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.