FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020
So too with everyone else: Should the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor have been charged with a crime?
This morning, on the web site of the Washington Post, Paul Butler glumly says yes. (Butler's column doesn't appear in today's hard-copy Post.)
According to the Post's identity line, Butler is the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University. He's a graduate of Harvard Law School, and even of Yale before that.
Inevitably, the Post further identifies Butler as "a former federal prosecutor." As people with cable access know, he's one of the roughly three million such former officials who swarmed over MSNBC in recent years, assuring us that Robert Mueller was going to take Trump down and that the Southern District of New York is stocked with the greatest crime-fighters in the history of the whole world.
If so, why hadn't Trump ever been charged with a crime? The question was never asked.
Almost surely, Butler is a good, decent person. On TV, he always seems like the saddest person in the room.
He's a graduate of Yale and of Harvard Law. This morning, he's making zero sense, courtesy of the Post.
In his opening paragraph, Butler seems to vastly understate the reasons why Louisville police staged the (inherently dangerous) raid in which Taylor was shot and killed. More accurately, we'd be inclined to say that Butler misstates the reason for that inherently dangerous and ultimately fatal police action.
We'll leave those complaints to the ages. For today, let's say this:
Late-night raids strike us as remarkably dangerous on their face. That said, they've long been a standard part of police behavior, and three police officers (with backup) were sent to conduct such a raid that night.
Butler says they should be charged with manslaughter. As liberals, let's agree to be truthful just this once. Does this make any sense?
BUTLER (9/25/20): I’m a former prosecutor, and I would have charged all three officers with manslaughter. I think murder would be overcharging, because the officers did not have the intent to kill Taylor. Still, if three gang members burst into an apartment, were met with gunfire by somebody in the home, and in response shot up the apartment complex and killed an innocent person, they would almost certainly be charged with homicide.
It’s no less of a crime when three cops do the same thing. Self-defense is an issue, but one that a jury should decide.
No, really. That's what the passage actually says, and the Post chose to publish it.
Does that passage make any sense? Speaking directly just this once, that passage strikes us as insane.
In fairness, it's certainly true! If three gang members break into someone's apartment (after midnight) and end up killing an innocent person, they will almost surely be charged with an array of crimes.
We'll assume that these hypothetical gang members would be charged with homicide. But according to Butler, "it's no less of a crime" when three police officers do the same thing!
Does that make any sense? On its face, that strikes us as insane. For starters, let's try this:
The officers had been directed to raid Taylor's apartment as part of a narcotics investigation. They had a search warrant authorizing them to conduct a no-knock raid—a search warrant which had been approved by a (female) judge who had reviewed the rationale behind this dangerous action.
According to the New York Times, the rationale involved a long list of behaviors by and involving Taylor. According to the Times' lengthy front-page report, those behaviors went well beyond what Butler describes in his opening paragraph.
A (female) judge had reviewed the evidence of such behaviors. Rightly or wrongly, she had authorized the dangerous late-night raid.
(Rukmini Callimachi, in the Times: Judge Mary Shaw "said she had 'asked needed questions of the officer, reviewed the affidavits prepared for each warrant and subsequently made the probable-cause determination required of me by law.' ”)
Reviewing, the officers had been sent to Taylor's apartment by their superiors. They went there armed with a search warrant which authorized them to break into the apartment in the middle of the night.
That strikes us as a very dangerous type of law enforcement. That said, we'll guess that gang members breaking into apartments won't generally be so equipped.
Does it make any sense when Butler performs his weird conflation? Rather plainly, it seems to us that it doesn't. Along the way, other questions arise:
Should Judge Shaw be charged with homicide for approving the raid? Should the three officers' superiors also be charged with this crime?
Butler doesn't bother readers with such obvious points. For several decades, our failing liberal/mainstream tribe has been conducting its business this way as our floundering nation has slid toward the sea.
We'll admit it! We wonder why the Washington Post would put such work in print. We wonder why a person like Butler would compose such peculiar musings.
We're puzzled until we look around and notice an obvious fact. As has long been the norm on cable TV, no one else is making sense within our failing tribe:
The first essay we read this morning was a piece by Somil Trivedi at Slate.
According to Slate, Trivedi "is a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project." Inevitably, he's also described as "a former federal prosecutor." Isn't everyone these days?
Moving beyond the timid Butler, Trivedi seems to think that the officer should be charged with murder. As his essay begins, his rationale runs like this:
TRIVEDI (9/24/20): Americans have just completed another round of one of our grimmest national rituals: shaking our heads while cops who killed an unarmed Black person get away with murder. This time the victim is Breonna Taylor, whose name has galvanized nationwide protests for racial justice, but whose family will receive no justice themselves. Yesterday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a single charge from the grand jury against only one of the three officers involved in her shooting, and even that was for shooting a wall, not Breonna Taylor. The other two will walk. And a community that has already waited six months for closure will just keep waiting.
Many are rightly pointing out that these cops should not avoid charges based on self-defense when they created the danger in the first place. Accordingly, whether the grand jury result makes sense under the criminal law will be hotly debated in the coming days...
Interesting! According to Trivedi, the officers shouldn't avoid being charged, presumably for murder, because "they created the danger in the first place." Trivedi says that "many" people are "rightly pointing [this] out."
We wanted to see how those arguments go, and so we foolishly clicked the link Trivedi and Slate provided. It took to a perfectly sensible essay by Jane Coaston, a "senior politics reporter" at Vox.
Coaston has no apparent legal background. More to the point, her essay appeared in August 2019.
For that reason, Coaston's essay makes zero reference to the Taylor case, which arose in March of this year. Further stating the obvious, Coaston doesn't "point out that these cops should not avoid charges based on self-defense when they created the danger in the first place."
Indeed, it's a stretch to claim that Coaston engages in any such general claim at all. Her essay isn't anything like the way it's advertised.
In other words, Trivedi and Slate have provided a classic "link to nowhere." This is the kind of insulting behavior which now prevails at disintegrating sites like Slate.
Trivedi's piece was the first thing we read this morning. After that, we read this piece by Brooke Leigh Howard at The Daily Beast.
Inevitably, we found Howard making a standard bollixed claim:
HOWARD (9/23/20): The unjust death of Breonna Taylor was already exhausting. Louisville police officers entered her apartment on a “no-knock” warrant, without announcing themselves according to the accounts of many ear witnesses. Taylor’s boyfriend defended the home by shooting at the intruders, the cops shot back, and Taylor was fatally shot while lying in her own bed defenseless. On top of it all, the person the police were seeking didn’t even live in the apartment and had actually already been arrested on the other side of town. It took six months, waves of protests, celebrity outrage, and a national outcry before a grand jury was even convened.
Sad, but thoroughly typical. As everyone knows, the police weren't seeking some other person when they raided Taylor's apartment that night—some person who had "already been arrested on the other side of town."
More specifically, they weren't seeking Jamarcus Glover, Taylor's long-time (apparently) former boyfriend, with whom she'd engaged, or had at least seemed to engage, in a fair amount of suspicion-arousing behavior over the course of several years.
Callimachi ran through the list of such behaviors in her lengthy front-page report in the August 31 New York Times. As liberals, we aren't hearing about those behaviors because the twin processes of sanitization and cartoonization are currently underway in discussions of this matter.
At any rate, the Louisville police didn't enter Taylor's apartment "seeking" Glover that night. And the fact that Glover had already been arrested in a companion raid doesn't help us assess the wisdom of the raid on Taylor's apartment.
A bit like Tucker Carlson before her, Howard seems to have little sense of the basic facts of this case. That said, knowledge of facts is rarely required where Tribal Script serves as god.
After being amazed by Butler, we read this column by Melanye Price in this morning's New York Times. Professor Price, "a political scientist," also thinks the officers should have been indicted, apparently on a charge of "killing."
In other words, Price doesn't bother naming the specific crime with which the officers should be charged. She doesn't offer any rationale for the claim that they committed a crime at all.
Her column was published anyway, in print editions of the Times. This is the way our tribe works.
Are we humans up to the task of self-government? Within our self-impressed liberal tribe, are we up to the task of creating anything resembling a rational discourse?
These questions are especially salient now. They're especially salient as Donald's Trump's craziness threatens the national interest in deeply disturbing ways.
Are we liberals up to the task in any way at all? Top anthropologists constantly tell us that the answer is no. Weeping is heard inside their caves as they deliver this verdict, and as they say that our limbic brains will lead us to think that their assessment is wrong.
Kafka was able to see himself—to see his very body parts—as being non-"human." Anthropologists despondently tell us that Kafka had a very good strong solid basic point.
At any rate, Butler is making zero sense at the Washington Post today. In fairness, the same is true of everyone else as we slide down a dangerous path.
We still hope to mention, perhaps tomorrow: Zero awareness of How Trump Got There.
Also, the commissar spoke.