Ken White explains the legal logic of the Ferguson shooting

Read the whole damned good post at Popehat.

In other news, I read a post from somewhere calling out libertarians for not voicing an opinion about the Ferguson shooting. I think the post also managed to blame libertarians for the militarization of police forces across the country.

Seriously.

Dave Weigel points out the obvious over at Slate; Ilya Somin takes the writer who tried to claim libertarians didn’t care about black people getting shot by police departments to task over at Volokh Conspiracy (a very good blog, by the way); Dan Balz (hehe) points out in the WaPo that Ferguson is only strengthening the libertarian wing of the GOP; Senator Rand Paul’s op-ed in Time is required reading if you take your US citizenship seriously.

Update 8/18: Here is Congressman Ron Paul in 2002 asking rhetorically, on floor of the House of Representatives (the lower parliamentary house in the US federal government), if America has become a police state.

7 thoughts on “Ken White explains the legal logic of the Ferguson shooting

  1. The corporate media is constantly looking for wedge issues they can use to split up the different groups seeking real political change. There’s a major call across the political spectrum to end the militarization of the police and this scares the ruling elite.

    • Thanks for your excellent, thoughtful response Stuart. Just two things:

      The corporate media is constantly looking for wedge issues they can use to split up the different groups seeking real political change.

      Corporate media serves only itself. State-run media serves the government, but governments demand conformity, not the splitting up of factions into disparate groups.

      Much of our freedom in the West is due to corporate media, if you think about it. Some people would rather watch Fox News than MSNBC or Democracy Now, and they should be free to do so. Some people would rather watch the local nightly news than Fox News. And some people would rather watch Judge Judy than CNN. Should they not be free to do so?

      Corporate media does look for wedge issues, but it’s not to split up different groups. It’s to make money and retain customers. If you think about it a little more: How would corporate media split up different groups, and why? For whom? Mind your conspiracy theories.

      Societies where there is no diversity of opinion, and no ability to choose what they watch or read, are often governed by factions that nationalize media organizations – or ban them outright – in the name of paternalistically keeping The People from fracturing. The humble truth of the matter is that the more groups (“factions”) a society has, the freer it is.

      There’s a major call across the political spectrum to end the militarization of the police and this scares the ruling elite.

      There may be more calls from the Left to demilitarize the police in the US today, but these calls only happen when the police are murdering blacks or anti-war protesters.

      Indeed, if you’ll hearken back a few decades, the Clinton administration actually signed legislation that gave more federal money to police departments in order to show that he was “Tough On Crime.” When the libertarian Right objected to this increase in police militarization, they were ridiculed by Leftists and neoconservatives as being “black helicopter conservatives.” When heavily armed federal agents murdered a bunch of estranged Seventh-Day Adventists in Waco, Texas, and when heavily armed federal agents murdered some dudes in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the libertarian Right objected to these blatant acts of murder. The response of Leftists was to label libertarians as extremists and domestic terrorists. I did not live through these events; I have the benefit of reading numerous accounts instead and have absolutely no emotional attachment or memories associated with police militarization in the 1990s, and from what I can tell the American Left bears as much of the brunt for this militarization as do the “tough-on-crime” conservatives.

      No, I don’t think there are major calls across the political spectrum to demilitarize the police. I think there is a growing wing within the GOP (led by Senator Rand Paul) that is calling for demilitarization, and an extremely small (and shrinking) wing in the Democratic Party that is calling for demilitarization, but for the most part police departments have only used brute tactics to suppress minorities and, well, not enough people care if cops are driving tanks or using chemical weapons on minorities.

      Luckily for libertarians there are a lot of good lawyers who are sympathetic to individual liberty, and change often comes through the legal process in federal republics rather than through the political process. We may yet see demilitarization, but it’s going to be a long, drawn-out fight as libertarians take on general public opinion (which doesn’t really care about minorities), the military-industrial complex (the MIC’s leftovers, really), and public sector unions (police departments).

    • Ah, I don’t agree that the Democratic Party represents the left. IMHO Clinton was a corporatist (corporate statist) and was far to the right of Nixon. Although he didn’t label himself as such, I think Nixon was one of the last of the true conservatives and this is why the Wall Street establishment got Bush senior to launch a coup (Watergate was a set-up) to remove him from office. Russ Baker documents this quite carefully in his book Family of Secrets.

    • Hey Stuart,

      Thanks again for your response. Smith does write about conspiracies, but not in the way that you think. Social scientists now call what Smith was describing “rent-seeking.” I’m sure the corporate media rent-seeks, but your conspiracy still does not explain why governments demand conformity (usually through the nationalization of the press, or by censorship) while liberty needs the social fracturing that corporate media provides.

      As far as George HW Bush orchestrating a coup against Nixon, I have nothing to say. I’m flabbergasted.

      Okay, I do have something to say. Which of these sounds like a better explanation of Watergate to you:

      1) Nixon was a life-long politician who earned many enemies over the years, hated losing, and eventually got sloppy enough to be caught for the kind of spying that everybody in Washington did back in those days. He then bungled the response to the allegations and eventually had to resign from office or face impeachment,

      or

      2) the Wall Street establishment got George HW Bush to launch a coup (Watergate was a set-up) to remove him from office?

      I often find conspiracy theorists to be very intelligent, if uneducated, and I think the appeal to conspiracy when it comes to matters of politics and war is a way comprehend a world that just cannot make sense to an intelligent mind without a proper education.

    • My oppression of the corporate media is that it’s mainly controlled (through interlocking boards) by banks, oil companies and defense contractors and they carefully censor news that hurts the interests of banks, oil companies and defense contractors. It’s also my impression that banks, oil companies and defense contractors control both the Republican and the Democrat parties.

      I also think they promote wedge issues (for example gun control) to keep left and right libertarians fighting with each other rather than uniting on issues they agree about (for example NSA spying, continual wars of aggression, the federal reserve, drug legalization, etc).

      As far as your Watergate question, I think Russ Baker makes an extremely good case that it was a conspiracy – with excellent sources that you check out for yourself. I think you should read it.

    • Thanks Stuart,

      I am aware of the “interlocking boards” theories put forth by conspiracists and I find them to explain a bit too much for my tastes. It is hard to argue with people when they already know how everything works, and that the how can only be explained by secret boards that are impossible to trace.

      Again, the “wedge issue” angle you espouse only shows that the corporate media (to use your term) is not a tool of nefarious men. When the media is controlled by a small number of people, it is used to promote conformity, not social fission. People don’t agree on everything because they have different value preferences, and are unable to be completely informed about everything, not because the corporate media is dividing everybody to keep a nefarious group of people happy.

      I’m sure the book makes an impeccable case – with lots of details – that proves Richard Nixon was overthrown by George HW Bush to please Wall Street. Many works of fiction often create impeccable cases with lots of details to back up their story lines. If they didn’t, nobody would read them.

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