Meet the Press
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Dick Gregory talks to Ray Kelly, NYC Police Commissioner; Ben Jealous, head of NAACP; and Sybrina Fulton (along with the ever-present Ben Crump). Again, we see the false cries of racism from these race-baiting opportunists. Here’s my take.
A New York judge recently declared “stop and frisk” unconstitutional, saying that “the policy of targeting the right people is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States constitution.” So, while Judge Shiendlin admits that the right people are being stopped, she has a problem with how many of them happen to be black (52%) or Hispanic (31%). (White people come up third at an unimpressive 10%). I guess the percentage for Asians was too small to even make the list. But you don’t see them complaining.
Maybe Asians don’t make the list because there are far less Asian neighborhoods rife with crime, daily shootings, violence, drugs on every corner, and gangs. It seems only reasonable for fewer cops to patrol these safer neighborhoods. And it seems only reasonable that less Asians will be stopped and frisked.
But, using the reasoning of Judge Shiendlin, this could be a violation of the constitution, in that the police stop far too many white people as compared to Asians. It therefore must be a case of discrimination against white people, right? We can play this game all day.
Statistics are often interpreted improperly, but you don’t expect it from a federal judge. Just because a larger percentage of white people are stopped as compared to Asians, that doesn’t mean that the cops are racially profiling white people. And just because blacks are overrepresented, it doesn’t mean that cops are racially profiling black people.
If the overwhelming majority of the crimes are committed in black neighborhoods, then common sense would dictate the majority of the attention should be focused on black neighborhoods. After all, taxpayer money pays for the police protection, so we want them to use their time wisely, don’t we?
We seem to be in a new age of, for lack of a better word, “Sharptonism,” akin to the days of Joe McCarthy and the red scare. Just cry racism and the governor will bring in a special prosecutor (at taxpayer’s expense) to try a case that doesn’t even have probable cause – and lose. Just accuse someone of being a racist and they will get vilified by the media and forced into permanent exile. Just call someone a racist and he will spend the rest of his life in fear. Just cry racism, and the black juvenile delinquent will get back on the heart transplant list, in spite of the decision already made by the hospital. (Doesn’t everyone realize that someone else is losing their place on the transplant list? I guess, as long he or she is not black, no one cares.)
It seems to me that more people will surely die, most of them black, if stop and frisk is abandoned. Then when the stats come out a few years from now saying that more black people are being killed than white people, all the race-baiters will cry racism once again. This time declaring that the cops are not doing enough in black neighborhoods.
Ben Jealous once again shows his lack of intellectual integrity. After Ray Kelly gives a perfectly reasonable summary of the stop and frisk law and the relevant statistics, Mr. Jealous gives his reply to David Gregory, saying “we just heard a man who aspires to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security say that his officers have to violate the U.S. Constitution to make us safer. That should send chills down the spine of everyone in this country.”
On top of his typically over the top, self-righteous, sanctimonious rhetoric, it’s also shamefully dishonest. Mr. Kelly said nothing of the sort. To his credit, Gregory pointed that out. But, undeterred, Jealous goes on to say that “there’s no relationship” between stop and frisk and the drop in crime and murder rates.
Let me repeat what Mr. Jealous said: “There’s no relationship.” Period.
Now that’s a definitive statement. One that not even the most brilliant statistician, assuming perfect information, could make. (Nor could she deny it unequivocally.) So once again Mr. Jealous is either revealing his ignorance or his tendentiousness. Or both.
While the cardinal rule of statistical interpretation states that correlation does not prove causation, it is entirely appropriate to use common sense and intuition to inform your judgment in these matters. Therefore, it is reasonable, if not practical, to assume that there is a causal relationship between stop and frisk and lower crime rates. And to say unequivocally that there is “no relationship” is just plain dishonest. Or stupid.
Jealous also said that “just because most of the crimes are committed in a black community, that doesn’t give you the right to treat us all as criminals.”
The key word is “all”. This is another typical example of a disingenuous, inflammatory, and fallacious statement. This violates a couple of rules of good, honest debate. First of all, Jealous is putting words in the mouth of his interlocutor — no respectable person has ever said that ALL black people should be treated as criminals. He misrepresents the other sides argument, making it appear extreme and absurd. This is a form of the “straw man” fallacy, and is commonly used by people who already know they’re wrong.
Sybrina Fulton, the mendacious mother of Trayvon Martin, makes a similar statement. She says the police and civilians shouldn’t have the right to stop someone “just because of the color of their skin.” Again, this is a preposterous statement, no doubt prepared by the inimitable, dim-witted, and equally mendacious, Ben Crump.
Gregory also read an excerpt from an article written by another professional propagator of the “black man’s burden” society, New York Times columnist, Charles Blow. He states, “The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies like stop-and-frisk.” He concludes that, “It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice.”
This is another example of a cheap, fallacious rhetorical device. And it’s one of the most common: bad analogies. While analogies can be effective argumentative tools, they are often misused. In this case, Blow is comparing universal suspicion to burning down a house, and comparing criminals to the mice stirring inside it.
Let’s look at all the things wrong with this analogy. First, the people that get stopped and frisked, while inconvenienced, are not destroyed. In fact, they suffer no physical harm or pain whatsoever. Second, universal suspicion is not harmful in itself, while fire is. In fact, the term “universal suspicion” is loaded and misleading, similar to Jealous’ use of the word “all”. The cops are not instructed to stop everyone, or even every black person — just those that act suspiciously. Finally, and most importantly, the analogy breaks down when the end results are compared. If “universal suspicion” works, then the end result is of an entirely beneficial sort, in that crime is decreased. But if in fact burning down a house does succeed in exterminating the mice, the end result is a pile of ashes. Hardly a fair comparison.
Again, bad analogies, like improper statistical interpretations and straw man arguments, are commonly used by people who know that they’re wrong. So look out for them. And call them out every time. Letting them get away with it could be the difference between successfully defending your position, or not.
While the statistics seem to suggest quite strongly that stop and frisk is an effective deterrent to crime, there is still much to learn. But during this learning process, look out for people like Mr. Jealous, Sybrina Fulton, Ben Crump and Charles Blow. They will no doubt continue to spew false, one-sided statistical interpretations, straw men fallacies, loaded terms, and bad analogies. And, at times, they will straight out lie. Don’t let them get away with it.