I’ve been doing some more thinking about the recent cases in which American police officers shoot and kill people (e.g. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, etc.). It has occurred to me that there are two important angles to the national debate we’re having, but I’ve only really talked about one of those angles on this blog. They are:
The Race Angle–why do American police officers disproportionately shoot more black people than white people, even when you adjust for poverty and crime rates?
The Civil Liberty Angle–why do American police officers shoot more people per capita than police officers in other developed countries?
In late November, I offered a view on the race angle, but what about the civil liberty angle? What is it about America that causes American police officers to behave differently from police officers from other similarly developed societies? Let’s investigate.
I’ve recently watched the season premiers of two shows I like to watch–South Parkand Saturday Night Live. Both shows were returning after a long hiatus, but rather than lampoon the intervention against ISIS, the crisis in Libya, the conflict in Ukraine, or global indifference to climate change, both shows chose to lead off with the recent scandals in the NFL, with South Park making fun of the Washington Redskins name controversy, while SNL mocked the league’s indifference to the domestic violence committed by players Ray Rice (punched his fiancee in an elevator) and Adrian Peterson (beat his kid with a switch), among others. My Facebook feed is dominated by this stuff. This is really unfortunate, because it is yet another case of the American voting public being distracted from the serious issues by soap opera outrage politics.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to oppose pornography. Among his new anti-porn measures are a default “off” setting whereby internet service providers block access to erotic material barring user override and an outright ban on what Cameron calls “extreme pornography”, erotic material that depicts fictional violent sex. Are these policies (and others like them) good ideas?
Yesterday I found myself rewatching Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s latest film. This morning, I found myself watching a few interviews with Tarantino and was reminded of one of his running traits–he really hates it when people attempt to connect violence in movies to violence in real life. It goes beyond mere point of disagreement; he views the very notion that his movies could have any affect at all on the real world behaviour of people as beyond ridiculous. It suggests a fundamental different in aesthetic philosophy between Tarantino and his critics, and I think I have managed to put my finger on precisely what that difference is.