"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fisking Eric Holder's Statement on the "Tragedy" of Michael Brown

Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, had this to say last night after a St. Louis County grand jury concluded that no probable cause existed to charge Officer Darren Wilson with a crime in the shooting death of a young black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri:

While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing.
Why?  We just last week had the President issue an executive order saying that the federal government will not enforce U.S. immigration law to deport illegal immigrants.   One of the justifications given was that the federal government simply lacks the resources to prosecute illegal immigration, even though being in the U.S. without legal work permits or visas is an actual crime that we know has been committed.   On what basis does the Justice Department spend resources we supposedly don't have to investigate an unfortunate local police incident that a local grand jury has concluded was not criminal? 
Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now. Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence. And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions.  
Again, why?   What evidence other than the fact that Officer Wilson is white and Mr. Brown was black exists to think there was any kind of civil rights violation or, indeed, that race had anything at all to do with the event, at least from Wilson's side?   And, absent any such evidence of racial animus by Officer Wilson, isn't the fact that the weight of the federal government is being brought to bear on him itself suggestive that it is his civil rights that are being violated on the basis of his race?
Michael Brown’s death was a tragedy. 
WTF?   I do not think that word means what Mr. Holder thinks it means.   In drama a tragedy depicts the downfall of a central, heroic character, either because of a personal character flaw that, despite his other noble attributes, leads to his ruin (Shakespearean tragedy); or because of fate (Greek tragedy).   The death of Michael Brown is, sadly, not tragic, but pathetic.   A thug who had just robbed a convenience store assaults a police officer and, refusing to submit to legal authority, is shot by the officer in self-defense.   His personal character flaw was not ambition (Macbeth) or jealousy (Othello), but stupidity.  
This incident has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.
Man, am I tired of the cliche call for a "national conversation" on race!   What Ferguson needed in the aftermath of this incident was a lot less conversation by civil rights hucksters looking to make themselves relevant, national political figures trying to gin up the black vote, and media piranhas having a feeding frenzy on Michael Brown's carcass.   If it had been treated like the local event it was, none of this would have happened.   Instead, the riots in Ferguson are real-life Hunger Games, a made-for-TV spectacle.  
While constructive efforts are underway in Ferguson and communities nationwide, far more must be done to create enduring trust. The Department will continue to work with law enforcement, civil rights, faith and community leaders across the country to foster effective relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to improve fairness in the criminal justice system overall. 

Wait, again, WTF?   What does "fairness in the criminal justice system" have to do with this incident?   Brown never got into the criminal justice system.   Would it have been "unfair" if he had been arrested peacably by Wilson for the convenience store robbery he had just committed?   How so?   Would it have been "unfair" if, after initially assaulting Wilson, he had submitted to arrest for that crime?   Would it have been "unfair" if he had been convicted of either of those crimes?  

Or maybe... would it have been "unfair" if, instead of Wilson shooting Brown, Brown had seized his gun and killed Wilson?  

Again, this word "fairness" does not mean what I think you think it means, Mr. Holder.
In addition, the Department continues to investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department.
Isn't it funny how these allegedly unconstitutional policing patterns are supposedly occurring right under the noses of a city government that has been run by liberal Democrats for my entire lifetime?   (Full disclosure, the Regular Guy grew up in South St. Louis County.)
Though there will be disagreement with the grand jury’s decision not to indict, this feeling should not lead to violence.
Wouldn't an appropriate thing for the Attorney General to say sound something like this... "There will be disagreement with the grand jury's decision... but that disagreement would not be rational and would not be supported by the evidence.   The grand jury that, under the direction of a Democratic D.A., reviewed that evidence, concluded that Brown had assaulted Wilson, then, even after being shot, continued to charge him.   Wilson acted in self-defense, which is every American's right, black or white.   Wilson's actions were particularly appropriate because he is a law enforcement officer and had a right to expect that his commands to Brown to stop and submit to arrest would be obeyed.   Instead, Brown charged him aggressively, 'like a football player,' as one witness stated."

Also, wouldn't it be appropriate for a law enforcement official to note that committing acts of violence in response to a decision by a lawfully constituted grand jury would be crimes, and that any perpetrators of such violence should expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law?
Those who decide to participate in demonstrations should remember the wishes of Michael Brown’s parents, who have asked that remembrances of their son be conducted peacefully. It does not honor his memory to engage in violence or looting. 
Honor his memory?   Look, Brown's parents have suffered a loss.   Even if Brown himself was a kid who behaved very very badly in this episode, a parent can't be expected to do anything other than grieve.   And his parents are saying the right things.   But Holder is not Brown's parent, he is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.   He should know better than to talk about "honoring" Brown's memory.   Brown was not an honorable person.   He was a young man who had just robbed a convenience store and assaulted its owner, then assaulted a police officer.   What about that was honorable?
In the coming days, it will likewise be important for local law enforcement authorities to respect the rights of demonstrators, and deescalate tensions by avoiding excessive displays—and uses—of force.
And there you have it.   The chief law enforcement officer of the United States concludes that the conduct of law enforcement officers must be preemptively chastised.   Moral equivalence between the rioters and the police is assumed.  

Well, at least we know whose side he's on.

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