Evansville Police Not All That Concerned About Raiding the Wrong House

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Ars has an update to the Evansville SWAT raid I posted about earlier this week. To recap, the police brought a SWAT team—and a TV crew—after someone posted a series of threats against cops on a Internet discussion board. They had the wrong house, apparently due to an unsecured wireless connection. Here’s what happened next:

 . . . the cops did some more investigation and decided that the threats had come from a house on the same street. This time, apparently recognizing they had gone a little nuts on the first raid, the police department didn’t send a SWAT team at all. Despite believing that they now had the right location and that a threat-making bomber lurked within, they just sent officers up to the door.

“We did surveillance on the house, we knew that there were little kids there, so we decided we weren’t going to use the SWAT team,” the police chief told the paper after the second raid. “We did have one officer with a ram to hit the door in case they refused to open the door. That didn’t happen, so we didn’t need to use it.”

Their target appears to be a teenager who admits to the paper that he has a “smart mouth,” dislikes the cops, and owns a smartphone—but who denies using it to make the threats.

You’d think the fact that for the second house they decided not to send the SWAT team, and that the result wasn’t a massacre of police officers, well, you’d think that maybe they have learned something from all of this.

And you’d be wrong. Here’s the police chief’s justification for the flashbangs and full-on battle garb in the first raid:

The police chief said officers went to 616 East Powell because they had traced the violent threats against them to an IP address they linked to that street address. They “looked at the names associated with that (street) address,” Bolin said, and came up with a 21-year-old relative of the residents — a man of whom they later turned up troubling photographs.

“He was posing with a gun hanging out of his waistband and there’s another where he’s pointing the gun at the camera in gangster-type poses,” Bolin said.

The police chief acknowledged that the man, whom he declined to name, has only “some minor things in his past with the criminal system.”

Police surveilled the house at 616 East Powell and saw an 18-year-old girl — but not her grandmother — coming and going.

“But seeing her come and go could very well fit with, she may be the girlfriend of this guy or she may live there but that doesn’t mean he’s not up there,” Bolin said.

Bolin said the girl and her grandmother convinced police the man does not live with them and had nothing to do with making threats against officers.

Why did police toss flashbang stun grenades and break the storm door?

Bolin said police wanted the element of surprise against a man they thought could have been armed and dangerous.

“They were very serious threats, and then coupled with the picture of the guy that listed that as his address, we’re thinking you know, obviously the poster of those comments hates the police,” he said.

“We train with a SWAT team for a reason. This isn’t like a street fight where two guys bloody their lips. Our officers have families, and they want to go home at the end of the night. I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.”

Well, actually you do. That’s kind of the point of the SWAT team. Note too the “element of surprise” justification. When the suspect is a legitimate threat, that might make some sense. But when someone inside mistake the cops for criminal intruders and attempts to defend himself, “we need the element of surprise” changes to “he should have known we were cops.”

It’s one or the other. You can’t make both arguments.

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49 Responses to “Evansville Police Not All That Concerned About Raiding the Wrong House”

  1. #1 |  perlhaqr | 

    Note too the “element of surprise” justification. When the suspect is a legitimate threat, that might make some sense. But when someone inside mistake the cops for criminal intruders and attempts to defend himself, “we need the element of surprise” changes to “he should have known we were cops.”

    It’s one or the other. You can’t make both arguments.

    “Hey, buddy. We’re the police. You can’t tell us what to do.”

  2. #2 |  UCrawford | 

    I think you’ve done too good of a job at this stuff, Radley…it’s actually no longer shocking to me when I read these articles. I just sort of shake my head, sigh sadly and go back to drinking my morning tea. I guess that says something about our problems when that which should be shocking becomes commonplace.

    But yes, it’s kind of ridiculous how thin-skinned police often are to criticism and how egregiously they overreact.

  3. #3 |  Chris C. | 

    perlhaqr beat me to it. They not only *can* make both arguments, but often have. They have the badges, so they don’t need no stinkin’ logic.

  4. #4 |  marie | 

    Our officers have families, and they want to go home at the end of the night. I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.

    This is despicable. Of course cops don’t want to get killed and their families want them safe and sound! We all want that for ourselves and our families. His argument is that the lives of cops take precedence over the lives of people they encounter in their line of work.

    And yes, cops DO sign up for this to take a chance to get killed. That’s what “serve and protect” means. To protect someone necessarily means risking oneself.

    At least, that’s what it used to mean.

  5. #5 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Also, “we don’t sign up for a chance to be killed” destroys the argument that the police deserve special respect because they take special risks.

  6. #6 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I don’t want to completely hijack this thread, but this struck me as a very good example of why I don’t want the government controlling health care any more than is absolutely necessary – and I want to check the assumptions of necessity often. Governments are full of people who love to gin up Crusades. Governments want you to respect their Authority. Governments are bad at admitting mistakes. Governments are big believers in expediency.

    I’m 50, as I’ve said elsewhere. I have bad teeth and gout. I was never athletic, and the few times I shot a firearm I wasn’t good at it. I have little or no illusion about where I would be in the dog pile of a true anarchic culture (somewhere near the bottom, whimpering a lot). I need some government. But at the same time I trust the State about as far as I could kick it in my stocking feet.

  7. #7 |  nigmalg | 

    “He was posing with a gun hanging out of his waistband and there’s another where he’s pointing the gun at the camera in gangster-type poses,” Bolin said.

    Yikes. I wonder if simply posting about self defense would get you flash banged? Never mind, I know the answer.

    But when someone inside mistake the cops for criminal intruders and attempts to defend himself, “we need the element of surprise” changes to “he should have known we were cops.”

    I’ve seen a lot of these mutually exclusive arguments. I’m surprised they’re not called out more often.

  8. #8 |  nigmalg | 

    Our officers have families, and they want to go home at the end of the night. I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.

    Crap, I need to post again. Can we laminate some “officer safety” cards. They do double damage and are immune to spells. They only succumb to the race card when used at full energy.

  9. #9 |  Cyto | 

    “It’s one or the other. You can’t make both arguments.”

    Of course you can. They do it every day. Heck, even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court managed to do it in a landmark majority opinion just yesterday – ruling the same “penalty” is both a tax and not a tax at the same time.

    When I was a kid I used to think Orwell was being fanciful and using allegory when he invented the term “doublethink”. Having encountered its frequent use in daily life as an adult has made me realize that he wasn’t being all that hyperbolic.

  10. #10 |  Charlie O | 

    “I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.”

    Then methinks it’s time to sign up for a new line of work. That’s like joining the Marine Corps and complaining because there’s guys shooting at you when you deploy.

  11. #11 |  celticdragonchick | 

    The first link goes to the wrong story.

  12. #12 |  celticdragonchick | 

    but this struck me as a very good example of why I don’t want the government controlling health care any more than is absolutely necessary –

    It certainly convinces me I don’t want law enforcement controlling my health care. Under the ACA…your health care will still be controlled by the same souless bureauracrats working in cubicles at HealthBlue Inc. as was before, as opposed to souless bureauracrats in cubicles at the Dept of Labor.

    (Disclaimer: I had a very bad experience with long term disability types at The Hartford. I do not think for one minute that health and disability insurance providers give a shit about you no matter how much money you put into the system because *you* are not the customer…your employer is the customer. The sooner that insurance is decoupled for employment, the better. Maybe then we can see the free market weed out companies that fuck over people instead of providing the care that was purchased.)

    @CharlieO
    Then methinks it’s time to sign up for a new line of work. That’s like joining the Marine Corps and complaining because there’s guys shooting at you when you deploy.

    Exactly.

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    celticdragonchic,

    I’m a Crank. I think that the right answer to a lot of issues is to repeal about 40 years worth on one legislative patch on top of another and then wait five years to see where we are. I feel that way about ‘Campaign Finance Reform’ and the ‘War on Drugs’, and I feel that way about the ‘Health Care Crisis’.

    I’ve been paying at least some attention to politics since 1972, or thereabouts. various Congresses have been screwing with ‘Health Care’ that whole time, or so it seems. And every time they seem to have made a botch of it.

    I’ve posted about my own health issues. I’ll add that My Lady is on disability for issues that aren’t ever going to go away. I frankly think that, at least for a while, I’m going to benefit from Obamacare more than not. But it seems clear to me that Obamacare is a half-step to a National Health system. And don’t kid yourself; if you think Insurance bureauweenies are soulless obstructionists, wait until the insurance weenies and the government desk jockeys who are supposed to regulate them all go to the same Federal Employee Credit Union and Department Picnic.

  14. #14 |  albatross | 

    The justification they gave for using the SWAT team was perfectly legitimate, just not for this situation. This highlights the problem with SWAT raids–it’s not that they’re inherently a bad idea, it’s that they’re overused.

    My not-too-informed guess is that they’re overused for a few reasons:

    a. The SWAT team has higher status than regular cops, so the most ambitious and aggressive officers get on that team and then push to be used more often.

    b. A SWAT team that hasn’t actually been sent out anytime in the last two years is not going to be all that prepared for the very rare cases where they are actually needed, so there is some additional reason for the head of the SWAT team to push to be sent on some marginal missions.

    c. When making the decision whether to send the SWAT team or just a couple officers in uniform, the person making the decision has to weigh the safety of people he knows and works with and is personally responsible for (the policemen he’s going to send) against the safety and peace of mind of strangers for whom he is mostly not responsible, and whom he thinks are probably criminals anyway. (I’m guessing cops have a pretty low regard for criminals.)

    Those all push toward sending the SWAT team much more often than really makes sense, and that seems to be what we see happening all over the country. The solution to this is going to be to find some way, across a whole state or the whole country, to apply pressure the other direction, so that the SWAT team gets deployed only when it makes sense. I mean, if there’s a guy with a gun holding someone hostage, or a wacko shooting up his former place of employment, yeah, we want guys covered in kevlar to come in all the windows and doors at the same time, preceeded by flash-bangs. The problem is overuse.

  15. #15 |  celticdragonchick | 

    re my comment at 11: Sorry, my mistake.

  16. #16 |  celticdragonchick | 

    And don’t kid yourself; if you think Insurance bureauweenies are soulless obstructionists, wait until the insurance weenies and the government desk jockeys who are supposed to regulate them all go to the same Federal Employee Credit Union and Department Picnic.

    I actually am on the national health care system, since I am on federal disability for degenerative disc disease and daily severe pain and therefore I also have medicare despite being only 45 years old. (Radley’s investigations into LE harassment of pain treatment centers is obviously a major concern for me)

    I must admit that I get better care and better service from the government program then I ever did from private insurance. This is probably why so many seniors can be comically seen at Tea party rallies carrying signs saying “Keep the Government out of my Medicare!”

    They love Medicare and it gives them better results then insurance…and they don’t seem to understand that Medicare is essentially socialized government run health care.

    Sooo…does that make me a statist who sucks at the teat of government??

    I have to make the best decisions for me and my family in the end, and fighting to get disability (helped substantially by internal letters from one aviation employer staing my pain issues were a major problem in the workplace and were creating moral problems with other employees) and medicare simply was what we had to do in the end to stave off complete ruin. I can no longer work full time (just getting out of bed can be nearly impossible on bad days) and my spouse cannot support us all until she finishes her degree (and she is looking at going to med school to be a forensic medical pathologist…and yes, she is a “she”.)

    I cannot stand the idea of doing nothing for the next 20 years, so I am trying to find suitable part time work with someone who understands I have a significant disability. However, that will not be economically advantageous for most employers. I may try to go into substitute teaching, until I go to grad school. That will be a challenge as well, since I am obviously not going to be able to hike 20 miles around Iceland looking for mid ocean ridge basalt samples, and geology requires field work. *sigh*

  17. #17 |  celticdragonchick | 

    spelling fail: I meant to say “morale”, not “moral”.

  18. #18 |  llamas | 

    The justification for the use of the SWAT team is just a classic case of confirmation bias and self-referential ‘logic’.

    ‘The IP address taces to this location ‘ = ‘There’s a bad guy here.’

    ‘A person associated with this address has some vaguely suggestive picture on the Interwebtubes’ = ‘We know there’s a bad guy here (assumed at step 1) so this must be him.’ (I would LOVE to see these pictuires, by-the-by.)

    ‘A young woman of similar age as our assumed bad guy is seen coming and going’ = ”We know there’s a bad guy here (already assumed at step 1) and we know who it is (assumed at step 2) so this must be his girlfriend.’

    ‘We don’t see him but we see his girlfriend coming and going’ = ”’We know there’s a bad guy here (assumed at step 1) and we know who it is (assumed at step 2) and we know this is his girlfriend (assumed at step 3), and since she’s here, it’s likely that he is here too.’

    Start the tank and rack the MP5’s!

    The whole train of ‘logic’ is a house of cards, based on a whole string of assumptions, none of them backed by any actual data or evidence. It only goes to show that one faulty assumption is easily built upon when there’s no incentive to make sure that your assumptions are right – all they have to be is possible.

    I wonder whether, if some citizen had shown up at the police station and complained of similar vague threats being made on the Internet, whether it would have got past the probationer at the front desk, much less caused the SWAT team to be called out. I’ll wager not.

    llater,

    llamas

  19. #19 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    celticdragonchick,

    You have my complete sympathy, and no I don’t think you are a parasite. If the government is what works for you, then you obviously have to go with it. I don’t think that, in a perfect world, My Lady’s problems should be paid for by the State. OTOH, in a perfect world they wouldn’t have taken quite so much money from her when she was working. And on top of THAT, neither of us is particularly good with money, so if the government didn’t step in we might well be in serious trouble.

    As I said before, I think that Obamacare may work out to benefit me personally. I just think that it may prove to be bad for the country, long term.

  20. #20 |  Burgers Allday | 

    That’s like joining the Marine Corps and complaining because there’s guys shooting at you when you deploy.

    Ummm, maybe in wwii. Maybe in Korea. Maybe in Viet Nam. Not so much since then. Modernday veterans rely on preemptive killing of civilians to bring risks to themselves down very low. Now they want that same deal on the streets of America.

    Remember how they shot at Jessica Lynch’s ambulance? Remember Nissour Square? Those attitudes are now coming home to roost.

    The nature of “war” has fundamentally changed (at least when the USA is one of the warring parties), and, because police departments are loaded up with military vets, this is bringing a change to police attitudes that you see in the policeman’s quoted words in this post.

    You haven’t provided a solution here, so much as a statement of the root cause of the problem.

  21. #21 |  Dante | 

    ““He was posing with a gun hanging out of his waistband and there’s another where he’s pointing the gun at the camera in gangster-type poses,” Bolin said.”

    Yikes! You mean he looked exactly like all those SWAT guys who pose with weapons, while covering their faces? Some of the SWAT guys even point their guns right at the camera.

    So, are the SWAT guys criminals for doing the EXACT SAME THING?

    No? Why not? Oh, yeah …. I forgot …..

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  22. #22 |  Personanongrata | 

    “We train with a SWAT team for a reason. This isn’t like a street fight where two guys bloody their lips. Our officers have families, and they want to go home at the end of the night. I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.” ~ Evansville IN, Police Chief Billy “Flash Bang” Bolin

    If what Billy “Flash Bang” says is true, why then do many SWAT “operators” rush head long into the unknown like keystone suicide squads?

    It would appear that a great many of our intrepid SWAT “operators” routinely “play” breach and the fatal funnel without the basic knowledge of the general layout of the building entered and the number people that are present.

    SWAT acting in an ignorant fashion is a recipe for disaster not only for the innocents and potential suspects present but the “police” themselves.

    SWAT should never be used for warrant service as the close quarters battle tactics employeed are supposed to be used as the last resort/final option when all other methods have failed.

    SWAT for warrant service and the use of flash bangs is terrorism.


    ter·ror·ism
       [ter-uh-riz-uhm] Show IPA

    noun
    1.
    the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

    2.
    the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

    3.
    a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

    Evansville PD should have just knocked.

  23. #23 |  Red | 

    Swat teams are military units that operate without military discipline. As such they should never be used in a law enforcement capacity.

  24. #24 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @CSP Schofield

    Thank you for a compasionate and thoughtful response. It is easy to get angry and cross verbal swords with other folks here…and we (me especially) would do well to remember that most of us here agree on more then what we disagree over.

  25. #25 |  Burgers Allday | 

    of similar vague threats

    good point. From what I have seen of the poster’s language it doesn’t appear to be a threat. sometimes the line between a “threat” and merely “saying a scary thing” can be hard to draw, but saying “I have explosives” is not neccessarily a threat, depending upon the context of that statement.

  26. #26 |  marie | 

    SWAT for warrant service and the use of flash bangs is terrorism.

    That is the purpose of using SWAT teams for warrant execution. To terrorize the residents. In all the SWAT-created chaos, the family will make mistakes. They will admit to something. When cops are swarming your house and pointing guns at your children, you will say or do something that you wouldn’t do in calmer circumstances. The purpose of the chaos is to keep you from thinking. It is effective, too.

    It should also be a crime to use violence to serve a warrant for a non-violent crime.

  27. #27 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    celticdragonchick,

    You are more than welcome. I an as prone to flaming as the next poster, if not more, but I am trying to be more thoughtful about my politics. It runs against the grain a little; it’s a lot of fun to raise high the skull and crossbones and rant away.

    I will say that it is my calm and thoughtful opinion that the interference of the Drug War in the treatment of persistent pain is barbarous and indefensible. When I allow my passions to rule that opinion becomes unprintable.

  28. #28 |  Deoxy | 

    It’s one or the other. You can’t make both arguments.

    Not with integrity or honesty, anyway. You can make your own logical conclusions from that…

    Ummm, maybe in wwii. Maybe in Korea. Maybe in Viet Nam. Not so much since then. Modernday veterans rely on preemptive killing of civilians to bring risks to themselves down very low.

    Seriously? The same WWII that involved the Battle of Britain (summary: extensive bombing raids against civilian areas, especially London, in Britain by the Nazis), the Bombing of Dresden (summary: entire city reduced to utter ruin in 24 hours by unbelievable concentration of traditional ordinance), and the Firebombing of Tokyo (summary: extensive use of incendiary devices killing more people, primarily civilians, than both nukes combined), to name just three of the best known slaughters?

    The NICEST thing to be said to that is that you are amazingly ill-informed. Modern combat (at least by the US army) kills fewer civilians than any major power in the history of freaking MANKIND.

    (With the possible exception of certain “setpiece”-style warfare (royalty basically agreeing to meet on a certain field to have it out)… but even then, only if you don’t count the tremendous toll on the civilian population as the armies are moved through the countryside.)

    You don’t see as much about how horribly the civilians suffered, historicaly, because, historically, NOBODY GAVE A CRAP. Now we do. That’s progress.

    Under the ACA…your health care will still be controlled by the same souless bureauracrats working in cubicles at HealthBlue Inc. as was before, as opposed to souless bureauracrats in cubicles at the Dept of Labor.

    1) No, the feds will have much more control now, and, more importantly, 2) only until the feds underprice stuff and drive out all private players, as the guys printing the money can operate at a loss FAR FAR longer than any private company.

    I must admit that I get better care and better service from the government program then I ever did from private insurance.

    and

    They love Medicare and it gives them better results then insurance…and they don’t seem to understand that Medicare is essentially socialized government run health care.

    Ok, but what did that service COST? That is, if you look at my point above (and realize that government is almost always less efficient than even the lousiest of private companies), the point is that the government is spending tremendous resources to provide that – it’s a major money-losing proposition.

    When we only cover the most extreme cases (people who really, honestly CAN’T work), well, I’m ok with bearing that cost. Even now, we can still afford that.

    When you use it for everything else, all you’re doing to paying MORE for (at best) the same services. That’s really really dumb.

  29. #29 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “We train with a SWAT team for a reason. This isn’t like a street fight where two guys bloody their lips. Our officers have families, and they want to go home at the end of the night. I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.”

    That’s right. Most of the people that are subject to these raids don’t have the desire or means to kill you. You count on that. So apparently you sign up to scare the shit out of people, many of whom do not have a history of actual violence. You sign up because you like to suit up and carry big bad guns. You sign up because you want to keep citizens in their place by kicking in doors, shooting dogs, and shouting profanity at them as they cower on the floor. You do this because you work for the biggest baddest gang in town–the enforcement arm of the State.

  30. #30 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Helmut O’ Hooligan,

    The United States Armed Forces, or at least the ground pounders, are taught to react to attack by vigorously engaging the enemy. This is a stark contrast to nearly every other military in the world, in which SOP is usually to hunker down and call for higher authority.

    With so many State having gone to Must Issue on carry permits, and the trend toward Castle Doctrine laws, this could get REAL INTERESTING when the spreading SWAT idiocy runs smack into the spreading number of Iraq War vets.

    A lot of police may be ex-military, but I have a feeling that that won’t really matter all that much. The idiots who pull this kind of Gangbusters cr*p aren’t really thinking about possible consequences or ways things could go wrong.

  31. #31 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Seriously?

    Sure. I didn’t say that civilians weren’t bombed in wwii. I know they were. I said that that the modernday US military bombs civilians to bring risk to troops very low.

    Battle of Britain is a good example. Civilians were bombed but it did nothing to reduce the risk to Nazi soldiers on the ground.

    One could argue that Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the bombing of other Japanese cities was the start of the idea of bombing to reduce risks to soldiers. This trend started slowly, but has expanded to the point where it can now be said that the US practices killing of civilians to the point where the risks to its military troops in the field (from sources other than friendly fire) is very low. You couldn’t say that about wwii (at least taken as a whole), but it sure is true now. and now these guys are policemen and we can see the attitude now that military discipline (which now means mostly not talking honestly and not revealing one’s kill count) is relaxed due to being in the police instead of the military.

  32. #32 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Burgers Allday,

    I get seriously tired of the “We shouldn’t have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki” narrative. The cold facts are that, projecting from the casualty ratios on Japanese held territory, we expected that the invasion of the main islands would almost certainly have caused at least a million Japanese deaths. The bombs caused about a quarter of that more or less immediately, and figures for excess cancers etc. following might, MIGHT mind you, bring it up to half. Talk about Japan being ready to surrender before the bombings is not supported by any documentation that I know of.

    I’m jumping on you a little, I admit. But the Japanese behaved bestially in most of the territories they occupied, especially in China. And they have been playing the “poor little us, we got atom bombed” song ever since. If I had my way, the Enola Gay exhibit in the Smithsonian would feature a banner in Japanese saying “You rape Nanking again, we bomb you again.”

    I like many things about the Japanese, but their behavior during and about WWII is not honest or endearing.

  33. #33 |  BamBam | 

    One could argue that Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the bombing of other Japanese cities was the start of the idea of bombing to reduce risks to soldiers.

    Does it bother you to state this?

  34. #34 |  Other Sean | 

    Here’s an even deeper contradiction: The whole social status for cops and soldiers is based on the idea that they are braver than everybody else (and the bravest of the brave is always said to be SWAT or Special Forces).

    For a long time the very thing that defined cops and soldiers was the idea that they would always act to sacrifice their own safety if it meant reducing the risk of harm to innocent civilians.

    But, since the end of World War II (as Burgers rightly notes), there has been a trend toward shifting risks away from “the brave” and toward the weak. In both cases – war and police work – this has been accomplished not by doing away with the notion of bravery, but by doing away with the notion of INNOCENT civilians.

    At Hiroshima, the line was ” it’s us or them, and they failed to overthrow the Emperor, so they got it coming.” In a drug raid, it becomes “it’s us or them, and they let their neighborhood get this way, so fuck ‘em.”

    Now, instead of being defined by bravery and the assumption of personal risks, cops and soldiers are defined by micro-managerial safety doctrines which call for extreme caution and the transfer of risk to people in out-groups.

    And which cops are the most cautious of all? You guessed it…SWAT. They aggressively shun risks that ordinary people take on a daily basis, and indeed, the refuse to do things that regular line officers experience on just about every shift.

    And yet their self image hasn’t changed a bit. They still believe that bravery is one of their values, even as they embrace it’s opposite at every turn.

  35. #35 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I get seriously tired of the “We shouldn’t have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki” narrative.

    I didn’t say that.

    I don’t think that.

  36. #36 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Burgers Allday,

    Then I apologize.

    Other Sean,

    At Hiroshima the line was “We believe that if we take another course we will end up killing more people, while more of our people die.”. I despise the us vs them mentality we are seeing in the police these days, but don’t go blaming it on WWII.

  37. #37 |  Burgers Allday | 

    At Hiroshima the line was “We believe that if we take another course we will end up killing more people, while more of our people die.”. I despise the us vs them mentality we are seeing in the police these days, but don’t go blaming it on WWII.

    I actually think this is close to the right way of thinking about a war in the nuclear war age. is the US willing to sacrifice as many dead soldiers as it will kill on the other side (soldiers and civilians)? If so, good, then the cause is probably worth going to war for. conquer the enemy nation. Adjust the rules of engagement so we are careful to kill no more civvies on the enemy team than we lose soldiers, march in, take the nation (whatever nation it may be at a given time).

    But, at least in a discretionary war, if we are killing more civilans than we are losing soldiers then it is a war fought without courage and without honor. It is merely slaughter by an Empire. It leads to attitudes that rot the Empire from within.

    What is happening with the police in the US now is a symptom of this cultural rot.

    It disgusts me deeply. I encourage others to be as thoroughly disgusted as I am. I feel like there is hope when I see other Americans getting disgusted over the manifest disgustingness of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and now domestic policing. I wonder if it is the type of thing that even CAN be dialed back incrementally.

    Even free speech doesn’t seem to make a difference when the essential American character has become as debased as it has.

  38. #38 |  Other Sean | 

    C.S.P.,

    I don’t blame WWII – I just agree with Burgers that it seems a good place to mark the starting point of a trend.

    The fact remains that there is a very similar cult of “Safety, Safety Uber Alles”, afflicting both our military and police. They may not be the same, they may not even have the same causes and origins, but they have very similar results.

  39. #39 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Burgers Allday & Other Sean,

    It isn’t just the police and the military. There was a time when it was accepted that doing anything difficult was likely to be dangerous, and that people might die doing it. At times it could be seriously callous; an awful lot of Irish workers died working on the railroads from preventable causes like bad food and bad whisky (the Chinese ‘coolies’ actually had better stats, in part because they drank tea instead or whisky or questionable unboiled water). But it was believed that some goals were worth the risks. Today if there is a death on a construction site it is treated as if it were necessarily murder until proven otherwise. I doubt that we would have built the Panama Canal with the present attitudes, or the Brooklyn Bridge. And we tend to go ballistic over third world sweat shops, as if the alternatives were as pleasant as our first-world circumstances, instead of as stark as starvation or working knee deep in rice paddies fertilized with human excrement.

  40. #40 |  Articles for Saturday » Scott Lazarowitz's Blog | 

    [...] Kurt Nimmo: The ObamaCare Precedent: The Second Amendment Is Next [...]

  41. #41 |  Other Sean | 

    C.S.P.,

    Fair point. The cult of safety is a general trend which cuts across many aspects of life. In some cases it’s not even a bad thing. In some cases it’s just a matter of people being able to afford more safety and being willing to pay for its costs.

    The Cult of Safety as a Priceless Good is something different, and something very bad. For private citizens, it usually means demanding more safety and pretending that it has no cost, or insisting that its costs be socialized because “my safety is more important that your rights.”

    But…private citizens don’t hold themselves up to be worshiped as heroes built from the stuff of raw courage. Jerry Bruckheimer doesn’t make jingoistic movies about the valorous deeds of private citizens. There is no store that sells ribbons color-coded to mean “I support the private citizens.”

    As I mentioned in comment #34, what makes the cult of safety unusual among cops and soldiers is that, even as they embrace it, they continue to insist that courage and risk-taking are the characteristics that define him.

    It’s that gap which needs explaining.

  42. #42 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Other Sean,

    I sometimes think that the answer, or part of it, is to spread the idea that money is, at base, an abstract storage medium for human life. Ultimately what you trade for money is some portion of your life. Which means that any politician who says of a pet piece of regulation “If it saves just one life, it will be worth it.” is either a scoundrel or a dolt. If you end up trading what amounts to several human lifetimes worth of money to save that one life, it simply isn’t worth it, and pretending that it is is despicable.

  43. #43 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I sometimes think that the answer, or part of it, is to spread the idea that money is, at base, an abstract storage medium for human life. Ultimately what you trade for money is some portion of your life. Which means that any politician who says of a pet piece of regulation “If it saves just one life, it will be worth it.” is either a scoundrel or a dolt. If you end up trading what amounts to several human lifetimes worth of money to save that one life, it simply isn’t worth it, and pretending that it is is despicable.

    lol

    I like what you suggest, but it is a highly toxic thing to do in the eyes of the “normies.”

    https://www.google.com/search?q=pinto+memo&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=&oe=

  44. #44 |  Other Sean | 

    C.S.P.,

    And I actually think the idea is to totally destroy morality and replace it with economics.

    Morality is what teaches us all to think in terms of “finding the right answer” or “doing the right thing”. What do you do when you find the right answer? Stop thinking, or better yet, make it a sin to engage in any further thought, because further thought might change the right answer.

    What do moralists always say about people they don’t like? They call them “calculating.”

    Morality teaches us that the “right thing” is not a trade off, but some essentially free benefit one can create simply through the act of caring. Morality teaches us that if something bad happens it’s because somebody (else) must not have cared as much as he was supposed to. How does anyone know how much he is supposed to care and about what things? The moralist answer is: yes, all of it.

    Just read the Mother Jones piece that comes up from Burger’s link. It’s a pretty crisp specimen of what you get when you let moralistic reasoning wander into questions of economics and technology.

    The economic way of thinking says: everything has costs. Everything is a trade off. The thing you want isn’t the “right thing”, it’s just some good you happen to want. And you have to pay for it. And paying for it may mean you don’t get some other thing. And caring by itself won’t get you anything. And a thousand other lessons that we all had to learn as adults, because the moralists spent so much time lying to us when we were kids.

  45. #45 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Other Sean,

    Not all ‘moralists’ object to calculating the real costs of doing things, just the ones who are too goddamned lazy to think about the consequences of their morals, and the ones who fear (often rightly) that actually looking at the cost/benefit balance will make it clear that their morals are mostly hot air.

    What I’m saying about money being little bits of life is a reaction to people tub-thumping for regulations that will deprive people of lots of little bits of life in order to (actuarially speaking) save one life every four thousand years, or some such. I want to see more awareness that money from the State comes from people using bits of their lives to work, when they would probably rather spend time with their kids, or their wives, or their collections of 1950’s LP records. It’s never ‘only money’.

    The sad end of “the government can do this, the government has the money” is cultures like the USSR; where everything was drab and largely hopeless, and even new buildings were visibly decaying. The State sucked up all the little bits of peoples lives, and still didn’t have enough money to really do much of any practical use to anybody. Of course at least half the trouble with the USSR could be traced back to the paternalism/power hunger of the Tsarist Autocracy (which was still operating on a basis of serfdom as late as 1917, when the ceiling crashed in.

    Government is wasteful. And, ultimately, what it wastes are lives.

    I don’t want to live without any government; I’d be much worse off and I know it. I would, however, like to see more awareness of what government money costs.

  46. #46 |  Mister Damage | 

    C.S.P. Schofield; “I want to see more awareness that money from the State comes from people using bits of their lives to work, when they would probably rather spend time with their kids, or their wives, or their collections of 1950′s LP records. It’s never ‘only money’”

    Oh, how I WISH I were this eloquent. These are words I’ve tried to express countless times without ever finding these particular words. My thanks.

  47. #47 |  Ariel | 

    Mister Damage,

    I’ll second that. I’ve been telling my children since they were little that you aren’t taking money from people, you’re taking minutes, hours, days, or more from their lives claiming you have more right to that time than they do. Thieves do that, and thieves will do it to you.

    Shiver, I think I just channeled Ayn Rand. Begone spirit…

  48. #48 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Mister Damage, Ariel,

    I am deeply flattered by your posts. Thank you. I will not pretend that it doesn’t mean anything to me, because it matters a lot. I try to write with clarity and passion, and I work hard at it and feel that I don’t always succeed.

    I will say that if you want to express your ideas well, you need to read the work of people who express their ideas well. I have an advantage there because I have always loved to read essays. Indeed I have scant patience for great fiction (I prefer genera fiction) but love the non-fiction work of people like Mark Twain and Steinbeck. I read and love Mencken, though I disagree with him on many points, and I prefer Tom Wolfe’s essays to his (later) novels. Hunter Thompson’s HELLS ANGELS is a fine work of reporting, and shows what might have been if he hadn’t been determined to turn his brain into oatmeal with strong drugs. And if you want to read a near perfect example of someone in a towering rage of eloquence, find a full translation of Emile Zola’s classic J’ACCUSE!. That I looked up because of an essay on the Dreyfus Affaire by a science fiction author named Eric Frank Russell; the book it’s in is called THE RABBLE ROUSERS – it was published once, in paperback, in the early 1960’s, but you can get it through interlibrary loan. And whatever you do, don’t pass up P. J. O’Rourke.

    I think that one of the disservices that the myth of ‘unbiased media’ has done is to reduce the quality of newspaper writing to pap. Every news source has bias because every news source is written by humans. It is pretending otherwise, rather than a Liberal bias, that makes the New York Times so thoroughly unreadable.

    After that, writing is simply a matter of staring at a blank page until beads of blood form on your forehead (not original with me). Don’t let the blank intimidate you. Write, edit, and keep trying. It helps me to read aloud what I’ve written; if it doesn’t read smoothly aloud, it won’t come across silently. Like everything worth doing, it requires practice and work. But the rewards are there if you want them.

    And you two just provided me with some.

    Thank you.

  49. #49 |  Delicia | 

    C. S. P. Schofield, U seam to answer most comments but I am looking for someone in particular and I thought u may be able to help me…

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