July 24, 2005

How dangerous is that shoot-to-kill policy of the London police?

WARNING ADDED: If you've come here from another website and think you already know what this post says, I would recommend that you calm down and read what I've actually written. Some really foolish, hotheaded remarks have been made about this post. Don't let yourself be manipulated.

ORIGINAL POST: It's terrible that the poor man was shot to death yesterday by the London police who had reason to think he was a terrorist. But should we worry that the shoot-to-kill policy will result in more deaths?

Really, it should be quite unlikely for the same sort of thing to happen again, just as it's very unlikely that anyone will ever again hijack an airplane with a small knife. That method of hijacking an airplane ended on the morning of September 11, 2001, when everyone who might in the future ride on an airplane received an unforgettable lesson that they must respond actively and rush the hijackers and restrain them at any cost to themselves. Similarly, everyone -- at least in London -- now knows not to run from the police, especially not onto a train and while wearing bulky clothing.

Is it not true that yesterday's sad mistake has already solved the problem it represents? In fact, a further good has been created: as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the bulky clothing and unnecessary running, the real terrorists will stand out more. Indeed, if anyone ever behaves like Jean Charles de Menezes again, the presumption that he is a terrorist will be so overwhelmingly strong that the police really must kill him.

UPDATE (8/18/05): Leaked information from independent investigation indicates that Menezes himself didn't "behave like Jean Charles de Menezes," so the shoot-to-kill policy was not what it seemed and is in fact something that we should worry about. Who knows what policy the police were following the day they killed Menezes? Fortunately, there hasn't been another incident like it, at least not yet. I would think the incident itself has forced them to change whatever that policy was.

ANOTHER UPDATE: After ranting near incoherence all day, one of the commenters finally expressed himself in a way that gave me a clue what was pissing him off so bad. He read the phrase "a further good has been created" to mean that I thought that it's worth it that the man died, because a higher good had been created, offsetting the death, as a sort of crude utilitarian observation. The phrase "a further good" just means there is a second good thing that has resulted, not that the good made it worth killing an innocent man, as if I would have, if I knew in advance what was happening, authorized shooting the man in order to produce the good! That's quite a bizarre misreading, but I'm spelling it out in case you happen to be reading it that way. Why would I say such a thing? Before posting and ranting based on such a misreading, you ought to stop and consider whether I would say something so absurd. Or do you think making a hasty judgment and acting with hostility is good way to act? Because that would be a tad hypocritical.

IN THE COMMENTS: As I wrote in comments to the post about this post on 8/18, what I'm seeing in the comments to this post is a deep-seated hostility to the police. People are taking advantage of one bad incident to push a big generalized position they have, and have probably had for a long time. There's a sad lack of rationality here, and it's become pointless to try to reason with the ranters. I'm a law professor and I always assume that some of commenters are my students, so I try to talk to everyone in the comments as if you were my students. But office hours are over for me on this post.

92 comments:

leeontheroad said...

I think it will result in more deaths than the previous policy, so it seems to me there are more specific questions. No one, especially the police (whom I know), wants fatal shootings of innocents. The first question then, I think, is which ones would be justified under the law? (Most, we would assume.) Also, how many are acceptable/constitute good policy? Further, how many, even if warranted by police procedure (which tends ot track to law in the States, e.g. Amadu Dialo verdict in NY), change the fundamental "job" of British police, from their standpoint? I can't answer these with precision; but the questions mean that the "new wave of terrorism" has already changed the way I calculate "danger."

Meade said...

"...as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the bulky clothing and unnecessary running, the real terrorists will stand out more."

But why would this feedback loop be lost on the terrorists? Won't they also adjust their own profiles and behaviors - no bulky clothing, running from police, etc.?

Drethelin said...

Because the point is they can't avoid bulky clothing. It's neccesary to hide bombs strapped underneath. that's the whole reason you suspsect someone in bulky clothing when it's otherwise unnecessary.

Similarly, someone planning on suicide bombing would most likely always run from the police, because it would take the most cursory of friskings to feel a vest made of tnt underneath his clothing.

Meade said...

But in six months, won't nearly everyone in London be wearing bulky clothing?

Troy said...

The Bottom Line:

When the nice -- or not so nice -- policeman says "Stop." or "Put Your Hands Up." then you stop and/or put your hands up.

If you're in a country and don't know the language -- then learn the damn language.

There is at minimum a reasonable suspicion for a Terry stop with exceedingly bulky clothing, hot weather, etc. When the guy runs it is up to probable cause and throw in the terror and a nice utilitarian (and common sense one too) argument then bye bye to running idiot.

It's sad it has to come to this, but when I go to Germany I'm going to learn cop words, danger words, and "where is the bathroom". I'll just point and grunt at the beer.

P. Froward said...

One problem with the "just stop politely" suggestion is that a suicide bomber who wanted to kill a couple of cops would merrily do just that, and then blow himself up.

Another problem is that some suspects, innocent ones, may very well think that if they stop they'll certainly be shot, but if they run they'll at least have some chance.

There's really no "guaranteed safe" way to deal with an armed man who believes that you may be willing to die in order to kill him.

This is a deeply ugly and intractable problem for everybody involved. Avoiding bulky clothing is the best anybody can do, but as somebody notes above, sooner or later the weather turns cold. Then what?

PatCA said...

I think it will have a deterrent effect. I once read a study that said the death penalty over time has been shown to have a deterrent effect only in relation to the amount of time between the crime and the execution.

This quick and unequivocal reaction, unfortunate as it was--and we still don't know why the decedent was in that particular house and why he ran--knocked the wind out of part of the jihadi fantasy. Instead of transcendent and political, the act itself became nasty, common, brutal.

Ann Althouse said...

A good business idea: design a slim but warm winter jacket.

EddieP said...

Troy, important German words for you:

Halt = Halt

Eingang, Ausgang = Entrance, Exit
Verboten = forbidden
Keine Rauchen = No Smoking!
Feuer = Fire

Die Toiletten = the toilets

Noch einmal, bitte = one more beer please.

EddieP said...

I'm sorry an innocent man had to die, although we still aren't certain he was innocent. He was being followed as a suspicious character from the 'hood. It wasn't about bulky clothing alone, it was also about ignoring the officer's command, and fleeing by jumping over turnstiles. I reckon fewer people will run away when ordered to stop and fewer yet will be jumping over turnstiles, now that they know that action will likely get them killed.

vbspurs said...

I speak Portuguese, my parents having lived in Brazil for a while in the late 80's/early 90's when I was a teen.

Let me say, I have great sympathy and even tenderness for Brazilians, but I am also not blinded -- they have a lack of being law-abiding citizens even in their own country. And this is the trouble that happens when you are dodgily in a country to begin with.

I wouldn't actually go up to a Brazilian today, and tell them what I did in my blogpiece today, out of common decency for the dead, but I would if someone started ranting about the "fascists in Britain".

Apologise for making a mistake and shooting an innocent man, by all means, but don't endanger countless of other innocents by being too ginger in your reactions.

Thank goodness Scotland Yard said today their "shoot-to-kill" policy would continue.

Cheers,
Victoria

Justin Gardner said...

Apologise for making a mistake and shooting an innocent man, by all means, but don't endanger countless of other innocents by being too ginger in your reactions.

Well put vbspurs. I posted about this situation on Donklephant yesterday, but I agree the police force shouldn't be hamstrung by this one incident.

And from what we're hearing now, the man knew English so we can almost be certain that he knew what was going on in London. And given that, he should have had better sense than to run away from police, jump a turnstile and try to hop on a train.

Troy said...

Eddie P...

Danka

Prof. Froward... there's no problem with the stop politely line -- it's designed to protect the nimrod with the jacket from getting himself "kilt". The guy (R.I.P.) deserves a Darwin Award.

vbspurs said...

Justin, I clicked on your Donklephant link in the profile, and got the 404 Error.

Maybe it's down, or...?

Cheers,
Victoria

Meade said...

"A good business idea: design a slim but warm winter jacket."

Underwear too.

Peter said...

It doesn't usually take too long for the word to spread about new tactics and policies so I seriously doubt that ordinary jaywalkers or the guy with two joints in his pocket are going to be wearing bulky clothes and running from the police.
As for the added danger of the splodeydope blowing himself up as soon as he's confronted, well, that comes with the territory. The whole idea is to prevent the splodeydope from getting into a confined, crowded area where the effects of the bomb are maximised. We knew the job entailled risk when we first pinned on the badge.
There are ways to minimise the risk to Officers during such confrontations, forgive me for not providing details.
I'm not quite sure why the Officers in London did not stop de Meneze on the street, where those procedures could have been followed. Perhaps they tried, the news reports I've seen aren't very clear.
What IS very clear, and should be even to civilians who's idea of policing comes from TV dramas, is that tackling a suspected bomber and putting several Officers on top of him while administering several headshots is a very last resort. It's much like a Soldier jumping on a grenade.

The Modesto Kid said...

We now learn that Menezes was not wearing bulky clothing or running from police. How does this affect your thesis that this police shooting will teach people to behave properly?

Ann Althouse said...

Anacreon: Try rereading the post, including the update, and think about the words you're actually reading. Presumably, you don't like emotional leaps in reasoning, but do you notice when you make them yourself? Apparently not.

Evan said...

Yes, Ann, I know, you've issued an update, and he wasn't running, or hopping turnstyles, or acting suspiciously, or wearing bulky clothing, but...

"In fact, a further good has been created: as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the bulky clothing and unnecessary running, the real terrorists will stand out more."

This is not a "further good". Suspicious behavior is relative, of course, to the NORM. So, as the norm changes, what makes you think that the tactics of terrorists will not adapt to blend in with the "new" norm? Maybe some stupid terrorists will be more easily caught, but you presume that the behavior of terrorists is necessarily static. It is not.

Terrorists whose success depends on their ability to blend in with the crowd will, in fact, be paying MORE attention to the norms than your average innocent civilian, since they have a more immediate reason to avoid suspicion. And as the norms change, do you think that they won't notice? Excuse me, but that's just rediculous.

You say that there is a static baseline for terrorist bombers, namely, bulky clothing. But in wintertime, bulky clothing becomes the baseline norm for the larger group. So even that is silly.

Ann Althouse said...

The two goods are: 1. People got a very strong message about what behavior looked suspicious and would know to make an effort to avoid that, and 2. To the extent that innocent people do that, the guilty stand out more. Obviously, these aren't absolute things! Obviously, not everyone gets the message, not everyone can always avoid the things identified as suspicious, and some guilty people can change their behavior. Obviously! What makes you think I was saying everything would change perfectly? Try reading and thinking and giving people you disagree with credit for some intelligence before deciding what is, as you put it, "rediculous."

Shan said...

This may be a racially tinged comment, but I don't see how one can look at this incident and not bring race into the picture.

I am an American of South Asian descent living in New York City. Since this shooting, I have changed my behavior in the following ways:

1) I've stopped listening to my IPod on the subway;
2) I've stopped running for trains that are pulling into the platform, a normal habit for anyone who takes the subway;
3) I've stopped bringing my back pack to work;
4) I get really nervous about sweating in the heat, which makes me sweat more;
5) I try to smile more often at strangers seated with me, so as to put them at ease.

I think, for someone who is Caucasian, it is very difficult to understand that people of color have to consciously fear they will be shot. It's as though white people are aware of the danger, but know that the odds are relatively slim, compared to a person of color, that they will be mistakenly shot. That, however, is a real possibility for someone like me.

I'm not claiming victim status because of a few inconveniences. I'm trying to relate that for some people, it is not an intellectual exercise as to what the repercussions of this shooting are; the consequences for some folks are real.

ButtRocket said...

Hmmm... Yes. Fashion profiling. Exactly what we need.

Well done!

Chadwick said...

Let's hear it for Ann, who uses the cold-blooded murder of an innocent man

Chadwick said...

...to give business advice.

I know whenever I hear of the state murdering brown people, my mind immediately fills with ways to profit from it.

(Thin warm jacket, hehe)

Congrats, you vile creature.

Ann Althouse said...

Shan: Thanks for describing how you feel. I hope those of us who don't have to feel that can still empathize with you.

JR said...

Ann,

I’ve read your response to Anacreon, and don’t understand who you are accusing of emotional leaps there.

Anacreon wrote:

“We now learn that Menezes was not wearing bulky clothing or running from police. How does this affect your thesis that this police shooting will teach people to behave properly?”

Ann responded:

“Try rereading the post, including the update, and think about the words you're actually reading. Presumably, you don't like emotional leaps in reasoning, but do you notice when you make them yourself? Apparently not.”

I see how your own post is emotional in a churlish way. But what about Anacreon’s question represents an emotional leap? It is not apparent to this reader at all.

In fact, it looks to me like a perfectly legitimate question regarding whether you have revised an opinion in light of new evidence.

So why the nasty jibes at Anacreon? Must he/she be falsely painted as a poor reader, emotional, etc.? This strikes me as a weak rhetorical tactic.

p.s.
Do you even know whether Anacreon had the chance to read your update before posting? i.e. does the timestamp on Anacreon’s message definitively establish that it post-dates your update?

Otherwise your response is not only not substantive, but it is also false and rude.

Ann Althouse said...

Jr: Yes, I do know that Anacreon posted after my update. And I stand by my position that he read my post poorly. His questions purports to state my "theory" and does it poorly. Why am I motivated to react to him the way I did? Because I don't appreciate having what I wrote mischaracterized in a way that makes me look bad and I know people are reading this post today because they've been sent here by a couple of websites that are badly mischaracterizing me.

swap said...

Wow, this is crazy, the punishment for wearing bulky clothing and not stopping for the police is now death?

CM said...

Obviously, in light of recent revelations about the guy's actual behavior-- i.e., no bulky jacket, did not jump the gate, did not run "from" the cops, cops may or may not have properly ID'd themselves, and he was already being restrained by a security guard when shot-- the original post is completely beside the point now. The only lesson that can be taken (assuming the new info is accurate) is: try not to leave or enter a building that is under secret observation by law enforcement possibly operating under a policy of shoot to kill, and if you do, do not immediately attempt to board mass transit. Since, obviously, a civilian will not know which buildings fit this category, this advice would be pointless.

And understand, I don't necessarily think the cops were evil here-- albeit tragically misinformed and operating under a series of deadly false assumptions-- but I do think we need to recognize that this is yet another of the devilish chracteristics of suicide bombing as a tactic. It is very difficult to address. I think one way to handle it is to take a "first do no harm" approach and simply try to balance the need to "do something" with the need not to make matters worse-- by killing innocents, making more radicalized Muslims, or what have you. This balanced approach is one that the Bush administration has a lot of difficulty with, mainly because they seem to want to pretend that no such balancing is required. The fact is, no matter how genuinely you approach the problem, it is hard to assess in advance whether any policy-- like the "shoot suspected bombers in the head" plan-- will have benefits that outweigh the harms. If you know that cops will only shoot actual bombers, then great. Of course, as we have seen already, no one can guarantee that.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Indeed, if anyone ever behaves like Jean Charles de Menezes again, the presumption that he is a terrorist will be so overwhelmingly strong that the police really must kill him.

My god, even without the updated information that the poor man hadn't done these activities, you're post is absurdly offensive? What exactly is so terrorist-like about running and wearing bulky clothes? And do you actually believe that people will stop doing these things now? Are you really that crazy? Are is it that you were just desperate to put a good spin on a horrible event? I suspect the latter.

And your analogy with hijacked airplanes is just plain stupid. Hijacking airplanes is obviously an action of a terrorist, and the lessons-learned there are obvious. Running is not an obvious terrorist activity. But with apologists like you out there, police might feel better about killing innocent people for engaging in innocent activities. And when that happens, the terrorists win.

Terrorism isn't about killing people. It's about scaring people, including scaring the government into over-reacting and destroying our rights. And when we justify these activities, and make innocent activities into "terrorist activities", we play right into their hands.

Matt said...

I only hope that no one here advocating these 'fashion profiling' policies find themselves running from a mugger or a rapist in a subway station during the winter, or running after their children, or running because they are late for a meeting.

It would be tragic for anyone to die because they advocated such a flawed policy.

J said...

Um, your update tag says it was posted on 8/19/2005.

Instead of blogging, how's about you let us in on this little time travel secret you've discovered...

JR said...

Ann,
Unfortunately your comments to Evan strike me as non-responsive as well.

Ann wrote:
“The two goods are: 1. People got a very strong message about what behavior looked suspicious and would know to make an effort to avoid that, and 2. To the extent that innocent people do that, the guilty stand out more. Obviously, these aren't absolute things! Obviously, not everyone gets the message, not everyone can always avoid the things identified as suspicious, and some guilty people can change their behavior. Obviously! What makes you think I was saying everything would change perfectly? Try reading and thinking and giving people you disagree with credit for some intelligence before deciding what is, as you put it, "rediculous." “



But you’ve already admitted that the cause of the shooting could not have been any of the behaviors delineated for “good 1” since it turns out that the shooting victim was not actually exhibiting any of those behaviors.

Yet your response continues to advance this as a good which came out of the shooting (even though you seem to have abandoned that posture in your “update” although perhaps I’m wrong there). Perhaps you meant to say that this “was” the 1st good until such time as you learned (as Evan’s remarks pointed out) that in fact no such good could have possibly come out of this?

It looks to me much more like people got a lesson in how we attribute a set of already well-publicized “suspicious” behaviors after the fact to what turns out in retrospect to have probably been an innocent victim of a police-administered killing.

I question your premise that such a “good” was on offer in the first place, i.e. that an ignorant London public learned from this event that they shouldn’t perform a series of suspicious behaviors.

We now learn that this presumably was a case of “information” travelling in the opposite direction, i.e. suspicious behavior as was already defined by the prevailing zeitgeist bubbling up as an accusation against a shooting victim. So I think your premise looks weak there.

Sidebar:
If a child had died a mysterious death, and the initial reports were that he had eaten an apple contaminated with an invisible toxin, then someone (in Wisconsin?) might have projected a “good” that children would now know to avoid eating apples which might be contaminated with invisible toxins.

But if we later learned that in fact the death had nothing to do with apples or toxins, would this still be a “good” that came out of this death or just some crazy random artifact of the event that muddied the waters a bit?




I think your second “good” is also problematic. You appear to be arguing that the “good” that came out of a shooting of someone engaging in suspicious behavior accrues to the extent that some portion of this behavior cannot be avoided by the ‘bad guys’, while the ‘good guys’ get the message to avoid as much of it as they can. But this too is difficult to quantify.

Aren’t there plenty of imaginable scenarios in which the net good which accrues from the ability of ‘good guys’ to modify their behavior such that it isolates the ‘bad guys’ further is more than offset by the net bad which accrues from this?


Was one of the goods that came out of this that Londoners will now be less inclined to wear bulky coats?! Evan is right to note that this is silly.

Perhaps if there are a few more random shootings with similar and widely propagated false causes, we can eventually hope that Londoners will all walk around very slowly in the nude?




Come on Ann, it’s not simply a matter of accepting that your suggested isolation of behavior to one population is absolute, it’s also a matter of considering and weighing whether there are other “bads” that result right?

Here’s another example, what if not running to get on the subway in the morning results in a bottleneck of commuters, the same way that a police car saliently planted on a busy highway can cause the ‘flow’ of traffic to be negatively affected?

Surely, you can concede that positing “goods” is more complicated than you’ve made it.

One of the (unintended?) negative results of “terrorism” may be precisely to jam up the works of a society by making everyone more aware of the “goods” that you postulated there.

Finally, I think you should try being more polite to posters, and stop accusing them of behaviors which you then immediately proceed to demonstrate.

You picked on Evan’s perfectly cogent post for a typo for crying out loud. For goodness’s sake Ann, I imagine that Evan typed his response into the same tiny text box that the rest of us use, he didn’t mind-meld it to you. And his response is obviously well thought out and intelligent.

So you have quite a bit of nerve to turn around and lambaste him for failing to “give people he disagrees with credit for intelligence”. That’s just not right. Methinks you were being way too hasty and more than a bit hypocritical with that remark.

Ann Althouse said...

J: Thanks. I've corrected that.

The Exalted said...

Your attempts to divine positive utility from the murder of an unarmed man are unavailing. You, without reason or purpose, compare this innoncent man's indisputably unwarranted murder to the obviously vile and and criminal action of hijacking a plane.

Your assertions that "running" and wearing "bulky clothing" are symptomatic of terrorist activity are similarly unfounded, inane, and flat out ludicrous.

Why have you not retracted this entire ridiculous post?

dave said...

I'm glad I read the whole post. It confirmed, without a doubt, what a stupid fucking brownshirted asshole you are.

TexProdigy said...

Ann,

Can you clarify something for me, please? How can Jean Charles de Menezes not act like "Jean Charles de Menezes?"

From other reports I've read, he was walking at a normal pace, picked up a newspaper, boarded the train and took a seat. Unfortunately, the police misidentified him. One report I read said that the officer in charge of surveillance took a restroom break. When he came back, de Menezes was off to the station. The officer thought de Menezes was the suspect they were watching, so they followed him. Finally, another report from the Daily Telegraph in Australia said that the police were instructed to take the suspect (de Menezes) alive. Apparently, he was already detained by security. Due to an unfortunate series of events, the police shot him eight times (seven in the head, once in the shoulder). The first shot was, according to an eyewitness, at least 12 inches away from de Menezes' head.

This entire situation was a tragedy of errors. The police may have been a bit too overzealous in their pursuit of someone they suspected as being a terrorist. Given the situation, I can understand why the police were overly aggressive. However, if they would have just been more calm and rational, de Menezes may be alive today.

Ann Althouse said...

Tex: As to your first question -- that was a rhetorical device.

JR said...

Ann wrote:

Yes, I do know that Anacreon posted after my update. And I stand by my position that he read my post poorly. His questions purports to state my "theory" and does it poorly. Why am I motivated to react to him the way I did? Because I don't appreciate having what I wrote mischaracterized in a way that makes me look bad and I know people are reading this post today because they've been sent here by a couple of websites that are badly mischaracterizing me.

JR writes:

OK Ann, I’ll take your word for it that Anacreon’s post came after you’ve posted your update. But at worst then, all it did was ask a question which you felt you’d already answered.

IOW, I still don’t see any emotional leaps there, nor do I see any indication that he “mischaracterized” your statement, at worst he ignored (or more probably missed it).

[NOTE: sorry, but I’m going with the pronoun he because I’m too damned lazy to worry about his gender]

Regarding your last sentence, I’m one of those who found this via a link from a different site. But I don’t think that disqualifies me from evaluating your argument on its own merits though.

And believe it or not, I’d agree that people shouldn’t mischaracterize what you’ve written but I don’t see where Anacreon did that.

Was it then not part of your argument that one of the goods that came out of the shooting was that it would serve to teach people how to behave properly?

I would have said that this was a kernel of what you were arguing. Maybe you find the wording tendentious, but I don't really see it as a mischaracterization.

Njorl said...

The two goods are: 1. People got a very strong message about what behavior looked suspicious and would know to make an effort to avoid that, and 2. To the extent that innocent people do that, the guilty stand out more.

Nonsense.

You are suggesting that the 60 million people of the UK significantly alter their lifestyle, maintain constant vigilance, and live in constant fear in exchange for the almost non-existant possibility of preventing a suicide bombing in its final stages.

You can not fight terrorism like that. When complete paranoia has enveloped the subway system, the terrorists declare victory and move on to the next set of targets - stadiums, highways, whatever. Free societies have an unlimited number of easy targets. We can not defend them all. Terrorists get caught recruiting, planning, purchasing and building - not while bombing.

The best solution is to live your life normally. Demand that you be allowed to do so. Of course, living your life normally should include doing your part to police your community, not just against terrorists, but against muggers, rapists and such as well. It does not include living in constant fear about the way you dress.

TexProdigy said...

Ann,

Thank you for your response. You might want to check out the Guardian Unlimited's story about the de Menezes situation: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1551317,00.html.

FloydFlanders said...

Ann said:

"Yes, I do know that Anacreon posted after my update. And I stand by my position that he read my post poorly. His questions purports to state my "theory" and does it poorly. Why am I motivated to react to him the way I did? Because I don't appreciate having what I wrote mischaracterized in a way that makes me look bad and I know people are reading this post today because they've been sent here by a couple of websites that are badly mischaracterizing me."

Oh, come on Ann. Nobody is mischaracterizing you. And if you feel that Anacreon's question doesn't adequately represent your feelings then the fault is with your original post, not any emotional leaps on Anacreon's part.

Of course, if Anacreon's question is a misrepresentation, I really wish you wouls let us all know what you really meant when you wrote:

"Is it not true that yesterday’s sad mistake has already solved the problem it represents? In fact, a further good has been created: as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the bulky clothing and unnecessary running, the real terrorists will stand out more. Indeed, if anyone ever behaves like Jean Charles de Menezes again, the presumption that he is a terrorist will be so overwhelmingly strong that the police really must kill him."

Because it really does look like you are saying exactly what Anacreon's question implies.

TexProdigy said...

Dave,

You may not agree with Ann's original blog post, her comments, or her responses, but that's not a reason to call her a "stupid fucking brownshirt asshole." That's crude and uncalled for.

JR said...

Ditto that Tex. I hadn't noticed Dave's remarks but they are foolish and unnecessary.

JR said...

Njori,

I think you're agreeing (albeit in much more succint and legible fashion) with what I was trying to say about the difficulties inherent in asserting the second 'good' which Ann proposed.

Ann Althouse said...

Jr: I never wrote about people learning to "behave properly." There is a set of dangers from both terrorism and the reaction to it and the question I addressed was: what should be done? My main point was that the incident affects how we need to think about the solution. What the 9/11 terrorists did was terrible, but the response shouldn't be made without taking into account how 9/11 changed everyone's behavior. Thus, it doesn't make sense to worry about small knives, because everyone learned on 9/11 how to prevent furture terrorists from ever hijacking a plane with small knives. The passengers will overtake them. So the solution to the problem must be done with this understanding. Everyone will behave differently next time. My post is basically about trying to apply that sort of reasoning to the subway shooting situation. It's not blaming the victim. It's trying to be rational about dealing with problems. I really think the freaking out about this post is just bizarre. I believe it's because you read some hotheaded trash on another website. I don't like people having to change their behavior, but considering the dangers they should. Most of us have changed our behavior as a result of hearing about some bad incident. (Women are very aware of this!) We don't like it, but we try to figure out how to be safer. Since rational people change their behavior to be safer, it changes the probative value of the behavior of people who continue to do what others have stopped doing. It is a shame people can't be freer and do all the nonharmful things they want. Unfortunately, terrorism really is a threat and we also expect the police to protect us. When they don't, people get hurt that way too.

Chuck said...

Um, right ... except he wasn't wearing bulky clothing and didn't run from the police, who didn't actually identify themselves. He was summarily executed because the police panicked and had itchy trigger fingers.

Sorry, wrong. A completely innocent dead man serves no greater good.

Chuck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Milo Johnson said...

You're right. I won't let myself be manipulated. You are a pinhead.

Ann Althouse said...

Chuck: I'm defending the original post as written at the time. I'm not refusing to acknowledge that the facts seem to have turned out to be entirely different. As to whether anything good can come from a regrettable death, of course it can. In fact, people constantly look for good consequences after something bad happens. It's not bad to do that. We often learn from an accident, for example, how to avoid it in the future. A product might be redesigned after it hurts someone, and so forth. A traffic light might be put up at an intersection where a child was killed by a car. You think it's wrong to say that's good? It doesn't mean you're saying it's good that the child died!

The Exalted said...

And the behavior to be changed is what, exactly?

Running? Wearing "bulky" clothing?

And what "good" comes out of this behavior change? You think a terrorist, already committed to killing himself, is going to be running through the transit station? For what purpose? Why would it matter where he died?

What is this supposed cessation of non terrorist running going to accomplish?

Why not just outlaw all running in public? Given that suicide bombings in England are exceeding rare (4 occurrences?) and that you support eliminating running to stop this, to maintain logical consistency, you would have to support a general running ban to avert general crime. Cleary, there is much more to gain from this?

Or, maybe it is just that your post makes absolutely no sense.

You have identified no utility arising out of this man's murder.

Gerald said...

I came from another (progressive) site. I read the whole post. It's still silly, and offensive to the memory of the man who was shot. When the police shoot innocent people, and the people are afraid to live their lives for fear of being shot, then the terrorists have disrupted our lives and turned us on ourselves.
With that said, and as useless as the column was, it only hurts those who disagree when ad hominem, ugly attacks are made at the author.

Too Many Jims said...

When the story first came out (and, I believe, when Ann drafted the original portion of this post) the indications were that the individual "acted like a terrorist". She said that it was "terrible that the poor man was shot to death" but she wondered if there may be something positive that comes out of it. When she (like the rest of us) discover that we have been mislead and that it is more likely that he did not "act like a terrorist" and she now says the shoot to kill policy "is in fact something that we should worry about".

I haven't picked up my brown shirt from the cleaners but I think that she is largely correct.

What if this was not a London subway but a transcontinental flight. Here are three scenarios. First, someone storms up the aisle, carrying a bag, screaming in a foreign language and tries to break into the cockpit. He is killed by a air marshall and it turns out the deceased was a terrorist. I doubt any of us would criticise this action. Second, someone storms up the aisle, carrying a bag and screaming in a foreign language. He is killed by an air marshall. Unfortunately, it turns out that the deceased wanted to get into the lavatory. A terrible death, to be sure. But I hardly think that it would be obscene to contemplate how the tragedy may actually add to our safety. Thirdly, a chap is sitting in his seat on the plane and is killed by an air marshall. This would lead us to worry about the shoot to kill policy.

In hindsight, I wish Ann would have called for a re-evaluation of the shoot-to-kill policy (after it was determined that the deceased was not a terrorist) notwithstanding the fact that we could learn something from the tragedy.

Of course the worst implication of Ann's hypothesis (as I see it: that people will change behavior as a result of a police shooting) is that the new revelations tell a certain portion of the populace: "There is nothing that you can do to prevent this from happening to you."

The Exalted said...

Not that Ann has addressed any of my points, but here is another

Simple cost/benefit analysis.

Benefit: Helping to prevent exceedingly rare and unlikely suicide bombing. Slim.

Cost: Changed behavior of entire populace. General lowered morale and fear induced anxiety. Vast.

Hmm. Looks like it fails to me.

Ann Althouse said...

Jim (and others): I'm not sure what policy the police were following. There are some situations in which police do shoot to kill. The question is which ones? Obviously, they made a big mistake this time, and that's what they need to deal with. If you're saying the policy should be never shoot to kill. I disagree.

Ann Althouse said...

The Exalted: See if you can discern my policy re selecting which posts to respond to.

Chadwick said...

Whew- Ann Althouse is against murdering innocent people, no matter how much sunshine and fairydust she can wring out of it.

Of course, I can hardly wait for her great money-making tips the NEXT time an innocent is murdered. Boy howdy.

The Exalted said...

I not only excoriated your post for its general offensiveness, but I also debunked your specious claims of utilitarian gain.

Your policy is very evident: ignore posts that cannot be refuted.

Fair enough, so long as we are clear on that.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't know why anyone would be so worked up over this post. The original post basically says two things: (1) The man's death was horrible and sad. (2) Maybe something good can come of it in that people will avoid terrorist-like behavior,(Same as people in the US knowing not to reach quickly for things or leave the interior lights off in a car with tinted windows when being pulled over by the police because such actions are criminal-like.) thus making terrorists stand out more. Terrorists being easier to spot = saved lives.

Then the update notes that the facts on which the initial post was based have turned out to be false and so perhaps nothing good can come of the man's death.

What's wrong with any of that? Why so much outrage? Lack of reading comprehension maybe? Too much coffee?

Roger Yamada said...

vbspurs said this:

"Let me say, I have great sympathy and even tenderness for Brazilians, but I am also not blinded -- they have a lack of being law-abiding citizens even in their own country. And this is the trouble that happens when you are dodgily in a country to begin with."

I sincerely hope that she was either raised by (racist) wolves in the uncivilized jungle, or that her post was a random assortment of letters that were mistakenly typed when her cat walked over her keyboard.

Agrajag said...

If you've come here from another website and think you already know what this post says, I would recommend that you calm down and read what I've actually written.

What about those of us who think we know what this post says because the site we came from posted a straightforward, long-form direct quotation of your own words?

Too Many Jims said...

Ann,

I do think that shoot-to-kill can be an appropriate policy, what I was trying to say (but apparently did so muddily at best) is that whenever an innocent is killed, the procedures which resulted in that killing should be re-examined.

Anthony said...

I've read what you've written, and it strikes me as yet another example of how exceedingly nutty the pro-war blogosphere has gotten over time.

I'm a Libertarian. I used to read you; I used to read Reynolds. But you and he have gotten to a point where I simply cannot stomach your insanity any more.

tcd said...

Ann,

I think you should ignore this pig pile because obviously these people are willfully misreading the intent of your original post & your update. I think jim's reading is the most accurate interpretation of your post.

Lancairian said...

Based on previous comments, are we all OK now with shooting deaf people who "fail to obey" authority commands? Is it now the obligation of all deaf people to wear "I'M DEAF, DON'T SHOOT ME" apparel? And how are we going to prevent terrorists from obtaining these (non-bulky) clothes labeled for the handicapped?

CM said...

Well at least we are clear now (I think) that Ann admits that there is really nothing about the original post that survives the updated info on the victim's behavior.

But even accounting for only information known at the time of the post, I think Ann's analysis fails to take into account the subjective conditions that effect officers' assumptions and inferences from a person's behavior that are completely beyond the individual's control. Obviously, as it turns out in this case, completely unsuspicious behavior was misinterpreted based on the cops' conclusions about the building this guy walked out of. But the lense that the cops look through in any given example will effect how a person should behave in order to avoid being detained/arrested/shot in the head, and the effect will be in ways that cannot be knowable to that particular person. If you have ever seen the written profiles of suspected drug-runners promulgated for DEA and local law enforcement types, you have some idea how broad the categories of suspicion can be. Some of the drug profiles simultaneously list driving too fast AND driving exactly the speed limit as possible suspicious factors for cops to consider. Who knows what is or will be on the list to decide who gets shot in the head as a suicide bomber, but if the list includes "running to catch a plane or train" and "wearing a coat that seems suspiciously bulky for current ambient conditions (in the subjective opinion of the cop pointing the gun)," then we might as well forget about acting in such a way as to minimize the chances of getting perforated. Obviously, running toward the cockpit of a plane with a smoking backpack while screaming something in a foreign language is something we know not to do, but we probably knew that before 9-11. If basic behaviors like "driving the speed limit" are considered suspicious, there is not much hope of making your behavior conform to an acceptable model. This is a qualitatively different sort of "lesson learning" than the example cited-- knowing that in the event of terrorists trying to take over a plane, you do not let them do it, no matter what, because you are dead anyway if they succeed. Learning "not to do what cops think a terrorist might do in your given situation (in light of factors you are not even aware of)" is something different altogether.

The Modesto Kid said...

[NOTE: sorry, but I’m going with the pronoun he because I’m too damned lazy to worry about his gender]

Anacreon the poet was a man, as is Anacreon the blog poster.

Jeff Boatright said...

I don't want to be manipulated, so I guess I'd better get your advice on this. We've ruled out unnecessary running. What about skipping? I sometimes like to skip. Is that bad? Must the police kill me for skipping?

What about whistling? Is that OK, or is it seven to the noggin' for me next time I whistle a little "Oklahoma"? I mean, I wouldn't want to give the police a reason to shoot me. If whistling is OK (which I really hope, since I do it without thinking all the time - I'm such a dingaling), which tunes are approved? Maybe that's too picayune for this discussion. Could you at least help me with genre? Are American show tunes OK, but middle eastern ditties a no-no? I guess a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise is right out.

As for clothing, many of my friends tell me that stripes make me look fat. What do you think? More importantly, do you think that the police "really must kill" me if I wear solids? I mean, even _I_ know not to wear all black - it's so sinister! - but what about a nice purple?

And hats! Hats! We must have a decision on hats! A dear friend tells me that I look a bit thuggish when I wear my knit cap, especially if I haven't shaved that day, and so... OH MY GOD! Wait! Facial Hair! Reason Enough to Shoot, or just a Roguish Fad? You decide, Ann, you decide.

Man, I'm really psyching myself out here. Maybe I'll just stay home and hide under the bed. Push over Ann, quit hogging all the room! I'm just ask skeert as you!

Ann Althouse said...

Agrajag writes: "What about those of us who think we know what this post says because the site we came from posted a straightforward, long-form direct quotation of your own words?"

To you I would say that what you read is only part of the quote, taken out of of context to make it seem inflammatory which you read badly because you were set up by a blogger who slapped on an introductory sentence telling you how bad what you were about to read. I am only asking people to read competently and think clearly and not be manipulated by that sort of thing.

mcg said...

Hey Jeff---I remember when I had my first beer, too. Don't worry, it'll pass.

The Modesto Kid said...

Hmm, what about those of us who come here from another (libertarian) site, read the full post plus update, scratch our heads for a while, come back later, reread the full post plus update plus extra warning, fret about trying to find some way to make it make sense, and end up still feeling angry at your suggestion that people changing their behavior to match some indefinite normalcy because they fear being gunned down by the police if they don't, is a Good Thing? Do you have any advice for us?

Let's consider your update. It contains no retraction of the thesis of the original post, nor any apology. No "Sorry, I was a little hot-headed there, I'm as scared as anybody else right now and I can jump to some strange conclusions." Just, "Fortunately, there hasn't been another incident like it, at least not yet." -- Not yet?? It's been a couple of weeks only, let's hope the London police can keep their extrajudicial killings down to one every few months at most. The "Shoot to kill policy... is in fact something that we should worry about"? Gracious of you to go that far.

Sam said...

I find it amazing that folks embraced that whole de Menezes business with a shocking and infuriating lack of skepticism. The Met Police fed the papers a story, everybody in the world seemed to swallow it without a moment's hesitation and proceded to pontificate on the foolishness of this stupid man. The story was a tissue of lies and it was rotten from the start.

Bloggers comment on stuff half-cocked, all the time; that's what they do. Still, you can learn a lot about someone by watching where they come down on an issue or event. It's kind of like a word association test: Cops = Honest, Brazillian = Stupid, Heavy Coat = Terrorist, etc.

By the way, 85% - 85%

Sam said...

I find it amazing that folks embraced that whole de Menezes business with a shocking and infuriating lack of skepticism. The Met Police fed the papers a story, everybody in the world seemed to swallow it without a moment's hesitation and proceded to pontificate on the foolishness of this stupid man. The story was a tissue of lies and it was rotten from the start.

Bloggers comment on stuff half-cocked, all the time; that's what they do. Still, you can learn a lot about someone by watching where they come down on an issue or event. It's kind of like a word association test: Cops = Honest, Brazillian = Stupid, Heavy Coat = Terrorist, etc.

By the way, 85% - 85%

melior said...

Don't let yourself be manipulated.

That's pretty rich, coming from a shill for the police state like you. If there is such a thing as karma, you apologists for the recision of our civil rights will be the first to be taken away for questioning, held indefinitely without trial or counsel, and tortured in secrecy.

I'm sure you'll feel "safe" then.

Pogo said...

Re; "Terrorism isn't about killing people. It's about scaring people, including scaring the government into over-reacting and destroying our rights."

No one, certainly, will defend the killing of an innocent man. Except.

Except that this occurred within days of an act of war on British soil, perpetrated by one of its own citizens. Except that we do not know all of the facts here. Except that Islamists, mostly of middle-Eastern descent, are intent on putting the entire world under a caliphate and sharia law.

Most of the "I told ya so" postings here are in the usual anti-West invective, keen to point out how horrible America and Britain are, how unsalvageable, how racist, etc. etc. etc. They long for the destruction of the West, even though they would chafe living within the constrictions of the Islamist system (if they were allowed to live at all).

Islamic terrorism, as defined by OBL and his ilk, is not done to fool the West into destroying our rights, it is meant to kill people, and destroy the West.

In war, sometimes the wrong people get killed, errors are made. It is always a terrible thing. But such mistakes do not suggest the need to surrender. Ann was right. People need to behave differently because of terrorism. Terrorists will change their tactics, but the loss of some behavioral freedom during war is necessary. To think otherwise is not merely foolish, but suicidal.

tbogg said...

Ann-

I slowly read everything that you wrote and came to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, this wasn't your finest hour.

D-Day said...

This may not make a lot of sense, but I feel compelled to weigh in in support of the original post against nasty, vehement, and (similarly) incoherent commenters.

Although I sympathize with the poster who feels as though he's about to be killed all the time because of his skin color, there's a difference between racial profiling and behavioral profiling. Unlike racial profiling, which casts too wide a net, behavioral profiling is more indicative of a link to the avoidable behavior and imposes less of a social cost on the innocent, as the means to change the result of the profiling is within a person's control. What I took from Ann's original post was that the London shooting will make it easier for non-terrorists to identify which behaviors are indicative of terrorist activity and intent, so that those may be avoided.

The problem comes when someone is acting like a terrorist and appears to have the means to carry out a bombing before the police can undertake a full investigation, there may not be enough time to prevent the attack. Some preventative action is warranted, including a shoot to kill policy if it appears from the situation that only a shoot to kill that may prevent the attack. So yeah, I don't think that it's unreasonable to require the public to act in such a manner as to avoid putting the police into the position where shooting to kill appears necessary. And now, from the shooting, the public knows which activities to avoid -- running toward vulnerable crowds with bulky items away from identified police. The fact that the facts ended up being wrong doesn't negate the social utility of the original message. And now that it appears the police were wrong to act as they did, even more social utility will come in the form of social pressure for reforms that don't eliminate shoot-to-kill policies, but give the police appropriate guidelines for when to use them. Recognizing the utility doesn't mean that we're glad the man was killed, far from it.

Recognizing the mistake, realizing whatever good possible, and learning from it are the only way to at least have this man's death mean something. I get the sense that those hurling "brownshirt" accusations aren't doing it out of respect for the dead or the suffering of his family. It seems they prefer that his death be truly meaningless so they can exploit him as a political martyr. And I don't see how that does anyone any good at all.

Ann was right before, and she still is.

Pogo said...

Re: "maybe, just maybe, this wasn't your finest hour"

I dunno, tbogg. I think it still reads rather intelligently. It raises a thorny point about mistakes in wartime.

To suggest that limiting any liberties or killing any innocents negates our moral purpose in defending ourselves from those who would kill us (while placing no such restrictions on the terrorists) demonstrates confused and ignoble thinking. It is, moreover, tantamount to surrender.

a.m. griffin said...

So i went ahead a read the post with an open mind as Ann asked and I didn't find anything terribly objectionable. She expresses remorse and proceeds to answer her own question.

My only problem with the post is that her answer doesn't make any sense. What's "unnecessary running?" I think in the context of the post it means from the police or any running is unnecessary that the guy or gal with the gun judges it to be, regardless.

But I think everyone, who isn't a criminal, already knows they shouldn't run from police. There is no behavior to change because law abiding, rational people don't run from the police. A guy didn't need to die to teach us that lesson. We already knew it.

The bulky clothing thing is utterly ludicrous for so many reasons.

I don't fault Ann for trying to find some good in a horrific event, as she said, we all do that, but she seems to have missed the mark on her analysis, as I read it. Happens from time to time.

Perhaps it seems more deplorable to some because of the context, an innocent person was killed. Had it been a theoretical exercise it might not feel so awful. Though the argument would still fall limp.

Pogo said...

Re: "Perhaps it seems more deplorable to some because of the context, an innocent person was killed."

It's unclear how one would have ever come to speculate about this absent an actual occurrence. How absurd.

As for "What's 'unnecessary running?' ", that was already explained by a previous commenter, who no longer runs to catch the train. He hears it will draw attention to himself. as it will.

What is being forgotten here is that terrorists killed dozens and wounded hundred of British in an act of war. Ignored as well is that the act was committed by Islamists.

If not for these terrorists, the innocent dozens, and the innocent Brazilian man, would not be dead. They are the proximate cause of his death. Just like bank robbers causing a shoot out that kills an innocent bystander is the fault of the thieves, the police would never have been in this position except for an act of war.

It is right and proper to ask what we can learn from mistakes. It is wrong and destructive to attack such errors as evidence of a national failure.

EddieP said...

Ann is correct, however, as mentioned, the greater good to come out of this tragic event will be the reevaluation of the shoot to kill order the cops were given. Not that the order should be rescinded, it needs to be modified and the new policy promoted so that citizens and others clearly know what that new policy is.

If one terrorist is deterred from running, or jumping over turnstiles, or wearing bulky clothing in the summer, then some additional good has also been derived. Even if it is only increased civility.

Scott said...

Ann: the death of an innocent man can accomplish good, even if it's just to highlight the need for a re-evaluation of the lethal force (what you're calling "shoot to kill") policy. It may be (is!) a very high (too high) price to pay, but it can obviously have some utility.

Most of the ranting about this tragedy is directed towards a mistaken view of the policy. No police officer wants to shoot somebody, and they certainly don't want to shoot somebody just for wearing baggy clothes (or not), or just for running, or just for wearing dark socks with flip flops, or whatever. Cops shoot when the totality of the circumstances seem to warrant it for the safety of the officer, and for the safety of the public. There is a legitimate discussion to be had as to whether the circumstances warranted it it here, but to focus in on one single element (i.e. clothing) to the exlusion of others (i.e. the confirmed, though wrong, identification of the deceased as a terrorist, the unexplained running, the bombing in London just the day before, the bombing in London just two weeks before, etc.) is disingenous.

Will people change their behavior because of the shooting? Maybe, at least for a while. Probably not much, though. Will people live in fear of being gunned down by the police? Probably not. Will the police second-guess themselves the next time they're faced with a "shoot-don't shoot" scenario? Probably.

Will that, at some point, cost a cop his life? Probably.

Gene Callahan said...

Ann has complained that people are mischaracterizing her, so let's clarify things: Ann is a defender of the murderous thugs who work for the State, and is warning us that they will properly shoot us if we don't walk or board a train just the way they'd like us to.

So will you people stop mis-characterizing her otherwise?!

The Exalted said...

Pogo,

You clearly did not do well in law school.

The proximate cause of this unarmed man's death were the police officers who fired shots into his head at point blank range.

And, for the first time, in the context of the police murder of an unarmed man, I've noticed the title of this Comment:

"How Dangerous is that shoot-to-kill policy of the London police"

PRETTY GODDAMN DANGEROUS.

Aaron said...

Just because we as a generality know that running from the police is wrong doesn't mean that innocent folks don't do it. What is even more common is mildly criminal people doing it. A guy with an arrest warrant for parking tickets or something may run from the cops. This creates a difficult situation for cops. Running toward the metro right after a few weeks of bombings could force cops into putting the most nefarious face on the behavior. This seems to not have been the case for the poor fellow gunned down. Statistically suicide bombing is probably the most unlikely motivation for a hypothetical runner but the costs are so high if it is a rare runner suicide bomber that it makes for difficult choices.

We need a responsible citizenry. I don't want the cops to have carte blanch and neither does Ms. Althouse. I'd still like folks to do what they can to help law inforcement do their jobs. If we all sit on the side-lines criticizing the government while passively demanding we be protected we will most assuredly lose. This is the aspect that annoys from a number of Ms. Althouses critics. One gets the sense that they will do nothing at all to save themselves or their fellow citizens, they will demand perfect safety from the government, they will demand perfection (rather than responsability) on the part of law enforcement. This is adolescent. Her critics seem immaturely demanding of either perfection or inaction on the part of police. Neither is reasonable.

Aaron said...

The passivity of Ann's critics is quite interesting. They take umbrage it seems to me because part of her comments ask for the public to take some actions to aid in their own security. Reading them I feel like this is the source of their emotionalism. They resent being asked to take any steps or pains to keep themselves or their fellow citizens safe. How dare the government not do it all? How dare I be asked to change my behavior at all! My freedom to behave in any way I like under any circumstances is not to be questioned! This is infantile both in what consittutes freedom and what constitutes the responsabilities of a citizen of a free society under attack. The bill of rights is not a suicide pack.

The commenters here do not seem to be critics of specific calls for behavior or security policies - they seem to resent the idea of calls or policies themselves. Silly silly silly.

Pogo said...

To Exalted re; "You clearly did not do well in law school."

No, I didn't. Never went to a single class. Actually, I never went to law school. From that dimestore dictionary, Wikipedia: "In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held the cause of that injury.

"For example, in the two famous Kinsman Transit cases from the 2nd Circuit (exercising admiralty jurisdiction over a New York incident), it was clear that mooring a boat improperly could lead to the risk of a boat drifting away and crashing into another boat, and that both boats could crash into a bridge, which collapsed and blocked the river, and in turn, the wreckage could flood the land adjacent to the river, as well as prevent any traffic from traversing the river until it had been cleared. But under proximate cause, the property owners adjacent to the river could sue (Kinsman I), but not the owners of the boats or the cargoes which could not move until the river was reopened (Kinsman II)."


Chain of events, butterfly effect, et al.
Doofus.

Professor Booty said...

A.M. Griff wrote: "I think everyone, who isn't a criminal, already knows they shouldn't run from police."

But actually, now that we know the details of this case, that the cops basically grabbed this guy, held him down and shot him mob-hit style, maybe Londoners should run from the police.

When I first heard about this story, I had a sinking feeling that it would turn out this way -- i.e. the utterly groundless shooting of an innocent man. I'm enough of a law-and-order guy to have hoped that the cops were in the right, but I would never have been so trusting of authority as to actually sit down and write a blog post as brainless and breathless as this one. "Rah, rah, cops!" writes Professor Althouse. "As long as you're shooting brown-skinned folks, it's all good in the hood!"

CM said...

Aaron-- "passivity" was apparently the behavior exhibited by the dead man, in the arms of a security guard, right before he became dead. In other words, all this talk of "changing behavior" is moot-- sounds like this guy behaved about as normally as he could have, and took a half dozen bullets to the head. Which ought to raise doubts about a shoot-to-kill policy in generalas applied to unarmed individuals, perhaps. Also, no one is arguing that we should all be "passive"-- again, we all know now that in the face of a plane takeover, you fight. But telling people "don't give police a reason to shoot you" doesn't help worth a damn when the "reasons" you can get shot are many, various, and vague.

Pogo--
I understand the point you are trying to make with the "proximate cause" comment, and to an extent, I agree-- as I commented above, this is, in a way, just one more pernicious effect of terrorism. But you can't let the authorities off the hook for an irresponsible killing of a civilian by saying "damned terrorists," nor can you relieve our government for the responsibility of, at a minimum, not making things worse. I was a supporter of the Iraq war, but I cannot defend the hamfisted execution of that war and the no-win situation we have created for ourselves by saying "well, it's a goat-screw, but the terrorists made us do it."

Aaron said...

The "tantrums" they seem to throw at Ms. Althouse for asking citizens to help their government in times of war seem - hmmm - babyish? An adult can disagree as to what actions are necessary or effective but only sulky teens cry at being asked to pitch in at all. Ann writes with an amazing amount of nuance and critical thinking(even about silly cultural things). Her post was a sober questioning of what can citizens do to help. The fact that this raises such ire in some makes me think of De Toqueville's line: "There are countries in Europe where the native considers himself as a kind of settler, indifferent to the fate of the spot which he inhabits. The greatest changes are effected there without his concurrence, and (unless chance may have apprised him of the event ) without his knowledge; nay, more, the condition of his village, the police of his street, the repairs of the church or the parsonage, do not concern him; for he looks upon all these things as unconnected with himself and as the property of a powerful stranger whom he calls the government. He has only a life interest in these possessions, without the spirit of ownership or any ideas of improvement. This want of interest in his own affairs goes so far that if his own safety or that of his children is at last endangered, instead of trying to avert the peril, he will fold his arms and wait till the whole nation comes to his aid. This man who has so completely sacrificed his own free will does not, more than any other person, love obedience; he cowers, it is true, before the pettiest officer, but he braves the law with the spirit of a conquered foe as soon as its superior force is withdrawn; he perpetually oscillates between servitude and license." seems on point to me.

Aaron said...

CM

I would be willing to bet my entire net worth that Ann Althouse would never want police to be able to shoot people for any reason they deem "suspicious". The origional set of circumstances which now seem to have been lies made by the police were such that it was reasonable to be suspicious.

I think that folks here are arguing for passivity because they call for perfection. No policy will always yield good outcomes. I could easily see an innocent arab man being choked to death or have his neck broken through a series of misunderstandings by other passengers on a flight. You say, "Of course you fight" on a plane. But there have been false alarms and someone could have been hurt. It still seems a good policy. I am not defending the Brittish police as they seem to have screwed up profoundly but if one demands perfection from an institution or policy you are actually demanding the abolition of the policy or institution.

The Exalted said...

Pogo,

It is good you used a dimestore encyclopedia, because you truly have a dimestore intellect.

You think that all police mishaps involving possible terrorists can now be blamed on the metro bombers? How long does this butterfly effect last? Why do we use these bombers, and not bombers past? I am sure, as the erudite and learned fellow that you appear to be, that you are aware that England, and London in particular, has suffered many terrorist acts in the past.

In fact, people (and cops) are killed by ordinary criminals every day. Any mistake the police make is not their fault, it was (proximately) caused by past crime!

Sorry to say, this fantasy is yours and not that of the law. Here, the only event sufficiently related to this man's death is, I don't know, the pulling of the triggers of the guns that fired the bullets into his head.

And perhaps why so many take issue with Ann's suggested actions are not because the nefarious Left is so averse to personal responsibility that it throws temper tantrums at the mere mention, perhaps it is because her suggestions were so truly and utterly inane.