Monday, November 30, 2009

Messed Up

I've penned many-a cop-bashing post in my time here—but the truth is: in my personal experience cops have been by-and-large helpful, business-like, and in some cases absolutely invaluable. There is certainly a higher than average dick-ratio among police as compared to other professions, but they are doing a difficult job than most people would never dream of.

With the exception of in my rear-view mirror, when I see a police officer I still have an initially positive reaction and a default position of respect. So, when something like this shooting in Washington goes down, I think it is seriously fucked up.

Now that that's clear, a couple of tangents based on yesterday's events:

1. The following paragraph should doom Mike Huckabee's chances of becoming President:
Man sought in deadly ambush had prison sentence commuted
Lakewood, Washington (CNN) -- The man wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of four police officers had his 95-year prison sentence commuted by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, authorities said late Sunday.

I know the rules are different for Republicans, but come on...it should be pretty difficult for GOP voters to square that one.

2. Where is the right-wing NRA-asshat pundit claiming more guns in the diner would have stopped this? All four victims were armed, trained, and probably wearing vests.

3. Despite my practical opposition to the death penalty because of the horrendous flaws in our criminal justice system, this is a perfect example of why I think the idea of a death penalty is valid. Not that a cop, or anyone else's life is intrinsically more valuable than anyone else's, but there should be a societal deterrent against killing a cop. Don't give me any shit about the d.p. not being an effective deterrent—everyone should understand that if you kill a cop, you should expect the chair. Period.

UPDATE: A lone Seattle police officer was confronted by Clemmons, who was armed with a gun he took from of of the slain officers, and shot him dead.

17 comments:

Smitty said...

I remember once in middle school I got my hands on an Ice T cd that had, among other things, a song(?) about Cop Killaz.

My dad, an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, took a large amount of umbrage at that cd, which I got rid of.

Of course, I don't condone cop killing. Maybe some rare cases of cop firings, as you have alluded to in previous posts. But cop killing ranks right up there with little kid killings. Kill a kid or a cop? Die.

Good point, BTW, about the NRA asshattery. Here's their dream scenario; 4 armed people, well-trained in weapons, and a guy with a gun walks in. I had an NRA telemarketer call my house about 2 weeks ago. I told her that I know none of this is her fault, as she is a worker in a cube somewhere, but I had years ago relinquished my NRA membership, and as long as Wayne LaPierre is at the head of that organization I'm not coming back.

Eric Wilde said...

Don't give me any shit about the d.p. not being an effective deterrent—everyone should understand that if you kill a cop, you should expect the chair. Period.

I prefer to give you shit about the d.p. not being an effective deterrent. It obviously was not an effective deterrent in this case.

I agree that killing a cop is a bad thing to do, particularly because they are by-and-large doing their best to improve society. However, it is nothing like killing a child. Nor is the death penalty an effective or ethical response.

Mr Furious said...

the death penalty is one area where I stray from the liberal camp.

If the crime is heinous enough, and the guilt absolute, then I have no problem with the death penalty. Never have, and I'm unlikely to be convinced otherwise.

That said, the system here in the U.S. is so completely fucked up that I'm not sure there can be 100% certainty about anyone on death row, and there should be a moratorium on the death penalty.

The incentive for prosecutors, cops, judges and governors to get convictions, appear tough on crime, and "get results" has destroyed any confidence I have in administering a death penalty effectively in this country.

Mr Furious said...

And that applies to the case in Washington. The arrest, chain of custody, evidence, prosecution, defense, trial and sentencing would have to be so meticulously handled for guilt to be 100% clear.

Emotions and pressure at every step of the case would be way too high for it not to be bent along the way.

Eric Wilde said...

If the crime is heinous enough, and the guilt absolute, then I have no problem with the death penalty. Never have, and I'm unlikely to be convinced otherwise.

That is killing in vengeance. Its not about deterrence at all. The death penalty carried out as retribution makes more sense to me than as deterrence; but, it doesn't change the morality of the issue.

Missives From Suburbia said...

I've always been curious about the opinion that anyone who kills a cop deserves the death penalty, because I tend to agree with your earlier statement, Mr. F., and think that cops lives are no more valuable than the average citizen's. Kids, definitely. Cops... I'm not convinced. I've never understood the symbolic argument.

As for the DP, I admit I break with liberals on this one, too. I do think it's an appropriate response for taking a life or molesting a child, but for me to go beyond the theoretical, I'd require the same airtight knowledge that no one who was innocent was being put to death. There's nothing wrong with vengeance.

steves said...

2. Where is the right-wing NRA-asshat pundit claiming more guns in the diner would have stopped this? All four victims were armed, trained, and probably wearing vests.

How to respond to this without being snarky and annoyed? Not possible.

Unlike the typical anti gunners, who are incapable of using reason, facts, and a making an argument without wild hyperbole, the typical NRA asshat (of which I am one--member for for more than 10 years and a certified instructor for 7) isn't stupid and, except for a few keyboard commandos, has a realistic outlook.

There is very little you can do if someone quickly pulls out a gun and starts shooting. I don't care how fast you are. This is why the NRA isn't saying anything. This is one of several instances where having a gun or not having a gun won't help.

Of course this doesn't negate the argument that there aren't many more scenarios where it would be far better to have a gun than not have a gun and where it would have helped. Despite this, there are many more instances where a cop or other citizen managed to survive.

All four victims were armed, trained, and probably wearing vests.

BY your logic, the police shouldn't even be armed, since your are suggesting that having guns wouldn't have helped. I probably wouldn't survive a crash going 120 miles per hour even if I had a seatbelt on, so I might as well never wear one?

FWIW, the NRA spends millions training police and has one of the largest national training divisions that specializes in training local, state, and federal cops.

I prefer to give you shit about the d.p. not being an effective deterrent. It obviously was not an effective deterrent in this case.

I agree. This person is a nutjob, but it doesn't take a genius to speculate that he will never live to see a trial. There is already a death penalty for killing federal law enforcement and I can't help but interpret that as a law placing more value on people in that profession.

As mad as certain crimes make me feel, I am still uncomfortable with the death penalty.

Mr Furious said...

Steves, you're taking a rhetorical question literally.

You're not hearing that clamor from the gun-nut (or gun-nut poseurs) because it makes no sense—just as it makes no sense in 99% of the cases when it DOES pop up.

Mrs Furious said...

I'm also pro death penalty... but not as it is used now. I am against a deterrent death penalty, I simply feel that some crimes do warrant death as a punishment. I am only (and adamantly) in favor of the death penalty when the accused is incapable of rehabilitation and is a threat to society... ie child killers, molesters, serial killers, etc. Cop killers do not fall into that category.

Mr Furious said...

Here's my take on the cop thing...because I know Mrs F is going to differ on this as well.

It's simple. Police officers have decided to put themselves in a position to serve and protect the public and perform a high-risk job. And in return, that should be respected and valued by society. Not "valued" in that their lives are worth more than anyone else's, but in the sense that killing a cop is almost certainly coming as a package deal with some other crime, and then you're walking past the line where I don't need you alive in my society anymore.

It's probably naive to think that it's an effective deterrent, but I'd like to think that when you get caught committing whatever crime, and you decide (or plan) you're going to shoot your way out, you've crossed over. Dead.

It's an overly romanticized ideal perhaps, but I'm sticking with it.

Mr Furious said...

Going all the way back to Smitty's first comment...cops have their end of the bargain to uphold too. Cop firings? Goddamn right. I have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of power—and if you do, you're gone. And if possible, you're in prison with the rest of the criminals.

Eric Wilde said...

killing a cop is almost certainly coming as a package deal with some other crime, and then you're walking past the line where I don't need you alive in my society anymore.

I'll agree that this statement is generally true. Judges can determine when it isn't true to the circumstances, that's what trials are for. However, this doesn't mean death of the criminal is necessary. Put that criminal in prison until they rot of age, its at the very least more cost effective.

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steves said...

just as it makes no sense in 99% of the cases when it DOES pop up.

That simply isn't true and ignores the fact the firearms are lawfully used on numerous occasions to defend a person or persons. As you say, this is an instance where the law already allowed people to be armed, so it probably wouldn't have made a difference.

In many of the other instances where people are not allowed to be armed, you can make a logical argument that being armed may have saved lives, so I doubt your 99% is even close, but I am willing to discuss specific instances where you think gun nuts are wrong.

Mr Furious said...

steves, again you are taking my statement too literally...let me try to be more clear: rational people can make a rational argument that properly licensed and used firearms are useful for self-defense, and that in certain, extremely rare circumstances—rare like getting eaten by a shark and struck by lightning at the same time-rare—can that firearm be effectively used to defend yourself or others in some sort of spree killing scenario.

even as rare as that scenario would be, in many of those situations, I'm not sure other guns entering the picture would even be helpful.

The right-wing loudmouths I'm talking about are the ones who imagine themselves packing a gun in anicipation of exactly that situation and being some sort of hero. What's more likely is some sort of tragic crossfire/shootout scenario that might well make it worse. Or suppose hero #1 whips out his gun and starts blasting at the killer, then hero #2 starts shooting from a different direction? then who knows who is who? One shoots the other, or the cops show up ad kill the wrong guy?

It's chaos.

What would really be helpful? Stricter gun laws and background checks. LESS guns, not MORE guns.

Have you ever lived in NYC and had a random citizen hothead whip out a handgun on a crowded subway car? Mrs F has. Are you or John Derbyshire or Glenn Beck advocating that another citizen pull his piece for a nice crowded, sardine-can standoff?

It's preposterous.

Mr Furious said...

The statements I am most specifically thinking are regarding the WVU killings where many were lamenting the fact that college students aren't walking around armed. Or the absolutely retarded statement by John Derbyshire (IIRC) that WVU students were a bunch of pussies for not charging the gunman.

steves said...

I understand what you are saying and just think that you are wrong. I am sure both of us can trade scenarios all day long to prove our points, but that won't get us anywhere. I know there are Walter Mitty types out there that dream about shooting someone, but those are rare and the exception.

I have trained probably just under a hundred people myself and have been a student on numerous occasions. Between that and contact with other trainers, I have only run into one or two people that were itching to use force. Both were asked to leave the class. I am not sure if they found some other trainer. I am sure there are people that carry that shouldn't, but most, IMO, are ones that take it very seriously, as they should.

I follow the NRA curriculum, which states a firearm is a tool of last resort. In other words, only use it if there is absolutely no other option. The self-defense laws of every state (except Texas) support this rule.

Defensive gun uses are rare, but estimates place them at around 2 million or so a year. The worst year for shark attacks was 2000, where there were 79, so I would say that situations where a gun help are more common. I need to point out that the majority of these incidents involve the gun being brandished, but not fired.

Chances are a person will never be confronted by a violent act, but it is still more common than a shark attack. For the most part, they don't get much attention and are only covered by local media.

What's more likely is some sort of tragic crossfire/shootout scenario that might well make it worse.

No, this is not more likely. There are millions of citizens that lawfully carry in this country. Your scenario is even more far fetched than the lightning/shark attack. Where has it happened? With the sheer number of people carrying, you'd think it would have happened by now.

Have you ever lived in NYC and had a random citizen hothead whip out a handgun on a crowded subway car?

No, to both questions, but it must have been terrifying. I am not condoning that kind of behavior, nor would I deny that there aren't some people that act with gross negligence. I do know several people that have used guns defensively and probably would be dead or hurt if they hadn't.

As for WVU, I don't agree with Derbyshire and any of the others who would have said what they would have done if they were there. Pure bullshit. That being said, I don't support making certain areas off limits to carry (there are some exceptions). That being said, I also won't argue that WVU would have turned out differently, as I don't know. I would have to assume too much. My belief is that if you are going to infringe on a fundamental liberty, the barrier should be very high. Too often, we have been willing to to condone an erosion of basic civil liberties in the name of safety or the feeling of safety.

What would really be helpful? Stricter gun laws and background checks. LESS guns, not MORE guns.

History seems to have proven this wrong, but it sounds like you have already made up your mind.