lindsay graham…

    If people like this attorney is potential a threat, what kind of threat? I mean obviously the worst kind of threat, the kind against the government! You know what that makes him? A TERRORIST!

    If the executive deems it in their infallible, nonrenewable wisdom to call in a drone strike on his ass. They've said it is within their authority and douchebags like graham and mccain agree.

    Well if we lack due process as americans in the united states. What exactly protects graham and mccain?

  12. Clark says:

    @Chris:

    > the kind against the government! You know what that makes him? A TERRORIST!

    I know you're joking, so I'm not rebutting you so much as using this as a launch pad for a tangential rant:

    terrorism is military action aimed at non-combatants.

    unconventional war is military action (perhaps out of uniform, perhaps with car bombs, etc.) aimed at government targets.

    9/11 was terrorism. The government siege of the Branch Davidians was terrorism. The London subway bombings were terrorism.

    The Cole bombing was unconventional warfare. The Oklahoma City bombing was unconventional warfare. The Beirut Barracks bombing was unconventional warfare. Washington slipping across the Delaware and killing the legitimate government's troops in their sleep was unconventional warfare.

    Saying that something is terrorism doesn't say that the perpetrators are people who look like us or look differently from us.

    Saying that something is unconventional warfare doesn't say that the act is moral.

  13. Joe says:

    Film the police at all times. Record them at all times. They are a gang that wears a badge and a gun. Most people dont know their rights, and because of this the police take advantage of VIOLATING THEIR RIGHTS, but take advantage of violating their oaths of office they were so proud to recite when they took the job. Citizens only become vocal when "they" were treated like shit. What needs to be done is demand change in how police corruption and abuse is dealt with. We can NOT allow the police to police their own. There truly is a thin blue line, and they do everything possible to look the other way. Even with video evidence, we as Americans are still shocked that the Police get away with beatings and MURDER. I sometimes wish that Americans acted more like Iraqi's where they will take matters into their own hands and remove bad cops,…..for GOOD !

  14. Clark says:

    @Chris:

    > Well if we lack due process as americans in the united states. What exactly protects graham and mccain?

    Personal relationships.

    This is a country ruled by men, not by laws.

  15. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Ken has his "Fire in a crowded theater" pet peeve. Mine is a "few bad apples".

    The whole saying is "A few bad apples ruin the whole barrel": these few bad apples corrupt everything!

  16. naught_for_naught says:

    In America you have the right to be a jackass.

  17. bacchys says:

    I think Mr. Horowitz has just become my new hero…

  18. David Schwartz says:

    naught_for_naught: True, but it's not one the rights that you have to exercise in order to preserve.

  19. Bear says:

    @Clark: "That's 100% true. …from a cop perspective."

    Exactly.

    Which is why we see things like an NYPD whistleblower dragged out of his home without a warrant to be involuntarily committed. "He didn't go along, cover our asses… He must be crazy."

  20. Chris says:

    @ Clark • Mar 8, 2013 @11:16 am
    Correct definitions, with a caveat;
    9/11 attack on WTC:Terrorism
    9/11 attach on pentagon:UCW for the target, and obviously sheer terror for passengers on jet.

  21. Zack says:

    I maintain my position that the reason many urban people have trouble with police departments is an issue of concentration: the concentration of police in urban areas (per square mile and per 100,000 population) is vastly greater than in suburban or rural areas. The better metaphor would be 'too many cooks spoil the broth', perhaps, than 'a few bad apples'. The appearance of corruption is due to the fact that, with more cops around, you're far more liable to run into a bad one; with more cops around, they become less comforting and more annoying, and with more cops around, (particularly in states with a strong pro-union sentiment, such as California and New York), the police union gets stronger, protecting even the worst of its members, and lowering the bar for everyone.

    So the way to increase the effectiveness, repair the reputation, and dispel much of the corruption in police departments is simply to reduce their numbers and disperse them (at least IMO.)

    I think removing- or at least, greatly lowering the standard for removing- soveriegn immunity from individual policemen is also a good idea. They need to be secure in their capability to make decisions in high-stress moments, but they also need to be held accountable for day-to-day decisions. If a distinction, legally, could be installed there, that would be a major step forward in my opinion.

    Also:

    My understanding of terorrism, is that any attack designed to achieve a goal by inspiring fear, is terrorism. By that standard, all of 9/11 was a terrorist attack, as was the Cole bombing and the WTC-1993 bombing, etc, designed to get us out of the middle east. You could also reasonably argue that the Pakistan drone campaign or even SWAT'ting as per the whole Kimberlin saga is a form of terrorism- the Pakistan drone campaign is designed to inspire terrorists to quit the field, and people to stop associating with them, and SWAT'ting is designed to get the person to be afraid of retribution, and to inspire others in similar positions to stop or reverse course.

    Sorry, rant over.

  22. George William Herbert says:

    Here's my take.

    There are certainly abusive police. But there are also ones whose presence we should encourage and support.

    Regrettably, one of the two officers killed a little while ago in Santa Cruz, Loran Baker, was one of the clearly good ones. He'd been a / the IA officer in Santa Cruz for a time, in which he investigated an abusive encounter that a friend had with other SC officers, determined the officers had been abusive (but not criminal) and lied, and demanded and got an apology from them to my friend for the conduct, along with appropriate written warnings. Everyone who knew him said that he'd been one of the ones to insist on the highest of professionalism around him.

    I have personally never had less than professional conduct from police towards me, including the time a psychotic stalker attempted to SWAT me (a horde of police in your driveway at 2am is never pleasant, especially when you didn't call them, but Hayward PD were polite and apologetic after and didn't threaten or abuse or violate my wife or my rights in any way).

    Having been a crime victim, I want police. I want good police. For everyone, ideally. I understand others aren't consistently getting them. But remember, both that you too need good police, and that even with good police, you need to remember your rights, and use them if you have to.

  23. Clark says:

    @George William Herbert:

    > Having been a crime victim I want police.

    This makes about as much sense as "having watched a Tom Cruise movie, I want a new copy of Scrabble".

    Police don't prevent crime; they just document it afterwards.

  24. David Aubke says:

    I agree with George William Herbert. I consider a police force to be a necessary evil. I don't know what the alternative is in a civilized society.

    I don't agree that police never prevent crime.

  25. Bear says:

    @David Aubke: "I consider a police force to be a necessary evil. I don't know what the alternative is in a civilized society."

    Claire Wolfe hosted a discussion of just that this week. There are some comments and suggestions worth reading:

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/blogs/ClaireWolfe/2013/03/06/third-question-who-guards-the-guardians/

  26. En Passant says:

    Zack wrote Mar 8, 2013 @12:28 pm:

    I think removing- or at least, greatly lowering the standard for removing- soveriegn immunity from individual policemen is also a good idea. They need to be secure in their capability to make decisions in high-stress moments, but they also need to be held accountable for day-to-day decisions. If a distinction, legally, could be installed there, that would be a major step forward in my opinion.

    Qualified immunity is law made by judges. Only two things can change it: SCOTUS and Congress.

    But, as Seneca the Younger said, manus manum lavat.

  27. George William Herbert says:

    Clark –

    With all due respect, that's bullshit. They prevent crime victims, whether they be "crime in progress" or "crime post facto", from having to become vigilantes to receive justice for the wrongs. And in a significant percentage of incidents are able to respond in realtime and end the crime before it's complete.

    Unless you'd prefer to return to the days of paid private detective agencies and the like, where justice was what you paid for most of the time and there really was little hope of stopping crimes in progress short of the gun you carried?

    The last comment should not be taken as criticism of self-defense or shall-issue permits or the like, I support those, but it's a world of difference to allow people to defend themselves, and assert that they have no other option but to defend themselves.

  28. JRM says:

    Let's be clear about what our hero said that couldn't possibly be considered an actual threat, and we're sure no gang member would ever take seriously:

    [Begin long quote from Horowitz]

    I don’t know how to fix our problems any more than I know how to end this post. The bottom line, though, is that what’s happening right now is not just. It’s not right. And I say fuck all those lawyers who keep telling me “it’s not about justice; it’s not about what’s right. it’s about what they can prove; it’s about the law.”

    Yeah, it’s about the law — haha! — because we all follow that!

    If it’s not about what’s just, or right, then we don’t need it. If it’s not about what’s just, or right, then we need another fucking revolution. Let the blood flow through the streets. Let the blood run in the police stations. Gang members – quit fucking killing each other! Who is responsible for keeping you down, Sureño? Is it a Norteño who arrests you for trying to survive?

    FUCK NO! IT’S A COP!

    Bulldog, is it a “rival” gang member who keeps you down? You self-hating peckerwood — now there’s something amazing: white people named after penises – do brown people hassle you? Or is it a cop? Don’t be stupid: it’s a cop. You’re fighting the wrong people.

    And it’s time to step away from the wrong. For all of us.

    Brown-skinned dudes, quit killing other brown-skinned dudes (unless they wear the government’s uniforms). Peckerwoods, quit targetting non-whites who have no more power than you do. They are not your enemies. Your true enemies are the guys (and gals — let’s not be sexists just because they’re racists) in blue.

    If the government will not follow the law, there is no reason why anyone else should.

    Let me repeat that:

    If the government will not follow the law, there is no reason why anyone else should.

    So this is the proposal I set forth:

    To the government, you can start following the law, or none of us will.

    To everyone else, if the government will not follow the law, you should stop pretending law means anything.

    It’s time to step away from the wrong.

    Start fighting over everything!

    [End quote]

    You want to continue to defend that, go ahead.

    The call for blood at police stations is hardly conditional; he clearly states that the conditions precedent to making murdering police officers morally correct has been met.

    The later paragraphs are a direct incitement of violent felons to murder police officers (though generally, and not specific officers as required by PC 422.) I'm apparently a lonely voice on this, but I think the Horowitz-as-hero crowd might gain in a careful rethinking of your position.

    I'd note finally that Horowitz seems to not want his words reposted, but wants to criticize the reaction to his post. I think this one's got a right answer, and I don't think, "This is clearly rhetorical florish," is it.

  29. eh says:

    Nice strawman a few of you have built up. Nobody is saying that the police shouldn't exist. Grow up.

    Horowitz should take this with aplomb. Start basking in his celebrity among the court cops. Smile and give them everything they want. This will point out much more starkly and to more people (who can affect these officers' livelihoods) how much differently he's being treated. He could even help the officers out by informing the line, "Sorry, you people behind me are going to have to wait."

  30. Kevin says:

    @JRM I'd say that that text you quote crosses the line of "things I would personally endorse", but it doesn't come anywhere near the line of "things the state should be able to punish you for saying". Yet punish him they have. You don't have to agree with everything someone has ever said in order to support the idea that they deserve to have their rights upheld.

  31. George William Herbert says:

    @eh:
    Nice strawman a few of you have built up. Nobody is saying that the police shouldn't exist. Grow up.

    That sentiment has been expressed above. Repeatedly.

    In the situation where some cops are behaving abusively, it's easy to leave it lie when the sentiment comes up, but that would be a mistake.

  32. naught_for_naught says:

    Police don't prevent crime; they just document it afterwards.

    There will be dinner held March 16th at the Lake Arrowhead Resort to raise funds for the family of Jerimiah Mac Kay.

    Jerimiah grew up her in the mountain communites, graduating from Rim of the World High School before going on to work for the San Bernardino County Sheriffs. He was the last person murdered by Christopher Dorner and died trying to apprehend him on suspicion of the murders of Monica Quan, Keith Lawrence and Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain. Sheriff Mac Kay was 36. He is survived by his wife and two children.

    Anyone wishing to contribute can make a donation at http://lakearrowhead.net. You don't need to show up and actually eat the rubbery chicken.

  33. azteclady says:

    @ JRM Here's the thing, though: if Mr Horowitz rhetoric indeed crossed the line from free speech into incitement, and if as such it broke the law, then why not arrest him?

    Ah, you say, the language is not specific enough to break the law.

    Are you saying then that those police officers are justified in harassing him, because he didn't go far enough to actually break the law?

    Or are they instead proving his point for him?–which, if I understand correctly, is what Ken and others around the web are saying: the police, as a class/group of people, feel entitled to violate the rights of everyone else and blatantly break the laws the institution was created to uphold.

  34. JRM says:

    azteclady:

    When people use threatening language against the president, the Secret Service pays them a visit. Actuarial tables for presidents are poor due to a wildly disproportionate chance of death. These investigations may be without an actual violation of penal codes.

    When people call for gang members to murder police, then get access to gang members in custody, it is reasonable for the police to think that person would, say, provide a handcuff key to the gang member. Since Mr. Horowitz has directly called for the murder of police officers generally, it would be remiss of the security officers of a courthouse to not be careful with Mr. Horowitz. Some members of the defense bar likely feel similarly.

    It is not an infringement of rights to be searched going into the courthouse; it is not an infringement of rights to be searched additionally if you have called for violent felons to murder many police officers. It is rational. This is not ordinary criticism, which is how the title of this post plays it; I expected to read one of the stories in which the police overreach given the headline.

    But there's a point where you're asking for the police to check on you. Calling for gang members to murder as many police officers as they can – something gang members actually do with unpleasant frequency – is asking for the police to check on you.

    I think Ken (and most in this thread) are dead wrong on this. I appreciate the link to the actual post, but this post needs extensive quoting of Horowitz' words, which are not just in the, "I wouldn't say that," category, but are in the "You're a terrible human being and a potentially lethal threat to other humans," category. If the bailiffs aren't searching him hard every single day, they're bad at their jobs and they might get someone killed.

  35. JRM says:

    And I might add that Mr. Horowitz is frequently critical of police but apparently only got searched hard after he called for their murder, specifically calling on known groups of violent felons to murder large numbers of police officers. His prior criticisms, which were criticisms rather than calls for murder, didn't seem to fetch this response.

    I feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole here.

  36. Ken says:

    Somehow I don't think many gang members browse Rick's blog. Moreover, Rick's rhetoric, though harsh, was conditional, in the context of talking about frustration about injustice, in the context of imagining a revolution, and part of a tradition of words leading back to "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

  37. MOG says:

    While I agree, it sounds like these particular deputies were being overly punitive, and 9-11 has created stupidity everywhere, but everyone who enters a courthouse is subject to being searched. No laws are being violated. If you want to enter, you are put on notice that you may be searched. Yes, the officers may be douchebags, but not violating the law.

  38. azteclady says:

    this.

    And then, "You're a terrible human being and a potentially lethal threat to other humans"–really? seriously? Aren't you taking the post without context–and extrapolating wildly from it?

    I don't know Mr Horowitz from the man in the moon, and I am not calling him a hero, but I am questioning both the officers' actions and the motivations behind them.

  39. azteclady says:

    Crap. Too many links on previous comment.

  40. Clark says:

    @eh:

    > Nobody is saying that the police shouldn't exist.

    I am.

  41. Clark says:

    @JRM:

    > I feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole here.

    The government has been at war with the populace for 20+ years.

    Some citizens are starting to wake up and notice this fact.

    That "rabbit hole" feeling you've got is you being asleep while others around you wake.

  42. JRM says:

    Ken:

    Rick's blog is, in part, an advertising vehicle for his criminal defense work; how many gangsters need to read it before it's a risk? The way he uses the names of the specific gangs, says they are "just trying to survive," and calls for direct action by those specific gangs seems like directed communication to me.

    As to this being in a tradition…. your reading of it is not the same as mine. I think the words clearly call for the murder of cops, especially cops who are in areas with the named gangs. Whereever the line is, this clears it.

    I still think the cops should continue to search him, not punitively but to protect the public. I wouldn't want to be in a courtroom where he had access to inmates without being searched. I know many defense attorneys who would feel similarly.

    Finally, I'm for naming and shaming bad police and prosecutor conduct (I am a prosecutor.) But lumping this into your other linked conduct, and harshly criticizing Fresno SO for perceived lawless conduct, still strikes me as quite unfair.

    This will be my last post on the matter; I'll leave the rest to others.

  43. Clark says:

    @JRM:

    > harshly criticizing Fresno SO for perceived lawless conduct

    If they're lying about "seeing metal on the X-ray" and searching him punatively AFTER he's passed the scan, is that not ACTUALLY lawless conduct?

  44. Chris R. says:

    His statement reminds me of the stop and frisk procedures in NYC as well as they current "if you are dressed like a hoochie and have condoms you're obviously a prostitute." In both cases the police are harassing the citizens.

    Condom ref: http://www.businessinsider.com/police-arrest-women-for-carrying-condoms-2013-3
    Stop Frisk: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/us/new-york-stop-and-frisk

  45. azteclady says:

    Chris R: oh my gawd.

  46. sherri massoli says:

    and lost everything else and still suffers ongoing harassment and ptsd. they gave me something. i will never come close to a normal life. thats a fact and everyone knows and nobody gives a shit.

  47. Demosthenes says:

    @ Clark 3/8/2013 11:16 am

    Setting aside whether I would agree with your distinction between terrorism and unconventional warfare, or your application of your own definitions to various examples…which is a discussion that would jack the hell out of this thread, and which in any case I do not have time to pursue at the present…

    …setting all that aside, let's look at this:

    "The Oklahoma City bombing was unconventional warfare…Washington slipping across the Delaware and killing the legitimate government's troops in their sleep was unconventional warfare."

    George Washington did not kill civilians; he commanded government-sponsored troops that killed mercenaries in the employ of an opposing government. More to the point, George Washington did not kill a bunch of children — much less proceed with his attack even when it would have been obvious to anyone planning the attack that there would be children on-site. (The gigantic window of the daycare that was directly above the main entrance next to which McVeigh parked his Ryder truck might have been a tiny clue.)

    There is, indeed, such a thing as "collateral damage" in war. And a military action is not automatically a war crime if a couple of noncombatants, or even many noncombatants, are killed as an unavoidable consequence (though it does raise the justificatory bar). But a rebel leader ordering his army to sneak-attack a purely military target does not fall in the same category as a lone individual who bombs a government building, in the middle of a crowded civilian downtown, without even the smallest regard for how much collateral damage might be done.

    Shorter version: dude.

  48. Clark says:

    @Demosthenes:

    > George Washington did not kill civilians; he commanded government-sponsored troops that killed mercenaries in the employ of an opposing government.

    "Mercenaries" – so you're saying that the Hessians received pay while the American troops worked for free? Or you're saying that the Americans who served did so out of loyalty to their commanders, while the Hessians who served their princes were not loyal?

    Are Ugandan forces details to the United Nations "mercenaries"?

    "Mercenary" is a loaded word that conjures far more emotions than rational thought.

    > More to the point, George Washington did not kill a bunch of children

    So you're arguing that George Washington was not a terrorist, but Churchill and Eisenhower WERE terrorists because 20,000 French civilians (4,000 of them children) were killed by the Allies in the Normandy invasion (ref) ?

    > much less proceed with his attack even when it would have been obvious to anyone planning the attack that there would be children on-site.

    Why would it be obvious that the federal government would be using human shields at the BATF office? Or, wait, is it only "human shields" when Iraqis co-locate legitimate military targets and day care centers?

    > (The gigantic window of the daycare that was directly above the main entrance next to which McVeigh parked his Ryder truck might have been a tiny clue.)

    Read the transcripts from the trial. The window was tinted. McVeigh, for all of his crimes, did not know that there were children on site.

    > Shorter version: dude.

    What? I'm supposed to be aghast and properly put in my place because you've used vernacular to make it clear that my ideas are outside the norm?

  49. AlphaCentauri says:

    I gotta side with the folks doing the searching. It seems like a pretty tame response. How many attorneys are posting blog posts saying, "let the blood run in the courtrooms?" He says something unprofessional, he stops getting to go through the fast lane with the professionals and has to wait in the bag-search line with the rest of us grunts.

    Something that inflammatory could be predicted to attract attention from people who don't normally read his blog. Maybe you all know the guy personally and know it's just rhetoric, but as someone who has never heard of him before, he sounds pretty nutty. Whatever you think of the cops, the civilian witnesses who have to show up at his cases might be pretty uneasy if his bags weren't searched after he called for blood to be running in the courtrooms.

  50. Demosthenes says:

    "'Mercenary' is a loaded word that conjures far more emotions than rational thought."

    It is a literal description of the Hessians. They were not members of the British army; they had contracted to fight for the British crown anyway. Therefore, they were mercenaries. QED.

    As regards the Christmas Day attack on the Hessian troops, the distinction admittedly makes no difference. What Washington did falls under the definition of "warfare" either way, and should be judged on that basis. I used the word solely to distinguish between them and regular British troops — I did not want to be inaccurate. If you choose to read more into my words than is there, that's your mistake and your problem.

    So you're arguing that George Washington was not a terrorist, but Churchill and Eisenhower WERE terrorists because 20,000 French civilians (4,000 of them children) were killed by the Allies in the Normandy invasion (ref) ?

    First off, neither Churchill nor Eisenhower would be a terrorist in any event. Terrorists aim to…well, terrorize…as a means of coercing change. The D-Day invasion would certainly have been terrifying to live through, but I don't believe any reasonable person would say that the Allies were trying to terrorize anyone. Terror was simply an unavoidable by-product of their action. I would appreciate it if, in future, you would address what I actually said, rather than ask suggestive questions.

    Second…I anticipated this line of attack, and I bothered quite a bit over what I wrote, to be as precise as possible. Allow me to quote from what I said immediately below, which you appear not to have noticed: "There is, indeed, such a thing as 'collateral damage' in war. And a military action is not automatically a war crime if a couple of noncombatants, or even many noncombatants, are killed as an unavoidable consequence (though it does raise the justificatory bar)."

    So, based off of that, the issue would be whether Churchill and Eisenhower were, not terrorists, but war criminals. And again, I think the answer is a clear "no." The civilians were in the area, but they weren't targeted, and I am quite sure that as many precautions as possible were taken to safeguard the lives of the people that the Allies — oh, yeah — went in to free. The bombing of Dresden, however, should qualify as a war crime, as the whole city seems to have been targeted deliberately and indiscriminately.

    Admittedly, there are some cases where justifications could be made either way, on my definition. The deliberate destruction of two cities and their civilian populations by atomic bomb would seem obviously a war crime. Harry Truman, however, was acting off an estimate that an invasion of Japan would cost over a million lives, both American and Japanese. Does the purpose of avoiding that many military and civilian casualties mitigate the action itself? I have my opinion, but I think a good case could be made either way.

    None of that really matters here, though. Washington ambushed soldiers in the employ of the enemy. (Is that better?) An unconventional attack, yes, but clearly warfare as executed, and not terrorism. McVeigh? He's a terrorist, plain and simple. To avoid repeating myself, I'll let that statement hang undefended for the moment, and defend it in another post.

    "Why would it be obvious that the federal government would be using human shields at the BATF office?"

    Let's leave aside the children for the moment. It's obvious that the Murrah Building was an office building, yes? A government office building, but an office building. One to which civilians might come for a variety of reasons. And McVeigh had to know perfectly well that there would be at least a few civilians there at or shortly after 9:00 in the morning, to take care of some personal business or to discharge an official duty.

    "Or, wait, is it only 'human shields' when Iraqis co-locate legitimate military targets and day care centers?

    I don't even know what you're referencing here. The tone, however, makes me say this of necessity: STOP ASKING SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS. I said what I meant to say, and I would appreciate it very much if you didn't try to build yourself a straw-man to fight. You want a straw-man? Go fight Ray Bolger.

    Read the transcripts from the trial. The window was tinted. McVeigh, for all of his crimes, did not know that there were children on site.

    http://www.cesnur.org/2001/waco_march01.htm#Anchor-49575

    (Sorry. I have never posted a link here before. And I'm not going to do trial-and-error on this post, where a mistake would mean an open link cascading all the way through.)

    Guess it's time to tip my hand: I grew up in the Oklahoma City metro. I know a few people who worked in the area of the Murrah Building. They all have said that they were aware of the presence of children in the building; quite a few of them have talked about the kids who would press up against the window to look outside. McVeigh cased the building at least once; he went inside it. I find it very hard indeed to believe that he would be unaware of the daycare.

    Perhaps I'm wrong. It's happened before. But in a question of opinions about what, from my vantage point, is a truly unknowable matter of fact*, where the litigants are 1) multiple people of my acquaintance, none of whom I have known to be habitual liars, and 2) a single person not of my acquaintance whom I have never met…well, I'm comfortable with the side I've chosen.

    (* I cannot know what McVeigh knew and didn't know. Neither can you. We can only read the testimony and come to our conclusions.)

  51. Lago says:

    Clark: "Police don't prevent crime; they just document it afterwards."

    … except when they do stop crime.

  52. Demosthenes says:

    Hmm. Well, apparently posting a link auto-links it. Neat.

    One more thing, which needed its own post:

    "What? I'm supposed to be aghast and properly put in my place because you've used vernacular to make it clear that my ideas are outside the norm?"

    I don't care how you feel, or are supposed to be feeling as a result of my comments, or…anything else along those lines, really. I was trying to end my post on a more light-hearted note, to avoid having to write the following post. The fact that I am now writing it means that I have failed. Sorry.

    You categorized McVeigh's bombing as an act of unconventional warfare. Unconventional warfare would still fall under the classification of "war."

    The traditional conception of war, conventional or otherwise, involves state actors aggressing against each other with their armed forces. McVeigh was not an agent of any state at the time he bombed the Murrah Building. Therefore, his action does not fit the traditional conception of war.

    Recently, some people have offered up an alternative theory of warfare, in which non-state actors (especially NGOs) can also be involved. A non-state actor is an organization or association of some sort by definition, however — one that can affect things on an international scale. Entities as diverse as Hamas and McDonald's would qualify as non-state actors on this definition. McVeigh would not, however. Therefore, this alternative theory of war would not cover him.

    You must, therefore, either be using a different conception of what war is than most people have…or a different definition of non-state actor than is currently accepted…or something along those lines. This does not necessarily mean you are wrong, or that you do not have a case. You have not made that case, though. And it is not really acceptable, in discourse, for you to import your meanings into words that already have other ones.

    If what McVeigh did was an act of warfare of any kind, as you claim, then it would seem to follow that any violent act by one person or a small group might well qualify as warfare. To take things back to Ken's actual post — and I'm really not trying to ask a suggestive question here; I'm sincerely trying to get a handle on your idea — if Rick Horowitz were to bomb the main Fresno police station in the aftermath of being targeted for unreasonable searches at the courthouse, would you argue that act counts as "unconventional warfare"? It would be aggression against a governmental force that has violated the rights of the citizens who live under the rule of that government. Is that enough?

    If it is…and I did say "if," I'm not trying to put any words in your mouth…but if it is, then fine. But that seems more like a terrorist act or an instance of violent anarchy then unconventional warfare to me, and I suspect it would to most people. We already have concepts that fit those actions. We can provide examples of unconventional warfare, too…and for the record, none of them looks like what McVeigh did.

    Above, I said that McVeigh was "a terrorist, plain and simple." After some consideration, I withdraw that statement. McVeigh's action doesn't exactly fit the various definitions of terrorism as offered by organizations like the CIA and the UN…and most of those definitions don't agree with each other perfectly, which argues that the definition of terrorism in itself is fuzzy. His may well be a borderline action which doesn't easily fit even the fuzzy concepts we have, as we have defined them. That much I grant you.

    But look at the action itself, its characteristics — as compared to uncontroversial examples of both unconventional warfare and terrorism. Is a sudden explosion of a building more likely to result from the first or the second? Is an immediate massive casualty total likely to result more from the first or the second? Is a small handful of people, or a single man, more likely to be executing the first — or perpetrating the second? If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, and you say it's not a duck, you'd better be prepared to provide some extraordinary proof.

    To return to your earlier question, though, I do have an answer:

    "What? I'm supposed to be aghast and properly put in my place because you've used vernacular to make it clear that my ideas are outside the norm?"

    No. But I do think you ought to pause a moment and consider where your definitions have led you. Systems and definitions don't do us any good unless they pass the smell test at the end: can we live with the outcomes of the system? Kant ought to have been aghast that his systematic explication of morals considered it unacceptable to tell a small white lie in order to save a life. Singer ought to be aghast that his argument about how silly it is to say we can kill a fetus five seconds before birth, but not a baby five seconds after birth, led to his conclusion that killing disabled newborns was not morally problematic.

    And yes, I think you ought to have the good sense to be aghast if your attempt to distinguish between "terrorism" and "unconventional warfare" leads to your placing George Washington and Timothy McVeigh on the same side of that line, whichever it might be. Admittedly, you did not come up with the worst possible assignment of the men to the categories — McVeigh as unconventional freedom fighter, and Washington as terrorist. So you have that going for you.

  53. Christopher Swing says:

    @AlphaCentauri

    "I gotta side with the folks doing the searching. It seems like a pretty tame response. How many attorneys are posting blog posts saying, "let the blood run in the courtrooms?""

    I don't know how many, but it doesn't matter, because that's not a quote from the one we're talking about.

    As for the rest of your comment, all you're doing is being an apologist for police misconduct, based on a false assertion.

  54. AlphaCentauri says:

    My bad, he specified letting the blood run in the streets and the police stations, not the courtrooms. But we live in a world where kids are labeled terrorists for threatening to shoot people with a Hello Kitty gun that shoots bubbles. I don't like it either. But fighting the status quo does have consequences. If you call for blood flowing in the streets and then pout because you get treated like a member of the general public instead of getting the special privileges normally accorded lawyers, who bypass the weapon-screening line, you don't sound like you're very serious about fighting for your cause.

  55. Demosthenes says:

    Treated like a member of the general public? There's hardly evidence for that, unless you can make the case that each and every member of the general public is treated the way Horowitz was treated.

    He was singled out for special treatment because he said something the police didn't like. The cops made that plain enough.

  56. AlphaCentauri says:

    I just know in the courthouse in our city, the jurors/witnesses have their bags inspected; the lawyers walk through a separate line without special scrutiny. May be different in his city.

  57. Demosthenes says:

    Fair enough. I still disagree with your larger point, but now I see where you were coming from.

  58. Grifter says:

    While I recognize that the police often overreach, and certainly don't want to come across as a lapdog, I just want to clarify this for myself, because I confess I have a problem understanding the situation as much as I'd like:

    1. Horowitz called for blood to run in the police stations (…Let the blood flow through the streets. Let the blood run in the police stations…). He called out gangs specifically, by name, and told them their problems were caused by the police. ("…Quit killing other brown-skinned dudes (unless they wear the government’s uniforms)…Your true enemies are the guys (and gals — let’s not be sexists just because they’re racists) in blue. If the government will not follow the law, there is no reason why anyone else should.")

    2. The next day, he was called a "security risk" for the post (well, he was lied to first, but that just seems like a weaselly attempt to avoid ruffling feathers and I have a hard time finding tooooo much fault with it, even though I don't like it).

    3. He was pulled aside for a search, where they made him empty his pockets (standard for most courthouses for general members of the public AFAIK), then searched all his bags on what Horowitz calls a "pretense" of there being something metal.

    4. He was also searched every time he left the building and came back, which appears to be "two more" times.

    5. His response to that was to call them: "a lawless force which, when it does not get its way, is to be both feared and resisted."

    I feel like the lawyers on this site may have a different perspective than some of the "regular folk", because the regular folk are used to having to do all of those things by default when they go through the line at the courthouse. I know I do (For the record: I've been to one in MA multiple times when I was young and my grandmother worked there, and to one in AZ for jury duty, along with some lawyers as part of an internship in high school, a marriage license, and a parking ticket. Never for "real" court).

    So there's some things I don't understand about this. The questions I'd ask to those who are both more knowledgeable and angrier:

    A. Do lawyers get special treatment at that courthouse, as they seem to at courthouses I've seen?
    B. If they get that special treatment, is it a privilege (born of their frequent visiting and assumptions of professionalism and behavior) or a right?
    C. Does the general public get searched more than lawyers in that courthouse?
    D. Is the search he was subjected to in keeping with the searches performed on the general public?
    E. Why are we assuming, as Horowitz seems to, that the metal in his bag was a "pretense"?

    It seems to me that #4 is not an overreach: at most places, if you exit the security area, and re-enter, you are subject to the same search you got the first time, again. So it would seem to me we can fault their initial decision to put him with the "proles", but I don't think we can find fault for the subsequent searches, since they are the consequence of his being flagged for the first search, yes? If they didn't subject him to any more of a search than the general public, I don't see them as "lawless"; it would just be them subjecting him to what is routine for "normals". The question would be: is it against the law and/or immoral for them to search him as they would a member of the general public immediately after calling for "the blood [to] run in the police stations"? Again, assuming that, rather than treating him WORSE than the baseline treatment, they simply took away his special privilege, that doesn't seem the case to me, hence my confusion. Assuming (again) that what they did was on the same level as what they do for the general public, this is not a 4th amendment problem, right, since this is a courthouse and they did what the standard is?

    Of course: Lying about the metal WOULD be an abuse of power. As would be the case if the special treatment of lawyers is supposed to be a right, or if they scrutinized him more than the general public.

    But otherwise: I am confused, and I assume it's a problem of my perspective.

    I'm also translating this situation to the pilots and stewardesses that get to sail through TSA (or at least used to, I thankfully haven't had to fly in a couple years, so if that's changed don't jump on me about it). If one of those aircrew was known to have called for airline hijackings/bombings (even in rhetoric), would it be unjust or illegal for the TSA to say he or she has to go through the line like the regular public? And if they claimed to find something in his bag that caused them to need to visually search it instead of simple x-raying, would we assume they're lying, or that he didn't realize the metal whatever because he's never had to deal with the level of scrutiny that the general public has? Granted, I hate the TSA as much as anybody else on this site, but the overarching problems of the TSA wouldn't be folded into the crewmember's complaint about his treatment in response to his words, it would just be that he was treated like regular folk instead of a special class.

  59. AlphaCentauri says:

    I can also imagine a scenario where his requests for explanation for why he is being searched might cause alarm among the "proles." By blaming the metal detector instead of his blog, they don't have to announce in front of everyone else that despite the fact that he wrote an article on the internet calling for blood to run in the street, the proles are going to have to share a courtroom with him.

  60. AlphaCentauri says:

    Trying to think how I can put this in context: Lawyers work in the courthouse. They get paid to be there. They may not be happy about everything that goes on there, but they are there because they belong in the mix. You can apparently are completely comfortable with this particular lawyer's ability to write inflammatory rhetoric without taking any violent or disruptive action IRL.

    The members of the general public do not feel comfortable there at all. Most are there because they are legally required to be there. They don't come often, and they aren't happy about it. There are scary people wandering the halls and uniformed people all over carrying real guns. The jurors and witnesses don't want to hear about the guy coming in with them who called for the streets to run with blood at a time like that.

    Now in the medical field, I'm comfortable around sick people. I'm not happy they're sick, but I feel at ease in the environment, and I do what I have to do. If a two-week-old baby shows up in an emergency room with a fever, he's going to get a spinal tap. The doctors know it, the nurses know it, the housekeeping staff probably knows it. But if you're the parent of another seriously ill child, you're already nervous. You really don't want to hear about spinal taps, no matter how interesting it might be to you if you were reading about it on a website when your child was healthy.

  61. Deadly Laigrek says:

    I guess I am just curious as to how I can help with the issue of corrupt police and whatnot, as a college student who has had exactly one encounter with a police officer in the line of duty (he pulled me over and, quite politely, informed me that my front license plate was missing, which I hadn't quite gotten around to fixing at that point). I would just like some pointers as to how I can help.

  62. Anony Mouse says:

    Why did he say it was a pretense to getting roughed up? It's been over a decade since I was at a courthouse, so maybe there's some new procedure about beating up people, but that sounded more than a little paranoid to me. Did he assume that they would assume he'd refuse to be searched, and thus use that as an excuse to beat him up in public? Really? Or did he assume they'd take him to the special back room where the rubber hoses are kept?

    Also, his bitching about being searched when he came back in show that he's rather clueless about how security works. If you're searched when you come in, you're searched every time you come in. Otherwise, you could go in and then turn around and get your [whatever] and sail on in as you please. Welcome to the life of the normal citizen.

  63. JR says:

    In the linked page containing the cut portions he mentions " At least a few attorneys — including me — think that there was a plan in place this morning to set up a situation where I could be given a beatdown, which almost certainly would have been followed by criminal charges against me for 'resisting arrest,' or 'assaulting an officer,' or something similar to that."

    Have any of these people stepped forward to corroborate or deny that statement? If they affirm, wouldn't he be more likely to get somewhere by filing charges or pressing for some sort of administrative discipline against the conspirators? Or would they remain silent in order to avoid the stigma of association with a person who has tendencies towards graphic speech or wild accusations?

  64. James Pollock says:

    "Have any of these people stepped forward to corroborate or deny that statement?"
    Have any of the other lawyers who think the guy was singled out for harassment volunteered themselves to also be singled out for harassment? Um, no?

  65. JR says:

    @James Pollock

    If I understand your response correctly, it is safe to assume that several people, whose job takes place where "justice" is supposedly dispensed to the guilty, prefer the go-along-to-get-along approach to self-preservation over moral convictions and concern for their fellow man. So we're not just seeing possible evidence of police abusing the power of their position, but also legal professionals that can only be bothered with injustice at an hourly rate.

  66. James Pollock says:

    "If I understand your response correctly, it is safe to assume that several people, whose job takes place where "justice" is supposedly dispensed to the guilty, prefer the go-along-to-get-along approach to self-preservation over moral convictions and concern for their fellow man."
    Um, yeah. You see this within law enforcement agencies a LOT.

    "So we're not just seeing possible evidence of police abusing the power of their position, but also legal professionals that can only be bothered with injustice at an hourly rate."
    A general unwillingness to embrace personal hardship in order to make a point that will most likely ultimately effect no change is hardly limited to legal professionals.

  67. AlphaCentauri says:

    "A general unwillingness to embrace personal hardship in order to make a point that will most likely ultimately effect no change is hardly limited to legal professionals."

    Very true. A lot of the problems we're taking about are the result of people who place personal safety over freedom. But it isn't true that nothing gets changed; it just doesn't get changed fast and it doesn't get changed the first time someone puts their own safety and freedom on the line. People who are effective at bringing about change tend to get murdered a lot; people who are not effective tend to live to ripe old ages.

    One of the principles of counteracting that kind of apathy is to fight the tendency of people to try to find safety as faceless members of a crowd. Telling them, "Stop being sheeple!" has little effect. Asking one person to help with one task pulls them out of the crowd and restores their human individuality. Likewise, saying that all cops are the enemy just makes them close ranks and continue to serve no ones interests except their brother/sister cops. You can't fight dehumanization by further dehumanizing people.

  68. Ed says:

    It sure would be nice if people would start calling these "law enforcement" people by name instead of titles like "officer" & "Sheriffs Department". How are we supposed to know who the assholes are?. Or are we to assume that everyone in "law enforcement" is an asshole?

  69. James Pollock says:

    "are we to assume that everyone in "law enforcement" is an asshole?"
    Pretty much everyone has the capability for assholery. The questions are frequency and amplitude thereof.

  70. Goober says:

    AlphaCentauri;

    Are you actually defending a system that arrests and charges a kid “threatening” another kid with a Hello Kitty Bubble Gun, and then using that system to justify the way the police are treating this lawyer?

    I have a lot of contempt for comments like that. I usually agree pretty strongly with the stuff you say – you probably can’t hear the surprise in my voice as you read this, but I assure you, it is there…

    What we have here is a lawyer saying “This is the way things are, and I don’t like that, and I’m speaking out against that.” As a result of his speaking out against the way things are, he’s being punished. Your response is that he shouldn’t have said what he said because “that’s just the way things are” when what the lawyer was specifically lamenting was that HE WASN’T SATISIFIED WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE.

    So by your logic, no one should ever speak up against the prevailing situation, ever, because they will run contrary to the way things are, and will then necessarily, and justifiably, face punishment for that?

    Or am I totally missing the point of what you just said?

  71. James Pollock says:

    "So by your logic, no one should ever speak up against the prevailing situation, ever, because they will run contrary to the way things are, and will then necessarily, and justifiably, face punishment for that? "

    I can't speak for A C, but I can explain my logic… people who stand up and demand change often (almost always) face blowback from people who are opposed to change. Sometimes the resistance is trivial, and frequently it is not. A person who is considering standing up and demanding change would be wise to take this into account, and give careful consideration as to whether the perceived need for change, and the likelihood of achieving it, justify the potential hardship created by the opposition. People who decide to go ahead are usually credited with great courage, and usually correctly so… but sometimes the math just doesn't work out right. It's not the right time, the right place, or the right circumstances to actually achieve the desired/needed change, or the person making the decision just isn't invested enough in that particular issue.
    Not quite the same thing as "never try to change things ever".

  72. JR says:

    Water flows down until you make a wave, right? I have no real ire for the ones who choose to not get involved. Every person will naturally look to their own before considering that of another. This does not mean I have respect for their decision to look away and go about their daily routine, either.

    For clarification, my initial comment on this thread was an effort to verify his statements with alternate sources if possible.

  73. AlphaCentauri says:

    @James Pollock, yes, you're getting at my meaning. When you speak out against injustice, there are consequences, and the consequences in this case were pretty easily anticipated.

    I'm not justifying the fact that we've gone ape-shit in this country wanting to be kept perfectly safe at all times, but I'm not stupid enough to expect to be magically allowed to say what he said and not get extra scrutiny in a security line. If you want to speak truth to power, you have to be realistic that you will be inconvenienced. Many people invite such official response as a way of further publicizing their cause and letting people know how strongly they believe in it. If Martin Luther King wrote "A Letter from the Birmingham Marriott," I don't think what he wrote would have had the same impact.

    Horowitz's rhetoric endorsed violence against law enforcement officers, and implied a level of violence that could cause harm to third parties. What the hell did he think the screeners were going to do? If he called for violence against TSA agents, he wouldn't be flying at all. Getting your bag searched after calling for violence and then being allowed to go about your business — when the whole purpose of having the line is to screen people in a place where violence is particularly likely to occur — would not meet my definition of retaliation. If one of his clients did escape and kill someone and Horowitz had been allowed in without scrutiny despite his threats, we'd all be saying how useless the security people are for searching little old ladies and letting the guy with the "blood in the streets" blog waltz through security.

    I'm also objecting to Horowitz's tendency to see this as all about himself and not take into account that his actions affect other people, whether he intends it or not. So the screener claimed they saw metal even though there wasn't any? He jumps to the conclusion that they're setting him up to assault him for resisting. I'd assume they're trying to be discreet when talking to him in the earshot of spectators. The folks behind him in line could be in his defendant's jury pool. Does he really expect the screeners to quote his blog in front of those people, just to confirm his belief that they are screening him because they regard what he wrote as a potential threat? Again, assuming they would do exactly what they did is not rocket science.

  74. James Pollock says:

    I'm in the "plenty of blame to go around and everybody gets some" group on this one. I think Horowitz was over the line in calling for murder of cops, AND I suspect that the Sheriff's deputies on courthouse duty the next morning were abusing the discretion allowed them in determining whom to search and to what degree.

  75. Grifter says:

    @James Pollock:

    I really am curious (because I'm missing it): what, specifically, was the abuse of discretion?

  76. James Pollock says:

    The abuse of discretion arises because I don't think that the courthouse deputies believed, for a second, that Mr. Horowitz presented any actual threat.

  77. Grifter says:

    @James Pollock:

    Isn't it just as likely that there's sort of a general policy to make anyone who advocates for "blood in the streets" and "in the police stations" go through the line like everyone else? Aren't lawyers afforded a special privilege, and wasn't this just the temporary revocation of that privilege? I think that's what I'm not getting. Do lawyers have a special right not to have to go through the line with normal people unless there's a good reason? Because with normal people, they don't need any reason whatsoever, it's the standard practice.

  78. Valerie says:

    Deadly Laigrek • Mar 10, 2013 @1:15 am

    Bear in mind that courtesy and good humor can often prevail where self-righeousness can produce an instantaneous and irretrievable loss, regardless of the merits of your position.

    This whole story from Rick Horowitz through the police officers, and trickling right through the comments, is all about people who have legitimate points but undercut themselves through over-reaching.

  1. March 8, 2013

    [...] UPDATE 2 Popehat: "A Cat May Look At A King, But A Citizen May Not Criticize A Cop" [...]

  2. March 23, 2013

    [...] suppose one downside to having a family is that it gives you more to worry about when it comes to these matters. Of course, it gives you a bigger reason to give a damn too. Here, via Coyote via Popehat, is a [...]