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Apr 12 2012

Deadly Force–Theory And Practice (Officer Down In NH)

In theory, it’s your right to stand your ground;
In practice, now, five officers are down.

(story, after the jump:)

Last year, a NH state legislator, in a discussion on the use of deadly force in personal confrontations, argued that one’s right to self-defense includes defense against attacks by police officers:

When a police officer points his firearm that’s not gonna make me feel threatened? If I’ve been trained to respond to that with force am I justified in blowing a cop away because I’m quicker on the draw, and he already pointed his firearm at me? Police are just citizens with badges and all laws should apply equally.

I wonder if he’ll be reminded of that comment when re-election time comes, now that one officer is dead, four others wounded, and an ongoing armed standoff is on every news source available to him.

One officer was dead after a local police chief and four other cops were shot Thursday night when they attempted to serve a search warrant at a home in Greenland, N.H., roughly 60 miles north of Boston.
Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney, one week away from his retirement, was among the officers shot, local police told the Portsmouth Herald.

Damn. Latest update is that it is indeed Chief Maloney who has died.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    howardpeirce

    Living where I do, it’s hard to know how to feel about this.

    Malcolm X spoke of chickens coming home to roost.

    I know nothing about N.H. police officers.

    Can I just grieve without picking sides?

  2. 2
    Daniel

    When dumb laws backed by special-interest groups meet deadly consequences that said groups would prefer were never acknowledged, do they turn around and fix the broken law, or do they dissemble and evade?

    Meanwhile, pay attention to who is pulling the “watch the silly monkey” chewbacca defense, not what the defense is (as we already know it’s useless).

  3. 3
    Norman Thorsen

    So-called “Stand Your Ground” laws do not protect illegal acts. If you injure or kill a police officer while the officer acts within the scope of his duties, you are accountable under the law.

  4. 4
    Cuttlefish

    But see this morning’s post, Norman–we are already seeing people arguing that the law was wrong, and the shooter right.

  5. 5
    unbound

    What happens when the irresistible force (aggressive police) meet the unmovable object (stand your ground citizen)?

    Police are rarely held accountable anymore, and the “stand your ground” laws pretty much make the citizens unaccountable in return. Not a good combination.

    The answer, of course, is to increase the accountability of both groups, not reduce it.

  6. 6
    Liam

    Stand Your Ground laws have nothing to do with this incident. It appears to be a cut and dry case of a suspect resisting arrest with deadly force, and such events have been occurring since well before the recent lifting of the duty to retreat, and the dead suspect is no more in the right now than he would have been before.

    Tasker’s still an idiot, however. Carrying around a gun when you’re impaired is just plain stupid.

  7. 7
    had3

    Cuttlefish: The law may be wrong, but it’s still the law until repealed.

  8. 8
    D-Dave

    I really don’t understand the culture that breeds this kind of thinking. It all just seems so backwards…

  9. 9
    Crudely Wrott

    One day long ago, it is said, a man picked up a stone and approached his brother. . .

    Whether sticks or stones, harsh words or atom bombs, the common factor is the person.

    No matter how devastatingly armed or how remarkably accoutered, on the inside there is just a human.

    So it goes, Billy Pilgrim. So it goes.

  10. 10
    Cuttlefish

    Yes and no, Crudely Wrott…

    “Just a human” ignores the very real environmental effects–the laws, the customs, the culture, of the cultures that form these human. If we don’t believe we can modify human nature, then why have schools? Why have laws?

    “Just a human” is a convenient myth, a means by which we can evade blame for making the world a better place. Environments matter, and we know some of the variables that make a difference. But we would (as a culture that worships at the altar of free will) rather blame individuals after the fact than admit that we could have prevented a tragedy if we’d just admitted that people are influenced by their environments.

    We are all guilty of the good we did not do. No man is an island. Whatever words you want. I cannot deny my influence on others, nor their influence on me. Human nature is extraordinarily malleable; that’s what makes us successful (us, rats, and cockroaches). Choosing to ignore the fact that we are influenced by our environments leaves us to be influenced by uncontrolled environments. I have not yet had someone convince me that unplanned control is necessarily better than planned.

    I firmly believe (not in spite of evidence, but because of evidence) that we can make the world a better place. Not by changing human nature. By changing the environment. Make it easier to be good, and harder to be bad. But to do this, we must accept that we are the products of our environment (long term via genes, and short term via learning), not our will. The majority of our culture disagrees with me. But being right does not depend on being in the majority.

    (and, CW, if I overstated your case and turned your comment into a strawman, I apologize. But I love a good rant…)

  11. 11
    Crudely Wrott

    No, Dear Cuttle, you did not turn my comment into a strawman. You did what humans do and that is to take advantage of the opportunity to state your case in your own terms; to have a good rant. Please know that your response is welcome. So I reply.

    “Just a human” ignores the very real environmental effects–the laws, the customs, the culture, of the cultures that form these human. If we don’t believe we can modify human nature, then why have schools? Why have laws?

    Recall that the laws, customs and cultures are human constructs which originate in, I think, the predispositions of human behavior. Our humanity permeates all of these things and if it were not for our existence, these laws and customs and cultures would probably not exist. I say this as someone who has no idea how to go about creating the universe and populating it with any number of self aware entities. I only know what I see happening around me and acknowledge some significant room for error.

    “Just a human” is a convenient myth, a means by which we can evade blame for making the world a better place.

    Sorry, I don’t think you or I or all the others are mythological. We are in fact here and we do in fact do what we do with whatever means are at hand. Additionally, the state of humanity today is a bit better than, say, the fourteenth century or even 1951, the year of my advent. I find this fact heartening and a testament to the good that humans can do.

    We are all guilty of the good we did not do. No man is an island. Whatever words you want. I cannot deny my influence on others, nor their influence on me. Human nature is extraordinarily malleable; that’s what makes us successful (us, rats, and cockroaches).

    If you refer to a common fault that spans generations, then I agree that the seed of guilt is broadcast over the whole field of humanity. That does not explain why I feel no responsibility for the evils that my fore bearers committed even while being humiliated and somehow diminished by those deeds. Of course, I am just one of a series and must therefore consider both my history and my legacy. Truth be told, sometimes my fellow humans make me want to crawl in a hole and hide until it gets really quiet.

    You have my hearty endorsement of your endorsement of malleability. It is, apparently, necessary for longevity.

    I firmly believe (not in spite of evidence, but because of evidence) that we can make the world a better place. Not by changing human nature. By changing the environment. Make it easier to be good, and harder to be bad. But to do this, we must accept that we are the products of our environment (long term via genes, and short term via learning), not our will. The majority of our culture disagrees with me. But being right does not depend on being in the majority.

    The bold part brings us around to the beginning; in order to make good easier and bad harder we will necessarily have to adjust laws, customs and cultures. It’s not impossible though it is a generational process and will not happen within our lifetimes. The good news is that the process has already started and has a good head of steam up which can be made good use of. Our malleability, our ingenuity, are likely up to the task of actually creating a world that more of us would call better.

    We simply need to teach our children well, and teach our friends and be willing to be taught by them. That pretty much sums up what it is to be human: at first we are taught, then we learn, then we go into the world and observe, which abuses what we have learned, and then we think and modify what we thought we knew and then we tell the little ones. It’s not a science, it’s an art (I used to think the reverse), and only practice will make approach perfect.

    These are my opinions, my take, my experience. I’m convinced that these are valid only in a general sense except in my own case in which they are highly informative guiding principles. We are all distinct despite the overwhelming similarities and all mileages will vary.

    It’s all so subtle, Cuttle. Except those times when thing just seem so clear . . . =)

  12. 12
    Cuttlefish

    A) Thank you, CW, for confirming my opinion that I have the best commenters on the interwebs.

    B) there are two small points where we seem to diverge. Re: “Myth”. It’s not that we are a myth–it’s that the notion of freely behaving humans is a myth; that we are the origins of our actions. I will not accuse you of buying into this myth, as you (in bold, yet) endorse its opposite. Ah, the bold claim (literally!). Here, I will not claim a claim on your part, but purely admit I infer one in my reading of your position. I may well be wrong, and it would not bother me (well, with one small quibble). The science that is an art that is a science is, I would argue, still very much a science. Our laws do not agree; we want freely chosen actions so that we can mete out blame; determined action would require a society to accept some portion of blame (yes, and credit).

    One wonders whether our notion of free will evolved to give individual people credit, or to allow the sources of power to elude blame.

    Our world does change, it changes us, and I agree with you, we are getting better. And whether it is viewed as an art or a science, I believe it most certainly *can* be a science–these are testable questions!– and that we currently have cultural guardians in place to fight that. I’d call it paranoia, were it not for copious evidence.

  13. 13
    Crudely Wrott

    @ Cuttle

    A) Aw shucks, I’m not even a regular. I fade in, I fade out. What I do is read more than I write.

    B) I see what you mean by “myth”; perhaps I was lazy responding to that usage. It is clear that what we commonly tell ourselves is so is not necessarily so even while it is necessary to know those things for the value of their instruction. To some large degree we are defined by our stories, our exploits, our escapades and our myths. In my youth I found such to be useful in defining broad principles but always with the suspicion that they existed as a contrivance to teach me something important. As soon as the meaning is absorbed, the parable becomes mere narrative. (No way do I reduce narrative; I’ve many stories of my own to tell.)

    I’ve been reading some Joseph Campell lately and I’ve been reminded of the power of narrative as it forms the mind set that is the seat of free will. The tension between assumption and action, belief and deed, profession and product. For several centuries there has been more novelty and information available in a day than most all of our ancestors got in their lives. Mythology has become nearly as malleable as faith, there being such a surfeit of both.

    .
    .
    And with that I lose my train of thought. I think I meant to draw your attention to the seeming paradox of human frailty and accomplishment. Something as well about the long term nature of substantive change. I nodded off and when I remembered where I was I didn’t remember what I was saying. Oops.

    This then:
    I think that we are eventually going to be all right. And I think that rhyme and meter will be part of the reason. Most other factors will be incremental, excruciatingly incremental, testing the best that we have. Regardless, we’ll always be able to make poetry and song and so pass along what we learned so long ago.

    And so to sleep I go.

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