Friday, November 27, 2015

Think you know a lot about Crime Law and Justice?

Then check out these questions on the topic and my trivia blog. 


Think this isn't a problem, before we get to  the major topics, consider this:
" According to a 2013 survey by Harris Interactive, 20 percent of Americans, 18 to 34 years of age, use their cellphones during sex, generating a new meaning for the expression coitus interruptus."

As per PC World:
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "distracted driving," where the driver's attention is focused on an activity other than the road ahead, is a growing problem. In fact, the proportion of fatalities linked to distracted drivers rose from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009.

While the overall number of U.S. traffic deaths is on the wane--from 43,510 in 2005 to 33,808 in 2009--the percentage of fatalities associated with driver distraction is on the rise.

Nearly one in five (18 percent) of all fatal distracted-driving crashes last year reportedly involved cell phones as the distraction, according to a new NHTSA study. In those crashes, the phone was either in use at the time of the crash, or was "in the presence of the driver" when the accident occurred.”

According to another source:

“The reason that smartphones are so addicting is because they trigger the release of serotonin and dopamine—the "feel good chemicals" in our brains—providing instant gratification just like addictive substances do, says therapist and addiction expert Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D. (Put down the phone and try The 10 Habits of Happy People instead.)

And he says that this particular type of addiction can be a sign of deeper problems. "Obsessive and compulsive smartphone use is a symptom of underlying behavioral health and personality issues," he explains. "What happens is that people who are suffering from issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, and socially-challenging personalities self-medicate by reaching for things outside of themselves to manage their internal discomfort. Because technology plays such an integral part of our lives, smartphones easily become their object of choice."

But what appears to be a solution at first actually amplifies their problems in the long run. "They choose reaching for their phones over healing connections with important people," Hokemeyer explains. Doing so, though, can hurt your career and personal life, not to mention cause you to miss out on all the fun things happening in real life. (Find out how Your Cell Phone Is Ruining Your Downtime.)”

"  . . . "Larry Rosen, a research psychologist at California State University who studies smartphone use among college students, says . . .  that most college students are “heavy users” and that his experiments show that their heart rates and other vital signs actually spike when they can’t use their phones, in response to increased anxiety and distraction."

Supreme Court case raises important "diversity" and equal protection issues

The Supreme Court will hear Fisher v. Univ. of Texas. According to the NYT:
" With the constitutionality of race-based affirmative action hanging by a thread at the Supreme Court, University of Texas officials are struggling to explain a policy that gives an extra edge to Latino and African American students from middle-class households and top-performing high schools."  The preferences are also give to many minority students from affluent families.  One opponent of the University stated, ""If one is looking for a lively discussion from students with the greatest possible variety of backgrounds, then including a poor white student from a trailer park might add more diversity than a wealthy African American graduate of a prep school, . . ."

In too many states, universities are poorly monitored and audited.  The ethically challenged flourish. Legal and ethical lapses are commonplace, but often covered up.  It reminds me of some police departments.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Safe zone, microaggression, offensiveness, etc. plague goes on, 'Try not to have an offensive Thanksgiving'

Great article by Frank Cerebino from the Dallas morning news.   It's worth reading. One quote below.
"Try not to have an offensive Thanksgiving.
It won’t be easy. These holidays are often trickier than they seem, and we’re already off to a particularly offensive holiday season.
It started early this year with Halloween. And as Yale University has shown, there’s no limit to the trouble that can be caused by an insensitive Halloween costume.
“Could someone take offense to your costume and why?” an email from the university’s Intercultural Affairs Committee asked students.
Dressing up in a way that might offend somebody isn’t a crime, faculty member Erika Christakis responded.
“Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense — and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin-revealing costumes — I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious ... a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Christakis wrote.
Apparently not. At least at Yale. The flap over Halloween costumes there is expected to last until Valentine’s Day."

One important point to stress. As Christakis notes.  It's only offensive if it offends left-wing political correctness.  Appaprently conservatives are not entitled to the same protection.  This hysteria threatens First Amendment values.

LAPD Facing Alarming Police Shooting Increase

According to the NYT
 "Citing an “alarming” rise in shootings by police over the last year, the civilian board that oversees the Los Angeles police called on Tuesday for an extensive review of the department’s policies on the use of force.
The new president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Matt Johnson, said reducing officers’ use of force was one of his top priorities for the department, on par with bringing down the overall crime rate.
The number of shootings by the police so far this year has nearly doubled, to 45 from 23 during the same period last year, Mr. Johnson said. He added that, like other departments, the Los Angeles police were facing “a crisis of confidence with minority communities, particularly African-Americans,” in the wake of police shootings of black civilians across the country.
“We must fully commit to minimizing the number of use-of-force incidents,” Mr. Johnson said. In addition to review of use-of force incidents, he called for an examination, and possible expansion, of nonlethal options like Tasers and beanbag shotguns. "

Poliice shooting video, subsequent demonstrations and first degree murder charge

Transparency and public pressure paying off in Chicago.  See the shooting video and article.

More transparency means better policing

Many contend that increasing scrutiny of police is a bad thing and leads to police timidity and more crime.  This is termed the "Ferguson effect."  There's no data to support it and the benefits of increased transparency are changing police for the better.
In the NYT, a  former NYPD cop tells it like it WAS:

“First, let me take you back to the way policing used to be. Years ago, a group of men walked into a Harlem bar with bats and hatchet handles. Moments later, they’d left their calling card: broken bones and fractured skulls.

This wasn’t a robbery, but restitution. Earlier in the day, a young patrol officer had been attacked by unruly patrons of the bar. This cop’s off-duty brothers in arms made sure to give anyone there a strong “attitude adjustment.”Continue reading the main story

My New York Police Department instructor shared this story with me and my fellow recruits to explain “shaking the tree” — how the community had a price to pay for the assault on an officer. No one would dare report the incident, we were told, because it would be the officers’ word against the public’s — no contest.

For many years, this was the world in which our nation’s police agencies operated. What happened in the darkness of inner-city streets was between the police and whoever was on the other side of the nightstick and, on occasion, a gun. The police reports all read the same: The suspect had a shiny object, he reached for something, he forced me to act in self-defense.

This was an inextricable part of the policing culture in America, and many Americans benefited from these aggressive tactics if their streets were safer. Frankly, we as a nation ignored how people were treated to get the results.”
Body cams, dashcams, and smart phones have changed all this.  Criminal prosecutions of police appear to be on the rise.  More and more agencies are using body cams.More training is being offered. However, more needs to be done, as explained in the article.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Police Violence costs S.C. $23 million since 2009

"A newspaper’s analysis shows legal settlements from shootings involving police officers from South Carolina municipalities have totalled about $23m since 2009.
The Post and Courier reports that its analysis shows that more than $17m in such legal settlements have come this year.
Those payments included a $10m dollar settlement in the shooting death of a former mayor in Cottageville and $6.5m in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed African American man, by North Charleston police officer Michael Slager on 4 April this year.
Insurers for the municipalities paid the bulk of the settlements, which typically stemmed from lawsuits alleging wrongful death or excessive force.
However, the paper said, such settlements can lead to higher insurance premiums that are ultimately paid by taxpayers.
Police shooting payouts “will either remain the same or even rise if steps aren’t taken to curb officers’ uses of deadly force,” the newspaper quoted Sam Walker, a University of Nebraska criminal justice expert, as saying."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review, "American's Secret Jihad," White/Aryan Supremacy is not Dead

Rather than repeat what has already been written, I direct you this review of this book by Stewart Wexler, and hit a few additional points.
The book is about white/Aryan supremacist groups who use a twisted Christian theology to justify unprovoked attacks on black and Jews. 

One of these twisted theologies is the Christian Identity Movement. (Now apparently Called Kingdom Ministries.)   It has had various names and sub-sects over the years.  One of the related groups was  the Confederate Underground. Another related group was the National States Rights Party.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists a number currently active white/Aryan supremacy groups. There are  number of current groups who support this theology--one is
From 2010 to 2014, this website had over 417,000 unique visitors.  Another group site Kingdom Identity Ministries  got an average of over 2,400 visits.    Their website states "Kingdom Identity Ministries is a Politically Incorrect Christian Identity outreach ministry to God's chosen race (true Israel, the White, European peoples).  (This data is from p. 323 of the book).
According to Wexler, neither of these groups, however, openly or directly advocates terrorism.

The KKK still holds sway in limited areas and white/Aryan supremacy is alive and sickly well in America.   I suspect that some, but not all, lost cause delusionists are white supremacists. How many in these groups or 'lone wolves' are willing to use violence is unknown. 

Racist and violent theologies are world wide.  ISIS is the most obvious example.  The SPLC lists 3 black/lslamist groups in this category (see link above)

Book review focusing on the days leading up to the shelling for Fort Sumter.

Lincoln and the First Shot by Richard N. Currrent is reviewed briefly here.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will make only a few comments.  This is a good, short, documented book focusing on the crucial events leading up the Confederate shelling of  Ft. Sumter.

Neither side wanted to fire the first shot and hoped their opponent would do it.  Both Davis and Lincoln were under pressure to not back down.  Lincoln declared secession illegal and promised to protect or recover any federal facilities.   Many of Davis' supporters wanted war, but Davis hoped Lincoln would back down.  Both sides underestimated the determination of their opponents.  Both sides hoped the other should back down.  Both sides forged ahead waiting for the other to back down.  No one backed down.  The result was the bloodiest war Americans ever fought.

The lost cause delusionists claim that Lincoln wanted war and maneuvered the Confederates into firing the first shot.  The logical problem, and the reason for the dispute, is definitional.  IF, secession was legal, the attempt to re-supply Sumter was an  aggressive act by a foreign power to reinforce an  unlawful military facility.  Lincoln started the war under this assumption. This assumes that secession was constitutional and valid.  Lincoln had promised to preserve the union.  IF secession were illegal, interfering with a federal military facility, and demanding its surrender and firing on it is an act of war.  The rebels started/caused the war.  This debate cannot be settled by facts.    However, note that no nation recognized the Confederacy.  Neither side wanted war, but neither would back down.  Rather than wait until the re-supply boat for Sumter approached and then sinking it or blocking it, Confederates, started shelling Ft. Sumter.  If they could stop the re-supply ship,  Ft. Sumter would have to surrender peacefully.  However, this is a moot point.  Given that the 2 adversaries had radically different interpretations of the situation and neither side would back down, war was inevitable.

Friday, November 20, 2015

More on House Demolitions on West Bank

44 posted a comment and  good question regarding the post below on Israeli demolition of homes in which  accused murderers/terrorists lived.  "My question is, were the homes destroyed as part of a wartime military operation or was it a civilian police action? The prior follows Sherman's tactical understanding that "war is hell". If it was the latter, then there's definitely a fundamental human rights violation.."  Below is from Wikipedia:

"House demolition is a method utilized by the Israeli army (IDF) in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip against Palestinians and in some cases Israeli settlers.
Demolition may be done to enforce building codes and regulations, which in the occupied Palestinian territories are set by the Israeli military.[1] IDF explanations for other house demolitions include use as a counter-insurgency security measure to impede or halt militant operations[2] House demolitions are also claimed to be a potent deterrent against terrorism,[3] in significantly decreasing Palestinian terrorists attacks.[4][5][6] Human rights organizations and the United Nations criticize the ongoing demolitions[7] of Palestinian homes as violating international law, and Amnesty International has contended that the Israeli government actually uses demolitions to collectively punish Palestinians[2] and to seize property for the expansion of Israeli settlements.[8][9] Theodor Meron advised the Israeli government in 1968, soon after the occupation of the Palestinian territories in the Six Day War, that the practice contravened international law, in particular the Geneva Conventions."
The United Nations (UN) and human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross who oppose the house demolitions reject the IDF's claims, and document numerous instances where they argue the IDF's claims do not apply.[2] They accuse the Israeli government and IDF of other motives:
According to the United Nations, about 1,500 homes were demolished by the IDF just in the Rafah area in the period 2000-2004.[26]
In 2004, Human Rights Watch published the report 'Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip'.[27][28] The report documented what it described as a "pattern of illegal demolitions" by the IDF in Rafah, a refugee camp and city at the southern end of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt where sixteen thousand people lost their homes after the Israeli government approved a plan to expand the de facto "buffer zone" in May 2004.[28][29] The IDF’s main stated rationales for the demolitions were; responding to and preventing attacks on its forces and the suppression of weapons smuggling through tunnels from Egypt."

The use of house demolition under international law is today governed by the Fourth Geneva Convention, enacted in 1949, which protects non-combatants in occupied territories. Article 53 provides that "Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons ... is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."[31]
However, Israel, which is a party to the Fourth Geneva Convention, asserts that the terms of the Convention are not applicable to the Palestinian territories on the grounds that the territories do not constitute a state which is a party to the Fourth Geneva Convention.[32][33][34] This position is rejected by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, which notes that "it is a basic principle of human rights law that international human rights treaties are applicable in all areas in which states parties exercise effective control, regardless of whether or not they exercise sovereignty in that area."

From Wikipedia on "West Bank."
"Israel's peace treaty with Jordan and the Oslo Accords, did not change the status of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as occupied territory with Israel as the occupying power. . . .In 1982, as a result of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the direct military rule was transformed into a semi-civil authority, operating directly under the Israeli Ministry of Defense, thus taking control of civil matters of Palestinians from the IDF to civil servants in the Ministry of Defense. The Israeli settlements were on the other hands administered subsequently as Judea and Samaria Area directly by Israel."

In fact, one can make the argument that the occupation itself it unlawful. See "legal status" at the West Bank article from Wikipedia.  If the occupation is unlawful under international law, then the demolitions are unlawful.

Although the actions are carried out by military forces, the West Bank is an occupied territory, but not a war zone in the usual sense of the word.  Of course, one can argue that there is a 'war on terrorism."  The 1967 war which led to the occupation is long over.  Any analogy to Sherman's march to the sea during the Civil War is not warranted.

Chicago police discipline rare and biased?

Some of reasons why police misconduct is often so bad and widespread, is the occupational and organizational culture. Discipline for officers is relatively rare in many agencies.  One of the worst in Chicago.

"In 18 years with the Chicago Police Department, the nation’s second-largest, Jerome Finnigan had never been disciplined — although 68 citizen complaints had been lodged against him, including accusations that he used excessive force and regularly conducted illegal searches.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Israel outrage, razing homes of alleged killers

There are lots of  'bad guys' and few 'good guys,' and enough blame to go around to everyone over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israelis are our only reliable ally in the Middle East and many American identify with them, and provide monetary,  media and polticial support.  Thus, it appears that Israel gets a pass on many issues that they should be hammered on and  perhaps sanctioned for.  Destruction of the homes of accused killers on the West Bank (conquered by Israel and occupied, with new Jewish settlements, after the 1967 war), is one of these examples which defies ideas of fairness, due process, and punishes people for merely residing in the same home as an accused killer.   These individuals have not yet been convicted.  Arguably it only makes a bad situation worse.  It also, of course, helps create an opportunity for new or expanded  Jewish settlements on the West  Bank.

"Israeli forces on Saturday destroyed the family homes of three Palestinian men charged with carrying out a drive-by shooting last month that killed a couple in front of their four children, and the forces also demolished the home of a man accused of fatally shooting an Israeli in June. It was the most sweeping use of a recently revived, controversial antiterrorism measure since a wave of unrest escalated last month, mostly through demonstrations, stabbing attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, and attempts to hit Israelis with vehicles. Israel’s Supreme Court approved the demolitions, all in the West Bank, on Thursday after days of debate." . . .
Home demolitions were a tactic widely used against the families of Palestinian suicide bombers during the second intifada, which erupted in 2000. But the practice was largely halted in 2005 after a commission found that it rarely worked as a deterrent, and often inflamed hostility. It was revived as a punitive measure last year.
“There are all too many incentives to encourage people to commit terrorist crimes,” said Mark Regev, a government spokesman. “People who commit these terrorist crimes are not afraid to die. So the fear that the house that they lived in will be destroyed after they are gone provides an effective deterrence and saves lives.” 
"Sarit Michaeli, of the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, denounced the demolitions.
“The authorities have never accused the relatives who are losing their homes of any crimes,” Ms. Michaeli said. “The notion that it’s acceptable to punish people for other people’s actions is an affront to the law.”

The idea that loss of a home is going to deter terrorist acts sounds more like a rationalization than a reality.  However, there are unfortunately, no easy answers to this conflict. 

More politically correct authoritarianism on campus

I never cease to be amazed at the left-wing politically correct authoritarianism and animosity toward civil rights that exists at many  public colleges and universities.  That authoritarianism is clear in the case of Second Amendment rights and First Amendment rights. (see post below).  In terms of numbers of students, those campuses outnumber those with right-wing authoritarianism.  Most of the latter are private or religious schools.  Private and religious schools are not covered by the First Amendment.

The left-wing authoritarians believe that the campus is entitled only a watered-down politically correct version of the First Amendment and Second Amendments.  Below is an example of the position of a left-wing academician on the First Amendment.  Their obsession with ‘safe space’ and ‘’microaggression’ overrides the First Amendment rights of others. (The Supreme Court has long held that even hate speech is protected, bold added below):

“This past week, the news media has energetically discussed student unrest at Yale and at the University of Missouri, where students are protesting administrative insensitivity or inaction in the face of troubled racial climates. At Mizzou, in particular, student activists have demanded safe space. A student journalist, Tim Tai, was denied access to the protesters’ tent city in a public area of the campus. The protesters didn’t want to be photographed or interviewed, possibly not trusting journalists to tell their story accurately.

The next day, they rightly changed their stance, opened their space to the media, and a debate on free speech and safe spaces found new life. Quickly, the student protesters were accused of not tolerating free speech in regard not only to Mr. Tai, but also to those who use racial epithets and otherwise engage in hate speech. They were accused of being weak, of being whiny for having the audacity to expect to attend college without being harassed for their blackness.

As a writer, I believe the First Amendment is sacred. The freedom of speech, however, does not guarantee freedom from consequence. You can speak your mind, but you can also be shunned. You can be criticized. You can be ignored or ridiculed. You can lose your job. The freedom of speech does not exist in a vacuum.

Many of the people who advocate for freedom of speech with the most bluster are willing to waste this powerful right on hate speech.”

What the writer ignores is that if one can show that a public college or university fires and employee or disciplines a student for engaging in protected speech, the institution may be liable for damages and injnctions for civil rights violation.  It is disturbing to see how many faculty and journalists lack the courage to speak up when politically incorrect speech is denied constitutional respect in public facilities.  Finally, there is no such thing as a ‘waste’ or First Amendment rights.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Latest FBI data on hate crimes, Down in 2014

Keeping in mind the problems with such data, consider the following;
In 2014, law enforcement agencies reported 5,479 hate crime incidents involving 6,418 offenses to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.
2014 figures are down from 2013, when 5,928 criminal incidents involving 6,933 offenses were reported. 
Of the 5,462 single-bias crimes reported in 2014, 47% involved racial motivation. Other motivators included sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, and gender. See the full report.


Sometimes it's not too good.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Police and illegal immigration/detainer flap

"Last month, Democrats in the United States Senate blocked a Republican-backed [anti]sanctuary cities bill, despite growing pressure from conservatives to crack down on local governments that refuse to fully cooperate with federal immigration officials or, in cities like Durham, to vigorously pursue immigration investigations.
But the lack of action in Washington has only increased the ferment over the issue in some cities and states across the country."
The issue became more inetense after a murder in San Francisco.
"The suspect is a Mexican national with an extensive criminal record who had been deported five times. Before the shooting, he had been released from custody by the authorities in San Francisco, who declined to respond to a federal request that the immigration authorities be notified. Sheriff Mirkarimi said he had been barred from responding by San Francisco’s sanctuary rules, which strictly limit cooperation between the police and federal immigration officials."
Read the article from the NYT to see develoments in N.C., TX and elsewhere.

Supreme Court to hear challeng to Texas abortion clinic laws

According to the NYT:

“The case concerns two parts of a state law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.

One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Officials in Texas said that the contested provisions were needed to protect women’s health. Abortion providers responded that the regulations were expensive, unnecessary and intended to put many of them out of business.”

The abortion providers are right.  The real purpose of the law is to put as many abortion clinics out of business as possible.  I predict the laws will be overturned.  It could be 5-4 with Kennedy the deciding vote (as usual), or even 6-3.

The measures were modest and sensible, Ken Paxton, Texas’ attorney general, said in a statement on Friday

Friday, November 13, 2015

More on the culture of victimization

People on both the left and right are into the culture of victimization, not just the left and its microaggressions.  See this excellent article from the Atlantic.

For example, the emergence of “the blogosphere” in the early aughts––something I participated in to some extent–– was rife with examples of conservative, progressive, and libertarian bloggers calling attention to minor slights against their respective ideological groups by mainstream media outlets. In “Fisking” the MSM, the aggrieved seized on these slights, often exaggerating them in the process; tried to garner the support of third parties (an ombudsman, the public at large); cast themselves as victims of unfair treatment; and demonized adversaries.

White Supremacist Violence has not died out

The KKK has largely faded into the background and many think white supremacy advocates and white supremacy violence are things of the past.  Think again! The Dylan Roof case has brought new attention to the problem.
According to the FBI

“It was a gruesome and hateful crime—three men with white supremacist tattoos punching and kicking the face and body of an African-American man at a bus stop in Houston last summer simply because of the color of his skin. All three were recently convicted of the attack, following an investigation by the FBI and its partners.

It’s not an isolated case. It seems like a throwback to a different era, but white supremacy—which sees whites as inherently superior to those of other races—still exists in America today.”
See this list of recent white supremacist crimes 2009-2012.

FIRE on Microagression and First Amendment on campus

Accoring to FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education):
Would colleges really take action to prohibit or punish speech alleged to be subconsciously insulting? Unfortunately, speech codes at some colleges and universities are already almost there—a quick look at FIRE’s Speech Codes of the Month demonstrates that. This month’s “winner,” the University of West Alabama, prohibits “harsh text messages or emails,” and December’s stand-out policy at Virginia State University says that students may not “offend … a member of the campus community.” Colleges routinely punish students for speech others have found offensive, and speech that might make listeners uncomfortable. With schools already restricting speech beyond what the First Amendment permits, it wouldn’t be a huge step to censor speech that might negatively affect students over time.
Troublingly, an October report (PDF) on bias and discrimination at UCLA seems to encourage the school to chill speech that it may not punish directly—an initiative that would plainly conflict with decades of First Amendment jurisprudence. The report says (emphasis added):
We recognize that not all of the incidents of perceived discrimination of which faculty members complain will be actionable. Several faculty members referenced the notion of “microaggressions,” which researchers have defined as “subtle verbal and nonverbal insults directed toward non-Whites, often done automatically and unconsciously. … Some enhanced recordkeeping would allow the university to monitor the number of complaints regarding such incidents, and therefore to better understand the campus climate for faculty (and students) of color. And finally, investigations might deter those who would engage in such conduct, even if their actions would likely not constitute a violation of university policy.
In other words, the report states that “microaggressions” protected under the First Amendment may be deterred by subjecting speakers to investigations. The statement alone is absolutely true—and it should be treated as a warning. Chilling speech on campus is not some kind of benign side-effect, nor is investigating protected speech a permissible means of influencing student or faculty dialogue. As Torchreaders already know, intimidating students into self-censorship is no more constitutional than punishing them directly for their speech. In White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1228 (9th Cir. 2000), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an investigation into protected speech chilled expression and was therefore a violation of the First Amendment in and of itself. Similarly, in Levin v. Harleston, 966 F.2d 85 (2nd Cir. 1992), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s finding that a university president’s creation of a committee to investigate protected speech by the professor implied the possibility of disciplinary action, and thus violated the First Amendment. The report’s implication that chilling protected speech is an acceptable strategy is alarming and dangerous.
The idea of microaggressions is not new, but it is gaining attention, and developments at UCLA illustrate that many expect microaggressions to be dealt with administratively, not through open debate. But whether the perceived verbal insult is “macro” or “micro,” the correct answer to insulting or offensive speech must be more speech—not censorship, not the threat of unwarranted investigation, and not disruption of class."

Microaggression obsession threatens First Amendment Values

Violence and threats are not protected by the First Amendment, but the trending microaggression obsession threatens those values.  Some call such conscious and unconscious acts and words "the new face of racism."  Like it or not, racist comments and hate speech are generally protected by the First Amendment.  Just as right-wing political correctness chilled protected speech during the McCarthy years, left-wing political correctness threatens those same freedoms on many college campuses today.
Both the left and right are capable of amazing hypocrisy and authoritarianism.  It seems like too many people want to wear he mantle of "victim," when others behave in provocative ways that are constitutionally protected.  First Amendment freedoms have fallen victim to campus speech codes.  I guess the next step is microaggression codes.
Further, First Amendment values are central to the educational process. 

“Some call it the new face of racism — not the blatant acts of bias that recently led to the University of Missouri's campus unrest and resignation of the president and chancellor. Instead, a phenomenon known as "microaggression" — everyday slights and snubs, sometimes unintentional — is drawing widespread attention across college campuses and kicking up a debate about social justice and free speech rights. . . .  Some critics, however, say they worry that the microaggression movement chills free speech, increases conflict and perpetuates an aggrieved sense of victimhood.

Bradley Campbell, a an associate professor of sociology at Cal State Los Angeles, said the movement is transforming society from a "dignity culture," in which people are taught to have thick skins and refuse to allow others to affect their sense of self-worth, to a "victimhood culture" that advertises personal oppression. . . . Such a shift, he argued, could increase mental health problems and 1st Amendment conflicts, such as campus speech codes and the recent attempt by University of Missouri students to bar journalists from entering a public area they deemed their "safe space."

He also said that labeling those who unintentionally offend as aggressors seemed harsh, potentially creating more conflict and alienation among groups.

Others defend the focus on microaggression as the next step forward in the country's long, slow march toward greater equality and understanding.”


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court: Officer will not face civil trial in killing case.

The Supreme Court, without reaching the merits of the case, and in a per curiam opinion, ruled that the officer who shot and killed a fleeing driver would not face civil trial.  Only Justice Sotomayor dissented.  According to the ABA Journal:

"A police officer who fired six times at the car of a fleeing arrestee, killing the driver, was entitled to qualified immunity in a civil suit, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a summary reversal. . ..
The driver, Israel Leija Jr., had fled after a police officer approached his car at a drive-in restaurant and told Leija he was under arrest, according to the Supreme Court opinion. Leija drove at speeds between 85 and 110 miles per hour during the chase. Twice he called the Tulia police dispatcher, claiming that he had a gun and would shoot at officers if they didn’t give up the chase. The dispatcher also received a report that Leija might be intoxicated.
Officers set up tire spikes at three locations, including at Cemetery Road beneath an overpass. Mullenix drove to the Cemetery Road overpass and considered shooting at Leija’s car to disable it. Mullenix asked the dispatcher to ask his supervisor if the plan was worth doing, and got out of the vehicle; it’s unclear whether he heard his supervisor’s advice to wait to see if the spikes worked. Mullenix fired when the car approached, killing Leija." . . .The majority concluded:
"Those [precedents] cases “have not clearly established that deadly force is inappropriate to conduct like Leija’s,” the Supreme Court said. Indeed, the court said, its opinions “never found the use of deadly force in connection with a dangerous car chase to violate the Fourth Amendment, let alone to be a basis for denying qualified immunity.”
Sotomayor said Mullenix had no training in shooting to disable a vehicle, had no permission to shoot, and did not wait to see if the spikes stopped the vehicle. She argued that Mullenix “puts forth no plausible reason to choose shooting at Leija’s engine block over waiting for the results of the spike strips.”

If the officer heard the order/advice and deliberately ignored it, agency discipline should be considered.  Many commentators think the U.S. Supreme Court had been too generous to officers with its qualified immunity rulings.  Some argue that this has encourage police to be excessively aggressive.  IMHO, without having read the opinions,  except for the advice/order issue, this seems like a decision where the officer deserves the benefit of the doubt.

The opinions are here. Scroll down to find them.