Collective guilt for thee, not for me?

There was a piece to a National Review article that I saw on Ace's page that touched on the idea that the protesters and inciters in Ferguson have some level of culpability in the shooting of the two officers outside of police headquarters there.  And it's an article worthy of reading.  But I think both Ace and the author (Andrew McCarthy) missed a salient point.  While the usual suspects in Ferguson are complaining about being tarred with the brush of the shooter (just as they did with regards to the ambush assassination in New York City), they have no problem tarring all officers in those police departments with collective guilt.  We hear about "command climate" and "institutional racism" and all manner of reasons why the entire structure is corrupt.  And yet when someone from within their ranks (quite literally) shoots a cop, suddenly it's "bad actors" and "we had nothing to do with it".

So which is it?  Is everyone on both sides culpable for the actions of "bad actors" from within their ranks, or are we to judge individuals on their own merits and faults?  Because I have no stomach for the hypocrisy of either side claiming that they should be held to different standards.  Last time I checked, we have a system where everyone is equal before the law.


Cass said...

Love, love, LOVE this post :p

Gringo said...

As others have pointed out, lib rhetoric about Muslims compared to gun owners follows a similar trail.

Grim said...

Fair enough, although it doesn't make sense to deny the possibility that an organization with a chain of command could have a command climate problem. You'd have to impute a similar organizing chain to the protest groups. I'm aware that there are organizations trying to "lead" these groups, and some of them are pretty ugly. But I'm not convinced they really have the same degree of control or legitimacy, and therefore culpability, as a police department chain of command.

If you had a company of soldiers, there's a command climate and the possibility of a corrupt one. If you have 100 guys who are brought together by some common interest -- whether anger at police abuse or love of stamp collecting -- collective guilt isn't even possible in the same way. The fact that there's another ten guys who join the crowd and try to urge them to do bad things is a fact about those ten guys; it's not a fact about the 110 guys.

MikeD said...

Admittedly, I know less about the cop shooting in Ferguson than I know about the ambush in NYC, but when you have protesters shouting "What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!" followed by the ambush assassination of two cops... I think that "bad actors" is a lame excuse. You have a group encouraging it, calling for it, and trying to act surprised when they get it. I find that less than convincing.

Texan99 said...

I 2d Cass's emotion.

Texan99 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Texan99 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Last time I checked, we have a system where everyone is equal before the law.

Well, this is the ideal, but I can't think of a time in US history when it's been true. It certainly wasn't from 1776 to the 1960s.

Was it after the civil rights legislation of the 1960s? Is it now? I don't think so, but I don't know.

Cass said...

One need only hark back to several years ago, when the Left claimed that every time the military attempted to hold induhviduals responsible for doing exactly the same things induhviduals do in civilian life, that proved that "military culture" was causing military people to behave in the same bad ways non-military people do.

Oh, and every.single.Bad.Thing was Highly Symbolic. The Left ignored the vast majority of military folks who obey the rules and focused on the few who didn't. No attempt at perspective: Even A Single Bad Thing Was One Too Many.

The military's inability to Foresee and Prevent Bad Things From Happening (or find and punish every bad person for their badness) was supposedly proof positive that the military *caused* badness -- or at best, tolerated it (which of course makes every military person complicit!).


"Rape" is supposedly "endemic" in the military. And the military doesn't have a good track record of holding even actual rapists accountable. Indeed, the military sometimes (even often) punishes real crimes via a dishonorable discharge as opposed to jail time. So is there a "systemic" problem here? Or does the military face different challenges than the civilian criminal justice system???

What is the relative frequency of abuse of authority-type problems in the military?

I recall seeing them fairly often in 30+ years. Is there a greater chance of them occurring in the military/police? Probably, because it's an authoritarians structure. So what's the threshold or standard for the military vs. civilian society? How about police vs. civilian society?

My view is that some of this "goes with the territory", which doesn't mean it should be tolerated. But the real world is full of tradeoffs. We want all of the benefits of having police and armed forces with none of the predictable costs, and we're not likely to get that any time soon.

At least until the unicorns and fairies show up.