Unclear on the Concept

I just got an email that has begins with the following text in large centered print (only the last few lines matter for this post):

IFC Films

and The Fortune Academy

Invite you to Join Former Inmates at a Special Halfway House Screening of

The Standford Prison Experiment

Post-Film Q&A will focus on the current state of the American Prison System and the psychological dynamic of power
with Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez

When:
Tuesday, July 14th @6PM

Where:
The Fortune Academy
630 Riverside Drive (at 140th Street)

Note what’s missing from the location: The city and state. I get something like this in my email every few months — a marketing communication about some event for which the marketer just assumes I know what city they’re in. It would be one thing if this was from some sort of city-specific mailing list, but quite often it’s just some generic marketing outlet. This time it was from Dixon Knox at Brigade Marketing, LLC.

Still, even before Googling it, I’m pretty sure the location is probably in New York City, with Washington D.C. a good second guess, since only people from those two cities are the kinds of arrogant fucktards who assume theirs is the only city that matters.

Google tells me that the Fortune Academy is indeed in New York, NY. (The closest the email comes to telling me this is a block of text on the history of the Fortune Academy that mentions it’s in West Harlem.) If you live around there, this might be an interesting event for you to attend, although general pissedness makes me want to point out that some people are skeptical about the lessons of the Standford Prison Experiment.

This isn’t rocket science: If you’re going to send out event announcements to people who live 800 miles away, at least have the courtesy to tell them what city the event is in.

It seems I’ve been taking a lot of shots lately at muddled thinking on the left, so I thought I’d try to balance things out. I often grab my craziest liberal nonsense from Addicting Info, and now I needed to find a similarly addled site for right-wing content. Fortunately, there’s the Conservative Tribune.

The site is mostly clickbait nonsense, but this article displays an attitude I’ve encountered before — it’s a why-aren’t-people-outraged piece — and I wanted to try to come up with a response.

Our nation’s police officers are under attack. Between last week and this week, three police officers have been gunned down in cold blood. Yet there are no protests. No buildings are being looted. The president isn’t saying that one of those officers could be his son.

What exactly would people be protesting? More to the point, who would they be addressing their protests to?

Officer Gregg Benner, a Rio Rancho, N.M., police officer, was shot on Monday night. The 49-year-old Air Force veteran had been with the police department almost four years. He was survived by his wife and five adult children. His killer has been brought to justice.

The protests in Ferguson and Baltimore broke out because people felt they weren’t getting the justice they deserved. What exactly should people be protesting here? The shooter, Andrew Romero, has been arrested, he’s been charged with murder, and he’s is being held on a $5 million bond. The FBI is also taking an interest. The system is working. There’s no one to protest against.

Instead, Rio Rancho residents have been showing support for the Benner’s family and the police department. The memorial at the site where he was shot is covered in flowers and flags.

Officer Kerrie Orozco was murdered in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday by Marcus D. Wheeler, a 26 year-old black male. Wheeler was killed during the shootout with Orozco.

Again, why should there be protests? The person who murdered Officer Orozco is dead. You can’t get much more justice than that. What would protesters be protesting for?

Rather than protest, people gathered to mourn the loss. Hundreds of people attended Kerrie Orozco’s funeral, and thousands lined the streets along the route.

And on Sunday, Officer James Bennett Jr. was shot and killed in his patrol car in New Orleans. A manhunt is underway for his killer (H/T The Gateway Pundit).

Three unnecessary deaths all within a week of one another. Three lives cut short, yet no one from our government seems to care. This is disgusting.

One killer arrested, one shot dead by police, and one the subject of a massive police manhunt. I’d say people from the government care rather a lot. The criminal justice system comes down very hard on cop killers. You don’t need fiery speeches from politicians and protesters when the system is working.

All across the country, police officers are under attack by the very criminals they are trying to protect us from. Killing a cop used to be a line that almost no one would cross. Now, it seems like every other day we read about another officer down.

Actually, the number of police officer killings has been fairly steady lately, and it’s down quite a bit since the high point of police killings in the 1970’s.

President Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, and the rest of their race-baiting ilk are directly responsible for these atrocities. Through their efforts to criminalize the police force, they have created an open season on police officers.

It would be nice to offer some evidence for a claim like that. The three examples in this article certainly don’t appear to have been the result of a generalized anti-police sentiment. We don’t yet know why Officer Bennett was shot, but both of the other officers were shot by people with long criminal records. Wheeler shot at cops trying to arrest him, and Romero was trying to avoid arrest.

Police officers are out there every day trying to keep us safe. They aren’t perfect. None of us are. However, they represent law and order in this country, and when you attack them, you are attacking everything this country is built upon.

Uhm…actually…this country was kinda founded on fighting against British law and order…so maybe that’s not the best argument…

Yet there have been no mass protests. There have been no riots demanding justice for these slain officers.

You know what kind of people have protests and riots? People who feel they have no other way of being heard, no other way of attracting attention to their needs, no other way of getting justice.

The police don’t have that problem. One of the perpetrators has already been arrested, and another is dead. The third is still at large, but it’s not because nobody cares about the officer he killed. Nobody’s protesting over murdered police officers because the police don’t need protests to get justice.

I have decided I can no longer remain silent, and it’s time to come forward with my story:

Last summer, on June 28th, I saw Arizona Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand place an 8-week old calico kitten in a DeWalt 5-quart blender and press the start button, killing it instantly. She then feasted hungrily on the bloody remains, consuming the poor creature, scales and all. It is the single most vile act of animal cruelty I have ever witnessed, and by coming forward now, I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of animal cruelty.

Update: It has come to my attention that Kirsten Gillibrand is actually a Senator. I regret the error, but I stand by the substance of my story, and by coming forward, I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of animal cruelty.

Update: A zoologist who reads my blog has pointed out that the material covering the skin of domestic cats is technically referred to as fur not scales. I acknowledge his superior grasp of feline anatomy and I regret my error, however I still stand by the substance of my story and I hope it will put a spotlight on the problem of cruelty to animals.

Update: Further research has revealed that Senator Gillibrand represents New York, not Arizona. I once witnessed Arizona Senator Tom Udall throw an armadillo in a wood chipper, and apparently in my emotional distress I had conflated the two incidents. I regret the error, but I stand by the substance of my story, which I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of mistreatment of animals.

Update: Friends have pointed out that on June 28th of last year I was actually in Kentucky attending the wedding of my cousin Margery. Still, I’m sure the incident must have been in June or early July. Maybe August. Anyway, I regret the error, but I stand by the substance of my story. And I hope this will put a spotlight on the problem of cruelty against animals.

Update: A spokesperson from the DeWalt corporation has apprised me of the fact that DeWalt is a manufacturer of portable power tools, not kitchen appliances. I once witnessed George Clooney cut the head off a goat with a reciprocating saw and I had conflated the two incidents. The implement used by Senator Gillibrand was actually a Hitachi blender. I apologize to the DeWalt corporation for my error, but I stand by the rest of my story, which I hope will put a spotlight on the problem of mistreatment of animals.

Update: Dearest visitors, loyal readers, it is with a heavy heart and a sorrowful soul that I put pen to paper to write this paragraph. After extensive consultation and prayer with my spiritual advisers, I have come to realize that I may have inadvertently posted a message earlier today that might have lead some readers to incorrectly conclude that I had seen New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand kill a kitten in a blender and consume the entrails.

I apologize if any of you feel I may have mislead you, and while I regret the error, the issue of cruelty to animals is a serious one, so I hope it’s just putting more of a spotlight on the problem. I hope it’s not undermining our advocacy, because this is important.

I’m sure Senator Gillibrand will understand, because she expressed a similar sentiment when said she hopes the recent news coverage of the UVA campus rape hoax will put a spotlight on the problem of campus rape:

Update: I’m sorry. Every sane person knows that using false or highly suspect examples to support your argument is a good way to undermine the very cause you’re fighting for. I only wrote that earlier stuff because somebody gave me a bad batch of Flakka. I don’t know what Senator Gillibrand’s explanation is. Maybe she uses the same Flakka dealer.

(Hat tip: Simple Justice.)

Have you heard about the idea for nail polish called Undercover Colors that can be used to detect so-called “date rape drugs” in drinks? It seems to be just a concept for now, but the idea is that a woman having drinks with a date could discretely dip a fingernail into her drink, and the polish would change color if the drink had been spiked with any of several drugs.

My wife noticed this in the news a day or two ago, and my initial thought was that a woman who suspected her date was trying to dose her could use drug-detecting nail polish to check her drink. On further consideration, however, I’m not sure that makes any sense. I mean, if she’s so suspicious of her date that she wants to test her drink, is there really any point to doing the test? Shouldn’t she just get the heck out of there? What’s the thinking for sticking out the date? “He strikes me as the kind of man that would knock me out and rape me, but if the drug test clears him, I’ll stick around and maybe we’ll make out”?

I suppose it makes some sense at a social event or a busy club, where a total stranger could dose your drink without you ever knowing it, although even then it’s only going to stop the small percentage of rapes that involve drugs as a means of controlling the victim. Also, unless the indicator chemical goes on as a clear coat over other colors, it probably won’t give women the color choices they want.

Anyway, I wouldn’t have given it any more thought, except that I stumbled across a link on Twitter to an article about Undercover Colors by Melissa McEwan at the feminist site Shakesville. Some of her concerns are similar to mine, but a few of her complaints are frankly baffling.

Yeah. I have a couple of problems with that. Tara Culp-Ressler does a good job of compiling some of the obvious objections being made by anti-rape activists.

Like: Once again, potential victims are being tasked with rape prevention.

As opposed to who? Most rapes occur in private settings with only the victim and the rapist present, and the rapist is not going to be interested in rape prevention.

Like: Once again, we’re preemptively blaming victims. (How long before a woman who is sexually assaulted after being drugged is asked why she wasn’t wearing nail polish that could have prevented it?)

No, we’re not blaming the victims. It’s possible that at some point in the future someone will blame a victim, and that someone should be called out for being an asshole, but we’re not doing that now. Are you angry at companies that make car alarms because if you don’t have one and your car is stolen, some people will say you should have had an alarm? When someone offers you a choice, why would you get mad at them because someone else, who you consider to be a jerk, might criticize you for your choice?

Like: Once again, we’re focusing on women detecting roofies, rather than the men who put roofies in drinks in the first place.

Well, these people have a plan for detecting roofies, so that’s what they’re focusing on. If you think they should focus on getting men to stop putting roofies in drinks, what’s the plan for doing that? How has it been working so far? I’m willing to believe that initiatives to discourage sexual assault have some effect, but none of them are a panacea that obsoletes all other approaches.

Like: Being able to detect roofies in your drink only protects you; the person who put them there can move on to someone who isn’t wearing nail polish.

I’m not sure I’m understanding that correctly, but it sounds like McEwan is saying that because drug-detecting nail polish would not prevent all rapes, it’s a bad idea to use it to prevent any rapes. This sounds like some kind of radical egalitarian nonsense. Should we not have installed airbags in cars until we could afford to install them in all cars? Should we not produce new drugs to cure diseases unless we can make them cheaply enough for everyone?

There are so many reasons that this is problematic, and they all boil down to this: Individual solutions to systemic problems don’t work. It’s true whether we’re talking about unemployment, childcare options, or rape prevention.

Individual solutions work just fine for individuals who are able to take advantage of them. Not everybody can benefit from them, but not everybody can benefit from systemic approaches either. No rape prevention program aimed at changing men’s attitudes toward sexual violence is going to be 100% effective. Some men are just psychopaths.

And let us all take a moment to appreciate that we’re being told to buy something to prevent rape. Of course. Because the market solves everything. The market has never met a problem that screaming “bootstraps!” and admonishing crass consumerism can’t fix.

Oh dear God. You know, I understand the people who rant at capitalism, because capitalists are so often terrible people (Donald Trump, please call your office), but ranting at the free market is just bizarre. I mean, here are some people using their own time and money to try to solve at least part of a serious problem, and you don’t have to have anything to do with it if you don’t to, and somehow that’s a problem.

Besides, despite what I said earlier, there are probably going to be some women who find it useful to check if a drink is drugged. I would think, for example, that a woman who has been the victim of a “date rape drug” before might appreciate the peace of mind of being able to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It could take some of the fear out of social situations.

Another group that would probably benefit is professional escorts, who routinely take the risk of spending time alone with strange men, and often turn down drinks out of fear of being roofied. With a discrete way to test the drink, they could be more accepting of hospitality and create a friendlier mood.

And while I was writing this, Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote about the same subject at Reason:

At the crux of most of these complaints is the axiom that we should teach men not to rape instead of teaching women not to be raped. And that’s an important message! Too much cultural focus for too long has been on how a women’s own conduct contributed or may contribute to her assault, in a way that winds up absolving assailants of culpability.

But teaching men not to rape and helping women avoid rape aren’t mutually exclusive options. It’s been said so many times already so as to be a cliche, but no one accuses security cameras of encouraging “theft culture”. And neither do most people blame theft victims for getting robbed just because they didn’t have security cameras.

And if they do blame theft victims for getting robbed because they don’t have security cameras, they’re idiots, and it would be ridiculous to argue against the sale of security cameras because idiots would blame victims for not having them. You shouldn’t give idiots that much power over the choices available to sane people.

Divid Sirota at In These Times has a mind-boggling complaint about rich people:

[…] Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced a $120 million donation to San Francisco-area schools. That donation came only a few years after California considered a ballot measure to increase funding for its schools. Zuckerberg was notably absent from the campaign to pass the measure.

That detail is germane to Gore’s point about charity and democracy. Indeed, there seems to be a trend of billionaires and tech firms making private donations to public institutions ostensibly with the goal of improving public services. Yet, many of these billionaires are absent from efforts to raise public resources for those same institutions. Zuckerberg is only one example.

For instance, hedge funders make big donations to charter schools. Yet, the hedge fund industry lobbies against higher taxes that would generate new revenue for education.

Likewise, there are the Koch Brothers, who simultaneously finance the nationwide anti-tax movement while making huge donations to public institutions.

Meanwhile, Microsoft boasts about making donations to schools, while the company has opposed proposals to increase taxes to fund those schools.

The selfish bastards! They’re willing to donate huge amounts of their own money to causes they care about, but they don’t want to force other people to support those causes! That’s just how evil they are!

Via Radley Balko comes more narcissistic whining from Jim Ardis, the mayor of Peoria, Illinois, who is rapidly becoming famous for sending his pet cops to raid the house of someone who ran a parody Twitter account in his name. Nick Vlahos of the Peoria Journal Star reports that Ardis doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong:

Ardis defended his actions, which led to search warrants, a police visit to a West Bluff residence and the arrest of one occupant on a marijuana-possession charge.

He said the profane tweets, on a Twitter account created by Peoria resident Jon Daniel, could not be tolerated. That was true even after the account was re-labeled as a parody and was deactivated.

“I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right,” Ardis said in an interview with the Journal Star before the council meeting.

“Are there no boundaries on what you can say, when you can say it, who you can say it to?” Ardis said. “You can’t say (those tweets) on behalf of me. That’s my problem. This guy took away my freedom of speech.”

Peoria City Council member Jim Montelongo pretty much nails it:

Montelongo said the episode represented an abuse of Ardis’ authority, as well as the police department’s.

“There was too much power of force used on these pranksters,” said Montelongo, the 4th District councilman. “It made it look like the mayor received preferential treatment that other people don’t get or will never get.”

That’s exactly right. Ardis is abusing his mayoral power when he uses it in service of his personal needs. In some ways, it’s no different from when a business executive brings his wife along on a trip and uses the company account to pay for the ticket. What makes it worse, of course, is that Ardis’s little power trip resulted in an armed raid on someone’s house and suppression of free speech.

As an aside, Radley brings up a good point:

Yesterday, Illinois State’s Attorney Jerry Brady announced that he would not seek criminal charges against the man who ran a parody Twitter account purporting to be Peoria, Ill., Mayor Jim Ardis. That’s because there is no state law against impersonating someone online. (Even if there were, it’s likely that the Twitter account itself would fall under the First Amendment protections for parodying public figures.)

[…]

We’ve already discussed Ardis’s power complex issues here. But that isn’t the only troubling part of this case. It would also be interesting to hear the explanation as to why Judges Kirk Schoebein, Lisa Wilson and Kim Kelley all signed off on warrants to investigate a crime that doesn’t exist. And why the police then executed those warrants.

The warrants reportedly listed drugs among the items to be searched for — based on some posted pictures of drug paraphernalia — but they also listed computers because of the impersonation issue, which seems like a problem.

Look, there are a lot of parodies online, and the targets usually just learn to live with them, like adults. If somebody out there starts a fake Windypundit blog in my name, I might be able to do something about it under intellectual property law (although not if it’s purely parody, a well-protected speech right), but there’s no way I could get the police to go after them. Even when the person pretending to be someone else does so with malice and causes harm, the police are unlikely to get involved if there’s no straight-up crime like fraud or threats of violence. At least not unless there’s an ego-crazed maniac like Jim Ardis pressuring them to do his bidding.

Meanwhile, Ardis is apparently working from the sociopath playbook and blaming everyone else for his problems:

In his pre-meeting interview, Ardis said he believed his complaint was handled no differently than anybody else’s would be. He said he didn’t orchestrate the police investigation, nor the search-warrant process.

“That’s a heck of a lot more power than any mayor I know,” Ardis said.

“My guess is as far as the judge is concerned, it doesn’t matter if it’s the mayor. They’re looking at the substance. Why would they allow something without a foundation? That’s the core of everything they do.”

Ardis said the situation provides an opportunity to discuss the proper limits of commentary on social media. He also said the news media is responsible, in part, for the problem.

“You’re the ones responsible for getting full information, but not to spin it in the way you want to spin it,” Ardis said to a Journal Star reporter. “To make us look stupid.

“It’s your responsibility to put actual information out there and cover both sides. Not to opine. And that didn’t happen. Clearly, that didn’t happen.”

Blaming the media is standard practice, of course, but I’m kind of in awe of how quickly he turned on the people around him. He may have pressured the cops into retaliating against the author of the parody, but once it started blowing up on him and attracting media attention in a bad way, he had no problem throwing them under a bus, along with the judge who so helpfully approved the bogus search warrant.

He’s Peoria, Illinois mayor Jim Ardis, who is really thin skinned:

PEORIA — Police searched a West Bluff house Tuesday and seized phones and computers in an effort to unmask the author of a parody Twitter account that purported to be Mayor Jim Ardis.

[…]

Three people at the home were taken to the Peoria Police Department for questioning. Two other residents were picked up at their places of employment and taken to the station, as well.

The Peoria police chief appears to be kind of a dim bulb as well:

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said officers were investigating the creator of the Twitter account for false impersonation of a public official. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

[…]

The content of tweets, or entries on the account, ranged from ambiguous to offensive, with repeat references to sex and drugs — and comparisons of Ardis to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as Ford’s drug use while in office became public.

By about March 10, the bio of the Twitter account was changed to indicate it was a parody account.

Settingsgaard, however, said the intent of the account was not clearly satirical.

Needless to say, there are now a lot more Peoria parody accounts.

More about this incident from Justin Glawe at Vice.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

How Should Ted Cruz Judge People?

I’m not going to try to defend Senator Ted Cruz, but…

Lizz-Winstead-Racism

Because I hate unsearchable text in images, let me repeat that:

“It’s interesting Ted Cruz is off to pay respect to the 1st South African black president & yet shows such a profound lack of respect for his own.”

— Lizz Winstead

Quick question for Lizz (and Steve Marmel, where I found this): Did you really mean to complain that Ted Cruz isn’t judging presidents by the color of their skin?

I don’t normally write about the blog marketing annoyances, but this one deserves a comment. Mark Bennett received a request from someone (I’m guessing this guy) asking for permission to repost some of his stuff:

I have recently started a blog and would like to cross pol­li­nate with peo­ple such we your­self who obvi­ously see the world the same as I do.  So I’d like to start by re-printing your blog with your per­mis­sion, and to have a lit­tle “about the author” at the end.

Mark Bennett’s response was blunt, but full of good advice:

No.

Who is advis­ing you on this “cross-pollinating” thing? Because the way to do it is not to reprint other people’s stuff. It’s to join the con­ver­sa­tion. Com­ment on other people’s blogs, dis­agree with them, write your own blog posts with links to their stuff.

This is work.

James sent back this response:

I have to say I’m a lit­tle sur­prised by this angry response, as the goal of my blog is to get impor­tant infor­ma­tion out there, whomever writes it, with attri­bu­tion —

Stop right there, James. If you really wanted to get important information out there, whoever writes it, with attribution, all you have to do is something like this:

Robb Fickman has a great guest post at Mark Bennett’s Defending People about prosecutor Ken Anderson’s ridiculously short sentence for wrongfully sending Michael Morton to jail for 25 years. I think they should have at least forced him to make a public admission of what he did.

There you go: Attribution, a short comment, and getting important information out there in just a couple of sentences.

James, you’re on the friggin’ World Wide Web. It’s been around for over twenty years, and an entire generation has grown up with it. At the base level, everyone knows how it works. In particular, everyone knows how to follow links. So if all you really want is “to get important information out there,” then all you need to do is link to it.

No, the reason you want to copy entire articles from other people into your blog (and I see you do that a lot) has nothing to do with getting important information out there. You just want to fill your blog with content about current events to attract readers and search engines, but you don’t want to do the hard work of writing it yourself.

That’s not very sporting, and it’s not going to work very well, because everybody already knows that trick.

Don't Blame the TSA Shooting on TSA Critics

Saw this from Steve Marmel:

BlamingPeopleForTSAShootingMarmel’s contribution is these parts:

Ginning up hate against the TSA and the government has consequences.

Thanks, Tea Party. This blood is on your hands.

Fuck you, Steve.

I’m not in the Tea Party (whatever that is these days), but I do believe the TSA routinely violates our rights, and that internal checkpoints are a hallmark of an authoritarian state. I would like to see the TSA disbanded, especially the fucking VIPR teams. But that doesn’t mean I take any pleasure from an agent getting shot. I’ve never advocated violence against the TSA, and I don’t think you’ll find any actual Tea Party leaders who did, either.

The shooter sounds like an angry, evil little prick, and unless someone turns up real evidence of a conspiracy, he’s the only one to blame. Don’t try to pin this on those of us who speak out against the excesses of the TSA and the government in general. We’re not responsible for how crazy people react to what we say.

There’s no contradiction in saying that this shooting of a TSA agent is a tragedy and that the TSA is still a bunch of douchebags who trample our freedom.

If Aliens Came...

Saw this on Facebook the other day:

IfAliensCame

Well, yeah, we probably would declare the aliens persons and give them money if they also

  • Generated all the energy we consume.
  • Manufactured all the medical devices that save our lives.
  • Grew all the food we eat.
  • Designed and manufactured all the clothes we like to wear.
  • Created a nationwide wireless phone network that allows us to stay in contact with friends and family at all times.
  • Produced all the pharmaceuticals that keep us healthy.
  • Manufactured all the appliances that make our lives easier.
  • Built all the cars we drive.
  • Published all the books we read.
  • Manufactured all the toys our children love to play with.
  • Ran all the major sporting events we love to watch.
  • Built all the buildings we live and work in.
  • Manufactured all the furniture for those buildings.
  • Delivered all this great stuff to convenient locations near where we live.
  • Provided television and the internet.
  • Produced all the movies we enjoy.
  • Hosted all the blogs we read.

With a few psychopathic exceptions, nobody — natural person or legal corporation — damages the environment just for the sake of doing damage. Problems such as pollution and deforestation are either side effects or part of the direct cost of processes that make people’s lives better. Maybe the cost is too high — that’s a legitimate and important subject for debate — but it’s foolish to lament the costs while ignoring the benefits.

I should be finishing up the next part of my dissertation on Radley’s book, but for some reason I dropped in on the Crime and Consequences to see what Bill Otis was saying. He was on a rant:

In a speech to the ABA about a month ago, the Attorney General denounced the criminal justice system as “ineffective,” and  —  pointedly ignoring the well-being of the huge majority of ordinary citizens  —  concentrated instead on how well (or poorly, in his view) we’re treating the tiny minority who wind up in prison because they want to make a fast buck dealing heroin, meth, cocaine, and other illegal and dangerous drugs.

Of course, they were only dealing those drugs to people who wanted to buy them, which means they weren’t actually harming anyone. Otis was complaining about increasing debts earlier in the piece, but apparently he doesn’t mind wasting money to imprison people for victimless crimes.

But I digress.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the push to return to the Sixties’ and Seventies’ disastrous means for dealing with crime takes root in more than just ignorance of the past. It takes root in more than complacency, too.  It takes root specifically in lying. Thus, when the Attorney General told us that our current criminal justice system is “ineffective” (his word), he was lying.  There’s no other candid way to put it.

I’m not sure that “ineffective” is the word I would use, either. Other words come to mind: Indiscriminate, cruel, callous, disproportionate, arbitrary, elitist, profitable, deadly, harsh, disrespectful, unprincipled… Anyway, here’s the part that got my attention (emphasis mine):

Here’s the truth.  In the last generation, the crime rate is down by half.  The murder rate is down by more than half.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, we have more than 4,000,000 fewer crimes per year now than we did 20 years ago. Crime is at levels not seen  since the Baby Boomers were in grade school.  At the same time, protections for criminal defendants have vastly increased, and are now more numerous and refined than at any time in the country’s history.

Now who’s lying? I mean that’s just nonsense. Heck, Crime and Consequences celebrates every time protections are eliminated.

The craziness continues:

The Attorney General’s notion that this state of affairs shows an “ineffective” criminal justice system is absurd.  But it’s a needed absurdity  —  needed as the predicate to help him and like-minded people bring corrosion to one part of our culture that, up to now, anyway, has mostly escaped it:  Our still at least partly disciplined system for dealing with crime.

You mean the system that permits no-knock raids, flash-bang grenades, sobriety checkpoints, Terry stops, arrest quotas, pepper-spraying peaceful protesters, and piracy in the form of civil forfeiture? That disciplined system? Spoken like someone who’s used to being the man

One of the things we have achieved to a remarkable extent is Franklin Roosevelt’s freedom from fear.

Unless, of course, you have some reason to fear the police. Which brings me back to Radley’s book…

Strange Anti-Bullying Messages

So bullying people into being anti-bullying…that’s a thing now?

From Facebook:

Saw this on Facebook the other day. What an odd mixed message...

Yes, I realize this is not technically bullying. It’s more like wheedling or nagging or whining. But I thought the message and the following exhortation were oddly in conflict: Be nice to other people…but if you don’t re-post this then you’re a douchebag.

This one is even weirder:

Saw this on Facebook the other day. What an odd mixed message...

It’s got the same kind of message that is contradicted by the exhortation to re-post: Repeat my post about not making assumptions about people…but you probably don’t care about bullying.

Also, aside from being overly dramatic, this one really misses the point about bullying. The reason you shouldn’t bully people is because bullying is hurtful, not because you might be wrong on the facts. I mean, doesn’t this message imply that it’s okay to call a girl a slut if she’s not a virgin? And you can make fun of pregnant girls as long as they weren’t raped, and fat girls as long as they’re not trying to lose weight? And go ahead and jeer at old men with scars, unless of course they’re veterans. And unless that crying boy has had a death in the family, you can call him a crybaby. So don’t bully people unless, you know, you’ve made sure they deserve it.

A few days ago I pointed out that there is a certain irony in the fact that criminal anti-bullying laws would mean that the police are in charge of stopping bullying. Here’s another example of how well that might work:

Nineteen-year-old Pullman, Washington, resident Andrew Cain took his own life on Saturday. Now his sister, Alise Smith, is asking for an apology from the local police department who allegedly cyber-bullied the young man just days before his death.

Cain was reportedly wanted for controlled substance charges and failure to appear in court. According to local media, a Latah County, Idaho, Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned to Cain’s case posted a photo of the teenager on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, along with this message:

“We have decided that Andrew Cain is no longer the Wanted Person of the Week… he is the Wanted Person of the Month of June. Congratulations!”

Andrew Cain’s decision to kill himself was his own choice, as his sister points out elsewhere, but I just don’t think the police have an organizational culture that’s going to be effective at deterring bullying.

The town of Monona, Wisconsin has had enough, and from now on, when kids are bullies, police will issues violations to their parents.

As far as I know, most anti-bullying laws — even with the current level of moral panic — are directed at forcing school districts to adopt specific disciplinary policies designed to discourage bullying. But in Monona, they’ve made bullying a matter of criminal law. Because, you know, when it comes to putting an end to bullying, the most obvious people to do the job are cops.

(Hat tip: Scott Greenfield)