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Political correctness makes some racial problems unsolvable

Unfortunately, the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere in the U.S. continues. During the 10 years I spent in America, I was mostly exposed to environmental bubbles where no open racism existed – except for some reverse racism. But my understanding is that despite the legal arrangement that guarantees equality of people of different races, some manifestations of racism are bound to exist in 2014. They are a part of the human nature. They have some reasons that will never disappear.

But some problems associated with the co-existence could disappear or become better. They haven't been improving for quite some time – and from many viewpoints, the things became worse. The picture above appeared among some fresh photographs from Harvard published in The Harvard Crimson. The folks' banners say #BlackLivesMatter and I agree with that. However, this slogan is too superficial to solve anything.

Last week, a major Czech news server published a thought-provoking article named

U.S. divided by a racial problem, the facts are inconvenient both for blacks and for the police
The author of this report, Mr Milan Vodička, wrote some interesting relevant facts and interpretations.

He mentions that a TV station was showing a divided screen. One half of the screen was airing Obama's speech urging peace; the other half of the screen communicated the live pictures from the burning Ferguson that was resembling Baghdad. Darren Wilson who has shot Michael Brown dead wasn't indicted, and that's why a new wave of violence has erupted across the States.

On November 26th, the author predicted that all the events would be "analyzed" but no important conclusion would be reached because the political correctness doesn't allow any real debate. So it's guaranteed that people would end up talking about minor technicalities, e.g. the proposal to equip all cops with personal minicameras; or about the fact that the U.S. police forces became militarized after they bought some excess firearms from the Pentagon.

An apparent detail that has contributed to the problems is a policy that has been enforced by the police since the 1980s – the broken window theory. The idea is that vandalism becomes very likely in a building that has a broken window – or another sign of a "minor offense". In practice, the theory says that police should fight "big crime" by fighting against the "small crimes". That should discourage the "big fish", the theory says.

Mr Vodička thinks that the theory is likely to be flawed. In the real world, the theory increases the police activity in black suburbs because that's where the number of broken windows and similar "small crimes" is higher. However, such a form of police activity pushes police itself into the role of enemies of those who are officially being defended by the police.

There are other, even more serious problems. In a debate between Rudy Giuliani and Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown, ex-mayor's black opponent, Giuliani said that the surplus of white cops would be unnecessary if the blacks were not murdering each other. Dyson would reply that this comment by Giuliani was a classic example of the white supremacy. These are twisted and oversimplified talking points that America used to know decades ago.

And the twisting isn't even necessary to be worried. Blacks are the most troubled racial group in the U.S. Their 13% of the U.S. population is responsible for approximately 50% of the criminal activity. The crime rate is higher than in the times when Martin Luther King talked about "his dream". Blacks are also the leaders in out-of-wedlock children and divorces.

The other side of inconvenient statistics is that every 28 hours, a black guy is killed by a cop. The number of blacks killed in this way is far higher than the number of whites who are killed in similar circumstances. This inequality holds even if you divide the people killed by cops by the crime rate. There's some logic (is that true?) that could suggest that these ratios could be equal in a fair society. So the number of blacks killed by a cop per unit black crime is greater than the number of whites killed by a cop per unit black crime.

So when a policeman sees a black, it is more likely that the civilian will be shot than if the civilian were white (or even Hispanic). Now, it's interesting to ask whether one may explain, interpret, or attribute this fact. A possible interpretation is that the blacks' track record is such that they are being rationally viewed as more dangerous by the cops which is why the cops simply have to press the trigger earlier than they would if the other person were white. But because the aforementioned ratio is higher for blacks, it suggests that the blacks' track record as imprinted in the cops' behavior is (even) worse than they deserve.

In other words, this "worse track record" is just a plausible explanation or a possible factor that may partly explain the observation. It is a hypothesis, not a proven fact. And this hypothesis may make some detailed predictions that seem to be falsified. The numbers make it likely that the worse (deserved) track records of the blacks only explains a part of the effect – the much higher probability of a black to be killed by a cop.

There are lots of differences, quantitative and qualitative ones, and they have various reasons that are only partially known – and they're almost completely unknown to the public because these questions aren't being openly discussed.

Another difference between the blacks and whites is that when a black cop shoots a white person dead, the whites don't start protests in the streets. In the reverse situation, the streets start to boil because the blacks consider themselves to be "one tribe". That's why Ferguson is guaranteed to reemerge, under different names, in the future. As Roy Lewis (a retired police official) said last week, there is one thousand Fergusons in the U.S. (And I am sure that he didn't even count Sheila Ferguson, a retired secretary of the physics department at Harvard LOL.)

If the situation improves, people should produce and understand some realistic expectations about the optimal – but not physically impossible – society. There are certain parameters that are unlikely to substantially change, at least not in the foreseeable decades or centuries. They may be rooted in biology or the culture and it doesn't really matter in practice. What matters is that they are slow degrees of freedom that won't change.

And given these constants, one may discuss how the society should adjust itself so that the safety and satisfaction of all the Americans is maximized. For example, I have mentioned the broken window theory. If the number of broken windows decides about the number of cops assigned to a street, well, I think that the algorithm has to be improved and the coefficient has to be race-sensitive etc. simply because it's pretty normal, and not necessarily a sign of more serious crimes, when a window is broken in a black neighborhood. So these coefficients similar to the "number of cops per broken window" should be adjusted in a way that takes the character of the neighborhood – and perhaps not just one bit of information about the "color" – into account.

There are tons of similar coefficients. With a realistic model, one could get some estimates how many blacks and whites might be shot by police if the police acts optimally – increases the safety in the street but doesn't kill too many people along the way. All these models and expectations will depend on the "color" (of the neighborhood, cop, and his or her potential target) and maybe some finer pieces of information. When all these numbers are known, one may look at the actual dramatic events – like the people shot by police – and determine which classes of these events are overrepresented and should be reduced, and so on.

But the color-blind expectations can't give the cops (and other officials) a usable, advanced recipe to behave constructively. They are as bad an approximation to the optimum treatment as the racist attitudes that America knew centuries ago. The truth is somewhere in between. Meanwhile, all influential white people in America love to say that all people (and suburbs) must be treated exactly the same, regardless of the color; while the cops' behavior inevitably deviates from this hypocritical rhetoric and is much closer to the behavior of cops during the era of slavery. There is a huge gap between the rhetoric and the real world behavior that certain occupations – such as cops – inevitably face.

And I agree with Mr Vodička that America doesn't even have the courage to start a serious discussion about the right "middle of the road" attitude of the police – which takes both the human dignity and human rights of all the people; and their differences into account. Note that such topics aren't taboo in Czechia at all; a text that is pretty much the Czech translation of this blog post appeared as the #1 story on the #1 news server in the country last Wednesday. Is it possible that the Americans have something to learn from the Czechs?

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reader thejollygreenman said...

I read today that it is the black cops in America that does most of the shooting of blacks. The difference between white and black cops shooting blacks is almost double. The punchline of the story I read was that if you are black in America, just hope you encounter a white cop.

reader Sage Basil said...

what we call political correctness is the response to Communist terror. People get fired for saying things that are too politically incorrect, and that happens because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows the employer to be sued. In countries like England, France, and Germany, people literally can go to jail for saying politically incorrect things.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I am pretty sure you are wrong. The shooting of blacks is mostly done by white officers.

Who is killing all those black men and boys? Mostly white officers. But in hundreds of instances, black officers, too. Black officers account for a little more than 10 percent of all fatal police shootings. Of those they kill, though, 78 percent were black.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Apologies, I am not getting it at all. What do these laws and political correctness have to do with "communist terror"?

reader James said...

Do you realise how fucking stupid you all sound?

reader Jim Arndt said...

According to the latest statics only 400 people killed by police (2012). This is out of millions of arrests a year. Don't see any hunting by the police of anyone.

reader lukelea said...

It is really a subset of the black population -- the bottom half or maybe the bottom fifth -- that can't seem to find a productive role in American society, a problem made worse by the immigration of millions of low-skilled workers (both legal and illegal) from Latin America over the past forty years.

reader Tony said...

I have reached deep into my soul and asked myself a question: if Michael Brown was white, would I go out and protest his shooting? The answer was a resounding No.

Any legitimate grievances of the black population will not be addressed if they keep choosing the wrong martyrs. Neither will the legitimate grievances of the entire population regarding the excessive use of force by the police.

This is another case of what I call, 'the inefficiency of the democratic processes'. Mob rule is not democracy IMO.

Police officers should be from the community and living in the community. That is only logical if they are supposed to serve and protect the community and would also reduce racial tensions in cases like these.

However, that raises another question. If cops in the predominantly black community should be predominantly black, what about, say, teachers? Or any other profession? That kind of leads to effectively advocating racial segregation, doesn't it?

reader John Archer said...

Thanks. That's crucial feedback. But would you kindly expand on it a little so that we can home in on the more egregious of our stupidities and set about correcting them first?

If you're pushed for time then just give us one to be getting on with for now.

reader Tony said...

Few decades ago I spent some time in Palermo, Sicily and was talking to a local journalist about Mafia.

First, he educated me about the history, how, originally, Mafia was not what it is and means these days.

Then he told me a story of young Dorigo. With not too many good jobs around, and under certain influences, he accepted a job to shoot a certain person. Her drove by in his Vespa, while the target was having his afternoon coffee, and shot him.

He was caught and sentenced to life in jail.

For many days, you could see his mom on TV, crying that 'Dorigo is a good boy and he didn't really mean to do it, it is all some kind of mistake', and other people from his village generally being unhappy with his life sentence.

Journalist's assertion was that the problem with Mafia is basically the problem with 'the culture of the Sicilian people'. He was Sicilian himself. He said something along these lines: You can link it to the state of the economy, the availability of jobs, etc, but ultimately it all boils down to the culture.

reader Shannon said...

James has a better idea: send Boko Haram to sort that up.

reader Shannon said...

Me too I've reached my soul. I took a short cut and here I am: racial segregation happens anyway but it is not necessarily a negative thing. Animals don't really mix, and Nature doesn't force them to. Still they often share the same land and eat the same food. Respecting diversity is respecting a community as a whole, not only the individual.
Maybe I shouldn't have taken the shortcut...?

reader John Archer said...

Once upon a time it was all so wonderful in Ferguson. Plenty of sunshine. No rickets. No ruckus. What went wrong?

Here's a clue:The racial composition of Ferguson has shifted, however. In 1970, 99% of the population of Ferguson was White and 1% Black. In 1980, the proportion of White residents went down to 85%, whereas the proportion of Blacks rose to 14%. In 1990, residents of Ferguson who were identified in the U.S. Census as White comprised 73.8% of the total, while those identified as Black made up 25.1%. (The remainder, 1.1%, identified with other racial categories.) In the 2000 census, 44.7% were Whites and 52.4% were Blacks. In the 2010 census, 29.3% were Whites and 67.4% were Blacks.

We gotta find a way of stopping white folks mysteriously changing into blacks! Meanwhile stay away from dem bluebirds!

reader Uncle Al said...

Boko Haram is across the Atlantic Ocean. Isn't Boca Raton close enough? Boca Raton is "mouth of a mouse" re Paul-Muad'Dib in "Dune." Wheels within wheels.

reader Uncle Al said...

1) "Among men of African ancestry, 5.5% carry the 2R variant, while 0.1% of Caucasian males and 0.00067% of East Asian men do."
2) Under-production of MAO-A increases aggression and that humans with lower levels of MAO-A are more likely to commit violent crime.
3) "Make of this what you will."

reader QsaTheory said...

I lived in the US for ten years, three of them near east St. Louis the largest slum in the US at that time. There is a clear fundamental disconnect in the American society between its whites and other groups largely as long history of divide. The blacks are caught in vicious cycle of downturn, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with them.

Now, if you see Africans in in Africa, They are completely different. While African countries have their share of poverty, but you can see its people are just normal like any third world country, they are not shackled by the severe psychological end environmental trap as their US counterpart.

As a matter of fact, any people subjugated to similar circumstances they will display similar behavior. Case in point is my own country. We have 10% of the population classified as Stateless(illegal immigrants who lived here for a long time with their offspring) that exhibit very high crime rate, with hate filling their heart, and the government refusing to fix the problem which it had created itself. I lost a dear friend in our company, murdered by one of these guys.

Without= no citizenship.

reader Alice Cheshire said...

I don't know where you got the "every 28 hours" except from news sources that have no indication of where the statistic came from. The FBI says "twice a week" and fully admits the database has huge holes and its completely voluntary to report. In fact, there are really no reliable statistics out there so far as I can find. If we're going to use numbers, let's be sure they are accurate.
It's also interesting that you seem quick to blame the police yet in past posts, you had not problem blaming parents for their bratty children's behavior. Telling a police officer to "f" off is asking for trouble. Resisting arrest is asking for trouble. Grabbing an officer's gun is asking for trouble. Yet you completely overlook that blacks may indeed have very bad behaviors when it comes to cops. Try listening to rap lyrics and then tell me cops should be less racial in their profiling. The things rappers tell kids to do to cops. Why, suddenly, are you fine with raising obnoxious children with no manners, no respect for the law, etc?

reader james said...

The disparities are not quite in the expected direction, btw.

reader Honza said...

There is another problem with having predominantly black cops in predominantly black communities. Where to get them? To become a cop (at least at the moment) you cannot have criminal record (and plenty of other limitations applies, physical requirements, most departments do not allow applicants with felony convictions and repeat misdemeanor or even violation convictions. An example may be a person convicted of drunk driving, sale of narcotics or dangerous drugs, etc.). If you look at rate of incarceration, it is around 5% for white male, while for black male it is over 30%. So unless you are advocating hiring policemen "straight from prison" and otherwise seriously relaxing the requirements, you are in trouble.

reader kashyap vasavada said...

@Sage Basil: A complete off-topic politically incorrect
matter!! I asked the following question to you , two weeks too late for the blog about Kapustin’s
work. I believe you may not have seen that. So I am repeating it here. I would
like to get a reference or slightly more detailed explanation of non
associative Lie algebra. To my understanding the more common algebras related
to SU(N) groups are associative. Also a colleague of mine insists that groups
which have non associative elements are not called groups by mathematicians ,
but rather fields or some thing else i.e associativity is a basic requirement
of groups. I would like to clarify this point.

reader Guy G said...

You have certainly demonstrated what it sounds like to be stupid so now we can compare, thanks.

reader Luboš Motl said...

The number "every 28 hours" may be found at tons of places, including a better description of the sources. See e.g.

which links this study

reader Tony said...

When I was on vacation on some Caribbean islands I had a similar experience. To make a long story short, when I mentioned notable differences between the respective black populations I was told by a black lady:

The difference is that we have a culture.

That's the reason why I wrote the Sicilian story. There is no race involved there.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Jim, could you please be a little more quantitative in explaining why you concluded that 400 deaths of this sort isn't too much?

And have you cared about the ratios for blacks and whites at all?

reader Shannon said...

If it is recognised as a culture then they could get funds from the European Ministry of Culture and Communication. It should be easy for them to lobby for that;-).

reader Shannon said...

Maybe it is when they live or connect with the whites that they become violent. Our presence somehow could stop their production of MAO-A ?

reader Tony said...

It is well known that all grieving segments of the population, ethnic and or religions groups, races, hominids etc. can find some satisfaction 're their grievances, if sufficient amounts of money are thrown at them.

Unfortunately, these days when faced with the need for infinite growth, only the banks get that privilege.

reader cynholt said...

To state the obvious, the federal government should get completely out of the local law enforcement business . They should do nothing to arm local cops and they should absolutely repeal legalized theft, which turn local police into highwaymen, through the use of civil forfeiture laws.

Obama says one thing and has done nothing (ZERO) to back up what he says. He does something completely different. He deserves no respect.

reader cynholt said...

Wow. Do you remember when O.J. was acquitted of murdering two white people in cold blood, despite the fact that everyone knew he was guilty as hell? I don't remember "whites" rioting and burning and looting, but I do remember blacks taking to the streets doing those very things - in celebration.

reader Tom said...

Hi, Kashyap, “Lie Algebras” by Nathan Jacobson at least defines non-associative algebras (and is available in a Dover reprint). He comments that non-associative algebras lack interesting structural results, a fairly obvious statement given that computations would have multiple solutions growing factorially with the number of terms involved. The most basic object in algebra is the associative binary operation on a set, and a set with such a product that admits unique solutions of the equation ax=b and ya = b for arbitrary a and b is a group. So groups are the simplest objects where you can play with equations - i.e. without associativity you are not going very far.

reader Smoking Frog said...

There are 780,000 police officers in the United States. If a black person is killed by police every 28 hours, the probability that a randomly selected officer kills a black in any given year is 1/2493. Of course, the "real" probability is higher because not all police encounter many blacks, but I don't think it could be very high, and it should be pointed out that officers who have killed blacks often turn out to have been "problem" officers (prone to the use of excessive force, targets of complaints, etc.). My point is that if police kill too many blacks, this is something which not even people of the highest integrity could easily remedy.

It's not as though whites are never in danger from police. I'll give you two cases in point, but first let me say that my father was a cop, and he repeatedly warned me to obey police officers and to be utterly polite with them. (I'm just slightly averse to the word "cop" because in the old days it was somewhat disrespectful. My father corrected me every time I used it, and warned me never to use it in front of police.)

1. Late one night decades ago, I left the home of a friend and walked to my car, which was parked a block or two from his home. I saw two black guys hiding in the bushes of an apartment building, so I kept walking and went back to my friend's place and called the police. Then I went back to the scene so I could meet the police when they arrived.

A minute or so later, a police car came down the street very slowly with its lights off. I stepped into the street about 40 feet in front of the car and began walking toward it. I had my hands in my pockets. The car stopped abruptly and the loudspeaker blared out, "HALT YOUR ADVANCE IMMEDIATELY!" Simultaneously, the cop in the passenger seat came out and crouched behind the open door with a rifle or shotgun aimed at me. Again the loudspeaker: "***VERY SLOWLY*** REMOVE YOUR HANDS FROM YOUR POCKETS AND RAISE THEM ABOVE YOUR HEAD."

While they were figuring out that I wasn't a problem, I said, "I'm the guy who called you." One of them said, "How are we supposed to know that?"`

2. Someone once held a knife to my throat. I escaped but I got a crowbar from my car to defend myself while I called the police. A plainclothes officer arrived, drew his gun, aimed it at me, and told me to drop the crowbar or "you'll go down and you won't get up." I did so. I told him, "I was only carrying it to defend myself." He said, "If you hadn't dropped it, you might be dead now. I can't assume that you're 'only carrying it to defend yourself' - idiot."

They say that blacks disobey the police a lot. I can't really speak to whether that's true, but I have a black friend about 60 years old who says it's true, and he tells me he's never had a problem with police in his life because he's unfailingly polite to them.

reader QsaTheory said...

cynholt, one of the whites was his ex-wife, the other a boyfriend. That is a complete different social setting. Jealousy and murder.

reader cynholt said...

Keep in mind, Alice, the cops are just dogs, well trained and well brainwashed, but still just dogs for the judges and prosecutors. But it doesn't end there. Scratch below the surface a bit and you'll clearly see that the judges and prosecutors, starting with the "Supremes" and likes of Eric [Place] Holder, are the pack leaders, the alpha dogs of this culturally inbred and magnificently corrupt 21st century justice system.

They're all there to bite and otherwise cause pain to the livestock to remind them who's in charge. But all these dogs in our justice system work for the herders: the politicians and the media, chief among them are our first affirmative action president and the likes of NPR, aptly known as Neocon-lite Propaganda Radio, or, Neoliberal Propaganda Radio (same thing). Look further up the American food chain, though, and you'll realize that these herders work for the PTB -- Kochs, Soros, Dimon, Waltons, Rothschilds, the Windsors (House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), etc.

The US is really not that much different from medieval feudal Europe, China or Japan.

reader Smoking Frog said...

My father (a cop) had a reputation for rescuing prosecutors from their own stupidity. At trials, he'd go to lunch with them, give them advice on the law and on lines of questioning. They'd go back into the courtroom and win cases they'd been losing before lunch. Stupid cops exist, but they're not all stupid.

reader Uncle Al said...

1) Ignorance is educable, stupidity is forever.
2) The South was right.
3) When price is made independent of cost, abuse results. End all centralized charity.
4) Anything done by authority to make a bad situation better makes it worse.

reader Tom said...

It seems to me that the most important variable in this topic hasn't been discussed below. Time series for the rates at which various groups commit violent crime must be fundamental here. Any experienced police officer knows these rates well and it is the risk he faces, taken as the ratio of these rates, that will correlate with death-by-police rates - that is just the intrinsic reality of the desire for personal survival. Suppose a police officer see a few young men smoking weed and he approaches them as a law officer. Since the risk if this takes place in the worst inner cites is at least a 100 times higher than some leafy white neighborhood, it is unsurprising that trigger fingers get itchy and these woeful statistic emerge. I’ve talked to a few law officers in social situations over the years and they all mentioned how risk is so intense in their work that it affects their health - rashes, migraines and whatnot.

reader cynholt said...

The South will also prove to be right when it comes to ObamaCare, Uncle Al. Expanding Medicaid to include able-bodied Americans and providing federal subsidies to buy health insurance only for Americans making less that about $40,000 per year is not only giving subsidized Americans an unfair advantage over those who are NOT subsidized, but it's also enriching the corporate welfare state at the expense of the taxpayers, most of whom are unsubsidized Americans. But hey, what do you expect from a president who's a bought and paid for neoliberal tool of the corporate welfare state? The goal of his handlers is to widen the gap between rich and poor to the point where nothing in middle can survive without joining the poor.

reader Alice Cheshire said...

I did not anywhere say there was "one scapegoat". Really, you didn't read what I wrote at all. Occupy is a political site, not a statistics site. They use statistics like the rest of us use toilet paper.
For a guy who works/worked in a field that needs five sigma for proof of a theory, you seem very okay with just throwing accuracy out the window when it suits your position. If I wrote a physics paper with the garbage statistics you are using, I would expect you'd laugh and point.
You totally ignored my question about parents, trying to say I blame that one thing so you didn't have to answer, I guess. So are you admitting hypocrisy or not? And don't give me that BS about one factor—is lousy, uncaring parenting a factor or not?
Your ONE factor seems to be the police, so it seems you're guilty of your own complaint against my comment.
Really, you're off the rails on this one. (Let me simplify: Nowhere have I said a thing about the police and who is responsible. I have not commented on how many killings there are because there IS NO DATA. A scientist would know that. I do not hold police blameless any more than any other persons who do their jobs poorly, nor do I blame them alone for the problem as you seem to.)

reader QsaTheory said...

reader kashyap vasavada said...

Thanks Tony! I will try to digest this stuff. To be continued!!

reader cynholt said...

Speaking of banks, Shannon, here's Matt Taibbi article on the police:

"If Eric Garner had been selling naked credit default swaps instead of cigarettes – if in other words he'd set up a bookmaking operation in which passersby could bet on whether people made their home mortgage payments or companies paid off their bonds – the police by virtue of a federal law called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act would have been barred from even approaching him.

You can't send hundreds of thousands of people to court every year on broken-taillight-type misdemeanors and expect people to sit still while yet another coroner-declared homicide goes unindicted. It just won't hold. If the law isn't the same everywhere, it's not legitimate."

reader QsaTheory said...

Police Brutality

reader cynholt said...

The point that Matt Taibbi is trying to make here is that extra judicial killing by police is typical of a crony capitalist, aka fascist system. This also applies to civil forfeiture, a practice typical to third world nations, where the police are often referred to as thieves in uniforms. This is what the US has become: a third-world, crony capitalist, fascist system.

reader Werdna said...

Michael Brown was a thief, a punk thug who violently resisted arrest for the crime of taking someone else's rightful property. His death was not the product of racism, though of course that doesn't mean cops don't *ever* kill black men out of racism.

On the other hand, many people protesting in the street and using his death as an excuse to agitate not merely for redress of grievances against the policy but redistribution of wealth (I saw a sign amongst the protestors in New York on television last nigh denouncing capitalism) would like to connect this story to another recent death caused, in part, by law enforcement. Eric Garner however, was not under arrest for being a thief, however. Ironically for the left wing protesters who would make him a martyr of social justice, Eric Garner was being arrested for engaging in capitalism-making money by selling people cigarettes he lawfully obtained (in contrast to the cigarillos Brown stole) at low prices-prices low because they do not include New York's outrageous tax on cigarettes so high that the State makes more on them than the seller. Eric Garner wasn't killed because of racism, either. Eric Garner was killed by socialism.

There may a problem of racist police, but neither of these cases is part of that problem.

Incidentally, many have cited the FBI's figures on justifiable homicide by police. This is not quite the data one wants. Assuming the data on one every 28 hours is the same source, of course, and assuming there are no sampling problems, there is no reason to expect the proportion of police homicides that consist of black deaths to be different than the actual proportion, but those are questionable assumptions. The actual total number of homicides by police in the line of duty, both justified and unjustified, in a year, may be closer to a thousand, than 400:

There's no way to know how many of those extra homicides were white or not. Of course, one could consider it alarming in it's own way if such a discrepancy existed, and was attributed to a greater likelihood of homicides of blacks being deemed justifiable. But the "justified police homicide" count is itself an underestimate even of homicides ruled justified, since not all are reported.

There are no easy answers for dealing with problems like these, but I can think of two important things we should all take to heart:

1. Attempting to string together stories with vastly different circumstances into a single narrative, is not helping.

2. There are too many things that are illegal in this country.

reader cynholt said...

The police have prosecutors in essentially a blackmail situation. If prosecutors start to vigorously prosecute crimes by individual officers, then the police can become subtly uncooperative in other prosecutions, including sloppy reporting, poor evidence handling, faulty testimony in court, etc.

This can wreck the careers of prosecuting attorneys, and both the police and prosecuting attorneys know this.

reader cynholt said...

We saw a lot of this same sort of media-driven propaganda in the 1990s when the militant feminist movement was trying to turn men and women against each other. There is a lot of "divide and conquer" going on in our society today, with the government trying to turn blacks and whites against each other (a repeat of the 1960s COINTELPRO operations such as the FBI's forged Black Panther Coloring Book), the rich against the poor, men against women, straights against gays, etc. to prevent Americans from uniting as a single people in opposition to the war agenda, government abuse, and Wall Street criminality.

reader QsaTheory said...

Yes, same in my country. Sunni against Shia', affluent families against the ordinary ones, ethnic this ethnic that, religious vs liberals. The government in the past 60 years played this game very well, saying to each group in turn come to mama, I will protect and propel.

Sadly these groups are very ready for such manipulation.

reader cynholt said...

Politicians do create jobs for comedians and lawyers. Other than that, they mostly create broken windows.

reader anna v said...

With all this progress in science I do not see why there do not exist weapons that put people to sleep instead of killing them.
Tasers still kil, are not safe enough. It needs some money for research on stunning and how to make projectiles of the chemicals . Or a directional laser that can direct disruptive waves to the brain and incapacitate criminals.

. I do not understand "justifiable homicide" by anyone except in war maybe. Justifiable should be decided by judge and jury, not by bureaucrats. with an adgenda.

I do not understand why police shoot to kill instead of disable , shooting at the legs,, they must have been trained that way, Police should not be judge and jury giving the death penalty. Something is very very wrong .

reader Shannon said...

Good point. They use these types of shooting to put animals to sleep. However, I wonder if this could lead to over use too, and what would that mean on the long term. They should test this.

reader Tony said...

Indeed, according to WaPo article on Five myths about America'c police:

"over time, however, they (Tasers) have become a compliance tool - used to quell dissent, move nonviolent protesters and punish people for talking back. A 2011 Nat Inst of Justice study found that cops use their Tasers too often and in inappropriate circumstances."

As OBummer would say:

"We tased some folks"

reader anna v said...

any weapon in the hands of the holder can be used immorally. Stun guns would be like guns, except not lethal. Death is an irreversible process, that is why there are so many checks .

reader Sage Basil said...

Lie groups, like all groups, are associative. Their "infintesimal elements" are matrices, and matrices have an associative multiplication.

The simplest example is the Lie algebra of SO(3), being the algebra of skew-symmetric 3x3 real matrices. You can check with your favorite computer algebra system that [0 1 0; -1 0 0; 0 0 0] exponentiates into a matrix of SO(3). You can then compare the dimension of SO(3) to the dimension of the space of skew-symmetric 3x3 real matrices to conclude that you have the entire Lie algebra.

Skew-symmetric matrices can be multiplied (using the associative matrix algebra) to get matrices that are not skew-symmetric. The commutator bracket [X,Y] = XY-YX provably preserves the fact of being skew-symmetric, which is your first hint that it is a decent multiplication if you are concerned for the structure of infinitesimal elements of SO(3).

You can then compare the commutators of a suitable basis of skew-symmetric 3x3 real matrices with the cross products of a suitable basis of real 3-space to conclude that these are isomorphic algebras. Of course, physicists are already aware of the connection between the cross product algebra and spacial rotations.

Anyway, you already know that the cross product algebra isn't associative.

reader Sage Basil said...

what are you talking about, non-associative Lie algebras have tons of structure

reader Sage Basil said...

what would happen if your parents or grandparents were to say that a society's wealth is determined by to what extent enterprising people are able to gain access to resources to implement their ideas? Would they get arrested, fired, demoted, or merely talked to?

what would happen if I were to say that an individual's achievements are strongly limited by their individual IQ, and IQ is heritable and race-correlated? Would I get arrested, fired, demoted, or merely talked to? Maybe arrested in England, but merely fired in the USA.

reader Shannon said...

Yep. Divide and rule.

reader kashyap vasavada said...

Thanks Tom and Sage Basil for your comments.I am trying to understand how useful for physics, non associative algebras are. Sorry Tom, I called you Tony by mistake, although Tony also made good comments on this issue last time!!!

reader cynholt said...

Great idea Anna, something which I have thought about as well, but since tranquilizers are considered a drug, only a licensed physician or nurse can use a tranquiler gun on humans. But if there is a way around the law for police to use a tranquiler gun on animals, then perhaps there is also a way around the law for police to use it on humans.

Even still, tranquilizers can cause sudden respiratory or cardiac failure. This means that law enforcement would have to have emergency resuscitation equipment and meds on standby, including oxygen, every time they tranquilize someone who is extremely violent and out of control like Michael Brown was. Tasers can and have caused sudden cardiac arrest, so it would be interesting to know if police must have a defibrillator on hand every time they taser someone. You would think that this would be a requirement, especially given the growing number of deaths from taser use.

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