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Monday, August 12, 2013

Bloomberg’s response to ‘stop and frisk’ ruling: fearmongering and logical fallacies

Michael Bloomberg
I can sum up NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s response to a ruling effectively ending the city’s “stop and frisk” policy (it’s hard to see how any reform will be possible): “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!" He defends the racial profiling by saying, "They fight crime wherever crime is occurring, and they don’t worry if their work doesn’t match up to a census chart. As a result, today we have fewer guns, fewer shootings, and fewer homicides. In fact, murders are 50 percent below the level they were 12 years ago when we came into office – something no one thought possible back then."

The problem, of course, is that the racial component of “stop and frisk” is an abject failure and Bloomberg’s math doesn’t add up at all. During the trial which led to her ruling, Judge Shira Scheindlin noted that “A lot of people are being frisked or searched on suspicion of having a gun and nobody has a gun.” In fact, only 0.14% of these searches turned up a gun or contraband, “So the point is suspicion turns out to be wrong in most cases.” Worse, some 80% of those subjected to “stop and frisk” were minorities. So not only is it applied in a clearly racist manner, but it couldn’t possibly account for a 50% decrease in homicides.

Bloomberg also hopes to rally lefties by waving his gun control flag and a whole lot of fearmongering; “The fact that fewer guns are on the street now shows that our efforts have been successful. There is just no question that Stop-Question-Frisk has saved countless lives. And we know that most of the lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men.”

The question isn’t whether or not it saves lives, the question is whether it’s just and legal. This was the same logical fallacy that the Bush administration fell in love with after 9/11; whenever they ran into resistance from civil libertarians, they’d say, “insert abusive policy here would’ve prevented 9/11! Why do you hate America?”

A lot of things would prevent murder and reduce crime. If we killed everyone in NYC, for example, the violent crime rate would drop to zero. If that’s too extreme for you, we could lock everyone up in solitary in a supermax — same outcome. We could institute 1:1 policing, where everyone is followed around by their own personal cop, who keeps a loaded gun pointed at their head. How about mandatory weekly lie detector and drug testing for all citizens? There are a lot of things you could do that would reduce crime drastically — the question is whether they’re constitutional — or even a good idea — not whether or not they work.

"Stop and frisk" is a police-state tactic and it’s practiced in a racist manner. Whether it reduces crime or not is irrelevant — and, since Bloomberg’s numbers are obviously horseshit, we can assume it doesn’t.

Bloomberg’s shamefully hysterical defense of this policy is one of the worst examples of fearmongering to come out of his office since Rudy Giulliani occupied it. For the record, that’s not a good thing.

[photo via World Bank Photo Collection]

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