Trump presidency

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ucim
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby ucim » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:26 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:...but your assumption that all cops are pure and angelic...
I have made no such assumption. "Not all" isn't "none". Come on, this is xkcd. I expect better.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:27 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
natraj wrote:cu it's hilarious that you think joining twin oaks or similar actually is like a get out of capitalism free card, that's not remotely how it works. we build communities like twin oaks as a way to survive and be less harmed under capitalism but it's so fucking stupid to think that that gets you out of it entirely that i don't even really know how to respond to that depth of obtuseness. do you think people who live at twin oaks never have to go buy food, cars, medicine, etc from the rest of the world?


I was under the impression they grew their own food and lived close enough to each other they didn't need cars. Medicine is slightly different, but most of those folks tend to distrust "western medicine" to begin with.

As for larger examples, I believe the Amish accept converts. For the most part they are independent of the "capitalist" system, although they do depend slightly upon steel and other metals, but otherwise are perfectly capable of creating societies completely independent of the outside world. Many choose to interact with the outside world, however, because money is just too useful even if in the anarcho-primitivist society that is the Amish.



Even Amish have to engage in capitalism. 100% self-sufficient, with absolutely no trade is not possible in such a small area. Hell, did you read the wikipedia article you linked to?

In news segments, Twin Oakers often attribute the longevity of the community to its engagement in capitalism through its tofu and hammocks businesses.


They run businesses because they need the money for supplies.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:12 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:...but your assumption that all cops are pure and angelic...
I have made no such assumption. "Not all" isn't "none". Come on, this is xkcd. I expect better.

Jose

Look, either you think this is a relatively common, systemic problem, in which case - what are you arguing about? Or you think it's a few bad apples, in which case - you are misinformed. You're welcome to cherry-pick my quotes and edit out the part where I said you do acknowledge some cops are bad, but that doesn't change your view on the matter.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby ucim » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:21 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Look, either you think this is a relatively common, systemic problem, in which case - what are you arguing about? Or you think it's a few bad apples, in which case - you are misinformed.
First that's a false dichotomy. Second, I'm mainly arguing that it's not literally 100% no exceptions, which was the original statement (and one that was explicitly stated as not hyperbole).

"literally 100% no exceptions" is TrumpSpeak. TrumpSpeak prevents problems from being correctly identified and effectively solved. I denounce TrumpSpeak.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:25 pm UTC

we seem to be losing you on the part where what we are saying is that it is impossible to be a cop without choosing to participate in the institute of policing, which is inherently bad. you are welcome to argue about the "inherently bad" part of police as an institution, but instead you are arguing about the part where we say that 100% of cops are participants.

do you think there are police officers who do not participate in police work?
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby ucim » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:53 pm UTC

natraj wrote:you are welcome to argue about the "inherently bad" part of police as an institution
Yes, that does seem to be the sticking point. I'll agree that 100% of cops are cops. No exceptions. But for the phrase "bad cop" to have any meaning, the phrase "good cop" has to also mean something; something that exists. If you define police (the institution) as bad, then what does the modifier "bad" mean when applied to an individual cop? Bad at being "bad"?

To be clearer, and with the easier-to-swallow premise that all nazi are bad, what is a "bad nazi?" It seems to me that a good person would be a "bad nazi" (bad at being evil). But somehow I don't think that's the thing you're saying.

As for putting (the wrong) people in jail, that's not a police issue, that's a governance issue. If there is to be (non-arbitrary) governance at all, there must be laws. If laws are to have meaning and value, there must be some enforcement mechanism, with a final arbiter for any given case. (Note that that arbiter may well be answerable to the will of the people, but the outcome of the case can't be, unless you want all "the people" to vote on every court case).

Ergo, you're going to need something that looks like a justice system, part of which would be something that looks like police, but they are a tool of the government.

Within this framework you can meaningfully talk about bad cops and good cops. But distinguish between the role and how good one is in that role.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:00 pm UTC

i mean what you're saying is irrelevant nonsense though. people who say "all cops are bastards" are generally not the same people who try to draw distinctions between good cops and bad cops: we do not think that good cops exist. it's just not true whatsoever that "good cops" have to exist in order for us to talk about how policing is an inherently bad institution.

all nazis are also bastards, this is true. the fact that there exist in the world white supremacist apologists who will, actually, argue about the decency of individual nazis (and therefore in response we will argue no, there are no good nazis, they are all bad) is not somehow a proof that good nazis must be a meaningful statement in order to argue that all nazis are bad.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:01 pm UTC

Wait, what? According to your very own example you must also be able to argue there are "good nazis", is that what you're trying to argue?

And putting the wrong people in jail is definitely a police issue. For one thing, they're the ones putting them in line before the justice system. For another, plenty of people get detained and their lives ruined solely by their interaction with the police and with no interaction with any lawyers or judges.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby freezeblade » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:55 pm UTC

I feel like we're straying pretty far from the thread topic, so with that in mind I'll put the following antidote about my experience in spoiler tags:
Spoiler:
The community I live in is typically thought of as the "bad part of town" in Oakland, CA (at least, thought of that way from people that live in nicer* areas). There is 0 interaction with police that is positive here. If you call the cops, the vast majority of the time, they won't even show up, telling you to fill out an incident report and submit it online. They won't send someone in 90% of cases, unless there is something like an active shooter situation, or someone is bleeding out, and even then you'll looking at a 50-50 chance.

In fact, if they cops do show up, there is a pretty hefty chance that their presence will actually exacerbate the situation, and more people will be negatively impacted** than if the cops had never showed up at all, and the neighborhood had instead took care of the problem itself. For this reason, if you call the police, you're actually having a negative impact on the community. The only interaction with police the neighborhood has are cops going around issuing citations***, or showing up gun-a-blazing to a "situation."

The neighborhood is pretty good at self-policing, and it knows which neighbors or properties have a history of calling the cops for things like "noise disturbances" (We're right next to the freeway and train tracks, who are they kidding), or "loitering"****. These properties and individuals are excluded from the neighborhoods self policing community, as it's understood that their presence actually makes the neighborhood less safe.

*read: whiter
**read: thrown in jail, fined, or killed
***read: gathering money
****read: trying to punish or remove homeless individuals

In Trump news, a (Trump appointed) judge has sided with the CNN reporter who had their press pass rejected, saying that the white house will have to temporary restore the revoked press until a final judgement is released.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Zamfir » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:11 pm UTC

natraj wrote:i mean what you're saying is irrelevant nonsense though. people who say "all cops are bastards" are generally not the same people who try to draw distinctions between good cops and bad cops: we do not think that good cops exist. it's just not true whatsoever that "good cops" have to exist in order for us to talk about how policing is an inherently bad institution.

Do I understand correctly, your position is that every single police officer, everywhere, is a bad person?

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:17 pm UTC

no but you can elect to be simplistic about it if that makes you feel better.

eta: i should give more of an answer than snark, it's just tiring people's dedicated commitment to being obtuse if you criticize certain institutions.

but the longer answer is that i find it irrelevant what any individual cop is like on some personal level. i think that the entire institution of policing is, itself, harmful and morally indefensible, and that choosing to become a cop is an unethical choice. i don't find a lot of value in trying to assess individual moral "worth", only people's actions. choosing to be a cop is something i find to be an inherently unethical choice. i don't think there is such thing as "a good cop" because being a cop is itself destructive. what those people are like in the rest of their lives doesn't concern me.

i feel like this is a lot like the sort of pushback white people often give when you say something is racist (ie, blackface, voting for trump, whatever) and their response is "are you saying everyone who does that is evil?!" like no im saying everyone who does X has chosen to do something harmful.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Zamfir » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:31 pm UTC

I am honestly not understanding, sorry. I read your post as a surprisingly absolute statement, that's why I asked for confirmation. Your position is still quite strong, right? Even if it not quite "everyone everywhere"

Stronger than, for example, "most police officers in the US are bad"? More universal, that any police force is a bad institution as a principle, and people who join them aid a bad cause even if they try to do good?

Edit, my post crossed your extended answer. The extension answer a lot, thank you

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:57 pm UTC

Well, I can agree to disagree, and hope you can agree to disagree as well.

Personally, I view the police as a necessary evil, and most of the individual police officers as jobsworths, thugs with badges, lawful stupid knight templars, or a combination of the priors. But, as a necessary evil, they on average do more good than harm, even as they do harm, and of course there is a lot of room for improvement. I'm also of the belief that the police institution is a transitional one, and we can disagree with what the next transition should be to.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby cphite » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:00 pm UTC

natraj wrote:we seem to be losing you on the part where what we are saying is that it is impossible to be a cop without choosing to participate in the institute of policing, which is inherently bad. you are welcome to argue about the "inherently bad" part of police as an institution, but instead you are arguing about the part where we say that 100% of cops are participants.

do you think there are police officers who do not participate in police work?


The system isn't inherently bad. It's inherently flawed, because it's a system created by humans and run by humans - but that isn't the same thing.

There are millions of interactions between police and civilians every year, and a very small percentage of those interactions involve misconduct. Thing is, "police officer does his job without incident" isn't something that makes headlines.

That isn't to say we shouldn't expect better... there is absolutely evidence of bias in the system, especially towards young black males. We need to constantly work on that... We need to directly confront discrimination when it occurs, and hold people accountable. We need better rules for how and when police officers use force; and we need far stronger consequences when those rules are broken.

Most cops - the vast majority in my own experience - are just people who want to do their job and get home safe.

That said, there are departments that are far better (or far worse) than others; if the upper ranks in a department are racists or corrupt or whatever, then obviously that flows down to the ranks. We need to do better at rooting out those departments - one problem is that for the most part, departments are self-reporting when it comes to that kind of thing. There needs to be an outside agency that monitors and has authority to clean house when necessary. The way it works now, it only happens when there are major incidents - which means the really bad departments just work really hard on keeping their shit from being made public.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:21 pm UTC

i feel like another enormous disconnect in these conversations is where you try to draw this line of "not qq bad because plenty of police do their jobs without corruption / police brutality / etc."

i don't disagree! i think that statistically speaking there are likely a plurality of police officers who do not beat and murder people, plant evidence, lie on the stand to send people to jail, etc.

i also believe that fact to be irrelevant to my point. my argument has never been that all police go around murdering black people wantonly or whatever.

but, the entire point of police -- their fundamental purpose -- is to use violence to uphold laws.

as it stands in our system, those laws are demonstrably unequal. much of the history of our carceal system is one of explicitly putting into place laws that will get more vulnerable people in jail. when the 13th amendment passed and explicitly codified that slavery was fine, sweeping waves of laws were passed (many of which remain) to purposely and explicitly criminalize black people in order to continue enslavement. much of our laws prioritize capital and protecting wealth over human life or safety. for profit prisons make deals with states to guarantee a steady flow of slave labor. these aren't like... wild conspiracy theories, it is a fact of our system.

given the system they are working in, this means that the explicit job of the police is to use violence to uphold a system that is, by design, extremely harmful.

for this reason i do not think it is possible to be "a good cop" -- as a judgment on the job itself. someone who does the job as intended is still doing harm -- that's the entire purpose of the job. whatever non violent acts they do as police are incidental to the role of policing in society (which is to be a "legitimate" force: that's force as in threat of or actual violence in service of the state). as long as we live in a society that is fundamentally built on oppressive laws, i don't think it's possible to have police be a positive or even neutral institution -- and if we built a world that fundamentally was restructured anti-oppressively, i think the role of "enforcement of social rules" would look so different as to be talking about something else than what we think of as The Police.

but also, the last is just hypothetical: im talking about the police that we do have in our current world, and as it stands that's not a beneficial role.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:47 pm UTC

The assumption made in having police is that people are inherently bad and, unless they fear the threat of violence, will just go around robbing and raping or whatever. We don't ask what conditions lead to crime, or how we could change things so people don't commit crimes - instead, we just send the police to lock them up for a while or fine them, which ultimately makes the problem worse.

The thing is, humans didn't evolve to be irrationally violent - we evolved to be social. It's only when we see scarcity of resources and see each other as different, competing groups that things get violent. Capitalism itself is explicitly about creating a scarcity of resources - literally, we have more homeless people that vacant homes because if we let everyone have a home then the value of homes would collapse. So instead of auctioning the homes off to the highest bidder, property owners hold onto the home until they get a high enough pay. This triggers the part of our brain that responds to scarcity

On top of that, we have a lot of problems because we have isolated ourselves into families, which are just not realistically capable of providing all children with everything they need to have a healthy psychology. We don't give them the opportunity to learn what right and wrong are, or even to be responsible for themselves, because the first 18 years of their life their parents have control over them. Children are then kept separate from adults, so they don't learn how to interact with others in an adult environment. They go to schools where the social structures are fucking horrible. And then they are tossed out into the world, and expected to be completely self-sufficient. We are genetically inclined to rebel and find our own way during puberty, but the law forces us to live under the rule of our parents. It causes a ton of problems, and it all exists for one purpose: because if you don't have children under the absolute authority of their parents for that period of time, then they won't be obedient.

But, instead of fixing any problem in society, we have decided that this is the way everyone must live their lives, and so we have the police. It takes a ridiculous amount of resources to enforce this, and all along the way it is causing more and more harm. Capitalism isn't natural. A system of millions of arbitrary laws isn't natural. Humans working together to improve their community is natural. If we didn't have the police or laws like that, then we would be forced to solve the problems to begin with.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:50 pm UTC

@natraj

But it's not like *all* laws are oppressive by nature. There are still the basics like catching murderers. That's not targeting vulnerable people (except in the sense that vulnerable-->desperate-->more likely to commit crimes, but that wouldn't be a matter of the law being unjust), and it's not prioritizing wealth over life and safety.

There are absolutely tons of bad laws on the books, but there are also obvious basics like murder, theft, assault, etc. And as mentioned upthread, cops do have some discretion in their enforcement of laws. I would posit that a "good cop" is one who focuses his or her effort on enforcing those laws that genuinely benefit the community, while using their discretionary power to minimize their enforcement of bad laws.

One may still reasonably disagree with the decision to become such a cop, but I think that falls within the realm of reasonable disagreement between two people who are probably basically good. It's the age-old dilemma of weighing how much good you can do within a flawed system vs. how practical it is to abolish the system and start from scratch. And it seems a stretch to morally condemn someone for disagreeing that we've reached the point of abolishing the police system being more practical than incrementally improving its practices.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:54 pm UTC

You don't really need laws for the obvious things. You just need communities that know how to deal with the problems that arise. Laws are about lowering the bar for prosecution - instead of having to prove someone did something wrong, you only have to prove that they violated a law.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:57 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:You don't really need laws for the obvious things. You just need communities that know how to deal with the problems that arise.


And to do that consistently, you might want to write down how we as a community will deal with some of the more common and obvious problems. Things like what to do with someone who has committed a murder, and how to establish that they did. And then we might want a word to succinctly describe such a codified response to problematic behavior. "Law" seems reasonable to me.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:01 pm UTC

LOL

Please don't pretend that laws are applied consistently or that sentencing is at all sensible today.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:04 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:LOL

Please don't pretend that laws are applied consistently or that sentencing is at all sensible today.


I would never dream of it. But since I was speaking in the context of your hypothetical scenario where society doesn't even *have* laws for the obvious things, I'm at a loss regarding the relevance of this request.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:09 pm UTC

Yeah even as an anarchist I want like, written precompiled conclusions of extensive ethical argument and research in a convenient form so that we don't have to rehash every ethical argument from scratch every time there's a disagreement. Just like I also want the most current conclusions from the natural sciences to be written down somewhere in a convenient form, instead of just relying on "common sense". Those pre-written answers should of course always be open to question, but over time we should end up settling on better-and-better-settled answers that are harder and harder to successfully challenge. Not because of entrenched power structures, but because a lot of people have already put a lot of thought into it, so if you're going to overturn those results, you're going to have to outthink a whole lot of other really smart people, and that's going to be rare.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby cphite » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:09 pm UTC

natraj wrote:i feel like another enormous disconnect in these conversations is where you try to draw this line of "not qq bad because plenty of police do their jobs without corruption / police brutality / etc."

i don't disagree! i think that statistically speaking there are likely a plurality of police officers who do not beat and murder people, plant evidence, lie on the stand to send people to jail, etc.

i also believe that fact to be irrelevant to my point. my argument has never been that all police go around murdering black people wantonly or whatever.

but, the entire point of police -- their fundamental purpose -- is to use violence to uphold laws.


I believe that the police perform a necessary function; they uphold the law, and the law is a large part of what allows us to have a functioning society. There are people who do awful things, who need to be stopped from doing those things - and sometimes that involves the use of violence.

Ideally, violence would only be used when absolutely necessary; police would always be 100% impartial, and would only give completely accurate and honest testimony. It doesn't always happen that way because they're human beings; and as such they're flawed. Some of them are flawed in that they make mistakes; others are flawed in that they're just awful people themselves.

So what we have (in my opinion) is a necessary system that on the whole does good - despite having some very serious inherent flaws, and being run by people who are flawed.

as it stands in our system, those laws are demonstrably unequal. much of the history of our carceal system is one of explicitly putting into place laws that will get more vulnerable people in jail. when the 13th amendment passed and explicitly codified that slavery was fine, sweeping waves of laws were passed (many of which remain) to purposely and explicitly criminalize black people in order to continue enslavement. much of our laws prioritize capital and protecting wealth over human life or safety. for profit prisons make deals with states to guarantee a steady flow of slave labor. these aren't like... wild conspiracy theories, it is a fact of our system.


Unfortunately our political system is just as flawed as our legal system - and for the same reason. It's run by people. In this case, people who found themselves in positions of power, with the ability to pass laws that entrenched their own racist motives. That doesn't mean that government is "bad" either - it just means that it's flawed.

given the system they are working in, this means that the explicit job of the police is to use violence to uphold a system that is, by design, extremely harmful.


There are aspects of the system that are harmful. Racist laws intended to oppress black people are most definitely harmful. But that isn't the entirety of the law.

There are a lot of laws that are pretty good... Not allowing people to steal from other people is a solid idea. Not allowing people to assault or kill one another is another solid idea. Most traffic laws, even if they're frustrating at times, tend to be a pretty positive thing overall.

Laws are basically how we, as a society, decide what is good or bad behavior. Unfortunately, they're only meaningful if actually enforced.

for this reason i do not think it is possible to be "a good cop" -- as a judgment on the job itself. someone who does the job as intended is still doing harm -- that's the entire purpose of the job. whatever non violent acts they do as police are incidental to the role of policing in society (which is to be a "legitimate" force: that's force as in threat of or actual violence in service of the state). as long as we live in a society that is fundamentally built on oppressive laws, i don't think it's possible to have police be a positive or even neutral institution -- and if we built a world that fundamentally was restructured anti-oppressively, i think the role of "enforcement of social rules" would look so different as to be talking about something else than what we think of as The Police.


I don't think it's possible to have a functional state without a police force; certainly not at the scale of the US or any other modern nation. Most people are good (or at least non-evil) but there are always going to be some who are willing to do harm in order to take what they want; or even just do stupid things that end up harming someone.

I see a good cop as one who enforces the law fairly and honestly, and with the interests of the community. Most of the cops I've met over the years fall into that description. To be sure, I've met a few who do not; but they tend to be the exception in my experience.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby ucim » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:10 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:These properties and individuals are excluded from the neighborhoods self policing community, as it's understood that their presence actually makes the neighborhood less safe.
How is that different from policing? When some individual whose presence "actually makes the neighborhood less safe" shows up, what happens, and who makes it happen? Suppose that individual disagrees with the premise that he "actually makes the neighborhood less safe"?

You've just created your own police, but are calling it something else.

Now, I understand that those on the wrong side of the law don't like what police are doing, but there will always be somebody on the wrong side of the law. There will just be disagreement as to whether the person is wrong, or the law is wrong.

natraj wrote:it's just tiring people's dedicated commitment to being obtuse if you criticize certain institutions.
If you're referring to me, I'm not being obtuse. I'm taking literally something (with which I disagree) that Thesh said should be literally taken literally.

natraj wrote:the entire institution of policing is, itself, harmful and morally indefensible,
Do you mean inherently (as in there can be no morally defensible system of creating and enforcing laws), or do you mean as presently practiced (and if the latter, do you mean literally everywhere or just in your own (necessarily) limited experience?

Thesh wrote:I can't live my life without participating in capitalism. I can live my entire life without putting anyone in prison or throwing people out of their homes.
Participating in capitalism implies having a job where you exchange your labor for money. You have to pick a job, and not all jobs are open to you. By your reasoning, if you work at a fast food restaurant, you are killing people slowly by actively contributing to the epidemic of obesity and even if you aren't the one pulling the trigger. If you work as a meat packer, you are abusing animals by participating in the needless torture of cows for profit. There's no end to the jobs that can be described thus; how is police work any different?

SecondTalon wrote:Lawmakers criminalize certain acts favored by minorities because they're favored by minorities (like weed, as an example), cops go after minorities more than whites for violation of those laws, judges can only try people brought before them.
That is an inference, not a fact. Even given the inference, it seems (to me) more like "lawmakers succeed in criminalizing the acts whose proponents are in the minority, and thus unable to stop them". But this is what majority rule means. (N.B. - I personally don't think majority rule is an unmitigated good.)

SecondTalon wrote:The way the laws are written and the way they're poorly understood by everyone - including the police - led to a recent incident... ...cops don't know all the laws.
I do not expect police to be experts in the law. If they were, they'd be lawyers, where there's lots more money to be made, with lots less risk). I do expect that they follow the understanding given to them by their bosses [and so on up the line], and I expect that the result is good enough in most cases. I also expect cops to de-escalate rather than escalate, wherever possible. This is something that our Supreme Leader has nixed; fish stinks from the head.

natraj wrote:i also believe that fact to be irrelevant to my point.
There are two points being discussed.

1: "All cops are bad. 100%. Literally." This is Thesh's point and I think it's absurd.

2: "The very idea of having police at all is bad." This is your point and it's different from #1 above. I disagree with that too, but for different reasons.

To the first point I'd say some cops are bad. Of them some are Really Bad. But those are the ones that get the headlines.

To the second point, I'd say that the rule of law is a Good Thing (so long as The People get to decide what the law is). But "the people" doesn't mean "you". It means you and everybody else. Part of where the system is broken is where we are supposed to be able to decide what the law is, but it doesn't often work out that way. That's not a cop thing, that's a lawmaker thing (and to some extent, a court thing).

Now, if you're often on the wrong side of the law, either you are in the wrong, or the law is in the wrong. But if the law is going to not be enforced, then it shouldn't be there. And if the law is going to be enforced, somebody has to begin the process.

And if you don't think there should be law at all, well, in a country of three hundred million people each of which is seeking advantage, what is your alternative?

natraj wrote:but, the entire point of police -- their fundamental purpose -- is to use violence to uphold laws.
No, it isn't. They are empowered to use violence if necessary, in their role as first responder, but they should not use violence if it is not necessary. Obviously there is a lot of (sometimes quick) judgment required here, and people are not perfect.

natraj wrote:...as long as we live in a society that is fundamentally built on oppressive laws, i don't think it's possible to have police be a positive or even neutral institution...
But it is not the police that's at fault here, and railing at them, while satisfying, is ineffective and counterproductive. You need to get at the oppressive laws themselves if you want progress. And you also have to deal with the fact that not everyone agrees with you about some of the things that you think should be legal or illegal. There's a lot of "your fist, my nose" to consider. For example, I think weed should be legal (though controlled like wine and beer), but tobacco products should be forbidden (smoking cigarettes is like pissing on somebody else's carpet). Other people may reasonably have the opposite opinion. But whatever the law is, that's what it is.

Thesh wrote:You don't really need laws for the obvious things. You just need communities that know how to deal with the problems that arise.
The mafia knows how to deal with the problems that arise. How do you stop that from becoming what your community becomes? I mean, look at the subject line of this thread. Donald Trump is successfully stirring up hate in the entire country; the only thing that is stopping him is Laws. Written down laws that generations of other people have sworn allegiance to. Because without them (the laws and the people) we'd be in the Fourth Reich right now.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:10 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:But it's not like *all* laws are oppressive by nature. There are still the basics like catching murderers.


i disagree that as our current system stands, even something as basic as "catching murderers" is straightforward. i think that the way our prison system is set up is unjust and oppressive, given that we have literally institutionalized slavery in the carceral system and much of our treatment of prisoners is cruel to the point of torturous. additionally the entire justice system is demonstrably unjust (ie white ppl getting lesser sentences for identical crimes, ie poor people getting held in jail for literal years for committing no crime but being unable to pay bail, etc) so even in le hypothetically alternative reality where i thought our existing jail system was justified in theory (which i do NOT), in practice every single arrest any police officer makes is a contribution to a biased and unequal system.

i am very interested in building alternatives to policing, and do lots of community work in this vein. this includes trying to figure out the question of what to do about violence in the absence of police. i don't think that the existence of violence in itself is a justification of what police do -- i don't believe torture or slavery are justifiable no matter the transgression, and police funnel people into that system as an explicit purpose of their job.

i think it's possible to acknowledge that there are people who even in an ideal world might have to be kept apart from society in some way without the next leap of "therefore, in our explicitly biased and inhumane system that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, the police are Fine"

there was a ton of ninjaing while i wrote this bc im outside on my phone and my fingers are numb but ucim im just gonna say that if your argument is built around the idea that enforcing laws is good even if the laws themselves are bad this conversation is pointless. im never ever going to see validity in Just Following Orders.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:18 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:
Thesh wrote:LOL

Please don't pretend that laws are applied consistently or that sentencing is at all sensible today.


I would never dream of it. But since I was speaking in the context of your hypothetical scenario where society doesn't even *have* laws for the obvious things, I'm at a loss regarding the relevance of this request.


The point is that laws don't solve the problem that you are using to justify laws. You can't make a judgement without looking at the situation as a whole, since every situation is different. Even then, laws themselves are not consistent with each other and until you can develop a universal theory of ethics that allows us to objectively write down a complete set of rules, we will be incapable of applying laws justly. It may even fail to allow us to deal with situations that we don't think about in advance.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:19 pm UTC

natraj wrote:in practice every single arrest any police officer makes is a contribution to a biased and unequal system.


Perhaps, but that's not *all* it is. In many cases, it is also separating someone from society who would need to be separated from society even in a perfect system. Due to our flawed prison system, the nature of that separation is far from ideal, but it still comes down to weighing what you can do with the system you've got vs trying to overthrow the whole thing.

Working on alternative solutions is great, but in the meantime, we still have to do something with the murderers, and in the large scale sense, the police system is what we're stuck with for the foreseeable future. So it still seems like a reach to me to condemn someone for trying to do the best they can with the system we have for as long as we're stuck with it.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:21 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:The point is that laws don't solve the problem that you are using to justify laws. You can't make a judgement without looking at the situation as a whole, since every situation is different. Even then, laws themselves are not consistent with each other and until you can develop a universal theory of ethics that allows us to objectively write down a complete set of rules, we will be incapable of applying laws justly. It may even fail to allow us to deal with situations that we don't think about in advance.


That's why we have trial by jury. Laws can't predict every possible relevant variation of circumstances, so in an ideal system the laws would essentially be codifying the circumstances that call for a trial, and then the community, as represented by the jurors, would use ordinary human judgment to consider all the factors of the specific situation.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:34 pm UTC

Juries determine the facts, not the law, and they have proven to be terrible and tend to defer to police judgement. And again, you still have the same problem - you aren't explaining how we can enforce the law consistently. The laws are only serving to protect the police from liability if they arrest someone who didn't really do anything wrong. They also inherently make a judgement against an individual instead of asking whether they reacted reasonably to the situation at hand. We should treat crimes as conflicts that need to be resolved, rather than misbehavior.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:42 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Juries determine the facts, not the law, and they have proven to be terrible and tend to defer to police judgement. And again, you still have the same problem - you aren't explaining how we can enforce the law consistently. The laws are only serving to protect the police from liability if they arrest someone who didn't really do anything wrong. They also inherently make a judgement against an individual instead of asking whether they reacted reasonably to the situation at hand. We should treat crimes as conflicts that need to be resolved, rather than misbehavior.


Why is it that while you are discussing a hypothetical system in which justice is dealt with completely differently than how it is today, you interpret all my responses as talking about the justice system we have today?

We can have a system in which juries determine whether the law is just in the particular situation (thanks to jury nullification, we actually do somewhat have this anyway), as opposed to solely determining the facts. We can have laws that are designed to codify the circumstances that call for a trial, rather than serving as the final judgment on the matter. etc.

But having no codified law at all for things like murder? That's either using an unreasonably narrow definition of the term 'law', or its a recipe for chaos.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:50 pm UTC

Again, laws make implicit judgements that the party who broke the law is in the wrong. That will influence the jury, and in practice the juries will likely just defer to the law. What, exactly, is your concern with not codifying murder? That people aren't going to recognize killing is wrong? Look into restorative justice, and treat crimes like a civil matter rather than criminal.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby freezeblade » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:52 pm UTC

ucim wrote:When some individual whose presence "actually makes the neighborhood less safe" shows up, what happens, and who makes it happen? Suppose that individual disagrees with the premise that he "actually makes the neighborhood less safe"?


I can't speak for other communities, but for mine, the people who "makes the neighborhood less safe" tend to be those who move into the neighborhood from elsewhere, and have not taken the time to understand or support the existing community (lots of overlap with people who tend to contribute to gentrification). They don't shop at local stores, and don't interface with the people living there who are their neighbors. They don't understand (or care) that calling the police into the community is tantamount to inviting a (hopefully unintentionally) hostile force into the neighborhood, a hostile force which is very much armed and dangerous. People lose their lives and livelihoods when police show up to my neighborhood, that's not exaggeration.

These (typically new) neighbors get a bad reputation, and nobody really gets to know them because they don't shop at locally owned stores. They don't interface with the community, and either live with this treatment (usually hoping to ride it out until the gentrification wave kicks out all the current denizens of the neighborhood), or they leave because "The neighborhood is too rough/unsafe." I have seen the latter happen many times, and the owners of the house across from mine fall into the former category.

Nobody knows their names, I've only ever seen them leave from their garage in the mornings. They never wave. But everyone knows that most of the times the cops arrive, it's likely due to them. The neighborhood isn't kind to them as a result. Their house is most often tagged (although most houses here get tagged, theirs just more so), things left out front are more likely to be taken (although, again, if you leave stuff out, it may just sprout legs anyway, just nobody is going to look out for that particular house's stuff). This is a result of people just not having "eyes on the street" for matters involving that property.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:57 pm UTC

That sounds like a lot of parochial "ye int from 'round these parts is ye" bullshit to me.

Someone shouldn't have to be a member of your social club to live on the same street as you, and if the "community" is fucking with them and their shit (and not giving even the half care they would give other members of their in-group), then what the fuck are they supposed to do but call whoever it is that's supposed to be protecting them from that shit.

Sounds like you're saying "be one of us and put up with the shit we put up with or get the fuck out".
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:00 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Again, laws make implicit judgements that the party who broke the law is in the wrong. That will influence the jury, and in practice the juries will likely just defer to the law. What, exactly, is your concern with not codifying murder? That people aren't going to recognize killing is wrong? Look into restorative justice, and treat crimes like a civil matter rather than criminal.


If you think people can't be impartial to an acceptable degree just because of the implicit judgment from bringing someone to trial in the first place, why would you trust them to have good enough judgment to not need codified law? I don't see what view of human nature and their reliability can reconcile those two positions.

As for me, I think humans are reasonably capable of good judgment, when given basic guidelines and context. A complete lack of codified law leads eventually to literal mob rule. Having a structured justice system that explicitly tasks people with taking a calm and rational approach goes a long way. People will still be stupid, but setting expectations for rationality is better than not setting them.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:02 pm UTC

Laws and punishments are codified so that everyone knows not only what exactly is wrong but what the general punishment for a crime is, rather than being completely dependent upon the mood of the local prince that day. Yes yes, the laws as they are arent applied equally to all, but you arent going to make things more equal by eliminating laws entirely.

Is raping your wife wrong? It has only been illegal for 40 years now, and there still are a surprising number of people who think it should be overlooked if not allowed outright. So yes, we need to have a law on the books.

For more benign things, again, we still need rules to be codified. Everyone knows you shouldnt cause accidents, but should you be allowed to turn right on red, or any other myriad of rules of the road. How should accountants report financial statements? You absolutely need to have specific rules for that sort of thing because as bad as things are now you aren't making finance better by saying "just do what your gut thinks" because guts are dominated by assholes.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby freezeblade » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:04 pm UTC

Perhaps, but when your neighborhood has been left behind to rot for a long time, it ends up having to form it's own system of protections. I personally don't particularly like it* (I moved in 5 years ago), but I never have any more problems than the typical inhabitant. I interface with the community without trying to bend it to my will, and work with and now my neighbors. I do this no matter what community I live in, as I believe that a thriving community is a connected community. When you go to a neighborhood and try to bend it to your will, and bring in a hostile force, don't expect everyone to shrug and accept it.

Nobody just ended up being a social pariah, they got there though their own actions.

*it in this case being the tagging, stolen stuff, etc.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:05 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Sounds like you're saying "be one of us and put up with the shit we put up with or get the fuck out".


that's certainly one way to look at the extremely prevalent tensions created by gentrifiers who move into a neighborhood, refuse to be part of the community at all, and call the cops on people who were there first. i mean, it's not the way people who bother with things like context would look at it, but it's a way.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:07 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:A complete lack of codified law leads eventually to literal mob rule. Having a structured justice system that explicitly tasks people with taking a calm and rational approach goes a long way. People will still be stupid, but setting expectations for rationality is better than not setting them.


A structured justice system does not require codification - look at how civil law works and look into restorative justice. So, no, saying that it will necessarily lead to mob rule is just a cop out to avoid thinking about the other ways to deal with harmful behavior.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:09 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Laws and punishments are codified so that everyone knows not only what exactly is wrong but what the general punishment for a crime is, rather than being completely dependent upon the mood of the local prince that day.

Nobody knows what the laws and punishments for those laws are. Strict adherence to law is also why police often can't do anything about stalkers - because they only need to stay within the letter of the law, not the spirit.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:24 pm UTC

natraj wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Sounds like you're saying "be one of us and put up with the shit we put up with or get the fuck out".


that's certainly one way to look at the extremely prevalent tensions created by gentrifiers who move into a neighborhood, refuse to be part of the community at all, and call the cops on people who were there first. i mean, it's not the way people who bother with things like context would look at it, but it's a way.

jesus there's so many things wrong here i don't even know how to start unpacking

"gentrifiers" as a blanket attack against any outsiders moving in?

also there's such a thing as fucking introverts, who don't want to be social with you at all, and that's their right.

also rewinding a bit to what you apparently mean by "by part of a community", you have no fucking right to dictate what stores people shop at, wtf

and lastly "people who where there first" doesn't mean jack or shit if those people are attacking you unjustly

i get the impression that you're thinking of rich white people moving into black communities, but think about it the other way around. the people who live around me -- not my community, because i don't involve myself with them -- are a bunch of fucking redneck assholes, most of them probably racists. now imagine a black person moves into this community and is ostracized and has their home vandalized because they don't "be part of the community", don't want to go down and drink at the bar with the rednecks, but just keeps to themselves, does their job, and minds their own fucking business. and then, if this black person has the fucking GALL to call the cops when the white fucking hicks around him commit crimes against him, the whites get all pissy about it.

parochialism like this is just a smaller scale form of nationalism, and every bit as disgusting. mind your own fucking business, leave your neighbors alone, and don't be surprised if they go looking for outside help if you and your fucking posse get up in their shit.
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