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    I’m an opinionated Grumpy Old Man. I enjoy the intellectual give and take that goes along with that, but have very little patience for stupid people (Note: there is a big difference between “stupid” and “educated”. Some of the stupidest people I’ve ever met have a PhD…). Beside arguing, I like to build things in almost any media. Right now I’m mostly building in wood, Lego, and a bunch of different electronic media. I teach in a number of different venues - from preschool all the way through graduate school. Subjects range from talmud to neuroscience to engineering.

    For fun, I like to bash people with swords (OK, so they’re made of foam. It’s still fun). Although I spend a lot of my time in a wheelchair, I manage to keep pretty active (Like bashing people with swords). I am a libertarian, and have a hard time finding anything good to say about government or politicians. OK, politicians might make good sausage, but that's about as good as it gets.

    Cope

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border guards beats up author Peter Watts

Check it out here:

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/12/11/dr-peter-watts-canad.html

and here:

http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com/

Turns out simply asking why you are being detained and/or searched is grounds for being beaten by the US border guards. Then getting charged with assault for allowing said guards to beat you up.

Constitutional rights? Nah, he’s a Canadian after all.

Basic civil rights?  Civil? in the united states? What cave are you living in?

Basic Human rights? what, you expect the U.N. or the world court to hold the US responsible for its constant violations of basic human rights? Better crawl back into that cave before a cop finds you…

forget “police state” we’re talking brown shirts here……

4 cops killed: an excercise in perspective

In Washington state today, 4 cops were shot to death while sitting in a coffee shop.  I must admit, that my first thought was to blog about the possibility that this was a response by an individual to some abuse on the part of the police, but a bit of quick research suggested that in this case, that probably isn’t true (or if it is, the shooter had a long history of violent crime, so even if there was abuse by the police, it probably wasn’t the root cause).

The media frenzy has already begun, so instead, I would like to take this opportunity to do some “what-if” and think about how this event would be handled if some of the details were different.

Imagine if the 4 people who were killed lived in a housing project in New York City, and the shooters were cops. Chances are, it wouldn’t even make the news. Things like that are just too common to bother reporting – especially in the New York City slums.

Imagine if all of the people involved were just “normal” people (white, middle class). We’d probably get a bit of a human interest story, and that would be it. Maybe a minute or two of coverage in the morning news.

Imagine if all of the people involved were those same poor folks in the New York City slums. You probably wouldn’t hear anything about it, but it if you did, it would be blamed on drugs or gangs (regardless of the reason).

None of this should be any real surprise. Nobody really cares if some scum in a housing project gets whacked. Sure, if it was a cute kid, the networks may play for a bit of the tear-jerker ratings, but beyond that, it just doesn’t matter. When some middle class action takes place, it hits a bit closer to home, but hey, that was all the way over in Washington. It couldn’t happen here, and it doesn’t really make any difference to our lives.

So why is it so different when its a cop? The press has been displaying a disturbing trend in this regard – there seems to be some pervasive belief that cops are special, and deserve special attention. this is very disturbing. Cops are people – no different from any one else. When we act like a cop is more important than ‘regular’ people, we start down the road to creating a police force that is treated differently from the regular people. We give them special attention, special powers, and immunity from regular rules. history has consistently demonstrated that this is a one-way road. And the road ends with a police state, absolute police authority, and a complete lack of rights for the “regular people”. OK, so we’re not there yet, but we’re definitely heading down that road. (How many of you live in states where the sentences for killing a cop is more severe than the sentence for killing a non-cop? Check you state laws. You’d be surprised how many there are.)

So hey, all you news whores: how about reporting that 4 PEOPLE were killed. The fact that they were cops is irrelevant unless they were killed BECAUSE they were cops. Oh yeah, and start reporting the other cases of senseless killings too.

 

Its been a bad month for the cops….

This post was prompted by observing that for the first time since I began blogging, posts about police misconduct have jumped to the #1 most-read posts on the whole site. While these posts are important and have always had a small number of regular readers, it is very strange to have them jump from the lower levels of the list to the top, so I spent a  bit of time trying to figure out why.

Turns out here are a lot of reasons.

  • A “school Resource Officer” (A.K.A. “cop”) beat a special needs kids senseless because the kid’s shirt wasn’t tucked in, and it hit the press (it was caught on a surveillance camera).
  • The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project released its monthly report, with some rather alarming statistics, such as the fact that cops are 8 times more likely to commit homicide than civilians, and four times more likely to commit rape. Of course, their sentences are only half as long when they’re convicted.
  • This month, three more police departments are facing investigation for massive wrongdoing: Dolton, Illinois; Greece,  New York; and Spring Lake, North Carolina. In all three cases, the misconduct includes falsifying evidence, brutality, and perjury by police officers.
  • “School Resource Officers” are also having their time in the spotlight, with 5 cases of school cops being involved in pornography and sex scandals with the students they are supposed to be protecting, and a case of a cop using a taser to prevent a kid from making a cell phone call in the hallway at school.

The scary part is that these are only the events that actually made the news. Considering how hard it is to get police misconduct reported by the press, I have to wonder how much more there really is.

So think about it: when a cop pulls you over, or approaches you on the street, what is your first gut reaction? Do you feel safe and secure, or are you afraid and nervous? So who’s protecting who here?

cop shot fire chief in back during hearing. No charges filed?

OK, go read this before you go any further: Courtroom shooting.

this looks more like the plot for a bad Hollywood movie from the 70’s about crooked cops. What is truly amazing is that even after the cop shot the fire chief IN COURT, in front of witnesses, the cop wasn’t even charged. Remember, it is a felony to even carry a weapon into a court room unless you are on officer of the court. We can safely assume that the cop wasn’t an officer of the court, just a local cop.

If you had the slightest idea that cops are actually there to protect you, think again. Here’s a classic example of what happens when a bunch of people are given authority with no accountability. And if you think that there is any such thing as accountability for cops, take a look at this:http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com.

So, next time you have to deal with a cop, or read about someone that’s been having trouble witht eh cops, maybe you should think twice about who the real victim is….

more police abuse: Proffesor Gates and Crowley the thug.

Here we go again. Yet another case of some cop acting like a mindless thug. Lets take a look at what happened:

A lady calls in to the cops, reporting that 2 large black men are trying to force open her neighbors door. Officer Crowley shows up, and finds an elderly black man, who walks with a cane sitting on the front porch of the house. Crowley asks for ID, and the old guy presents his drivers license (which shows that address as his residence), and his Harvard University Faculty ID. Now in any sort of rational world, that would be the end of it. The cop would politely thank the guy, and move on. Of course, that would assume that the cop was capable of acting like a rational person.

Instead, thug Crowley refuses to let the matter drop, things escalate, and after putting up with crowley’s abuse, Professor Gates actually has the nerve to yell at him. Apparently, this is grounds for arrest. Because (according to crowley) the fact that crowley is alone, places him in dire danger of being attacked by a lame old man he’s been harassing. This particular incident is making national headlines because the victim is black. Unfortunately, what is getting lost in the race issue is the fact that this cop was completely out of line. If the victim had been a white Harvard professor, it wouldn’t be newsworthy. It is important to keep in mind that the problem is crowley’s behavior and his abuse of authority. Yes, the fact that he chose to act like a pig to a black guy does raise the specter of racism, but the underlying problem is Crowley’s willingness to use his badge to justify harassment, bullying and abuse.

Kudos to Obama for actually being willing to say to the nation that the cops actions were stupid. He’s right (although the cops action were a lot more than stupid, they were criminal). Unfortunately, he has since buckled to the police unions, who are afraid that the people might start holding them accountable for their actions. Yes, we all know Obama is a politician, but he actually STARTED OUT on the right track. Too bad he couldn’t stand up for truth and dedcency in the face of a union.

In any case the police department decided to drop the charges against Professor Gates  – further proving that Crowley’s actions were not only unwarranted, but were unsupportable. If the cops thought that they could make the charges stick, they wouldn’t have dropped them so quickly. So what do we really have? A cop who KNOWS that he can act the thug, escalate a situation, arrest his victim for no reason, and have no real repercussions.

What should be happening is that Crowley himself should be brought up on charges of abuse of power, intimidation, and illegal arrest. It is time to start holding cops accountable for their abuses. Maybe there was a racial basis to his behavior – if there was, he should be nailed even harder. If race was a basis for his abuse, this should be prosecuted as a hate crime. If race wasn’t an issue, it should still be prosecuted.

Lets face it folks, Gates got arrested because he was sitting on his front porch, and got upset when a cop harassed him. If we allow this type of abuse to continue, we’re letting the cops know that they can abuse, intimidate and harass people whenever they want. Think about this next time you’re sitting in your yard or on your porch: at any time, a cop can walk up to you and arrest you just because they’re having a bad day and feel like giving someone some grief. Makes you feel nice and safe doesn’t it.