My extensive record of criticizing law enforcement

On HeraldTimesOnline, a hyperpartisan Leftist troll whined that for me to “acknowledge that the NYPD used excessive force in the Garner case, the blame must ultimately rest with a liberal Democrat.”

This, of course, is a lie designed to dismiss substantive policy-based criticism of Bill de Blasio, as well as criticism of his hypocrisy in attacking the NYPD for following his orders. There is not one single person on HeraldTimesOnline – or in Monroe County – who has less to prove than I do when it comes to criticizing law enforcement.

Do I need to link to my letters criticizing excessive force and violations of civil rights, especially in the name of the failed War on Drugs? Apparently I do, so you can see those letters to the editor here and here and here and here and here. And that does not even include my many blog posts on the subject.

The troll was wrong when he tied my criticism of de Blasio to his opposition to “stop and frisk” – and he knows it. It was pure gutter politics spewed by someone who hides behind a fake name. The fact that the hyperpartisan Leftist troll did not retract his shamefully dishonest attack speaks volumes about who and what he is.

Bill de Blasio could have directed the NYPD to make selling “loosies” a low-priority offense, like he (rightly) did with marijuana. He did not, because he is too greedy for other people’s money. Like a Mafia don, he was protecting his turf. He demanded some of that action. And when his made men do what he demands and shake people down for cash, he attacks them for it like the despicable hypocrite he is.

The murder of two NYPD officers, rhetoric and police safety

The assassination of two New York City police officers over the weekend was a shocking incident, and shows the dangers police officers can face. It is important to keep perspective, though, and the response to these murders provides a lesson in how elected officials should and should not behave when a horrific crime like this happens.

First, the response from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office was despicable and shameful. I became filled with rage when I read the following in this article on the assassinations:

Rawlings-Blake‚Äôs deputy chief of staff, Kevin Harris, said the mayor knows there are a few bad apples that have “done some things that do not honor the uniform,” and they need to deal with that.

“But the way in which they do that is not to target law enforcement,” Harris told Curtis.

This is shameful. Police misconduct is an important issue, but the time to address it is not in the aftermath of a terrorist assassination of two police officers. Harris should be fired from his job for his despicable choice of words and choice to use this atrocity to take a shot at the police. As the chief of staff, Harris should know better, and how damaging his words would be to the working relationship between his boss and the Baltimore police. Rawlings-Blake needs to apologize to the New York Police Department and the families of the murdered officers.

Where we should be careful in condemning words, though, is blaming “anti-police rhetoric” for the murders of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The only person responsible for the murders is the terrorist Ismaaiyl Brinsley. There has been some reprehensible and irresponsible rhetoric on both sides of this debate, but trying to blame rhetoric for a terrorist act is an unworthy debater’s ploy meant to shut down legitimate (if uncomfortable) arguments.

Finally, murders of police are terrible, but we need to avoid overstating the problem. Police officers are safer today than they have been in fifty years. Police fatalities are way down in pure numbers, and when you consider that there are a lot more cops today than 50 years ago they are even safer as a matter of percentages.

From the Washington Post:

According to FBI statistics, 27 police officers were feloniously killed in 2013, the lowest raw number in more than 50 years. (The previous low was 41 in 2008.) If we go by officer homicides as a percentage of active-duty police, it was probably the safest year in a century.

It has not been just a good year. It has been a good couple decades. Police fatalities have been dropping for 20 years to the point that it is safer to be a cop today than it has been since the 1960’s – maybe even since World War I. Overstating the danger to police is dangerous, because it encourages and provides political cover for police militarization and aggressive use of force. We should respect the danger and unique challenges police officers face, but that should be grounded in reality and attached to the duty of law enforcement to serve the public and safeguard civil liberties.

Get over yourself, Mrs. Obama.

RE: Michelle Obama’s Tales of Racialized Victimhood, by Michelle Malkin.

This woman really needs to get over herself. Taller people get asked to help shorter people all the time. I’ve offered to get stuff down for shorter people, and never felt “oppressed.” I’ve also offered to lift heavy items for elderly people. It is common courtesy.

Good grief. Grow up and get over yourself, Mrs. Obama.

About those "We Can’t Breathe" shirts in NBA games

Bob Kravitz does not agree with NBA players wearing “I can’t breathe” shirts, and he has a point. Like it or not, the NBA needs to address this (even if privately and/or informally) because of the precedent being set.

While NBA players are (obviously) playing a game, an NBA game is a workplace. Even though I think the NYPD was completely out of line in the way it dealt with Eric Garner. I would not wear a political shirt to work, unless I was working for a candidate. (And then, I would only wear a shirt supporting that candidate.) A political shirt can be a distraction for both co-workers and customers, and can create needless tension in the workplace.

And yes, I know the NBA is not a traditional workplace.

Kravitz asks what will happen if a player decides to wear a shirt taking a position on an issue like abortion or some other hot button issue. What happens if a player wants to wear a shirt with the text “Jesus Saves” or “Allahu Akbar” during warm-ups? What if an atheist player responds with his own shirt?

At what point does the National Basketball Association draw the line? What messages will and will not be permitted? What are the standards for determining what will and will not be permitted in terms of messages not explicitly approved for employees to wear at work? How will this be negotiated with the players’ union?

NBA players (and all professional athletes) live their lives in public, today more than ever before due to direct interaction with fans on social media. The NBA should allow wide latitude for players to make statements on political, social and cultural issues when they are off the floor. But on the court, the NBA should enforce a standard of professionalism and tell players to exercise their free speech rights on their own time.

School discipline, race and fairness

The New York Times raises a familiar complaint about racial disparities in school discipline. We have heard for years that black males are disciplined more than teen males of other races, but this article focuses on black teen girls facing more punishments. But is it a racial issue or a behavioral issue? Are government schools really mistreating students because of their skin color?

The bottom line question is this: Are black students simply misbehaving more often than white students?

The statistics on discipline by race, on the surface, do indicate that blacks are being treated differently than white students. The problem is that statistics do not tell the whole story. If black students commit X percent of disciplinary infractions then one would expect black students to get that same X percent of the punishments. One cannot only rely on statistics to determine if the system is unfair. The only real way to determine fairness is to examine, school by school, who is committing the offenses and whether the punishments for those offenses is equal or close to it.

Even the anecdote the Times opens with does not necessarily indicate racial injustice. What it indicates is greed. The student who could pay restitution was punished much less severely than the student who could not pay restitution. If both girls had been white, or both had been black, would the outcome have been identical? Are there other past disciplinary cases where the student whose family could not pay restitution was punished more harshly?

We do know that children and teens who grow up without a father are statistically more likely to have behavioral problems, in school and out of it. We also know that out-of-wedlock births are epidemic among blacks. The dissolution of the black family cannot be ignored in the discussion of disciplinary problems in school and the racial statistics on school discipline. It is counterproductive and myopic to not take a complete view of the problem.

Discipline statistics are a good starting point, not an ending point. Much more investigation is needed to determine what is causing the disparity and what, if anything, to do about it. Unless, of course, the goal is to simply inflame racial tensions, get more subscriptions and get more people clicking on ads.

Due process, campus rape and false allegations

The scandal surrounding the account in Rolling Stone of an alleged rape on the University of Virginia campus serves as a reminder that, while we must protect victims of rape and punish perpetrators, we must also carefully safeguard due process and the principle of innocent until proven guilty. The two are not mutually exclusive.

We often hear that we should “believe victims.” There are two problems with this. First, it assumes there is a victim when there may not be a victim at all. Second, believing the alleged victim requires you to believe that there is a guilty perpetrator. It is logically impossible to have one without the other. One can respect and care for an alleged victim, and seek to have justice done, without automatically believing her.

What actually happened to the alleged victim in the Rolling Stone story? It is extremely unlikely that her account of the alleged rape – that she was thrown through a glass table and then gang-raped on the broken glass, only to have her “friends” discourage her from reporting the crime – is completely true. She may have been sexually assaulted and then exaggerated the details. She may have made the whole thing up.

But a story like this does not help anyone – not rape victims, not victims’ advocates, not the justice system, not men falsely accused of rape, and certainly not a magazine that has seen its credibility obliterated by journalism so shoddy and unethical that even someone with no journalistic training knows it is wrong.

The fact of the matter is that false allegations do happen, and the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Instead of covering up rape and failing to protect victims, colleges and universities are now running roughshod over due process in order to appease politically correct feminists. Neither extreme is helpful or proper. Balancing the rights of the accused and respect for the accusers will always be difficult, but it is critical to keep that balance.

Finally, as I said on Twitter back in October, college men can greatly reduce or eliminate their chances of being falsely accused of rape by not having drunken one-night-stands. Showing respect for women first and foremost will protect not only the men, but will honor the women as well. We should be teaching this to our young men.

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