Stop & Frisk and Liberal Delusion

Michael BloombergI haven’t written much about “stop and frisk” because it is so clearly unconstitutional and I’ve gotten so used to clearly unconstitutional laws being upheld by our courts. But I was very pleased when Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote her opinion finding that the program was unconstitutional. How it took 11 years to get to this point, I’m not sure. But this is a good thing.

Of course, the decision brought Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg out of their intellectual sewers to complain about the ruling. Both men have rolled out their propaganda machines and are ready for war. Bloomberg mostly makes his typical fascist arguments. It isn’t racial profiling if young black men do commit more crimes! He would have us believe that he is an “independent,” but notice that he is one of those amazing creatures who turned from Democrat into Republican even as the Democratic Party became more conservative and the Republican Party went sprinting for the “fascists enter here” sign.

Both men are rather good at lying with statistics. For example, Bloomberg used a statistic that showed that at least 6% of all stops were unjustified to claim that only 6% were unjustified. Scheindlin’s ruling explicitly stated that the number was likely far higher than this. But even if the number is valid, what does that mean? Is it okay for the government to outlaw Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the grounds that it is only a small percentage of the number of books published? That one really gets to the heart of where Bloomberg and people like him are coming from.

By far the worst statement is one by Kelly that sounds really good, “In the last 11 years, 11 full years of the Bloomberg administration, there were 7,363 fewer murders in New York City than there were in the preceding 11 years. Now, if history is any guide, those lives saved are largely the lives of young men of color.” Except that the actual data look very different:

New York City Crime Time Series

The “stop and frisk” program started in 2003. Admittedly, violent crime has gone down a bit since then. But it is nothing like the decrease in crime before the program started. It looks like the drop in crime is part of a longer trend that is due to something other than the “stop and frisk” program.

To a large extent, I think that Kelly feels he is just doing his job and that includes defending this program. Bloomberg is the far bigger villain here. For one thing, he’s more hyperbolic. And I get the impression that this isn’t even about the program. He’s at the end of his career and at this point New Yorkers are finally having buyer’s remorse. Let’s face it: he’s been a bad thing for New York. Liberals get confused by politicians like Bloomberg and Christie because they make nice on social issues. But the social issues really do take care of themselves. You either get onboard the gay rights train or it will run you over. It says nothing of these mean that they are somewhat okay on the issue. The economic and criminal justice issues are the killers and on those issues, these men are as conservative as a Texas pig farmer.

So it isn’t surprising that regardless of how nice conservative politicians sound, when in power, they will aggressively push the most vile of policies. Why it has taken the people of New York three terms to learn this I cannot say.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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