It Used to Be Called Stating the Obvious

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It Used to Be Called Stating the Obvious

by baldilocksbaldilocks

The bare bones of what you need to know about the topic of Ilya Somin’s op-​ed at the Volokh Con­spir­acy are in the title. Somin goes on, how­ever, to state what makes both crimes against police and crimes by police worse than those which don’t have police offi­cer as per­pe­tra­tor or victim.

There is a lot to chew on here, and at least one burnt straw man – but that last one is minor in rela­tion to the point. And even with the hor­ri­ble mur­ders of NYPD offi­cers Wen­jian Liu and Rafael Ramos, the fol­low­ing remains true.

When a civil­ian comes before a grand jury, he will almost always be indicted, even if he resem­bles the prover­bial ham sand­wich. By con­trast, police accused of crimes on the job almost never get indicted, in part because they tend to get favor­able treat­ment from pros­e­cu­tors, as hap­pened in both the Fer­gu­son and Gar­ner cases. While I think the offi­cer in the Fer­gu­son case prob­a­bly should have been acquit­ted in a crim­i­nal trial due to the con­flict­ing nature of the wit­ness tes­ti­mony, that does not change the real­ity that he got spe­cial treat­ment in the grand jury process that would not have been extended to a civil­ian suspect.

Such dou­ble stan­dards cre­ate ter­ri­ble incen­tives for police offi­cers. As one for­mer St. Louis police offi­cer puts it, “[t]he prob­lem is that cops aren’t held account­able for their actions, and they know it. These offi­cers vio­late rights with impunity. They know there’s a dif­fer­ent crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem for civil­ians and police.” The vast major­ity of police offi­cers do not engage in abu­sive vio­lence. But, trag­i­cally, the sys­tem empow­ers and pro­tects the minor­ity who do.

Here’s the prob­lem with civil­ians, police forces and Grand Juries: they are all made up of human beings, flawed since the action of Adam. Seems obvi­ous, right? Well not to many of us. You see, we’ve all been incul­cated with the notion that each indi­vid­ual is only as good as his tribe. If that notion isn’t overtly taught in schools, peo­ple learn it later in life through much more painful means. One of rea­sons that trib­al­ism exists is to pro­tect the indi­vid­ual from his/​her mis­takes. You are your tribe and your tribe is you. Right?

We are see­ing two sets of trib­al­ism – one eth­nic, one pro­fes­sional – clash before our eyes (actu­ally, there’s a third: legal). And until both parts of Somin’s title are com­mon­place, all involved will con­tinue look to his/​her tribe for protection…

…before they set them­selves in array in prepa­ra­tion for war.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2012. Her sec­ond novel, ten­ta­tively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2015.

Please con­tribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Inter­net to keep the lat­ter going and COF­FEE to keep her going!

Or con­tribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Inde­pen­dent Journalism — -»»

by baldilocksbaldilocks

The bare bones of what you need to know about the topic of Ilya Somin’s op-ed at the Volokh Conspiracy are in the title. Somin goes on, however, to state what makes both crimes against police and crimes by police worse than those which don’t have police officer as perpetrator or victim.

There is a lot to chew on here, and at least one burnt straw man–but that last one is minor in relation to the point. And even with the horrible murders of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, the following remains true.

When a civilian comes before a grand jury, he will almost always be indicted, even if he resembles the proverbial ham sandwich. By contrast, police accused of crimes on the job almost never get indicted, in part because they tend to get favorable treatment from prosecutors, as happened in both the Ferguson and Garner cases. While I think the officer in the Ferguson case probably should have been acquitted in a criminal trial due to the conflicting nature of the witness testimony, that does not change the reality that he got special treatment in the grand jury process that would not have been extended to a civilian suspect.

Such double standards create terrible incentives for police officers. As one former St. Louis police officer puts it, “[t]he problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police.” The vast majority of police officers do not engage in abusive violence. But, tragically, the system empowers and protects the minority who do.

Here’s the problem with civilians, police forces and Grand Juries: they are all made up of human beings, flawed since the action of Adam. Seems obvious, right? Well not to many of us. You see, we’ve all been inculcated with the notion that each individual is only as good as his tribe. If that notion isn’t overtly taught in schools, people learn it later in life through much more painful means. One of reasons that tribalism exists is to protect the individual from his/her mistakes. You are your tribe and your tribe is you. Right?

We are seeing two sets of tribalism–one ethnic, one professional–clash before our eyes (actually, there’s a third: legal). And until both parts of Somin’s title are commonplace, all involved will continue look to his/her tribe for protection…

…before they set themselves in array in preparation for war.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2015.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>