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Police… the Culture… the Ethics… the Deviance… and if were lucky… Control

April 25, 2012
Timeline of yearly U.S criminal justice spendi...

Timeline of yearly U.S criminal justice spending. 1982-2007. By function (police, corrections, judicial). Inflation-adjusted expenditures in 2007 constant dollars. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abstract

The balance of power, “When Thomas Jefferson proclaimed the truth of human equality “self-evident”, he was not recording a fact; he was asserting one”

The culture ethics deviance and control of policing and police have emerged and developed because of many complex factors taking place over many hundreds of years across several continents and within many nations.  Over the last two hundred and fifty years the American criminal justice system and the police who represent it have been fashioned by politics, wars, constitutional issues and  myriad other social forces.  During this time, the police have gone from being largely autonomous sheriffs and constables to cronies of political bosses, glorified civil servants with guns, to secretive members of powerful major organizations, to paramilitary professional “elites” or super-citizens having obtained exclusive rights to the use of legal coercive force against others of their society along the way.

Furthermore, given that they see themselves, along with a majority of those in the society that they police, in terms of crime control as well as maintainers of safety and social order and due to in large part to their insular and defensive natures both as individuals and organizations the transparency of their ethos remains essentially opaque to outsiders.  Moreover, this is apparently how they like it and effort to keep it even in the face of harsh circumstances and criticisms.

Police Culture and Ethics

To understand policing along with police culture and ethics it is essential to recognize the primary motives and rationales for their formation in conjunction with the various factors and dynamics that have influenced and shaped them since their inception.

In the course of modern nation building, Western societies have increased their overall levels of prosperity and technical sophistication and as a result the burgeoning of their populations.  The majority of these Western societies embrace pluralistic social-political-economic systems (liberal democracy) based on capitalistic principles such as equality, individual rights and the rule of law.  Although this social paradigm has many harmonizing aspects, one can nonetheless repeatedly find instances within these systems riddled with deep-seated structural inconsistencies disparate to their principle tenets.  As such, these structural inconsistencies work at cross-purposes to them, consequently fashioning in effect [bourgeois] democracies as distinguished from constitutional democracies (Unk, 2011).

Accordingly, the same advances and structural inconsistencies that lead to burgeoning populations, in turn generated numerous issues inherent to distinctions of intra-societal socio-economic class.  Distinctions that are further aggravated by matters pertaining to immigration from less affluent regions and countries, especially those in close proximity.  Moreover, whereas this is generally true of most westernized nations, it seems particularly relevant to America, which in spite of its long history as a nation of immigrants remains highly xenophobic at its core.

Increases in population, from native birth rates or immigration, legal or illegal, typically result in corresponding decreases in the population’s homogeneity.  These changes in homogeneity usually present as stratum and subcultures within the population.  More often than not, a central feature of these stratum and subpopulations is a comparative disparity in access to resources and opportunities within the general population.  Disparities typically bringing with them stresses and conflicts amongst these dissimilar classes, ethnic communities and cultural groups based on the in-congruencies between them (Krisberg, 2005 p. 33).

In terms of the convergences and divergences affecting these classes, ethnic communities and cultural groups, the specific rate and loci of these variations in uniformity, as well as the overall measure of inequality of access to resources and opportunities is somewhat analogous to the concept of shear, both in a structural as well as a legal sense.  Defined in the structural sense shear is a force vector component parallel to the cross-section of a material or object.  Defined in the legal sense, shear is the degree of force specifically [appropriate, but not inordinate] to defending one’s person or property.  These differences and resultant shear forces between dissimilar classes, ethnic communities and cultural groups are the a priori cause for development of police as a means of state sponsored social control.

According to Barry Krisberg, a mounting sense of alarm was taking hold of the [wealthy] in relation to growing social unrest stemming from the now greater than ever inequalities between the rich and poor first in Europe and then later in America.  Many of whom began to see the escalating numbers of the “dangerous class” in terms of such previous economic upheavals as the French Revolution.  These elite and privileged groups of well to do reformers thus called for the creation of  police forces whose goal would be to prevent crime and increase social order but whose true ethos primarily concerned the establishment a formal state-run social control with the aim of preserving their wealth and status (2005, p. 27-33).

Then as today, the “dangerous class” represents certain types of persons groups and activities perceived as threats to the social order.  Correspondingly, politicians reacting to the perceived threats and fears enact statutes defining these types of persons groups and activities as criminal but equally important they also enact statute and rules that define the principles and purposes of the criminal justice system, that is to say the breadth and scope of legally authorized state action (Dixon, 2005).

As Klockars observed, Bittner in The Functions of Police in Modern Society, put forward the idea that a “core cultural goal of Western society has been the establishment of peace– as a condition to everyday life”, a goal Klockars notes that is believed achievable only by way of “development and application” of peaceful means.  However, limiting the legitimate exercise of force by its citizens compelled Western societies to devise organizations possessing singular control of the use of cohesive force.  Moreover, to be seen as legitimate in greater society mandated portraying these entities in such a way that it [obscured] their true natures.  This in turn required what Bittner called “circumlocutions” specifically the legal, military, and professional-“izations” of the police (p. 442-443).

Waddington suggests these evolutions in policing, though given virtuous  sounding names and missions as well as symbols and emblems denoting state authority to ensure and protect [the rule of law] have come at a cost to the civil liberties of certain individuals and groups who by their undesirability, criminality or [seemingly, emphasis mine] unlawful activities “exclude themselves from full citizenship”.  He states this is especially true in class-divided societies within which police easily exploit “the division between the [roughs] and the [respectable]”.  Further, he points out that according to Brogden, due to the discretionary activities of the police this essentially amounted to a truce with one class and “criminalization of the lower orders” (Waddington, 2005).

Thus, decreases of homogeneity of the population, together with xenophobic perceptions of threat arising out of cultural strain, and ensuing enactment of statutes by the dominant classes defining crime and the breadth and scope of law enforcement activities: – necessitated the various “izations” of the police so as to permit them greater insularity and secrecy vis-à-vis their use of discretion.  This combined with what Klockars calls the “Dirty Harry problem” that is to say achievement of the [morally, emphasis mine] good through “dangerous” or extra legal means mark out the ideological and practical milieu from which police dealings and behaviors are discerned and judged by the [respectables] as well as the police themselves, (Klockars, 2005, p. 582).

The ensuing praxis of these tensions, co determines police culture, ethics, and its widespread approval by members of the same cultural field wherein like creeds and morals become both authorized and expected, despite their disproportional coercive consequences on disparate elements within it.  Essentially ensuring that despite any potential constraints poised by regulatory restraints or legalities of due process, the police will nonetheless do as they wish for the two following reasons,  “- the law is a product of state agencies (the police in particular; or – the law is sufficiently flexible to accommodate what the police want to do” (Dixon, 2005) (Principle, 2012).

Police Deviance and Control

In the 1982 American science fiction, film “Blade Runner” directed by Ridley Scott, the “blade runners” comprise specialized police units in the year 2019 whose mission is to find and “retire” genetically engineered organic robots called replicants.  “Retire” is a euphemism for the act of killing or executing replicants.  Although these humanoids are essentially indistinguishable from the humans who made them, possessing both emotions and intellectual capacities, they are nonetheless considered chattel or [non-human] having no choices or rights.  They are the future members of the “roughs” or “dangerous class”, (“The internet movie,” )  (Krisberg 2005, p. 27-33)  (Klockars, 2005, p. 582).

While this may seem an overly dystopian example compared to contemporary Western societies, and their pluralistic social-political-economic, systems it is nevertheless illustrative of some of the issues facing them.  In both societies, the fictional one of 2019 and our current one of 2012 government-sponsored systems of social control have become increasingly intrusive and power orientated while at the same time exercising force that is ever more coercive in nature as evidenced by the following two examples.  The March 3, 1991 beating of Rodney King by four officers of the LAPD and the beating of Jessie Larez and members of his family by officers from the LAPDs’ aptly named “CRASH” unit on June 13, 1986 (Skolnick & Fyfe, 2005).

Both of these incidents clearly show how the use of coercive force on the part of the police is unconstrained by conventions limiting its use or the concerns for civil rights and due process in regards to certain elements or classes of persons in society.  As well in both the world of 2019 and the world of the 1980s and 1990s, police culture is characterized by dismissive internal attitudes toward violent use of force against civilians as well as mendacious tendencies concerning accounts of their activities.  Skolnick and Fyfe recount their own case review of 700 individual complaints against the LAPD concluding that without Holliday’s tape the beating of Rodney King would most likely; have been swept under the rug.  This was the case as well in regards to Jessie Larez.  During which Fyfe testified that two years worth of citizen complaint investigations by the LAPD were “riddled with holes” and that “whitewashes” were so common that despite the nature, severity or type of wounds sustained by the victims without video or electronic documentation no citizens report of an incident would be believed (2005, p.  572).

According to Gary T. Marx

“Police are moral, as well as legal, actors.  But apart from the rule of law and public accountability, the police power to use force, engage in summary punishment, use covert surveillance, and to stop, search and arrest citizens, can be used be used to support dictatorial regimes, powerful vested interest groups and practices” (Marx).

Yet here in lies the rub.  The ability of the police to “use force, engage in summary punishment, use covert surveillance, and to stop, search and arrest citizens”, is in fact in concert with the rule of law as defined in the majority of 19th and 20th century versions of Western democracies throughout the world, aside from being much less accountable to the public (Marx).  Explicitly then the rub lies in the distinctions between a [formalist] definition and the [substantive] definition of the rule of law.

“Formalist definitions of the rule of law do not make a judgment about the “justness” of law itself, but define specific procedural attributes that a legal framework must have in order to be in compliance with the rule of law”.  Whereas “substantive conceptions of the rule of law go beyond this and include certain substantive rights that are said to be based on, or derived from, the rule of law”, that is to say the “essential principles that a court applies in its work, not to the rules of procedure and practice” (2007, dictionary).  A distinction that makes all the difference in the world as one sets the stage for a bourgeois-democracy the other for a constitutional-democracy (“Wikipedia,” 2012).

Whereas bourgeois-democracies tend toward a dystopian society, where powerful special interests control and shape the laws and law-enforcement to conform to their interests at the detriment of many.  The constitutional-democracy tends towards Paine’s concept of a just relationship between government and society as a state of “natural liberty” in which all are equally represented and protected by the law (Paine, 1775).

The balance of power, “When Jefferson proclaimed the truth of human equality “self-evident”, he was not recording a fact; he was asserting one” (Liu, 2012).

Nevertheless, time and again the actions of the police demonstrate that this “fact” is really just a supposition as opposed to an actual reality because it is subject to their (the polices’) discretion.  A discretion almost uniformly based on an ethos typified within many policing cultures and organizations whose attitudes are more suggestive of authoritarian bullies and oppressors as against lawfully authorized agents of the state whose profession is to maintain order, prevent crime and uphold the “rule of substantive law.

For instance, “Studies conducted across two Midwestern States suggest that a significant minority of police officers have observed police using “considerably” more force than necessary when apprehending a suspect”.  Overall, their findings indicated, “improper force was used in 38 percent of encounters that involved force” (Samuels et al., 2000).

One hundred and eighty million is the high-end estimate of traffic stops traffic stops over a ten-year period from 1988 to 1997 (Lichtenberg,* & Smith, 2001).

According to Colleen Long, police stop and frisk more than one million people on the street each year in larger metropolitan areas:

“Police in major U.S. cities stop and question more than a million people each year – a sharply higher number than just a few years ago.  Most are black and Hispanic men.  Many are frisked, and [nearly all are innocent of any crime, emphasis mine], according to figures gathered by The Associated Press.  Civil liberties groups say the practice is racist and fails to deter crime.  Police departments maintain it is a necessary tool that turns up illegal weapons and drugs and prevents more serious crime.  Police records indicate that officers are drawn to suspicious behavior: furtive movements, actions that indicate someone may be serving as a lookout, anything that suggests a drug deal, or a person carrying burglary tools such as a slim-jim or pry bar” (Long, 2009).

In addition, she states that in New York the police keep a database of everyone stopped – innocent or not.  Making them objects for potential investigations later on, said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (2009).

While it is true that not all these stops entailed the use of force, they are nonetheless coercive in nature, whether one views’ these acts as instrumental aggression or hostile aggression the fact remains that millions of persons are stopped, questioned, and frequently searched for having done nothing more than simply moving thru a public space.  Thus, they are transitorily de facto prisoners of the state’s authoritarian bully, no habeas corpus, no due process, and no right to object without risking further injury in both a legal-civil sense as well as a corporeal one.

Further, the police do this based on their idiosyncratic typologies of who is or isn’t “for us” or “against us” based upon their singular ability to sense right from wrong and decent from indecent.  Van Maanen explains they are able to do this based on their “heroic self-perceptions of moral superiority”.  He employs the colloquial term “asshole” that police use to describe certain predefined and yet to be defined persons in terms of their potential to “upset the just order of the regime”.  Actually, Van Maanen says police work from a view of the world in which three groups of people exist in the world, the “suspicious persons”, the “assholes” and the “know nothings”.

The dynamics that go into determining a given person’s assignment or inclusion into one of these categories is based on the situational particulars or outcomes of a person or persons’ interactions or reactions during an encounter with the police.  So in effect depending on what happens one may be stopped, stopped and questioned, stopped questioned then given further instructions, dismissed, arrested, or may become the recipient of some “street justice”.  The purpose of “street justice” is to teach a moral lesson to those who would question or affront their moral mandate.  In fact, Van Maanen predicts that the rising numbers of subcultures and their constituents along with growing criticisms by these and other groups of the police will only heighten the potential for “explosive” citizen-community police encounters in the future (Maanen, 2005).

In summation, Mills “vocabulary of precedents” produces in the police a particular subjectivity or “ethno-methodological” view and sensibility of the world.  This along with  conventions such as their need for secrecy, resentment toward criticism and their willingness to use extra-legal means in achieving their ends, suggests police culture and deviance will not change easily, if at all (Shearing & Ericson, 2005).

References

Dixon, D. (2005). The legal regulation of policing. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 636-669). New York: Routledge.

Encarta dictionary, Word 2007

Klockars, C. B. (2005). The dirty harry problem. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 581-595). New York: Routledge.

Klockars, C. B. (2005). The rhetoric of community policing. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 442-459). New York: Routledge.

Krisberg, K. B. K. (2005). Juvenile justice redeeming our children. California: Sage Publications.

Lichtenberga,*, I. D., & Smithb, A. Journal of Criminal Justice 29 (2001) 419– 428, (2001). How dangerous are routine police–citizen traffic stops?. Retrieved from website: blog.lib.umn.edu/../Criminal Procedure in American ..

Liu, E. (2012, March 20). Times idea. Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/20/dont-pick-on-immigrants-re-americanize-everyone/

Long, C. (2009, Octob 08). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/08/stop-    and-frisk-police-sto_n_314509.html

Maanen, J. V. (2005). The asshole. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 280-296). New York: Routledge.

Marx, G. T. (n.d.). Police and democracy. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/dempol.html

Paine, T. (1775). Common sense. R.Bell. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=Gtihdb2lo3QC&printsec=frontcover&q=&hl=en

Principle. In (2012). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle

Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:htVEVl7J5DgJ:blog.lib.umn.edu/jbs/Criminal%20Procedure%20in%20American%

Samuels, J. (2000, May). http://www.ncjrs.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181312.pdf

Shearing, C., & Ericson, R. (2005). Culture as figurative action. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 315-337). New York: Routledge.

Skolnick, J. H., & Fyfe, J. J. (2005). The beating of rodney king In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 568-580). New York: Routledge.

The internet movie database. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083658/

Unk, U. (2011, November 16). Liberal democracy. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_democracy

Waddington, P. A. J. (2005). Police (canteen) sub-culture: an appreciation. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing Key Readings (pp. 364-385). New York: Routledge.

Wikipedia. (2012, April 5). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law

The social contract theory… they make the contract… you just sign it… if you know how

April 20, 2012
Photograph of a slave boy in Zanzibar. Nationa...

A slave boy in Zanzibar. National Maritime Museum, London, England.

The author Barry Krisberg in “Redeeming Our Children” asks, should we think about juvenile offenders as members of our own family instead of some “other“…?

The social contract theory… crudely as follows:  Imagine you were going to set up the rules for a society, but once you have set it up… you must become part of it… but… you have no way of knowing or influencing what [your position] will be in it.  In other words, you must simply take your chances.  You will end up somewhere… but where… is the question.  How then would you set it up?

For instance, if you based its economy on slavery, you could end up as slave or slaveholder… of course there is a higher probability of your being a slave than a slaveholder, apropos (the typical ratios of slaves to slaveholders in typical slave-based economies).  So, what kind of system would be in [your] best interests?  Would this kind of possibility influence your decisions?  Would you set it up to be a [just and equitable] system… or… would you design it to be partial towards a few… but conversely… unjust toward others?

Krisberg asks us a similar kind of question.

What kind of juvenile justice system would you set up if [your] child were going to be in it?

Would it be a punitive deterrent-based system similar to those found throughout most of recorded history?

Would it be…?  Focused on pre-enlightenment ideas of social revenge and retribution – [much like the system, we have now]… or… a more cost effective, outcome-based system that places high values on both social safety as well as rehabilitation.

Alternatively, for that matter… what kinds of… political, economic, legal, and criminal policies and systems would you institute…?  What kinds of… schools, colleges, hospitals, etc… would you set up if you knew you or your child might possibly be in them?

The choice is ours… we can do as we are and have been doing for oh… let’s say the last 6000 years or so… or we can so something much better.  So what’s it gonna be?

The mysterious case of the clown’s not so funny hot coffee capper Or… they… really are… we, aren’t they

April 18, 2012
McDonalds Switzerland Coupon Flyer

McDonald's ... that's not nice...

The mysterious case of the clown’s not so funny hot coffee capper

Or…  they are really we.

Many people are cataleptic with regard to the truth about the McDonald’s  Hot Coffee law suit… here are some facts as well as some of my own memories and analogical reasoning surrounding this incident.  For instance, I knew that Ms Liebeck was not driving and that the vehicle was not moving when the cups contents were spilled on her.  I also knew that either this particular restaurant or a different McDonald’s restaurant had been cited or warned or sued about the excessively high temperatures of their coffee before this event.  In addition, I was a cognizant of the fact that she was badly injured i.e. burned/scalded and had required medical attention.  Finally, I knew that she had or was going to sue McDonald’s for her medical expenses.

The reason I came to know these things escapes me now, but I think I looked it up because it seemed so preposterous at the time I first heard about it.  February 1992 is a little over two decades past, but I can remember there was a lot of talk about “frivolous” law suits and how much these were costing consumers due to increases in things such as malpractice insurance and higher premiums for businesses policies as such that were then of course being passed on to the customers.  Their seemed to be a real zeitgeist about such things at that time, and many people were looking for scapegoats to blame and donkeys to pin the tail on.  As opposed to really checking the facts or perhaps taking a peek behind the curtain.

As I remember it, consumers, [greedy consumers] were really to blame, not the hapless businesses or corporations many of whose products were… in truth… defective, misrepresented, malfunctioning and or injurious and even deadly.  They (the hapless businesses and corporations) it seemed were the “actual victims” according to most…  Americans can be such maroons, all they have to do is identify some villain and like lemmings, it’s over the cliff we go.

Who are they you might ask… well they is anybody spewing a trope or monadology convenient to ones pre-established cognitive bias… i.e. any crap that seems to agree with your world view.  Thus, ironically… they are we.

I did not know the real extent of her injuries nor learned the outcome of her lawsuit until now.  I can remember thinking that one- it seemed unfortunate and avoidable, both on the part of McDonald’s and on the part of Ms Liebeck.  And two- that it must have really hurt… as in been very painful.

As I previously mentioned I knew Ms Liebeck had required medical treatment but was unaware as to the extent of this.  According to the author, Kevin G. Cain senior, counsel at the law firm of Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom, L.L.P., “A vascular surgeon diagnosed Liebeck as having suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas.  These third degree burns extended through to Liebeck’s subcutaneous fat, muscle, or bone.  While she was hospitalized for eight days, Liebeck underwent skin grafting, and later underwent debridement treatments.  Liebeck was permanently disfigured and disabled for two years as a result of this incident” (Cain).  So that’s what 190 degree does to human tissue… how lovely.

The article states that Ms. Liebeck originally asked McDonald’s to pay only her medical expenses, of approximately $11,000 but that they had refused, offering her $800.00 instead, following which Ms. Liebeck hired “a Houston attorney named Reed Morgan who had filed a similar hot-coffee lawsuit against McDonald’s in 1986”.  In the previous, case Mr. Morgan represented a woman who had also received third-degree burns from McDonald’s coffee, and had in that case deposed a McDonald’s quality assurance executive who stated he knew of the danger but did not intend to lower the temperature of McDonald’s coffee.  In addition, prior to going to court Mr. Morgan offered to settle for $90,000, and again McDonald’s refused , (p. 15).

Which really makes one wonder… who’s the bad actor here, the person who supposedly (according to the mendacious and mocking “water cooler” gossip common at the time) tried to put sugar in her coffee while driving or the supercilious self aggrandizing management at McDonald’s?

As it turns out it is the later… as well as the feral corporate culture in America that spawns such contemptible vermin.  If I sound a little antagonistic well that is because I am.  I see no reason to respect or pay homage to a bunch of “thugs” who get away with crimes simply because they are dressed in three-piece suits and accomplish their iniquitous deeds from the safety of their boardrooms by way of their minions on K-street and the briberies of our policy makers along with the resultant malfeasance that ensues.  These actors are only slightly more contemptible than certain large sections of the American public, who seem to revel in their blind obedience to this dogma or that… but I digress.

Now as it turns out McDonald’s, had 700 previous claims against it for “defective” coffee, i.e. it was too damn hot, and they, McDonald’s, had paid out over $500,000 to settle these claims.  Not only this but also, that many of these claims resulted from serious injuries to [their] customers.  They had in other words a history of acting with conscious indifference to their customers, and for that the jury said they must pay.

Why so hot one might ask… well because, other so-called experts told us to… so there.

700 persons/customers burned by their coffee… over half a million paid out in damages… and still the lights do not come on.  Masters of the universe…  I don’t think so.

“McDonald’s continued to demonstrate this same corporate indifference.  McDonald’s human factors engineer, Dr. P. Robert Knaff, testified that the number of hot coffee burns that occur are “statistically insignificant” when compared to the billion cups of coffee McDonald’s sells annually” (p. 16).  “Statistically” insignificant… really… what about the people as in human beings?  Was that Dr Knaff or Mengele I get confused?  Both show the same basic disregard for human suffering and dignity the only difference is in the application.

“Do you have in mind a number of how many people would have to be burned for you to become so concerned that you would insist that burn specialists be consulted and something be done to sell this coffee at a lower temperature?  A: No, I don’t have a number in mind” (p. 16).  Human factors engineer…Priceless.

Judge Scott, “This is all evidence of culpable corporate mental state and I conclude that the award of punitive damages is and was appropriate to punish and deter the Defendant for their wanton conduct and to send a clear message to this Defendant that corrective measures are appropriate” (p. 17).

Frivolous lawsuit… unsympathetic corporate defendant… these are the main ingredients in “how stupid can we be while they laugh all the way to the bank” soup.  Pretty damn stupid it seems. “Lawyer-bashing” as a pass time has its roots in some stark truths about our civil as well as our criminal justice system.  Neither of which really lives up to either their promise or potential.  Both of which at times more frequently than not act instrumentally against the interests of the very entities they were instantiated to serve.

Tort reform, as the name so inauspiciously implies refers to changes in civil law that would limit or reduce tort litigation or damages.  The idea is to cap damage awards as well as curtail the kinds and numbers of suits brought against our upstanding corporate brethren, think Ford Pinto and you get the picture.  The problem there was not that the Pinto was actually any less safe than other cars in its class, it was.  The problem was and is that a pervasive corporate culture exists in the country that not only allows but also encourages the use of such things as cost–benefit analysis in situations concerning human life and dignity.

For instance, which will cost more… making it right and safe… or paying off statistically insignificant claims based on the actuarialized downsized valuations of the worth of human suffering and life.  Never mind the obvious fact that happy, uninjured persons are statistically unlikely to sue in the first place.

As corporations see it, a better idea than actually meeting their lawfully purchased contractual obligations of merchantability and fitness of purpose is to forestall, confound, and discourage as many injured parties as possible from seeking or receiving a just compensation for the harm they have caused them.

Still better yet they say… we will do this thru the same legal system and with the same officers of the court that are supposed to protect and repair those injured thru our breaches of duty.

In terms of justice, due process, and the rule of law… the truth is, despite protestations to the contrary, that this country … is really governed by the “golden” rule… those with the gold… make the rules.  Anyone who says different is either a shill for the system or blind as the proverbial bat.

In the real world it is, entelechy- “potentia et effectu“, no matter the merits of your claim, unless you have lots of money… or someone stands to get lots of money by assisting your cause you will rarely see justice done in the courts because the masters of their masters pay better than their moral compunctions.

“Therefore this is the best of all possible worlds”, (Leibniz, p.90).  Or is it?

References

Cain, K. G. (n.d.). The mcdonald’s coffee lawsuit. Journal of Consumer & Commercial Law, 14-19.

Leibniz, G. The Monadology (La Monadologie, 1714).

tort reform

I wonder how he likes his irony… rare, medium, or well done.

April 17, 2012
Ted Nugent live in 2007

Ted Nugent live in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MFWIC… he’s not!

Ted Nugent — “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November; again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year”.  Implying a death threat… visa vie terroristic threat.

He also recommends decapitating Democrats: “We need to ride onto that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.”  Again implying threat of death(s)… but more generally this time… a propos mass murder.

He says he is a patriot… and that he loves his country and democracy… then he extols the use of lethal force against those who disagree with him…

Such is the subjective worldview of all fundamentalists… including it would seem many of Teddy’s fans who also seem to revel in his instrumental fantasies of death and dominion.

This means however, that he is neither a patriot nor a champion of democracy… but rather he is a fascist who believes his dogma has more value than [human lives] at least as any reasonable person would define human lives.

On the contrary, in his case the definition of human lives as well as the values attached to them … appear distinguished and demarcated from that of reasonable persons.  Apparently, via some inexplicable machinations intrinsic to the 3-pound chemistry set ostensibly located somewhere between his ears… formally known as his brain… such that he classifies human lives as being limited to… only those who agree with him.

Keeping in mind … [and… we would do well to keep this in mind]… that in order to have his way he would… one gets the impression… gleefully employ methods used by the [Nazis] to inflict his moral totalitarianism on others.

As such, it really is astonishing that his skull does not simply explode from the nearly galactic magnitude of forces such a cognitive dissonance necessitates due to the pressingly divergent natures and propositions concomitant in his ideas… over and above the spatial requirements they would entail.

I wonder how he likes his irony… rare, medium, or well done.

P.S. …  The reality is that there is almost certainly nothing to fear from the likes of Ted.  Like all big talkers… he is appositely all bark… no bite… just another frightened xenophobe fretfully calling others names from inside the walls of his dearth of intellectual capacity… an imperceptible prison from which he has little hope of escape due to  his highly inflated supercilious sense of self.

And here… we… go…

April 14, 2012

It's about having the money... to send the message.

And here… we… go… again

Banks make a financial statement…  I wonder… just how much FREE SPEECH they can buy.

What is more, the industry is remembering its friends on Capitol Hill — [shelling out cash to lawmakers] who have consistently voted their way.  The commercial banking industry donated $21.7 million in 2010.  Now they’re racking em up again…

That kind of money buys a lot of influence from… the people who say money doesn’t influence them…

Several veteran financial services lobbyists held a fundraiser in January for Richard Mourdock, the TEA PARTY FAVORITE.  The event was hosted by Talbott of the Financial Services Roundtable, Lisa Nelson of Visa, Peter Blocklin of the American Bankers Association and Vincent Randazzo of PNC.

The banking industry has always been a major player in political spending, but its increasingly aggressive tactics are a sign that some in the industry want to pack more of a punch on Capitol Hill, particularly with the sweeping overhaul to the financial system still under way and with big legislative reforms on the horizon.

Good thing they’re patriots… you know… looking out for the best interests of the country and all that.

http://politi.co/IjOlPO

take the quiz smarty and find out if you are… smarter than they think you think they are… at Fox.

April 14, 2012
Left: Original photo of Steven Reddicliffe. Ri...

Left: Original photo of Steven Reddicliffe. Right: Photo aired on Fox News Channel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are-you-smarter-than-a-Fox-News-viewer… most fox viewers aren’t… but they think they are… which is why they aren’t… leading to why they think they are in the first place… not smarter than they think they are.

don’t believe it… take the quiz smarty and find out if you are… smarter than they think you think they are… at  Fake News… I mean Fox.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/1221/Are-you-smarter-than-a-Fox-News-viewer-How-about-a-CNN-viewer-Take-our-quiz-to-find-out/Are-you-smarter-than-a-Fox-News-viewer-How-about-a-CNN-viewer-Take-our-quiz-to-find-out

the great writ… Naw, not so great says the U.S. Supreme Court… just average says Scalia

April 13, 2012
United States Supreme Court building.

United States Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Habeas corpus the great writ protects citizens from unlawful detainment but not from wrongful conviction.  The best estimates put this at 1 to 3 %.  If only 0.5% of the 1,993,880 convictions in 1990 for index crimes were wrongful, that would put the number of innocents in jail or prison at 9,969, more than the average population of most US cities, est – 6,545 people.  [http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/ronhuff.htm]

If you factor in the effects of plea bargaining the number is likely even higher.  On the one hand, people seem to celebrate the principles of law and justice for all, [including the courts] on the other some of these same people then say and do things to undermine these principles’ in the name of the mundane and thus act in opposition to “the great”.

For instance giving [weight to the needs of convenience and practical problems of law enforcement] the key word here being [law], as in law and justice.  What parts of the law, justice, or due process should give means to “practical” anything’s when the lives and liberties of individuals are at stake.  Moreover, how can people extolling principles of justice and equality under the law… [that is, if boasting any actual knowledge of The Constitution] keep a straight face when doing these things.

Or is it they are really just sheep in people’s clothing… if the courts, the politicians, the police, as well as the media say it’s ok… well then it must be ok.

In addition, what exactly does “law-enforcement” mean?  Is it the mission of law enforcement to prevent crime, or only to apprehend lawbreakers after crimes have [allegedly] been committed?  Who defines what are – [criminal acts], and what limits their ability to do so?  The politicians delineate the statute that is the definitions; the courts uphold them… but similar to the police… only at their discretion… they can [pick and choose] what they will attend to and when.

Furthermore, regarding the police, what should be and are the limits and scope of their powers to compel an individual in civil society … that is to say their [lawful] exclusive right to the use of force in situations where their autonomous [extra-legal] sense is that some crime or activity is or has occurred such that it now deserves their attention?  Upon what seemingly moral superiority are they deciding and acting in such circumstances?

Likewise, in the case of appellate review the stipulation is that of reducing error and defect in legal decisions.  Thus, those taking decisions and actions limiting appellate review would seem to contradict this very same idea.

Perhaps the thought here is … only to reduce legal error and defect some of time… but only when it’s convenient for the purposes of the courts and the agents of [law] enforcement…[this must be what the Founders had in mind when they and the other like-minded colonists risked everything in defying King George… convenient and practical, not absolute or self-evident].  If some wish to reduce the burden of the courts ought they to do this at the cost of the civil rights of this nations citizens’… indigent or not.

Maybe reducing the numbers and kinds of laws or criminal definitions as well as the allowable levels of incursion by the state and its agents into the everyday doings of civil society might accomplish these same ends without eroding the civil rights upon which this country was founded to provide and protect.

Here is a nice example just to illustrate…  U.S. Supreme Court rules: Traffic offenders can be strip-searched, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that officials can strip-search people arrested for any offense — including traffic violations… briefs with the court show that… people have been detained and made to bare all after infractions such as driving with a noisy muffler and failing to use a turn signal.

So, [law enforcement] can… at their discretion… regardless the circumstances or legality of the arrest and before any due process… force a person to strip on the side of the road to search them… talk about unreasonable search and seizure… The Fourth Amendmentwhat’s that… priceless.

  1. Strip Searches (aphilosopher.wordpress.com)
  2. America 2012: The Supreme Court Has Made It Legal For The Police To Strip Search You Any Time They Want (blacklistednews.com)
  3. America 2012: The Supreme Court Has Made It Legal For The Police To Strip Search You Any Time They Want (activistpost.com)
  4. ACLU Of Virginia Seeks Strip-Search Policies After Supreme Court Decision (washington.cbslocal.com)
  5. writ of mandamus directing the respondent Corporation not to acquire the land of the petitioner-temple for the purpose of road widening, without issuing notice to it and without following due procedure as laid down under Sections 146 and 147 of the Greate (advocatemmmohan.wordpress.com)
  6. Under the U.S. Supreme Court: Getting naked down at the jail (upi.com)
  7. N.J. Law Now Stricter Than U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Strip Searches | NJ.com | Jason Grant/The Star-Ledger | 4/4/12 (vinhsulaw.wordpress.com)
  8. U.S. Supreme Court rules detainees can be strip-searched without cause (nj.com)
  9. U.S. Supreme Court Has Ruled That Defendants Have A Constitutional Right To Effective Assistance Of Counsel In Plea Bargains (montanacorruption.org)
  10. US Supreme Court won’t lift Okla. execution stay (heraldonline.com)
  11. Patents On Nature (amasianv.wordpress.com)
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