END-OF-YEAR MANIFESTATIONS: We agree with a pair of letters!


The novelization rules: As a general matter, we don't root for people to go to prison. 

Above and beyond that general framework, we tend to agree with a pair of letters in today's New York Times. The first letter says this:

To the Editor:

After seeing the videos of the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by Kimberly Potter, I don’t believe that Ms. Potter should have been convicted of any crime. Clearly she made a terrible mistake, and it may seem inexcusable for a 26-year police veteran to mistake her gun for a stun gun. However, the sudden, unexpected, aggressive action by Mr. Wright—at close quarters—can cause an officer, even a veteran, to get fearful.

A suspect in physical contact with an officer who was attempting to handcuff him suddenly breaking free and jumping behind the wheel of his car is not committing a passive and harmless action. Mr. Wright’s sudden action surprised Ms. Potter, who is responsible for her fellow officers’ safety as well as her own. She made a horrible mistake, one that may disqualify her to continue as a police officer, but not one that should make her a convicted criminal.

We tend to agree with that letter. That includes the view it states concerning the role played by Daunte Wright's unfortunate decision to resist and flee arrest.

Even the prosecution agreed that Potter's action wasn't intentional—was a mistake. We haven't understood the logic by which this particular unintentional mistake turned into a crime—by which, for example, it was judged that her disastrously mistaken behavior was judged to have been "reckless."

The second letter expresses a similar view. In our view, its logic ends up wandering a bit far afield at the end:

To the Editor:

Kimberly Potter was convicted of manslaughter for killing Daunte Wright when she mistakenly used a handgun instead of a Taser. In contrast, Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by compressing his airway, allowing about nine minutes to pass during which he could have reconsidered and potentially saved Mr. Floyd’s life.

Once Ms. Potter fired her handgun, she had no time in which she could have changed course and saved the life of Mr. Wright. Her tragic mistake was irreversible the second that she fired.

In addition, consider the difference in how society reacts to physicians and nurses who make mistakes that result in the death of a patient. Rarely are they arrested and tried for manslaughter. If Ms. Potter is sent to prison, our justice system will have failed to extend the same empathy to police officers that we generally extend to physicians and nurses.

Derek Chauvin's conduct was intentional; Kim Potter's wasn't. That said, Potter will be "sent to prison." Within our tribe, the way this unfortunate event has been viewed is tied to a long-running novelization.

Granting that Potter made a disastrous mistake, what did she do that was "reckless?" We haven't yet seen the logic of that. We have seen the process of novelization as it has unfolded over the past dozen years. 

Sadly, our novelizations have tended to run on claims about Skittles and air fresheners, and on claims about "crossing state lines." Increasingly, we're tying ourselves to novelizations which may start to seem like cartoons.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our tribe has become increasingly dishonest, and The Others can see this about us. Warning:

In matters like these, The Others are routinely exposed to more information than we are.

We've mortgaged our souls for a novel we like, for a novel which lets us perform. At the top of the tribal heap, our silence about this matter is endless. Because the topic is so depressing, we're postponing it until next week.

Your lizard is telling you that we're wrong. Your lizard repeatedly does this.


  1. It is deliberately not easy to mistake a stun gun for a hand gun. That is why she was convicted.

    Beyond that, officers do not shoot unarmed suspects in traffic arrests just for trying to escape. Further the initial stop, for hanging an air freshener, was unjustified according to police procedure. The officer made several mistakes that resulted in a death.

    Somerby wants to blame Daunte Wright for his mistakes. His didn't lead to anyone's death. Hers were the fatal mistakes and that is why she was charged and convicted. Carrying a gun or a taser (which can also cause death) is a responsibility. This officer didn't take her responsibility seriously enough to prevent an unnecessary death.

    Trying to magnify Wright's scariness is no excuse for abuse of police authority that results in a fatality. That is why this officer was convicted.

    I don't understand why Somerby cannot see both sides of these situations in which an officer kills someone, but he clearly doesn't understand anything about the reactions of the family and friends of the victims, and he doesn't understand why those who are concerned about failure in policing care about those who are injured or killed by police. Implicit in Somerby's reaction is the idea that whatever police do, they are entitled to do. That cannot be right when young people are killed over air fresheners (and yes, that is what started the encounter, that and Wright's dark skin).

  2. Everybody makes mistakes.
    Remember when every god guy with a gun "forgot" to shoot Derek Chauvin and his fellow Minneapolis police officers?

  3. Somerby says he cannot understand what about the officer's behavior was reckless. Here is the definition of reckless:

    "(of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action"

    This officer says she mistook her handgun for a stun gun, despite the precautions taken to make the two readily distinguishable. That suggests she did not take the time to think about what she was reaching for.

    This officer shot a young man who did nothing more than get into his vehicle to try to drive away. He was shot for that. Further the officer was an adult and experienced cop while the young man was a 20 year old and frightened. Using a gun to kill someone in such a situation makes it obvious she did not think about the consequences of her actions or the proportionality of her response, or even whether Daunte Wright was actually dangerous to anyone (Somerby assumes he was but was he really).

    It seems to me that this officer's actions fully fit the definition of the word reckless. Why does Somerby never look up these words before talking about whether they are appropriate or not? Had he done so, it would be obvious that the officer gave too little thought to the consequences of her actions before reaching for her gun instead of her taser, to stop a kid who was only fleeing.

    The jury felt the same way as I do about this. Somerby defends jury decisions, but only when they support his own biases, such as when Rittenhouse was involved.

  4. Not long after Somerby characterized criticism of the Rittenhouse verdict as “trashing the jury” in that case, here he is criticizing the jury verdict in the Potter case, ie “trashing the jury.”

    Either it is a principle or it isn’t that you refrain from criticizing jury verdicts.

    Also, how widespread is it amongst “liberals” (whoever Somerby means by that) that they are “rooting” for Potter to go to jail? This is such a flippant characterization. It reminds one of the stand-up comedian’s penchant for reducing complex nuanced discussions to a flippant zinger.

  5. "That said, Potter will be "sent to prison.""

    Isn't it still possible, theoretically possible, that she might get probation?

    "We tend to agree with that letter. That includes the view it states concerning the role played by Daunte Wright's unfortunate decision to resist and flee arrest."

    Agreed. And let's face it: Kim Potter is another victim of your liberal-hitlerian cult. If not for your cult's pervasive - and perverse! - dembottery, most likely she would've never been prosecuted in the first place...

    1. Even if she wasn't charged, she was still criticized, which makes her a victim of "cancel culture".

  6. As Somerby continues never to mention the centerpiece of Trump’s 2016 campaign (“lock her up”), he has apparently decided that liberals aren’t allowed to want justice done in certain cases involving actual laws broken or potentially broken. He calls what normal people would call “our justice system in action” “rooting” for people to go to jail.

  7. “Granting that Potter made a disastrous mistake, what did she do that was "reckless?" We haven't yet seen the logic of that. We have seen the process of novelization as it has unfolded over the past dozen years.”

    Keep on trashing that jury, Bob.

  8. How many innocent black people will be murdered as a result of the Potter prosecution? I'm serious. Potter's conviction will discourage police activity. People who live in high crime neighborhoods will be particularly affected. Minneapolis experienced a high number of murders in 2021. I predict the number will be even higher in 2022.

    1. And right on cue, David supports the police protection racket.
      "Nice little city you have there. It'd be a shame if something bad were to happen to it."

    2. David,
      Would you make that prediction if Joe Manchin and every single Republican in the United States Senate didn't refuse to help the citizens?

    3. Holding the police accountable for their actions is socialism.

    4. @3:14 one should always look at costs as well as benefits. The BBB would have provided benefits to many people, but it had costs. Not only the huge amount of tax money that would go to pay for BBB, but the effect on our overall economy. Today, inflation is the highest in decades. Inflation destroys peoples' savings. I makes business difficult. If BBB passed, inflation would have gone up like a rocket, harming every single American.

      BTW if inflation is over 10% next November, look for a Republican sweep in the elections.

    5. @3:16 holding government officials criminally responsible is a dangerous slippery slope. George W Bush's invasions of Afghanistan led to thousands of useless deaths, as did Obama's surge in that country. Biden's poorly handled withdrawal from Afghanistan led to many deaths. Should Bush, Obama, and Biden be prosecuted for murder? I don't think so.

    6. David,
      I assume you've told these folks about our dire financial situation:
      Lockheed Martin Corp.
      Boeing Co.
      General Dynamics Corp.
      Raytheon Co.
      Northrop Grumman Corp
      United Technologies Corp.
      Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.
      Humana Inc.
      Harris Corp.
      BAE Systems Plc

      Did they accept your deep wisdom, or were they too busy laughing at your naivete?

    7. Re: inflation and Economics 101

      The government spends money into the economy to spur demand. When the economy "overheats", inflation rises. The solution to inflation is having the government tax money out of the economy, which tamps inflation.

      I'm not sure if Manchin is correct that financial comfort makes one lazy, but if so, taxing the rich might be doing them a favor.

    8. "Biden's poorly handled withdrawal from Afghanistan..."

      This has been debunked in all but the Right-wing fever swamps, and by neocons who think we are so rich we can (and should) have war forever.

    9. Statistics are showing that not only has all crime gone down, except homicides, during the past year, so have police shootings of unarmed people.

    10. Because of moral weaklings like Dave, we were pushed down a slippery slope that led to our first Gangster President. An enough’s enough movement is all that can save us.

  9. “Lock Her Up” chants would drive Democrats to quit their party, were they to engage in them at their National Convention. We actually don’t see the US as a Banana Republic. Part of our crisis, as Bob well knows, is that Donald Trump is not simply a cheap hood who throws empty accusations around, he’s an obvious crook himself. If Bob could find some way to excuse those election tampering phone calls, he would, but all he can do is state the obvious, that Trump is nuts. Most crooks are.

    As to the Potter case, it would.nice if She could get convicted but not serve jail time, I’m not sure if the Judge has that option. Sure, people are becoming more vengeful and corse. Writers like Bob should have tried to shut Trump down after The Central Park Five Case. At this point Bob signs on for the creepiest Holocaust trivialization. He seems to lack the personal strength to look at what Trump has done.

  10. Bob grew up in a time and place, before the internet, when the cop was a feature of the community, just like the mail man. He still uses the phrase "rookie cop" to pretend there is a system in place for sorting out the bad apples. Actually, older cops mostly shoot less people because they take desk jobs, not because they're cooler to be around. They usually lobby against more training too.

    But since cops are heroes they must be more enlightened than us. Unlike the rest of us, Bob believes that only a few of them have unconscious bias, so they're Gandhi until proven otherwise. Somehow he thinks they exist outside of American culture. Cops don't see black fathers humiliated by Jerry Springer, or chased down by CSI, or know any racial insults whatsoever. How dare you assume they're Americans.