Mar 16Liked by Arnold Kling

“Common sense suggests that the best chance of reducing both crime and police misconduct is by improving police recruitment, training, and tactics.”

From my perspective, issue number 1 is in building *TRUST* between the community and the police. If a community doesn’t trust the police to administer the laws professionally and competently, then chaos will probably ensue in the black market of justice.

I’m forever shocked at how little the police generally understand Terry v. Ohio (1968) and how to apply the requirements of “reasonable articulable suspicion” to everyday situations. Just because you “got a call for service” doesn’t mean that a criminal detention is legally warranted. This erodes credibility every single time.

Expand full comment

I'm afraid that I have to look skeptically at the idea that improving police training would be effective in reducing police misconduct.

My suspicion is that the form that "improved training" would take would be "more hours of training", but that the content of those hours would be entirely untested for effectiveness, and would consist of whatever was being offered by self-styled experts and promoted by this or that community goup. We'd see lots of implicit-bias sessions and Robin DiAngelo, but nothing to test whether trainees were capable of controlling their tempers in the face of provocation, or of resisting peer pressure from more senior officers who'd learned to thrive in a toxic police culture.

The analogy that occurs to me is my TA training in my early days as a grad student. There'd been complaints about the quality of teaching by TAs—largely, I suspect, from students who wanted to explain those D's and F's to their parents without getting into the details of how they spent their weekends—and, in response, the administration had mandated X hours of training. But the purported training was entirely useless, provided chiefly by anyone who wanted to harrangue a captive audience and could come up with some kind of rationalization for doing so. We had a two-hour session of "Diversity Exploration", consisting of sitting in small groups exchanging platitudes about how bad racism, sexism, thisism, and thatism were; but part of our "training" also involved half an hour from the Director of Campus Recreation, talking up the benefits of the newly-opened Student Recreation Center. I'm quite confident that no one emerged from the purported training with any improvement in their ability to teach algebra, French, or American history.

No. I suspect that any sort of "improved training" for prospective police officers would be similarly useless. The hours of training would chiefly serve as a fig leaf for officials, as proof that they took police abuse seriously and were Doing Something about it. But I doubt very much that it would test whether the officers had the temperament and character to manage daily interactions with some of the worst elements of society without yielding to the temptation to misuse their powers.

Expand full comment

Lorenzo Warby is correct that feminism is a paranoid theory of history, and Arnold is correct for pointing out how Warby can improve his otherwise good argument.

Looking at history, it seems that feminism was a notion that regularly escaped from elite coteries that included especially bright women. These ideas never found fertile ground in society at large, until the 19th century, when feminists piggy-backed their notions of freedom and oppression on the powerful arguments for Abolition. Women's sufferage (and prohibition) were the culmination of that long episode.

Total victory didn't come until the 1960s, when high-status, high-intelligence women hijacked the de-legitimation of hierarchies that came with the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam war movements, to advance their own claims -- enjoying the highest possible status while permanently establishing themselves as victims of historic oppression.

Expand full comment

Can confirm the Louisville situation. Moved here in Q4 of 2019. Live on east end, decent middle class area, and routinely have groups of people roam the neighborhood looking for unlocked cars at 3am (doorbell cameras are helpful), break-ins, and vandalism.

Left runs soft on crime mayoral candidates. Right runs absolute clowns who don't seem to understand the US Constitution

Expand full comment

To steelman some aspects of feminist and antiracist thinking - there's a bit of a double bind, where blunter claims of sexism or racism are characterized as conspiratorial, but more nuanced claims (e.g. institutional discrimination) are characterized as too abstract. In this steelman version, the conspiracy, or networked social aggression, is more in the refusal to address an inadequate equilibrium than in the equilibrium itself.

Expand full comment
Mar 16·edited Mar 16

You can describe anything anyway you like, and pejorative description is a favorite tactic of lazy thinkers. The real work comes when you are called to provide evidence that your description is accurate or, maybe more to the point, that your evidence is better than the counter-evidence.

What's the feminist explanation for the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment? Somebody forgot to circulate the memo that women shouldn't be allowed to vote?

Expand full comment