Author Topic: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas  (Read 7313 times)

JoshCrow

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Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« on: July 10, 2016, 09:04:47 AM »
Here's a post-Dallas quote that made me chuckle:
"To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible"

Who said it? Amusingly, it's hard to tell. Was it the police, saying this about the cop who shot a black driver reaching for his ID last week? Was it BLM, saying this about the Dallas shooter? I'll give you a moment...

nah, I'm not going to tell you, but that it reeks of hypocrisy. Because the real mindblowing thing to me right now is that just about everybody getting involved in this debate seems to fall into the lazy mental trap of being angry at a larger group for the actions of a few bad members.

It manifests as racism - the aspersions cast over an entire race because of the (statistically large to other populations but still small on a per capita basis) criminality of a few.

It manifests as anti-police rhetoric in the stone-throwing protestors, and even among many of the peaceful ones who still distrust "police" rather than individual officers.

It manifests as a condemnation of "rape culture" over actual rapists. It manifests as Build-a-Wall Trumpians leering at brown-skinned people for taking their jobs. It manifests in a no-Muslims sign at a gun range, or a black mother teaching her kids that the police are to be feared.

Everywhere I look, it's the same mistake in different clothing. I don't know what to call it except "attribution error", because words like "generalizing" don't seem to capture it.

What percentage of a population makes it appropriate to condemn the whole? Is it 1%? 10%? What about the other 90% who are just fine people going about their lives? Is it not foolish to grind them down and essentially provoke further errors from the other "side"? People that strike me as otherwise reasonable suddenly reveal some side of them that seems to WANT to simplify the math by condemning the large, easily identified group.

Why can't we accept that car crashes happen in any large enough population, and that it is not useful or practical to make them into headline news items? Until we are all in self-driving cars, anyways. Or maybe when all police officers are replaced by Robocops.

AI Wessex

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2016, 09:52:11 AM »
Your interest in Robocop is noted ;), but who programs it-him? Otherwise, your post opens up a vast topic.

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2016, 10:38:58 AM »
Quote
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The Black Lives Matter Network advocates for dignity, justice, and respect.

In the last few days, this country witnessed the recorded murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police, the latest victims in this country’s failed policing system. As we have done for decades, we marched and protested to highlight the urgent need to transform policing in America, to call for justice, transparency and accountability, and to demand that Black Lives Matter.

In Dallas, many gathered to do the same, joining in a day of action with friends, family, and co-workers. Their efforts were cut short when a lone gunman targeted and attacked 11 police officers, killing five. This is a tragedy–both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy. There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans. We should reject all of this.

Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.

-Statement crafted by professional PR spokesmen and read awkwardly by Rice Family in Honor of Tamir’s 14th Birthday


What I find most ironic is that the statement offers no dignity,justice or respect to the officers in Dallas who risked and in some cases lost their lives trying to save blm protesters.  One must conclude that black lives don't matter to those who speak for black lives matter.

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In Dallas, many gathered to do the same, joining in a day of action with friends, family, and co-workers. Their efforts were cut short when a lone gunman targeted and attacked 11 police officers, killing five.
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This
is a tragedy–both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy.

What does the statement say was a tragedy?  what does "this" refer to in that clump?  The protest being "cut short." 

note the absence of the word "murder".  The absence of any acknowledgement that the police officers were protecting the blm protesters.

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To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible.

I agree.  and the leadership's failure to acknowledge any good in these police officers, and manifest failure to acknowledge that many are using the movement for the sake of perpetuating violence, is dangerous and irresponsible.

What is "we get no justice-- you get no peace" other than a threat of violence?  What is demanding the publication of a suspect's name, and then publishing (often the wrong) name and address, other than a manifest invitation to mob violence?

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Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it.

 the statement presupposes that all black activists have been calling for the same thing.  Even more dangerously and irresponsibly, the statement absurdly presupposes that blm leaders are in a position to speak for ALL "black activists." a term which obviously encompasses the assassin and many who have publicly celebrated his *acts."


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There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans.

Yelling in someone's face and not allowing them to speak is not a "discourse." 

I would rather use these events to CHANGE a movement for change, towards a movement that actually lives up to what it pretends to be.  one that actually stimulates a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans.  One that actually promotes dignity, justice, and respect, rather than just hurling around the words.

There is no dignity, justice, or respect in this cheap blm press release which fails to acknowledge that the MURDERED police officers and other officers on the scene were protecting the blm protesters.

Give credit where credit is due.  Or your calls for dignity, justice or respect sound like a bunch of PR.

TheDeamon

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2016, 02:01:17 PM »
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Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it.

 the statement presupposes that all black activists have been calling for the same thing.  Even more dangerously and irresponsibly, the statement absurdly presupposes that blm leaders are in a position to speak for ALL "black activists." a term which obviously encompasses the assassin and many who have publicly celebrated his *acts."

Oh the statement also implies something a little bit further: That only "black activists" are interested in the fair and equal treatment of Black Americans. If you're not black, you don't care.

The more annoying thing, is when you move within the realm of Orwelian Double-speak:

Quote
In Dallas, many gathered to do the same, joining in a day of action with friends, family, and co-workers. Their efforts were cut short when a lone gunman targeted and attacked 11 police officers, killing five. This is a tragedy–both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy. There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans. We should reject all of this.

It isn't entirely possible that the "tragedy" the press release statement is speaking of(not to be confused with the person reading it) isn't the loss of lives on the part of law enforcement; but rather the impact the event had on the protesters themselves, as well as the shootings bringing the protest to an abrupt (and bloody) end.

After all, the protest was immediately "stifled" as police shut down the protest in light of a clear and present public safety risk, which gives you "There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change."

Fenring

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2016, 03:06:34 PM »
Here's a post-Dallas quote that made me chuckle:
"To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible"

Did you chuckle because it's truer than one would think at first glance, or because it is inadvertently the kind of pithy generalization that it seems to be condemning?

That being said, I think a lot of media focus on one individual as being related to something larger is in a way the opposite of irresponsible - it's quite responsible in the sense that it's a deliberate attempt to rile people up. There's nothing careless or haphazard about it. I guess the word I'd put on it would be 'reprehensible' rather than 'irresponsible', but maybe that's just semantics. The difference to me is such tactics serve a definite agenda, and so they shouldn't be written off merely as lazy or sensationalist reporting.

Take the Orlando shooter, for instance. The media was tripping over itself to show a connection between Mateen and ISIS. Obama, wisely I think, tried to make it clear that establishing that connection wasn't helpful, even if there was a tiny grain of truth to it.

That being said, though, your question about which percentage constitutes a 'trend' isn't as flip as you make it sound. 1% and 10% are vastly different numbers. If it was actually true, just for example, that 10% of police officers employ unnecessary ultraviolence, see civilians as 'the enemy', and do the routine corrupt stuff like planting pot in a car after a routine traffic stop, I would call that a sweeping epidemic. It's not about sidelining the 90% of good cops and writing them off, but about recognizing a trend when there actually is one. You're right that we don't want to become extremists and begin making sweeping statements like "police are all corrupt", but at the same time we don't want to bar ourselves from making observations of real and dangerous patterns. I am perfectly content, for instance, to say that the MSM routinely puts out narratives that increase hate and fear on both sides of the political spectrum, and that it's deliberate. Maybe not every single reporter, maybe not every writer, but a lot of them. I do no one any favors by underplaying this and saying "oh it's only just a few bad seeds but the majority do good, honest work."

In principle I agree with your points. In practice I don't think all of your examples should go side by side with each other. Some things in the world are made-up problems, but some are actual problems.

AI Wessex

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2016, 03:47:53 PM »
There is a lot of apparent anger and disdain being expressed in this and other threads toward the BLM movement.  Rather than argue with the people here who are making those arguments, I'll instead post a letter sent to a Law School Professor by some of his students who objected to him wearing a BLM t-shirt to class one day.  He chose to respond to their public letter with a public response, which I think is illuminating.  Both are here.

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2016, 04:38:38 PM »
just the day before Micah Johnson, participated in an attack that killed five Dallas police officers, his sister, Nicole Johnson, was posting on facebook that someone ought to kill some cops.
Quote
...these cops need a taste of the life we fear.

now she's mourning her brother's death.
Quote

“The news will say what they think but those that knew him know this wasn’t like him. Only close family can call me. This is the biggest loss we’ve had,” Johnson wrote according to the Daily Beast.

guess what, dumbass?  It's you and haters like you killed your brother.  Pushed his fragile little brain into crazy killer mode.  If you hadn't fb'd your own brother that message, where you scapegoat all white cops for the actions of a few, maybe your brother would be alive.

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2016, 06:19:31 AM »
http://www.mintpressnews.com/776-people-killed-by-police-so-far-in-2015-161-of-them-unarmed/209127/

745 of 776 people killed by police in early 2015 were male.  That's a hell of a lot more disproportionate than the racial discrepancy.

Why is there no "male lives matter"?

JoshCrow

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2016, 09:35:43 AM »
http://www.mintpressnews.com/776-people-killed-by-police-so-far-in-2015-161-of-them-unarmed/209127/

745 of 776 people killed by police in early 2015 were male.  That's a hell of a lot more disproportionate than the racial discrepancy.

Why is there no "male lives matter"?

Because men are far more frequently aggressors in officer encounters. Also, they do not self-identify as a victimized group.

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2016, 08:59:28 PM »
http://www.mintpressnews.com/776-people-killed-by-police-so-far-in-2015-161-of-them-unarmed/209127/

745 of 776 people killed by police in early 2015 were male.  That's a hell of a lot more disproportionate than the racial discrepancy.

Why is there no "male lives matter"?

Because men are far more frequently aggressors in officer encounters.

Are black males more frequent aggressor than white males in officer encounters?

Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2016, 10:09:11 PM »
Quote
Because the real mindblowing thing to me right now is that just about everybody getting involved in this debate seems to fall into the lazy mental trap of being angry at a larger group for the actions of a few bad members.
I don't see anything mindblowing about what is essentially an observation that human cognition applies a principle of parsimony in arriving at judgments. The disparity between the enormous quantity of information available to the brain regarding any event, and the limited attentional resources the brain has available to analyze each component of said information is so absurdly vast that our ability to filter out less impactfully salient information is actually seen as one of the very mechanisms which predicates the astonishingly complex judgments humans are capable of constructing. What you're calling a "lazy mental trap" is actually an expression of a very normal and immensely useful cognitive phenomenon known as the use of heuristics, which can result in distortion and bias, but nevertheless appears to be fundamental to the effective functionality of judgment in all known sentient creatures.

Ask Hamlet what an executive function deficiency associated with inadequate cognitive parsimony in the judgment process leads to. Or ask Darwin what the problem is with responding to a situation with a 10% mortality probability by determining that the 90% chance of survival should be given 9 times as much consideration as the mortality risk in judging how to appropriately react.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2016, 10:17:32 PM by godsblackestcrow »

JoshCrow

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2016, 10:16:48 PM »

Are black males more frequent aggressor than white males in officer encounters?

I genuinely have no idea. If you asked me to guess, I would say no.

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2016, 10:27:32 PM »

Are black males more frequent aggressor than white males in officer encounters?

I genuinely have no idea. If you asked me to guess, I would say no.

You might want to look into that.  If the answer was yes, proportionately, by a considerable margin, would that mean that blm's whole argument goes away?

I'd say no, and for the same reason as the males vs. females issue should not be dismissed so blithely. 


http://crimeresearch.org/2014/10/inflammatory-and-misleading-claims-about-black-teens-being-vastly-more-likely-to-be-killed-by-police-than-whites-even-after-adjusting-for-crime-rates/



Quote
[qb]
Quote from: -slate
Could higher rates of crime commission by black teens relative to their white peers explain that difference? . . . The data suggest that the answer is no. . . . it looks like black Americans are between two and three times as likely to commit a violent crime as white Americans. But even assuming that black male teenagers are three times as likely as white teenagers to legitimately threaten the life of a police officer doesn’t explain why they’re twenty times more likely to be killed by police.
[/qb]



...it doesn’t make a lot of sense to look at rates of killings by police of young black and white men but then compare it to violent crime for all blacks and whites. If you look at offender data and assume that 92 percent of murders are committed by males, you find that young black males were about 8 times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged white males. However, a lot of murders occur where the offender isn’t identified and that this problem is greater for gang related murders. To try to deal with this, we have made some calculations using victim data. Adjusting the data by the rate that blacks and whites kill members of their own and other races, young black males were 9 times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged white males. (Click on figures to enlarge the calculations made here.)
Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at  Sunday, October 12, 2.25 PM
Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at  Sunday, October 12, 2.28 PM
The Slate piece claims that after adjusting for violent crimes by race, police still kill young blacks at 7 to 10.5 times the rate they kill young whites. Making this one adjustment would still leave a difference, but it would imply that police are killing young blacks at 2.3 times the rate that they kill young whites — about one-fifth to one-third the difference being claimed.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2016, 10:33:02 PM by Pete at Home »

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2016, 10:36:31 PM »
what I cannot find any source on is the rate of attacks on police by black males vs white males.   the lower rate of suicide by black males compared to every other male demographic, I suspect that actual suicide by cop inflates the stats as well.

nevertheless, I suspect that circumstances will not fully explain the 20-fold discrepancy. 

LetterRip

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2016, 12:40:20 AM »
Pete,

have a look at 'FBI felonious incidents'.

Quote
The FBI publishes annual reports breaking down the figure in two ways: accidents and “felonious incidents,” which are deaths as a result of a criminal act. Felonious incidents include ambushes, traffic pursuits, responding to domestic disturbances or delivering search warrants.

There were 511 officers killed in felonious incidents and 540 offenders from 2004 to 2013, according to FBI reports. Among the total offenders, 52 percent were white, and 43 percent were black.

[...]

From 1980 to 2013, there were 2,269 officers killed in felonious incidents, and 2,896 offenders. The racial breakdown of offenders over the 33-year period was on par with the 10-year period: 52 percent were white, and 41 percent were black.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/01/09/are-black-or-white-offenders-more-likely-to-kill-police/

I'm quite confident that this is yet another proxy for poverty...

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2016, 12:55:24 AM »
Pete,

have a look at 'FBI felonious incidents'.

Quote
The FBI publishes annual reports breaking down the figure in two ways: accidents and “felonious incidents,” which are deaths as a result of a criminal act. Felonious incidents include ambushes, traffic pursuits, responding to domestic disturbances or delivering search warrants.

There were 511 officers killed in felonious incidents and 540 offenders from 2004 to 2013, according to FBI reports. Among the total offenders, 52 percent were white, and 43 percent were black.

[...]

From 1980 to 2013, there were 2,269 officers killed in felonious incidents, and 2,896 offenders. The racial breakdown of offenders over the 33-year period was on par with the 10-year period: 52 percent were white, and 41 percent were black.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/01/09/are-black-or-white-offenders-more-likely-to-kill-police/

I'm quite confident that this is yet another proxy for poverty...

Thanks, LR.

I've defended one black client where extreme (and open in court) racism by the city attorney was manifest where the defendant was not poor.  But I agree with you that most of the problem is a proxy for poverty. and as best I can tell, the racial roots of poverty are mostly based in racist acts that occurred decades ago.  furthermore, where white racism against blacks is most virulent, is among whites raised in the poorest families.  So as I see it, the best attack on racism at this point in history is an attack on poverty.  back in the 1960s this was not so!  Martin Luther King was right to make a stand at Selma, emphasizing civil rights over poverty.  But that was then, and at this point in history, blacks do vote, and the main enemy is poverty.

JoshCrow

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2016, 08:14:45 AM »
As much as it would be nice if it did explain things, poverty doesn't actually put much of a dent in the racial disparities when it comes to criminality. The statistics just don't seem to bear it out. It could be a co-factor along with others in some general cocktail for crime, but it isn't by itself the root of the problems. Neither do the folks at BLM appreciate the racial issues being recast as poverty issues (although I suspect their reasons for not wanting that is to preserve a narrative).

JoshCrow

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2016, 10:04:47 AM »
The disparity between the enormous quantity of information available to the brain regarding any event, and the limited attentional resources the brain has available to analyze each component of said information is so absurdly vast that our ability to filter out less impactfully salient information is actually seen as one of the very mechanisms which predicates the astonishingly complex judgments humans are capable of constructing. What you're calling a "lazy mental trap" is actually an expression of a very normal and immensely useful cognitive phenomenon known as the use of heuristics, which can result in distortion and bias, but nevertheless appears to be fundamental to the effective functionality of judgment in all known sentient creatures.

Oh I certainly agree that the use of heuristics is normal and helpful in many situations, but that doesn't mean it isn't "lazy" as I would characterize it. There is extra effort required to arrive at the conclusion that any given individual you meet should not be penalized for the actions of others sharing a common characteristic. This effort must be borne of a determination to not make an unfair judgement on someone. How do we promote this concept? It would seem like on its surface the best way is to invoke human selfishness - by asking a person to imagine being on the receiving end of just such a misconception, and in so doing to cause that person to be awakened to the limitations of generalizing. This creates "value" in the act of doing intellectual combat against one's own prejudices, as one ought, because the expectations is that others will do the same and one would benefit by not being stigmatized. However, it doesn't seem like this plays out in practice for a great many persons...

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2016, 01:26:15 PM »
As much as it would be nice if it did explain things, poverty doesn't actually put much of a dent in the racial disparities when it comes to criminality. The statistics just don't seem to bear it out. It could be a co-factor along with others in some general cocktail for crime, but it isn't by itself the root of the problems. Neither do the folks at BLM appreciate the racial issues being recast as poverty issues (although I suspect their reasons for not wanting that is to preserve a narrative).

"the root" and "the problem" misconceive and oversimplify to match blm's self-righteous narrative.  the factors here include poverty, gender, racism, and an excessive expectation of racism both by cops and by many blacks who interact with cops.

TheDeamon

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2016, 08:39:10 PM »
In other words, it is a self-perpetuating cycle that is very hard to break free from. The one helps reinforce the other which in turn reinforces the third, which then reinforces the first.

Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2016, 06:37:39 PM »
Quote
There is extra effort required to arrive at the conclusion that any given individual you meet should not be penalized for the actions of others sharing a common characteristic.
There is also extra effort required to determine whether such a conclusion is universally valid.

I'll reiterate that both our ability to categorize based on common characteristics, and our tendency to focus our attention on objects associated with danger to the exclusion of other information (google "weapons focus") are evolved mechanisms which are fundamental to survival.

If the common characteristic you speak of is associated with danger, then your assumption that individuals should go through a process to convince themselves not to allow their reaction to be based on such a perceived association is, well, dangerous.

The failure of our instincts to conform to our politically correct fantasies may be disappointing to us as idealists, but if we really think things through, we might realize that this says more about our ideals than it does about our instincts.

From the evolution of the modern inner monologue, in accordance with Godwin's law:

"This human individual is wearing jackboots and a swastika. I note that this is a characteristic he has in common with the individuals who have been sequestering all the members of my synagogue. I must be careful not to base my reaction to this encounter between myself and this fellow human to be prejudiced by my inclination to stereotype this person as a threat to me simply because he superficially appears to be associated with a group of individuals who appear antagonistic toward my group of people. I must make the effort required to allow my thinking to become more evolved..."

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2016, 06:56:26 PM »
The argument equating a skin color to a military "uniform" is a characteristic argument of white supremacists from Washington and Eastern Idaho.  You shouldn't be making that argument, since you're from Michigan, right?  ;)

Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2016, 07:48:52 PM »
Quote
The argument equating a skin color to a military "uniform" is a characteristic argument of white supremacists
It's a loss in Godwin's book, in any case.

But one of the groups suggested in the OP was the police--a militant organization whose characteristic of association is a uniform.

And while I'm willing to play along with the meme that argumentum ad Hitlerum is universally noxious (for the fun of it), one might consider the fact that our police are a group of individuals who are charged with sequestering individuals in the execution of state policy, before automatically dismissing the comparison made as irrelevant or reductive. One might even consider the possibility that modern society should learn something from seeing a modern nation "lawfully" impose its racial bias on its constituents by force of a socially authorized group of police, rather than presuming prima facie that no valid comparisons between our society and Hitler's Germany are permissible...
« Last Edit: July 19, 2016, 07:56:50 PM by godsblackestcrow »

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2016, 07:51:19 PM »
Quote
The argument equating a skin color to a military "uniform" is a characteristic argument of white supremacists
It's a loss in Godwin's book, in any case.

But one of the groups suggested in the OP was the police--a militant organization whose characteristic of association is a uniform.

And while I'm willing to play along with the meme that argumentum ad Hitlerum is universally noxious (for the fun of it), one might consider the fact that our police are a group of individuals who are charged with sequestering individuals in the execution of state policy before automatically dismissing the comparison made as irrelevant or reductive. One might even consider the possibility that modern society should learn something from seeing a modern nation "lawfully" impose its racial bias on its constituents by force of a socially authorized group of police...

I'm having a bit of a kampf untangling your prepositional phrases.

Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2016, 07:59:33 PM »
Sorry.

I edited the post. The insertion of the missing comma might help with the issue, and the new conclusive clause might frame my meaning a little better...

Pete at Home

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Re: Attribution error, BLM and Dallas
« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2016, 07:06:59 PM »
Much better!  Thank you.  an interesting thought.