Law and Order Don't Matter?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writing for the New York Post, Heather MacDonald notes a "push to excuse lawlessness" on the part of poor minorities, for which the pretext has been a number of highly publicized deaths of black men at the hands of police officers over the past nine months.

MacDonald notes a number of specific types of crime (e.g., public order offenses and failure to pay child support) that are being included in this push, and makes the following interesting closing remark:

[I]n the long run, a two-tiered system of justice that winks at lawlessness when it is committed by officially favored victim groups will make life miserable for the millions of law-abiding residents of poor communities and erode the public-safety gains from proactive policing.
This is cruelly ironic, to say the very least, coming as it does from a political faction known for shouting that, "Black lives matter."

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

I'm a big fan of Heather MacDonald's generally perceptive writing and I think that she is correct in pointing out that the disparate levels of minority criminal incarceration reflect the higher crime rates among such minorities.

That being said, however, I think that she has fallen prey to the 'Law and Order' mindset that excuses the systemic corruption in our police culture that does target minorities, not for criminal or disruptive behavior as such, but for the purposes of generating revenue. 'Policing for Profit' is a very real phenomenon that targets not just the criminal element, but also those citizens who are least capable of protecting themselves in the legal system. It's just that minorities are more 'visible' partly because they are easily distinguishable, and, more particularly, are championed by the left wing press.

In my own town which is about as white as any out there, the police were doing this same exercise, but targeting the lower class folks who didn't have the means or the connections to fight back. It got so bad that a large number of small business owners - usually to counted as among the strongest supporters of law enforcement - were going to ACLU events in the attempt to rein in the out of control cops. (They had good employees who were being victimized by cops on a fairly regular basis.) Eventually, a city ombudsman position was created and the more egregious cop behavior was moderated.

Certainly the race hucksters are using these various crises for their own ends but that does not change the fact that there is something pathological about police culture today. Slager, who MacDonald rightly decries as having the appearance of committing a horrific act of police brutality, would very likely not have even faced internal disciplinary action if his actions had not been caught on video by a third party. I'm with Radley Balko in believing that it is cynical of cop apologists to argue that the only time that these abuses have occurred is when they've been caught on video. There's something Heisenbergian about that stance that I find unsettling.

In the end, the pernicious effects of cop culture, as it is presently tolerated, will be found, not only in the unjust accusations against the Ferguson police officer - believable because of the general lack of accountability among police forces - but in the increasing numbers of bullies and pathological personalities that will, through a process of self-selection, find their way into the ranks of our police forces. This is a process that Hayek described in his book "The Road to Serfdom" in the chapter entitled, "Why The Worst Get On Top."

In 1993, the Congress passed a law requiring police forces throughout the nation to submit and the DOJ to collect and analyze, annual reports on uses of lethal force by their officers. To date, not a single police department has complied. I think that the reason for this is manifest; the actions of police in this regard will not stand up to scrutiny.

The special status enjoyed by police must be done away with. The notion that members of law enforcement are not subject to the rule of law - which is essentially what the doctrine of 'Qualified Immunity' institutionalizes - is a notion that should be returned to the Dark Ages from whence it came as being more suitable for the agents of a despotism than it is for peace officers working to protect the rights of a free citizenry.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for your comment. You are right -- and I should have said something to the effect -- that the current bout of leftist/race-baiting hucksterism does not mean that the police (and municipal government) aren't in need of reform. Practices, like using police citations as a revenue source, are wrong regardless of the race of the victim.