The Casebolt Rorsach Test

You’d think we were all watching different videos given the reaction to the McKinney pool party videos. Conservatives and authoritarians lining up to defend Casebolt against the THUGS (which feels like a substitute for a racial slur) and libertarians/liberals standing up for the individuals affected by Casebolt’s recklessly aggressive form of barrell roll Rambo-style policing. One thing to note about authoritarian thinking, and the right/left divide in this country, is that it may be neurological. And your reaction to the Casebolt video isn’t because of what an objective common-sense individual  you are, but how your brain tells you to feel about the video. 

So if you wonder why the facebook debates regarding this arrest don’t actually get anywhere, or why the upcoming presidential race will see millions of tweets/debates/comment wars that convert no one, it may be because we are more hard wired to our politics than we are able to freely choose to be a Libertarian, Green or Tea Party Patriot. It’s also a reason that many a defense voir dire seminar emphasizes striking authoritarians as they enjoy aggression against outliers and are fans of submission to, and violence by, authority.

Is this a turning point in our national debate over modern policing? 

I can’t remember the last time the public cared about a police video that didn’t show a shooting or beating. I can’t remember the last time the media focused on an overly aggressive wrongful-detention and threat of deadly force. The public may understand how militarized/”obey or die” policing is dangerous, but there is a cost to the thousands of daily constitutional violations that go unnoticed. How many illegal searches and seizures are there every day? How many bullshit terry stops and pretext racial profiling stops involve the made up scent of marijuana as the reason to destroy a car? Why should we support cops who throw suspect on the ground? We need better laws for the police to enforce, and we need better ways of enforcing those laws.

Officer of the Year

I was not surprised to learn that Casebolt was an “Officer of the Year”. Remember that John Bradley and Ken Anderson were both named by TDCAA as “Prosecutor of the Year.” Law enforcement organizations too often hold up the most oppressive authoritarians as role models, while restraint, mercy, and respect for the constitutional rights and dignity of the individual go unheralded. . The officer who makes the most arrests is a hero, when those arrests may be for victimless crime, and destroy many of the individuals arrested. TDCAA used John Bradley as an ethics teacher, a man who fought to keep an innocent defendant in prison.

We have cultural and systemic issues to address, and this video points just how hard that will be since the public is so sharply divided on what it means, who is right, and what should be done. Thugs vs. cops is a false choice, you can support the police without support all actions by cops, you can be against hooliganism without labeling black youths as “thugs” and enjoying watching the police tackle them.

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