5-05-21 6:29  •  The Ants and the Grasshopper

Katie_Lately: I am tired of these lazy people. There are people out there who just want to sit around and have others do all the work. The lesson from the parable of the ants and the grasshopper is good one to learn.

The Ant and the Grasshopper tale has it backwards. Traditionally, the ants toil all summer to store up food while the grasshopper just sings or plays the fiddle. Then come winter the lazy grasshopper goes hungry. The usual moral is "work or else."

Well, I happen to know that making music is work, too. And what's more, listening to music would have helped to relieve the tedium and toil from the ants work, perhaps making the food-storing a merrier endeavor for all. Then come winter, the ants would feel grateful for the work of the grasshopper and would help him survive the winter to make his beautiful songs again next summer.

At least that's my version. :-)

5-04-21 5:00  •  Whence Good, Darth Vader?

Dallas: If there isn't a God, a creator of everything, who ultimately has control and is omnipresent, who sets the standard of right and wrong though his word, then how is there any GOOD in the world?

It is selected for. As sentient social mammals we could not survive in groups without kindness, compassion, cooperation, forgiveness and love.

Dallas: If we are just evolved animals here by chance, what stops us ALL from raping and killing each other?

How could a species who ALL rape and kill each other keep evolving?

Dallas: And where do we get the base of our morals?

Moral behaviors are based on the successes in the trial-and-error process. In other words, they are based on what works. Not always, or absolutely, but what usually works for maintaining group and individual survival. "Usually" is plenty often enough to be selected for.

Dallas: No one can agree on right or wrong without some sort of moral absolute.

I agree that not everyone agrees, but most people in a society agree most of the time, enough to make it work. Or if they don't, then it doesn't work, and the society fails, which sometimes happens too. The trial and error continues.

MyMyMy: "God" as described in the Bible is pure evil.

Dallas: In order to claim that God is purely evil, one must believe that He exists.

I don't see why. You could claim that Darth Vader was purely evil without believing He exists.

It would simply mean that Darth Vader is portrayed as purely evil. You could get into quite a lengthy debate about it - was He truly evil or just misguided? Was He more evil in the movies or in the graphic novels? Are the graphic novels canon? Etc., all without having beliefs about Darth Vader.

4-22-21 10:01  •  Cops Shooting Kids

Anne: Cops shot a kid in a school bathroom.

FH: They had to do it. Sometimes to save a life you have to make a decision in a split second.

Anne: Just bringing a loaded gun in a school is enough. The kid wouldn’t get up so they pulled him up and the revolver went off by accident. The officer was hurt and the other officers shot the kid. Now, people are saying the officers should have done this or that and they murdered the kid. If I was in a similar situation, I’d be too scared for my life to talk this kid with a loaded gun into doing anything.

There are people who are trained hostage negotiators, trained crisis managers. They work with law enforcement to negotiate safe surrender during bank robberies and terrorist kidnappings, etc. It's not even a stretch to suggest that any situation with guns should have trained de-escalators like this on the scene along with the other responders.

FH: De-escalation is for when talking with the person is possible.

Not for when the knife is 19 inches away from entering a girl’s chest.

There are literally millions of other scenarios where having a trained negotiator on the scene would help. Why not?

FH: Yes, there are many situations where it would help, but this wasn’t one of them.

Sometimes police have to kill someone in order to keep that person from killing someone else.

Are we talking about the same case, the kid with the gun in the school bathroom?

"The kid wouldn’t get up so they pulled him up and the revolver went off by accident. The officer was hurt and the other officers shot the kid."

You can't imagine how a sympathetic negotiator could have talked the kid to his feet instead of forcing him? Offered peaceful options to end the stand-off? It was a scared child and the gun went off by accident. There is no way this HAD to end with a death.

FH: Oh sorry, I thought we were talking about the other one, where the cops killed the girl with the knife who was about to stab someone. My mistake.

Another case for rubber bullets. They would have stopped her without killing her.

Anne: They were there to arrest the kid on a domestic violence charge. On a typical day and in a typical school, there would be no reason to think that would even been a gun on the premises. Do you propose they send negotiators to every situation that they have to arrest someone? Are you going to pay for it?

Yes. It would save lives. It would ensure accountability. It would reduce racism. It would create jobs. It would ensure that people who need mental health services or medical services or drug intervention or victim counseling are treated appropriately and immediately. It would make encounters with law enforcement a productive process, with someone there whose job it is to help. Many, many deaths and escalations could be averted.

We can pay for it out of the uparmored vehicle budget. Every dollar spent in social intervention pays back three in fewer incarcerations and less crime. Fewer lives destroyed, better futures, a more peaceful society. Yes, it would be worth it.

Why not?

Anne: "Uparmored"? Our cops have SUVs.

Point is, we are spending money on escalating force right now, when what we need is to do this work smarter, and more compassionately. We are the wealthiest country in the world. We should have the best-equipped law enforcement in the world.

Right now, the equipment that is needed is conflict de-escalation and resolution. The good news is that it's relatively affordable - a number of professional job positions.

Paying people to do good work in the community is a really good use of money. It would pay back many times over in less social suffering. It's not better spent on more guns or more people with guns. We should give them a better tool, a better system.

Thanks for speaking with me about this mater-three!

Cassie: I can't imagine a social worker going out on a case like this, where there is a weapon. I know a few counselors and none of them would do this job in NYC for any amount of money.

I think they would hire guys like the ones who study criminal justice and drug counseling at my college. A lot of these are former addicts themselves, some former gang members and members of organized crime who turned their lives around and wanted to help others who came from the same place. Tough, smart guys with plenty of edge who would bring a tear to your eye when they talk about helping people get their lives together.

Crisis negotiation is a set of law enforcement techniques that people can be trained to use effectively. There are people who are paid by the FBI to do this in dangerous situations where criminals are barricaded or have hostages. This career exists and people can do it.

Well, we choose to live in a heavily-armed society where every encounter could be deadly. This is what we want, as many guns out there as possible, right? But it means that any situation could quickly turn just as lethal as a bank robbery or a terrorist hostage crisis. So why does only the FBI get this tool?

Let's involve some people trained to solve crises, prevent bloodshed in everyday policing. Why not?

Also, rubber bullets.

Cassie: You have never heard of the 21 foot rule, have you?

I have, it is the "rule" that an officer is already in danger if they are within 21 feet of an attacker with a knife, because the attacker can close that distance while he draws.

What of it?

Cassie: He can close that distance and still stab after being shot as well. Even a deadly shot. That's "what of it".

So, if even real bullets won't stop him, then rubber bullets would be no worse, and they would be better for every other scenario.

Anne: Rubber bullets are not as safe as people think they are.

The main concern with non-lethal projectiles is that they are actually still pretty dangerous. Surely, the fact that they might still maim or kill a guy anyway is not an argument against their use on "criminals."

To be clear, this is what I am recommending - that beat cops, first responders who drive around and interact with ordinary citizens, could be armed with rubber bullets which would, in most situations, disable armed attackers while (hopefully) not killing them. They should be accompanied by crisis negotiators specifically trained in citizen conflict resolution and de-escalation.

These first responders should be backed by SWAT with lethal weapons and FBI with their standard tools for increasing levels of threat. This is how Scotland Yard works - bobbies who patrol the streets are mostly unarmed, but can call for rapid, heavily armed backup at need.

It's a complicated world, I am not saying we throw away superior firepower, I'm saying a girl with a knife didn't have to die. That does not have to be what we always do first.

Cassie: You have no concept of adrenaline, do you?

It is the answer to the question, "Why don't they just comply?"

Cassie: I can't argue with stupid, I give up.

You really give up easy. It must be clear to anyone that I am far from stupid and that is just you trying to insult me.

If you have a rational case against this proposal, make it. I will discuss it reasonably and intelligently.

Cassie: Anyone who thinks that cop had time to contemplate what to do and call in a social worker, is not capable of a rational discussion.

I never proposed this, I think you have me confused with someone else.

Anne: Shooting the teenage girl 4 times was extreme and excessive.

What do you feel should have happened that is readily accessible NOW?

Crisis negotiators and rubbers bullets are at least decades-old technology. Both are used today by police and the FBI. That's the beauty of it, these techniques are available right now.

We only lack the political will to regard the safety of the "criminal."

However this is changing. I think "non-lethal encounters" will start to be a main goal of law enforcement, if only to avoid all this bad press and public ill will. Cops don't want to risk jail for excessive force. They need better options too.

4-21-21 9:02  •  Sharing the Basics

Dipper: All these shootings! So much crime, violence, SMH. What will stop it?


Dipper: What, to criminals?

Do you think it is fair for criminals to go to jail?

Dipper: Actual criminals? Of course!

Then, to answer your question, of course fairness for everyone, including criminals. It would not be fair to just have fairness for some.

Dipper: What do you mean by fairness?

Think of all the ways the United States is unfair, and why.

Things don't have to be equal to be fair, but they have to be unequal in ways that make sense.

Dipper: True.

Imagine a society designed to massively exploit the masses. What would that look like?

One tiny class would consolidate control over the returns from all human industry, growing rich and powerful beyond the dreams of avarice. Most ordinary people would be scraping by, one paycheck from homelessness, unable to afford advanced healthcare or education without debt. The exploitation would maximize social differences to misdirect blame. Everyone is in competition for the scraps, a constant struggle, so cooperation is minimal. People are desperate, and desperate people try anything. There is no trust, so everyone is an armed vigilante, one crisis from slipping their moorings.

Imagine the chaos, the suffering, the turmoil. That is what we are living.

Look where there is less turmoil, where the quality of life is high. In other countries it's just a teensy bit fairer and they get better results. Mass shootings and homelessness are rare. People can get healthcare and go to school. Humans CAN live, not equal, but less exploitively unequal.

We need to share the basics instead of making people fight for them.

Read more in the Archives.