Posts from April 2008

Is it just me or is the water in this pot getting a little hotter?

In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley wants patrol cops in the inner city to carry M4 assault rifles on the streets.

In Springfield, patrol cops in the inner city are going to switch to black, military-style uniforms on the streets. According to cop mouthpiece Sergeant John Delaney, the purpose of the new uniforms is in order to make sure that the cops spread a sense of fear.

Do you feel safer now?

Further reading:

From the enemies of my enemies

Shorter DiLorenzo: Don’t vote for Alan Keyes because he used to hang out with a bunch of fags.

DiLorenzo may be the single most embarrassing figure associated with radical libertarianism today. If he were a covert agent trying to rehabilitate disgusting politicians by deliberately making their critics look foolish, then he couldn’t act like any more of a perfect ass than he already does.

We need government cops because private protection forces would be accountable to the powerful and well-connected instead of being accountable to the people.

NEW YORK — The wail that came up from the crowd was as if they heard that Sean Bell had died again.

No! they shouted, while dozens of people, wearing Bell’s face on hats, T-shirts and buttons, burst into sobs.

The scene unfolded outside the courthouse Friday as three police officers were cleared of all charges in the 2006 shooting of Bell, who died in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day.

Hundreds of friends of Bell and others wanted vindication for what they called a racially motivated shooting, and they reacted with tears and explosive anger to the officers’ acquittal.

Many people in the predominantly black crowd began reciting other cases where black New Yorkers were shot by police, and the officers, they said, got away with it.

This was a disgrace, what happened today, shouted Calvin Hutton, a Harlem resident. We prayed for a different result, but we got the same old bull——.

Inside the packed Queens courtroom, gasps could be heard when Judge Arthur Cooperman acquitted the officers. Bell’s mother cried; her husband put his arm around her and shook his head. Bell’s fiancee, Nicole Paultre Bell, left the courtroom immediately. . . . Scores of police officers formed lines in the middle of traffic to block the crowd from charging the courthouse.

. . . Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the judge sent a message to officers that when you’re in front of the bench, that you will get fairness.

. . . William Hardgraves, 48, an electrician from Harlem, brought his 12-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter to hear the verdict. . . . I hoped it would be different this time. They shot him 50 times, Hardgraves said. But of course, it wasn’t.

— Assocated Press 2008-04-25: Sean Bell Supporters Angry About Detectives’ Acquittal in Wedding Day Killing

Further reading:

Statist logic

In comments at The Art of the Possible, Jeremy asks:

And how come you get the country and I have to leave [in order to secure individual liberty from government coercion under majority rule]?

Angelica replies:

Well, as most people think democratic government is a good idea and it’s the idea we’ve used for a long, long time, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that your idea is better.

In logic, begging the question (sometimes known by its Latin name, petitio principii) is the fallacy of presupposing, in an argument, part of what you need to prove. There are lots of ways to spell out exactly what that comes to, and some interesting philosophical debate to be had. But one paradigm case of question-begging that pretty much everybody agrees on is the circular argument–a degenerate argument in which the conclusion supposedly to be proved is itself one of the premises. For example, when one argues that, all other things being equal, I ought to be ruled by a form of legal authority based on what most people want rather than based on my individual consent, because, regardless of whether or not I individually consent to it, that’s the form of legal authority that most people want.

Tribal feud body counts: help me out here

Dear LazyWeb,

Jared Diamond makes the following claim in [his recent article on tribal blood feuds in New Guinea:

Without state government, war between local groups is chronic; coöperation between local groups on projects bringing benefits to everyone—such as large-scale irrigation systems, free rights of travel, and long-distance trade—becomes much more difficult; and even the frequency of murder within a local group is higher. It’s true, of course, that twentieth-century state societies, having developed potent technologies of mass killing, have broken all historical records for violent deaths. But this is because they enjoy the advantage of having by far the largest populations of potential victims in human history; the actual percentage of the population that died violently was on the average higher in traditional pre-state societies than it was even in Poland during the Second World War or Cambodia under Pol Pot.

— Jared Diamond, The New Yorker (2008-04-21): Vengeance is Ours

I don’t think that anything interesting about anarchism turns on where this factoid comes from or whether it’s true. (It’s not as if I’m suggesting personal vendetta or communal blood feud as the anarchistic replacement for state court systems. Anarchy as I understand it is an achievement for the future, not a recovery of the past.) But it is a very strong claim, which Diamond asserts without providing a citation to the source for these figures or an explanation of how they were calculated. Presumably he has a particular source, but I’m curious as to what it is.

Anyone know a likely anthropological source for this factoid, or for factoids in the general neighborhood? Help me out here.