If SOME Constitutional Rights are Important, Does that Mean that Some Others Aren’t?

The article I have linked to is from the Huffington Post, but, interestingly enough (well, _I_ thought it was interesting), I found it through The Volokh Conspiracy  blog which, despite the name, is a respected and influential legal and political blog, most contributors to which are law professors and academics from across the U.S.  Most, but not all, of the contributors lean libertarian or conservative, but there occasionally are links to thoughtful/insightful articles from the Left or, more often, articles in which one of the regular contributors fairly presents the arguments on two or more sides of an issue.

In this particular article, the author argues that, while the Supreme Court intensely scrutinizes government attempts to regulate/restrict certain constitutional or legal rights, it has been willing to accept almost any plausible excuse for restricting others (which, in effect, deprives the aggrieved of recourse).  A further complication (my observation, not necessarily that of the authors) is that some of the rights the Court most vigorously safeguards are rights “discovered” by the Court, and which are not actually articulated in the Constitution or Amendments, while some of the “almost anything goes” rights were written into the Bill of Rights.

Anyhow, if you have an interest in concepts, and not just in issues, it’s worth reading.


Who is Shooting Whom?

This article references the recent Harvard study of use of force against whites and blacks by police officers, but goes well beyond it.  It explores the demographics of attacks on law enforcement officers, and compares statistics for white officers and black officers interacting with white and black suspects.  I found the results surprising, and you may, as well.  Of course, studies of this nature cannot be accepted as face value, as they are based on reports are not, and never can be, precise.


The “Ferguson Effect”

This is an interesting article arising from what appears to be an interesting book.  The author makes the case that one effect of the focus on police misconduct and the narrative that police officers are much quicker to shoot black people than white people is that police officers are reluctant to initiate contacts with people whose behavior or presence they regard as suspicious…and that this reticence on the part of law enforcement officers is a major factor in the rapid increases in crime rates many of our cities have experienced since 2014, after a couple of decades or so during with crime rates had declined.  The increase in murder and robbery rates in some parts of the country have been particularly shocking, including (significantly?) in St. Louis County and Baltimore.




“Don’t Spit in the Soup, ‘Cause We’ve All Got to Eat From It!” -Lyndon Baines Johnson

I love that quote; it’s so much more colorful and down home than, “Don’t poison the well,” don’t you think?  In a somewhat similar vein, LBJ claimed that his favorite Biblical quote was from Isaiah: “Come, let us reason together.”

Johnson, despite his well known capacity for ruthlessness when he wanted or needed something, and his calculated vindictiveness when denied or crossed, realized it made sense to accommodate people, when he could afford to, and no sense to anger or demean them when it would serve no purpose…though reminding them that he was the man in charge was such a purpose.

What the hell happened?  When, why, and how did so many people decide that making enemies should be an end in itself, or that if they could lie, withhold, or mislead their way to victory today, they’d be trusted or respected tomorrow?  What happened to worthy adversaries who were too intelligent, too wise, and too honorable to be acrimonious?  If and when there is common ground, these days, how likely is it that anyone would notice, or admit to it, if they did?

Let’s not have any sloganeering or spin here.  Let’s dissect and discuss ideas, challenge assumptions…including our own, and perhaps attempt to persuade, rather than to preach to the converted and/or to shout down or insult those with opposing views.  Let’s not repeat claims we haven’t attempted to verify and/or analyze, and when confronted with half truths, let’s try to find and share the other half.  In other words, let’s do credit to ourselves and show respect for the intelligence of others.

Is that more or less doable?