Making a kinder, less violent society

There’s an interesting piece on Lifehacker about defunding the police. In brief — there’s nothing the police do that can’t be done better by social workers and EMTs. The writer, Rachel Fairbank, says, what if your car is stolen, and when the thief is caught, turns out they’re a drug addict? Treatment! Well, yes, I agree completely… but caught by who? And what if they’re not a drug addict, but just enjoy the thrill of thievery, have poor impulse control, and are kind of sociopaths? The writer, in the comments, sounded impatient with these petty cavils.

The myopia of the piece is the assumption that all crime is driven by victimhood of some kind, instead of just some crime (she doesn’t address white-collar crime; doubt she would say they are victims). While I’m not an expert on the USSR, I believe the premise there was there could be no crime because nobody was a victim of the class system, so if there were anything that looked like a crime, it had to be mental illness and they were incarcerated in (what we heard were) horrific asylums. Or, of course, they were exiled along with dissidents, to Siberia.

I think there is a reluctance, not just in this piece, but in others on the topic, to acknowledge any situation whatsoever in which an armed peacekeeping force would be needed, because it’s like leaving the door ajar — you give an inch, they take a mile. And any talk of “reform” is mocked because “reform” tends to go nowhere, due to police unions and the fear of the white power elite of losing their armed guards, the police. There is also a sort of understanding that the only people who call the police are like that lady in Central Park, just trying to punish a black man. The author says, and repeats in the comments, that since there are some people who aren’t comfortable calling the police, there shouldn’t be police.

So, rhetoric is being slung. Maybe it’s helpful, if it leads to meaningful change. But if anyone is interested in meaningfully changing the criminal justice system — as in demilitarization (among other things, the elimination of that military program that gives surplus gear to police); the absolute end of the War on Drugs (which would weaken the heavily armed cartels one of the excuses police dep’ts give for needing military-grade weaponry); and (my suggestion) getting rid of “partners”, rather assign teams at random, along with a third party who is an independent recorder (with a 360° camera on a staff in addition to body cams) and a psychiatric social worker — I haven’t read any in the popular press.

Note — that last suggestion could be effected with gig-economy technology — assembling a team on the fly from several independent sources.

Another angle that is not discussed much, but would contribute to making society better for all and reducing the toll of poverty and, arguably, the level of violence, is a harm reduction and fault tolerance philosophy in legislation. There are many programs for helping the poor, but they seem to be as hard as possible to invoke, as if, sure, we’ll help, but we’ll make it easy to get wrong and full of draconian rules. This contributes to the constant chaos in the lives of the bottom 30% or so. The whole philosophy of setting up administration so that if you’re 5 minutes late for an appointment, you lose your benefits is hostile and sadistic.


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