“Black Lives Matter and the Mechanics of Conformity”

 
diding
 
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diding
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17 September 2020 09:27
 

From an excellent Quillette article:

And, as likeminded people surround each other, the more resistant they are to discrediting information. Leon Festinger describes this process in When Prophecy Fails, but the most eloquent description comes from Adolf Hitler’s architect and Minister of Armaments Albert Speer, who spent decades in prison after the war attempting to understand how he had allowed himself to become swept up by the delusions of the regime he supported:

… in normal circumstances people who turn their backs on reality are soon set straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them, which makes them aware they have lost credibility. In the Third Reich, there were no such correctives, especially for those who belonged to the upper stratum. On the contrary, every self-deception was multiplied in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world, which no longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world. In those mirrors I could see nothing but my own face reproduced many times over.

https://quillette.com/2020/09/17/black-lives-matter-and-the-mechanics-of-conformity/

 
weird buffalo
 
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17 September 2020 09:59
 

Yawn.

An attempt to shift the discussion from the problem to talking about the people talking about the problem.

Simple question: if we reduced the capacity of police to inflict violence across the board… and white people are at higher risk of being killed by police… wouldn’t that benefit white people too?
Answer: Yes, it would.

So, then the complicated question: why does it make people mad when we frame the issue as affecting black people?  But those same people who complain about the white people killed by police… are willing to do nothing to prevent those deaths.

 
diding
 
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diding
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17 September 2020 14:26
 
weird buffalo - 17 September 2020 09:59 AM

Yawn.

An attempt to shift the discussion from the problem to talking about the people talking about the problem.

Simple question: if we reduced the capacity of police to inflict violence across the board… and white people are at higher risk of being killed by police… wouldn’t that benefit white people too?
Answer: Yes, it would.

So, then the complicated question: why does it make people mad when we frame the issue as affecting black people?  But those same people who complain about the white people killed by police… are willing to do nothing to prevent those deaths.

I don’t think there are many people that are mad that the issue is framed in how it affects black people.  I think most of the opposition to BLM comes from the rhetoric claiming blacks being “hunted” or “targeted” disproportionately by the police, white police in particular, when the study cited shows the data being counter to that.  That’s what I think the article was saying, also.  I think people are disheartened by the false narratives like “hands up don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” being used as proof of racism.  Even people in support of the original intent of BLM think that if were framed as a problem in policing in general and not racialized that it would get more support and be less contentious.  That position seems to be interpreted as saying the phrase “All lives matter”.

 
weird buffalo
 
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17 September 2020 17:15
 
diding - 17 September 2020 02:26 PM
weird buffalo - 17 September 2020 09:59 AM

Yawn.

An attempt to shift the discussion from the problem to talking about the people talking about the problem.

Simple question: if we reduced the capacity of police to inflict violence across the board… and white people are at higher risk of being killed by police… wouldn’t that benefit white people too?
Answer: Yes, it would.

So, then the complicated question: why does it make people mad when we frame the issue as affecting black people?  But those same people who complain about the white people killed by police… are willing to do nothing to prevent those deaths.

I don’t think there are many people that are mad that the issue is framed in how it affects black people.  I think most of the opposition to BLM comes from the rhetoric claiming blacks being “hunted” or “targeted” disproportionately by the police, white police in particular, when the study cited shows the data being counter to that.  That’s what I think the article was saying, also.  I think people are disheartened by the false narratives like “hands up don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” being used as proof of racism.  Even people in support of the original intent of BLM think that if were framed as a problem in policing in general and not racialized that it would get more support and be less contentious.  That position seems to be interpreted as saying the phrase “All lives matter”.

Your claim that they only care about black lives only matters if the reforms suggested would only help black people.  But they don’t.  They’d apply to everyone.  So, that makes me think that there has to be a different reason why you are bringing this up, because from a rational perspective…. your argument is bullshit.

 
weird buffalo
 
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17 September 2020 19:31
 

Minneapolis police used neck restraints 237 times since 2015, resulting in 44 people losing consciousness.

This is a dangerous tactic, and it’s continued usage will eventually result in another person being killed.  I don’t care if that person is white or black, I don’t think someone should die this way, and I don’t think police should be using the tactic.

How does shifting the conversation away from the police, but instead to how you don’t like the protesters a solution?  In fact, it isn’t a solution for change, but rather a tool of maintaining the status quo.  You are trying to make this about the protesters themselves, and not the issue being protested.  That is a recipe for defending the status quo, which is in turn a defense for police officers using neck restraints.

 
Poldano
 
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18 September 2020 04:56
 

Check this out: https://www.theroot.com/a-judge-asked-harvard-to-find-out-why-so-many-black-peo-1845017462

The article refers to this study: http://cjpp.law.harvard.edu/assets/Massachusetts-Racial-Disparity-Report-FINAL.pdf. I’ve quoted the conclusion here:

Our analysis indicates that the large aggregate disparities in incarceration sentences across race are concentrated among the most serious cases. According to our regression results, they are largely explained by differences in initial charge severity. Black and Latinx defendants tend to face more serious initial charges that are more likely to carry a mandatory or statutory minimum sentence. Despite facing more serious initial charges, however, Black and Latinx defendants in Superior Court are convicted of offenses roughly equal in seriousness to their White counterparts. As shown in Tables 15 and 16, Black defendants in particular who are sentenced to incarceration in the DOC are convicted of less severe crimes on average than White defendants despite facing more serious initial charges.

We cannot say conclusively the extent to which differences in initial charge severity across racial groups reflect police and prosecutor discretion vs. differences in defendants’ conduct. The lack of racial disparity in conviction offense severity and conviction rates among the cases that drive the overall disparity, however, does not support the interpretation that differences in the severity of criminal conduct across races alone can explain the substantial racial disparities in incarceration sentences.  Further, the penalty in incarceration length is largest for drug and weapons charges, offenses that carry longstanding racialized stigmas.We believe that this evidence is consistent with racially disparate initial charging practices leading to weaker initial positions in the plea bargaining process for Black defendants, which then translate into longer incarceration sentences for similar offenses

The relevance of what I’ve referenced to the OP’s article is that the systematic bias evidently lies in the initial attitude of law enforcement toward non-white suspects. They are more likely to be suspected of criminality, perhaps on a “gut” level, so are more likely to face interactions with law enforcement personnel. A sense of harassment can arise just from the relatively high number of interactions, possibly combined with the stated reasons for those interactions. Additionally, non-whites are evidently more likely to be approached by law enforcement personnel for relatively trivial reasons, on the discretion of those law enforcement personnel, which may then lead to discretionary escalations beyond the original purpose. An example of this is police pulling over a vehicle for a license-tag violation or a blown taillight, then proceeding with a drug search. I’ve driven for months at a time with expired license tags, and weeks with malfunctioning signal lights (blown lights are a threat to my safety, expired tags are not), so when I hear about non-whites facing this kind of discretionary enforcement, i have strong reason to suspect there is some bias involved in the discretion. All of this can lead to a sense of harassment on the part of those subject to the more rigorous enforcement, which is perhaps the real psychological cause behind non-white resentment of authorities.

[ Edited: 18 September 2020 05:21 by Poldano]
 
 
no_profundia
 
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18 September 2020 14:17
 

The relevance of what I’ve referenced to the OP’s article is that the systematic bias evidently lies in the initial attitude of law enforcement toward non-white suspects. They are more likely to be suspected of criminality, perhaps on a “gut” level, so are more likely to face interactions with law enforcement personnel. A sense of harassment can arise just from the relatively high number of interactions, possibly combined with the stated reasons for those interactions.

I strongly suspect what you describe combined with the dynamics described in Ronald Weitzer’s paper Theorizing Racial Discord Over Policing Before and After Ferguson are a big part of the story:

In deference-exchange theory, individuals are expected to defer to those in authority, while the latter are not expected to reciprocate—i.e. an asymmetical power relationship (Sykes & Clark, 1975). Several studies confirm the importance of such deference by subordinates, finding that citizen disrespect toward police officers tends to generate harsh reactions from them. When minority-group members encounter the police, they may reflect on whether the stop is related to their subordinate racial or ethnic identity and whether they are being treated similarly to their counterparts in the dominant group. At the same time, minority-group members often expect negative treatment in their encounters with police (Bayley & Mendelsohn, 1969, p. 120), and may thus interpret an officer’s authoritarian or brusque demeanor—a standard part of officers’ work persona—as an instance of racial bias. Stated differently, “The asymmetrical status norm, operative in most police-citizen encounters, is difficult [for minority citizens] to distinguish from the special asymmetrical status norm operative when ethnic subordinates interact with superordinates” (Sykes & Clark, 1975, p. 590).

This can result in an interactional spiral whereby a citizen’s stereotypes of officers and expectations of unjust treatment precipitate belligerence or aggressive behavior, which in turn provokes a harsh police response. Drawing from a classic observational study of police-citizen interactions in three cities, one of the researchers noted, “In anticipation of harsh treatment, blacks often behave disrespectfully toward the police, thereby setting in motion a pattern that confirms their expectations” (Black, 1971, p. 1,109). Police officers likewise enter these encounters influenced by expectations of “minority threat” provocation, resulting in a similar self-fulfilling prophecy (cf. Legewie, 2016). The group-position thesis would predict that the wider the status gap between officer and citizen, the greater the chance of disrespectful behavior toward the other party, and “it is possible that particular types of citizens (e.g. young minority males) may act in disrespectful or otherwise resistant ways to symbolize their perceptions of injustice” (Engel, 2003, p. 477). The deference deficit on the part of some minority individuals is conditioned by ongoing patterns of insensitive or aggressive police behavior, such as repeatedly stopping and questioning minority individuals (Brunson & Weitzer, 2009; Ekins, 2016; Epp et al., 2014; Peffley & Hurwitz, 2010).

Edit: I couldn’t get the link to the full article to work on here but the full paper is available online if you search the title and author.

 
 
Poldano
 
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19 September 2020 02:17
 

Thanks for the references and the quoted excerpt.

The spiral described in the excerpt is exactly what I think is happening, but I lacked the backup information to claim it is so. The excerpt also seems to present it as a hypothesis without unambiguous data behind it. It totally makes sense, however, on the basis of what kinds of behaviors we expect from people who are involved in adversarial relationships.