Police misbehavior thread

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elasto
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby elasto » Fri May 20, 2016 1:07 am UTC

If this guy can steal because he's hungry, other people are likely to as well. This is creating a problem.

No it isn't and no they won't. Most people are not going to risk arrest and a court trial on the mere hope that the court will judge them hungry enough to let off. Would you?

And who should the supermarket blame? The starving homeless guy or the society that allowed him to remain starving and homeless over an extended period?

As you say, there's more than one solution to a problem. Is three trials, a six month jail sentence and a fine really the solution here? Wouldn't it be cheaper and more humane to spend that money housing and feeding him? Oh, and, if necessary, reimburse a store anytime someone is forgiven for stealing from it, so cphite continues to keep his stores in poor communities open.

Isn't that a better way all round?

(Ok, so sometimes people have mental health issues which mean they insist on living on the streets. Such a person is even more in need of help - and society should be bending over backwards to do so - because any of us could become that sick or have a family member become that sick.

Noone is immune from bad health.)

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ucim » Fri May 20, 2016 3:27 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Okay, but WHY do you forgive crimes?
That depends on how you feel about people, and about society, and about the idea of "there but for the grace of God..." But the bottom line is you forgive certain crimes, in certain cases, because you are not a machine. Because there is a certain humanity in being part of society. Because you recognize that laws are not what defines Good and Evil, but rather, our (complicated and non-universal) ideas about Good and Evil are what define the laws, which are themselves imperfect and very broad brush strokes which often were designed with a different agenda in mind. [cue the whole racist laws discussion]

You (sometimes) forgive (some) crimes because you recognize the huge brush strokes the law is made of, and the iniquities these laws tend to (and are sometimes surrepticiously designed to) preserve. You do it because you are in the position of judge, and not legislator. Your canvas is this one case with all its specifics, not society in general.

You do not do it as a solution to the problem "Laws are unfair". You can't do that. It's not in your power. But you can do it as the solution to the problem "This law, in this specific case, is more unfair to the party that is being tried, despite any and all intentions to the contrary by the lawmakers who enacted it.

Tyndmyr wrote:But this is precisely what laws against petty theft are for.
No, it's not.

Tyndmyr wrote:Punishment isn't about vengeance.
It is if it's meted out this way. Forgiving this guy makes society work. Society is not based on authoritarian and mechanical obedience. It's based on the compassion and empathy individuals have for each other, and laws are but a crude attempt to help this to scale beyond the point where people know each other. Jailing him for six months and fining him many times more than his net worth destroys society.

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:For something to be a "solution", there has to be a defined problem. None was defined here. However, it's quite easy to find some problems in the situation; to wit, the fact that the store lost money due to theft, the fact that the man was poor and homeless, the fact that supermarket transactions are not 100% secure, the (presumed) fact that supermarkets throw (unsellable) food out rather than give to the poor, the fact that so much fuss and so many societal resources are devoted to resolving these minor issues when there's real crime to address... on and on. Each of these merits a different, sometimes incompatible solution, which is why no solutions exist. It depends what you think is important.
Yes, many of those undesired outcomes are themselves the results of such thinking...
I'm not sure what you are trying to say here. I'm not putting these forward as "undesirable outcomes", I'm putting these forth as problems.

Now, we have a crime committed. It was due to a problem. Irrespective of the judicial outcome, we still want to solve the problem.

Which problem?

If you don't say, then we can't tell whether the solution actually solves that problem.

If you do say, then you can point to a solution. But that solution will likely make the other (unacknowledged) problems worse. [cue war on drugs]. This is a political tool used to generate politically beneficial outcomes, rather than actual solutions. We have to be clear on what the problems are, how much we care about them, and whether or not we care that we don't care about (some of) them.

I'm aware that shoplifting is "real crime", and I'm aware of the thin margins of supermarkets. But not all criminal actions are equal.

Tyndmyr wrote:there's no reason to assume that we've maxed out on how much we can improve law/society
But "improving law/society" is not one-dimensional. People legitimately disagree on what constitutes an improvement, and not because the other side is unenlightened either.

Tyndmyr wrote:This sort of thing ends up being held up as "nobody cares about us", which ends up with unfortunate reactions. The justice system needs to respond appropriately, but not responding at all isn't really a good path either.
The justice system didn't "not respond at all". It responded in the manner that emphatically says "IT"S NOT TRUE that 'nobody cares'"

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby elasto » Fri May 20, 2016 4:18 am UTC

Very well said.

I'd add that jury nullification is yet another way society expresses that a greater wrong would result from following the law than ignoring it. It is sorely underused.

Both justice and mercy are important in a healthy society; Leaning too far in either direction would be to the detriment of us all.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri May 20, 2016 11:10 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Essentially, it is a necessity defense. Some crimes may be justified if they can prevent a greater harm. The bar for the defense is fairly high in most jurisdictions--I don't know if it really ought to have succeeded here (being "hungry" would probably not be enough--if you were literally dying of malnutrition, it probably would be).


Yeah, the fact that he bought some food, while concealing other food in his clothes, and so on...I didn't bother to bring up necessity because it seemed to fall well short of the bar. If someone's grabs something off the shelf to stop someone from dying in an accident, cool.

I can't think of a way to adjudicate this as not worthy of punishment that doesn't also apply to a number of similar cases.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Okay, but WHY do you forgive crimes?
That depends on how you feel about people, and about society, and about the idea of "there but for the grace of God..."


Well, I'm an atheist, so I'm not putting a lot of stock in the "grace of God".

I do, however, believe in causality. If you have a homeless problem, well, there's probably reasons for that. Allowing supermarket theft is unlikely to fix those reasons, and will create more problems.

But the bottom line is you forgive certain crimes, in certain cases, because you are not a machine. Because there is a certain humanity in being part of society.


If doing the wrong thing because of a compulsion to prove my "humanity" is what makes one human, then I'll strive to be a machine, thanks.

Tyndmyr wrote:But this is precisely what laws against petty theft are for.
No, it's not.


Petty theft is, by definition, fairly small. Most shoplifters aren't exactly stupidly rich. Sure, a millionare with a shoplifting habit will definitely make the papers, but that's because it's an unusual event, not a person walking out of the shop with a new pair of jeans or something. Most criminal rich people deal in other crimes. Graft or fraud of some impressive quantity. Someone without a lot of money stealing something because they need it is a very normal case of petty theft.

Tyndmyr wrote:Punishment isn't about vengeance.
It is if it's meted out this way. Forgiving this guy makes society work. Society is not based on authoritarian and mechanical obedience. It's based on the compassion and empathy individuals have for each other, and laws are but a crude attempt to help this to scale beyond the point where people know each other. Jailing him for six months and fining him many times more than his net worth destroys society.


I did not support punishment here on the grounds of vengeance, so, no, that's not a valid assumption.

Other punishment models exist as well. You don't have to choose between "ALL THE VENEGANCE" and not punishing at all. This gets directly back into the police violence thing, too. You need a nice, smooth graduation of punishments that are appropriate to the crime. Sometimes that may be a fine. Sometimes that may be community service.

And on a systemic level, if you're seeing certain problems crop up a lot, preventative action may be required.

Now, we have a crime committed. It was due to a problem. Irrespective of the judicial outcome, we still want to solve the problem.

Which problem?

If you don't say, then we can't tell whether the solution actually solves that problem.

If you do say, then you can point to a solution. But that solution will likely make the other (unacknowledged) problems worse.


Not intimately familiar with that country's issues, and, no doubt there are others more qualified than me to speak on them. However, I'm confident that we have a few issues here in the US that we could work on without making other problems worse.

We're not on some pareto optimum of society, where every improvement has to come at an equal loss elsewhere. Or even a loss elsewhere. There are some things that we can fix that have no significant tradeoff whatsoever. You're basically arguing that we should avoid fixing problems because there might be some unknown other effect.

I'm arguing for doing the math, and figuring out effects first, and cheerfully changing things. In a systemic fashion, not in some "well, fuck it, this guy gets to shoplift" fashion.

I'm aware that shoplifting is "real crime", and I'm aware of the thin margins of supermarkets. But not all criminal actions are equal.


Literally nobody has said that they are, or that they should be.

The justice system didn't "not respond at all". It responded in the manner that emphatically says "IT"S NOT TRUE that 'nobody cares'"


If the thing the justice system responds with is anything other than "justice", then it's wrong. Both when it refuses to uphold valid, necessary law, and when it goes beyond it.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KrytenKoro » Fri May 20, 2016 1:06 pm UTC

sardia wrote:The word you're looking for is Welfare, as in promote the general Welfare. Usually provided by taxes. It's usually more equitable than random charity.

I mean, that's definitely useful, but I literally meant that there used to be a principle of not coming down like the hammer of Thor on obviously-starving people taking small pieces of food from among a smorgasbord. Yeah, I'm sure they still had angry farmers who would try to chase those people off, but it was the farmer who was considered the criminal for doing so, not the starving person. In Medieval England, you also had stuff like the Open field system, and how back when they had the Catholic Church, the churches would have their own little fields meant for the starving to take from.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ucim » Fri May 20, 2016 1:21 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Yeah, the fact that he bought some food, while concealing other food in his clothes
...is an irrelevant detail.
Tyndmyr wrote:If someone's grabs something off the shelf to stop someone from dying in an accident, cool.
That's a pretty high bar.
Tyndmyr wrote:Well, I'm an atheist, so I'm not putting a lot of stock in the "grace of God".
I'm an athiest too. The phrase is not a religious invocation, but one that recognizes that your position is not one of moral superiority, but of circumstance.
Tyndmyr wrote:Allowing supermarket theft is unlikely to fix those reasons, and will create more problems.
But that's not what you can control. You can only control this one case, where you decide whether it is morally right to condemn the less fortunate in the name of mythical legal purity.
Tyndmyr wrote:If doing the wrong thing because of a compulsion to prove my "humanity" is what makes one human, then I'll strive to be a machine, thanks.
If you succeed, you may find you have no reason to continue living. Machines have neither joy nor sorrow. Personally, I do not want a society of robocops.
Tyndmyr wrote:Petty theft is, by definition, fairly small. Most shoplifters aren't exactly stupidly rich.
The reason he was let off isn't "because he 'wasn't stupidly rich'".
Tyndmyr wrote:And on a systemic level, if you're seeing certain problems crop up a lot, preventative action may be required.
Agreed. But the judge is not permitted to do preventative action. Feel free to take the cause up yourself.
Tyndmyr wrote:We're not on some pareto optimum of society
There is no such thing. Believing in this is like believing in God.
Tyndmyr wrote:I'm arguing for doing the math...
This is an argument that applies to "fixing society", not one that applies to judging one case.

In the US, there is the "reasonable man" criterion; essentially when there is a difficult case, the judge asks "what would a reasonable man do in this circumstance?". So, put yourself in that circumstance. How bad off would you have to be to choose to watch your sister go hungry day after day (you've tried but cannot get work), until you finally break down and steal a few dollars worth of cheese? A machine would watch her die rather than break the law. Is this the machine you would strive to be?

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby cphite » Fri May 20, 2016 2:29 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
cphite wrote:But unfortunately that is the mentality of a lot of people these days. The supermarket has food; the guy needs food; therefore the supermarket ought to give him food. Very little thought is put into the fact that the folks who run the supermarket have their own families to feed.


It's times like this I recall that we already had a solution for this issue, millennia ago -- allowing the poor and needy access to a portion of the food in the fields. Or as an analogy for the modern world, not giving such a crap about people asking for samples/poss. being forgiving of food shoplifting (which, unlike luxuries shoplifting, is almost always because the thief is actually in need of food).


There are programs in place in Italy (as with any other modern country) to provide food for those in need. It's not the responsibility of store owners - though they're certainly free to contribute if they choose. Allowing people to steal isn't the proper way to do that.

A lot of store owners may find it acceptable to ignore small losses from time to time; but a loss is still a loss. If it becomes more commonplace it becomes a problem.

All kinds of perverse incentives, too. Definitely better to put up supermarkets in places without lots of poor people then, eh? Just another reason not to invest in rough areas. And definitely make your area as inhospitable to the poor and homeless as possible, lest they start hanging out, and swiping from you.


Doesn't Walmart's whole model rely on lower income communities/employees?


Yes; and that's why they're so aggressive about prosecuting shoplifters. Their model wouldn't support avoiding poor areas.

From what I remember from working in a retail place, it's also often not considered worth it to pursue every small-value theft, especially for food (which usually can't be resold anyway). That may not be common, and certainly there's less leniency for high-cost food items. Can't speak for Walmart, though, they prosecute everything every time -- even in cases where the person simply forgot to pay and offered to (Safeway has done this too, apparently).


A lot of stores don't prosecute small losses because it isn't cost effective. They might determine, for example, that the amount they lose to theft over a certain period is less than the amount of preventing that theft. But that should be their determination to make; it shouldn't be decided by the court system simply ignoring theft. Stealing is - and should be - still illegal.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KrytenKoro » Fri May 20, 2016 3:34 pm UTC

cphite wrote:There are programs in place in Italy (as with any other modern country) to provide food for those in need. It's not the responsibility of store owners - though they're certainly free to contribute if they choose. Allowing people to steal isn't the proper way to do that.

What I'm saying is that didn't used to be considered theft. It was considered a public duty, akin to taxes. It being criminal for someone to do what it takes to survive is a modern invention.

Stealing is - and should be - still illegal.

What I'm saying is I'm not convinced that it is prima facie theft, or a problem. Society worked for a long time without it -- the moves away from it usually corresponded with periods of centralizing wealth/power in the hands of the wealthy.

This discussion goes more into stuff like living wage, making sure society provides basic necessities, etc., all stuff it currently woefully fails to do -- even if there are programs insufficiently attempting to do so.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Newt » Fri May 20, 2016 5:05 pm UTC

Wasn't considered theft by who? Color me more than a little skeptical that it was a widespread practice millennia ago to let random strangers take stuff from your stores/fields, and not just some limited example of almsgiving by the proportion of the population affluent enough to have their doings enter the historical record.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri May 20, 2016 5:14 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
sardia wrote:The word you're looking for is Welfare, as in promote the general Welfare. Usually provided by taxes. It's usually more equitable than random charity.

I mean, that's definitely useful, but I literally meant that there used to be a principle of not coming down like the hammer of Thor on obviously-starving people taking small pieces of food from among a smorgasbord. Yeah, I'm sure they still had angry farmers who would try to chase those people off, but it was the farmer who was considered the criminal for doing so, not the starving person. In Medieval England, you also had stuff like the Open field system, and how back when they had the Catholic Church, the churches would have their own little fields meant for the starving to take from.


Don't we have the SNAP program for this situation?

In the US, people typically aren't starving to death. Now there's a lot of issues with the SNAP program (including black-market SNAP trading... among other things). But the system works as far as giving food to those who need it.

There shouldn't be a need to steal because you're hungry... because if you fill out a form or two, you get a debit card with food money on it.

------------

If there's evidence that the SNAP program isn't sufficient, then we should be discussing ways about improving the system so that people aren't starving in the streets. Under no circumstances should people be just stealing from supermarkets, not with the modern systems in place.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby LaserGuy » Fri May 20, 2016 5:24 pm UTC

Newt wrote:Wasn't considered theft by who? Color me more than a little skeptical that it was a widespread practice millennia ago to let random strangers take stuff from your stores/fields, and not just some limited example of almsgiving by the proportion of the population affluent enough to have their doings enter the historical record.


Well, it goes as far back as the Old Testament, where farmers were expected to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so that poor people could have access to them

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ijuin » Fri May 20, 2016 5:45 pm UTC

Fining the man is an appropriate penalty for petty theft of food. Half a year in jail is rather excessive, though. How many tens of thousands of Euros were spent on prosecuting and incarcerating a man whose offense was worth perhaps five Euros?

(Edited for spelling--I had "incarnating" when I intended "incarcerating".)
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri May 20, 2016 5:57 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:Fining the man is an appropriate penalty for petty theft of food. Half a year in jail is rather excessive, though. How many tens of thousands of Euros were spent on prosecuting and incarnating a man whose offense was worth perhaps five Euros?


Somehow I missed the 6 months of jail part.

If that's the guy's punishment, then I'd say the judge should have a heart and ignore his crime. That's definitely excessive. I dunno the legal system of Italy, but I know that US Judges can change the crime to something smaller or otherwise factor in mitigating circumstances through various legal maneuvers (with exception of minimum sentencing laws, which need to die)
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Dauric » Fri May 20, 2016 6:54 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:Fining the man is an appropriate penalty for petty theft of food. Half a year in jail is rather excessive, though. How many tens of thousands of Euros were spent on prosecuting and incarnating a man whose offense was worth perhaps five Euros?


If they're stealing food, and we assume that they're in circumstances where they can't -afford- food, then levying a fine against someone who can't pay the fine in the first place is... on a good day, problematic. At least in the U.S.it leads to a practice of throwing people in jail for nonpayment of fines. Now technically "Debtors Prisons" are illegal in the U.S., that doesn't stop municipalities across all 50 states from issuing arrest warrants for nonpayment of fines, and tacking on yet more fines or even jail sentences.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Chen » Fri May 20, 2016 8:19 pm UTC

Prison and a fine for that kind of thing is pretty pointless. I mean granted the fine could bring in some money when applied to people in different circumstances who may steal, but here it's fairly obvious they're not going to get any money. For such a petty crime something like community service seems like it would be a better option anyways.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby sardia » Sat May 21, 2016 12:30 am UTC

Chen wrote:Prison and a fine for that kind of thing is pretty pointless. I mean granted the fine could bring in some money when applied to people in different circumstances who may steal, but here it's fairly obvious they're not going to get any money. For such a petty crime something like community service seems like it would be a better option anyways.

Around a certain level of poverty, you can't really expect them to be able to accept any level of punishment without absurd consequences. For example, in the debtor prison's article, you're taking a productive member of society who's barely making it, and ruining his life for failing to pay a fine. Don't believe me? What happens if you can't pay the fine? You get another fine for not paying the fine. And another fine, and another. And then what? Jail. What a great way to make them unemployed forever all over a minor fine.

There's just no way around this, and it takes a bit of foresight to suspend the desire for justice at all costs.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Lazar » Sat May 21, 2016 12:58 am UTC

Exit the vampires' castle.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ijuin » Sat May 21, 2016 4:15 am UTC

The fact that they were making an explicit threat to shoot him does seem to imply that they (the cops) considered killing him to be an acceptable response, so the argument that they had no intention for him to die loses a lot of credibility.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Lazar » Sat May 21, 2016 8:14 pm UTC

A cop draws his gun on a man who's… not really doing anything. His department unsurprisingly clears him of wrondgoing.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Sableagle » Sun May 22, 2016 12:12 pm UTC

So you pull a gun on someone for being there filming what goes on in his neighbourhood and ... you get several weeks' extra paid holiday that year?
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Lazar » Mon May 23, 2016 5:37 am UTC

Florida cops slam a non-threatening teenager to the ground, then charge him with resisting arrest (as cops always do when they assault people).

Elsewhere in the land of Florida Man, a sheriff has been indicted for lying to a grand jury about the use of excessive force by his department. Coincidentally, one of his predecessors admitted to stealing $170,000 in 1998.

And in Chicago,

Attorneys for the city of Chicago have told a federal judge that in an attempt to keep the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, off the witness stand, they are prepared to admit to a jury that a code of silence exists within the Chicago police department.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 23, 2016 10:28 am UTC

Spoilered for length.
Re:Supermarket stuff:
Spoiler:
ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Allowing supermarket theft is unlikely to fix those reasons, and will create more problems.
But that's not what you can control. You can only control this one case, where you decide whether it is morally right to condemn the less fortunate in the name of mythical legal purity.


Nah. Legal precedent is a thing. Not that I'm an expert on exactly what that is in Italy, but I know they have it. So, the effects are not necessarily confined to this singular case. And, in any case, a practice of letting minor criminals off without punishment is likely to have practical effects, regardless of the legal ones. Someone else thinks "hey, he got away with it, I could too".

Tyndmyr wrote:If doing the wrong thing because of a compulsion to prove my "humanity" is what makes one human, then I'll strive to be a machine, thanks.
If you succeed, you may find you have no reason to continue living. Machines have neither joy nor sorrow. Personally, I do not want a society of robocops.


Pretty sure one can punish petty theft and still experience joy and sorrow. You're literally arguing for irrationality on the basis that being logical makes one "a machine". Cmon, that's ridiculous.

Tyndmyr wrote:And on a systemic level, if you're seeing certain problems crop up a lot, preventative action may be required.
Agreed. But the judge is not permitted to do preventative action. Feel free to take the cause up yourself.


I'm not a citizen of that country. And yes, perhaps their system could use some improvement(though as already pointed out, they do have some stuff in place). Great. It simply isn't the judge's job to change society with that ruling. There are other mechanisms for that. The judge is supposed to dispense justice.

Tyndmyr wrote:We're not on some pareto optimum of society
There is no such thing. Believing in this is like believing in God.


Excellent, then, you've proven my point. If there's no such thing, then it is obviously not necessary for something else to get worse in order to improve something.

KrytenKoro wrote:
cphite wrote:There are programs in place in Italy (as with any other modern country) to provide food for those in need. It's not the responsibility of store owners - though they're certainly free to contribute if they choose. Allowing people to steal isn't the proper way to do that.

What I'm saying is that didn't used to be considered theft. It was considered a public duty, akin to taxes. It being criminal for someone to do what it takes to survive is a modern invention.

Stealing is - and should be - still illegal.

What I'm saying is I'm not convinced that it is prima facie theft, or a problem. Society worked for a long time without it -- the moves away from it usually corresponded with periods of centralizing wealth/power in the hands of the wealthy.

This discussion goes more into stuff like living wage, making sure society provides basic necessities, etc., all stuff it currently woefully fails to do -- even if there are programs insufficiently attempting to do so.


Farmers are not merchants. Pretty sure that stealing from stores has pretty much always been punished.

Yes, historically, people did crap on farmer's rights pretty often, because farmers were generally pretty far down in terms of power. If you think this same tolerance for crime extended to the property of the moneyed and powerful, you're deluding yourself.

Now, the exact degree of punishment, sure, six months for that is a bit much, but "nothing" is to another extreme. There needs to be SOME punishment. Yeah, it ideally starts out small for petty stuff, and there's a certain proportionality in place, but if it gets down to "no punishment", you get weird and undesirable effects.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby sardia » Mon May 23, 2016 12:26 pm UTC

Tyndmyr, what about the debtor prisoners the US is having? People unable to pay fines are fined for not paying their fines. Then they are repeatedly arrested for not paying, which does not clear their accumulated fines and fees.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 23, 2016 12:53 pm UTC

Community service is another option for penalties. Another is looking at actual amounts of fines to see if they're appropriate, or if they're merely acting as a revenue source.

Plenty of options for improving the system without abandoning punishment altogether.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon May 23, 2016 1:06 pm UTC

Newt wrote:Wasn't considered theft by who? Color me more than a little skeptical that it was a widespread practice millennia ago to let random strangers take stuff from your stores/fields, and not just some limited example of almsgiving by the proportion of the population affluent enough to have their doings enter the historical record.

http://biblehub.com/leviticus/23-22.htm

Wasn't considered theft by an entire population.

Granted I'm sure there were people who didn't always follow it.

Medieval England had a similar practice, where Catholic Churches would have their own small fields specifically for the destitute to find food -- and part of the reason the move to Protestantism caused friction was that these fields would no longer be public.
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Don't we have the SNAP program for this situation?

This discussion goes more into stuff like living wage, making sure society provides basic necessities, etc., all stuff it currently woefully fails to do -- even if there are programs insufficiently attempting to do so.

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Farmers are not merchants. Pretty sure that stealing from stores has pretty much always been punished.

Granted, but supermarkets are not exactly analagous to medieval merchants either, and we no longer have all farms right next to town where the homeless could conceivably get to. Even if we did, we don't really encourage farmers to give free food any more, so it's a moot point.

On a baser level -- we used to see some rationale in mercy for those just taking food not to starve. I think it's a damn shame that we don't, anymore.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 23, 2016 1:31 pm UTC

Often, judges have some leniency in sentencing, which is normally for taking such things into consideration. This sort of waxes and wanes in popularity and effectiveness, but the principle still exists.

The church thing sometimes has modern practices like that. Some churches run food drives or other similar practices. It's not universal, I think, but fields are definitely not viable anymore as a food source for most. The population is just too urbanized. Some farmers also do give overages to food drives and stuff, but the same issue crops up. You end up needing some sort of distribution infrastructure.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby cphite » Mon May 23, 2016 2:40 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
cphite wrote:There are programs in place in Italy (as with any other modern country) to provide food for those in need. It's not the responsibility of store owners - though they're certainly free to contribute if they choose. Allowing people to steal isn't the proper way to do that.


What I'm saying is that didn't used to be considered theft. It was considered a public duty, akin to taxes. It being criminal for someone to do what it takes to survive is a modern invention.


Can you cite an example of this? If you're referring to the feudal "open fields" thing that was a completely different scenario.

Stealing is - and should be - still illegal.


What I'm saying is I'm not convinced that it is prima facie theft, or a problem. Society worked for a long time without it -- the moves away from it usually corresponded with periods of centralizing wealth/power in the hands of the wealthy.


Then you're using a different definition for the term "theft" than, frankly, anyone else.

Some shopkeepers may be wealthy - but most are not. Most are just people trying to get by. If you take their products without paying for them, that's stealing - it does them harm. And, while some of them might choose to ignore it because stopping it would cost even more - that doesn't negate the fact that it does them harm.

And even if, as you claim, there were previous systems (can you cite one?) where it was a public duty for a shopkeeper to simply accept theft - we don't live in that system today. Today, the shopkeeper pays taxes which are, at least in part, supposed to provide for the needy.

This discussion goes more into stuff like living wage, making sure society provides basic necessities, etc., all stuff it currently woefully fails to do -- even if there are programs insufficiently attempting to do so.


The failure of government to provide for the poor still doesn't legitimize stealing; it isn't the fault of the shopkeeper that government fails.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ucim » Mon May 23, 2016 3:46 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:But that's not what you can control. You can only control this one case, where you decide whether it is morally right to condemn the less fortunate in the name of mythical legal purity.
Nah. Legal precedent is a thing...
Yes, it's certainly a thing. It's a thing that mainly applies to higher courts. And yes, it serves as an example. The court is setting the precident that the law is not an absolute. Law doesn't control society, rather, law reflects society, and society controls the law.
Tyndmyr wrote:Someone else thinks "hey, he got away with it, I could too".
Perhaps. In the USA, there is a principle that it's better to let ten guilty go free, than to condemn one innocent. This is also a reflection of the same principle, seen from a different circumstance.
Tyndmyr wrote:Pretty sure one can punish petty theft and still experience joy and sorrow. You're literally arguing for irrationality on the basis that being logical makes one "a machine". Cmon, that's ridiculous.
I'm not arguing for forgiving all petty theft. I am however arguing that, based on what has been presented about this case, that in this case, forgiveness is appropriate. You are arguing that even in this case (of a starving family), the hammer should come down, because Law And Order. It is that absolutism that makes your position one of a machine.
Tyndmyr wrote:It simply isn't the judge's job to change society with that ruling.
Great. You make my point. The judge's job is to find the best resolution of this particular case. Justice is not always served by an eye for an eye. To do so in this case is vengeance.
Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:There is no such thing [as a pareto optimum of society]. Believing in this is like believing in God.
Excellent, then, you've proven my point. If there's no such thing, then it is obviously not necessary for something else to get worse in order to improve something.
I'm saying the concept doesn't even make sense. Pareto optimum applies only with measurable scalar quantities. Society is not measurable or scalar. You can measure some things (number of bullets fired, number of homicides, mean time between riots), but this hardly "measures society".

If you want to "solve" something, you have to decide what the problem is (and therefore, what the problem that you are "solving" isn't). Then you can go about finding a solution, and deciding whether or not the side effects are worth it. There will be other members of society who disagree with your assessment of whether the side effects are worth it. And politics is all about solving the wrong problem for the wrong reasons in order to get your policy through.

In any case, the judge is not in a position to "solve" any problem other than the one case brought before him, and balance that against the side effects of precedent.

Tyndmyr wrote:I'm arguing for doing the math, and figuring out effects first, and cheerfully changing things. In a systemic fashion, not in some "well, fuck it, this guy gets to shoplift" fashion.
I'm for identifying and agreeing upon the actual problem before even deciding what to measure.

Tyndmyr wrote:Plenty of options for improving the system without abandoning punishment altogether.
I guess it really comes down to: Why are you so focused on punishment?

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 23, 2016 4:08 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:But that's not what you can control. You can only control this one case, where you decide whether it is morally right to condemn the less fortunate in the name of mythical legal purity.
Nah. Legal precedent is a thing...
Yes, it's certainly a thing. It's a thing that mainly applies to higher courts. And yes, it serves as an example. The court is setting the precident that the law is not an absolute. Law doesn't control society, rather, law reflects society, and society controls the law.


And the judge decided not to apply that law. So....

Tyndmyr wrote:Someone else thinks "hey, he got away with it, I could too".
Perhaps. In the USA, there is a principle that it's better to let ten guilty go free, than to condemn one innocent. This is also a reflection of the same principle, seen from a different circumstance.


It is not. There is no question of guilt, here.

Tyndmyr wrote:Pretty sure one can punish petty theft and still experience joy and sorrow. You're literally arguing for irrationality on the basis that being logical makes one "a machine". Cmon, that's ridiculous.
I'm not arguing for forgiving all petty theft. I am however arguing that, based on what has been presented about this case, that in this case, forgiveness is appropriate. You are arguing that even in this case (of a starving family), the hammer should come down, because Law And Order. It is that absolutism that makes your position one of a machine.


A. This isn't a starving family.
B. This is a crap solution to starving families, and better ones exist.
C. A pattern of this would cause societal effects creating MORE starving families.

I've not mentioned Law and Order. I'm merely being rational about minimizing harm.

Tyndmyr wrote:It simply isn't the judge's job to change society with that ruling.
Great. You make my point. The judge's job is to find the best resolution of this particular case. Justice is not always served by an eye for an eye. To do so in this case is vengeance.


No...it's not. Vengeance would be the store owner going to steal from this guy or something. This is no more vengeance than any other shoplifting case.

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:There is no such thing [as a pareto optimum of society]. Believing in this is like believing in God.
Excellent, then, you've proven my point. If there's no such thing, then it is obviously not necessary for something else to get worse in order to improve something.
I'm saying the concept doesn't even make sense. Pareto optimum applies only with measurable scalar quantities. Society is not measurable or scalar. You can measure some things (number of bullets fired, number of homicides, mean time between riots), but this hardly "measures society".[/quote]

If the concept doesn't make sense, then no such tradeoff is guaranteed. It doesn't matter WHY the tradeoff doesn't exist, only that it does not, and your proposal that tradeoffs has to exist is not logical.

Tyndmyr wrote:I'm arguing for doing the math, and figuring out effects first, and cheerfully changing things. In a systemic fashion, not in some "well, fuck it, this guy gets to shoplift" fashion.
I'm for identifying and agreeing upon the actual problem before even deciding what to measure.


Data first, always. Deciding what your pet issue is, and then hunting data to match, results in many of the messes we have today.

Metrics like frequency of shoplifting are useful BEFORE you figure out what causes shoplifting.

Tyndmyr wrote:Plenty of options for improving the system without abandoning punishment altogether.
I guess it really comes down to: Why are you so focused on punishment?


Punishment is necessary. Not at all times, or in all cases, but where it IS, it should be applied consistently. To rich as well as poor, to powerful as well as weak, and a smaller, but more consistently applied punishment is preferable to larger, but more random punishments.

An ideal system of law is highly predictable.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ucim » Mon May 23, 2016 5:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And the judge decided not to apply that law.
There is more to law than statute.
Tyndmyr wrote:It is not [another angle on "better to let ten guilty go free..."]. There is no question of guilt, here.
It's not about that, it's about what that means. What it means is that the law can make mistakes, and when it does, to err on the side of compassion. Mistakes in the law can happen in the legislature as well as the courts. This is inevitable when a broad brush is used. And no, before you jump on it, I don't mean that laws against petty theft are themselves mistakes, just that they can lead to mistakes. No good statutory law can cover all cases. It can't be programmed in FORTRAN.
Tyndmyr wrote:A. This isn't a starving family.
B. This is a crap solution to starving families, and better ones exist
C. A pattern of this would cause societal effects creating MORE starving families.
A: That's not my understanding of the case.
B: Compassion in one case is not intended as a solution, and it is a mistake to look at it as one.
C: Perhaps. Perhaps not. But when you cut yourself, you still apply a band aid, even though it doesn't solve the problem of poor knife handling.
Tyndmyr wrote:I'm merely being rational about minimizing harm.
No, you're being obsessive about minimizing one particular kind of harm, irrespective of the collateral damage that it causes.
Tyndmyr wrote:If the concept doesn't make sense, then no such tradeoff is guaranteed.
I don't know what that means. I'm saying that in a complex society, "fixing" one problem usually exacerbates another. This is the basis of politics.
Tyndmyr wrote:Data first, always. Deciding what your pet issue is, and then hunting data to match, results in many of the messes we have today.
No, identify the problem first, then look for solutions. Otherwise you gather the wrong data, and can too easily twist it into support for the wrong solution to the wrong problem. Metrics like frequency of shoplifting are not useful if you've decided that shoplifting isn't the problem you want to solve.
Tyndmyr wrote:Punishment is necessary.
No. Full stop. No.

Full stop get off the train. No.

If this is the fundament of your philosophy, I want off.

Yes, you do mitigate your point further along, but when stated as a prime pillar of your society, just no. It is a sickness.

Tyndmyr wrote:Punishment is necessary. Not at all times, or in all cases, but where it IS, it should be applied consistently.
Punishment is sometimes a useful tool to encourage compliance with societal norms (as imperfectly expressed in law, both statutory, common, and case) (uh, that's three, sir!) The law (as well as its various penalties, of which punishment is only one) should be applied consistently and equally, but also with regard to the fact that not all cases are equal. There are mitigating circumstances which must be considered. In doing so, it is important to ensure that these circumstances are not applied to unfairly benefit those in power. (I'm much less concerned about them being applied to unfairly benefit those not in power; I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out why).

Punishment is an easy tool to apply. It's one reason why it's effective. But by the same token, that's why it's so easily misused. It's not inherently a bad tool to have in the box, but punishment for its own sake is just vengeance.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 23, 2016 5:49 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:It is not [another angle on "better to let ten guilty go free..."]. There is no question of guilt, here.
It's not about that, it's about what that means. What it means is that the law can make mistakes, and when it does, to err on the side of compassion. Mistakes in the law can happen in the legislature as well as the courts. This is inevitable when a broad brush is used. And no, before you jump on it, I don't mean that laws against petty theft are themselves mistakes, just that they can lead to mistakes. No good statutory law can cover all cases. It can't be programmed in FORTRAN.


What's so special and exceptional about this case?

Homeless dude was hungry, swiped some food. That's not really that odd. It's certainly not some unforeseen combination.

Tyndmyr wrote:Punishment is necessary.
No. Full stop. No.

Full stop get off the train. No.

If this is the fundament of your philosophy, I want off.


I am aware of no society that has managed to dispense with it entirely. Therefore, it remains necessary.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 23, 2016 5:58 pm UTC

No society has managed to dispense with murder entirely, either. Isr that therefore necessary?

In any case, if you want to keep laboring on about the general philosophy of law, might a new thread be the place for it?
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby ucim » Mon May 23, 2016 6:19 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:In any case, if you want to keep laboring on about the general philosophy of law, might a new thread be the place for it?
Perhaps, but I'm willing to just drop it. I'm not convinced it's going anywhere.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 23, 2016 7:33 pm UTC

I do think perhaps it's run it's course.

Anyways, first verdict in on the Gray case. Innocent of all charges.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-nero-verdict-20160521-story.html

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon May 23, 2016 8:41 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I do think perhaps it's run it's course.

Anyways, first verdict in on the Gray case. Innocent of all charges.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-nero-verdict-20160521-story.html


Hard to prosecute Nero for "wrongful arrest" when the evidence points to Nero not actually arresting Freddie Gray.

But on the stand Miller said he alone had caught and handcuffed Gray, minimizing the involvement of Nero, who he said went to retrieve their bicycles from another area as he handled Gray.


Nero probably was most confident that this would be a quick case and that all the evidence was in his favor. His defense attorneys opted for a bench trial without a jury.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Lazar » Mon May 23, 2016 11:34 pm UTC

Exit the vampires' castle.

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue May 24, 2016 1:27 am UTC

EDIT: Didn't see that people had requested the discussion be tabled.
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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby speising » Tue May 24, 2016 7:07 am UTC


Appqrently, he was charged because he didn't have a concealed carry permit (for the milk).

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby LaserGuy » Tue May 24, 2016 6:46 pm UTC



Speaking of a system that values punishment over compassion (or common sense).

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Re: Police misbehavior thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue May 24, 2016 6:56 pm UTC

Oh, yes, I think that quite qualifies.

I mean, one could excuse initial confusion, perhaps, but to go ahead with everything even AFTER you know it's free...why?


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