NO OTHERS NEED APPLY: Arguably, a slightly odd headline!


Part 2—No others seem to matter:
We'll have to admit it. At least to us, it seemed like a slightly odd headline.

It appeared on Sunday, March 18, in the Washington Post's Outlook section. It stretched across the top of Outlook's page 3.

We thought the headline was slightly odd. Slightly oddly, the headline said this:
Police are still killing black people. Why don't we notice?
In fairness, that headline begins with an accurate statement. The full stack of the Post's headlines that day said this:
Police are still killing black people. Why don't we notice?
The Post's Wesley Lowery says activists, reporters and the zeitgeist have moved on
Today, online, the pair of headlines are slightly different. So you can perform your usual full meditation, we present those headlines here:
Police are still killing black people. Why isn’t it news anymore?
The activism never stopped. But the attention to it vanished.
As fate would have it, Stephon Clark was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers on the evening of March 18, mere hours after that hard-copy headline appeared. And Clark's death has been treated as news, for an array of reasons.

Having said that, let us also say this. That morning, we thought that headline in the Washington Post was perhaps slightly odd, but also perhaps instructive. Thoughtfully, we'll explain why.

In our view, the headline basically captured the point of Wes Lowery's 1449-word essay. Lowery never exactly said that only one type of decedent need apply in the matter of police shootings. But the editor who penned that headline basically captured his drift.


In the course of his essay, Lowery named sixteen people who had famously or semi-famously been the victims of some sort of alleged or actual police misconduct. But only one of these sixteen names was borne by one of The Others:
Cited in Lowery's essay:
Edward Minguela
Rodney King
Alton Sterling
Michael Brown
Eric Garner
Sandra Bland
Philando Castile
Johnnie Jermaine Rush
Henry Louis Gates
Trayvon Martin
Jordan Edwards
Daniel Shaver
Tamir Rice
Walter Scott
Freddie Gray
Laquan McDonald
Need the others even apply? Only one of their number was cited this day. We'll guess that you can puzzle out which of those names it is.

Essentially, Lowery's essay asked a question, just as that headline implied. His essay asked why black victims of real or apparent police misconduct weren't getting a lot of press coverage any more.

The headline made it sound like Lowery was only speaking about police killings. That wasn't precisely the case, but we'd say it was close enough for mainstream press corps work.

"Police are still killing black people. Why isn’t it news anymore?" In principle, that's a perfectly sensible question, based upon a perfectly accurate statement of fact.

A person could perhaps and possibly say that the headline may be a bit "loaded." But the headline stated an accurate fact and, in theory at least, there are no invalid questions.

So how about it? Why wasn't it news any more when police kill black people? In his discussion, Lowery placed a lot of blame on the mountains of attention being paid to the conduct of Donald J. Trump.

But as the headline indicated, his emphasis— and, apparently, his interest—clearly lay on the killing of "black people," full stop, as seen in this passage:
LOWERY (3/18/18): [U]nlike President Barack Obama, Trump isn't interested in police reform...

And unlike Obama, who was immediately and persistently asked to weigh in on issues of race and policing—from Henry Louis Gates's arrest to Trayvon Martin's death to the Ferguson protests—Trump faced no such questioning when police in Texas shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards last April or when a video of an Arizona officer fatally shooting unarmed Daniel Shaver was released last year.

Among other complicating factors is that, while police shootings have continued, the number of unarmed people being killed has dipped and therefore so has the number of videos of such shootings that galvanize the public. In 2015, 36 unarmed black men were fatally shot by police; footage of the armed yet compliant Castile, 12-year-old Tamir Rice and Walter Scott dying from their wounds prompted massive protests. In 2017, the figure was 19. Of the 33 black people fatally shot by police so far in 2018, only two incidents are known to have been caught on a body camera. Some policing experts say officers have become more cautious.
Explicitly, we're discussing "race and policing." Beyond that, you'll note the possible oddness of that last paragraph, perhaps as it was edited. To wit:

As least as the paragraph was edited, Lowery starts by talking about "unarmed people being killed." At that point, there seemed to be no demographic requirement for inclusion in the circle of concern.

Instantly, though, that changed. From the number of unarmed people being killed, we move directly to the numbers of "unarmed black men" being killed in 2016 and 2017. Among the others who need not apply, he even excluded black women!

(At least as the passage appeared. And yes, there have been some.)

It was perhaps from that chunk of text that some editor get the impression that Lowery was concerned about the killing of people who are socially defined as black, full stop, with there being no apparent need for anyone else to apply. For our money, the headline did capture the gist of the piece—and the headline struck us as perhaps somewhat regrettable and as perhaps slightly odd.

Of one thing you can be sure; the Washington Post's Wes Lowery is a good, decent person. We've never met him in our lives, but we're totally and completely sure of that fact.

We also think that headline, and the essay beneath it, may lead us in two directions:

First, it helps explain our interest in the survey we imagined yesterday. How many people might believe that today's police officer is shooting and killing black people only, and nobody else?

We'd be curious to see an approximate answer. In fairness, if some people have formed that impression, it isn't because they haven't been getting plenty of help.

Second, it seems to us that Lowery's essay may have a good and decent person tilting toward a type of moral mistake. We think of this glorious passage from Yevtushenko's poem, People. Granted, he was a Russkie:
In any man [sic] who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight
it goes with him.

There are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery
Whose fate is to survive.

But what has gone is also not nothing:
by the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.
"Who we knew as faulty, the earth's creatures," Yevtushenko says as he continues.

When a person dies, "what has gone is not nothing?" Yevtushenko didn't add the limiting phrase, "depending on the demographics," although, anthropologically speaking, many people all over the world have always been so inclined.

How many people think that only "black" people are being shot and killed by today's out-of-control police officer, who hasn't kept up with the statistics about today's improved teens?

We're curious about the answer to that. It seems to us that, much as once was said at Woodstock, there's some bad information and faulty suggestions possibly going around.

Tomorrow: Clinton promotes a (slightly peculiar?) movement


  1. Link to WaPo article is

  2. What else is new, Bob. As we all know, racist hate-mongering is the only way liberal establishment can cling to power. As elections approach, expect more of this, much more. I don't think it works anymore, though. Overused.

    1. Like your shtick - overused, pointless and boring.

  3. Sadly, paying attention to media reports can make you stupider. A smart analysis would look at

    -- police killings by race of policeman and race of victim

    -- justified vs. unjustified police killings

    -- non-police killings by race of killer and race of victim

    But, too many media report muddle these distinctions, as if they didn't exist.

    1. Considering the media you pay attention to and how stupid you are, you probably have a point when it comes to conservative media.

  4. "How many people might believe that today's police officer is shooting and killing black people only, and nobody else?" Whenever a person is killed by a cop, it's big news, locally at least. Regardless of the race of the person.

  5. With Mr Trump and Uncle Vova in charge, the use of nuclear weapons is "unlikely". So says Vladimir Shamanov, a senior lawmaker and retired general.

  6. Bob has a keen eye, and not just in this sense: Daniel Shaver

    Daniel Shaver certainly stood out to me, and a bit of perusing confirmed that which I thought I knew, which was that Shaver was a white guy on his hands and knees, who was too effed up to even obey simple directions from people who were pointing guns at him. He was too ignorant and effed up to realize that pointing any type of gun out of a hotel window was bound to end badly, especially given the fact that he scared the shit out of the cops that were there, if they’re to be believed. One thing we know: Shaver wasn’t shot in the back.

    “Police are still killing black people. Why don't we notice?” The headline Bob cites line should have been “Police are still killing people.”

    Is it wrong to focus on the killing of black people? No, I don’t think so, given the other noticeable factors of being a member of black society, such as relatively higher incarceration rates, length of sentences, inability to pay bail and on and on. The fact that cops go into all situations with guns will almost always make it much worse.

    That being said, the Sandra Bland case stood out to me as so outrageous as to defy belief. That was, in my view, purely racist, and she wasn’t shot with a gun. Driving while black. Can you imagine living with that fear? Flashing lights are almost a form of terror. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. And you HAVE to comply. Saying that as a white guy.

    Cops SHOULD be afraid. But do they really have to be armed to protect and serve? I’d be much more comfortable if they weren’t.


  7. Police do some harm by sometimes killing innocent people. But they do far more good than harm by deterring crimes, including the murder of innocent people. That's why we spend a lot of money for police and other private security personnel.

    The harm police do is visible: innocent people they kill. The good they do is invisible: all the murders that didn't happen. Reformers tend to focus on what's visible--the people killed by police. But, any reform has to be evaluated as to its impact on crime prevention. Unfortunately, it's difficult or impossible for most of us to predict how a given reform will affect the non-police murder rate.

    One can see the impact, e.g., in London, England. The rate at which police kill innocent people is low, but the overall murder rate has climbed to a point where it's comparable to New York City's murder rate. "In the British capital, there were 134 murders in 2017, a 40% increase over the last three years — excluding deaths in terrorist attacks."

    P.S. the London murder rate sky-rocketed even though guns are are mostly banned. Murderers simply use other weapons.

    1. Typical dishonest cherry-picking in support of a false conclusion. UK-Wales 2017 homicide rate was the 7the highest since 2003.

      Like practically all your comments, you're full of shit again. Your bullshit is about the only thing that's skyrocketing.

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