Mike Kueber's Blog

November 29, 2014

A system that insulates the police

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 1:42 pm
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My least favorite columnist in the SA Express-News is Brian Chasnoff. My distaste for him results from not only from his white-liberal viewpoint, but also a clash of my curmudgeon against his whippersnapper.

His column in today’s paper is titled, “A system that insulates police.”

The apparent thesis of the column is that Ferguson is not an anomaly and that we almost had a similar situation in San Antonio a few years ago. The column reads as follows:

  • An unarmed black man walks down a street. A police officer in a patrol car veers into his path. The confrontation provokes anger, then explodes into violence: The officer, who is not black, shoots the black man in the head. Months later, a grand jury declines to indict the officer. I’m not depicting the August shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, although these facts also describe the incident sparking angry protests this week across the nation. I’m sketching, rather, the 2006 shooting of Jospeh Fennell by police officer Robert Rosales in San Antonio….”
  • The shooting in Ferguson unfolded differently but with echoes of Fennell….”
  • “An inch or two, and it could have been Ferguson.”

I left the following comment for Chasnoff on the newspaper website:

  • Brian, too clever by half. ‘The shooting in Ferguson unfolded differently but with echoes of Fennell.’ Echoes? You could have easily written a substantive column that distinguished the two incidents instead of selectively focusing on superficial similarities that echo of the laughable Kennedy/Lincoln coincidences.”

What are the substantive differences between the two situations:

  1. Ferguson’s Officer Darren Wilson was white; nonwhite Officer Robert Rosales was Hispanic. Blacks are not going to riot against Hispanics, which is why George Zimmerman had to be labeled a “white Hispanic.”
  2. Officer Wilson first interacted with Michael Brown for obstructing traffic in the middle of the street, and then tried to stop him when he noticed that Brown fit a detailed description (shirts, socks, size) of a recent, nearby robber. Officer Rosales stopped Fennell while innocently walking on a sidewalk merely because he met a vague description (short black male) of a non-recent robber.
  3. Michael Brown was the robber who Wilson was looking for; Joseph Fennell was innocently walking to work.
  4. Michael Brown reached into Officer Wilson’s car for his gun; Officer Rosales pulled his gun before talking to Fennell.
  5. Officer Wilson’s first shot was to wing Brown while the guy was leaned in through the car window. Officer Rosales shot Fennell because of Fennell’s sudden movement.

Although Rosales was not indicted, San Antonio paid $80,000 to Fennell for his minor injuries. I agree with Chasnoff’s comment about the difficulty of the SAPD trying to defend a civil action:

  • Already, the actions of the officer seem misguided. Why veer onto the sidewalk? Why point a gun?”

If I had been on the Grand Jury, I would have been tempted, in a very close call, to indict Rosales. Whereas indicting Ferguson’s Officer Wilson would have been a travesty of justice. (Not unlike the NFL’s lifetime suspension of Ray Rice.)

It seems that Chasnoff and the NFL’s Roger Goodell can be counted on to talk/do the political thing, but not the right thing.

September 9, 2014

The Ray Rice video and political correctness

Filed under: Law/justice,Media — Mike Kueber @ 12:58 am
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Full disclosure – I am the owner of a Fantasy football team called Team Mike, and I recently spent a valuable draft pick for the services of the Baltimore Ravens estimable running back Ray Rice. Thus, Ray’s future professional status will affect me financially.

I drafted Ray Rice even though the NFL had suspended him for the first two games of the season because of an incident of domestic violence – i.e., he had knocked his fiancée unconscious in an elevator.  As the owner of a top-tier team, I afford to miss Ray for a couple of weeks and still make the playoffs, at which time Ray would be critical to my success.  Today, however, the NFL announced that Rice’s two game suspension was being increased to an indefinite suspension because the incident had been caught on a video camera in the elevator.  Furthermore, the video had gone viral and was causing a public-relations nightmare.

Local Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia complained on his Facebook wall about Baltimore’s too-forgiving fans who, prior to release of the video, had been prepared to welcome Ray back following his two-week suspension. One of his friends (Madeleine) piled on by urging criminal prosecution. I suggested a different tack:

  • A few commentators who aren’t hyperventilating are pointing out that we already knew that Ray Rice had coldcocked his wife/girlfriend. The only new news is that the incident was taped. Are we as a society going to double the penalty for violent crimes caught on tape? Madeleine, Rice has already been prosecuted for the assault. There is a law against double jeopardy in this country.

Incidentally, I didn’t know what distinguished domestic violence from garden-variety violence, so I looked it up. Wikipedia describes it as a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic context. The Department of Justice uses a similar definition – “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” Criminal law, however, doesn’t like the requirement for a “pattern of behavior,” so it typically requires only “any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm committed by one family or household member against another.”

So the obvious question is why does violence against a family member require a special status, and I wonder if that rationale would be the similar to the rationale for special laws against hate crimes. According to a cursory review on the internet, it appear that both sets of law impose stiffer penalties because the law considers the harm done in these contexts to be especially damaging to society. That makes a little bit of sense, but I think society would be better served if the law declined to make these micro-distinctions between victims.

That’s a slippery slope for the politically correct.  (Seems I am inclined to characterize anything as politically correct if I disagree with it. :))