Part 5—Though many, not nearly enough: We continue to dream an impossible dream about an imagined survey.
The survey we would like to see concerns police shootings and killings.
We live in a time when certain types of such events receive a great deal of attention, based on the demography of the deceaed. Extensive press coverage is augmented by embellished, false and irrelevant facts, and by facts which get disappeared.
Meanwhile, when it comes to fatal shootings by police, no other groups need apply! We wonder what this type of idiocratic coverage—we'll grant you, it's typical of the times—has done to our impoverished prehuman minds.
How many people may possibly think that none of the others get shot and killed by police? Beyond that, what sorts of answers would result from the second part of a survey question like this?
Possible survey question:We wouldn't be asking if police had shot and killed an appropriate number of others; we'll start discussing that question below. We'd simply be asking what respondents imagined the real number was.
According to the Washington Post, police officers shot and killed 223 African-Americans in the year 2017.
As far as you know, did police officers shoot and kill any "whites" during that year? If so, can you give an estimate as to a possible number?
How many "white people" got shot and killed? We wonder what respondents would say.
How many people in "other" groups did police officers shoot and kill? We'll guess that some people may think none at all! Once again, consider that recent Washington Journal segment, in which the topic was "Race and Police Shootings."
C-Span's guest was Kirsten West Savali, an associate editor and senior writer at The Root. To watch her 34-minute appearance, you can just click here.
In the first ten minutes of the program, Savali cited an array of police shootings dating to 1965. As is fairly conventional now, only one group of victims had been asked to apply.
At the 11-minute mark, a caller said she was being selective in her presentation about one recent shooting. Savali responded like this:
SAVALI (3/31/18): [We can talk about] so many black people in this country who have been shot down by police officers, and it's because there's a devaluation of black lives, period. Period.Citing that number from the Washington Post, 223 people shot and killed is, of course, a large number. It's certainly true that a large number of African-Americans were shot and killed by police officers last year.
We see all the time that police officers are able to de-escalate encounters with white people in this country, and that same thing does not happen with black people in this country. So it is not cherry-picking, at all. And we have to be honest about the fact that this is systemic, and it is continuous, and it happens all the time.
On the other hand, there may have been a bit of hyperbole lurking in Savali's remarks.
Later, at the 25-minute mark, Savali complained about the role of "mass incarceration" and "mass criminalization" in the black community. You'll rarely hear the topic discussed on our "corporate liberal" cable news channel, but there is no doubt that incarceration rates are astounding within black America, and that this has had some terrible effects within the black community.
That said, it's hard to know how so many people could be in prison if police systematically refuse to de-escalate arrest situations, simply shooting black people instead. If this behavior "is continuous." If it happens "all the time."
Meanwhile, do police officers "de-escalate encounters with" the others "all the time?" In fact, that isn't entirely true, based on the Washington Post's numbers:
Numbers shot and killed by police officers, 2017According to the Post's compilation, police officers failed to "de-escalate encounters with white people" on at least 457 occasions last year. That may not have been a large enough number of failures to get the numbers where they belong, but the number suggests that a bit of hyperbole exists in Savali's remarks.
Black people: 223
White people: 457
Is such hyperbole helpful? Beyond that, is it helpful when we embellish accounts of high-profile shootings—when we invent fake facts, disappear real facts and emphasize wholly irrelevant facts, all in service to our desire to make some particular shooting seem maximally heinous?
Granted, this conduct can make us feel good. But is it helpful or honest?
At this point, it might be wise to look at a fuller set of facts. These are the basic numbers the Post has established concerning police shootings last year:
Numbers shot and killed by police officers, 2017Within the Post's lexicon, "Other" will typically refer to people who are Native American or Asian-American. The "identities" of the Unknown can be pondered at the link above, within their extensive body of work on this topic.
Black people: 223
White people: 457
The shooting of people who are unarmed has received a great deal of attention. The term can be defined different ways, but these are the numbers the Post has compiled:
Numbers of unarmed people shot and killed by police officers, 2017For the record, the Post considers "toy guns" as a separate category from "unarmed." The reason:
Black people: 20
White people: 30
Despite the way we liberals play embellishment games with this topic, the types of "toy guns" in question are indistinguishable from real guns, especially after orange safety markers have been removed; are sometimes used in the commission of actual crimes; and will often be taken to be real guns when police officers are required to make instant decisions, unlike pundits examining statistics in the comfort of home.
Lots of people get shot and killed by police in this country. Sometimes, overt misconduct is involved. On most occasions, that almost certainly isn't the case—and as long as our nation is "awash in guns," the number of shootings may be reduced, but these incidents won't cease to exist.
This brings us to our final question. Shouldn't police be shooting more whites, to make the numbers proportional?
We'd like to see that question explored. For starters, though, consider this:
According to the Washington Post, the numbers broke down this additional way last year:
Numbers shot and killed by police officers, 2017Good grief! According to the Washington Post, 95.4% of last year's victims were men!
Might we take a guess? Few people will suspect that these numbers reflect some substantial "bias" on the part of police.
Differential treatment by gender may play some role here. But most people would likely assume that this vast disparity reflects the fact that men are much more likely to be involve in violent and/or criminal behavior than women.
The difference between whites and blacks is nowhere near as extreme. In fact, police officers shot more than twice as many whites last year—but as a percentage of their overall population, blacks were much more likely to be shot and killed, as compared to whites.
Does that differential rate of victimization reflect some sort of bias? We would assume that it probably does, to some unknown extent. That said:
We'll now introduce another fact which results from our brutal racial history. Even now, in the present day, blacks are more involved in violent behavior than whites, both as perpetrators and as victims.
Please note: This involves a very small proportion of the overall population, no matter what group we discuss. That said, in the realm of homicide victims, here are some numbers from U.S. News in the less than distant past:
CELLA AND NEUHAUSER (9/29/16): Black people have consistently accounted for close to half the country's homicide victims, making up more than 50 percent of the broader pool of those killed overall every year since 2010. The number of black victims increased 15 percent in 2015 over 2014.You'll have to search for the numbers which break such matters down into the demographic categories of black, white and Hispanic.
Of the 13,455 cases from last year in which the FBI listed a victim's racial information, 7,039 victims—or 52.3 percent—were black. That compares with 5,854 cases—or 43.5 percent—in which the victim was white, an increase of about 8 percent from last year.
Violence, poverty and despair are all part of our brutal racial history. It should be said again that criminal violence involves a very small proportion of every group's population.
That said, violent crime is more prevalent, at this time, in the black community. To what extent does that explain the disproportionate numbers of police shootings?
We have no idea! Given our idiocratic culture, you can be entirely sure that you'll see no such questions discussed within the high-profile press corps. On cable, the stars will give you The Chase and The Sex. No other topic, no matter how important, will ever need apply!
At one time, our journalistic culture was merely low-IQ. Over the past few decades, it has persistently slumped toward full-blown idiocracy.
Every matter of public interest is discussed in idiocratic fashion. That's true of our nation's public schools; of our nation's health care costs; of our nation's incarceration rates; and of Barack Obama's birthplace, along with the number of murders the Clintons committed.
It's true of our nation's federal budget, in which, as Paul Krugman notes once again, a flimflam man has long been treated as a truth-teller by the children who get hired to pose as our upper-end journalists. The ridiculous Comey was always sold as The World's Most Upright Man too!
As new technologies came into play, our public discourse steadily moved from low-IQ to full-blown idiocratic.
Nothing isn't idiocratic now. Could we make an exception for "race," our nation's most sacred topic?