Institutional racism in policing

Terrific post in Vox from a former Black police officer about the nature of institutional racism in policing.  Was about to put it in quick hits, but this should not be ignored.  Some really good bits (though, it’s not really all that long, read it all):

On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with…

That remaining 70 percent of officers are highly susceptible to the culture in a given department. In the absence of any real effort to challenge department cultures, they become part of the problem. If their command ranks are racist or allow institutional racism to persist, or if a number of officers in their department are racist, they may end up doing terrible things…

Nevertheless, many Americans believe that police officers are generally good, noble heroes. A Gallup poll from last year asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in various fields: police officers ranked in the top five, just above members of the clergy. The profession — the endeavor — is noble. But this myth about the general goodness of cops obscures the truth of what needs to be done to fix the system. It makes it look like all we need to do is hire good people, rather than fix the entire system. Institutional racism runs throughout our criminal justice system. Its presence in police culture, though often flatly denied by the many police apologists that appear in the media now, has been central to the breakdown in police-community relationships for decades in spite of good people doing police work…  [emphases mine]

When you take a job as a police officer, you do so voluntarily. You understand the risks associated with the work. But because you signed on to do a dangerous job does not mean you are then allowed to violate the human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of the people you serve. It’s the opposite. You should protect those rights, and when you don’t you should be held accountable. That simple statement will be received by police apologists as “anti-cop.”  It is not.

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s animal photos of the week.  Whoa.

A hippo and a crocodile fight over a wildebeest

A hippo and a crocodile fight over a wildebeestPicture: CATERS

Chart of the day

Looks like I’ve done pretty well for just playing a fair amount of pick-up basketball back in high school.  Via the Atlantic:

Are high-school sports conferring leadership skills and self-confidence onto a bunch of otherwise unambitious kids? Or are they simply signals, activities that professionally gifted youth gravitate toward? It’s not exactly clear. On one hand, team sports, with their constant passing of balls, pucks, and batons, might teach children and teens cooperation. And young people might learn something just from being in situations when they’re subordinates. But on the other hand, the likelihood that someone plays a sport could have to do with several variables not recorded in the data: coming from a family that can afford the proper equipment, that has the time to shuttle kids to practice, or that puts a premium on physical activity. Also, “popular” kids might be more likely to play sports, and popularity is really just a proxy for networking prowess—something that the business world prizes.

We don’t have an answer on this yet, but my supposition is that far more than anything else we are looking at selection bias.  I suspect the self-discipline and related non-cognitive skills that it takes to balance official high school athletics with academics, as well as the drive and ambition, reflect individuals who are going to succeed more in life, regardless of whatever teamwork and coaching may teach you.  Regardless, interesting.

NC legislature and God

The NC House yesterday passed a bill allowing civil magistrates (note: civil) to recuse themselves from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.  What annoys me so about this is the type of Christianity used to justify the bill.  It’s stuff like this that makes me hate “Christians” even though I am one (though, without the quotation marks):

Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said the measure protects government officials from being forced to be “traitors against the kingdom of God” by taking part in same-sex marriage, which he described as “perverted and morally unconscionable.”

Yowza!  Seriously?!  So depressing to think somebody like this represents the people of my state.  Alas, he’s not alone:

“Marriage is not necessarily a right,” said Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, citing state law that bans relatives who love each other from marrying. “We don’t allow that. Yet. That’ll be the next thing.”

“It is the goal of the secular left to destroy the family and destroy the institution of marriage,” Jones added. “Liberty is not just doing whatever you want.”

“I believe in my heart that as we’re moving further and further away from God and his word, that we can expect to see his blessings disappear,” Jones warned.

Oh please!  The stupid, it burns.  That’s it– liberals would love nothing more than to destroy families and marriage.  We should all live in hippie communes of unrelated people.  They’re onto us!  Of course, the movement away from God must be why all the Scandinavian countries are sinking into the Ocean and face constant volcanoes, fire, and brimstone.  Oh, wait.

But don’t worry, there’s non-religious stupidity on display here, too:

Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, argued that magistrates aren’t the only option because individuals can go online and pay for a minister’s license to marry couples.

“It’s not going to be an issue that these people can’t get married,” Stevens said.

Right.  Because the government doesn’t have to treat people the same so long as there’s a private alternative.  Just kind of like the government doesn’t have to let Black people go to public schools, because they can go to private schools.

This really depresses me on two levels 1) that so many people share this vision of Christianity and somehow think that it should be guiding public policy in a way that is clearly at odds with basic American principles of separation of Church and State; and, 2) these ignorant people are the one’s determining public policy in my state.

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