In this post I will try to add something helpful to the contentious police brutality debate. The following propositions are generally true:
1. People are law abiding
2. Law enforcement officers are law abiding
The truth of these propositions are supported by everyday observations.
I propose that we take these two propositions as the only generalities in this debate. The purpose of taking this conceptual posture is to get people on both sides of the argument to see things as they really are. Instances of criminality on the part of the populace or law enforcement are extraordinary; they are exceptions to the rule.
We should work to reject all emotions that run contrary to these empirically verified propositions.
What should we do when we encounter instances of criminality? We should refrain from making unsupported generalities like saying, ‘there is a little criminality in everyone’ or ‘all cops are criminals.’ Instead, we should narrowly tailor or actions and speech around the evidence. Speak and act in ways that are warranted by the evidence. In other words, we should take alleged instances of criminality on a case-by-case basis.
Protests can only be warranted when it is tempered by the evidence. Evidence-free protests often become criminal riots. Accusations made by law enforcement must be tethered to the evidence so that their relationship with the populace is not harmed.