Patricia Williams, of The Nation’s Diary of a Mad Law Professor column, also makes a useful point.
…given clear evidence that Ismaaiyl Brinsley was mentally unsound, it is remarkable that the media could assign direct cause-and-effect to the atmospherics of news. If Brinsley had tweeted that William Shakespeare made him do it, would Fox & Friends be blaming teachers’ unions for troubling the waters?
It is its own kind of madness to blame these murders on those who do no more than debate the proper use of force by police, as Fox and others have done.
(As in: guns don’t kill people, public discourse and protestors without guns do.) This response chills freedom of expression, not least by using one psychotic individual as the stand-in for a national debate in desperate need of actual resolution. If Brinsley becomes the embodiment of “Black lives matter” or the Willie Horton–ized face of “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, then no use of force by the police can ever seem too excessive. No wonder we need stop-and-frisk—“they” are executioners!
Exactly. This whole “the protests killed Ramos and Liu” ploy is just a way to shut down all protest against excessive force by cops.
Lest we lose sight of the issue: approximately 80 percent of African-American men between 16 and 24 have endured unsolicited stops by the New York Police Department. Only 10 percent of whites in the same age cohort have. This does not reflect inherent criminality, but rather a pattern of discrimination. To observe that much, to discuss it and to push to change it is not the equivalent of “stoking hatred.”
And I for one find it frightening that police officers high up in the chain of command are claiming it is the equivalent.