From: “Your Buddy”
To: “Harry Welty”
Sent: Wed, 10 Aug 2016 07:27:27 -0500
Subject: 2016 Aug Blog 3 – Can I rub your hair? | lincolndemocrat.com
I caught grief from “my buddy” several times for over generalizing about Duluth police falling into a national police habit of over scrutinizing blacks. In fact, I regularly have caught grief for him and yet I’m unapologetic for it. Statistics make me confident that this is routine.
“over generalizing”? Nay. You got grief from me because you asserted something about which you had no non-hearsay knowledge, and thus, for which you had no basis in fact. You weren’t there. You didn’t know what happened. If my neighbor tells me that you repeatedly beat your wife, but if I have no non-hearsay knowledge that you beat your wife, am I simply “over generalizing” if I then tell the world that you repeatedly beat your wife?
As for your statistics defense, do statistics ever establish what happened in a particular incident? Aren’t statistics, evidence of what happens in numerous and supposedly similar incidents; and if the relevant similarity is green males with only one leg; how are police “over scrutinizing”, if they focus on green males with only one leg? If you are mauled by a green male with only one leg, do you want your local police officers to focus on people who aren’t green males with only one leg? However, just because police officers then find a a green male with only one leg, doesn’t necessarily mean that that green male with only one leg, was the green male with only one leg by whom you were mauled.
Cut the bullshit. Reality simply doesn’t fit with some of the words that you use. Tendentiousness can contaminate argument.
To which I replied:
The issue of hearsay evidence is often as fraught as the identification of suspects by police line ups. Current scientific studies place great doubt on the validity of witness IDs. You are right to hold hearsay in great suspicion but my blog is not a court of law. As a blogger I’m not held to the demands of a court of law when I tell my readers what a friend has told me. Hell, I tell my own experiences all the time and I could be a serial liar. I could also be gullible and report stories I bought hook, line and sinker that have no bearing in reality. Hell, we have a Presidential candidate that fits that description and I’ve never heard you call him to account for it. Let’s hope my readers are smart enough to see through me if I ever tell them that American Muslims have jumped for joy on television at the felling of the World Trade Towers or that Mexicans rape Americans or that our President was born in Kenya.
My crime in your view was reporting that my black friend, Tim, told me he was pulled over by police a half dozen times in as many months. Its true. I didn’t ask for police documentation of this assertion before writing about it so that my post mentioning his story could be characterized as “hearsay,” but really Vic. I wasn’t taking the police to court. I was only appealing to the court of public opinion by reporting what a black guy had told me. As for your irritation with my telling my friend’s story to my blog audience – what was I supposed to do with it? Not tell it because it hadn’t been adjudicated in some formal complaint? I lent it credence only to the extent I found it credible enough to report to my small following on the blog. I give my readers enough credit to evaluate my story as I reported it and to know the difference between certainty, possibility and fraudulence.
Did I slander anyone in reporting this? No. Did I report a falsehood? No. I simply told my readers what a black fellow had told me he had experienced. I didn’t think I needed to go to the Duluth police and ask them for their records. The general tendency reported all across the United States is for black drivers to be pulled over more often than white drivers. It would be anomalous for that not to the case in Duluth as well. The probability that this statistic accurately reflects what takes place in Minnesota towns is backed up by the powerful example of Philandro Castile who was pulled over 46 times in the last decade.
By the way, Tim, who told me about being stopped so often by Duluth police, is also is the fellow that told me he’s been asked to let people touch his hair about 80 times since he moved to Duluth. Hell, I can’t recall anyone ever asking to rub my hair in Duluth over the past 42 years! My friend obviously didn’t go home and mark every such hair rubbing occasion in his diary to keep an accounting. That was simply his guess. I find his story credible even if its only been ten times and has been greatly inflated by his imagination. By reporting his recollection do you think I have similarly defamed white people in Duluth?
As to your confidence in the sanctity of American jurisprudence I have a few thoughts:
Even if a court has subjected all the evidence made available to it to the “rules of law” there is no guarantee that this process will establish “truth.” The guilty are sometime freed and the innocent are sometime found guilty and punished. This has become more obvious because of the recent avalanche of prisoners freed from prison after the discovery of their innocence. I would hope that you are as dissatisfied as I am when learning of the fallibility of our courts.
You demand more than statistics to prove my assertion of fallibility. Hell, I read history. Through America’s history district attorneys have bent the rules to convict prisoners to win law and order votes to stay in office. Judges, ditto. Police have hidden exculpatory evidence to get unsolved cases off their plate or to operate under the principle “if he didn’t commit this crime he’s getting justice for the stuff he wasn’t caught having done.” As for black Americans – for decades they were put in prison to provide cheap labor for industry under provisions such as the vagrancy laws. Today, in conservative, anti-tax locations like Fergusson, MO, they are arrested, convicted and fined mercilessly to pay for public services to spare majority citizens from onerous taxation. Tax shy conservatives have created for-profit prisons to avoid further taxes and insure that laissez faire policies keep taxes low. Oh, and high rates of imprisonment for minorities conveniently keeps lots of liberal voting minority citizens in prison and out of the ballot box especially in “Bible Belt” states that turn their back on the Christian call for redemption. https://www.aclu.org/map/state-criminal-re-enfranchisement-laws-map
Call that all “justice” if you want and revere our court system’s scrupulous effort to establish the truth – statistical or otherwise – but I don’t think you can call it blind justice in any good sense. No, too often little ole lady justice seems to have lifted up her blindfold to make sure that black citizens get a lot more of it than the rest of us.
For most of America’s history police have been hired as the enforcers of order as much as, if not more than, to be dispensers of justice. That’s been changing dramatically in our lifetimes and I have confidence that this will continue to improve despite the current fashion to militarize the police.
If you are going to charge me with “bullshit” then I say take your blindfold off and look at reality instead of denying what you don’t want to acknowledge.
Buddy, you like to think of yourself as a great defender of the Constitution. But you know that the Constitution originally designated slaves as being no more than three fourth’s human [its three fifths] for the purpose of determining Congressional representation. This may have been a necessary political compromise 200 years ago but it was also a hideous contradiction of the Preamble to our Declaration of Independence.
Even after our Constitution was amended in the aftermath of the Civil War the “law” was miscarried to ensure segregation, and withhold the right to vote. Today the law sees to it that blacks are incarcerated at a rate that vastly exceeds that of white citizens. It occurs to me that people who brush this fact aside are only flattering themselves when they call themselves defenders of the Constitution.