Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rush to Judgment in Ferguson

Some time ago Nate Silver, statistician and prognosticator with the New York Times and now with ESPN divided Times op-ed columns into those that were fact-driven and those that were idea-driven.

He was distinguishing between columns that followed the facts wherever they led and columns that cherry-picked facts to affirm a prior belief.

Most, but not all of the commentaries about the conflict currently being played out on the streets of Freguson, MO have been idea-driven.

Even the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon seemed to have prejudged the case. Of course, prejudging is another way of saying prejudice.

According to the governor and most commentators Darren Wilson murdered an unarmed teenager who was just minding his business… because the teenager was black.

A grand jury will decide, but, in the meantime there is more to the story.

Fox News reports some facts that have gotten lost in the hubbub:

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department's top brass told

“The Assistant (Police) Chief took him to the hospital, his face all swollen on one side,” said the insider. “He was beaten very severely.” 

According to the well-placed source, Wilson was coming off another case in the neighborhood on Aug. 9 when he ordered Michael Brown and his friend Dorain Johnson to stop walking in the middle of the road because they were obstructing traffic. However, the confrontation quickly escalated into physical violence, the source said.

“They ignored him and the officer started to get out of the car to tell them to move," the source said. "They shoved him right back in, that’s when Michael Brown leans in and starts beating Officer Wilson in the head and the face."

The source claims that there is "solid proof" that there was a struggle between Brown and Wilson for the policeman’s firearm, resulting in the gun going off – although it still remains unclear at this stage who pulled the trigger. Brown started to walk away according to the account, prompting Wilson to draw his gun and order him to freeze. Brown, the source said, raised his hands in the air, and turned around saying, "What, you're going to shoot me?"

At that point, the source told, the 6-foot-4, 292-pound Brown charged Wilson, prompting the officer to fire at least six shots at him, including the fatal bullet that penetrated the top of Brown's skull, according to an independent autopsy conducted at the request of Brown's family.

Eventually, all of the facts will come out.

If this version is true, the reaction on the streets of Ferguson will end up looking like a rush to judgment.


Dennis said...

One of the reasons investigations should take the requisite time to get the facts is that it removes the "rush to judgment" almost always involved in cases like this one. Especially given the fact that the race hustling business, the "media", out side forces and just plain criminal element have driven most of problems.
I would be far more interested an maybe accepting of much of the outside involvement if they actually demonstrated as much care about the over 90% of Blacks who are killed by other Blacks. The number of Blacks killed by police in this country is at the 400 level and many of those were done when responding to a crime. Does not seem that there is a lot of killing of Blacks by police that did not involve risk to the officer's life.
It seems to me that the people of Ferguson are pretty decent people who have been hurt by the down turn in the economy and a perceived notion that the police are not representative of the community at large. I am not sure whether this is true, but I believe most police department require a Criminal Justice degree for employment. If so the community needs to push those within to get good educations especially in Criminal Justice and then apply for jobs with the police. There need to be more minority cops which will give both the community and the local police a far better perspective on the needs of each side.
There is a high chance that with the damage to Wilson's eye that he could not see well, which would help to explain the shots in the arms, and the better placement near the end when Brown got closer. Also most police department issue 38 or 9mms which do not have a lot of stopping power unless one hits certain vulnerable areas. All the practice in the world does not prepare one for actually being in a shooting situation. There are a number of policeman who have shot a suspect multiple times only to be killed by a 357 magnum or larger.
Suffice it to say if we really believe in justice then this officer deserves the same rights to being not guilty until proven so.

Ares Olympus said...

The big new meme of the protests is people holding up their hands in the air saying "Don't shoot", symbolizing the imagined final words from Michael Brown before he was gunned down by a trigger happy police officer.

And if the facts show that narrative was false, what does a good movement do with inconvenient facts?

If we're unlucky everyone will walk away with their own facts, and claim coverup or irrationality on the other side, and we'll just wait for the next trigger event, and the same thing will come up again.

The lesson for me is to see there is resentment brewing, and its better than some of it comes out, even in relative "brush fires" like this event, since the next one might really have a bad cop, and rage won't stop on facts, because the next facts will prove police brutality and the police will be forced to again use their military grade weapons to intimidate innocent protestors until someone misbehaves on either side, and who knows.

Things must change, and then the "Don't shoot" meme can serve a greater purpose than propagating a lie.

Anonymous said...

Rush to judgment isn't the problem. It's Riot to judgement.

Judgement can be reversed. Damage from rioting cannot be.

It's interesting how the Liberal media have no sympathy for owners of looted businesses even though many such owners are non-white.

Only certain kinds of diversity matter. Liberalism is a hierarchy of racial favoritism. Black rage--even when unwarranted--trumps everything else.

Ares Olympus said...

Anon@8:34, re: "Damage from rioting cannot be."

No one is advocating looting and property damage, but if I had my choice between "black rage" busting windows and busting heads and mashing brains, I'll choose the first every day.

I went to an April 2000 IMF bank protest in Washington DC, with a group, and it was interesting. We were doing a "direct action" meaning intentionally blocking streets and building access with our bodies. We took classes and learned how to resist police, and we practiced role-playing, both police and protesters, and it was definitely more fun to be the police, like a football game, we forcefully pulled elbow locked protestors apart, and the rules of engagement for protestors were something like "never touch a police officer, or show any hostile motion towards them, talk calmly, and refuse compliance if you're willing to be arrested."

We also had some teens in our group, and they seemed VERY interested in participating in property damage if things got rough, and the older members including me were uncomfortable with that, and eventually we all agreed we would try to discourage and halt violent or destructive activity near us, and failing that we'd retreat from that location, even if it meant breaking our goals of direct action.

Myself, I saw no action, the closest was a bold man in a suit talking calmly before surprising everyone and trying to propel himself over our arm-chained wall, and he made it, and we knew the rules to avoid assault charges is we could only use our bodies to block passage, but couldn't grab anyone to pull them back if they broke the line.

A friend in a different group apparently had some direct confrontation and she got bruises from police batons and pepper-sprayed, but didn't get arrested.

I understand 90% of the population will no understand this method of protest, and it is annoying to protest something as complicated as the World Bank and IMF loans to corrupt third world countries and expect them to pay it back when their corrupt rulers are out of power. But now 14 years later there's a bit more understanding of the issue of debt and its blackmail power to weaken countries and local communities to distant corporate interests. Its still hard to justify a protest given for every bad thing debt does, you can name a good thing, and so the world isn't simply black or white.

So the reality of any movement is what they're against isn't all bad, and what future political negotiations from any protest can lead to something worse than what was opposed, AND ignorance, and false narratives makes everyone believe right is on their side, and that the other side holds all the corruption.

Anyway, I 100% behind the tactic of nonviolent protest, but I think property destruction can't be considered as the same as violence against people. If it takes burning down a city to get attention to a problem we'd rather ignore, then we should be happy that's all they did.

Myself, I see looting and destruction as bad simply because it allows people who disagree with what they think you're standing for, to dismiss you completely, even if we all have common ground.

I hope in these protests in Ferguson, the elder participants now have a dialogue with youth, about things they've avoided talking about, and why good tactics are vital to the success of any movement. Its hard to tell from a distance what seeds are being sown and all generalizations may be wrong.

Sam L. said...

Eventually? I'd say it started within an hour after it happened. Well within.

I'm with you on property damage, Ares; let the locals burn and break and destroy where they live, and see that nobody will replace any of it. But--are they locals, or are they outsiders?

Anonymous said...

"No one is advocating looting and property damage, but if I had my choice between "black rage" busting windows and busting heads and mashing brains, I'll choose the first every day."

So, go and live in Detroit and have thugs break into your house every day.

Anonymous said...

"No one is advocating looting and property damage, but if I had my choice between "black rage" busting windows and busting heads and mashing brains, I'll choose the first every day."

Yeah? Tell that to the store clerk Michael Brown attacked during his "petty crime." Let's not have the facts, so we can make up our own. Kind of like splashing pictures of poor little Trayvon all over the media as a 12 yr old.

U.S. politicians, academics and journalists are obsessed with race as the source of all the world's problems. Black people are oppressed because of their clearly-evident black pigmentation. Whitey has it our for the black man. Black youths can't get a break. That solves all questions. Asian Americans are successful, often in the first or second generations, and upwardly mobile in demanding fields. Their clearly-evident yellow pigmentation marks them just as easily as blacks. Asian success raises a lot of questions about how politicians, academics and journalists frame these issues. But they're never questioned. Never. The racist premise is thrown about as if it's a scientific law.

The poor me circus going on with race in this country is beyond recognition. Chanting "Hands up, don't shoot!" misses the point entirely. Ever heard of James Q. Wilson's broken windows theory? Robbing stores will get you in trouble. Not following a simple order to get out of the street will create friction. It doesn't justify a cop killing a suspect, which is why we need a solid investigation, and bad cops need to be prosecuted. We don't know what this cop's situation was. We don't have any facts. Anyone trust Holder to deliver an unbiased review? No justice, no peace, bitch!

The rush to judgment is to take the problem off our TV screens so we can all go sip lattes, forget our troubles, and move beyond talking about how we understand the plight of poor black youths from a swank suburban coffee shop. Never mind due process, that's for criminals. So the Ferguson cop who kills an unarmed young black man is automatically, publicly pronounced guilty without even a hearing. All in the court of public opinion. The same public opinion that tells us lots of folks believe in UFOs.

True, the facts will come out. In the meantime, looting is fun, and blaming the police as the cause of all your problems is a pretty good setup. What happens when life goes back to normal? You know, when there's another innocent young black youth who feels dissed when a cop who tells him to stop walking in the middle of the road. I think we all know we'd bust that cop's head and mash his brains for being so bold. I mean, doesn't that make logical sense to you? The cops are out to get black kids, so black kids should fight back. You know, fight the power. Fight the man. Eric Holder says he knows what it's like. He feels their pain. Yeah? Whose pain? I think if any of us were a cop getting the crap beaten out after a routine civil stop, we'd would reach for our... baton? After all, cops are trained to take severe beatings, right? "What, you're going to shoot me?" That's what you say to a cop after beating him up? What a load of garbage. Mob rule.

Anonymous said...

Let's say a man uses his bare hands to jack someone's head into the pavement again and again until they are dead. He is still an "unarmed man." And the victim is still dead.

Anonymous said...

Eric Holder is the Attorney General of the United States of America, not the head civil rights lawyer fir the NAACP.

Anonymous said...

Holders problem: he and Obama think they're messiah figures. Holder is atty general, and believes how he sees the world is fact, and everything is politics (everything is a power play, all day every day). But he falls for the oldest statistical fallacy in the book: that correlation=causation. In his view it's why white people are responsible for African-American misery and frustration. That's very convenient. He gets to play prophet. Missing ingredient is humility. He is not a real change agent. He's a fixer doctor whose patient is dependent on him for pain relief. He doesn't treat the true cause, he treats the visible symptoms. In Ferguson, he empathizes with the rage, but thinks the rioting is a release while it just scares white people away. Obama people don't get how systems work. There are no engineers in the room, just heady people with social theories, and mainstream America is the test population.

Anonymous said...

Where were the race hustlers and sympathizer's for the Black on Black killings? They could care less about the Blacks they on are only anti-White

Anonymous said...

Where are the race hustlers

Anonymous said...

Ares the Aediot. How'd you like your bizness or crib looted/burnt, muthuh fuckuh? Just one human life saved, huh? Every day? Kiss my ass. That's why people arm themselves. They've worked their whole life to build a business, so the "enraged" people can just loot and burn it? For sport? With no consequences? What we saw with the SWAT police early on in the Ferguson riots shows why my protection is an AR-15. I can use a Remington rifle to fight off loony looters, but tactical weapons with regular law enforcement? That's what you get when you give special points to soldiers coming back from Bush's phony wars. You gonna be at my house within 2 minutes after I call 9-1-1? Ha! Feel bad for looters? Ha! Feel bad for Batmain-looking cops? Ha! Give me a break. Leave 'em all to suffer in the miserable municipal sinkhole they've created in Mizzou. Cry me a river. Ares Olympus can go live there.