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Jon Oliver on the events in Ferguson

I have long since ceased to be surprised that some of the best analyses of hot-button issues like what happened in Ferguson is coming from comedy shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and now with newcomer Last Week Tonight. Oliver provides valuable context and background information on what transpired and brilliantly leavens the dark matter with humor.

Comments

  1. Lady Scientist says

    Glad he pointed out the connection between DoD funding and police behavior. Basically, the people in Ferguson who are protesting are experiencing war first-hand. Guess what happened to so many defenseless civilians in Iraq, courtesy of U.S. troops?

    There is so much racism in the U.S., and it gets transmitted all over the world whenever we go to war.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Good clip – certainly funny and interesting although my inner fact checker and proof reader cannot but help pointing out that the comment about NOT being NorthWest of the Amazon (9 minutes 45 seconds mark) is inaccurate. Missouri actually is located to the NorthWest of most of the Amazon region. (which btw is pretty durn big!)

    Also the fact that Mike Brown had just robbed a local business is NOT entirely irrelevant given the disputed accounts of events (there are several competing stories of what happened – we don’t really know for sure which is right) his possible motivation for his possible behaviour. It does provide a logical and plausible motivation as to why Mike Brown would struggle with a law enforcement officer rather than just follow his directions. Even if the officer didn’t consider Brown a suspect automatically, Brown himself may have assumed he was under suspicion and likely to face time for what he had done and thus he may have decided to flee and /or fight instead.

    Nobody really knows for sure what took place except the officer and just perhaps the eyewitnesses and the eyewitness and officer both have reason to lie or to have misunderstood and misinterpreted things – we know eyewitness testimony is unreliable. We also know the police are trained to serve and protect citizens and uphold the law, have passed psychological tests to become qualified for their jobs, and are trained for & usually have experience with emergency situations meaning their testimony should be given more weight than untrained and not-so-psychologically well equipped witnesses in general. As a rule of thumb too, we have to have the starting assumption that the police are telling the truth and basically the good guys.Because apart from anything else without that starting assumption, our society will be in big trouble and all and any of us could need police help some time. I don’t think police officers would act without good reasons for doing so – the very occasional exception to the rule to the contrary being just that and needing to be proven in each rare case of bad cops.

    PS. No, I’m not African-American and yeah, I respect them and I am willing to listen to their stories and side of this too but this doesn’t mean I always have to agree with them without supporting evidence and logic or have that over-ride other factors either. Also I do feel for Brown’s friends and families for their loss. I can see why they’d be unhappy with what took place – although it does NOT justify looting and rioting which really doesn’t help their cause or anybody. Again, only a few people if even them actually know the full and true story of what happened that night.

  3. says

    the fact that Mike Brown had just robbed a local business

    Which, he apparently didn’t.

    Authoritarian boot-lickers like you are so so “skeptical” except for when it’s “facts” coming from police spokespeople, huh?

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Marcus Ranum : “Which, he apparently didn’t.”

    Which the video released by the police apparently shows him doing – hence its relevance.

    The video is evidence that Brown was a petty criminal who had just committed an offence and thus knew he faced arrest and jail which goes to the likely motivation behind his subsequent behaviour.

    As sources of information, the police are generally more reliable and trustworthy because they have been selected and trained and have procedures for verifying and investigating facts. Criminals by definition have less credibility in their statements given they are by definition of unethical character and have motivation to lie. Eyewitness evidence we all know is unreliable at times. This tells us that we should be careful and sceptical of the eyewitness claims in this case which are extraordinary and thus requiring extraordinary evidence.

    It is highly implausible that an police officer who received a commendation for ” “extraordinary effort in the line of duty” (source :Wikipedia page – ‘Shooting of Michael Brown’) would shoot a suspect who was following his instructions and surrendering on his knees with his hands in the air. That latter claim does not make sense and is inconsistent with all we know about police procedures, general practice and has no apparent motivation. The alternative scenario that Darren Wilson was attacked by Brown and shot him during a struggle for Wilson’s gun makes a lot more sense is a lot more plausible and fits the facts. Occam’s Razor says it is much more likely and reasonable.

    To suggest otherwise – to make the extraordinary and implausible claim that a police officer murdered a black man for no apparent reason requires very strong and convincing evidence and I do not see that being presented here so far. Such evidence may come to light and we do not fully know yet but that is how things stand at present.

    This is called “logic” something you and many other “FTB thinkers” seem to be ignoring in favour of your anti-authority prejudice.

    This case will be investigated and hopefully the truth will emerge eventually. The rush to immediately condemn Darren Wilson based on dubious eyewitness accounts, trial by media and anti-police bias is illogical, poor thinking and unethical. It should be assumed that Darren Wilson is innocent until proven guilty and that his account is most likely correct on the evidence we have so far. A scenario like he described where Brown was attacking him when he was shot is consistent with the autopsy and forensics as far as I’m aware and that will be the most reliable and objective source of information.

    This btw does not make me a “boot-licker” or “authoritarian” but merely someone capable of applying logic and assessing the facts on their merits and personal abuse reveals the weakness of your case and your character.

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    The key question I think people need to ask here is why Darren Wilson would do as those who claim he shot an unarmed surrendering man, what does he have to gain and what motivation is strong enough to make him act as claimed?

    Even baselessly assuming – without as far as I’m aware any evidence whatsoever – that Officer Wilson is racist (an accusation all too easily made by people who don’t know this man) would racism be sufficient motivation for murder and the subsequent inevitable trouble including arrest and jail time for him?

    There are several versions of what happened here with the facts disputed and little really certain – see :

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28841715

    The idea that Brown had his hands up and was surrendering meekly when shot is one that makes very little logical sense and has least plausibility. If correct that idea is indeed horrific and Wilson deserves life in jail for murder – but we should not assume it is correct until there is evidence at least on balance of probabilities. There will be an investigation and I expect it will eventually clear Wilson of wrong doing but I could be wrong. We’ll see.

    Meanwhile demonising the cops and rioting and looting are not good ideas or likely to improve things in any way.

  6. says

    The key question I think people need to ask here is why Darren Wilson would do as those who claim he shot an unarmed surrendering man…

    So that’s all you have to offer here? Just sputtering “But, but, a rational person would NEVER behave like that! That’s INCONCEIVABLE!”? That’s kind of the point here: there’s an irrational person running around with a badge and a gun, and his colleagues are rushing to cover for him after he kills someone for no reason at all.

    First, you tired-assed neocon git, that claim you scoff at is supported by eyewitnesses, with no substantive refutation so far. And second, that’s not the only claim that’s been backed up by reliable information. There’s the matter of Wilson making ZERO radio calls about shooting anyone for hours afterword, and the (also undisputed) fact that the victim was left on the street for hours after he died. Then there’s the undisputed fact that a) Brown was unarmed when he was murdered, and b) Wilson was not confronting him in relation to any other criminal incident, but was only harassing him over something relatively minor and stupid, walking in the middle of the road.

    Also, Stevie, the BBC article you cited really doesn’t cast a whole lot of doubt on the current narrative. All it does is say “we’re not really totally sure of anything,” while ignoring a lot of things we CAN be sure of. Let’s look at this example:

    Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells, who assisted Dr Baden, said that one of the gunshot wounds to Mr Brown’s arm could have occurred as he had his hands up, but it remains unclear if that was the case.

    This particular arm wound could also have been sustained while Mr Brown had his back to the officer or while he was facing the officer with his arms in a defensive positioning.

    Additionally, Dr Baden told the New York Times that the wound on the top of Mr Brown’s head suggests that his head was bent over when the bullet struck.

    Either way, none of those possibilities mention an actual fight with the shooter, so whichever one proves true, the shooting was still unjustified.

    Funny how, with all the news articles pouring out of this whole mess, you choose to cite the one that says the least.

  7. says

    As a rule of thumb too, we have to have the starting assumption that the police are telling the truth and basically the good guys.

    Given the behavior of the Ferguson cops after the shooting — and to this day — I think we can rule out the “starting assumption” in this case. There was no radio traffic about a man down, the cops refused to even name the officer who killed a man (an unprecedented measure even by cops-protecting-their-own standards), the body was left on the street for several hours after death (again highly unusual), and no one offered anything like a justification for several days afterword. This behavior is both so unprofessional and so far outside normal police procedures, that it leaves the Ferguson cops with zero credibility. At this point, nothing they say can be trusted.

    Meanwhile demonising the cops and rioting and looting are not good ideas or likely to improve things in any way.

    Mindlessly accusing people of “demonizing,” when they only want to hold public officials accountable for their actions, helps even less. And coming from a neocon bigot who so blindly demonizes critics of Israel, it’s also pretty hypocritical. Go to bed.

  8. says

    would racism be sufficient motivation for murder and the subsequent inevitable trouble including arrest and jail time for him

    Because no racist ever lynched a black man, confident that they could get away with it?

  9. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Marcus Ranum : This wasn’t a lynching and doesn’t answer the specific question in officer Wilson’s case. You are assuming he’s racist when I see no reason to do so.

    @8. Raging Bee :

    Given the behavior of the Ferguson cops after the shooting — and to this day — I think we can rule out the “starting assumption” in this case. There was no radio traffic about a man down, the cops refused to even name the officer who killed a man (an unprecedented measure even by cops-protecting-their-own standards), the body was left on the street for several hours after death (again highly unusual), and no one offered anything like a justification for several days afterword. This behavior is both so unprofessional and so far outside normal police procedures, that it leaves the Ferguson cops with zero credibility. At this point, nothing they say can be trusted.

    That is certainly odd and suspicious but I wouldn’t go as far as you in assuming that leaves them with “zero-credibility” although i would say they need to answer some tough questions convincingly and haven’t yet done so.

    Mindlessly accusing people of “demonizing,” when they only want to hold public officials accountable for their actions, ..

    Is that what the looters wanted when they burnt down a completely unrelated shop owners store eh?

    I do see a lot of people jumping to the (very likely false) conclusion that Officer Wilson is guilty and that the dubious eyewitnesses who claim he was shot whilst surrendering are assumed to be giving a true account of events. I dn’t buy it. If Brown had being surrendering with his hands in the air as claimed, I don’t think the police would have shot him because its not how they act and there is no good reason for them to do so.

    .. coming from a neocon bigot who so blindly demonizes critics of Israel, ..

    Ableist language is noted. Also falsehood and adhom is noted. FYI. I am no bigot nor am I a neocon. Also my vision is okay.

  10. Silentbob says

    @ 10 StevoR

    .. coming from a neocon bigot who so blindly demonizes critics of Israel, ..

    Ableist language is noted. [… ] my vision is okay.

    StevoR:

    Muslim “civilisation” worships, idolises and believes in Homicide-suicide bombers as “Martrs” and thinks it is quite acceptable to destroy everything to kill Jewish or Western lives and will basically do crazy, irrational self-destructive things because they are totally blinded by their evil belief system.

    (my bolding)

  11. Silentbob says

    StevoR:

    Are you really so ignorant and blind to reality that you forget how and why that war started — because of all the rockets Hamas were firing into civilian Israeli cities?

    (my bolding)

  12. Silentbob says

    StevoR:

    Oh & btw Raging Bee, what the hell is the appeal of Jihadist Islam for you eh? Why the blazes are you so keen on Mohammad and supporting the Iranian theocratic dictatorship? Is it just love of sharia law and hatred of Jews? Is your anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism just blinding you or, well, what? Why the flip would you even *want* to take Iran’s side on anything!?

    (my bolding)

    What a surprise. A hypocrite as well as a bigot.

  13. says

    There’s something self-contradictory (yet disturbingly circular in effect) about the line of reasoning that goes:
    1. If a cop straight-up killed someone, he would be arrested and imprisoned for a very long time.
    2. Therefore, is it unreasonable to suppose a cop killed someone — why act so strongly against his own self-interest?
    3. Therefore, it is unreasonable to arrest a cop after incidents like these.

    We might as well neglect all crime anywhere…

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