crime

Disabled man on oxygen shoots home invader

Two bad guys attack an ill old man on oxygen in his home to steal his medication. He defends himself with a gun. If you are opposed to citizens being armed, what's your alternative here? Fight them hand-to-hand? The guy's on oxygen full time. Give up his meds and pray they don't beat him to the point of serious injury or death? (And that he can afford to replace them and won't need them until he can?) Relying on the mercy of someone who's in the middle of a violent act is not a sound strategy. Call the cops? You can be dead several times over before the cops show up -- if they do at all, several court cases have found that they have no legal responsibility to do so.

What would you do? What would you have someone physically weaker do? Your feeling that "guns are icky" is not a reason to let this man be beaten or killed, is it?

How Empathy Makes People More Violent (The Atlantic)

Pete Seeger wrote years ago:

Well if you want to have great love, you're gonna have great anger
If you want to have great love, you're gonna have great anger
When I see innocent folks shot down,
Should I just shake my head and frown?
Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger
If you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger
Or else it'll just be one more time
The correction creates another crime.
Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

How Empathy Makes People More Violent (The Atlantic)

We start by giving people a simple test that measures their degree of empathy. Then we tell them some awful stories, about journalists kidnapped in the Middle East, about child abuse in the United States. And then we ask them how best to respond to those responsible for the suffering....Just as with the genetic study, we found that the more empathic people are, the more they want a harsher punishment.

Politicians are comfortable exploiting this dark side of empathy. Donald Trump likes to talk about Kate—he doesn’t use her full name, Kate Steinle, just Kate. She was murdered in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant, and Trump wants to make her real to his audience, to make vivid his talk of Mexican killers.... Trump and Coulter use these stories to stoke our feelings for innocent victims, to motivate support for policies against the immigrants who are said to prey upon these innocents.

There is a history of this sort of thing. Lynchings in the American South were often sparked by stories of white women who were assaulted by blacks, and anti-Semitic attacks prior to the Holocaust were often motivated by tales of Jews preying on innocent German children. Who isn’t enraged by someone who hurts a child?

Similar sentiments are used to start wars.

background on the Freddie Gray trials

What Weekly reminds us what's going on, with a report from Justin Sanders:

Why You Need to Stay Informed About the Freddie Gray Trials – |... (What Weekly)

Baltimore is like every other city in America: its criminal justice system is a corrupt machine used against the people.

That might be distasteful to read, but it’s true.

I can offer you statistics and numbers to prove it to you. I can point you to court cases which state, unequivocally, that the police are under no legal obligation to protect you, thus raising the question: if the police are not for our protection, then what exactly are they for?

...

At the sound of Gray’s name some people in this city cross themselves and pray, “I hope they don’t riot again.” I always wonder why their prayers never go, “I hope the police don’t kill any more people,” or “I hope this is the last time we have to try our police officers for brutality and corruption.” But, it’s always, “I hope they don’t riot again,” which is an infuriating notion—first in how it assumes my community is stalking an opportunity to burn another CVS and break some more windows; second in how it completely absolves the police of any responsibility.

I’m talking with the guys in my barbershop and there’s a theory I hear, it’s one that’s been repeated to me many times while talking to people on the street. The theory goes that Freddie Gray was killed by the cops as a hit because the cops are connected to the drug trade in Baltimore and Gray either saw something or did something—what exactly varies depending on who’s doing the telling—and the cops put out a hit on him to protect their interests. That’s why his back was broken and his larynx crushed, to send a message. This is not a theory I subscribe to, but I do think that the theory is telling of how my community views the police. We don’t view cops as there for our protection. We don’t put it beyond them to murder us in service to their own interests. We know, for a fact, that they allow and profit from the drug deals many of us do just to maintain poverty.

muggers got medieval on his ass

So, yeah, then this happened. Given the trivial availability of guns in Baltimore City, my guess this guy wasn't wielding a flail because he couldn't get a piece; it's interesting that the attacker apparently struck the intended victim and then made a demand that he turn over his phone.

Man in Patterson Park attacked with medieval weapon (baltimoresun.com)

According to a police report, the man said he was sitting in the grass in Patterson Park next to the baseball field on Thursday night at about 8 p.m. when four juveniles, about 14 to 16 years old, came up to him.

One of them was wielding a "ball and chain," and struck him in the face as the others stood by, the report says. The weapon is called a "mace" in the report but could also be referred to as a flail.

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therapy experiment for troubled teens

"Ludwig says the Warren case matches what Pollack found in his study of other youth homicides in Chicago: "Most serious violent events are almost Seinfeldian in their origin — someone saying something stupid to someone else, and that escalating and basically turning into a tragedy because someone had a handgun in their waistband at the time." When human beings are stressed -- by grinding and hopeless generational poverty, social injustice, racism, and all the other ills that affect the most violent parts of our nation -- any additional stressor can cause a disproportionate reaction. That shooting that seems to have been caused by something "Seinfeldian" is often the end result of years of pressures, and the "straw that broke the camel's back" can seem trivial it itself.

Therapy Helps Troubled Teens Rethink Crime (NPR.org)

The solution to the problem, Ludwig, Pollack and their colleagues surmised, might lie in getting kids to slow down and think about their actions. The researchers conducted a randomized controlled experiment to test their hypothesis. They had about 1,400 school kids in grades seven to 10, drawn from high-crime areas of Chicago, undergo a 30-week training course called . A similar group of students, also chosen at random, was tracked, but did not go through the course. At the end of the year, Ludwig said, researchers found 44 percent fewer arrests among the students who had been through the course.

...

In one exercise, Ludwig says, the students were grouped into pairs, and one member of each pair was given a ball. The other was told to get the ball out of his partner's hand. This invariably led to a fight, Ludwig says, as the kids brawled over the ball. After watching the fight, the program leader would ask the student who was trying to get the ball a question: "Why didn't you ask the other kid to give you the rubber ball?"

None of the adolescents, Ludwig says, ever thought to ask their partners for the ball.

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