Police interrogations: "I don't…" / "I would…" / "It's simple…"

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Clark

Clark is an anarchocapitalist, a reader, and a man of mystery. He's not a neoreactionary, but he is Nrx-curious 'til graduation. All he wants for Christmas is for everyone involved in the police state to get a fair trial and a free hanging. Follow him at @clarkhat

90 Responses

  1. Christoph says:

    Also, read up on the Reid method for interrogation. It's basically designed to make anyone who isn't iron-willed (most people are not) likely to confess.

  2. Christoph says:

    Oh. I should have read the 10,000 words first (highly interesting reading, by the way), it's mentioned in there, too.

  3. Charlie says:

    So I have lurked this blog for about a year and while I find the arguments put up for not talking to police extremely well-written and convincing, I still lack a crucial piece of information, namely the marginal cost of refusing to talk.
    Are there any good sources, posts or websites with similar levels of detail and/or eloquence about the marginal costs of refusing to talk, and if the marginal cost varies (rather likely in my opinion) what would be the upper and lower ranges of such costs?

  4. deadcenter says:

    Frontline: The Confessions is another pretty good summary on why you only talk to the police with a lawyer present. And, it's on Netflix.

  5. Dan Hill says:

    I never beleived that people would confess to crimes they didn't commit until I took a trip to Israel on El Al. A couple of hours being grilled by Israeli security – in a public area at the airport and knowing that I hadn't been singled out, every passenger was subject to the same interrogration – gave me a small insight into the psychologocial pressure someone isolated for hours or days while being harangued by police must feel.

  6. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    What is very, very difficult for people sitting in a comfy chair, in their own home, with enough food in their belly and an empty bladder to comprehend is that given enough time and pressure, anyone can be coerced to admit to anything, whether it is truthful or not.

    Whether that pressure is physical pain, fear, or recent trauma, if you give a skilled interrogator enough time and the ability to apply pressure, they *will* get you to say what they want you to say. It happens more quickly with some people, such as those with learning disabilities, but no one should ever fool themselves that they are too smart or too strong to submit and admit to something they didn't if under the control of a skilled interrogator with the tools of time and pressure.

  7. WhangoTango says:

    Part of the issue, I think, is that people aren't used to the idea that authority figures will straight-up lie to them.

    So the cops say "we know you did it, we've totally got piles of evidence, it'll be easier if you confess and go along". And all three of those things are ridiculous lies, on the order of saying the moon is made of cheese and the sun rises in the north. But it's the cops saying it…and they're the authorities…and they have only our best interests in mind…so maybe what they're saying *is* true…right?

  8. nl7 says:

    Charlie:

    I don't have the empirical info you asked for, but the strategic and anecdotal information is pretty conclusive: never talk to the cops.

    http://www.volokh.com/2011/09/30/prof-duane-dont-talk-to-the-cops/

    This professor explains that even innocent people shouldn't talk. You might confess to another crime, you might tell an unrelated lie that becomes a new crime, you might misreport a detail that makes you look guilty, you might tell the truth but omit some information making you look guilty, you might tell the truth but the police misinterpret it or misremember it, and you might tell a truth that contradicts some other evidence (which is misleading or wrong) making you look guilty.

    You think you can talk your way out of it, but talking just gives police more evidence. You can always release evidence later, through a lawyer. But you can have a hell of a time taking back evidence and testimony (and even if taken back, the police remember it and use it to narrow their efforts on you).

    People are programmed to talk, to not ignore direct questions, and to avoid uncomfortable silences. Police use this knowledge to get a suspect to start talking about anything and then steer the conversation into the details of the crime. Innocent people want their story heard and guilty people think they can outsmart it – and almost everybody thinks that they can talk their way out of it.

    The solution is not to talk to police, even if you are innocent and only tell the truth, and even if you are talking about seemingly unrelated stuff. Just ask for a lawyer. Don't help police do their jobs.

  9. jb says:

    Charlie,
    http://www.popehat.com/2014/01/15/the-privilege-to-shut-up/#comments

    The post linked there should answer some of your questions.

  10. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @WhangoTango

    Part of the issue, I think, is that people aren't used to the idea that authority figures will straight-up lie to them.

    I don't think that tells the whole story. I think most law abiding people believe that police will lie to someone when the person being interrogated deserves it and its necessary to serve justice. Therefore, most people are used to the idea that the police will lie, but not used to the idea that the police will lie to *them* if they didn't do anything wrong.

    Our pop culture idolizes the plays-by-his-own-rules cop who may not always follow the law, but dammit Chief he gets results, but we always see that rule-breaking directed at people the story is directing us to root against.

  11. joshuaism says:

    The simple fact is that it is against the long-term interest of any person, guilty or not, to confess to a crime. Interrogations must be designed to get the confessor to put their short-term interests ahead of their long-term interests. So thank you for that article link, I'm glad that there is research being done to reveal tactics that lead to more false confessions. The table in the middle does a great breakdown of the most glaring differences between true and false confessions. Unfortunately it also shows that the differences aren't that obvious.

    Like the row describing how 4+ hour interrogations have a 12% higher chance of generating false confessions, but also generate 7% of true confessions. A rational person may decide that chasing that 7% is worth the slightly higher risk. Especially if they believe that even if the innocent are more likely to agree to an interrogation, most people who get as far as the interrogation room are more likely guilty than not.

  12. AricTheRed says:

    As a professional investigator who made a decent living "selling" confessions to individuals suspected of crimes for a private company I can assure you that it is always in your interest to say nothing, and answer no questions. This is the same whether it be a company investigator or law enforcement officers.

    What the vast majority of people have no idea about is that it is the "cops" (one can substitute any peace officer, for cops be they state, county, city or federal) #1 job is to prepare cases that can be successfully prosecuted in court to their associated prosecuting attorney. That is it. Naturally most police, and all of the ones I ever worked with, genuinely believe that "they've got their man" when they are trying to coerce a confession through any means that will not get that confession thrown out. But that does not matter.

    So back to the short version, never ever speak to the police on your own behalf. Politely decline as they will try to prepare a successful case against you, it is what they do.

  13. fsandow says:

    There's a really good passage in David Simon's Homicide, A Year on the Killing Streets describing the dynamics of police interviews, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the topic. It includes a description of how the police talk their way around the Miranda rights and even turn them to their advantage. I can't find it reproduced online, but there's a summary here.

  14. Erik says:

    I escaped the chair.

    Ugh, unfortunately I can personally attest to the truth of this. When I was very young, I made the stupid mistake of "agreeing to answer a few questions down at the station." I was then subjected to three hours of what was essentially a professional playing word games against a teenager , trying to to elicit something – anything – that could be interpreted as any sort of confession. I wish I had a recording of it now; putting that on YouTube would shut people up a thousand times faster than excellent "Don't Talk to Police" video that you linked (and that I've previously shared as far and wide as I can). I'll be very, very clear – in no way was the detective trying to find out if I was innocent or guilty. There was not one iota of honorable intent on the other side of that table – she simply had a case to close, I was the one in the chair, and that was literally all she cared about. Fortunately, I figured out what was going on about 30 seconds into the conversation (I didn't know I could have just left), and I managed to hold up under the grilling. I got out with a combination of luck and skill (being able to keep track of double- and triple-negatives, etc), but I very well could have had my life ruined right then and there, just because some lazy bitch (and I'm censoring that down from something much worse) couldn't be bothered to do her job. Cops are deeply evil people, the most vile of the vile, who are "just doing their job" no matter what the cost to the thousands (tens or hundreds of thousands? millions?) of innocent people they wind up throwing behind bars, slapping them with felony records that follow them for the rest of their lives, etc. I would trust the lowest drug dealer further than I would trust any cop. And the worst myth is that it's "just a few bad apples." Even if a cop didn't actively engage in immoral and criminal activity to further their career the only way they can keep their job is to cover up for the vast majority of cops that do, and that makes them part of the conspiracy. Re-reading this it sounds like I'm a more than a bit bitter about this, even decades later. I don't think bitter is the right word – it's more like deeply contemptuous. And afraid. I can still remember the terror of knowing what they were trying to do to me. If you don't believe me, try sitting in that chair yourself for a few hours sometime…

  15. W Klink says:

    From the video, the officer poses the scenario where you're pulled over and the officer asks if you know how fast you were going. How should one respond?

  16. AlphaCentauri says:

    I was under the impression that if you ask for a lawyer, the interview is over until you get one (even if it means you'll be detained in jail until that time). Is that true? Or do you have to keep saying, "I'll just wait for my lawyer, thanks" to every question?

  17. Scote says:

    @W Klink,

    The ACLU has a video out and they, IIRC, suggest you beat the cop to the punch and ask them why they pulled you over before they can ask you.

  18. Grandy says:

    @AlphaCentauri – this is one of those unfortunate areas where courts have allowed considerable encroachment of our rights. Ken has done a few posts touching on the subject, I think.

    Shorter: in some situations, the cops will delay as long as they think they can before allowing you to talk to a lawyer. Is it legal? The courts have decided in favor of some behaviors. It's certainly against the spirit of the rules. But the whole system is rigged towards the state.

  19. sinij says:

    If we were to apply all the principles Clark advocates in the last two posts, then we would reach the conclusion that we should not read his blogs without a lawyer. He certainly likes to misrepresent the facts to support his narrative.

    I now regret considering his false narrative. For people just reading this – it came out in the other thread that the prep was actually guilty.

    While coerced confession is morally wrong in all circumstances, that is the extend of police wrongdoing in this case. While one should be very aware of the false confessions… this isn't the case here.

    Now, Clark, am I free to go? If not, from now on I want Ken to read your posts to me.

  20. Laughingdog says:

    So I shouldn't talk to them at all? Is there any legal issue with just tellling them to snort my taint over and over?

  21. DocInKY says:

    Recommended Reading: Arrest Proof Yourself, 2nd Ed. by Dale Carson.

  22. Astra says:

    In Anne Appelbaum's Gulag, she writes that the one NKVD interrogation technique that always got a confession was "the conveyer": extended interrogation under lights and enforced sleep deprivation.

  23. jilocasin says:

    What about those states that make it illegal not to answer a cop?

    I believe your guilty of a crime in Maine (USA) if you do not correctly identify yourself if questioned by a cop. Other jurisdictions may have similar laws.

  24. Ryan says:

    I rarely agree with Clark, and I certainly don't agree with his broader analysis or most of the comments on these last two posts. That said, there is one general principle that I do support:

    If there is even the slightest possibility that you may be investigated for a crime, always know exactly where you legally stand when speaking to law enforcement, and generally the best way to do that is not to speak to them unless you have spoken with legal counsel first.

    I don't endorse the "don't speak to the cops" narrative, largely because if no one spoke to the police, many, many crimes would go unresolved. While some people may think that is a good thing (particularly for drug crimes), society generally benefits from the arrest and prosecution of actual criminals and that is often impossible without witness statements to further an investigation.

    My $0.02.

  25. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @sinij

    I believe you miss the fundamental point: unless the prohibition against coerced confessions applies to everyone, even those we "know" are guilty, it applies to no one.

    In any event, that's what makes coerced and/or false confessions so dangerous. In a lot of cases, they come from people that the police, the prosecutors, the media, and the general public are all certain actually did commit the crime. But in far too many cases to disregard, that surety is misplaced and an innocent person is prosecuted and sometimes convicted.

  26. TomB says:

    I don't endorse the "don't speak to the cops" narrative, largely because if no one spoke to the police, many, many crimes would go unresolved.

    Reading is your friend. Taken directly from the post:

    Don't talk to the police without a lawyer.

    He's not saying withhold information from the police. He's saying you should protect yourself by having your attorney present before answering.

  27. EH says:

    If there is even the slightest possibility that you may be investigated for a crime

    Yes, there is a possibility that you are being investigated for a crime in every interaction with law enforcement, and they will not always tell you this. What's your solution for that, if not to answer with the word, "lawyer?"

  28. StephenH says:

    @sinij: I see where a mouth-frothing troll uses the NYT article to claim that the man was guilty. From the NYT article, it appears that all elements of the crime that Mr. Thomas confessed were first described to him by the police. I do not see, from the NYT article, where reasonable doubt is immolated and the evidence, sans coerced confession, supports the conclusion that he was guilty.

    However, as others have observed, that's beside the point. Rights not shared by all are rights not shared by any.

  29. Shelby says:

    sinij:

    He certainly likes to misrepresent the facts … the prep was actually guilty

    I didn't see anything in Clark's post that misrepresented the facts in the NYT story he linked.

    Why do you say the perp was guilty? Nothing in the article supported that except his coerced confession and the conviction being upheld on appeal. The article implied that there is a split in New York courts over when and how coerced confessions should be allowed; if "the perp"'s confession was not necessary to his conviction, the court wouldn't be reviewing his case. There weren't enough facts (possibly, admissible facts) to establish his guilt absent the confession, so how do you know he's guilty?

  30. Danbc says:

    The UK magazine Private Eye has an article about Victor Nealon.

    He was wrongly convicted of rape and served 17 years – longer than the tarrif because he always maintained his innocence.

    When he was arrested he volunteered to give a DNA sample. He thought that offer would clear his name.

    Prosecutors used it against him. He only offered because he knew his DNA wasn't found. But the rapist had prevented his DNA from being found. Thus, the prosecution said, Nealon must be the rapist.

  31. Fritz says:

    Read John LeCarre, especially Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Given the right kind of pressure, everyone talks, eventually.

  32. Ryan says:

    @TomB

    Reading is indeed the friend of all. Third non-quoted paragraph of the original blog piece, second link in the entire post, captured as "general advice." That would be the general advice or "narrative" I don't endorse.

    @EH

    There are occasions when you can rule out that possibility. Legal advice is not absolutely necessary for everyone in every interaction with law enforcement – that said, it rarely actually hurts anything except your wallet to get it.

  33. sinij says:

    Why do you say the perp was guilty?

    Confession to save the child, why confess to something untrue if it doesn't save the child? The only other explanation, one that Clark proposes, is that the interrogated was acting irrationally and self-destructive due to pressure. I have read some of the links posted in these threads and now changed my stance from "no way" to "highly unlikely". Clark's posts read (to me) like it was an established fact that this person was innocent, was railroaded to confession, and was convicted solely based on confession to preserve the precedence… and this is rather warped way to look at this.

    I still agree that coerced confession is immoral in all circumstances.

  34. DRJlaw says:

    @jilocasin

    I'll defer to the criminal lawyers' views as to general principles, but for at least some states you correct. You may be required to properly identify yourself if asked by the police. At least where I am, you are not required to provide physical proof of your identity (except for the obvious — providing a drivers license if stopped while driving a motor vehicle), simply the information.

    Once you've done that, shut up or speak at your own peril.

  35. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @sinij

    why confess to something untrue if it doesn't save the child?

    Because the officer convinced him that if he confessed to a particular thing, it would save the child. You and I see that such logic is ludicrous, but you and I are sitting in front of our computers and are not in the midst of of an unimaginably stressful situation.

    And for the record, I don't know if the man is guilty or not. The dangers and realities of coerced confessions don't change in either event.

  36. En Passant says:

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    1. Eakspay igpay atlinlay.

    2. Emanday terpreterinhay.

    3. Emanday awyerlay.

    4. ???

    5. Ofitpray!

  37. TomB says:

    Reading is indeed the friend of all. Third non-quoted paragraph of the original blog piece, second link in the entire post, captured as "general advice." That would be the general advice or "narrative" I don't endorse.

    The video linked to continually refers to "your client". The rest should be obvious if you even skimmed the whole video. The professor does NOT encourage withholding evidence from police.

    And Clark, you are being accused of encouraging witnesses of withholding evidence of crimes, care to respond?

  38. Dave says:

    Yes, there is a possibility that you are being investigated for a crime in every interaction with law enforcement, and they will not always tell you this. What's your solution for that, if not to answer with the word, "lawyer?"

    It is always appropriate to treat law enforcement with extreme distrust, but your suggestion that every interaction should be answered with only the word "lawyer" seems rather excessive. For example, while I would recommend keeping your interaction to a minimum, attempting to lawyer up at a traffic stop is likely only to escalate matters. Similarly, my last interaction with the police involved me showing them where a light switch was in my home. To be honest, the question "Do you have a warrant?" was on my lips until I saw the infant suffering febrile seizures surrounded by EMTs on my couch, it came out, "Do youuuuRight here."

  39. Shelby says:

    Sinij:

    As I read the NYT story (and not doing any further research on the case), it appears the police TOLD him a detailed confession might enable doctors to save the child. They did NOT tell him the child was already brain-dead and unsaveable. So as far as he knew (if he believed the police), the child was still alive when he "confessed". (Plus the whole we'll-arrest-and-charge-your-wife thing; an innocent but foolish person under stress might confess to spare her that.)

  40. joshuaism says:

    @sinij
    The "perp"'s story was so compelling that someone went and made a documentary film about it. I doubt the film-makers set out to make a sympathetic movie about a baby-killer. Maybe his story isn't so cut and dry.

  41. AlphaCentauri says:

    Here are more details. It's not a case of whodunit; it's a case of whether the child actually suffered any trauma or whether the medical findings were due to infection. There never were any skull fractures. They were trying to get him to confess to shaking the child, and he was wracking his brain trying to think of something that might have happened to shake the child's head. The best he could come up with was dropping him down on the bed, the way all of us have done many times with our children in a flood of giggles:
    http://wclcriminallawbrief.blogspot.com/2013/10/scenes-of-crime-documentary-surrounding.html

  42. JTG says:

    Late last year, This American Life had a very relevant show on confessions. The link to the show is here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/507/confessions. The show is in two parts, and the first part is a case study about a false confession.

  43. David Schwartz says:

    @TomB: That is, unfortunately, the state our justice system has gotten to. Law enforcement is so untrustworthy and corrupt that the rational thing to do in most cases is not cooperate, even if you are innocent, even if you can help catch real criminals. Law enforcement cares about fines, seizures, and convictions. Unless railroading people hurts them in those areas, they'll keep doing it. One way to make it hurt is for everyone to stop cooperating.

  44. En Passant says:

    Anyone who believes that cops and DAs merely "make mistakes" that accidentally convict innocents, and that they don't commit premeditated evil acts to convict innocents: watch this half hour documentary on the San Diego Stephanie Crowe murder in 1998 [Youtube link].

    Some of the police and prosecutor behavior will curl your hair, or curdle your blood.

    In typical sycophantic major media fashion, the documentary soft pedals the cops' and DA's crimes. Frankly, anyone with a brain and a heart will see that Hanlon's razor does not provide an excuse for their actions.

    One heroic PD thwarted the frame job. One heroic cop risked his career to bring the real murderer to justice. Yet the cops and DA who tried to railroad Stephanie's brother continued their careers without so much as a reprimand, or an apology to their victims.

    Watch out for them. They have no conscience whatever.

  45. En Passant says:

    Forgot to note: The "evidence" against the innocent 14 year old kid was a "confession" given after 20 hours of interrogation, bullying and sleep deprivation.

  46. Christoph says:

    Let's not forget that convicting an innocent person is actually the worst kind of mistake the can happen "in the course of justice". Maybe jurors need to be made aware of this.
    1) Convicting the real perp – good
    2) Not convicting an accused, but innocent person – okay.
    3) Not convicting the real perp – not good, but at least justice didn't trample over uninvoled parties.
    4) Convicting an accused, but innocent person – much worse than 1, 2 or 3 in many ways. Not only does someone get locked up who didn't commit the crime, but the crime is considered solved and the real perp got away with it. Yes – convicting innocent people equates to being soft on crime, since it means letting the real guilty party go free, permanently.

  47. Dan Weber says:

    I've been through enough in life to know that there is a lot of life I've never experienced and that I have no clue how I would react in those situations.

    I've also been through enough in life to know that I've made bad decisions in what I say to people but I'm grateful none of them have ever been in circumstances where I would spend life in prison.

  48. Joe Blow says:

    The stuff about never helping the police do their jobs is pretty tough talk too. You all must live in areas where nobody ever gets shot, robbed, raped or murdered. What's the solution there boys, shrug it off?

    My employer had the bright idea of moving the firm into a low cost, brand new building on the fringe of a "pioneer" neighborhood, meaning a high crime projects and Section 8 housing 'hood. The older local cops call the hood Saigon, the younger ones sometimes call it Fallujah. Draw your own conclusions from that.

    An older woman in my office had her ass kicked and her briefcase and laptop stolen by a couple 'youts' – I suppose she shouldn't report that to the cops, knowing that a market approach is better and will solve her mugging and being-in-the-hospital problem. Another employee watched as two of the local shitbirds shot a jogger in front of him. Should he not report that? Is calling the ambulance okay, knowing the fire department is going to bring the cops?

    What about my circumstance? I sometimes ride a bike to work. A couple teenagers on a crime spree spent their time in between break-ins combined with beatings or rape, mugging people on sidewalks and knocking bike commuters off their bikes and kicking their asses. I responded by running my bike hard into one, and getting in an affray with the other who ran off. The downed perp got up and ran off while I was going at it with his buddy. I was in a position to ID them, and they got popped a few days later (wearing the same clothes) as the two man gang that was running amok. Do I have any interest in speaking to the police then?

    I could drop in a half dozen similar stories that have befallen my colleagues in our relatively small office as a consquence of the boss's choice to save some money and move to a "vibrant, diverse downtown neighborhood" but I will leave it at three.

    I agree that when the cops show up and are looking to inquire, if it's not to my direct benefit I'd be reluctant to talk. (Full disclosure: I've prosecuted and defended, and have been a federal agent). But what what am I supposed to do about crime, in particular crime that directly screws up my own life? Another example, closer to home, literally. Some gang banger squatters broke into a foreclosed home in my neighborhood, strewed all manner of drug paraphernelia around the cul de sac, tried to drag the local teen and pre-teen girls in for parties, turn the handful of pre-teen boys in the neighborhood onto petit crime, and amused themselves by setting fires and burgling other houses in the neighborhood. Do I call the cops or just sit back and wait for the market to handle the problem?

    Commence the Libertarian Purity Circular Firing Squad in 3…2…1…

  49. Tarrou says:

    The stuff about never helping the police do their jobs is pretty tough talk too. You all must live in areas where nobody ever gets shot, robbed, raped or murdered. What's the solution there boys, shrug it off?

    I live in one of the top 5 most dangerous cities in the US, 20 years running. What do I do? I wear a gun. I watch my ass. And I never let things escalate. And you still won't catch me talking to the cops without a lawyer, beyond the necessary identification, and information that I am armed (required by state law). I learned my lesson long ago on how cops will railroad anyone for any reason or no reason at all.

    Tough talk? Not really. It's not about ego, it's about survival. I'm not going to be better off in jail for something I didn't do than out on the street with my two (1.5, it's rhetorical) hands in front of me. And if you talk to the cops about anything at all, you have better odds of winding up in jail than whoever you're talking about. If the cops want info, they can try not framing innocent people for a while, see if that doesn't increase public trust. This isn't libertarian principle, this is practical reality.

  50. Dan Weber says:

    AlphaCentauri: my extensive legal training (from the crossover between Law & Order and Homicide) says that the rules about when the cops have to stop talking to you depend on jurisdiction. The rules in New York are different from the rules in Pennsylvania. In one place, you say "I want a lawyer" the cops have to stop talking immediately. In the other, the cops can keep on talking to you but you don't have to respond.

  51. WhangoTango says:

    "Do I call the cops or just sit back and wait for the market to handle the problem?"

    And what *did* happen when you called the cops?

  52. wumpus says:

    One thing to remember about "confessions" is that most (50 out of 74) of the convicted witches confessed (the ones who didn't were executed). They also confessed for almost exactly the same reason that modern defendants "confess": fear of a prosecutor who has to make an example of anyone who would threaten their budget by demanding a trial.

    Note that this is just the rational response by those who consult a lawyer. I'm not trying to ignore the effects of harsh interrogations (wait long enough and you to can have a 99+% chance of getting people to write their own death warrants, just see how the Stalinists used the same methods the Bush administration retreated to a "kinder, gentler interrogation").

  53. 205guy says:

    sinij wrote: "Clark's posts read (to me) like it was an established fact that this person was innocent, was railroaded to confession, and was convicted solely based on confession to preserve the precedence… and this is rather warped way to look at this."

    Regardless of the facts of the case (sorry, I can't be bothered to sort it out), I got exactly the same vibe. Clark is guilty of this over and over, setting up HIS version of a story as the one true interpretation. Maybe it's a lawyer thing (though I don't even know if Clark is a lawyer), because sometimes I see it in Ken's posts too: present certain facts in a certain way, create a version of the truth, and it becomes THE truth from which we should draw conclusions (seems like what lawyers do in court). To be fair to Ken, he is often much more nuanced and his version of the truth often accounts for opposing views. And to be fair to lawyers, I see this behavior from all sides of the political blog spectrum–or any activist writing in general.

    At one time, devil's advocate arguments were popular on this blog, and quite refreshing and informative. They strengthened good arguments and broke down weak ones. Where did they go?

    About providing evidence and helping investigations:

    On some online forums (fora, for the pedants), people decry the "no-snitching" culture that exists in certain neighborhoods (the ethnic ones plagued by gangs or other violence). These people say that if the upstanding citizens turned in the bad apples, the circle of violence would be broken and the neighborhood could get better. Besides the issues of living in terror of retribution that is being ignored by this argument, it also violates the don't-talk-to-cops rule.

    Why would someone talk to a cop and even reveal that they knew something about a crime, knowing that would open themselves up to being questioned and potentially "leveraged" (desperate cops putting pressure on a person just because the cops think he might have information because he stepped forward). Plus, even upstanding citizens may have vulnerabilities that the cops can exploit: what if they helped a cousin who just got out of jail. Obviously, I'm not talking about anonymous tip lines, but those are probably viewed suspiciously as well.

    I'm sure someone is thinking: "get a lawyer, then go help the cops." But I think that hiring a lawyer to volunteer information is beyond the budget of the populations in question. In most cases, it would also be inconceivable to them.

    Finally, what realistically happens when you say "lawyer?" Is it some magic word that stops the interrogation? As others have asked, how do you find/call a lawyer in that case? Do the cops just release you and let you go to your lawyer? I don't think so, so you need a lawyer to come to the station–but what if he can't come right away? Do you just sit in detention without being arrested?

    Once you have retained a lawyer (implying you can pay him), how do you communicate privately with that lawyer? If the cops are crooked, won't they listen in on the phone call/private room?

    Also, what is so magical about a lawyer, won't he just tell you not to talk about anything? What if you have a bad lawyer you gives you bad advice (or doesn't realize the cops are playing hard ball).

    Perhaps, having a lawyer IS magical, in the sense that LEO must treat a represented person differently (how? why?). In that case, couldn't you just say to any cop (except for giving your name/showing ID): "Upon prior advice of my attorney, I cannot answer that question."

  54. James Pollock says:

    On some online forums (fora, for the pedants)

    My solution to this sort of thing is to assert that "fora" is Latin, and "forums" is English. This works in any number of situations where Latin grammar and construction differs from current usage, not just in plurals of Latin words.

    All your words are belong to us.

  55. James Pollock says:

    In that case, couldn't you just say to any cop (except for giving your name/showing ID): "Upon prior advice of my attorney, I cannot answer that question."

    Yes. Or you could shorten it up to just "I will not answer that question".

    There are two rights in play, which come from different amendments. The right to have an attorney present during questioning comes from the sixth, while the right to not make incriminating statements comes from the fifth. So, if you invoke the fifth, there's nothing stopping the cops from asking you the same question over and over, hoping you'll change your mind and answer it this time. However, once you invoke your right to an attorney, questioning must stop and cannot resume until your attorney is present, and you get the exclusionary rule applied if the cops don't comply. Of course, this is just the broadest of overviews, and the details are exactly why you want that lawyer, and not just any lawyer, but one who practices criminal defense most of the time.

  56. Clark says:

    @205guy

    Clark is guilty of this over and over, setting up HIS version of a story as the one true interpretation… sometimes I see it in Ken's posts too: present certain facts in a certain way, create a version of the truth, and it becomes THE truth from which we should draw conclusions (seems like what lawyers do in court). To be fair to Ken, he is often much more nuanced

    So let me get this straight:

    • I present my argument forcefully
    • …in a way that makes it clear that it's my view of the topic at hand
    • …and I always link to the original source material

    ?

    Yes, I can see why I'm being accused of dishonesty.

    I'd really hate to engage in debate with someone who argues well. Or, as you phrase it, "sets up HIS version of a story as the one true interpretation".

  57. James Pollock says:

    I'd really hate to engage in debate with someone who argues well. Or, as you phrase it, "sets up HIS version of a story as the one true interpretation".

    You do tend to put a LOT of spin on things when you present them, but on the other hand, you do so pretty consistently, so anyone with experience shouldn't be surprised when it happens.

    I think your "go for the throat" debate style does surprise some people who were expecting a kinder, gentler approach to debate, and I think you know full well how and why it happens. The example that comes to mind is someone who should be in a "competitive" softball league finds themself playing in a "recreational" league.

    I ALSO maintain that I, myself, am guilty of nothing more than vigorously defending my ideas, which I share generously (and they're worth at LEAST twice the price)… but I concede that there are occasions when, to some people, it appears that I'm doing something else.

    Darn this curse of being right so often that it's difficult to recognize those rare times when I'm not. It's upsetting, I tell you. Why, I remember this one time in 1989 when I thought I might be wrong. I was mistaken.

  58. Clark says:

    @Jame Pollack

    You do tend to put a LOT of spin on things when you present them, but on the other hand, you do so pretty consistently, so anyone with experience shouldn't be surprised when it happens.

    We're in reasonable agreement here. I'd phrase it "Clark states his opinions forcefully, tries to never misstate facts, and tries to always link to the original source". But I admit that your phrasing is perfectly legitimate.

    I ALSO maintain that I, myself, am guilty of nothing more than vigorously defending my ideas

    So is this like the old saw about eccentricity, or sweat?

    • I vigorously defend my ideas.
    • You put a lot of spin on things.
    • He is intellectually dishonest.

    ;-)

    Why, I remember this one time in 1989 when I thought I might be wrong. I was mistaken.

    ;-)

  59. 205guy says:

    James Pollock wrote: "My solution to this sort of thing is to assert that "fora" is Latin, and "forums" is English. This works in any number of situations where Latin grammar and construction differs from current usage, not just in plurals of Latin words."

    You know that, I know that, but I could care less about the grammar snobs on the internet and cannot resist taunting them and calling them pedants.

    James Pollock wrote: "Yes. Or you could shorten it up to just "I will not answer that question"."

    So the word "attorney/lawyer" is not magical.

    James Pollock continues: "However, once you invoke your right to an attorney, questioning must stop and cannot resume until your attorney is present, and you get the exclusionary rule applied if the cops don't comply."

    So it is magical after all. So maybe you cannot preemptively claim prior attorney advice and have it apply (and since you claim your attorney gave you the advice to not talk, they should not resume questioning?). Do your consequences still apply if I claim to have spoken to my attorney before, but not during the questioning?

    Clark wrote: "I present my argument forcefully
    …in a way that makes it clear that it's my view of the topic at hand
    …and I always link to the original source material
    Yes, I can see why I'm being accused of dishonesty."

    – Yes, we all love forceful arguments, from cops to bloggers, those are the best. Convincing, well thought out arguments that take into account all facets are to be shunned.

    – I think I'm not alone in finding that it was NOT clear that the characterization of the situation was your view of the "topic" (other than the byline). I put "topic" in quotes because we were originally talking about the presentation of the facts that underlie the topic. Obviously, everyone is presenting opinion about the topic itself. Your bullet point becomes false if you substitute the word "facts" for "topic."

    – I won't begrudge you your links, you do seem good about that. However in the spirit of presenting an alternate truth, I will note that one online newspaper article (even the NYT) is not particularly compelling nowadays. Many facts could be missing, unknown, or not yet divulged.

    – Hmm, I don't think I've ever associated you with factual dishonesty, so don't try to pin that accusation on me like that. I do think that you argue like a steamroller (or mabye wrecking ball, to use an image from pop culture), in a way that distorts the issues and could be characterized as intellectually dishonest–because you sort of know you're doing it–or maybe you don't so it's couldn't be.

    Note that factual honesty and intellectual honesty use the same word but have different meanings. From wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_honesty): "fallacies in debates and reasoning are sometimes called intellectual dishonesty."

    Since you conveniently ignored it, I'll repeat my plea for more devil's advocates, and not just in the comments.

  60. Clark says:

    @205guy

    Note that factual honesty and intellectual honesty use the same word but have different meanings. From wikipedia ( "fallacies in debates and reasoning are sometimes called intellectual dishonesty."

    Don't hand wave about rhetorical fallacies – if you think I'm making one, man up and point it out. Argument by inuendo is a weak, sad move.

    Since you conveniently ignored it, I'll repeat my plea for more devil's advocates

    "Conveniently". Jeez. More innuendo. I really really hate phrasings like this. Did you "conveniently" eat dinner when you were hungry? Did you "conveniently" flush the toilet after you were done with the business?

    So, yes, I "conveniently" ignored a demand plea that I dance like a monkey for you.

    If you want devil's advocacy, provide it yourself. This is Burning Man Thunderdome. There are no spectators.

    and not just in the comments.

    Go fuck yourself.

    I'll think about it.

    Go fuck yourself.

  61. 205guy says:

    Clark wrote: "Don't hand wave about rhetorical fallacies – if you think I'm making one, man up and point it out. Argument by inuendo is a weak, sad move."

    I and others have, explicitly. In this case we pointed out how you presented the "facts" of the news story in such a way as to beg your conclusions. I often jump in to comment threads to point out your bombastic comments (FDR was a fascist! banana republic!). No constructive debate about the original issue has ever ensued.

    Clark wrote: "If you want devil's advocacy, provide it yourself."

    I try, others try. But you never respond to them with something like: "I can see where you're coming from, but I still believe my original argument holds because…"

    Clark wrote: ""Conveniently". Jeez. More innuendo. I really really hate phrasings like this."

    Oh no, you got me. I was using colorful language and snark to get a rise out of you. To quote a meme: The fact that your comments are full of phrasings like this shows that you do not really really hate phrasing like this.

  62. Clark says:

    @205guy

    Clark wrote: "Don't hand wave about rhetorical fallacies – if you think I'm making one, man up and point it out. Argument by inuendo is a weak, sad move."

    I and others have, explicitly.

    205: you're making fallacies.

    Clark: which ones?

    205: I've already said that you're making fallacies!

    No. That does not remotely live up to the "man up and point them out" standard.

    Here is a list of fallacies. If you want to accuse me of making a logical fallacy, say something like "Clark, you said that you don't know of a single good cop. That's the 'argument from ignorance', and thus you are full of it."

    In this case we pointed out how you presented the "facts" of the news story in such a way as to beg your conclusions.

    I'm not sure what "beg a conclusion" means. Google has a handful of hits on that phrase most dating to some idiosyncratic stuff from c. 1897.

    Do you mean "beg the question" (i.e. circular reasoning – taking the conclusion of the argument as an axiomatically true assumption) ?

    If you are, then I don't see that I do that at all.

    Presenting facts in a way so as to

    So I'm guilty of … wait for it … presenting facts in a way that supports my conclusion? Quel horror! Another phrase for this is "arguing persuasively".

    I often jump in to comment threads to point out your bombastic comments (FDR was a fascist! banana republic!). No constructive debate about the original issue has ever ensued.

    There are two constants in the sentence "every time Clark and 205guy interact nothing constructive happens".

    "Clark is present" is one of the constants.

    Can you tell me the other one?

    Clark wrote: "If you want devil's advocacy, provide it yourself."

    I try, others try. But you never respond to them with something like: "I can see where you're coming from, but I still believe my original argument holds because…"

    So you repeatedly fail to persuade me (through, I would suggest, your lack of good argumentative skills)…and this is my problem?

    Let's start this conversation over:

    205guy: You use logical and rhetorical fallacies.

    Clark: Give me an example.

    Your move.

  63. Sinij says:

    Clark, I am with 205guy. In this instance you are guilty of misrepresenting by omission.

    Sure, we all should/could form our own opinions about the topics and conduct our own research. With that said…

    If I only read your blog post on this topic I'd form an impression that an innocent man went to jail, railroaded by unsympathetic judges to protect the precedent of confession.

    Nowhere did you indicate that you went from reporting facts to stating an opinion. Beware of "Fair and Balanced" ClarkNews.

  64. Sinij says:

    (or mabye wrecking ball, to use an image from pop culture)

    Thank you for putting the image of naked Clark, tongue sticking out, swinging on a metal ball into my head.

    The next debate will definitely feel awkward.

  65. AlphaCentauri says:

    But in this case, there is real question about whether an innocent person went to jail. There is real question about whether a crime was committed at all, or whether the physicians drew the wrong conclusion about the initial presentation and that colored all the conclusions everyone drew from then on.

  66. AlphaCentauri says:

    Here is a different case that appears open-and-shut but which turns out to be more complicated:
    http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20140119/NEWS01/301190044/The-Death-Chloe-Britt-Capital-murder-accidental-fall-?nclick_check=1

  67. Clark says:

    @Sinij

    Clark, I am with 205guy.

    I know.

    In this instance you are guilty of misrepresenting by omission.

    What, exactly, did I omit?

    When I reference an article, would you like me to include the complete text, instead of just excerpting a quarter or so of it?

    I can't, because that's illegal…so here's an idea: how about I let you read the entire article by providing a link?

    Sure, we all should/could form our own opinions about the topics and conduct our own research. With that said…

    "Research".

    That's a pretty high-falutin' word for reading an article in a newspaper.

    If I only read your blog post on this topic I'd form an impression that an innocent man went to jail, railroaded by unsympathetic judges to protect the precedent of confession.

    I'm sorry to hear that, but I think most people reading my blog post would understand what it was that I said.

    Nowhere did you indicate that you went from reporting facts to stating an opinion.

    I never "report facts". I link to facts. I present opinions. Nothing more.

    Beware of "Fair and Balanced" ClarkNews.

    Anyone who thinks that there is such a thing as ClarkNews is confused.

    Anyone who thinks that I have ever claimed to be balanced is confused.

    I am an angry, partisan, anti-authoritarian ancap who hates all government and everyone who works for it, and I blog angry screeds.

    That's a surprise to you, right? You were under the impression that I was a politicaly moderate news reporter, perhaps?

    Seriously, how the hell can you read posts like Burn the Fucking System to the Ground and tweets like

    https://twitter.com/ClarkHat/status/426797158910922752

    and think that I ever once suggested that I was a "Fair and Balanced" source of even handed calm reportage?

  68. sinij says:

    I have no problem with opinionated rants. I enjoy reading your blogs and encourage you to produce more, despite the fact that I tend to disagree with most of what you say.

    There is a huge difference between "Burn the Fucking System to the Ground" (BFStG) and what we discussing. Nobody, I repeat nobody would confuse BFStG with anything but clear stated opinion. It screams at you that it is not a factual truth, but a soapbox material.

    What we discussing here is the difference between:

    Innocent man was jailed. Here is the link.

    and

    Man I THINK is innocent was jailed. Here is the link to a full story.

    What, exactly, did I omit?

    You forgot to mention that it is by no means certain that the man in question is innocent. You could have presented 'innocence' as your opinion that would be fine; instead you reported it as a fact and then proceeded to state your opinions on this topic based on innocence as a given.

  69. shg says:

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a strong argument that Adrian Thomas is, in fact, innocent. Having read all the briefs and decisions in the case, there is a detail that is not widely known, but of significance.

    The ER doc believes that his child's injury was caused by a blow to the head, and the police proceeded on that theory to interrogate Thomas. Subsequent examination on autopsy suggested that the baby died from an infection, and that this wasn't a murder at all.

    The two theories were presented at trial, and the jury found that it was a murder, the critical factor being that Thomas' confession bolstered the prosecution's evidence that it was a blow, not an infection. See how that happened?

    Because the jury concluded it was murder, the infection evidence has been pushed aside and left out of most reports of the case. However, had there been no coerced confession, there was a strong likelihood that the jury would have concluded this was not a murder, but death by infection.

    So the interrogation bootstrapped the dubious murder theory, and the discussion here omits the evidence at trial that this was never a murder at all.

  70. Carl says:

    Anyone who thinks innocent people can't be coerced into signing a paper (and the end result may be as simple as writing your name) is just plain ignorant of the well-established facts of human psychology.

    Somehow people get the idea that the cops are going to sit down with you and ask, "Will you please confess to a murder you didn't commit?" No, first they deprive you of food and sleep, and your brain is as useful as if you were drunk. Then they hold some extra threat over you–if not as clever as the supposed dying baby cliffhanger, usually some simpler threat like "we can already convince the jury, but if you sign this we won't have you executed". And if it's recorded, as was the case with some teenager, they don't start by asking for a confession. They start by asking you to speak hypothetically about how it COULD have been done by someone, and condition the victim to recite the details until they are ready to ask some followup like "is that how we should say you did it?"

    An ironic twist which sometimes pops up in psychology is that people who think they can't be manipulated by some methods are actually slightly MORE likely to be duped. It doesn't work for all forms of manipulation, and it is usually a small effect, but a big dumb&loud "I wouldn't _____!" is not a reliable indication that they wouldn't.

  71. Patrick Maupin says:

    @sinij:

    They thought they proved him guilty, but then it turned out they didn't. So he's innocent. As Ken says on other issues, "that's how we roll."

    At some later date, he might really be proven guilty, but until then, he's innocent.

  72. Castaigne says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    Here are more details. It's not a case of whodunit; it's a case of whether the child actually suffered any trauma or whether the medical findings were due to infection. There never were any skull fractures.

    In the interest of honesty: It should be noted that Dr. Walter Edge still maintains that the death was the result of non-accidental blunt force trauma and that he has been willing to testify to that effect. Of course, expert witness for the defense stated otherwise. The pathologist, Dr. Michael Sikirica, also maintains that “the sepsis was secondary to the head trauma.” Expert witness for the defense disagreed.

    @En Passant:

    Yet the cops and DA who tried to railroad Stephanie's brother continued their careers without so much as a reprimand, or an apology to their victims.

    Factual note: The DA involved in the Crowe interrogation actually did lose his next election, in part due to this case.

    @Tarrou:

    What do I do? I wear a gun. I watch my ass. And I never let things escalate.

    I highly disagree with the not letting things escalate approach. The best way to keep the punks from hassling you again and again is a show of force. Bringing the gat into play assures respect and that the punks will never, ever, go up against you again. Standing Your Ground = WIN.

    @wumpus:

    They also confessed for almost exactly the same reason that modern defendants "confess": fear of a prosecutor who has to make an example of anyone who would threaten their budget by demanding a trial.

    Uh, no, not at all. Most witches confessed due to physical torture. Read the transcipts of various witch trials and then go surfing through Der Hexenhammer.

    @Clark:

    Clark: which ones?

    I'll answer that one. You constantly beg the question. You engage in overgeneralisation, the spotlight fallacy, affirming the consequent, lots and lots of straw men, association fallacy, loaded questions, presupposition, and argumentum ad baculum.

  73. AlphaCentauri says:

    I highly disagree with the not letting things escalate approach. The best way to keep the punks from hassling you again and again is a show of force. Bringing the gat into play assures respect and that the punks will never, ever, go up against you again. Standing Your Ground = WIN.

    Or you could treat them with respect, as fellow human beings. And you can treat their family members and friends with respect. You would be surprised how rarely you will get hassled in the first place, because you will be treated with respect. I speak from experience.

  74. bobby says:

    Another great movie that explores the power of sustained interrogation was Under Suspicion (2000) starring Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman.

  75. John Beaty says:

    I'm not sure why some people don't take Clark as Clark, instead of some mystical, perfectly logical being. I mean, it's not like he hides his feelings.

    I've been thoroughly pissed off at some things he's written, and wanted to accuse him of all manner of mopery and dopery, but in the end, what's the point? He's telling us how he sees the world. I believe, but can't prove, that he thinks it would be a good thing for us to join in looking at things from his viewpoint. I don't think at all that he thinks his view is the only valid way of seeing. Sometimes logical fallacies are more useful in rhetoric than pure logic. I use his screeds as jumping off points for my own thinking.

    And seriously, it's 2014. Anyone who is waiting for responses on web sites is a bit behind the times. :-)

  76. babaganusz says:

    I'm not calling anyone here a "journalist" (no offense/praise intended), and I'm not necessarily calling anyone who could learn something today from the following distinction "someone who is going to pay any attention when it doesn't suit their self-righteous and/or hyper-tribalist narrative", but I reckon it damn well applies to not-professionally-journalistic endeavors as well:

    …as things stand today the proposition is clear to all but the most resistant minds in legacy media: The professional stance that proscribes all political commitments and discourages journalists from having a clear view or taking a firm position on matters in dispute (you can call it objectivity, if you like, or viewlessness, which I like better) is one way of doing good work. A very different professional stance, where the conclusions that you come to by staring at the facts and thinking through the issues serve to identify your journalism… this is another way of doing good work.

    http://pressthink.org/2013/06/politics-some-politics-none-two-ways-to-excel-in-political-journalism-neither-dominates/

  77. babaganusz says:

    Bringing the gat into play assures respect and that the punks will never, ever, go up against you again.

    brilliant! obviously the ones who 'ever, ever' do are not classified as 'punks', then.

    You would be surprised how rarely you will get hassled in the first place, because you will be treated with respect.

    let's hope they trot out something better than a straw sample of "treating punks with respect". don't forget this is someone who purports a deep grasp of being both arch-conservative and arch-Catholic. Original Sin = WIN.

  78. StephenH says:

    You guys really like trying to argue that Clark misled folks with the heading, but I would counter-argue that the heading does correctly represent the nature of what was being reported.

    Even if there were no real question as to the man's guilt after trial and examination of the evidence, the police acted with disregard to the possibility that the man was innocent. They acted as though they had a priori knowledge that the man was guilty, and they coerced a confession from him.

    Our system of justice is supposedly predicated on the idea that men are innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. Ergo, when a court considers the practice of coercing confessions before a trial has taken place, they are considering the practice of coercing confessions from innocent people.

    Headline is correct. Narrative is correct. A man who was innocent, according to the principles of our justice system, was coerced into giving a confession. I wouldn't trust the conviction that followed to declare that the ends justify the means; I see it as fruit of a poisonous tree.

  79. 205guy says:

    sinji, thanks for jumping in and stating the situation clearer than I could.

    StephenH, as tempting as your interpretation is, I do not believe that law enforcement officers are bound by the presumption of innocence. That is the nature of the adversarial system (in the US). Their job is to secure guilty pleas, and if necessary, go through the courts to get a guilty verdict. It is only once you show up in court that you are assumed to be innocent (by the court, not the prosecuting attorney). It often seems like the police and prosecutors work actively to keep the accused away from the courts, using more of their questionable pre-trial tactics.

    In fact, it seems like law enforcement (in the US) has essentially worked through the years to find new and not yet declared unconstitutional ways of getting guilty pleas/gathering evidence before the accused gains "protection" of the court. Coming full circle in this discussion, perhaps the act of requesting a lawyer helps to establish the adversarial nature of the system–though a lawyer can only protect you against the tactics that have already been declared unconstitutional.

    Perhaps the system could be reformed to establish and protect presumption of innocence earlier more like what you describe–but I'm not holding my breath. I do believe there should be more protection for the accused so they don't have to go through the wringer with the police and prosecutor plea dealing. There are other systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisitorial_system#France sounds good on paper), though all systems are open to abuse.

  80. Joe Blow says:

    >>>>And what *did* happen when you called the cops?

    On the bangers in the neighborhood? They showed up one night when called, busted the bangers for breaking and entering, vandalism, weapons and the more serious type of drug possession (large amounts of the more damaging stuff, "intent to distribute" levels). Then they contacted the bank in possession of title and requested that they secure the building, or face possible nuisance landlord charges for creating a hazard in the neighborhood. The bangers have since moved on – some plea deals, one or two may be awaiting trial or other hearings, but their exact fate isn't really a concern, they have left *my* neighbhorhood and are leaving the local kids alone. The bank came in with a locksmith the next Monday, a day or so later, and installed functioning locks, cleaned up the property and has been keeping it squared away pending short sale auction.

    Not bad results from my viewpoint. And I didn't even get falsely charged with a crime.

  81. StephenH says:

    @205guy: If the article had been "Police chief weighs police role in coercing confessions", it might be relevant whether the police are bound by a presumption of innocence. It is the courts doing the weighing, the same courts that are nominally bound to the presumption of innocence.

    Of course, in a practical sense there is still nothing stopping the police from abducting a person and torturing and violating them repeatedly until the victim confesses to a crime or agrees to pay a $6000 hospital bill, but at least the courts can choose to label such a confession as unconstitutional, making it inadmissable along with (one can hope, anyways) any evidence gathered as a result of it.

  82. John Beaty says:

    It is abso-fucking-lutely NOT the job of law enforcement to secure guilty pleas. That fact that they and you think it is, is one of the things that Clark and other rail about.

  83. Castaigne says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    Or you could treat them with respect, as fellow human beings. And you can treat their family members and friends with respect.

    You respect what you fear. My approach guarantees fear; therefore respect will ensue.

    You would be surprised how rarely you will get hassled in the first place, because you will be treated with respect.

    People get hassled because they are perceived as being weak and open to being prey. I just negate that from the get-go.

    @John Beaty:

    I'm not sure why some people don't take Clark as Clark, instead of some mystical, perfectly logical being.

    He is obviously intelligent eniough to be rational. Instead, he promotes slanted and deceptive language to spin issues. Rational people do not do that. Either he is really so stupid he is unaware of his spin trade, or he's intelligent and deliberately engages in it. If the latter, it's a form of lying, and he is assuming we are stupid enough to believe his lies. It's really that simple.

    He's telling us how he sees the world. I believe, but can't prove, that he thinks it would be a good thing for us to join in looking at things from his viewpoint.

    Iterating a viewpoint does not require egregious deception and spin of an issue. If he were truly just expressing his viewpoint, he would state the dry objective facts of the issue and then issue his viewpoint on the situation. No spin would be required.

    Sometimes logical fallacies are more useful in rhetoric than pure logic.

    Rhetoric is only useful when you're lying to convince people. Logical and rational reasoning wins every time; you cannot argue against rationality.

    @babaganusz:

    brilliant! obviously the ones who 'ever, ever' do are not classified as 'punks', then.

    There aren't any who ever, ever do. The punks end up cowed or dead. It's a binary situation.

    @StephenH:

    Even if there were no real question as to the man's guilt after trial and examination of the evidence, the police acted with disregard to the possibility that the man was innocent. They acted as though they had a priori knowledge that the man was guilty, and they coerced a confession from him.

    I certainly am of the opinion that the confession coercion techniques are improper and should be made illegal, and further that his confession should be struck down and the case retried on the remaining evidence. I do not however, agree that the police should act on presumption of innocence.

    @205guy:

    I do believe there should be more protection for the accused so they don't have to go through the wringer with the police and prosecutor plea dealing.

    I like that idea. I think there are things that could be developed in that manner.

    @John Beaty:

    It is abso-fucking-lutely NOT the job of law enforcement to secure guilty pleas. That fact that they and you think it is, is one of the things that Clark and other rail about.

    OK. Before this gets discussed, let's find out where you stand.

    What IS your view the job of law enforcement? To catch criminals? To provide order? To do what?

    If you care, MY view is that law enforcement exists to investigate crimes and determine who committed them, gathering evidence to prove it in court.

  84. StephenH says:

    I do not however, agree that the police should act on presumption of innocence.

    Why not? This is not a topic in which there is a middle ground that can be easily defined. There is no quantum superposition of states. You can't be "slightly guilty". You are guilty or you are not, and the police can't read the future so as to know beforehand.

    Your choices, then, are as follows: A person is presumed guilty, with nominal protections to try and ensure not too many actual innocent are railroaded by police power; or a person is presumed innocent, with the most limited encroachment on their rights and privileges as needed for the police to investigate, and then only when there is sufficient cause as determined by a court of law.

    So, I've changed my mind from above. Previously I'd stated:

    If the article had been "Police chief weighs police role in coercing confessions", it might be relevant whether the police are bound by a presumption of innocence.

    I now believe this is incorrect, and was ill-conceived in an attempt to separate the police from the court.

  85. AlphaCentauri says:
    Or you could treat them with respect, as fellow human beings. And you can treat their family members and friends with respect.

    You respect what you fear. My approach guarantees fear; therefore respect will ensue.

    You would be surprised how rarely you will get hassled in the first place, because you will be treated with respect.

    People get hassled because they are perceived as being weak and open to being prey. I just negate that from the get-go.

    I walk through all kinds of neighborhoods at all kinds of hours, knock on doors of people I don't know, and strike up conversations with the guys with lots of bling standing outside the Chinese takeout. I don't get hassled, and I am not a fearsome person.

    You seem to divide the world into either non-human "punks" or humans who are worthy of your respect. I'm betting that shows on your face, and that it looks a lot like fear. If you appear afraid of people who are not like you and you have a belligerent attitude, people are going to amuse themselves by messing with you. It's how they maintain their own self respect.

    Give them respect in the first place, and you save them the trouble of trying to prove something to you.

  86. Xenocles says:

    "You respect what you fear. My approach guarantees fear; therefore respect will ensue."

    No, you pretend to respect what you fear as a cover while you grope around for a bigger stick. And make no mistake, your ability to impose fear will not last. As Seneca counseled Nero, no matter how many you kill, you cannot kill your successor.

  87. babaganusz says:

    The punks end up cowed or dead. It's a binary situation.

    well, no doubt the Third Way (of Our Noble ProAntagonist ending up dead) is not worthy of your solipsist-shadow…

  88. babaganusz says:

    No, you pretend to respect what you fear as a cover while you grope around for a bigger stick.

    signs point to it being an old-school God-Fearing Entity, so it probably won't pick up on that dig the way you might be hoping.

  89. Xenocles says:

    There is in fact one being worthy of both fear and respect, but Castaigne isn't Him – and if he's the Catholic he says he is we can at least agree on that last point. I had meant to restrict the conversation to the realm of human persons.

  90. babaganusz says:

    yes, i figured i was shifting the intended Scope. (no doubt the SPaul amalgam composed something optionally impelling and/or relevant.)