The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewJohn Derbyshire Archive
Cops and Robbers
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

What was your first thought on seeing that video clip of the white cop shooting the fleeing black perp?

Mine was: “What fresh lie is this?”

The point of reference here is the Trayvon Martin case of three years ago, when NBC doctored George Zimmerman’s conversations with his dispatcher to make Zimmerman sound prejudiced. (The network fired two employees over the doctoring and made a public apology; but Zimmerman lost a civil suit for damages.)

That the gentry liberals who run news services will lie and distort in defense of the social story they want to impose on us—the Narrative of snarling gap-toothed badwhites preying on helpless angelic blacks—was not news in 2012. Massaged video clips in support of the Narrative go back at least twenty years. The Zimmerman case did, though, push many of us over some line of credulity. I am no longer willing to take at face value any news story that supports the Narrative.

(The media types will lie and distort to gratify their own egos, too: but that’s a different issue.)

So when video of Officer Slager shooting Walter Scott showed up on news sites, my first thought was the one I have stated above. It was followed by second, third and fourth thoughts like:

“What are they not showing us?”

“How long will it take to get to Narrative Collapse this time?”

“Why should a police officer not be able to shoot a fleeing perp?”

For those not familiar with the concept of Narrative Collapse, here is my description from a column where I defined it:

  • Innocent black person going about his/her private business is accosted/harassed/beaten/killed by evil racist white cop/vigilante.
  • Media report the incident thus, based solely on testimony of victim/friends/black witnesses, stirring up widespread resentment about white racism.
  • Actual facts emerge, placing the victim in a much more dubious light and showing that the white offender was responding legitimately to bad/violent/crazy behavior.
  • Media reports the revised story without apology.

The last of my thought-questions recorded above actually has a straightforward answer: A cop should not shoot a fleeing perp because it’s against the law to do so, and cops should not break the law.

We can argue about whether shooting fleeing suspects should be against the law. I don’t think it should; and crime reporter Nicholas Stix over at tells us it didn’t used to be until a wrong-headed 1985 Supreme Court ruling. All right: but I’d like cops to obey laws, even dumb laws.

So am I going to concede that the Narrative-pushers might for once have it right: that, as George Orwell observed, some things are true even though the Party says they are true?

Hell, no. I’ll suspend judgment until the full details of the Slager-Scott encounter come out in court. My bet is still on Narrative Collapse.

And I will not suspend judgment on Slager’s former lawyer David Aylor, who dropped the case when he saw the media piling on his client. Aylor is a spineless, gutless coward. Yo, Counselor: the phrase “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law” mean anything?

Similarly for the North Charleston Police Union, which has refused support to Officer Slager, a dues-paying union member. Similarly again also for the crowd-funding website GoFundMe, which refused to host an appeal for Slager. Hey, GoFundMe: Go … never mind.


Where law enforcement is concerned, my gut instincts are all lower-lower-middle-class I’ve-always-kept-myself-respectable punitive. My party trick on the topic, with a few drinks inside me, is to argue the case for a One Strike And You’re Dead jurisprudence—capital punishment for subway turnstile jumpers. Hey, it would free up a lot of prison space.

That’s all first-reaction instinctual, though. When I sit down to think about it, and recall actual cases I’ve known or read about, I go all wobbly on law enforcement.

Consider, for example, the child abuse witch-hunts of 20-30 years ago, chronicled by Dorothy Rabinowitz in her book No Crueler Tyrannies. Over-zealous prosecutors, stupid juries, and whipped-up media hysteria conspired to send harmless people to prison for years, wrecking their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

The couple of dozen cops I’ve known personally—including a nephew—were all decent and conscientious people. Rogue cops surely exist, though, and cause great suffering. I was just reading (in New Yorker magazine) about the case of John Restivo here on Long Island, who served 18 years for a crime he should never have been convicted of. Planted evidence, forced confessions, jailhouse informants bribed to lie with time off their sentences … it all happens.

And yes, it happens to blacks too. Here’s one: Rosean Hargrave, just released after 23 years in jail after a dubious conviction driven by zealous homicide detective Louis Scarcella.

Whether Hargarve is innocent of the murder he was sentenced for, and whether Scarcella is the vindictive sociopath he’s drawn as, I can’t say: but accounts of the Hargrave case don’t give the impression that it meets the “reasonable doubt” standard.

Law enforcement can be a rough and ready business. Sure, Fergusons and Trayvons happen: so do Ruby Ridges and Serpicos.

On the other other hand, I recall a conversation I had thirty years ago with a guy I was attending classes with in London. He had had a former career as a prison probation officer, and had a fund of colorful stories about his clients. One day I asked him: “How many of the people doing time in prison are innocent?”

His reply: “Innocent of the thing they were convicted for? Around five percent. Innocent of anything criminal at all? Fewer than one percent. Way fewer.”

Elaborating, he explained that neighborhood cops know who the bad actors are, and get frustrated at not being able to nail them for crimes they know they’re guilty of. When they can, cops vent their frustration by “stitching up” a bad guy for something equivalent he didn’t do.

“It’s naughty,” he added, “but probably for the social good.”

(Republished from Takimag by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: American Media, Race/Crime 
Hide One CommentLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Technomad says:

    I’ve always liked what Robert van Gulik (a greater Sinologist than you or I) said was the rule in Imperial China.

    Back in Them There Days, magistrates had great power—they could order suspects beaten for disrespect, and tortured to obtain a confession (under Chinese jurisprudence, no confession = no conviction). However, there was a catch.

    If someone died under overly-enthusiatic questioning, or was later proven to have confessed falsely to stop the pain, Magistrate Torquemada and the men who’d followed his orders got exactly what they’d dished out, to the last iota.

    If we had this kind of rule in force, I rather think that police (who are terribly dangerous when they go rogue) and judges alike would be much more careful about what they did. Seeing Michael Nifong thrown into PYITA prison for as long as rapists normally serve in North Carolina, with no right of appeal, would be very sweet indeed.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All John Derbyshire Comments via RSS