A Modest Argument About Police Culture Culminating in a Reference to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist

Law, Politics & Current Events

In the comments to Ken's excellent post on the recent repeated digital anal rape of a citizen by government employees, commenter
@Ryan took me to task:

@Clark

On Nov 7 at 7:51 AM you wrote:

Prenda et all have no more harmed the reputation of "all lawyers" than OJ Simpson harmed the reputation of "all African Americans" or Bernie Madoff harmed the reputation of "all Jews".

People are individuals. Pick any set and you'll find sinners and saints.

Then at 4:54 PM on Nov 7, you said:

Dogs are people, but LEOs – by pinning on a badge and pledging that they'll enforce the law – even when the law says that innocent people should be jailed or dogs can be shot – have opted out of the human race.

Fuck them all, and may they die slow horrible syphilitic deaths.

Which makes me wonder how the eminently reasonable Clark of this morning got replaced and when. The juxtaposition is astounding.

It's remarkable that you can, in the span of less than 12 hours, move from a statement that assigns blame to people as individuals and not the profession they belong to, to the polar opposite, just because the latter happens to spout hate and vitriol toward a group you vehemently dislike, while the former forgives people who are in a profession that you at least partially respect because of a few individuals you know who are a part of it.

This is a good point, and it deserves an answer.

My response has two prongs:

1) the inherent evilness of the full job description of law enforcement

2) the overwhelming default culture of law enforcement

Point One: inherent evilness of the job

I already addressed the first prong in an earlier comment, where I said:

It is wrong to discriminate against Blacks or Jews or Hispanics or Gays because people are born into those groups and do not pledge any sort of allegiance to them, nor does their inclusion in a group show that they have opted into the dominant ethical pattern.

Is it right to discriminate against Jihadis or SS members or KKK members or Bloods or Crips because (a) people consciously opt into said group, and (b) do so knowing their norms and and behaviors.

The War on Americans Who Use Drugs has been going on for decades. It is a very rare LEO who pinned on the badge before the War.

In 1944 I'd hold no ill will (or not much) to a German who was drafted…but if a German signed up to go throw Jews out of their homes, then screw him.

In 2013 I hold no ill will (or not much) to an American who is drafted into the American police…but if a man or woman signs up to go shoot dogs and digitally rape anuses, then screw him. He's bought what Screwtape is selling.

tl;dr: The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job.

Point Two: The LEO Culture Turns Good Men Bad

The second prong of my argument is the culture of law enforcement.

Let's assume that that 5% of humans are power-mad thugs, psychopaths, whatever you want to call them.

A priori we can assume that these people are distributed evenly throughout professions…but perhaps that's not true. Maybe the field of lawyering attracts these people. I don't think so, but say it's true, and 10% of lawyers are Prenda-rific and routinely lie, cheat, steal, etc. 10% is still a minority of all lawyers, and there are no network effects that turn 10% into 90%. The opposite is true: lawyers are split into factions and they work against each other all the time, not just in the courtroom but in the marketplace. The adversarial nature of the profession means that any bad acting lawyer is always risking exposure from others.

Law enforcement culture, on the other hand, does have network effects. Cops work together as a team, whether they're in the same squad car, the same department, or just in the same country. The culture is deeply insular with special ID cards and bumper stickers promising special treatment, and a culture that routinely and harshly punishes anyone who breaks from the party line. This is a system almost custom designed to let moral and procedural rot run rampant. (Recall that as much as cops like to wash their hands of a fellow cop who was caught doing a crime by calling him "one bad apple", the full phrase is "one bad apple spoils the bunch".)

Conclusion

Whites have sinners and saints.

Blacks have sinners and saints.

Oregonians, Texans, and New Yorkers have sinners and saints.

Accountants, hairdressers, and coal miners have sinners and saints.

Law Enforcement, though, is unlike all of these – the job description is organized bullying, and that (a) attracts psychopaths and (b) converts non-psychopaths into – at worst – psychopaths, and – at best – into those who merely tolerate, absolve, and cover up for the psychopaths. For fun, run down the Hare Psychopathy Checklist and compare the bullet points to the typical cop's personality. Glib, grandiose, lying, manipulative, remorseless, lacking empathy, needing stimulation, parasitic lifestyle … the list goes on and on.

The police are a monopolistic organized gang that – as an emergent social entity – delights in violence, repression, and control, and is made up of members who are resemble it in miniature. It is no more morally complicated to fear, disdain, and hate people who choose to join the police than it is to fear, disdain, and hate people who choose to join the KKK.

That said, one should hate the sin and not the sinner.

I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard.

UPDATE: The always awesome Maggie McNeill points me to an old blog post of hers that bears on this topic:

If a cop is tasked with enforcing a law he knows to be immoral, it is his duty as a moral man to refuse that order even if it means his job. If he agrees with an immoral law then he is also immoral, and if he enforces a law he knows to be wrong even more so. The law of the land in Nazi-era Germany was for Jews and other “undesirables” to be sent to concentration camps, and the maltreatment of the prisoners was encouraged and even ordered by those in charge; any German soldier or policeman enforcing those laws was the exact moral equivalent of any soldier or policeman under any other democratically-elected government enforcing the laws enacted by that regime. Either “I was only following orders” is a valid defense, or it isn’t; either we agree that hired enforcers are absolved from responsibility because “they’re just doing their jobs”, or we don’t. You can’t have it both ways, and sometimes Nazi analogies are entirely appropriate.

Last 5 posts by Clark

199 Comments

199 Comments

  1. Mike  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:35 am

    This sounds a lot like what I hear from my libertarian friends who don't interact with police that often. I don't know what you do for a living and you may have daily interactions with them, but it doesn't sound like it to me. I'm not going to get on a high horse and say that LEOs are all upstanding folk — far from it. Many, for example, seem to have some kind of allergy to being honest with judges and lawyers. Many, for other examples, seem to think that driving while black, walking while black, or standing while black has got to be probable cause related to something. And, like you say, the cover-up culture is hugely problematic, as is the militarization, and many many other things. But your description of the "typical cop" seems way off-base, and the idea one would get if all his/her information came from Reason* rather than, well, reason.

    *Not denigrating Reason. At all. They do a fantastic job of covering police abuses, among other things. But reading Reason to understand the "typical" cop seems like reading Penthouse to understand the "typical" woman.

  2. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:42 am

    @Mike:

    You state:

    • Many have … an allergy to being honest with judges
    • Many have … an allergy to being honest with lawyers.
    • Many… think that driving while black… is probable cause
    • Many… think that walking while black… is probable cause
    • Many… think that standing while black… is probable cause
    • cover-up culture is hugely problematic
    • militarization …is hugely problematic
    • many many other things…[ are ] hugely problematic

    And then you conclude:

    your description of the "typical cop" seems way off-base

    One of these things is not like the other.

    If it lies, profiles, covers up, and rapes like a duck, then it's a duck.

    And, yes, I've met many cops. One-on-one they are often charming, tell great jokes, and have the backs of those close to them.

    I refer you once again to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.

  3. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:43 am

    reading Reason to understand the "typical" cop seems like reading Penthouse to understand the "typical" woman.

    Certainly I've met people who tell police stories that start with "I never thought it would happen to me…"

  4. Longcat  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:49 am

    Police do more than "shoot dogs and digitally rape anuses." It's entirely possible for someone to decide that the war on drugs is better than anarchy and that having misused police officers is better than having no police officers. That view may be incorrect, but I don't understand how it is necessarily evil.

    To modify your comparison to the German army, it wouldn't be intrinsically evil for a 1944 German to oppose Nazism but volunteer anyway to stop the Red Army from murdering and raping its way across East Prussia.

  5. Votre  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:57 am

    Although I don't bring as much spleen to the table as Clark on this topic, I still think he (she?) is spot on in most respects. The "Warrior Cop" is a reality we're starting to notice and be forced to deal with. Even so-called "law abiding citizens" (who are normally LE's biggest apologists) are starting to notice and become concerned over the enforcement excesses that are becoming increasingly common and widespread.

  6. Geoff  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:06 am

    As much as I challenge the a priori of 'this group is tainted by a minority of bad actors, that group cannot be', I do wonder about the assertion of the typical LEO as "Glib, grandiose, lying, manipulative, remorseless, lacking empathy, needing stimulation, parasitic lifestyle". This may also describe professional athletes, any and all media personalities, lawyers, bloggers…in point of fact, anyone who lives in the public eye at any level meets some or all of those marks.

    The LEOs I have known have chosen this profession to, cliche it may be, protect and serve their communities. They have paid a heavy price – from long hours away from family to being beaten with a baseball bad whilst trying to protect another from the same fate (http://bit.ly/1dS6Mhw). Cops have saints and sinners too. Painting them with so broad a brush is not only unfair, but also dishonest. It is also worth remembering that lawyers are the ones who are going to bat to expand police authority and scope. Making, by this logic, them as guilty as the police being reviled.

    That said, there is no sympathy for those who do, as you put it, "…signs up to go shoot dogs and digitally rape anuses…".

    One last example – Drew Peterson. Even before the accusations of, and conviction for, the murder of his wife (and let's be honest, the probable murder of the next wife too), his fellow officers (which includes a relative) had nothing but disdain for him. He did not, it seems, break the law (remember, wife not dead yet), but was described as one of the most disliked men on the force. His attitudes do match the description above, and he was rejected by an entire force for that.

    Cops are not perfect – neither perfectly good nor perfectly evil. This is worth remembering.

  7. Fred  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:10 am

    …and compare the bullet points to the typical cop's personality. Glib, grandiose, lying, manipulative, remorseless, lacking empathy, needing stimulation, parasitic lifestyle … the list goes on and on.

    Often times I give certain posts which describe all LE as evil a pass as rhetorical flourish. I can't really do that this time. This is fucking stupid. I go to bat over police policies on occasion and it's really really annoying when I get accused of being someone who hates cops. I have to point out my work with LE, my LEO family members, the fact that I applied to work as an LEO before attending law school, etc. Then I go home and occasionally post links to this website, where the above post can be found. yay.

  8. Hamilton  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:21 am

    Longcat, joining a group that you know does a bunch of inherently tremendously evil things just because it does a small number of things you think are good does not absolve you.

    I know tons of cops and individually they are awesome and helpful. And I am also one of those tinfoil-hat Koch-subsidized reason readers who "gets [not] all of his news" from that evil wretched hive of scum and villainy. No one expects perfection, but the current standard is way, way, way too low, and the actions of the militarized police are not even close to isolated incidents anymore.

    One is reminded of the anecdote about a bottle of champagne and a bottle of sewage. Put a drop of champagne into the sewage bottle; you've got a bottle of sewage. Put a drop of sewage into the champagne bottle; you've got a bottle of sewage. The cops have gone waaaay beyond a drop.

  9. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:31 am

    @Geoff

    One last example – Drew Peterson.

    The man who so exemplified the LEO standard that he was voted officer of the year.

    The LEOs I have known have chosen this profession to, cliche it may be, protect and serve their communities.

    I'm sure that people joined the Communist Party to help the economy of Mother Russia (and if that involved kicking Kulaks off their land or sending counter-revolutionaries to their deaths, that's just the means…the ends are still pure.)

    I'm sure that Lt Calley joined the US Army to help defend the country against communist agression (and if that involved murdering civilians, that's just the means…the ends are still pure.)

    It's quite easy to spout ideals.

    All that I care about is where the rubber hits the road, and it's pretty clear that a minority of cops go above and beyond their jack-booted job description, the majority are willing to tell lies to cover "brother" officers, and almost all of them "just follow orders" and send people to prison for consensual "crimes".

  10. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:46 am

    This is the sad aspect of radical libertarianism: it causes otherwise rational people to go off the deep end when it comes to discussions about law enforcement. It's not that there aren't valid criticisms to be made about law enforcement — this blog is packed with them. But the mentality that says "all cops are evil" (which I assume extends to prosecutors like myself) is emotional and over the top, leading to silly posts like this one from an otherwise non-silly person.

    The Wat on Drugs may be bad in many ways. It is not, however, the Holocaust.

  11. Frank  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:48 am

    Here's the thing that I find interesting in all of this having been a denizen of the online world since the early-mid 80s.

    Rarely ever do people their good stories of encounters with things/people. They always post the bad. Sort of like that old customer service saying where if someone likes your product they will tell three people but if they hate it they will tell ten.

    *OF COURSE* the bad things are going to make it into the news/web sites more often. Bad sells. Just like sex does. Most people don't want to hear, "Cop saves 40 kittens from a burning house." He's "just doing his job". However, the more salacious title, "Cop Tazes man for trying to enter burning house." garners more page/program views. It's all about the money. Painting people in a bad light via "broadcasting" sells because it titillates people and gets them to watch/read.

    I am not saying cops are good or bad here. I am speaking strictly of the way that the mass media, including the Internet, report things and what the "viewing public" wants to see. This equally applies to everything. You rarely hear about the guy that uses his weapon to save a life, but you sure hear alot of stories about someone using a weapon to take a life.

    By your same logic, all priests are inherently bad because they *CHOSE* to be priests, they would argue that it is a calling just like the police do, and some of them are pedophiles. By your same logic, all firemen are bad because they *CHOSE* to be firemen, and some of them are also arsonists. By your logic all that serve in the military are inherently bad because they *CHOSE* to serve in the military and we had stories like Abu Griab.

    The news/Internet web sites very rarely run the *GOOD* stories about these various groups of people. They run the *BAD* stories. Because that's what sells. Period.

  12. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:52 am

    @Patterico

    But the mentality that says "all cops are evil" … is emotional and over the top

    This is an assertion, but doesn't engage with my two core points: upholding evil laws is evil, and police culture encourages the spread of evil behavior.

    The War on Drugs may be bad in many ways. It is not, however, the Holocaust.

    Certainly agreed.

    Something need not rise to the level of the Holocaust to be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of ruined lives.

    The mentality that signs an order throwing a Jewish family out of their home for Jewishness is identical to the mentality that signs an order throwing an American family out of their home because the stepson sold $10 of pot.

    The mentality that shoots an unarmed youth in the back because he might have drugs on him and he twitched is identical to the mentality that shoots a Jew in the head so that he can fall into a trench and thus clean up the German gene pool.

    We've established the category; now we're just haggling over quantity.

  13. JT  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:55 am

    The vast majority of blog posts in the world are superficial, use poor grammar, cloudy logic, and hasty generalizations in support of a self-affirming narcissism. Therefore, I conclude blogs are evil. Get behind me, Satan!

  14. Ken White  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:55 am

    Maybe Clark overstates a bit, as rhetorical flourish.

    But I'm with him on some big points:

    1. We have conferred onto modern law enforcement a level of control over citizens that makes it an inherently morally compromised profession.

    2. ANY profession that is thrust into (a) ugly conditions and (b) largely unreviewable authority over others will result in abuse of the others, because of the way humans are built.

    3. There is an ingrained law enforcement culture in America that condones, and expects the covering-up and protecting of, perjury and abuse.

  15. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:56 am

    I hate it when an authoritative sounding exit line is marred by a misspelling. The What on Drugs?

    Anyway, I wanted to follow up to say, the rest of the post aside, points for a great Pulp Fiction quote.

  16. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:57 am

    @Frank

    By your same logic, all priests are inherently bad because they *CHOSE* to be priests

    I made two points in my post:

    1) the inherent nature of law enforcement in a regime that has a War on Drugs is evil, just like law enforcement in Stalinist Russian or Nazi Germany is evil. This does not mean that all law enforcement at all places and times is evil.
    The nature of the priest and fire fighter job descriptions are not inherently evil like the nature of modern policing is.

    2) the culture of police is inherently us-versus them. There is, in fact, some of this in the two examples you gave: in the former, because the Catholic Church is a spiritual monopoly ("we are the only true representatives of God") and the latter because it is – like the police – a government created and mandated monopoly.
    Monopolies are bad, and tend to support cover-ups and self-dealing. We do, in fact, see this with the Catholic Church in the sexual abuse scandal. To the best of my knowledge, there are no similar huge scandals among arsonist fire fighters.

    The two points work synergistically – either one is bad, but the two combined together result in catastrophe.

  17. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:59 am

    @Patterico

    I hate it when an authoritative sounding exit line is marred by a misspelling. The What on Drugs?

    For the record, when I quoted you, I silently corrected the spelling, rather than inserting a dickish "[sic]". ;-)

    points for a great Pulp Fiction quote.

    Thanks. By the way, that wasn't just a throw-away line; I was pointing to my own struggle between my visceral desire to characterize all LEOs by their sins and my aspiration to a higher ethical standard that I, a sinner, usually fall short of.

  18. Joel  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:01 am

    You frame this as a rational analysis, but the core of your justification is still inherently biased. You say that Law Enforcement is different from other cultures but the only thing to back that statement up is, essentially, you claiming it's true. And while you can point to dozens, or even hundreds of stories of LEO's acting like bullies and thugs and abusing power to back up those assertions, that's hundreds out of the billions of LEO interactions that have occurred, just in, say, the last 20 years.

    The biggest problem with trying to prove an absolute like this is the fact that there will never be a proper body of proof, because the only stories available are negative. You don't see stories like "I got stopped by a police officer because I had a tail light out and he was very courteous and understanding and just gave me a little slip to put on my steering wheel so if anyone else brings it up, I can show them that I've already talked to someone about it and plan to address it," because those aren't interesting. But they happen.

    I'm not saying I disagree that corruption and abuse of power isn't rampant among some facets of Law Enforcement, but you're trying to justify hatred of an entire group, and I think that needs to be held to the utmost scrutiny. Racists throughout history have been able to justify their beliefs about racial inferiorities by pointing to select evidence that backs them up*. When bias is at play, it's best to err against your own instincts, to doubt yourself. I tend to distrust absolutes because they're so difficult to objectively demonstrate. And, if anything, assuming that there is NOT something inherently evil about LEOs actually makes all the stories about murders and rapes all the more shocking because then it becomes a story about how a minority of really bad people manage to completely overpower and overshadow all the regular people around them.

    *-The analogy here not being racism itself, but simply the ability of the human brain to conspire to justify itself. When you already believe something strongly, it's easy to only be able to see things in the world that back up your point-of-view, because no matter how humble we try to be, our brains HATE being questioned.

  19. Votre  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:02 am

    To the above I'd like to suggest that if police departments did a better job ridding their ranks of the bad eggs instead of circlig the wagons when confronted with police misbehavior, and staunchly defending their own miscreants even in the face of convincing and repeated evidence, we wouldn't even be having this discussion?

    No. The police aren't all bad. But by the same token, they're not all good either.

    And considering the broad powers they're granted (which includes the legal use of deadly force), and the discretion they're afforded in the performance of their job, I think we can expect more than a lame "but they're only human" defence when they step out of line and violate the trust given them.

  20. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:04 am

    Ken,

    You say Clark's assertions are a rhetorical flourish — apparently implying he does not really hold these beliefs as strongly as he expressed them. He is just being colorful, to get our attention, but when pressed he will admit it's all a bit overrated. That's what you're telling us, I think.

    He is here, though, so my idea is: let's ask him directly.

    Clark: are your opinions expressed here about cops a "rhetorical flourish"? Or do you believe every word?

    Can I add a related question: do you think me evil too? If not, why not?

  21. jb  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:05 am

    I am impressed, Clark. I agree with this post 100%. This post should be required reading for all journalists and pundits who cover and opine on law enforcement issues, and all lawyers, judges, and juries involved with cases in which police officers are witnesses, plaintiffs, or defendants.

  22. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:07 am

    @Votre

    if police departments did a better job ridding their ranks of the bad eggs instead of circlig the wagons when confronted with police misbehavior, and staunchly defending their own miscreants even in the face of convincing and repeated evidence, we wouldn't even be having this discussion

    Entirely agreed. However…

    As I've gotten wiser older, I've started to realize that arguments or assertions of the form "X should do Y better" can never gain any traction. For most X's and Y's, X does Y at exactly the current level because that's what the incentives push for.

    You can't push against a spring loaded door and expect it not to snap back the very second your attention wanders. If you want the door to stay open, you need to change the spring mechanism.

    This is the problem with LEO culture: all the incentives push for lies, cover ups, and arbitrary exercise of authority.

    We can't wish LEOs to behave better with out changing the system that incents them to behave as they currently do.

    And considering the broad powers they're granted (which includes the legal use of deadly force), and the discretion they're afforded in the performance of their job, I think we can expect more than a lame "but they're only human" defence when they step out of line and violate the trust given them.

    Amen.

  23. Derrick  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:09 am

    All I have to say is…

    http://gawker.com/dad-calls-cops-on-son-to-teach-him-a-lesson-cops-shoot-1460159897?utm_source=recirculation&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=thursdayPM

    When police and law enforcement officials no longer fear prosecution or repercussions from the public, their power tends to run unchecked. Didn't someone once tell Richard Nixon: "You are not above the law." Police need to be subjected more so to the law than others.

  24. Ciobo12  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:09 am

    Talk about bad timing, read this post and saw this on Reddit:
    22 Year Old With Down Syndrome Beaten By The Police For “Bulge In Pants” That Was His Colostomy Bag
    http://libertycrier.com/22-year-old-syndrome-beaten-police-bulge-pants-colostomy-bag/

  25. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:12 am

    Ken,

    I might not agree fully with every point you make, but I recognize at least some truth in all your statements, and unlike this post, I don't find them silly.

    Clark,

    I noticed and appreciated the silent correction. I might have a low opinion of this post, but I respect you and appreciate the way you interact with me.

  26. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:13 am

    @Patterico:

    Clark: are your opinions expressed here about cops a "rhetorical flourish"? Or do you believe every word?

    I certainly believe most of them. I hesitate to give a blanket "yes" on a ~1,000 word post.

    Do I think that the incentives of policing lead to evil? Yes.

    Do I think that the job description of modern policing requires one to commit evil? Yes.

    Do I think that all cops are psychopaths? No.

    Do I think that psychopaths are grossly disproportionately present in police work? Yes.

    Can I add a related question: do you think me evil too? If not, why not?

    Although I've read some of your writing and admire it, I've never met you.

    As I pointed out, there is a distinction between actions and people (some actions are evil; people are all flawed creatures who perform both good and evil acts).

    Have you committed evil actions? I'm sure. I know I have.

    You say you're a prosecutor. Have your actions sent someone to jail because of a consensual crime such as drug possession? If you answer in the affirmative, I'd say that that is an inherently evil act, and you should stop doing that and repent. If stopping such actions leads to your being dismissed from your job, I would say that it's better to live poorly as a Wal-Mart greeter with honor than to live well as a prosecutor with dishonor.

  27. Taliesyn  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:15 am

    One of these days I will see a discussion of law enforcement that doesn't involve an invocation of Godwin's Law almost immediately.

    Comparisons of the small overall percentage of negative (and yes, sometimes astoundingly so, such as the 'official' rape reported on earlier) police actions to the deliberate and methodical MURDER and attempted elimination of millions of human beings are never, under any circumstances, acceptable.

  28. Chris Rhodes  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:15 am

    @Joel

    You don't see stories like "I got stopped by a police officer because I had a tail light out and he was very courteous and understanding and just gave me a little slip to put on my steering wheel so if anyone else brings it up, I can show them that I've already talked to someone about it and plan to address it"

    Translated:

    You don't see stories like "I got stopped by a police officer and instead of trying to hurt my right away, he only threatened to hurt me in the future if his demands were not met, and in his magnificence, he gave me something to prove to his other thug friends that I had already properly been threatened by their gang! See how great they can be??

    Yeah, not a good example. At least say something about saving orphans and kittens from burning buildings.

  29. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:16 am

    @jb

    I agree with this post 100%.

    It's always amusing to watch my crazed ranting cut across the grain of the various psychographics that read Popehat.

    I am impressed, Clark.

    Anyway, thanks – I appreciate it!

  30. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:18 am

    @Patterico

    Can I add a related question: do you think me evil too? If not, why not?

    Two followup questions.

    Most lawyers I know who interact with cops acknowledge that cops lying under oath ("testilying") is utterly common, to the point of being the norm.

    1) Do you agree?
    2) Have you ever achieved a conviction that was based on police testimony?

  31. Ken in NH  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:18 am

    Cops have saints and sinners too. Painting them with so broad a brush is not only unfair, but also dishonest.

    So then why are we not seeing various police unions and fraternal organizations condemning each of these heinous acts? Why do we not see them holding forums and public discussions on what causes or allows the abusive pricks among them to exist and even flourish? Why do we not see any organization of police who expound Sir Robert Peel's principles of policing? (Read below for the answer.)

    It is also worth remembering that lawyers are the ones who are going to bat to expand police authority and scope. Making, by this logic, them as guilty as the police being reviled.

    It is too imprecise to say lawyers, but I think lawmakers is better. When policing was about investigating moral* crimes, bringing the guilty before the magistrate, and, in very rare circumstances, preventing moral* crime from happening, police were less prone to tolerate and protect the evil among them. Now, everything is a crime. What kind of mentality does it take or produce in a person to routinely ticket and arrest people for doing ordinary things you do yourself? How many police can adhere to our criminal code better than the normal citizen when going 5 mph over the speed limit is a crime? How many have no compunction about having a beer at the local bar and driving home, but then routinely make people walk the line and touch their nose or blow into a breathalyzer? And if those citizens refuse? "Arrest them and have someone forcibly take a blood sample, of course. But if I get caught, well just give me a warning."

    You do not need the concept of "professional courtesy" for murder, rape, thievery, et al. No, that concept comes about when you routinely exceed the speed limit, drink a few, smoke a joint, patronize a prostitute, et cetera and your fellow officers do the same. That right there is your lack of empathy. Right in the job description as crafted by increasingly ridiculous and intrusive laws that are increasing moved from the category of misdemeanor to felony.

    * I use moral in its broadest sense; as something so repugnant that there is rarely, if ever, an valid reason to commit that crime.

  32. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:19 am

    Has there ever been a more Clarkian post title at Popehat?

    Anyhow, that's a lovely rationalization you've got there, Clark. You deserve brownie points for making your special pleading explicit.

    Law enforcement includes its share of thugs. Because of the job description, it's even possible– and perhaps likely– that thugs are overrepresented in the police population, just as serial killers are probably overrepresented in the interstate truck driving industry.

    It's also true that law enforcement suffers from institutional defects that arise out of the nature of the work. This is analogous to the NSA conundrum: it's impossible, given current technology and demands, to identify and spy on enemies without archiving and trying to ignore the words and deeds of friends. When you need a white hat to go after a black hat, you want the guy with the badge to be a bit more Norris than Griffith (or Fife).

    Even granting all of the above, though, it is still the case that a large plurality or majority of law enforcement officers are not so different from [whatever it is that you do] or attorneys or ….

    Anecdotally, I can report that the LEOs I know are generally good people; in addition, I can say that about every LEO I have known in the past. This doesn't mean that all are. It also doesn't mean that there's no thin blue line, no lying, no manipulation of systems and standards, etc. And it sure doesn't mean that we should ignore the usual advice: shut up, know your rights, do not volunteer or waive consent, check the status of your liberty to depart, document everything (audiovisually if possible), etc.

    Cops are like a box of chocolate, so the nice guy you know guarantees nothing about the possible ego-tripping thug who might take an interest in you someday. But to dismiss an entire class or category of people by vocation based on waving so thin a reed? Well, that's not much of an argument, given that institutionalized and individual corruption are pervasive.

  33. Joel  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:26 am

    @Chris: The entire point I'm trying to make is an appeal to logic, not emotional rhetorical fallacies. Thank you for demonstrating the absurdity of discourse I'm arguing against.

  34. Ken White  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:29 am

    Last time I was called to jury duty it was at the CCB. Patterico would know the building.

    I was thrown in the box for voir dire in a gang attempted murder.

    They found out I was a criminal defense attorney and looked nonplussed. That was probably going to get me kicked unless someone was in a very odd mood. But then they decided to ask the question they asked everyone else — would you be more or less likely to believe testimony because it came from a gang member or cop?

    I said, truthfully, that I thought both gang members and cops were part of organizations with cultures that imposed on them an expectation to lie to protect the interests of other members of the group, and that might impose group consequences on them if they did not. I said that I would not expect that a cop or a gang member would be more likely than Joe Blow off the street to cheat on his taxes or his wife or at cards, but when it came to testifying about controverted events in a criminal case, I would look at testimony from either with more suspicion than I would from someone not a member of that group. I said that I thought that gang members were particularly likely to lie about their own conduct or the conduct of their fellow gang members, and cops were particularly likely to lie about consent to search, Miranda warnings, the precision with which they remembered a defendant's statement, and use of force by any cop.

    Then I said that to be fair, I didn't think that a cop was more likely to lie on the stand than a gang member.

    Excused for cause.

  35. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:31 am

    Back in the day, I divorced my-husband-the-lawyer because he was a narcissist. (Note: that's not my diagnosis–it came straight from the psychiatrist who knew what he was–but didn't tell him–before I married him.)

    Being one of those people who feels compelled to understand everything, I did a lot of research. In the course of bogging myself down with minutia, I came upon a study that purported to establish that the vast majority of lawyers are narcissists or sociopaths.

    That assessment fit nicely with my experience both as a wife and as a paralegal. At the time, it was a much needed balm to my soul. Years later, I understand it's a pile of horseshit. I know a lot of lawyers who are neither–most of those that go bad are failed idealists, rather than fodder for a mental pathology study. I expect that the same holds true for a lot of cops.

    Painting with a broad brush is never wise, Clark, even if…no, especially if you're doing it because someone called you on your emotional outburst, and you then feel compelled to logic it up a bit. (I say this with empathy, because I've done it often–just not lately, because I know better now.)

    Don't think I'm big on cops; I have my own reasons for not liking them as a class. But as much as I abhor the abuses–and there are many–I have to look at those abuses in the context of what cops are up against. Doesn't make the abuses okay, but it does make them understandable as something other than the product of sociopathy.

    That's my two cents, about which I intend to argue no further. Mostly, it's intended as a caution to you that sometimes it's more useful to say, "yeah, I was over the top" than to make a wholesale production of defending the indefensible.

  36. LeeNapier  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:31 am

    I was all set to come in with a rational argument about assuming behaviors of a majority of a group when evidenced by only a small minority, but then I saw this:

    http://gawker.com/dad-calls-cops-on-son-to-teach-him-a-lesson-cops-shoot-1460159897

    …and now I don't feel like it. *sigh*

  37. Chris Rhodes  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:34 am

    @Joel:

    Let's try it a different way. Do you see the issue with this argument:

    "I was caught with X ounces of pot but the police officer only wrote Y ounces of pot in his report so I only went to prison for 5 years instead of 10! See how benevolent the police can be?"

  38. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:36 am

    Most lawyers I know who interact with cops acknowledge that cops lying under oath ("testilying") is utterly common, to the point of being the norm.

    I have no doubt that most lawyers you know "acknowledge" this. That does not make it so. It just means that you interact with a particular segment of lawyers, which does not surprise me.

    I do not agree that it is the norm. I agree that it happens. There are good and bad in every profession.

  39. Chris Rhodes  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:38 am

    @David:

    Anecdotally, I can report that the LEOs I know are generally good people; in addition, I can say that about every LEO I have known in the past.

    In your opinion, how would these good people react to coming across a man smoking a joint?

  40. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:39 am

    @David:

    Anecdotally, I can report that the LEOs I know are generally good people

    I disagree that the category "good people" exists, and if you want to insist that it does, then I'll acknowledge (as I already have a half dozen times in this thread) that individual cops are nice to their friends, tell great jokes, probably do good jobs at coaching their kids' little league teams, etc.

    I speak only to whether (a) cops, in their roles as cops, are likely be effectively psychopaths, and (b) cop culture defends and nurtures such behavior.

    Cops are like a box of chocolate, so the nice guy you know guarantees nothing about the possible ego-tripping thug who might take an interest in you someday. But to dismiss an entire class or category of people by vocation based on waving so thin a reed?

    Is that what I based the dismissal on? I suppose if one didn't read my post, or was actively inclined to misunderstand it, one might think so.

  41. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:44 am

    It is interesting to note that Clark does seem to be backing off some of his assertions in the post. The one that caught my attention was: "The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job." That is a blanket statement that all police are evil. Here, in the comments, he seems to be backing away from that silly claim. While articulating no distinction between prosecutors and cops, he claims that he would have to meet me to know if I am evil. Either he is backing off his claims, or there is something about the job of a prosecutor that is less inherently "evil" than that of a cop. I don't believe he thinks that, hence, the "rhetorical flourish" defense may be kicking in…

    Just so the Kimberlin crowd does not distort any of this, I speak in these comments as a private citizen, and not in my official capacity. I don't want to answer a lot of detailed questions about my job because it will be twisted by them.

  42. Joel  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:47 am

    @Chris: I get what you're saying there, but that has no relevance to my argument. You seem to be arguing from the perspective that nothing the police do is good or worthwhile, which is perfect fine–you're free to believe whatever you want–but it also means your arguments are inherently lacking in rational content because that's a pretty huge bias. I'm not saying you can't believe that, but if you want to have a useful discussion about it, or have other people take you seriously on the subject, you need to be able to support that claim.

    Edited to add: Not to mention that second example is textbook false equivalency. There is little to no common ground between a routine tail light stop (ostensibly a public service) and an overdramatic response to a possession charge. I actually want to dissect that second example a bit as well, but that'd be straying too far from my point.

  43. Chris Rhodes  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:51 am

    @Patterico:

    I tend to agree that he's backing away a bit, and for good reason. I'm not sure it's wise to label people "good" or "evil", rather than actions.

    To modify Clark's initial claim a bit, I will say that anyone who signs up to be a police officer is knowingly signing up to perform a lot of evil actions, and that I should inherently be very wary of such a person.

    EDIT:

    @Joel:

    You seem to be arguing from the perspective that nothing the police do is good or worthwhile

    I never said that. I only thought your example of a good cop was hilariously skewed. Surely you could come up with a better example of what a good cop looks like.

  44. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:52 am

    @Patterico

    It is interesting to note that Clark does seem to be backing off some of his assertions in the post. The one that caught my attention was: "The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job." That is a blanket statement that all police are evil.

    Indeed, that was poorly phrased, as I do not believe that people are all good or all evil.

    I do believe that the job description of modern policing requires one to either (a) commit evil actions, or (b) fail to do one's job.

    I don't want to be seen as backing off the assertions; I stand by both the tone and the thrust of the post. That said, it was a first draft, and I wish to retain all of the vehemence and the bile while correcting small misstatements.

    Either he is backing off his claims, or there is something about the job of a prosecutor that is less inherently "evil" than that of a cop.

    Neither.

    I know that prosecutors specialize. If one prosecuted only murders, say, or frauds, or rapes, and one never used testimony likely to be self-serving and false, then one can be a prosecutor with out inherently committing evil acts.

    If, on the other hand, a prosecutor went after a citizen for a consensual "crime" such as drug possession, firearm possession, infringing some inane and a priori unknowable regulation, or one was engaged in prima facie injustices like asset forfeiture laws, one would commit evil actions.

  45. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:53 am

    sometimes it's more useful to say, "yeah, I was over the top" than to make a wholesale production of defending the indefensible.

    I like you, Rhonda Lee Kirk Fries.

  46. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:54 am

    @Chris Rhodes

    @Patterico:

    I tend to agree that he's backing away a bit, and for good reason. I'm not sure it's wise to label people "good" or "evil", rather than actions.

    To modify Clark's initial claim a bit, I will say that anyone who signs up to be a police officer is knowingly signing up to perform a lot of evil actions, and that I should inherently be very wary of such a person.

    Exactly.

  47. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:57 am

    @Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries

    a caution to you that sometimes it's more useful to say, "yeah, I was over the top" than to make a wholesale production of defending the indefensible.

    But I don't remotely think that my post is over the top. I think that it is an ethically evil action to join the police or to enforce most of the laws on the books.

    If anything, I am radically underselling my thoughts on the matter.

  48. JeffM  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:02 am

    @ Clark

    This started with your argument that lawyers should not be judged as a class on the basis of some members of the class. I did not think that your argument was particularly compelling as made, but I did not respond because I thought the argument could be greatly improved. (I am not saying that I would necessarily agree with an improved argument because lawyers are largely a self-policing guild, which entails some degree of individual moral responsibility for the actions of others in the guild.)

    Then you came up with your argument about cops. That argument can be applied to lawyers as well as to cops. No one is born a lawyer. No one is required to be a lawyer. If the legal system does evil (and it frequently does), then those who voluntarily make the legal system function are evil.

    In other words, you have contradicted yourself. Either all lawyers are morally corrupt because they voluntarily participate in and therefore perpetuate a corrupt system (your argument about cops), or no individual's moral status is to be judged on the basis of a class of individuals, even if the individuals in the group assert that the class is self-policed. Make up your mind.

  49. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:09 am

    It just means that you interact with a particular segment of lawyers, which does not surprise me.

    A palpable hit!

    @Clark

    Anecdotally, I can report that the LEOs I know are generally good people

    I disagree that the category "good people" exists

    Yeah yeah. Romans 1. The substantial difference between us is that your reading of Catholicism does not include a doctrine of Common Grace, but my reading of Protestantism does.

    I'll acknowledge (as I already have a half dozen times in this thread) that individual cops are nice… I speak only to whether (a) cops, in their roles as cops, are likely be effectively psychopaths, and (b) cop culture defends and nurtures such behavior.

    You fail to grok the point that Longcat dropped earlier in the thread. A given person who decides to become a cop isn't wholly morally compromised by that choice even if the profession is inherently morally compromised, because a person isn't reducible to his profession and its concerns. Likewise, a person in the profession isn't reducible to the moral calculus suggested by a single act of enforcement (or brutality) taken in isolation and without context; people do what they do for many intersecting, and sometimes inconsistent, reasons. The cop who enforces against a joint-smoker because that's the law and looking the other way was infeasible might do so because he needs insurance for his pregnant wife and might vote Libertarian in the next election. Likewise, the cop who issues a warning instead of a ticket and helps old ladies across the street might, under pressure, resort to the use of force too hastily because he's justifiably afraid.

    In other words, you reduce to a simple algorithm what is in fact a complex graph of weighted and interdependent motivations, and into the algorithm you insert categorical terms (good acts, evil acts) as if ethical modeling were reducible to sorting marbles.

    When analyzing and decomplecting harsh reality, there's a subtle but important difference between "pure" and "puerile" models. Conceptually pure models can aid logical analysis without losing relevance to the messy, concrete world; conceptually puerile models aid logical analysis at the cost of unplugging from that world to avoid relevant complexities.

  50. Smoot  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:11 am

    To those of you posting about the Gawker 'Dad Calls Cops' article, there is video of it here http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=cd3_1383861373.

  51. Roscoe  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:14 am

    My experience working with cops and agents was a while ago. Also, I was a fed so maybe I worked with a better class of cops. That said, I completely reject the notion that cops routinely lie at trial, and that this behavior is expected.

    When prepping officers for trial I was routinely told unhelpful facts that I had to deal with. Once I was told facts that showed the defendant was innocent of the crime he was charged with. I remember once impeaching a witness at trial, only to have my case agent tell me something that completely negated the impeachment.

    It happens that cops commit perjury, but this isn't the norm, at least in my experience.

  52. Shakart  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:16 am

    I agree with the 2nd point made by Clark that the LE culture turns good men bad. But I'd like to add to what he says in that its not only the lack of oversight and too much power that has led to such a situation. I'd say it builds up over time. Initially it starts with something that they think is perfectly justified e.g. lying to get someone who is escaping on a technicality. A lot of people if asked may support such a thing. But over time these small small things build up.

    Clarks's first point I think arises out from this itself. Why is the job inherently evil, because it requires making decisions that are evil. But it is this gradual process itself that had led to decisions that might seem to an external observer evil, seeming normal to a LEO.

    A small point I'd make is that I don't think it is too many Psychopaths join LE, but rather they are turned so over time. The culture is corrupting.

  53. Hamilton  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:19 am

    @Patterico: just out of curiosity, and not trying to impugn your profession, but would you agree that prosecutors are incented to achieve convictions and not to ensure justice is done? That there is very little emphasis on going back and showing people were wrongfully convicted based on (for example) prevarication or evidence tampering by law enforcement? That there are "unwritten" penalties in place for prosecutors who develop any form of antagonistic relationship with police even if driven by an attempt to determine the truth of an allegation?

    Do you think that the immunity prosecutors enjoy from lawsuits, coupled with the various incentives, would tend to bias the system in favor of wrongfully caging people?

    How do you feel about that, if you think it is a significant driver?

  54. Phelps  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:21 am

    One of these days I will see a discussion of law enforcement that doesn't involve an invocation of Godwin's Law almost immediately.

    For that to happen, law enforcement will have to stop behaving in ways that immediately and concretely analogize to the Third Reich.

  55. JdL  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:23 am

    @Patterico:

    The War on Drugs may be bad in many ways. It is not, however, the Holocaust.

    Most drug "offenders" aren't actually murdered by the regime, but millions have their lives, and the lives of their families, ruined. Anyone who makes any excuses for the WOD, even of a back-handed nature such as you do, is in my mind at least flirting with evil.

    This is the sad aspect of radical libertarianism.

    There's nothing "sad" about stating that I own myself and will assert the right to make basic personal decisions for myself. Any other belief strikes me as "sad" and a lot of worse adjectives too!

    Anyone who presumes to intrude upon decisions that rightfully belong to me alone is, not to put too fine a point on it, subject to being stopped from his criminal aggressions by any means necessary.

  56. Phelps  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:23 am

    I do not agree that [testilying] is the norm. I agree that it happens. There are good and bad in every profession.

    How many have you prosecuted for perjury in the instances that it happens? How many have you put on the Brady list?

  57. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:27 am

    Btw, this is where I first became aware that police lying in court is so pervasive:

    blog.bennettandbennett.com

    Not all cops lie. But if perjury is committed at the criminal courthouse, it’s likely committed by someone with a badge and a gun — that is, a law enforcement officer. There’s even a term of art for it among the law enforcement community: “testilying”.

  58. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:32 am

    @David:

    It just means that you interact with a particular segment of lawyers, which does not surprise me.

    A palpable hit!

    David, you've made your feelings for me more than clear in our interactions in the author's forum, but your overeager cheerleading is unseemly. By all means, continue, just realize that it's not painting you in a very flattering light and you'd achieve more if you used a subtler brushstroke.

  59. Kevin Kirkpatrick  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:33 am

    It'd be nice (for starters) if LEOs had a simple version of the medical Primum non nocere (first do no harm)
    No victim => no involvement.

    Medical professionals are taught and expected to adhere to their principle, irrespective of hospital policy or even law, and can be disbarred for failing to do so. So too should individual LEOs be expected to adhere to this principle, regardless of idiotic legislation, and be susceptible to immediate termination for failing to do so.

  60. Joel  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:34 am

    @Chris: Oh, okay. I was trying to come up with something routine and harmless, and apparently I've got a much different perspective on tail light stops than you do (I see them as a public service–few if any people do a full inspection of their car every time they drive it and could reasonably go a long time without knowing their tail light is out, which in turn can lead to an accident). I was trying to pull from my own experiences with law enforcement, few of which have been negative, and a burnt out taillight was just about the only one that didn't stem from my own intentional lawbreaking (speeding, running stop signs, Grand Theft Cucurbita).

  61. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:38 am

    @Kevin Kirkpatrick

    It'd be nice (for starters) if LEOs had a simple version of the medical Primum non nocere (first do no harm)

    They do, and it's their overriding concern.

    Unfortunately, it only applies to themselves, their families, and other LEOs.

  62. Todd Knarr  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:38 am

    I don't like agreeing with Clark, but I have to. The reason isn't the behavior of the officers responsible for the abuses, but the behavior of all the other officers in that department. How many times have we seen cases where an officer's behavior is so far beyond the pale that it ought to at least result in that officer being assigned to a non-public-contact desk job for the rest of his career if not being outright fired, and yet the actual reaction from the department involved is to assert that the officer did nothing wrong, followed all proper procedures and acted appropriately for the situation? Too many. And in every case, where's the outrage from the other officers in the department? They have to know that by doing this the Chief's making people not like or trust police officers, which makes the officer's jobs harder and more risky. Yet there's no pressure brought by the force to do anything, nor do you see any large-scale movement out as officers actively look for jobs that don't involve a boss like that. That leads me to conclude that police officers, whatever public statements anybody may make about them, at least tacitly agree with the abuses and the abusers. Actions, as they say, speak louder than words.

    I'd note that that's the same reason I disagree with Clark about tarring all lawyers with the same brush. We see lawyers like the ones behind Prenda all the time, yet there's no apparent action by the Bar Associations involved to investigate and disbar them and no public outcry by the supposed honest majority of the BA, no organized attempt to change the leadership to ones who won't tolerate that kind of behavior.

    There's an aphorism: "If you add a cup of wine to a barrel of sewage, you get sewage. If you add a cup of sewage to a barrel of wine, you get sewage."

  63. Mad Rocket Scientist  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:38 am

    All the individual interactions I've had with LEOs has been positive, friendly encounters. Of course, I'm white, educated, & a disabled vet, so my demographic tends to be given a bit of respect.

    That said, the culture of police, the protectionism, the willingness to overlook bad acts, the tendency of police & prosecutors to apply a different standard the assessment of police actions (especially in the use of violence in self defense*) is just as morally repugnant as politicians covering for each other, or corporate executives covering for each other, or any other insular group covering up & excusing/rationalizing away the bad acts of others.

    I have to tell those of you who defend LEO culture, I did my time in the military, and I can tell you, without a doubt, that the military treats misbehavior very harshly. Rare is the CO who tolerates the people in his command committing crimes against the populace. They'll either hand you over to civilian authorities, or prosecute you hard internally.

    If police leadership, Internal affairs, & DAs were as hard on cops who do wrong as military leaders, NCIS/CID, JAG are on sailors & soldiers, we would not be having this discussion.

  64. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:45 am

    @Todd Knarr

    I don't like agreeing with Clark, but I have to.

    The strongest steel goes through the hottest fire.

    I'd note that that's the same reason I disagree with Clark about tarring all lawyers with the same brush.

    I think you've misread me – I don't tar lawyers with the same brush. Lawyering neither has the weight and violence of the state behind it (well, not directly, although the state granted monopoly is icky), nor the all-on-the-same-team-cover-for-a-fellow-practitioner culture.

    There's an aphorism: "If you add a cup of wine to a barrel of sewage, you get sewage. If you add a cup of sewage to a barrel of wine, you get sewage."

    Indeed. There might be a few good LEOs out there, but LEO as a field is sewage.

  65. jdgalt  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:55 am

    I agree with this article more than anything I've ever seen on Popehat.

    But…

    There are (a few) necessary laws, and somebody needs to enforce them. That either implies police, or a feud society (David Friedman's term) or something like it.

    Here and now the best alternative I can see is for as many people and businesses as possible to employ private security (because unlike someone who joins the police or military, private security firms at least have the option to limit their targets and tactics appropriately).

    Beyond that we're stuck in a political struggle for reform, at least until there's a freer country that will let us emigrate there.

    The reform movement I would join or start is based on these principles.

    (1) An officer's (or judge's, or official's) oath to obey the Constitution is absolutely binding and enforceable.

    (2) A police officer has no right to inflict punishment of any kind except when directly ordered by a judge. Any first-use of force (except to minimally restrain a person after telling him he's under arrest), with or without a weapon, is a violation of this rule.

    (3) Nor may an officer give arbitrary orders. He can only require conduct that the law itself, or a judge's order, already requires.

    (4) Officers who abuse their powers are subject to the same punishment as you or I would be if we did the same deed, plus an extra penalty for the violation of trust.

    (5) No one is above the law. There must be no immunity, qualified or otherwise, for anybody. Every victim has the right to sue and/or prosecute the individual who harmed or bullied him/her. If an officer or official suffers employer discipline, it shall not be confidential; the victim has the right to know about it, and may make that information public.

    (6) If an officer, official, or informant who testifies in a case has ever been convicted of perjury or corruption, the jury is entitled to know it. The procedural rule that now prevents this must be abolished.

    (7) In any case of a confrontation between a cop or official and a civilian, the presumption that the civilian is innocent trumps any presumption that the official is innocent.

    And (8) Cops and public employees may not be represented by unions.

  66. Dion starfire  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:55 am

    @Clark Weren't you just extolling the virtues of small town government a couple weeks ago? This is the dark side of the same sort of small town government

    This IS how people act without governance. Without a government, the job of police would be filled by whomever has the most and best weapons. And you eventually end up back with the same situation that led to this story, except in that world, the only remedy is a riot or revolt against those entrusted with keeping the law.

    Thankfully, in THIS world, we have a system to deal with these abuses of power without resorting to mass violence. The victim has already started the process of mobilizing that system against the perpetrators. Prenda didn't destroy my faith in lawyers and dicks like the ones in Dening) didn't destroy my faith in police. (The a**hole that decided activating the "takedown lights" should be the default action for a night stop took care of that years ago).

    yes, I know I'm donning a metaphorical "kick me" sign, but somebody has to stand up to idealism, and I guess it's me, today.

  67. Paul E. "Marbux" Merrell  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:02 am

    The problem with good cops covering up for bad cops certainly is not unique to the LEO profession. For example:

    Most lawyers don't file bar complaints against other lawyers despite a disciplinary rule requiring that all lawyers report every violation they observe. And the number of lawyers willing to pursue malpractice claims against other lawyers is shamefully few.

    Likewise, MDs rarely inform patients that they've been the victim of malpractice inflicted by another MD; they just try to minimize the aftermath without noting the cause. And trying to persuade most MDs to testify about another MD's malpractice is often an exercise in futility in my experience.

    In the same vein, we've seen lead story after lead story about Catholic clergy covering up for the pederasts among them, enabling the pederasts to continue their misbehavior with more children.

    I can't say with any confidence that these problems are completely without networking effects. Certainly, awareness of a "don't bite our own" ethos informs those with a predilection for misbehavior they they may misbehave in many ways without likely adverse consequences.

  68. Dion starfire  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:10 am

    Oh, and just to provide a counterpoint to this story I had the opportunity to watch police responding to a public drunkenness case.

    A guy was sitting at a bus station and suddenly fell from his seat to the ground (apparently he passed out). Somebody alerted transit police to the issue and a couple minutes later (they had to be only a few blocks away) a squad car arrived with 2 officers and a cadet (that's what his shoulder badge said, anyway).

    They didn't beat, kick, attack, or even verbally abuse the man. The only unusual (i.e. not something a normal good samaritan would do) physical contact was when one officer checked the guys back pocket looking for a wallet. They talked to him for a bit, asking who he was, where he was going/from, etc. (in the polite but slightly firm tone you use with people too drunk to care they've fallen to the ground).

    At a few points they tried to help the man to his feet (lifting the many by his shoulders, and keeping him from falling backwards), but he was too far gone to support his own weight. At one point the man half-heartedly tried to push them away ("go away, I'm fine"), and they just leaned back from the hand for a moment then continued trying to persuade him to go home, call a friend, whatever. They didn't even reach for their tasers.

    Unfortunately, my bus arrived at that point so I'm not sure how it ended up. I'm pretty sure they just took him somewhere to sleep it off, (since he was gone when I was on the way home).

  69. Joel  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:13 am

    Clark, I'm gathering from your comments that your stance is somewhere along the lines of "I don't specifically hate the players, I hate the game and think the game attracts a disproportionate amount of bad players", which is a much more agreeable stance than your initial post read. My initial read of your post was much more of a broader "fuck the police" statement than the more nuanced "fuck the war on drugs and militarization of police and growing encouragement of thugs with badges". It's an important distinction, as one is just impotent rage, the other is identifying a specific problem that can (in theory at least) be addressed. You seem to do this a lot–write about a subject in a way that comes across as bullheaded and irrational, only to clarify by responding to specific arguments in the comments–and while it really bothers me (as a believer in "pure" discourse), but I'm starting to come to appreciate it, if only because by attempting to see your side, and reading your clarifications, it helps distill the specific issues that are important to your side of the argument. I do wish you wouldn't use rhetoric that so closely reflects ignorant Tea Partiers on Facebook, because you're clearly far more intelligent and reasonable than that.

  70. Spoonman.  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:14 am

    Not one dead Iraqi gives a damn how nice George W. Bush was to the White House cooks.

  71. Marconi  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:36 am

    I am stunned at the cop apologetics that are reminiscent of the "percentage of the priests that raped little kids is less than what may be found in the general population" excuse.

    Cops are not supposed to commit crime. The tolerance is not 1 percent or 0·1 percent, it is zero.

    Clark only got one thing wrong. Hating the sin makes no sense.

  72. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:38 am

    A reader emails me:

    Why does Patterico care whether you think he's evil? My HR-savant sense is tingling. I suspect his self-image as a man of integrity or however he views himself is at odds with the undeniably corrupt cesspool of an industry that he works in, which he cannot be unaware of, and he feels a need to proclaim that he hasn't been tainted by association with it, he's still a good man.

    You know, despite working as a prosecutor for USG. A profession, that, if I recall, achieves a 90% conviction rate by getting defendents to plea-bargain away an avalanche of expensive-to-defend-against charges and threats of endless incarceration over transgressions, regardless of size or severity. I'm sure it's similar to the cop profession, in that the stories they tell themselves about themselves and what they do, their mythologies, are no longer shared by the public – they've squandered that social capital, and then some. There must be some serious cognitive dissonance, and it leads, at least on the part of cops, to some seriously criminal acting out, shouting "BUT WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS! WHY DON'T YOU LIKE US ANYMORE???" as they stomp on your face in frustration.

  73. Kevin  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:41 am

    It seems to me that the "us against the police" mentality has gotten stronger in the last twenty years. I fear that this mentality creates a feedback loop wherein police react aggressively to the perceived confrontational nature that society views as existing.

    And the loop goes on and on. I wish I knew how to break the loop.

    We can't simply rely on good people to come forward compelled by civic duty. As much as it pains me, I think Clark is right, few good people aspire to be police officers. I imagine this is largely because of how police officers are viewed.

    Similarly the corrupting influence of power certainly depresses or overrides the good intentions of even the best officers.

    Perhaps Clark as Police Chief would solve it.

  74. Todd Knarr  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:42 am

    @Clark

    Lawyering neither has the weight and violence of the state behind it (well, not directly, although the state granted monopoly is icky), nor the all-on-the-same-team-cover-for-a-fellow-practitioner culture.

    When a plaintiff sues a defendant on even frivolous grounds, the defendant has to respond on pain of men with badges and guns showing up to put him in jail for contempt of court. Or men with badges and guns showing up to sieze his property to satisfy the judgement against him, and put him in jail if he objects too strenuously. How is that not lawyers using the weight and violence of the very police you're talking about here? That's why lawyers like Steele et. al. are so much of a problem, because while their cases may be laughable we dare not treat them with the contempt they deserve because they have the weight and power of the state they can bring to bear on us if we do.

    And if the bar doesn't have that cover-for-a-fellow-practitioner mentality, why then are Steele et. al. not facing a very public "show up and give us a really good reason not to disbar you on the spot" from the Bar Association? For that matter, why isn't Jan Goldstein looking at disciplinary action from the California bar over her handling of the "sidewalk chalk vandal" case?

  75. phalanx  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:11 am

    @ Clark

    Do you believe all laws are evil?

  76. Luis  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:11 am

    Clark could you post the brochure for enrollment in the pólice that states that they are there to rape anuses and all that stuff you said? because unless it say so, people signing up are not signin up for that…

    Anyway, if your premise was true, these horror stories would be as common as anything, and they are not, they outrage us because they are so far away of the norm that they are distinctive and visible

    I rather have cops tan not, as simple as that, as your commenter said: there are saints and sinners everywhere

    Law enforcement is a good place for deranged people to abuse power of course, but that does not mean all of them are deranged

  77. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:21 am

    @phalanx

    @ Clark

    Do you believe all laws are evil?

    No.

    There are many laws that are actively good: laws against murder, theft, forgery, etc.

    There are other laws that are contingent and particular, but are still reasonable: stopping at a stop sign even when there is no cross traffic, etc.

    Most government-written laws and regulations (as opposed to common laws) are actively malevolent.

  78. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:28 am

    @Spoonman

    Not one dead Iraqi gives a damn how nice George W. Bush was to the White House cooks.

    A perfect analogy.

    People here keep saying that they know cops who are "good guys", but unless they know how that cop acts at 3am in uniform, the fact that he's nice at the annual neighborhood BBQ isn't interesting to me.

  79. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:31 am

    @Luis

    if your premise was true, these horror stories would be as common as anything

    Agreed.

    and they are not

    Disagreed. I get several new ones in my twitter feed each and every day.

    they outrage us because they are so far away of the norm that they are distinctive and visible

    Disagree.

    They outrage us because of what they are.

    In fact, we don't hear about the vast majority of the incidents.

    Law enforcement is a good place for deranged people to abuse power of course, but that does not mean all of them are deranged

    I agree: X does not imply Y.

    However, that does not mean that Y is not true.

  80. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:33 am

    @Luis

    Clark could you post the brochure for enrollment in the pólice that states that they are there to rape anuses and all that stuff you said?

    Radley Balko did exactly what you asked for:

    theagitator.com/

    I give you two police department recruiting videos. The first is from Decatur, Georgia. The second is from Newport Beach, California. These are the videos each respective department has chosen to represent what being a cop is all about. They’re the videos each department feels will appeal to candidates with the characteristics and traits that make for a good police officer.

    Let’s assume two generic towns that are otherwise mostly similar. One town takes a Newport Beach approach to policing. The other takes a Decatur approach. In which town would you rather live?

  81. phalanx  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:35 am

    @ Clark

    Then I'm having trouble with your "argument" (I guess that's what I can call it, more of a rant, but whatever).
    If all laws are not evil, then we need folks to uphold those laws and make people that break them accountable, right? If so, then we need law enforcement officers. Only ones that uphold certain laws though, not "evil" ones that you describe as victimless. Two year olds that have meth addicted mothers are just poor consumers, I guess.

    So our officers need to pick and choose which laws they uphold. Sounds great. Completley unrealistic, though. And that's what I guess my problem is with screeds like yours, is that it is so detached from reality that it just comes across as ranting about how horrible people are in general, that there's no such thing as "good people."
    But back to my point. In order to have officers that are not evil, they must not enforce evil laws, yes? How exactly do you propose to we do that? You're concearned with the rubber meeting the road right?

  82. AlphaCentauri  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:38 am

    The cops do what we hire them to do. The bad cops are surviving not because their fellow cops are afraid to speak out, but because people up the food chain are rewarding them for their bad behavior. Prosecutors use their testimony to up their own conviction rate, even though they know full well they are not reliable witnesses. DA's allow it to go on to use their "tough on crime" stance to win elections. The finger of blame comes back to the voters who eat up that shit and vote for "law and order" when it means nothing of the sort.

  83. Hamilton  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:42 am

    Most government-written laws and regulations (as opposed to common laws) are actively malevolent.

    I would put it another way and say that laws empower certain people (e.g. the police) to use guns and cages to enforce compliance, and that very few laws hold up under scrutiny to deserving that kind of tolerance of violence, based on the alternative cost. The rest of them simply provide an excuse to use guns and cages, and thus might disproportionately attract the sort of people who like using those things on other people.

  84. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:43 am

    @phalanx

    we need folks to uphold those laws … so our officers need to pick and choose which laws they uphold. Sounds great. Completley unrealistic, though.

    So, what? You're on the side of the War on Drugs and corrupt cops because it's more realistic?

    Yes, I concede that it is more realistic.

    ranting about how horrible people are in general

    Except I explicitly say that people are people, and the problem is the incentives built into the monopoly system.

    they must not enforce evil laws, yes?

    Correct.

    How exactly do you propose to we do that?

    See
    above, where I wrote:

    As I've gotten wiser older, I've started to realize that arguments or assertions of the form "X should do Y better" can never gain any traction. For most X's and Y's, X does Y at exactly the current level because that's what the incentives push for.

    You can't push against a spring loaded door and expect it not to snap back the very second your attention wanders. If you want the door to stay open, you need to change the spring mechanism.

    This is the problem with LEO culture: all the incentives push for lies, cover ups, and arbitrary exercise of authority.

    We can't wish LEOs to behave better with out changing the system that incents them to behave as they currently do.

  85. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:50 am

    @Clark,

    A palpable hit!

    David, you've made your feelings for me more than clear in our interactions in the author's forum

    I'm not sure you have much of an understanding of my feelings regarding you; I'm quite confident that neither my comments here nor my posts in the authors' forum fully equip you to do so.

    What I have occasionally done in private is encourage you to be a more rigorous, less bombastic, and generally better version of… yourself! Whether you take that as encouragement or complaint is mostly out of my hands.

    but your overeager cheerleading is unseemly. By all means, continue, just realize that it's not painting you in a very flattering light and you'd achieve more if you used a subtler brushstroke.

    Erm… I was stealing one of Ken's favorite (i.e., most frequently used) lines from the Sweet Prince of Bad Air to poke Patterico for being snarky toward you.

    So, uhm… what are you on about?

  86. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:55 am

    @Kevin Kirkpatrick

    Medical professionals are taught and expected to adhere to their principle, irrespective of hospital policy or even law, and can be disbarred for failing to do so. So too should individual LEOs be expected to adhere to this principle, regardless of idiotic legislation, and be susceptible to immediate termination for failing to do so.

    And yet there are plenty of arguments that pharmacists who decline to provide contraception or OBGYnobis who prefer not to counsel elective abortion should be stripped of their licenses for discriminating in what amounts to a public accommodation or regulated practice. Indeed, Ken (or someone) made that argument (or something like it) on these very pages.

  87. Troutwaxer  •  Nov 8, 2013 @12:05 pm

    For me the question goes as follows, and I'll begin by noting that I don't know the answer:

    Are we seeing more bad cops or merely more reporting about bad cops? For example before the easy availability of news from other states over the Internet, it's very, very unlikely that I would have known about the anal rape case in New Mexico.

    Is someone with an actual understanding of statistics tracking this issue?

  88. jdh  •  Nov 8, 2013 @12:27 pm

    I think a cop (or prosecutor) for that matter may (or may not) have specific libertarian beliefs that run counter to – say – the War on Drugs. But in the same vein, they perceive an even greater value to enforcing the "norms" of society. And if one want's to eliminate drug gang violence, jailing drug offenders is the current norm with regard to how to address the issue.

    Legalizing drugs would likely be a less cruel and more efficient way of addressing the problem. But this requires society action in revising the law. Is a lawmaker who votes for harsh drug sentencing an evil person? (perhaps) Is he as evil as a policeman or prosecutor? Is an individual who votes for that particular lawmaker because he agrees with the guy on 70% of other issues an evil person?

    Clark may say that everyone has a certain amount of evil in them. I also think Clark doesn't vote. Is Clark particularly evil because he doesn't help vote the lawmaker out of office?

    Unfortunately the entire argument of this discussion and it's ramifications sort of dissolves into futility. Most of the cops I have known are decent folks who signed up to benefit society (and to earn a paycheck). Some aren't. Virtually all of my cop interactions have been positive. Some haven't. Should cops (and doctors, and lawyers, and stockbrokers etc. etc.) do a better job of policing their profession? Undoubtedly. Is it correct to paint all policemen as evil? Not in my opinion.

  89. Chris Rhodes  •  Nov 8, 2013 @12:52 pm

    Most of the cops I have known are decent folks who signed up to benefit society (and to earn a paycheck). Some aren't.

    I think you can readily classify cops into two categories:

    1. The bad cops.
    2. The cops who cover for the bad cops.

    The main reason for this is that the easiest (only?) way to lose your job as a cop is to not cover for the bad cops.

    (Did you gun down an unarmed, 80-year old grandmother in a wheelchair? The police union will go to bat for you. Did you arrest a fellow cop for DUI? Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out; you'll never work in this profession again!)

  90. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @12:58 pm

    @jdh

    Is Clark particularly evil because he doesn't help vote the lawmaker out of office?

    You are making a few assumptions:

    1) voting can accomplish anything
    2) (perhaps) the symbolic value of voting is positive
    3) (perhaps) the symbolic value of not voting is negative

    I disagree with all of these three.

    Most of the cops I have known are decent folks who signed up to benefit society (and to earn a paycheck).

    "Why they signed up" and "how they behave at BBQs" are deeply uninteresting topics.

    Whether they commit evil as they go about their job is, and if they enforce laws against victimless crimes, then they do commit evil.

  91. Kevin  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:07 pm

    @David,Clark

    What I have occasionally done in private is encourage you to be a more rigorous, less bombastic, and generally better version of… yourself!

    I humbly submit that a less bombastic version of Clark would be a worse version of Clark. IMHO.

  92. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:14 pm

    @Kevin, You may be right.

  93. Mr A  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:15 pm

    @david -

    What I have occasionally done in private is encourage you to be a more rigorous, less bombastic, and generally better version of… yourself!

    Ugh. Really?

    I hope your moral, social and intellectual superiors are privately (and occasionally publicly) encouraging you to be a less condescending, and generally better, version of… yourself.

  94. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:16 pm

    @Kevin

    I humbly submit that a less bombastic version of Clark would be a worse version of Clark. IMHO.

    Indeed. Which is not to say that I'm not touched by the care David takes to frame his criticism as concern.

  95. Loren  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:21 pm

    Apropos of nothing whatsoever, how are those charges against the cops that fired over 100 shots at two Hispanic ladies in a wrong make, wrong color truck (as compared to the large Black male suspect (Dorner) they were looking for) coming along? Or the other cops that erroneously shot up the other vehicle a few blocks away? Or has that all just been swept under the rug as an "honest mistake'? Could happen to anybody!

  96. Mike  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:23 pm

    Where do you draw the line on people signing up to do evil things? Is it just at the police officer, who arrests (say) the drug user? Is it at the prosecutor, who puts him on trial? Is it at the jury, who convicts? Is it at the judge, who issues the sentence? Is it at the court of appeals, which (almost invariably) approves the sentence?

    If all of those are just as evil as the police officer because they sign up to do evil, does it go farther? What about the judge's clerk, who tells her the law requires sentencing at x level? What about the court of appeals clerk, who tells the judge that a sentence at x level is within the law?

    And which of those people should refuse to do the task and accept firing (or censure) because of it? All of them? If so, you have a really low standard of not evil.

    (Also, since I posted first (first!!) and didn't get a chance to come back till now — many does not mean most. Many LEOs have issues, and even one LEO with one of those issues is too many. Taking that to describe the typical LEO is silly.)

    (Edited for clarity/accuracy in two spots.)

  97. SirWired  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:25 pm

    You lost me at "Fuck them all, and may they die slow horrible syphilitic deaths."

    - Not "Fuck them all, and may they see the error of their ways and quit their jobs."
    - Not "Fuck them all, and may the people rise up in righteous anger to overthrow their tyrannical force."
    - Not "Fuck them all, and may the salvageable be be taught Truth, Justice, and the Libertarian Way."
    - Not "Fuck them all (for now), and may the system change so the good may go on to enforce moral laws."

    Even as a rhetorical flourish, it's a sign that one is not particularly interested in engaging in a reasoned discussion (and possibly even working towards solutions), since you've utterly written off as human beings one entire side.

  98. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:38 pm

    @SirWired

    You lost me at "Fuck them all, and may they die slow horrible syphilitic deaths."

    Yeah, valid point. That wasn't my finest rhetorical maneuver.

    - Not "Fuck them all, and may they see the error of their ways and quit their jobs."

    Indeed, that is what I should have said.

    Even as a rhetorical flourish, it's a sign that one is not particularly interested in engaging in a reasoned discussion (and possibly even working towards solutions), since you've utterly written off as human beings one entire side.

    Some things can't be reasoned with. Allied forces did not try to convince Nazis to stop murdering children.

  99. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @1:40 pm

    @Mike

    Where do you draw the line on people signing up to do evil things? Is it just at the police officer, who arrests (say) the drug user? Is it at the prosecutor, who puts him on trial? Is it at the jury, who convicts? Is it at the judge, who issues the sentence? Is it at the court of appeals, which (almost invariably) approves the sentence?

    All of those people have committed evil acts.

    …and let's not forget the legislators who created the laws.

    As to where to draw the line exactly, I'm not sure. I can point to some things and say "these are clearly inside the line", and to others and say "these are clearly outside". More precision is desirable, but it takes energy and discernment to generate those extra bits.

  100. SimpleMachine  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:00 pm

    I have to respectfully disagree with first Clark, and then Maggie.

    First, while the legal profession is adversarial in the courtroom, before we get to that point lawyers as a class have cooperated to construct the laws to their advantage. They've worked together through the ABA to make "justice" a purposefully confusing set of petty regulations, which forces the people to pay constantly increasing fees just to understand the logic of state violence, the law. You'd think that "justice" should be something that is understandable to the generally decent people, but lawyers don't.

    Then they restrict competition purposely through ridiculous licensing requirements and law schools, like any cartel. Then they purposefully limit innovation, such as by mandating partnerships. Generally, their job could be done by legal assistants, but that's against the law. If we let them, they'd mandate that all law be practiced in Latin again.

    I think there's a proper place for every profession, including the legal profession, and part of a fair and decent society is that it should promote the interests of everyone and that everyone should have an equal voice, rather than one class or trade to the disadvantage of others. All three branches of our government is the lawyers. And government's pretty evil, which is another proof about the quality of lawyers. America is an aristocracy, we got rid of the nobility of the sword, but not the nobility of the robe.

    The suitability of lawyers as politicians is obvious, it's the profession of defending the truth, decency and justice of whatever is paying you money. It's not that I doubt that many lawyers believe what they're saying, but I also think that lawyers are very good at learning to believe what it is convenient to believe. Psychopaths have grasp of morality, lawyers have such a good grasp they can twist it.

    Second, as to Maggie's point, I'm wary about the idea of cops doing what they think is moral rather than what is the law. I don't want cops taking care of someone they "know" is guilty, because they can't convict them. I think the problem with police is they don't follow the law enough, not too little.

    Not that they should act like Inspector Javert. They shouldn't be OCD about the laws that limit us, but they should be OCD about the laws that limit them.

  101. UlrikeDG  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:13 pm

    I live with a LEO. What has impressed me about his job is the emphasis they place on de-escalating any given situation. They would rather talk someone down than hold him down. If they have to resort to using force/physical restraint, they consider that a failure, not a success! I think that that attitude–those community values–make(s) a big difference across the board.

  102. En Passant  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:16 pm

    Clark Nov 8, 2013 @1:40 pm:

    All of those people have committed evil acts.

    …and let's not forget the legislators who created the laws.

    I agree on the legislators, but not on the jurors.

    Jurors are drafted to serve, under penalty of fine and jail. They are not trained in law or law enforcement. They are required to listen to scumbags who know how to lie convincingly. They are instructed, sometimes not even obliquely, by judges that police have no incentive to lie but defendants do. They are innocents held hostage by unscrupulous liars and power hungry sociopaths.

    Any evil jurors commit is likely due to ignorance and innocent belief that authorities are honest and honorable, not willful disregard of human and decent alternatives to their actions.

  103. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:21 pm

    @En Passant

    I agree on the legislators, but not on the jurors.

    Agreed. I read too quickly and thought I was agreeing to "jurists".

  104. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:27 pm

    @Mr A

    What I have occasionally done in private is encourage you to be a more rigorous, less bombastic, and generally better version of… yourself!

    Ugh. Really?

    If telling him he's wrong and stubbornly clinging to his wrongness and "making a wholesale production of defending the indefensible" counts as that, then yeah. I believe in more speech as a cure for absurd speech, and occasionally I go so far as to object when, say, someone claims that all members of religion or ethnicity X are objectively inferior to the speaker on account of that adherence or classification. Or when someone makes brash, embarrassing claims in a domain he doesn't understand. Or when the mood strikes me.

    I hope your moral, social and intellectual superiors are privately (and occasionally publicly) encouraging you to be a less condescending, and generally better, version of… yourself.

    I, too, fervently hope they are, for I can be awfully snooty and quite indifferent to others' feelings. If you're able to identify them and you happen to spot them doing so, would you ping me?

  105. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:37 pm

    @David:

    I go so far as to object when, say, someone claims that all members of religion or ethnicity X are objectively inferior to the speaker on account of that adherence or classification.

    Heaven forfend that someone say that members of an opt-in group (where said group has strong ethical and cultural norms distinct from society at large) have…ethics distinct from those of society at large.

    How…unnuanced.

  106. John Farrier  •  Nov 8, 2013 @2:47 pm

    Posts like this are why I love to read Popehat–especially Clark's posts.

    Clark might be overstating his case. But he's exhibiting a deep skepticism of government power, which is essential in a healthy republic.

  107. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @3:43 pm
    I go so far as to object when, say, someone claims that all members of religion or ethnicity X are objectively inferior to the speaker on account of that adherence or classification.

    Heaven forfend that someone say that members of an opt-in group (where said group has strong ethical and cultural norms distinct from society at large) have…ethics distinct from those of society at large.

    How…unnuanced.

    Yeah, Clark. That's totally all you were doing when you said Muslims worship Satan and then hunkered down.

  108. JTM  •  Nov 8, 2013 @3:50 pm

    A few numbers, because numbers are fun:

    In 2012, there were 17,985 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States that employed one or more full-time officer (or the equivalent in part-time officers).

    In 2008, state and local law enforcement officers employed 1.1 million persons on a full-time basis, including 765,000 sworn peace officers (those with arrest powers). They also employed another 100,000 part-time persons, including 44,000 sworn officers.

    In 2004, the federal government employed 105,000 sworn peace officers.

    I don't know to what extent these numbers include corrections officers, and don't care enough to research it further.

    Anyway, assuming that those numbers have stayed more-or-less the same over the last few years, there are about 900,000 sworn peace officers in the United States, who carry guns and have arrest powers. So every time you read a story about an officer committing misconduct, that represents a fraction of a percent of all the sworn peace officers in the country. You'd have to have 45,000 officers committing misconduct before you hit 5 percent of the sworn peace officers in the country. Are there that many? Maybe, but there's been no evidence in this thread to establish that.

    Every time you read a story about a particular law enforcement agency with bad policies or institutional practices, that represents a tiny fraction of all the law enforcement agencies in the country. You'd have to have 900 separate agencies with bad policies or institutional practices before you hit 5% of the law enforcement agencies in the country. Are there that many? Maybe, but there's been no evidence in this thread to establish that.

    How many occupations are there in which 5% of the people in them should be fired? Most of them?

    The stories involving police grab our attention, because police are supposed to protect us, and the consequences of mistakes or malfeasance can be so terrible. But that's not a great reason to indict the entire profession. The anecdotal stories that we see in the news every day aren't anywhere near sufficient to make those kinds of sweeping judgments.

    There are institutional problems with our law enforcement systems. Writing off law enforcement officers as bad or evil isn't going to help fix anything.

    Sources for numbers: Wikipedia!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_enforcement_in_the_United_States

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_law_enforcement_in_the_United_States

  109. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @3:54 pm

    @David:

    That's totally all you were doing

    I'm sorry. I thought your comment in this thread was referring to this thread. My bad for not realizing you were talking about something from seven months ago.

    I apologize for my all-but-unforgivable mistake and will strive to read your mind better next time when reading your words is insufficient.

  110. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:00 pm

    @Clark,
    I, too, thought my comments in this thread were about this thread, until you dragged stuff in from the private forum (and proceeded to mischaracterize it).

    Now you whine when I reply by referencing what you dragged in? Srsly? What's with all your hostility today?

    Kinda spoils the illusion of rationality you try to project, no?

  111. Phelps  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:09 pm

    How many occupations are there in which 5% of the people in them should be fired? Most of them?

    The problem is, we aren't talking about cops who should be fired. We are talking about cops who should be incarcerated. The real question is how many occupations are there where you can commit sexual battery and not only be confident that you won't be prosecuted, but in fact will have the whole thing covered up?

    I can only think of three — LEO, prosecutor, or president.

  112. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:19 pm

    @David

    What's with all your hostility today?

    I'll assume that's an honest question and answer it.

    Today started out as it usually does by me not interacting with you, but you jumped into attack mode.

    Our first interaction today was you snarking

    Nov 8, 2013 @8:19 am

    Has there ever been a more Clarkian post title at Popehat?

    Anyhow, that's a lovely rationalization you've got there, Clark. You deserve brownie points for making your special pleading explicit.

    I ignored your tone and insult and responded just to your points: Nov 8, 2013 @8:39 am.

    Our next interaction was relatively minor, when Rhonda Lee Kirk Fries disagreed with me and you added nothing of substance by made it clear that if there's an anti-Clark team you want in:

    Nov 8, 2013 @8:53 am

    sometimes it's more useful to say, "yeah, I was over the top" than to make a wholesale production of defending the indefensible.

    I like you, Rhonda Lee Kirk Fries.

    I ignored that.

    Our third interaction was when you started cheering what you thought was some sort of knockout debating blow:

    Nov 8, 2013 @9:09 am

    It just means that you interact with a particular segment of lawyers, which does not surprise me.

    A palpable hit!

    After taking three snark jabs from you in a row I broke my policy of trying to defuse your months-long snit by a mixed policy of not interacting with you or offering small olive branches, and instead remonstrated you.

    You took no head of the fact that it was your repeated hostility that was embarrassing and kept at it even when
    others told you how off-putting your snideness was.

    And then, amusingly for someone you likes to criticize others for "doubling down", you did so a few times.

    I'd ask, as I have before, what has your knickers so in a twist that you can't even accept my disengagement from your little lets-have-a-fight party as victory, but experience has told me that doing so results in you explaining to me in patient tones and short words that I've misconstrued the whole thing because I'm an idiot and you're the smart one, so I think I'll just skip that.

    I'll (try to) resume my policy of ignoring you. Hopefully that will work and you'll never again be shocked by your ab initio hostility being returned in kind.

  113. Wade  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:28 pm

    The question that Clark's critics have left unanswered is "Why is it not evil to kidnap a person away from their family and career for months or years because they gave a pill to a friend or cultivated a plant?" Until someone can answer that question, there is no reason not to believe that all police, prosecutors and Judges who participate in the wars against consensual behavior are evil. Everything else is avoiding the real question. It really comes down to the divide between people who will accept "Because Mommy says so" as an answer and those who won't.

  114. J@m3z Aitch  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:42 pm

    Oregonians,… have sinners and saints.

    We call them Beavers and Ducks, respectively.

    Slightly more seriously, an excellent post. The question was indeed a good one, and your response right on target.

  115. JTM  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:45 pm

    @Phelps "The problem is, we aren't talking about cops who should be fired. We are talking about cops who should be incarcerated."

    Even talking about incarceration, there's insufficient information to criticize the entire law enforcement profession.

    There are about 900,000 sworn peace officers. The incarceration rate in the U.S. is about 754 per 100,000. So if incarcerations were evenly distributed across the U.S. population, you would expect 6,786 peace officers to be incarcerated.

    Incarcerations aren't evenly distributed, of course, but the point remains that even if you read lots and lots of stories every year about peace officers committing crimes, you need a much deeper analysis before you can say that law enforcement as a whole is a criminal enterprise. Out of 900,000 people, it's almost guaranteed that some will commit crimes. Some of those crimes will be horrible ones.

    Dismissing the law enforcement community as evil jack-booted thugs based on anecdotal accounts of a small number of bad actors is a poor way to have a conversation about fixing some of the very real institutional problems with law enforcement.

    New Wikipedia source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_rate

  116. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @4:48 pm

    @Clark,
    Dude, you see innocent stuff as snark. I think the title is wonderful for its Clarkian quality; that's not a negative. Yes, I think your argument is special pleading, but I poked Patterico in your behalf, not to chide you.

    Take a chill pill, do some re-reading, and try not to be so paranoid.

  117. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries  •  Nov 8, 2013 @5:01 pm

    @David,

    I like you too, most especially right now for your ability to avoid the hook and take a thoughtful and moderate approach, even as you have been repeatedly misunderstood.

    If more people were capable of this, the world would be less about endless bitching and more about quality production.

    @Clark,

    As mentioned in comments elsewhere, I like you because you make me laugh…but not right at this moment.

    I'm going to leave this thread now, because it has become painful to watch.

  118. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @5:01 pm

    @David

    @Clark,
    Dude, you see innocent stuff as snark.

    No, I correctly perceive your nasty snark as nasty snark. You've got a habit of poking, and poking and poking, and then when someone swats your hand away you say "Hey! Why so nasty? We were having good natured fun."

    Take a chill pill, do some re-reading, and try not to be so paranoid.

    Step 1: I do whatever I'm doing.

    Step 2: You snipe repeatedly.

    Step 3: I ignore it at first, then eventually slap back.

    Step 4: You act wounded and innocent and ask what you might have possibly done wrong.

    Step 5: I explain.

    Step 6: You tell me that I should chill out, because none of it was as I perceived it, and I'm paranoid and seeing things that don't exist. This is where the faux patient tone and short words come in that I referenced earlier. (Amusingly, you often use the word "Dude" at this step. I only wish we played poker for money.)

    Step 7: I note that you gaslight.

    Step 8: You put on a haughty tone and tell me that I don't know what gaslighting means / am using the word incorrectly / misunderstand the situation.

    (So far I've always managed to avoid going any further with this dance than step 8, so I don't know if we switch partners at this point, or pick up the pace, or what. )

    So, with regards to today's dance: OK, you've taken your initial three blows, I've sunk to your level, and you've told me to chill out because it was all in good fun..

    Today, I think, I'll bow out of it at step 6.

    Clark, Exeunt, pursued by a bear.

  119. Todd Knarr  •  Nov 8, 2013 @5:11 pm

    @JTM

    Dismissing the law enforcement community as evil jack-booted thugs based on anecdotal accounts of a small number of bad actors is a poor way to have a conversation about fixing some of the very real institutional problems with law enforcement.

    The problem isn't those accounts or events, per se. The problem is the rest of the law-enforcement community's rejection of the idea that there is a problem. It's the fact that the remainder of the force where the problem occurred don't merely ignore it but actively close ranks and protect the officer who did it.

    It would go over a lot better with people if, for instance, the day after the incident we saw the head of the Deming PD announced that the officers involved were on unpaid leave pending a determination of whether there was any conceivable justification for their conduct and that absent that they'd be fired and charged with multiple felonies. But that doesn't happen. You won't even find the rest of the force telling the sargent that they don't want these guys as partners. Instead they'll get a few weeks of paid leave (not even having to touch their vacation days) and a story that everyone else in the force will laugh along with.

  120. Tom  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:00 pm

    2013 America: "Man, fuck the Germans." "The fuck are you talking about?"

    1944 America: "Man, fuck the Germans." "Right?"

    2013 America: "Man, fuck the police." "Dude, shut the fuck up. You tryin' to get us beat down?"

    Some other place and/or time: "Fuck the police." "The fuck are you talking about?"

  121. Marconi Darwin  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:19 pm

    @Clark, you mention how lawyers are different since there are inherent conflicts between people like prosecutors and public defenders and therefore there is a built-in mechanism for self-policing.

    So why do you think that we do still hear of cops being indicted, found guilty, and imprisoned—however rare that might be—for their crimes far more often than prosecutors?

    I mention this because a prosecutor was finally made to pay for his crime of malevolently charging and convicting an innocent person.

    He went/will be going to prison for ten days. The wrongly convicted man only served twenty-five years. It is reportedly the first time ever that a prosecutor will actually serve time.

    Thoughts?

  122. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:33 pm

    Why does Patterico care whether you think he's evil? My HR-savant sense is tingling. I suspect his self-image as a man of integrity or however he views himself is at odds with the undeniably corrupt cesspool of an industry that he works in, which he cannot be unaware of, and he feels a need to proclaim that he hasn't been tainted by association with it, he's still a good man.

    You know, despite working as a prosecutor for USG. A profession, that, if I recall, achieves a 90% conviction rate by getting defendents to plea-bargain away an avalanche of expensive-to-defend-against charges and threats of endless incarceration over transgressions, regardless of size or severity. I'm sure it's similar to the cop profession, in that the stories they tell themselves about themselves and what they do, their mythologies, are no longer shared by the public – they've squandered that social capital, and then some. There must be some serious cognitive dissonance, and it leads, at least on the part of cops, to some seriously criminal acting out, shouting "BUT WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS! WHY DON'T YOU LIKE US ANYMORE???" as they stomp on your face in frustration.

    Has anyone considered the possibility that my question was rhetorical?

    I have better things to do with my time than actually care whether someone on the Internet who wishes all police syphilitic deaths thinks me evil. But it does amuse me to ask the question, just to see the response. Might even cause the person to reconsider some of his sillier and more juvenile, er, "rhetorical flourishes."

    There are a lot of sensible commenters on this thread, by the way, who have a balanced view. One of many nice things about this site.

  123. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:40 pm

    @Clark

    1) the inherent evilness of the full job description of law enforcement

    I am a bit hung up on this part.

    If we assume perfect laws, perfect incentives, perfect oversight, perfect performance, etc. for law enforcement, does it remain evil? If so why, and if not how is law enforcement inherently evil?

    You link law enforcement as a whole to evil but I am having trouble finding the causation for the forest of correlation.

    Is it authority to use force? The backing of a government? What is it that is *inherent* in law enforcement – without any qualifiers – you see as evil?

  124. J@m3z Aitch  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:42 pm

    JTM,

    I get your point, but your limiting the issue to the police doing things that actually count as crimes, as those crimes are defined by the system within which they work. You're not really addressing Wade's point, which is that there are legal police actions within that system that are appalling and should be done by no decent person–appalling enough that there's at least a reasonable argument that a person who engages in them is not in fact a decent person.

    After all, it was not, in the Soviet Union, illegal to torture a person to obtain a conviction. So the police who did that were violating no rules, and in your analysis would show up as non-problems.

  125. Disappoint  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:45 pm

    I like popehat. I really do. And one reason I like it is because 98% of the time, you guys are capable of addressing people you disagree with without slathering huge swaths of the population with disdain.

    I'm going to post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/chris-burbank-salt-lake-city_n_4170154.html, which I happened across earlier today; I'm going to ask that the "many" being discussed in the first couple comments not be substituted for "all" unless you have statistical (read: not a mixture of anecdotal and ideological) support; and I'm going to suggest that just because you disagree with some/many/most/all laws does not mean that people who disagree with you, and act in good faith to enforce said laws, are inherently evil. The evil ones are the ones who believe a law to be wrong and yet enforce it anyway.

  126. Scarecrow Repair  •  Nov 8, 2013 @6:53 pm

    tmc;dr but will post anyway; my skimming didn't see what I want to say :-)

    What has soured me on cops is that they are sworn to uphold the law, but will not uphold the law when their fellow cops violate it. It's not just the Florida cops who retaliated against a Florida cop who busted an off-duty Florida cop for speeding 100 mph over the limit. It's that even if only 5% of cops are crooked, the other 95% must know it, sooner or later, yet do not turn them in. Accepting illegal thuggish behavior when the job exists only to root out thuggish behavior makes one a thug. Any cop who claims he was unaware of the 5% is a lying thug.

  127. Calming Influence  •  Nov 8, 2013 @7:45 pm

    Just another thing to throw into the analysis of personality-type make-up of our law enforcement – rejecting candidates who are "too smart".

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836

  128. David  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:02 pm

    @Clark, I apologize that this note comes late; I was away for much of the evening.

    As far as I can see, this and this are specimens of thought and perception that you need to work out on your own. They mention me, but they're evidently not about me. (And you are, after all, the sort of person who says things like this and protests sincerity when Ken tries to bail you out by pleading hyperbole in your behalf.)

    So here's where I step off the trolley and leave you to your thoughts and the special way of thinking that generates them. Good luck.

  129. Rob D  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:10 pm

    What Clark is actually doing here is taking a completely reasonable and rational argument (that there are many, MANY things wrong with law enforcement) and overstepping the reasonable statement of that argument by using an absolute tied to a death wish.

    Then, when someone goes "whoa, hold up," he doubles down with MORE absolutes and invalid premises, and manages to call his completely hole-riddled and unprovable argument "modest."

    When someone calls you out like that, you use the opportunity to make a more reasoned and well-rationed case than one which stands upon the invalid premise that is "tl;dr: The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job."

  130. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:18 pm

    @Rob D

    Then, when someone goes "whoa, hold up," he doubles down with MOREabsolutes and invalid premises, and manages to call his completely hole-riddled and unprovable argument "modest."

    If you haven't heard of Jonathan Swift, you might want to check him out. He was a modestly decent writer.

    Also, I enjoy how you call my argument "hole-riddled" with out pointing out any holes.

    When someone calls you out like that, you use the opportunity to make a more reasoned and well-rationed case than one which stands upon the invalid premise that is "tl;dr: The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job."

    My post does not stand upon that premise, and – indeed – when Patterico called me out on that phrase I immediately retracted it.

    I note that that was 12 hours ago.

    Are there any actual holes that you see in the argument?

    using an absolute tied to a death wish.

    What?

  131. Owen  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:32 pm

    Perhaps it's not my place (or anyone's to moderate), but maybe an outside perspective helps.

    David: I don't think that your comments come off as innocent as you believe. I certainly had to take a second read once or twice to decide if you had an axe to grind about this or that. Not something that I think is beyond the bounds of what we normally see in the comments, but something nonetheless.

    Clark: As much as I understand the way you felt and responded, if I were to have picked a person in the world that I thought less likely to take snark personally, you would have been in the top 5 contenders. So maybe a bit of extra snark is forgivable, because you seem to be immune to all normal levels of snark (and even to feed off of them, at times).

    That said, we all have days/nights when we're a bit on edge.

  132. Ryan  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:35 pm

    @Clark

    Apologies if any of what I write is already covered; I've only read the blog post so far and not the 128 comments at the time I composed this.

    I had high hopes for a rational argument from you (and was pleasantly surprised you took the time to write a whole post to respond to me), but it fell down rather quickly when you concluded Point One with this:

    tl;dr: The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job.

    You routinely equate police with all law enforcement. You appear to be basing the "evil job" on the fact that police enforce drug laws. Not all law enforcement have anything to do with drugs – far from it. For example, as I had said before, I work in law enforcement outside the United States. My job description? To find, inspect, investigate, and prosecute people who pollute the environment, more specifically watercourses. Before that I was not a cop, but I worked in law enforcement in an area that touched upon drug trafficking as well.

    You like to blanket all law enforcement with the statements you make about cops, but here's what you forget:
    1. The majority of law enforcement are not police officers in the United States.
    2. The majority of all law enforcement have very little to do with drug law enforcement.
    3. Most police officers – nevermind law enforcement – in other countries have considerably more standardized and rigorous training than US municipal police, less immunity provisions, and more oversight.

    Here's my problem with your constant tirades about law enforcement: you can't seem to settle on which ones you rail at, why you rail at them, or realize that the anecdotes we see in the media are but a tiny and non-representative sample of the interactions that the public have with all law enforcement in advanced democracies.

    I know some law enforcement agencies have very specific groupthink dynamics (I studied them; among my sins is a second degree in sociology/psychology). I know that police culture in the past and to a large degree in the present had a very big problem with accountability. I know some police agencies get an unreasonable degree of immunity when they act improperly. I fully agree with pretty much any reasonably-put criticism you can level at law enforcement, because I have first-hand encounters with almost all of it.

    Know what else I've seen? Law enforcement give from their own pockets to help people for no reason other than human kindness. People who took the job to help society, and who get more irate than you when their colleagues break that trust. People who are saddened by the need to report and testify against their colleagues, but do so anyway because it is the right thing to do. People who o well beyond what they have to do in their job description because doing more is right and just, and doing less is unethical. People who treat other people with respect because they believe that is right. People who above all care about the field they work in and do it because they fervently believe their actions make the world in general a better place. Those are the law enforcement officers I know. have I met some bad ones? Sure. But for the most part they've been sidelined, dismissed, left, or lost so much credibility in the eyes of their colleagues and the law that they can't get away with acting badly.

    As I've said a number of times, I'm not American. I don't have experience with your police or law enforcement besides a couple training courses, a few I've met tangentially, and vacation. I know you have some serious issues, like lack of consistency, appropriate training, oversight, ridiculous formal and informal immunity, among many others – but given my experiences, I find it very hard to believe that the majority of law enforcement in the US is all that different from the people I know here.

    I don't expect I'm about to change the minds of anyone who has made theirs up; most of all, I'm supremely saddened to see that Clark and others have had such negative experiences that it has tainted all law enforcement in their eyes. But the question I still have is this:

    How can you let your impression of all law enforcement be tainted by some indiviuduals, yet you don't apply the same heuristic to any other group? That is profoundly hypocritical, and Clark's post still hasn't answered that as his response was flawed from the outset and started from the point of a conclusion which was unfounded (the job description is evil).

  133. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:38 pm

    @Ryan:

    How can you let your impression of all law enforcement be tainted by some indiviuduals, yet you don't apply the same heuristic to any other group?

    I dedicated an entire post to answering this exact question.

    …the post that we're now in the comment thread of.

    Is there some specific part of the post (either point one or point two) that doesn't make sense / that you want me to elaborate on?

  134. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:40 pm

    Excellent comment, Ryan. We can hope, but not necessarily expect, that you will receive an equally thoughtful cormment in response.

  135. Mr A  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:40 pm

    There are a lot of sensible commenters on this thread, by the way, who have a balanced view.

    So, this is good thing, because – what? Reality is always right in the middle of two opposing views? Certainly it might be in some cases, but in other cases, not.

  136. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:41 pm

    And my thesis is confirmed before my comment can even post.

  137. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:43 pm

    Ryan,

    Duh. Cops are different because of how evil they are and how they should all die painful deaths. Oh I didn't mean that part but anyway they're just different okay now shut up.

  138. Philosopherva  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:50 pm

    "We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day's work at Auschwitz in the morning."

    George Steiner

  139. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:51 pm

    @Philosopherva

    "We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day's work at Auschwitz in the morning."

    George Steiner

    Damn! That is exactly the quote I've been trying – in vain – to recall all day.

    Thank you.

  140. Clark  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:57 pm

    @Patterico

    And my thesis is confirmed before my comment can even post.

    It's 11pm at night, and this thread began around 8am. A more substantive response to Ryan may arrive tomorrow, but it will not arrive tonight.

    Duh. Cops are different because of how evil they are and how they should all die painful deaths. Oh I didn't mean that part but anyway they're just different okay now shut up.

    I personally thought that the part of the thread where you challenged me and I admitted that I was wrong and modified my argument was an example of good debate.

    Your "oh I didn't mean that part but anyway" seems to disdain the idea that someone might admit that they're wrong. Is that the kind of debate incentive that you want to set up?

    And re "they're just different okay now shut up", I'm not remotely asserting "they're just different". I explained in the original post two different ways in which enforcing unjust laws and enforcing tribal allegiances that is morally suspect. I realize that at a mere 1,000 or so words, this wasn't as voluminous as my usual post, but it's still a bit more than "they're just different".

    Feel free to explain that either (a) my argument for prong one is defective, or (b) my argument for prong two is defective, or (c) the entire formulation of the argument as having two prongs is somehow framing things entirely incorrectly…but please don't suggest that my argument is merely "they're just different okay now shut up."

  141. Ryan  •  Nov 8, 2013 @8:59 pm

    @Clark

    The fact that I have brought the same issue up now twice and you have now twice failed to actually establish how you get to point one should be leading you back to examine your thought process. At the risk of sounding condescending (and this is not intended to be, just helpful, as I've had the misfortune to write a lot of papers over the years), an argument begins with a summary of the argument, selects 3-5 points of evidence to outline in detail, and concludes by establishing how the points of evidence support the argument.

    Now, your Point One appears to have begun with a Big Bang (or "let their be light", choose your version) and come about without any sort of explained thought process: Clark feels drug laws are evil, ergo all police officers are evil people because their jobs are evil.

    Except not all police, nevermind all law enforcement, have anything to do with drug enforcement.

    There's something else I want to cover but as its something of a separate point I'll make another new post.

  142. Ryan  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:17 pm

    A second point of order is where, having some experience enforcing laws concerning everything from firearms, immigration, drugs, general criminality, to most recently environment, I'm going to explain why "cops" – more appropriately, law enforcement generally – does not get to pick and choose what laws we enforce, though we may disagree with some of them (and believe me, I routinely vote against drug laws in all their iterations).

    The job description of most law enforcement is to investigate alleged violations of law, and lay charges if deemed appropriate by a myriad of principles that originate in everything from policy to law to case law. It isn't black and white by any stretch of the imagination. Law enforcement have considerable discretion in their jobs, but it IS limited. How?

    Well, society establishes laws and then hires law enforcement – through government – to ensure that people follow laws. Society expects that the people it hires will do the jobs they were hired to do, regardless of how they feel about them. Of course, society CAN be wrong. So law enforcement have other laws – constitutional law and case law – to guide them on when their actions are reasonable. This most often takes the form of a judge tossing evidence, a conviction, or a scathing rebuke in the direct of law enforcement. Unfortunately for the fans of "cops shouldn't do some aspects of their job" crowd, constitutional law and case law also frown heavily on cops NOT doing their jobs which society expects them to do because of their personal feelings on the rightness/wrongness of them when they don't run afoul of constitutional law or case law.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    The trouble with saying "I think drug laws are wrong, so cops should not enforce them" is that there are a much larger number of people saying drug laws are right! Unfortunately. The other problem is that drug laws don't run afoul of constitutions or case law (generally), so cops who don't uphold them can be fired by society – and replaced by other cops who will uphold them – or shat upon by the higher legal frameworks for failing to do their job in a manner that is fair, predictable, and consistent.

    Contrary to popular opinion, discretion does not allow law enforcement to ignore the law; it allows them to vary the response to an offense in a manner that is acceptable. And the people judging what is acceptable are the people who make the laws.

    Think drug laws are bad and cops shouldn't enforce them? I have news – so do MANY cops. However, they also do their jobs for many other reasons and know that insofar as society fails to realize the error of these laws, their failure to enforce them will NOT lead to a change in society's view – it will merely result in them having to find a new job, despite their other work and drive to do their jobs.

    The "cops just shouldn't do X in their job description" is the absolute pinnacle of naivete concerning the role of broader society in this discussion. Law enforcement enforce social contracts; if you don't like what that entails, the correct approach is to change the social contract, because it doesn't matter how many cops refuse to do the job, they can and will be replaced by people who will – which also inevitably degrades hiring standards and makes enforcement of everything else that much worse.

    It's unnerving that this requires explanation. The logical consequences of cops not enforcing drugs laws is not that there will no longer be drug law enforcement; it's that your turnover among police will be massive and further degrade the standards of the profession. Meanwhile, you have done nothing to address why society at large expects drug law enforcement in the first place.

    tl;dr – discretion is the variance of the enforcement response; it is not false ignorance of the breach of the law itself. Discretion is limited by the social acceptance of breaches of the particular law in question; the more social interest, the less discretion. Police have considerable discretion on response to traffic offences; police have near-zero discretion on responses to murder. Drug offences fall in the middle. Discretion does not permit police to ignore certain classes of offences wholesale; doing so will lead to dismissal. Dismissal without repeal or modification of the law only leads to replacement hiring, not social change.

  143. Elf  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:18 pm

    I don't know that I would automatically call LEOs (or members of any other profession) "evil," if only because it's such an emotion-laden buzzword (or philosophical/theological landmine) that using it usually triggers the reaction of "I know an LEO who is Honest, Friendly, and Prone To Rescuing Kittens; those traits are not evil, ergo my buddy is not evil, ergo LEO is not an evil profession."

    The question of whether a "good" person becomes "evil" by doing an "evil" job is a mess. The question of whether a job becomes "an evil job" if enough people use it for evil, even if that's against the (unenforced) rules of the job… gah. These are nice topics for philosophical debate, but hashing out the labels does not keep anyone from getting pepper sprayed for sitting on a sidewalk.

    Of course, I have other reasons for not calling cops "evil": I live in Oakland, and people who call cops "evil" here (or use equivalent terminology) are prone to getting shot. Especially if their skin is dark, which mine isn't, but I'm not going make a habit of behavior that can get my kids' best friends killed if they pick it up.

    If LEOs were in the noble, protective profession their advocates claim, the other officers at the scene when Oscar Grant was shot would've immediately arrested Mehserle, or taken him into custody at the least.

    The profession may not be packed with thugs and bullies, but it certainly does nothing at all to exclude them.

  144. Ryan  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:28 pm

    @Patterico

    I don't think this is a subject where you or I will change Clark's mind. My intention is merely to demonstrate what his thought process is missing on this subject in the hopes that people who consider his perspective also continue to consider alternative perspectives.

    Oh…

    @Everyone who invokes 'learned psychopathy/sociopathy'

    Psychopathy and sociopathy are mental traits associated with Anti-Social Personality Disorder, which has discrete diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM (see American Psychological Association) and CANNOT BE LEARNED.

    Also: narcissists and sociopaths/psychopaths are common in all positions of power, influence, and authority; psychologists routinely recognize that narcissists are inherently more dangerous than socio/psychopaths (Hitler was a narcissist, not ASPD-diagnosable). There is a subset of socio/psychopaths called the "pro-social" variant; these people are common among police, fire and emergency services, and military as the characteristics of sociopathy/psychopathy without the anti-social traits lend well to operating in crisis situations (e.g. lack of emotional affect can be an excellent aid to rationality).

    There's some good reading out there on the Internet on this subject. Use "pro-social sociopathy" as a search term on PubMed.

  145. En Passant  •  Nov 8, 2013 @9:56 pm

    Marconi Darwin wrote Nov 8, 2013 @6:19 pm:

    I mention this because a prosecutor was finally made to pay for his crime of malevolently charging and convicting an innocent person.

    He went/will be going to prison for ten days. The wrongly convicted man only served twenty-five years. It is reportedly the first time ever that a prosecutor will actually serve time.

    Thoughts?

    It's about damned time a prosecutor went to jail for framing somebody. Even 10 days is better than nothing. Nifong spent a day in jail as I recall.

    I favor statutes that specify a prosecutor, cop or judge should receive some positive multiple of the sentence which a defendant they framed passively or actively could receive or actually did receive.

    If officials frame somebody on a DP crime, they get the DP. If they frame somebody on a maximum 10 year sentence crime, they get 20, 30, 40,… years. Pick a multiple and put it into a statute.

    I consider framing to be passive (as in withholding Brady material) or active (tampering evidence, suborning perjury, tampering witnesses, etc.).

    The maximum sentence in the Pennsylvania "cash for kids" case was only 28 years. That judge should have received at least several life sentences if not the DP, because at least one of the kids he framed committed suicide.

    The multiple on sentencing is because the official used his position of power and authority to violate a public trust. Violating a public trust endangers far more people than an ordinary citizen could endanger by the same acts.

  146. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:18 pm

    Feel free to explain that either (a) my argument for prong one is defective

    If I'm not mistaken, you have already retracted your summary of your prong one argument. In an example of good debate. Are you un-retracting it?

  147. Patterico  •  Nov 8, 2013 @10:24 pm

    As for your desire that I address your other arguments rationally, I'm having a tough time getting past the whole "equating law enforcement with the Holocaust" shtick that you seem obsessed with. Once you recognize that enforcing drug laws you disagree with is a leetle different than killing Jews for being Jews, then we'll do the whole "let's debate rationally" thing.

  148. Donald  •  Nov 8, 2013 @11:30 pm

    If it lies, profiles, covers up, and rapes like a duck, then it's a duck.

    That's not fair to ducks. Although they've been confirmed to be necrophiliacs and rapists, there have been no documented cases of ducks lying, profiling, or engaging in cover ups.

  149. Tom  •  Nov 9, 2013 @1:00 am

    @Patterico:

    I'm reflexively (I think–I don't know you) well to the "fuck the man" side of the spectrum from you. But I get that my reflexes are conditioned and often wrong. I am also almost always turned off by Clark's bombast and frequently think that he takes a good point too far.

    So I'm hoping you can explain where you think policing in America during its the drug war sits on the moral spectrum. Feel free to pick your own analogies, or metrics, or whatever. I'm sincerely curious to know where on the scale you think the modern policing (let's leave prosecutors, etc., out for the moment) is.

    [edit: I meant to say something about no Nazis]

  150. EPWJ  •  Nov 9, 2013 @4:32 am

    Ryan, Pat,

    Of course all law enforcement are evil, because, after all, all criminals are just victims of evil laws – no wait – some laws are not evil – no wait – society must be evil because they tolerate evil – no wait – society wants law enforcement – no wait – if any society is passing drug laws then it is in itself evil – no wait…

    oh never mind…..

  151. wumpus  •  Nov 9, 2013 @5:47 am

    I must assume that you noticed that argument one is essentially the claim of "a policeman's job is not a happy one" from the Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. So while it might not be the newest of observations, you clearly give much more proof.

  152. Erwin  •  Nov 9, 2013 @5:57 am

    Overall, joining the police involves enforcing laws I judge to be immoral. That said, in my area, most police officers spend their time checking reports of possible domestic violence and injury, so I could make an argument that most of their time spent is not evil.

    This may be pompous, but I think the thing Clark is missing involves Kohlberg's levels of morality. Levels 1-2 are for children. Levels 3-4 involve emphasis on personal relationships and maintenance of social order. Levels 5-6 involve recognition of social contracts, individual rights, and universal principles.

    I think it is fair to assert that it would be difficult to operate as a police officer at levels 5-6. To put it another way, Gandhi did not AFAIK join the police.

    That said, I think it is fair to believe that someone could operate at levels 3-4 as a police officer. It is also fair to note that the majority of the population operates below level 5.

    Unfortunately, even though these are probably good, or even above average people, they are participating in actions that have damaged, severely and unjustly, tens of millions of people and have also rotted the fiber of this nation. Which, of course, leads back to the banality or maybe normality of evil. That said, I am not marching in the streets. It may be that I should be.

    –Erwin

  153. CAM  •  Nov 9, 2013 @9:19 am

    Another point against LEO:

    take a look at how Law Enforcement Officers treat those members who work in Internal Affairs. The cops who police the police are distrusted. They are looked down upon and, to some degree, ostracized within the police community. Joining IA divisions is considered dishonorable; something a "good cop" wouldn't do.

    Why? If the LEOs are honest, law-abiding, and generally NOT EVIL, then IA officers have basically nothing to do but go over paperwork showing they've kept a watch on things. They aren't the LEOs bad-guys. But if LEOs are evil and SELF-AWARE of that evil, then they have a vested interest in hating/distrusting/hiding their activities from those IA officers.

  154. Arion Wind  •  Nov 9, 2013 @12:15 pm

    @ Chris Rhodes

    Yeah, not a good example. At least say something about saving orphans and kittens from burning buildings.

    I have to confess that the first thing I thought of at the end of this article was my cousin, who was and is a principled narcotics officer in a city. Early in her career she did run into a burning building to save an infant (not an orphan one, but still) and I was briefly offended at the tone and assertions made.

    Then I remembered that the first thing that happened after she saved the kid was her captain chewing her out and putting her on leave. And I remembered all the times she has gotten in trouble for putting the truth as she saw it on reports (and the times those reports have been changed). I remember that she has been "promoted" to a desk job that gets her off the streets after she regularly refused to be transferred to the academy where she could teach prospective officers to break bones.

    I'm not quite prepared to say that any officer who puts on a badge when they know the culture is evil is accepting evil themselves, because I think there is value in trying to change a culture from within. But she has done her damnedest to live her principles and not buckle under that culture and while she has been, in my eyes, a paragon of stated police ideals, I can't say it has done a lot of good. Not for her and not for the department culture.

    A lot of the people she works with are nice people on an individual basis, but if she has taught me anything, it's this: If an officer truly lives as if their duty is to "serve and protect", then the culture will not allow them the ability to do either. If the nice guy you know is still on the street, it's because, at the very least, his reports fall in line with the lies of other officers and he is willing to subordinate higher principles for the sake of his continued employment.

  155. Pickwick  •  Nov 9, 2013 @12:27 pm

    @CAM: Why? If the LEOs are honest, law-abiding, and generally NOT EVIL, then IA officers have basically nothing to do but go over paperwork showing they've kept a watch on things. They aren't the LEOs bad-guys. But if LEOs are evil and SELF-AWARE of that evil, then they have a vested interest in hating/distrusting/hiding their activities from those IA officers.

    I think we can assume a less malicious spring for the disdain officers feel for Internal Affairs. It's the same feeling that employees at my large supermarket have for the Loss Prevention Department: first and foremost, LP employees watch the storefront for shoplifters and potential sources of disruption, but there are cameras covering every square inch of the back areas, too, and we are quite aware of them. (LPers keep to themselves. I'm one of the only people in the store who's met ours, and under odd circumstances that didn't make me any more comfortable with them. A pair of people I'd never seen came back to my workspace and introduced themselves, though not their purpose. Then one said, "You know, we watch you sometimes, and you do a REALLY good job.")

    Most people don't like to be watched without their consent and ability to set the limits to their exposure. Your argument equates exactly to this: "If you have nothing to hide, you have no reason to fear, dislike, or avoid surveillance." It's balderdash here as well as in other contexts. People who are in the habit of behaving ethically and honestly can still readily resent being monitored, taking it as an insult to their integrity. In general, that would seem a more likely source than evil for the ill feeling you describe.

    That said, it's very easy to argue that the power that officers wield is such that we can't afford to let them use it without being monitored, insult or no, and I fully support mandatory video and audio monitoring of all interactions between police and civilians; slightly harder or at least more complicated is to argue that law enforcement itself is an evil if a sufficient proportion of the law enforcement apparatus, and of the laws, is unjust; and perhaps most difficult is to judge exactly when that line is crossed and figure out how to step back across. This isn't aided by lazy reasoning that assumes that individuals in the law enforcement system themselves are evil. After all, if there's anything we should have learned from the last few centuries of corporations and governments, it's that the operations of large organisations reliably produce harms without regard to whether anyone in those organisations intends or imagines those harms. How to organise law enforcement and civilisation as a whole to eliminate or minimise those harms… well, I'm open to hearing ideas about it. The scale of the problem is overwhelming.

  156. Patterico  •  Nov 9, 2013 @12:28 pm

    So I’m hoping you can explain where you think policing in America during its the drug war sits on the moral spectrum.

    Speaking purely as a private citizen, I think it's a complex issue. I do not subscribe to the analogies between the drug war and the Holocaust and I think such analogies are ridiculous. That said, I think most people in the system as well as outside the system consider violent crime a much more serious ill than narcotics violations, and if I have a choice between locking up a rapist or murderer versus a drug dealer, I'll choose to lock up the violent criminal given limited resources.

    I think there are many factors at play in an intelligent discussion of the issue, including freedom to make choices for oneself; how that freedom affects others; how decriminalization might affect usage; how decriminalization might affect levels of violence surrounding narcotics distribution; how usage is connected with violent crimes, and the like. I don't think it's an easy topic and I think it is frequently oversimplified on both sides.

    Those arguments and discussions are difficult to have, however, with someone like Clark who considers drug cops to be Nazis.

  157. Ryan  •  Nov 9, 2013 @1:56 pm

    @CAM

    take a look at how Law Enforcement Officers treat those members who work in Internal Affairs. The cops who police the police are distrusted. They are looked down upon and, to some degree, ostracized within the police community. Joining IA divisions is considered dishonorable; something a "good cop" wouldn't do.

    I think you need to source this beyond films and fiction. If you speak from personal experience, state that. If you have evidence beyond anecdotes (which are reported in a statistically non-representative way, without exception), post that. But my bet is that this statement is coming straight from your perception alone based on mass entertainment media.

    Failure to cooperate with internal investigations and denigration of 'internal affairs' is sufficiently rare that – in places with established investigator teams – charges for failure to cooperate with an investigation are exceedingly rare; rare enough that I can think of one case in the last decade in my city of population 1 million among the three different police agencies and various other law enforcement that work here. Speaking from personal experience and knowledge, the various serious incident investigations teams in my country are highly sought-after positions, and the officers on them tend to have many years experience and are exceedingly well-respected.

    Where there is less cooperation and less respect is when you don't have these dedicated teams and instead you have general investigators from neighboring forces called in to conduct the investigation (in this country, the same unit involved in an incident is never involved in the subsequent investigation).

  158. Marzipan  •  Nov 9, 2013 @2:15 pm

    Though I think Clark has some potentially important points to make about police culture, the whole edifice is swept away with a glib and superficial understanding of the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised. With a cursory reading merely of this post and attendant comments, one could make the argument that Clark himself is glib (the very title of the post), grandiose (blogging publicly with such braggadocio must surely count for something), manipulative (by the nature of the legal profession), lying (according to David's characterizations of private conversations), remorseless (regarding at least many logical errors in this post with their attendant implications that an entire class of people is evil), lacking empathy (at the very least toward the difficulties faced in the conduct of law enforcement jobs), needing stimulation (the intentionally inflammatory rhetoric used), parasitic lifestyle (given that he thinks government workers are parasites, who's to say another person with an alternate set of values wouldn't call his means of earning a living parasitical?), and so on.

    The armchair diagnosis above is total and utter manure, but it at least has more explicit justification given than Clark's glib and superficial reading. Now, if one were to rely on data about psychological tests and police outcomes, one might find that the candidates classified as marginal are much more likely to exhibit the undesirable outcomes against which Clark rails and that Scale 4 of the MMPI-2 and its restructured clinical version are predictive of involuntary dismissal from police forces. Thus, those with more impulsive and antisocial tendencies within the police force may be poorer candidates for such work and more likely to commit the kinds of wrongs that make the headlines and Clark's Twitter feed.

    In this case, it would behoove the police to screen more carefully, as they seem to have a reasonable handle on who'll give them black eyes in the media. However, given such viciously negative attitudes about them, it may be difficult to recruit those who would serve best. It would also be prudent to adjust the incentives regarding deception in police work to make the public more willing to trust law enforcement personnel. However, painting the entire profession with such a broad brush makes precisely the fundamental attribution error Clark seems to have wanted to avert with lawyers. Furthermore, the glib, superficial, and flippant armchair diagnosis provides a rhetorical "flourish" that undercuts the author as much as his putative targets.

  159. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Nov 9, 2013 @3:49 pm

    If you haven't heard of Jonathan Swift, you might want to check him out. He was a modestly decent writer.

    Gotta admit, the possibility that original post or Clark's ensuing comments could be looked at as Swiftian satire had totally escaped me.

  160. Mr A  •  Nov 9, 2013 @4:44 pm

    @patterico

    Those arguments and discussions are difficult to have, however, with someone like Clark who considers drug cops to be Nazis.

    Sure, they're much easier to have with people who already agree with you, but there's also a lot less point to having them.

  161. Patterico  •  Nov 9, 2013 @4:51 pm

    Sure, they're much easier to have with people who already agree with you, but there's also a lot less point to having them.

    Who said anything about limiting the discussion to people who agree with me? That's a churlish misreading of my fairly clear point: I see no point in having the discussion with an extremist. To me, someone who habitually compares drug laws to the Holocaust is an extremist on that issue. I'll pass on lengthy discussions with such an extremist — just like I'll pass on talking at any length to people who annoyingly put words in my mouth as a cheap way to try to win an argument.

  162. Patterico  •  Nov 9, 2013 @4:53 pm

    Gotta admit, the possibility that original post or Clark's ensuing comments could be looked at as Swiftian satire had totally escaped me.

    Me too — probably because that possibility makes no sense.

    I knew Jonathan Swift, and I read Jonathan Swift, and you, sir…

  163. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Nov 9, 2013 @5:25 pm

    Me too — probably because that possibility makes no sense.

    True, but it was entertaining to read back through it that way.

    Ich bin ein Laputan!

  164. Shropshire Blue  •  Nov 9, 2013 @9:32 pm

    First let me say that I go by the Canadian definition of a criminal. A Criminal is someone who makes themselves a criminal by their conscious decision to commit a criminal act. A judge and jury only add the prefix convicted. So a criminal is still a criminal in fact, even if they get acquitted, just we can't call them a criminal.

    What sinks 'all police' in my opinion, is that they virtually all support and defend each others criminal acts, even when there is clear video tape evidence and numerous witnesses.

    If it was a small percentage of criminal cops, and the other cops disowned them, then yes it would be like OJ Simpson or Bernie Madoff.

    But many/most blacks and Jews disowned Simpson and Madoff, even given the weak evidence in Simpson's case (inadequate for a guilty verdict).

    But with police, you can have video tape, you can have a dozen independent witnesses, proving guilt to any sensible person, and they'll generally still vouch for their criminal colleague, still give him extra privileges, and so on.

    Rather than disowning the criminals in their midst, police in North America let the actively criminal few drag down their entire profession.

    Not every cop who has charges against him is guilty. But for those rare cases where a cop's guilt is clear, the profession of policing would greatly enhance its own image by disowning the criminals in its midst.

  165. AlphaCentauri  •  Nov 9, 2013 @9:54 pm

    Clark is angry because of cops who commit immoral acts and a cop culture that prevents them from being disciplined or even reined in, because cops see themselves as different from other people.

    Clark responds by claiming all cops are evil, and that they in fact are different from other people.

    I don't see that as helpful. Given that we do need some means of controlling behavior like rapes and genocide that occur when gangs of least-common-denominator thugs can create their own de facto police forces because they hold more firepower than the actual government (i.e., Somali warlords, the Taliban, or even the gentile-veneer-concealing-murderous-enforcement of the Mafia), we are not going to give up on having police officers to protect our families.

    Eliminating all professional police forces isn't going to happen in a society which has become prosperous by allowing people the safety to be productive doing other things than defending themselves from raiding parties from outside tribes. So there's no point going on about that. Changing the way we demand accountability from them is possible. Changing the "civilian" culture that treats them as either heroes or thugs — and therefore fails to recognize the fact that they are bringing human strengths and weaknesses to a very difficult job — is possible. If they've "drawn a circle that shut us out," we must draw a circle that takes them in.

    I don't have time to walk around outside every day and night watching for people who might be trying rob or rape or kidnap people in my neighborhood. (If my neighbors and I had to do this instead of doing other productive work, we'd be stagnating in an iron age community like the Celtic clans with their famous anarchic government.) I have, in effect, asked other human beings to defend my person and property for me, knowing that many of them are injured, killed or infected by hep C on my behalf while doing that job. I think they deserve respect as human beings, and to the extent their jobs corrupts them, we need to change the management structure, not write them all off as thugs.

    Putting people in prison for drug possession? Yeah, those laws need to change. They were passed by people elected by the voters, and they can be changed by those representatives, not by the cops themselves. By making inflammatory, dehumanizing statements about the cops at the bottom of the chain of command, you lose the support of the very voters you need to convince to stop supporting those drug laws.

  166. Paul  •  Nov 9, 2013 @10:09 pm

    Oh I like this one. If I may make a minor tweak to your quote, though:
    If a lawyer is tasked with defending a person he knows to have committed an immoral act, it is his duty as a moral man to refuse that task even if it means his job. If he agrees with an immoral act then he is also immoral, and if he defends an act he knows to be wrong even more so. The law of the land in Nazi-era Germany was for Jews and other “undesirables” to be sent to concentration camps, and the maltreatment of the prisoners was encouraged and even ordered by those in charge; any German bureaucrat or lawyer promulgating those rules was the exact moral equivalent of any soldier or policeman under any other democratically-elected government enforcing the laws enacted by that regime. Either “I was only following the rules my profession has been tasked with by society as public servants” is a valid defense, or it isn’t; either we agree that hired enforcers are absolved from responsibility because “they’re just doing their jobs”, or we don’t. You can’t have it both ways, and sometimes Nazi analogies are entirely appropriate.
    I don't really understand how your post lets lawyers off the hook while blaming all police for their profession. Lawyers have a near-stranglehold on the legal system. In many locations, you can't even be a judge unless you joined the bar, and law school is the larval stage of most politicians. This means every action ever taken by a police officer that has been successfully defended in court, every law upheld by a court, and every law passed by a legislature can absolutely 100% laid at the feet of the legal profession. If all cops are evil, then all lawyers are evil.

    Your post puts a time frame around the war on drugs, but it's not like that's the only cops do, good or bad. The problem with viewing cops through the lens of the War on Americans Who Like To Smoke Weed is that there are tasks performed by police officers that involve things other than puppy-murder. We like those other things they do, as a society, generally. But there were certainly evil cops and evil lawyers willing to grant them qualified immunity long before a lawyer dreamed up asset forfeitures and demon weed.

    If some cops murder puppies, and anyone who wants to join the police is just as evil, then anyone who wants to be a lawyer must be in favor of puppy murder, because there's always going to be a lawyer willing to do every single thing he can to ensure that the puppy-murderer gets away with it.

    Lawyers wrote the laws that let the police get away with murder. Lawyers argued in court for immunity. Lawyers in suits ask lawyers in robes to referee debates while society waits to see which side the lawyers determine is the winning argument, based on all the other decisions lawyers have made. If there's enough debate, we have 9 lawyers to make a final judgment call. Why? Because a long time ago 9 other lawyers announced that was the rule. The police are the enforcement arm in this gang, not the masters, and they get away with as much or as little as the guild allows them. Problem is the guild would rather pretend that it's all just a game in the court room. "Not my fault! I had an ethical obligation! Ethics are when we write something down! And a lawyer wrote down that in any argument, the guild should be willing to get paid by both sides!"

    I have a lot of respect for y'all as attorneys and as people. I think the work you do defending free speech is fantastic, and necessary. And yet every lawsuit you defend in the name of good only exists because some other lawyer was willing to do evil. Seeing you try to let yourself off the hook with a "maybe 10%" argument while name-calling a profession dedicated to enforcing the rules yours comes up with is just silly. Own your evil, please :)

  167. Kevin  •  Nov 9, 2013 @11:31 pm

    Damn, there's so much cop-apologia going on in this thread I almost feel obligated to throw in a "fuck the po-lice" just to even things out.

  168. Anony Mouse  •  Nov 10, 2013 @2:14 am

    I'm curious Clark. Also, I apologise in advance for the scenerio I'm about to lay out, but an extreme position all but demands extreme questioning as well.

    You come home from work only to find the front door kicked in. All your possessions have been stolen and you also find your wife murdered.

    Now, clearly, since the police are Pure Evil and just a bunch of power-mad fools, you can't go to them, so what do you do? Hiring a private investigator will just tell you the responsible party, but it won't do anything to them. Will you go all Death Wish and mete out your own brand of street justice, knowing that such a thing will be illegal?

    Or will your passion and convictions take a backseat to reality?

    It's all well and good to pound the table about anarcotopia on a blog post, or talk of your outright hatred for all police officers, but what happens when the rubber meets the road? Calling the police would be the peak of hypocrisy, wouldn't it?

    But what's the alternative? Especially here, in the real world.

  169. Ken White  •  Nov 10, 2013 @8:11 am

    You come home from work only to find the front door kicked in. All your possessions have been stolen and you also find your wife murdered.

    Yeah, Clark.

  170. Troutwaxer  •  Nov 10, 2013 @9:12 am

    @ Patterico

    I came to the conclusion long ago that most of what Clark posts is satire. I'm not sure I'd label it "Swifitian," but he does play the role of a clueless Libertarian rather well. Unfortunately, in this case his attempt at satire obscures the very real issues of corruption and militarization in our police forces. He might have done better to make a "serious" post on these issues.

  171. Phelps  •  Nov 10, 2013 @9:25 am

    You come home from work only to find the front door kicked in. All your possessions have been stolen and you also find your wife murdered.

    This is such a stupid argument I really didn't expect to see it here (more like Facebook). It's a naked tautology — the police are the only thing standing against Clark administering his own justice. Your argument is now invalid and still stupid.

  172. David  •  Nov 10, 2013 @11:14 am

    Ah, yes. Tribal warfare among the kinsman redeemers. They like to call it "Overdue Process".

  173. John Beaty  •  Nov 10, 2013 @1:07 pm

    Whose morality do we go by when judging laws? Those who favor the OT? The Koran? The Bhagavad Gita? Nature red in tooth and claw? How is a newly fledged policeman to judge, Maggie?

    We all agree that the police crossed (erased) a line. What about the much more often-crossed "Contempt of Cop"?

    The police (and I speak as a 2-year veteran of LEO 30 years ago) have their own morality. We see it every day. IMO, we emphatically DON"T want the police using their own moral judgements: we want them to follow the law. We would also like them to be nice, intelligent, thoughtful people. Unfortunately, my experience leads me to believe that those people join the Fire Department (sorry, inside joke).

  174. Lampie  •  Nov 10, 2013 @5:26 pm

    Certainly when concrete examples are given, such as the war in drugs, it's easier to sidestep, but the basic principle is hard to duck.

    Cops, on a daily basis, destroy people's lives. They destroy families, they destroy careers. These are obvious results from arrest, jail, and prison.

    For some, the obvious question is, did they deserve it? That's a whole can of worms, but I think it's safe to say that no mater what a cop's political or philosophical positions are, they are doing these life changing things to some people who even they don't believe deserve it.

    Could you do that to someone, even once, without some serious guilt issues? I doubt that I could.

    So, the question becomes, what kind of person takes, keeps, and likes a job that requires them to do those things to people who don't, even in their mind, deserve it?

    The other side of the coin of course, is that the job requires them to refrain from doing those things to people who they believe do deserve it (cops who break laws they agree with).

    How long would you be able to remain psychologically ballanced in that situation, sometimes quite literally destroying people because you are paid to?

    I wouldn't even show up for the first day, and I think that's the point here. It takes a certain kind of person to look for that job, keep it, and thrive in it. Clark called it evil. Maybe you apologists call it something else?

  175. Anony Mouse  •  Nov 10, 2013 @7:04 pm

    You seem to be using a different definiton of tautology than the one I'm familiar with. I'm simply wondering if Clark's strident opposition to the police is simply an artifact of him being in a situation where he can afford to compare them to Nazis because he's never personally needed them or if he honestly would shun them when faced with direct interaction with violent crime.

    After all, if they're evil, isn't going to them in a time of need likewise evil?

  176. Garrett  •  Nov 10, 2013 @7:27 pm

    @Clark:
    I've been struggling with this issue myself for some time. As you mentioned, "just following orders" isn't acceptable. However, I run into a problem when it comes to Rule Of Law. It seems to me that the Rule of Law provides its own value. Being able to predict what will get you into hot water provides its own security. After all, if you know what the law is you can avoid penalties by following it, even if unjust. And, even if the law itself is perfectly just you still have no guarantee of security (eg. swatting). While I agree that the law should be changed to get rid of victimless crime, knowing that the law will be enforced as-written allows me to shape my interactions with the State.
    Do you have any thoughts about this balance?

  177. Phelps  •  Nov 10, 2013 @8:10 pm

    I'm simply wondering if Clark's strident opposition to the police is simply an artifact of him being in a situation where he can afford to compare them to Nazis because he's never personally needed them or if he honestly would shun them when faced with direct interaction with violent crime.

    It's certainly the latter for me. I have absolutely no hope of the police getting me safely out of a violent situation, and frankly, I expect them to make every situation they are involved in worse. My calling them is solely in situations where I want them to come and make a report to dissuade them from trying to pin some sort of case on me later because of an incident.

    They aren't going to prevent violence to me. It is exceedingly unlikely that they will vindicate any violence done to me. My only hope is that they come late, make their report, and don't make things worse.

  178. Ranulfo  •  Nov 10, 2013 @8:50 pm

    "We will shoot you in the head"… for open carrying a rifle in Wisconsin. "Nothing personal…" key line at 2min.50s or so.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b59_1384076493

  179. Ranulfo  •  Nov 10, 2013 @9:18 pm

    Oh, and check out the video starting at minute 9 or so. "Thinking cap time…" as the cop looks for any way to charge the guy for merely walking with a rifle.

  180. Tom  •  Nov 10, 2013 @11:21 pm

    @Kevin:

    Court is in motherfucking session

  181. TMLutas  •  Nov 11, 2013 @6:58 am

    I have suspicions that you are partially right, but that your approach is very, very wrong. This is a problem you might want to see to.

    If you truly believe this tale, then you are acting the fool. Your argument gives mortar to internal divisions in a sector of society you call dangerous. Dangerous sectors should be wedged and divided, their natural points of difference enhanced and exploited to disunify them and reduce their danger.

  182. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries  •  Nov 11, 2013 @7:47 am

    I have a lot of respect for y'all as attorneys and as people. I think the work you do defending free speech is fantastic, and necessary. And yet every lawsuit you defend in the name of good only exists because some other lawyer was willing to do evil. Seeing you try to let yourself off the hook with a "maybe 10%" argument while name-calling a profession dedicated to enforcing the rules yours comes up with is just silly. Own your evil, please :)

    AFAIK, Clark is not a lawyer, so his exception for lawyers is not so self-serving as all that.

    Popehat runs on varying viewpoints–a fine example of free speech philosophy in action–and the individual bloggers do not always agree with each other.

  183. jdgalt  •  Nov 11, 2013 @9:56 am

    As far as I'm concerned, "equating drug law enforcement with the Holocaust" is 100% called for. Both of those "missions" target a group of (morally) innocent people for being culturally different, and both have at least ruined the lives of millions.

    Which is why ending the "war on drugs" (and any attempts to rename it or disguise it as something new, which includes the "war on terror") is not enough. There must be Nuremberg-like justice afterward.

  184. Jacob H  •  Nov 11, 2013 @10:59 pm

    I have been thinking about this post quite a bit over the last few days, although I haven't been keeping up with the comments. I agree with much of the post, or it might be more accurate to say that I want to agree with much of it. There's just this one bit of cognitive dissonance that this subject draws a direct parallel to for me. You see, all the reasons Clark explained in the post, and all the reasons mentioned in the comments (reasons to inherently distrust cops (or even think that they are inherently evil/part of an unfixably evil system)), are reasons why I'm not sure if I support our troops.

    Easy now, put down those pitchforks, I'm just saying that the parallels are pretty obvious, and I'm not really sure what my opinion is. I'm actually surprised nobody has mentioned them yet, although I didn't read the comments as closely as I could. Let's take a look, since today's Veteran's day and all, at how the parallels stack up:

    1)

    In 2013 I hold no ill will (or not much) to an American who is drafted into the American police…but if a man or woman signs up to go shoot dogs and digitally rape anuses, then screw him. He's bought what Screwtape is selling.

    Doesn't this also apply to today's military? I mean, I hold absolutely no ill will towards a soldier who enlisted in 1995, thinking they were joining a global peacekeeping force…but if a man or woman enlists in 2006, to go blow up weddings with a drone, or go be a guard at Gitmo, then screw him…or is this comparison flawed in some way…? I don't know, is it just that it is so much easier to say "fuck the police" than "fuck our troops"?

    tl;dr The job description is evil. Only evil people sign up for an evil job.

    Is there a clear parallel between the inherent evilness of policing, and the inherent evilness of soldiering? I don't know, but I think you could make a pretty good case that there is. Both have a relatively small number of "bad apples" abusing their power to (respectively) waterboard prisoners, stop-and-frisk innocent minorities, beat confessions out of suspects, commit retroactively-justified drone strikes, surveilling the public, and so on. Both have a much larger number of "good apples" being spoiled by having to protect and/or ignore the bad apples; (respectively) protecting military rapists (which for some reason are more plentiful than in the general public), covering up civilian deaths, stonewalling IA (an earlier commenter's point about the cops' attitude toward IA seems to be another parallel). Why are cops inherently tainted, but soldiers are not?

    2)

    The LEO Culture Turns Good Men Bad

    Law enforcement culture, on the other hand, does have network effects. Cops work together as a team, whether they're in the same squad car, the same department, or just in the same country. The culture is deeply insular with special ID cards and bumper stickers promising special treatment, and a culture that routinely and harshly punishes anyone who breaks from the party line. This is a system almost custom designed to let moral and procedural rot run rampant. (Recall that as much as cops like to wash their hands of a fellow cop who was caught doing a crime by calling him "one bad apple", the full phrase is "one bad apple spoils the bunch".)

    Replace "law enforcement culture" and "cops" with "military culture" and "soldiers," and I think we have a pretty clear match.

    And how well does the Maggie McNeill quote in the update mirror over to military culture?

    If a cop is tasked with enforcing a law he knows to be immoral, it is his duty as a moral man to refuse that order even if it means his job. If he agrees with an immoral law then he is also immoral, and if he enforces a law he knows to be wrong even more so. The law of the land in Nazi-era Germany was for Jews and other “undesirables” to be sent to concentration camps, and the maltreatment of the prisoners was encouraged and even ordered by those in charge; any German soldier or policeman enforcing those laws was the exact moral equivalent of any soldier or policeman under any other democratically-elected government enforcing the laws enacted by that regime. Either “I was only following orders” is a valid defense, or it isn’t; either we agree that hired enforcers are absolved from responsibility because “they’re just doing their jobs”, or we don’t. You can’t have it both ways, and sometimes Nazi analogies are entirely appropriate

    I'll leave it up to the reader, but I don't see a way to blame the beat cop for being a cog in an evil machine, while absolving a soldier of that same blame.

    All that said, I can think of a few ways that they don't directly parallel each other. The War on Terror ™ hasn't been going on for as long as the War on Drugs ™ (/crime) , so maybe the military hasn't become as fundamentally corrupt as the police. The military isn't oppressing its own citizens, the way that the police state does, but I guess that only matters if you think that American lives are more important that foreigners'. The military is also a career and way out of poverty for kids nationwide, in a way that police forces generally aren't. That last point cuts both ways; as the military has loosened their standards, presumably more "bad apples" have slipped in.

    Even if there is a significant difference between police and military in this regard, even if we grant every benefit of the doubt to the military, does it get us all the way from "only evil people sign up for an evil job" to "I support our troops"?

    Anyway, forgive the long post, but this is something that has been weighing on me for some time; is my reluctance to condemn "our troops" logical, given my feelings about police? Is it just the current societal pressure – the megawatt halo – born of the mistreatment of Vietnam vets, that gives me that reluctance?

    Jacob

    tl;dr Should we blame police cogs in an evil system, but not soldier cogs in an evil system?

  185. Phelps  •  Nov 12, 2013 @8:38 am

    tl;dr Should we blame police cogs in an evil system, but not soldier cogs in an evil system?

    I think the key difference is the self-regulating aspect. The military has a culture of pursuing misconduct vigorously, to the point that people complain about The Brass throwing the troops under the bus whenever there is a scandal. Rather than other soldiers covering up the misconduct of other soldiers, soldiers root out the misconduct of others. Remember that the most notorious war crime of Vietnam, My Lai, was stopped by the first unit to arrive on the scene by the helicopter crew threatening to fire on them if they didn't stop killing civilians.

    When soldiers commit crimes, other soldiers find them and punish them. When cops commit crimes, other cops hide the crime and punish anyone who attempts to uncover it.

    That's why we should blame cops and not soldiers.

  186. Ryan  •  Nov 12, 2013 @10:36 am

    @Phelps

    I think the key difference is the self-regulating aspect. The military has a culture of pursuing misconduct vigorously, to the point that people complain about The Brass throwing the troops under the bus whenever there is a scandal. Rather than other soldiers covering up the misconduct of other soldiers, soldiers root out the misconduct of others. Remember that the most notorious war crime of Vietnam, My Lai, was stopped by the first unit to arrive on the scene by the helicopter crew threatening to fire on them if they didn't stop killing civilians.

    When soldiers commit crimes, other soldiers find them and punish them. When cops commit crimes, other cops hide the crime and punish anyone who attempts to uncover it.

    That's why we should blame cops and not soldiers.

    While this may be true of some or even most municipal police departments, it's not even close to true in the broader society of law enforcement.

    I think this is where Clark and the Clarksians in this thread fall down on their arguments – they take very specific, very temporal, and very geographically-limited examples and apply it to an entire career-segment of democratic societies. That is what I object to.

    I have no problem with people calling out local PD who show no accountability – all of them. I have a problem with people taking various examples of that behaviour, and then turning around and saying ALL law enforcement are evil on that basis.

    However, I note Clark has moved on from this comment thread to continue the trend elsewhere, so apparently all of my arguments – and unaddressed counterpoints to Clark – are simply going to be ignored.

  187. Phelps  •  Nov 12, 2013 @10:43 am

    I think this is where Clark and the Clarksians in this thread fall down on their arguments – they take very specific, very temporal, and very geographically-limited examples and apply it to an entire career-segment of democratic societies. That is what I object to.

    I understand your argument, but I think it fails in reality. The examples themselves are limited, but they are both frequent and, more importantly, unanswered in regards to examples of where the police are self regulated. There isn't an epidemic of cops going to trial for the crimes they commit, and certainly not to the scale of the obvious coverups.

    Also, part of the problem is the rural vs urban divide. There are lots of small departments that are generally honest, but they are overwhelmed both in publicity and number of officers by intrinsically corrupt large municipal departments. NYPD, Chicago, Las Vegas Metro, LAPD (along with certain federal departments — BATF & DEA in particular) — there can be no doubt that any officer that remains in those departments more than a few months is a willing participant in evil. They can rationalize it, but the best they can say is that they are doing more good than evil, not that they aren't doing evil.

  188. HandOfGod137  •  Nov 12, 2013 @1:09 pm

    @Phelps

    The examples themselves are limited, but they are both frequent and, more importantly, unanswered in regards to examples of where the police are self regulated.

    Could this not be an example of a tautology (to use the correct definition of the rhetorical version of the term)? You don't hear of the well regulated forces because they are well regulated?

  189. Phelps  •  Nov 12, 2013 @1:38 pm

    Could this not be an example of a tautology (to use the correct definition of the rhetorical version of the term)? You don't hear of the well regulated forces because they are well regulated?

    Doubtful. Charged or convicted cops are scandalous, and scandalous things get coverage. We know that cops aren't particularly law abiding on the job from the misconduct that we see not being prosecuted. Add in circumstantial evidence like the dramatic drop in Use of Force and citizen complaints when mandatory body cams are introduced into a department, and it makes it pretty clear that cops are generally corrupt and unprofessional when dealing with citizens in major metro forces.

  190. Jacob H  •  Nov 12, 2013 @3:01 pm

    @phelps
    You may be right about how the blue wall of protection is different from the olive drab wall of protection, but My Lai is not a good example. For one thing, it was 40 years ago, so it really can't be considered representative of the modern War on Terror ™. For another, if I remember my history right, the perpetrators almost didn't even get prosecuted. It took one soldier with a conscience who didn't give up on the issue after he came home, pushing and pushing for years until there was finally a court-martial. Again, this is all me relying on just my memory, but if it serves, none of the defendants in that court-martial even got any kind of real punishment.

    Meanwhile, in the modern military, they are more than happy to cover up troop-on-troop rape. And they are content to keep hidden drone strike mistakes. And cover up the true circumstances of Pat Tillman's death. And keep undesirables in some dark oubliette, such as Gitmo, Bahgram, or [location classified]

  191. Phelps  •  Nov 12, 2013 @3:12 pm

    Meanwhile, in the modern military, they are more than happy to cover up troop-on-troop rape. And they are content to keep hidden drone strike mistakes. And cover up the true circumstances of Pat Tillman's death. And keep undesirables in some dark oubliette, such as Gitmo, Bahgram, or [location classified]

    I would counsel that you reexamine those issues with a freshly calibrated Bullshit Meter, because I think you've had some unfounded innuendo contaminating your info intake. Troop-on-troop rape, for example is one where it's hard to get real numbers, because rather than underreporting rape, the service considers any opposite gender unwelcome touching to be "sexual battery", so in fact the epidemic might not be what it seems. Drone strikes, too, generally aren't done by the Air Force or the Army — the CIA does those with their own assets, or they hire it out to a Contractor (think Blackwater types).

    Our military-industrial complex is effed up, no doubt — but it looks to me like the rank-and-file soldiers are the brake on that, not the impetus. (Note that a group like Oathkeepers that campaigns against that sort of thing came from the ranks of the military, not the police.)

  192. Jacob H  •  Nov 12, 2013 @5:02 pm

    Well, I am depending on the Pentagon's own reporting of sexual assault, so perhaps that number isn't what it seems, as you suggest. Nonetheless, there are many cases of an actual sexual offender being sheltered by the military higher-ups. In fact, there was just highly-publicized congressional hearings on the subject. How common it is, is almost besides the point, because this whole discussion is about a very small % of bad apples possibly contaminating the much larger % of good apples. In any case, as far as I have been able to tell, sexual assault is more common in the military than in the general population – again, that's the pentagon's numbers. You can say "well we don't really know the real numbers," but what we do know doesn't look good. Again, c.f. the congressional hearings.

    As for the drones, ok you are largely right about who does them, but remember, whoever executes them does so in close cooperation with the military, choosing targets and so on, so I don't really see why it matters who actually puts their logo on the side of the drone. Also, there are calls from many quarters to move the drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon, so that could happen any day.

    As for the prisons and black sites? And rendition to torturing countries? I notice you don't address those at all.

    As for my "bullshit meter," well that's all very nice and snarky, and it's possible you are right, but do you acknowledge you might have a deification meter that might need recalibrating yourself? You don't need to look very far to find cases of military abuse of power, so I'd still like to know how they differ significantly from the police state.

    Our military-industrial complex is effed up, no doubt — but it looks to me like the rank-and-file soldiers are the brake on that, not the impetus

    I'm sure cops would tell you the exact same thing about the system that they are in!

    I take it you acknowledge that your My Lai example was ill-chosen?

  193. Jacob H  •  Nov 12, 2013 @5:21 pm

    Look, I generally don't blame soldiers for being complicit in a broken system, but as I said in my original comment, I have a hard time reconciling that with my generally blaming cops for being complicit in a broken system.

    I don't think the reason you gave (a military culture of accountability) is enough of a difference, frankly, to justify the wildly different attitude (if there even really is a difference).

    You wrote:

    When soldiers commit crimes, other soldiers find them and punish them

    Is this really true? It seems to me that things like Abu Gharib, and pissing on dead Taliban, and other abuses, don't get ferreted out by fellow service members very often, What happens is that it goes public because of some cell phone pics or something, and the military brass only then find a scapegoat to throw under the bus, like pfc Lyndie England, for example. Then they say "it was just these low-level bad apples that were the problem, so problem solved"

  194. Phelps  •  Nov 12, 2013 @6:50 pm

    It is certain that without posse comitatus, I would certainly be lumping the military in with the police. However, they are two completely different jobs. If we have a problem with how the military is being deployed, that is political issue (and I DO have HUGE problems with that.). How they handle themselves once deployed is another thing. I think they handle themselves once deployed within the bounds of society, but it's still war.

    (Fwiw, I don't have a problem with troops in a firefight calling in a drone strike. I have a HUGE problem with extrajudicial executions via drone, which is exclusively done by the CIA and contractors right now. The logos matter there.)

  195. Phelps  •  Nov 13, 2013 @9:15 am

    I have no doubt that most lawyers you know "acknowledge" [testilying]. That does not make it so. It just means that you interact with a particular segment of lawyers, which does not surprise me.

    I do not agree that it is the norm. I agree that it happens. There are good and bad in every profession.

    Just because I ran across it — testilying has been established in studies. A 1986 study revealed that 76% of cops admitted to lying about probable cause under oath, and 48% said that judges were right to exclude police testimony as unreliable.

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1599834?uid=3739920&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102932096661

    I think 76% counts as "the norm."

  196. Ryan  •  Nov 13, 2013 @10:13 am

    If you think an empirical study of Chicago narcotics officers from the 1980s constitutes a representative sampling of police – nevermind broader law enforcement – practices across municipalities, states, and COUNTRIES in 2013, you badly need to take a statistics class or three.

  197. G. Filotto  •  Nov 19, 2013 @6:00 am

    I believe you are wrong, and I believe Clark has essentially remained unchanged in his position. I also happen to think his position was clear to begin with, but not so clear to everyone equally due to the unfortunately somewhat unclear definitions of language as well as a "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" element that is required when listening or arguing with a person in order to grasp better their true and deeper intent.
    To me Clark is very clear and I would bet money his position has not intrinsically changed. It may have been more clarified to people like yourself that are perhaps either unfamiliar or, more likely, ideologically opposed to some degree or other to Clark's views.

  198. G. Filotto  •  Nov 19, 2013 @6:09 am

    Thank you! Correct me if I am wrong but it sure feels good to know I am not the only one that has what the "average" person thinks are *radical* views simply because I base them on ethics and logic!!
    I remember the commenter known as Lizard from almost 20 years ago for his own rather radical views (with which I probably agree a little less with) and for introducing me to Lysander Spooner. There are a couple of points about you I would like to understand better but I need to have time to think them through, in brief one relates to religion and the other to capitalism.

  199. Jacob H  •  Nov 19, 2013 @5:13 pm

    @G.Filotto:

    It's not clear who you are addressing in your two comments.