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167 responses to “What does it take to justify murder?”

  1. Debbieanne

    A very sad story. Amazing how it has broken down on each side to a persons politics tho (so called right/left). Very weird.

  2. duncan

    Helen,

    I’m not sure what the Atakelt case has to do with this.

    An African youth died.. family suspects murder.

    The community doesn’t trust the police, to the extent that “They think the police, especially Footscray, are going to finish us; they’re going to kill us.”

    This is a most likely a by-product of coming from countries where the police are not trustworthy, not the actions of the Australian police.

    As the police spokesman explains; when portions of the African community are disproportionately involved in particular cases of crime, then its not ‘targeting’ to question people who fit that profile. It’s policing.

  3. BilB

    I don’t follow you, Helen. You are wallowing in something that is confusing reality.

    There is no justification for Rape or Murder. If everyone sticks to that then there is no problem.

    There is, however, justification for being eaten alive, because that is nature’s way.

  4. Casey

    An African youth died..

    portions of the African community

    You do understand the difference between African and African American don’t you?

  5. Katz

    The DSK and Zimmerman cases are interestingly different.

    In the DSK case the DA went hard on mounting a prosecution until the alleged victim’s back story raised difficulties. Should the DA have overlooked these difficulties and the fact that there were no other witnesses? Maybe.

    In the Zimmerman case, despite the fact that there were witnesses and the police presented the case to the DA, the DA declined to prosecute.

    On the face of it, the Zimmerman case would appear to offer a better chance of a conviction, yet that DA office declined to even attempt to prosecute. This prosecutorial inaction appears to be motivated by reflex racism.

  6. Eric Sykes

    bilb @ 3

    “wallowing”..a disgusting response to a good post (thanks Helen) and the very real situation of blatant racism enacted as direct violence and instituional inaction, both here and overseas.

  7. Mercurius

    There’s a pretty good run-down of the rules here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/25/1077733/-You-MUST-Obey-The-Rules

    Excerpt…

    Rules for Black people and People of Color:

    1. No hoodies. You must wear a suit and tie at all times, even in your own home. If someone sees you through a window, they might assume you broke in and are stealing something, so wear a suit and tie, and be sure to have a photo of yourself with family or friends on the wall, so you can prove you actually live there. You should also keep a utility bill nearby also, and photo ID with your address on it. It is, after all, up to YOU to prove you live there, not your crazy-ass paranoid neighbor who called the cops even though you’ve lived there for seven years.

    2. No going out after dark. If you do, someone might think you’re looking for trouble. And I bet you are, aren’t you??

    3. No going out in the daytime. If someone sees you in the full light of day, they might be even more (rightly) afraid of you. Nothing more suspicious than a Black person (or person of color) going about their business.

    4. No looking at White people. You know how scary you look. Besides, they deserve to live their lives without being made uncomfortable. Ever. Ever ever ever. Besides, if you look at a White person, you might come across as “too familiar” and that’s scary too.

    5. No ignoring White people, because then they might think you’re some kinda radical, and then you’re doubly scary.

    6. Never ever ever, under any circumstances, use the word “Racism”. That is strictly forbidden. That instantly converts you into a “reverse-racist”, and makes you even scarier and more dangerous than you were five minutes ago. And for heaven’s sake, whatever you do, do NOT talk about White Privilege. One of the foremost tenets of White Privilege is that you do not talk about White Privilege. It makes White people very uncomfortable, and I’m pretty sure that’s against the law in at least thirty-two states.




    (7 more important Rules in the original…)

    Rules for Rich White Christian Conservative Men:

    1. Oh, well, you know. Boys will be boys.

    (Original post also includes a helpful overview of The Rules for women)

  8. Craig Mc

    Only an idiot would hitch their wagon to a cause cheer-led by Al Sharpton.

  9. Joe

    Hey Katz,

    I could never really understand what the motivation of the hotel maid in lying was supposed to be? I still can’t see, what interest she has in making the allegations against DSK.

    Of course, one can concoct situations, and at the time, there were some implications being made about the victim’s motivation, (mainly either political, or criminal extortion, Was she a prostitute?) but none of these counter-allegations gave me the impression, that the case was dropped for any other reason then for who the complainant and the defendant are, and not due to the “facts of the case.”

    Of course prosecution was always going to be difficult– but if DSK is found guilty of the allegations facing him in France, should the case in NY be re-opened, because of his back story and, in particular, the sexual nature of the back story?

    I could never really understand what happened in NY? I still can’t comprehend the process that occurred. To some extent, I can with Trayvon Martin, because this Stay-your-ground law is pretty hard to ignore.

  10. Joe

    Craig Mc,

    why do people like Al Sharpton exist in the US? Oh, you think, maybe he works for News international?

  11. BilB

    Alright, Eric. I’ll accept that. I had trouble realising that Helen was talking about racism in a cumulative global one way sense. But I still see this as wallowing based on Maia’s determination to document every possible attribute of rape. You can go further include every known form of agressive rejection of fat people, ugly people, short people, tall people, diseased people, strange people, different people, short haired people, long haired people, pierced people,,,,,,and the political inaction that can be observed with every form of prejudice and malice. What is the point?

    The fact is that to see LIFE in this way is to miss the total beauty of nature’s creation, in all of its magnificent forms and intricate detail. And, yet for all of that the truly awesome reality is that we are, along with every other living thing, at some time potential food for another life form.

    Raciscm, prejudice, intollerance, agression, greed, etc are expressions of level of human understanding. That “understanding” is unfortunately not uniform, it is a patchwork mozaic spread across the globe.

    Philosophy and culture are the elements that act to smooth out the excesses of inter human behaviour. And this comes back to Helen’s point I imagine, where there can be a “culture” of intolerance and indifference that allows such acts as endorced systematic rape and murder. How can this be possible? Well simply it is a communal expression of the passage from primitive nature to enlightenment through knowledge.

    When one has studied the magnificence of the intricate detail and inter connectivity that makes our bodies work it is inconceivable that a gun can be used to blow a hole through this wonderful machine. Not everyone has made that journey, and at the end of the day we are all still animals who have to eat, sleep, live and die.

    As someone pointed out for each of these numbing atrocities there is a degree of soul searching, public discourse, and eventually improved dgree of understanding. And the culture of agressive intollerance becomes weaker and more marginalised. Knowledge and understanding steadily steadily improve our culture and community.

    But then there is greed.

  12. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Only an idiot would hitch their wagon to a cause cheer-led by Al Sharpton.

    Only idiots or deliberate ignoramuses would write that sentence you just did, Craig Mc. Wikipedia says it better than I could in one sentence.

    Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a one-time foe, said that Sharpton deserves the respect he enjoys among African Americans: “He is willing to go to jail for them, and he is there when they need him.”

    I don’t agree with everything he does, and I guess that most African Americans feel the same way, but in the particular matter of Trayvon Martin, Sharpton is on the side of the angels. To reflectively think that all causes Sharpton promotes are foolish just because he promotes them is foolishness itself.

  13. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Now as to Australia: are Africans really disproportionately involved in particular crimes? I have not heard that fact. In fact, the Western Australian police dispute this.

    Sgt Don Emanuel-Smith, who won the 2011 Police Officer of the Year award for his efforts with culturally diverse groups in the west metropolitan district, said the Manyang case was heated at first but police convinced community members to co-operate with the investigation. He said police met community leaders regularly and he did not believe African youths were over-represented in criminal activity.

    What may be true for Perth may not be true for Melbourne, but I suspect the Victorian coppers are telling porkies.

  14. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    May I indulge LP with one more link: Travyon, the Court, and the Week of Expendable People:

    The assault on Trayvon Martin’s character implicitly argues that he was expendable, too, the once-living price we “all” have to pay to be free in the exercise of our Second Amendment rights. It began almost immediately after he hit the pavement. They drug-tested him, but not the man who shot him. Now, we’ve got conservative “journalists” creepy-crawling through every aspect of his life to find some reason… well, to find some reason for what? That he was a kid who tweeted silly stuff, posted some silly stuff on Facebook, and once got suspended because he was found with a bag that may once have held marijuana? This is not a search for justice. It’s a search for an alibi, and it’s a search through some of the uglier aspects of American society to find the oldest, cheapest alibi of all — that the lives of black children are less important than the right of someone to pack heat, that the lives of black children must needs always take a back seat to fear, that black children in this country are bargaining chips, and not very valuable ones at that.

  15. BilB

    DaOoSG,

    I’m not sure that it is a clearcut “always evil Black” versus “always pure White”. I’m pretty sure there is a huge element “disgusting poor” versus “privileged rich” compounded by racial prejudice. I recal a very similar event (New Zealand or Australia can’t quite remember) where a sporting luminary shot an intruder to a neighbour’s property and was not charged. That was in our hemisphere, and where gun ownership is negatively perceived. There any number of cases where the 3% are to “valuable to the community” to face justice in the same way as commoners.

  16. duncan

    Casey @ 4.. I’m referring to the Victorian case. Check Helen’s link.

    D&O @13.. Africans in general (that’s a pretty wide spread), no.

    Those from war-torn areas, such as Sudanese refugees, yes.
    (please don’t give me stick for the Herald Sun link.. let’s take it as read)

  17. Patrickb

    @Yeah but, you’re not and you’re an idiot, I mean, do you even have a sensible comment on the case? The man has shot and killed someone. The action appears to be a disproportionate response to some alleged anxiety. If you’re not the least bit interested in having a thorough investigations into this matter then go and live in Somalia, it’s a free for all, you’ll love it.

  18. Patrickb

    And Duncan bases his assessment of “Africans” and crime on a single set of stats from the Victoria Police and published in the Hun (sorry Dunc mate, you can’t opt out when quoting bad sources). High quality work …

  19. Paul

    The Australian death does have similarities regarding police involvement. In both deaths the police approach was ‘nothing to see here’, but the Australian is a situation where the police appear to have been the last known contact with the young man and then refused to accept a missing person report for some time.

  20. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    It sounds like the Victorian police are engaging in racial profiling. There are several problems with this, beyond simple racial discrimination. As a means of catching perpetrators, it’s ineffective. It also alienates the targeted group from the police.

  21. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    BilB: I can’t speak for the US, but I get the feeling that a lot of their whites are far more frightened of their minorities than in Australia. As far as our Indigenous people go, we’ve had about 180 years of dispossession, and 50 years of belated attempts at justice. But in the United States, they had 260 years of slavery, another 100 years of Jim Crow and 50 years of belated attempts at justice, and that’s only with African-Americans. It’s a difference not only in kind but in degree.

    Trayvon Martin was 17. He was just a child. Yet because he was black, adult whites over there are pretending that he was a credible threat.

    But what, precisely, is the relevance of wearing gold grills? What, specifically, is the pertinence of having once given an obscene gesture? Why, exactly, does it matter that Martin’s imagination sometimes ranged into profane thoughts of sex and violence? How does any of this help us understand his killing at the hands of by George Zimmerman?

    It does not–unless you believe that the fact that Martin once gave a middle finger to a camera somehow proves that he is the sort of person who would saunter up to a man who outweighs by nearly 100 pounds, summon the powers of Thor, deck the man with one-shot, and stove him against concrete. We do not draw such conclusions from most teenagers, or even most people. That those who see nothing wrong with labeling a black man as a “Food Stamp President,” would draw them in the case of young black boy cannot be dismissed as coincidental.

  22. duncan

    Patrick,

    before jumping on your high horse, you better check what I actually wrote, lest you fall off and hurt yourself.

    portions of the African community

  23. Grey

    Re: DSK, what a load of nonsense.

    It has nothing to do with the victim and everything to do with the status of the perpetrator. This was some white french female middle-class journalist who similarly got nowhere in her complaint. It isn’t about gender politics, but about the untouchability of the elite.

    Having said that, there was something quite strange about the DSK case, which we will never get to the bottom of. DSK is a sleaze, but you get the feeling that nothing is going to get between Sarkozy and his 2nd term.

    If the NSW police had tasered to death an african asylum seeker on the streets of Sydney rather than a wealthy Brazilian student, doubtless we would all be going on about race – even though the issue seems to be one about non-compliance creep.

  24. Chris

    DOSG – it appears that even basic facts about the case as discussed on the Internet are wrong/ or contested. Try searching for Zimmerman and Martin’s weight and height. The 100 pound difference for example is based on a 6 year old police report. And his family claim that he now weighs about 170 pounds which is not much more than Martin. His height has been reportd as anything between 5″7 and 5″9 and Martin’s height between 6″ and 6″2. though I do wonder if their height and weights were reversed that Martin supporters would be concentrating on the height difference rather than the weight difference.

    But there is so much contradictory information out there (another example is the claim that Zimmerman was give his gun back by police, whereas I’ve seen another that claims the police report says the gun was kept as evidence as you’d expect) that it’s pretty much impossible to make anything but pure speculation about what really happened.

    Hopefully the 5 or 6 official investigation reports won’t be so inconsistent!

  25. Katz

    but none of these counter-allegations gave me the impression, that the case was dropped for any other reason then for who the complainant and the defendant are, and not due to the “facts of the case.”

    Maybe. The NY DA, Cyrus Vance Jr., took a look at the difficulties associated with driving the truth of the DSK case through the judicial process against the headwinds of the back story of the alleged victim. They decided that the prospects of success did not merit the expenditure of public funds.

    I’m confident that Vance would love to have DSK’s scalp hanging from his belt but was aware of the difficulties of driving the case to a conviction. He probably made the correct call based on the habitual bias of juries and because of customary judicial practices of the defence in rape cases.

    Accordingly, if DSK had been some nobody he would have been less likely, not more likely, to have been prosecuted than the real DSK.

  26. Joe

    It seems to me that the counter-allegations in the DSK case, if they are true, are actually very serious crimes– but they aren’t prosecuted either.

    It doesn’t seem like the machinations of a good legal system, it seems instead rather arbitrary. Anyway, probably heading a ways off-track…

  27. Patrickb

    Weasel words Duncan, weasel words. Why don’t you try to be a bit more specific if you’re going to try and apportion increased incidents of crime to one particular section of the community. Come on, man up!

  28. Patrickb

    @26
    Dear god, people will go to all sorts of lengths to try and defend the disgusting behaviour right wing on this subject. Why is it so hard to take the alleged killer into custody, allow him to apply for bail etc, carry out a normal investigation and try the alleged killer? It happens all the time, what’s there to debate/contend over?

  29. Grey

    Accordingly, if DSK had been some nobody he would have been less likely, not more likely, to have been prosecuted than the real DSK.

    Dunno. If I was accused of rape would I be entitled to access the tax records of my victim? How about getting phone taps of her conversations with her friend in prison? Or would I be allowed to see a copy of her asylum application?

    Most of that material would not be seen as admissable in a trial, with the possible exception of the asylum application – and even that would have been neutralised by careful directions of a half competent judge.

    But the bigger question is what were the forces behind such a total and systematic invasion of the victim’s privacy? An issue which the media was startlingly mute on.

    Lots of rape trials, in Australia probably the majority of them, result in acquittal. The fact that an acquittal might result is not a reason not to proceed to a trial, it is the DA inappropriately taking on the role of the jury. On the facts a jury might conceivably convict, in which case it should have proceeded to trial.

    Of course, although it is well documented DSK is a sleaze, was he really a rapist sleaze? When people wish to bring someone down, the best way is to target a well-known character weakness – that makes the accusation so much more believable.

  30. duncan

    Ok, let’s talk facts.

    Prisoners born in Nigeria had the highest imprisonment rate (1,079 prisoners per 100,000 adult population born in Nigeria)

    ABS Statistics on imprisonment rates

  31. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Chris: I know that both Zimmerman and Martin weigh less than I do (83 kg).

    6’2″ (or 188 cm) and 160 lb (or 72kg) gives a BMI of 20. He may have been tall but he would have also been skinny, which would have been pretty normal for a boy of his age. At 170 lb (the other figure you quoted), the BMI comes to 21. He would not have been imposing – not unless one is frightened of African-American youths of those dimensions.

  32. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Prisoners born in Nigeria had the highest imprisonment rate (1,079 prisoners per 100,000 adult population born in Nigeria)

    You didn’t mention that there’s only 40 of those prisoners, Duncan, nor than 29 of those (or nearly 75%) are in for “Illicit drug offences”. In contrast, there are 23,082 prisoners born in Australia, and the next number (772) are for the Vietnamese.

    Next time you cherry pick statistics, try not to do it as to make you look like a racist.

  33. Chris

    DOSG @ 33 – I only mentioned it because you quoted a bit saying that Zimmerman was a 100 pounds heavier than Martin. Its something I’ve seen around in quite a few places as evidence that there is no way that Martin would have attempted to physically assault Zimmerman. But he weight difference appears not to be true, just based on an early incorrect assumption.

    Patrickb @ 30 – it appears now that Zimmerman was indeed handcuffed and taken to the police station. In the US sense that is not arrested, but in many other countries it would be interpreted as such. I wonder if police in Australia can do that without arresting someone? And the police have been getting the blame for not charging him and holding him in custody, but now it seems they did want to do so, but were not allowed to by the DA.

    I agree that it appears from reports that police did a crap job – eg why did they not drug test Zimmerman, did not follow up on Martins phone to identify him etc. But other “facts” from early reports have turned out not to be true. As I mentioned before hopefully the 5 investigations going on will clear things up.

    btw there appears to be little doubt that Zimmerman is the killer (he freely admits it). Whether he is a murderer or not is a different matter, and the title of the post is interesting as it seems to imply an assumption of guilt.

  34. Lefty E

    Thats the problem with “Stand your ground” type laws. They encourage crazy gun-owning douchebags to hallucinate situations of threat, like this slimeball (and yes, I am judging the loser).

    Can the law, problem solved. Just throw it in the bin – where it belongs. There’s never been any problem with genuine self-defence in the English common law tradition, except for cases of long term spousal abuse, which required a lot of reform.

    This scenario male v male strangers doesnt need tweaking into a licence for idiots to kill unarmed strangers. Never has. Law works fine.

    Charge this one as an example to others.

  35. Lefty E

    Pre-Hobbesian violence is what this is. State of nature stuff.

  36. Katz

    Dunno. If I was accused of rape would I be entitled to access the tax records of my victim? How about getting phone taps of her conversations with her friend in prison? Or would I be allowed to see a copy of her asylum application?

    You mean “alleged victim”.

    DSK employed a private investigator to dig up dirt on her. I don’t know about the tax records, but the other stuff would be available if you could pay the money to have it dug up.

    Meantime, the complainant was given the services of investigators who dug up dirt on DSK in France. If she were alleging rape against a French nobody, no one would have provided her with those services.

    The sheer scale of the services employed by both sides makes the DSK case highly unusual.

  37. the pain in the arse formerly known as j_p_z

    [Spew of gratuitous insults towards LP and its commenters deleted. Try again with a bit of civil discussion. Tks. ]

  38. Grey

    Katz, I think you are confusing what it is possible for a private investigator to do and what it is legal for them to do.

    It was possible for News Limited to hack into Milly Dowler’s voicemail, but it wasn’t legal for it to do so.

    It is not legal for a private investigator to obtain asylum applications, tax records or phone taps and none of the material would have been seen as admissable.

    Not getting a conviction is a very common event in rape trials when the defendant pleads not guilty, the possibility of acquittal is not a reason not to proceed with a prosecution

    The ABS reported that in 2008–09 (of a total of 3,085 defendants in sexual assault and related cases finalised in higher criminal courts) 49.4% entered a guilty plea, 15.1% were acquitted and 11.9% pleaded not guilty and were convicted. A total of 21.7% of cases were withdrawn by the prosecution.[22]

    http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/26.%20Reporting,%20Prosecution%20and%20Pre-trial%20Processes/attrition-sexual-assault-cases

  39. Katz

    It is not legal for a private investigator to obtain asylum applications, tax records or phone taps and none of the material would have been seen as admissable.

    I believe this is true for tax records. Do you have evidence to prove your other assertions? I believe that the NY DA discovered this material, not DSK’s investigators.

    The figures you quote support my case. Fully 21.7% (!) of these cases were withdrawn by the prosecution. This is precisely what happened to DSK.

    Allowing for the fact that you are quoting Australian figures to establish some point or other about an American case, it would appear that withdrawal of charges is the MOST COMMON outcome for an accused to declined to plead guilty.

  40. Mercurius

    @37 Nailed it, Lefty-e.

    And pre-Hobbesian is precisely the point where a lot of the political philosophy in that part of the world stops!

  41. Katz

    Why “pre-Hobbesian”?

    Hobbes coined “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” until the creation of civil society under Leviathan.

    Hobbes therefore conceded that the feared “state of nature” had ceased to exist long before Hobbes was born.

    Hobbes was concerned to ensure that the state of nature would never return in future. He was therefore attempting to guard against the rise of a POST-Hobbesian world.

    Moreover, most of us would dislike intensely living under Hobbes’ Leviathan.

  42. Nick
  43. Chris

    Helen @ 44 -

    The stress on the relative weight and build of the two was for a different reason. It was to determine whether someone like Zimmerman (who also had a gun, remember?) would have been so terrified of Martin that his actions could credibly have been chalked up to self-defence.

    That may have been some of the discussions you’ve seen. I’ve also seen several others where it has been asserted that Martin would never have attacked Zimmerman as Zimmerman claims because of the weight difference. Not that weight really helps unless its muscle anyway. Being short and fat never helped me ;-)

    To use the words “physically assault Zimmerman” assumes an initiation of an assault by Martin. A phone call made by Martin just before the incident spoke of his fear of a man who was following him in a car., not that HE was following anyone.

    True, though the two statements are not necessarily contradictory (though it does contradict parts of Zimmerman’s account) – its not like no one else has ever physically attacked someone else first because they thought they were under threat. Ironically that’s sort of the point of the self-defence laws. Note I’m not claiming that’s what happened, nor asserting that Martin physically assaulted Zimmerman at all or even first.

    There certainly have been people speculating that Zimmerman’s nose was not broken and did not suffer injuries to the back of his head based on a video of when the police had him handcuffed. Given that the police took him for treatment of some kind – how about we wait for the release of the medical report?

    LeftyE @ 36 – yes, the gun laws are a major (not only) problem. They transform what might have been a fairly ordinary assaults or reasonable self defence into deaths, sometimes murders. And they encourage untrained people to intervene rather than avoid confrontation in situations where it is not necessary to do so nor do they have the appropriate skills to do so.

  44. Chris

    Ooops sorry for the broken blockquotes above [ Fixed]

  45. paul walter

    Nor should Australians think this place will be any better. The polls this morning have Labor down almost two to one to Abbott.
    And dont tell me the public here don’t understand what Abbott stands for.
    All I want to know is why, choosing quite clearly, knowing the difference between right and wrong, they then consciously decide for something akin to Trayvon World, against any alternative?

  46. duncan

    D&O “racist racist!”

    The total numbers are not important. The proportion of the population is. If you don’t understand that, then you can stop here, because the rest won’t make any sense to you.

    Firstly, let’s take the overall imprisonment rate; 167 per 100,000 population. That’s our baseline: 0.17%

    Firstly, Nigeria: the numbers in prison for Nigeria are low (40), but so is the resident population of Nigerians, so you don’t win there, other than to say it may be statistically insignificant; I don’t consider 40 to be statistically insignificant, however.

    Nigeria: 1.8% (~10x baseline).

    Ok, so lets assume those Nigerians in jail are all in there because of some minor pot offence.

    Take Sudan: 0.45% (~2x baseline). Similar to the Vietnamese (0.37%), but most of the Vietnamese are drug-related, while none of the Sudanese are: they’re all robbery and violent crimes. So where does that leave us?

    Now the interesting thing is countries like Iraq, where there’s been significant violence: their rate is 0.22% (~baseline).

    Those from the Indian sub-continent are very low too:
    India: 0.04%
    Sri-Lanka: 0.06%

    The point is that there is a strong relationship between country of birth and crime rates. To ignore it is dangerous political correctness.

  47. Chris

    [Deleted - way off topic. And Abbott vs Gillard vs Greens in polling is a topic we've had quite enough of in other threads, surely?]

  48. Chris

    Putting it a different way then in response to paul @ 48 saying that poll support for Abbott is support for more Trayvon like situations as Paul asserted @ 48 is I think a gross misinterpretation of the situation in Australia.

  49. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    duncan: The total numbers are important. Are we dealing with an epidemic of evil Nigerians, or are we dealing with a statistical fluke that show up in the records only this time?

    To judge this, let’s go to the link you kindly provided, and click on Past and Future Releases. There’s links to “Prisoners in Australia 2010″, “Prisoners in Australia 2009″, and so forth back to 2000. Each of them has a “PRISONERS, selected most serious offence,charge by country of birth” feature.

    I checked back to 2007 see which releases listed Nigeria – and unto 2007 none of them listed Nigerians as Persons of Special Interest. Any Nigerians convicted would have been subsumed under “Other”. It’s only 2011 that features Nigeria so prominently.

    I surmise (but do not know) that a largish gang of Nigerians were arrested in a drug sting and convicted. Remove this, and the figures for Nigerians in the prisoner population go way down. It may be part of a longer term trend (former 419 spammers think there’s more money in being drug mules?), but we don’t know yet. The ABS hasn’t got around to releasing the figures for 2012, 2013 or 2014. (Bloody Gillard – she can’t even get her government to overcome temporal anomalies.) So I’m calling statistical fluke.

    duncan: I didn’t accuse you of being a racist. I accused you of cherry picking data. I don’t know what your agenda is (perhaps you’ve got manly man love for the Victorian police and their racial profiling ways), but what you’re doing makes it easy for people to judge you’re a racist. Be careful, man.

  50. the pain in the arse formerly known as j_p_z

    [Snip several sentences which boil down to "you ain't american, so shut up! I was there! Well, maybe 795 Ks away, but still, I was on the same continent, so I must know stuff which you don't, and you're mean.]

    Did that pass the civility test?
    No.

  51. Nick

    Of course it’s the total numbers that are important.

    There are 29,096 Australians in prison, and only 40 of those were born in Nigeria.

    Duncan, how on earth then could the police presume a crime committed in Australia was *more likely* to have been committed by a Nigerian-born Australian?

    From the excel doc Down and Out of Sài Gòn linked to, prisoners born in Australia committed 87% of the *violent crimes* in Australia that resulted in jail sentences.

    3.4% were New Zealanders.

    2.4% were from UK/Ireland.

    0.8% were Vietnamese.

    0.6% were Fijian.

    …and down you go from there to whatever piddling amounts you want to find and attempt to blow up into some moronic sky falling argument about “dangerous political correctness”…

  52. paul walter

    Chris, yes I do. The people who most support the traditional treatment of aboriginals like Mulrunji and many others who have died, some times brutally, in custody here, are basically the same sort of people who would vote Hansonist or Coalition ahead of Labor or the Greens. It’s that simple.

  53. Nick

    In a sincere effort to try to get you to take some mental leaps and understand this…

    Duncan, consider the Sudanese Australians you mentioned, who have the second highest disproportion in violent crime rate (to Samoan Australians) based on country of birth.

    It’s roughly 3x that of ‘normal Australians’.

    64 people in 20,000.

    0.3%.

    ~3 in every 1000 Sudanese people will commit a violent crime.

    Should I be scared of Sudanese Australians if I see them on the street?

    Are you?

  54. Moz

    Having seen some of the way the victorian plod treat black kids as I ride through Flemington Bridge every day, I can understand the kids struggling to regard the cops as their friends and protectors. FFS, *I* struggle with that and I’m a rich, educated, white male. Albeit on a bicycle, but I still start a long way ahead of those kids. When Basher Bob’s head thug talks about a “return to old style policing” I think a lot of us cringe. At best it means more police brutality, but I can’t help thinking it also means more corruption and avoidable deaths.

    The whole “we released him then he mysteriously drowned without anyone else ever seeing him” from the cops stinks. It would stink slightly less if the drownee was a white magistrate’s son from Toorak, but it would still stink. And in the latter case I can’t help but think that the inquiry would already have been completed and someone publicly disciplined for, at the very least, failure to make sure the arrestee was in a fit state to be released.

  55. tigtog

    Duncan should be used as a real life example in classes examining logical fallacies: he’s doing a great job so far with

    *Cum hoc ergo propter hoc:
    “More children in town A have leukemia than in town B. Therefore, there must be something wrong with town A.”

    and

    * Hasty generalization:
    Hasty generalization is the fallacy of examining just one or very few examples or studying a single case, and generalizing that to be representative of the whole class of objects or phenomena. (Hasty generalization, also known as fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, law of small numbers, unrepresentative sample or secundum quid, is the logical fallacy of reaching an inductive generalization based on too little evidence.)

    Sample size is of crucial importance in statistical analysis. A sample size of 40 inmates out of the entire Australian prison population is far too small to make statistically valid generalisations.

  56. Fran Barlow

    A sample size of 40 inmates out of the entire Australian prison population is far too small to make statistically valid generalisations.

    Indeed. Imagine if, horribly, there were a fire and about 1/3 of the 40 Nigerians in gaol were killed, removing them from the stats. Would this mean that Nigerians as a group had overnight become only 2/3 as likely to pose a risk of crime to the public? Of course not.

    It’s much like conducting a straw poll. Wander into Martin Place and do a poll of 40 people on any matter. Your margin of error is going to be huge. Duncan wants to extrapolate from 40 Nigerians to everyone of Nigerian descent, which is simply bizarre.

    And all this is without even considering the reasons why those particular 40 might be in gaol in the first place. Perhaps they had poor lawyers, or were the victims of r@cial profiling — meaning that a greater number of them than other groups involved in the same activity were selected.

  57. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Can Australians comment on American issues? I can’t see why not. Can Americans comment on Australian issues? Same answer as above. Just be judicious in one’s answers in either case, and refrain from stupid assumptions. I can’t even see this as controversial. We have roughly the same issues here, as our host has pointed out.

  58. Nick

    “It’s much like conducting a straw poll. Wander into Martin Place and do a poll of 40 people on any matter.”

    Fran, you haven’t only sampled 40 people. You’ve sampled all 3,707 Nigerian Australians, and found that 40 are currently in prison. There’s a difference.

    I agree that Duncan seeks to extrapolate this to means things it clearly doesn’t. Nigerian Australians are in fact much less likely to commit violent crime (and slightly less likely to commit drug offences), and the Sudanese Australians he chose to switch to upon realising his error exceed ordinary Australians by a rate of only 2 people in every 1000…which is bugger all.

  59. Fran Barlow

    oops Mods … delete last in spam bucket — mistyped email addy …

    My point Nick was that with such a small number, the effect of anomalies is very large.

    A single extended family, for example, that was involved in something against the law would radically prejudice the pool. Similarly, if some group of related people were in Martin Pl, and you interviewed them along with others, you would get a skewed sample of the views of all of the 3000 people in Martin Pl at the time.

  60. Grey

    I believe this is true for tax records. Do you have evidence to prove your other assertions? I believe that the NY DA discovered this material, not DSK’s investigators.

    Around around we go in circles. The point is IT IS NOT NORMAL FOR THE POLICE TO CONDUCT THIS LEVEL OF INVESTIGATION ON A RAPE VICTIM. In fact, it is not normal for them to investigate the victim at all.

    The material uncovered was mostly or entirely not admissable as evidence. Hence DSK was an untouchable, powerful but unidentified and unidentifiable social forces swung into action to shield him. It has nothing to do with race, it is quite simply impossible for DSK to commit rape in America.

    Having said that, I do think it was possible that DSK was in fact innocent and set up in an elaborate sting. But in that case the unprecedented investigation into the victim may have been as much to shield the power structures behind the setting up the sting as protect DSK. Either way, there was an extremely fascinating situation of corrupt forces that attempted to construct a scenario to persuade the gullible that everything was perfectly normal.

  61. Grey

    I have heard rumours that Nigerians are disproportionately represented in email scams, but I don’t believe a word of it.

  62. Nick

    “My point Nick was that with such a small number, the effect of anomalies is very large.”

    Yep, Fran. Not disagreeing with you or DaOiSG on that. It’s the extrapolation of such small numbers which causes anomalies (the police excel doc multiplies them by 100,000 to achieve its exaggerated result)…not the sample size, which was 100%.

  63. Nick

    Sorry, ABS excel doc.

  64. faustusnotes

    Duncan, the confidence interval for 40 prisoners ranges from 29 to 54; so the lower rate of imprisonment is 7.5 times higher than the rest of Australia.

    Now, if you look at Table 25 in this report you’ll see that Nigerian migrants have a very high male/female sex ratio (150), so the population is more likely to be male – much much more likely than the remainder of the Australian population. Finally, it’s clear from that document and the link you provided that Nigerians mainly come here on skilled visas, so they’re more likely to be clustered in the highest-crime age groups than the rest of the population. So the rate of imprisonment needs to be age-sex standardized in order to do a proper comparison.

    My guess based on the crime rate estimated roughly from a cross-section of the Australian 20-45 yo population is that with the sex age distribution of the Nigerian migrant population, Australia’s imprisonment rate would approximately double. So the age-sex standardized Nigerian imprisonment rate is actually more like 5 times the Australian population rate, with a confidence interval between 3.75 and 8.

    Now if you take out the 29 illicit drug charges (representative, as others have observed, of a single bust – customs in the UK, Australia and Japan amongst other countries have been targeting Nigerian cocaine smuggling since about 2008) the rate drops from 5 times to 1.25 times the background rate, confidence interval approximately 0.6 to 2.5 times the Australian background rate.

    Your comment is a lesson in the mistakes that arise from a) investigating a single year’s data in a small and volatile population sub-group and b) not standardizing rates when dealing with a highly age- and sex-specific phenomenon.

  65. Katz

    Dearie me Grey:

    Around around we go in circles. The point is IT IS NOT NORMAL FOR THE POLICE TO CONDUCT THIS LEVEL OF INVESTIGATION ON A RAPE VICTIM. In fact, it is not normal for them to investigate the victim at all.

    Please try to read for meaning. I have not mentioned the NYPD. The discoveries in question were issued by the NY DA. That is the US equivalent of the DPP. And prosecuting authorities are certainly very interested in assessing the credibility of witnesses and do so as a matter of routine.

    And there you go again, calling the alleged victim the “victim”. She is not a victim until a jury decides she is a victim.

  66. Grey

    Katz, the point I was trying to make that although the DSK case was clearly a case of string-pullers conducting an unprecedented invasion of a rape victims, there exists a power structure in society that endeavours to conceal this self-evident fact.

    Upon which you said

    The discoveries in question were issued by the NY DA. That is the US equivalent of the DPP. And prosecuting authorities are certainly very interested in assessing the credibility of witnesses and do so as a matter of routine.

    Are you seriously suggesting that if an asylum seeker in Australia reports rape that the DPP will go through their asylum application line by line and see if they can break the victim done? It is not even admissable evidence! Has there ever been a case where a rape victims migration statements were even introduced into court to attack their credibility?

    This is self-evident nonsense.

    And there you go again, calling the alleged victim the “victim”. She is not a victim until a jury decides she is a victim.

    Oh I see. That means there are no victims in a murder-suicide case.

    What nonsense.

  67. Lefty E

    I’m more than happy to hear Japerz comments on Australia (not least cos he spells it “arse”, which is full points for acculturation).

    But barbarity offers up universal standing to comment, in my book. Maybe even the duty. Im not exactly a cultural relativist on thinly veiled vigilante killings. I see it as a threat to my way of life, precisely because section of the political right in my country are often so enthralled by their US equivalents.

    To give them their due, though, gun issues are one area in which our homegrown Right has usually dismissed its US brothers as nutters.

  68. Grey

    Actually “the point I was trying to make that although the DSK case was clearly a case of string-pullers conducting an unprecedented invasion of a rape victims”
    Should read “the point I was trying to make that although the DSK case was clearly a case of string-pullers conducting an unprecedented invasion of a rape victim’s privacy.”

    There are grammar errors and mangling of sense, that was more mangling sense.

  69. Katz

    Are you seriously suggesting that if an asylum seeker in Australia reports rape that the DPP will go through their asylum application line by line and see if they can break the victim done? It is not even admissable evidence! Has there ever been a case where a rape victims migration statements were even introduced into court to attack their credibility?

    Your obduracy is tedious. The defence in a rape case have a wide discretion in putting the credibility of the primary witness for the prosecution to a stern test. It is a characteristic of rape cases that there is only one witness. It is usually a contest of one word against another.

    For an example of this contest, see the case of Theo Theophanous. In that case the Victorian Crown Prosecutor was criticised for giving too much credence to the false allegations of the alleged victim.

    In your rather jejune murder-suicide example there is not even an alleged victim because there would be no prosecution. You seem to misunderstand that I am using the word “victim” in its narrower, legal sense. Certainly one can speak of victims of traffic accidents. But that use of the word arises out of a quite different, non-juridical context.

    For the record, my guess is that DSK’s investigators gave the NY DA the dirt on the alleged victim, inviting them either to deny it or to use it as a speedy concession of the unlikelihood of achieving a conviction. DSK’s team had no reason to keep this stuff secret.

  70. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    I have heard rumours that Nigerians are disproportionately represented in email scams, but I don’t believe a word of it.

    It doesn’t matter whether Nigerians are or aren’t over-represented in advanced fee fraud: arbitrary stopping and searching isn’t going to decrease the phenomena one bit.

  71. Martin B

    Fairly obviously, yet surprisingly unmentioned, for the imprisonment rates of different groups to be used as a good proxy for the rates of offending you would need to demonstrate that there is no signficiant differential between those groups in regard to policing or the court system. I’m not sure I’d feel all that safe making that assumption in this context.

  72. Joe

    In the DSK case in NY you can chalk it up as one more thing that we’ll never know for sure what happened.

    On a practical level if you are ever charged with an assault, your best course of action is to agree with the complainant outside of the court. This is the recommended course of action for accused– never let the allegation go to trial.

    It would be interesting to know if DSK settled with the complainant. I find the silence after the event deafening. I find the counter-allegations, to put it mildly, surprising.

    But we’ll never know. We’ll never know what happened in Afghanistan either.

    Unfortunately for Zimmerman, he left a body in the middle of a populated area– figuratively, if not literally in the middle of middle America. Now, there should be a reasoned investigation process leading to an official course of events, but of course, this would begin with correct police action at the scene of the crime. I have very little confidence that the police did a thorough inventory of the crime scene. I find it highly probable that crime scene information, which may have lead to an understanding of what happened, has been lost.

    It will be incumbent on Zimmerman to prove that he was assaulted. (This is quite different to having to prove that he didn’t assault somebody.) One would expect at the least, evidence of an altercation– hair and skin on a footpath, etc. A reconstruction will need to show in which position he and Martin were in when Martin was shot. This can be corroborated with the wounding, etc. The whole CSI: Miama thing to follow.

    But of course in all such crimes, the testimony of witnesses will be the most important factor– and here we already see that the witness testimony has been destroyed by publicity.

    So, what does this show. This simply shows that at best, that important institutions are failing at the regional and local level which is really par for the course, but they don’t exactly take away from the impression that in the land of the free, freedom’s in trouble. Because there can be no liberty without truth.

  73. John D

    Martin: In the places I have lived in with significant Aboriginal populations (Groote Eylandt, Newman) the imprisonment rate was higher for Aborigines compared with non- Aborigines. There is no doubt that the Aboriginal crime rate was much higher. However, there were other factors. These included attitudes of police and judges, different concepts of right and wrong, mutual misunderstanding of the other culture and Aboriginal people going to jail because they were unable to pay fines.

  74. Joe

    Another interesting variable would be how successful are defendants that use public criminal aid compared to those that can afford private representation. That information must be floating around somewhere…

  75. BilB

    When you have got the gear, it takes no more than an idea to drill (lets not use unpleasant words) someone.

    Take a look at the FMG 9. Listen to Andre from Magpul explain just how handy this is if you are walking the dog, taking the garbage out (snigger), or simply checking the mailbox. Just think how safe you would feel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enzlTEysYVU

    And there is no shortage of interest….
    http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1153421

    Now you too can………get down to business!

  76. Nick

    Martin B, Helen did mention that @ 51…

    Your honour, my client comes from good standing in the community. He recently graduated from one our most prestigious local grammar schools, where he volunteered for cadet training and distinguished himself on the football field on many occasions blah blah blah. He is currently attending university in a fulltime capacity. He is truly shocked by and sorry about all of this, and vows never to deal drugs at inner city night spots again. He has pleaded guilty, and we ask the court that he receive a good behaviour bond/suspended sentence etc etc etc

    John D, that’s a good point about some of us being able to cough up for fines more easily than others – but you’d really hope a fine would be converted into its equivalent amount of community service rather than jail time, if an offender would be unable to afford it. Which brings us back to the prejudices you mentioned…

  77. duncan

    Helen,

    my apologies for dragging this off the original topic of the post. I am not referring to the US case… I’m referring to your link to the Victorian Atakelt case (per my original post).

    Faustus.. thanks for the statistical analysis; I agree that taking this single stat without looking at differences in distribution of sex, age etc was mistaken.

    Now, for some of you others that point out that ‘its only 3 in 1000′.. and ‘does that make you scared of Sudanese/Nigerians’.. the answers are ‘so what?’ and ‘no’.

    As faustus points out, the difference is statistically significant. My point is (as noted from my first post @2) that police paying more attention (I won’t go as far to say ‘targeting’) particular races for crimes is not in itself racist. Just as focussing on 18-35yo males (or whatever the demographic is) for rapes is not ‘ageist’.

    Police don’t go as far to assess causation; all they’re worried about is solving crime and prosecuting criminals. If profiling criminal behaviour leads to race-based conclusions, it doesn’t make them inherently racist.

  78. faustusnotes

    Duncan, is the difference statistically significant if you look at two years of data rather than one? Does the significance depend on the year? It appears from other peoples’ comments that it does. If so, you have a problem with your theory, caused (as others have pointed out to you) by volatility. Would you have the police pursue every silly r@cial profiling lead because of volatile numbers in small communities?

    And how, incidentally, are the police going to profile Nigerians? Under your logic, huge numbers of black African migrants are not eligible for “paying more attention,” yet unless the police are remarkably good at distinguishing between Nigerians and Ethiopians (or Ugandans, or whoever else) then they aren’t going to be “paying more attention” to the community who pose the risk – they’ll be “targeting” anyone black. Not only is this an obvious form of racism for those who feel (or can “prove” statistically) that they aren’t a risk; it’s a very inefficient use of police time.

    Unless by “paying more attention” you mean police investing in community liaison, good intelligence work and careful data gathering. But I think you’ll find that’s what the police do with every community …

  79. Nick

    Duncan: “My point is (as noted from my first post @2) police paying more attention (I won’t go as far to say ‘targeting’) particular races for crimes is not in itself racist.”

    Since neither you nor the police have been able to show any such “race-based conclusions” to be valid, it would be plainly wrong for the police to “pay more attention (you won’t go as far to say ‘targeting’)”.

    Drawing “race-based conclusions” despite every fact to the contrary is very much an indicator of racial prejudice.

  80. Winston

    It’s a little hard to really know what is going on given all we know comes from a bit of footage here, a bit of audio there and a leaking police service. It beggars belief that people can take a hard view one way or the other.

    Nigerian stats are no use in this conversation.

  81. faustusnotes

    No Winston, they’re very important! They give an objective cover for the claim that Zimmerman had a legitimate grievance with a black person he didn’t know. Without the misuse of stats, people like Zimmerman are just vigilantes; but once you apply some dubious stats to the case they become tragically misunderstood victims of a community of terrifying murderers-in-waiting!

  82. Winston

    You may be correct but I don’t begin to see the connection you try and make. It’s not there.

  83. GregM

    Hey faustusnotes, I think that you and Winston are in furious agreement.

    He says that Nigerian stats are worthless in this conversation and he is right.

    You agree with him, I think, but point out that their misuse is worthy of discussion.

  84. Joe

    Winston,

    it seems that fn was being facetious. It’s the presentation of the data, which is often misleading.

    Show me your flowcharts and conceal your tables, and I shall continue to be mystified. Show me your tables, and I won’t usually need your flowcharts; they’ll be obvious. –The Mythical Man Month

  85. Winston

    They give an objective cover for the claim that Zimmerman had a legitimate grievance with a black person he didn’t know? Wrong

  86. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Winston: faustusnotes is taking the piss. Who he is taking the piss of is an answer I leave as an exercise. (Read the thread for clues.)

  87. Winston

    Only a two bit fool would try and rely on the use of stats as providing “objective cover” for a racist.

  88. Martin B

    Whoops, sorry Helen@51. (RTFT failure.)

  89. paul of albury

    Thanks Martin B @75. I can’t believe it took so long for someone to point out that the stats being used had a very loose correlation with crimes actually committed as they’re about people who’ve been identified as committing reported crimes. Since many crimes are unreported, many ‘unsolved’ and many don’t result in a conviction we cannot say that particular groups have greater propensities to commit crimes based only on conviction rates.

    Unless you are very confident that WASPish offenders are equally likely to be convicted of any crimes they commit, all you’re saying is that we convict more of the people we have a tendency to identify as criminal.

  90. faustusnotes

    Incidentally, a very perfunctory web search shows me that the exact same debate Duncan has tried to start here was a hot topic on the Stormfront boards in 2007. That year there were 10 Nigerian prisoners, according to the good white folk of that esteemed website.

    Is that where you got the idea of studying imprisonment rates by race, Duncan?

  91. duncan

    FFS,

    the Nigerian stats discussion is regarding the (incorrect, IMHO) reference to the Victorian case, not the malarky going on in the US.

  92. Martin B

    Actually the point fn makes @68 is really important.

    I remember reading a report (sorry can’t find it right now) in which it was shown that the seemingly high crime rate amongst Cambodians in Australia disappeared almost entirely once you standardised how the demographic profile was heavily skewed towards youth and men in particular.

  93. BilB

    With the US, Helen, I don’t think that you can make generalisations because the country is just too big and diverse. Locals of fear are scattered around the country. Prejudice is a little broader but by no means a uniform phenomenon. Religeous zealotry is similarly patchely spread. Compounding the mess is gun ownership.

    I have a friend and business colleague in Chicago. He is a Kiwi, and comes from a very different mindset to the US one. He lobbed into Chicago with a mind free of fear, and as he explored his new world discovered what to fear where and how. A lot of interesting stories, and not of a nature that we can relate to here. I got a tiny dose of this in the 80′s on my first visit to LA when I strayed from one area into “downtown” LA, and for the first time in my life experienced the presence of malice as I just walked down the street. A lot of eyes, with nothing else to do, just following as I walked along.

  94. BilB

    One story come to mind.

    My friend and his wife exploring Chicago found a “nice” area, parked and casually walked around. Found a restaurant to eat, found a table and sat down. The waitress came to their table and immediately said “What are you people doing here? You should not be here. The smartest thing that you can do is go back to your car as quickly as you can and get out of this area!”. It was only on their way back to the car that they felt a malicious presence. There is no mention of race to this story.

    Is that something that you would ever experience in this country?

  95. Katz

    African Americans live inside an all-pervasive web of well-founded fear.

    This quite rational sense of fear, conditioned by 400 years of institutionalised racial violence, has many manifestations. Black ghettos exist because of it. When BilB blundered into one of them in LA he confronted 400 years of history.

    When you are a black man, what does a white man walking through your neighbourhood look like to you? You are a potentially mortal threat. They didn’t shoot you because you were wearing your bunny cardigan because 400 years of history has taught them that unlike Zimmerman they’d have zero chance of getting away with it.

  96. BilB

    Katz, the LA experince was not a racial one. It was more to do with long term unemployed and the resultant vagrancy, all of black, white, and tan. This is not a straight forward issue of them and us.

  97. Mercurius

    Well, Bilb @99-100, your two friends experienced, once, what a lot of people live with every single day of their lives. Fear as they walk down the street. Fear of being accosted for being in the “wrong” area, because they are wearing the “wrong” clothes or are the “wrong” colour while walking.

    The fact that people like you and I and your friends only experience this sort of thing once in a blue moon, whereas many other people live with it constantly, is called social privilege.

    And the fact that your friends (and you) found it so discomforting that once, just once, you felt this fear, and that years later you are still talking about it, suggests that you at least are not aware of the privilieged bubble in which you/they live.

    For many people around the world, that fear just becomes like a pebble in their shoe, which you just get used to eventually, and if they speak up about it they’re ignored or attacked for ‘whining’. Whereas the privileged few are allowed to remain forever outraged about that one time in their life they genuinely felt fear walking down the street…

  98. Eric Sykes

    “Is that something that you would ever experience in this country?”.

    That depends on who you are and what you look like BilB.

    There are plenty of places in Australia that I am fearful of based on bad experience, most of them centre around very large amounts of alchol and betting, I’m a white male. No doubt these places are far more dangerous for “others”….

    For my non-white friends of varrious shades there are a whole range of places that they simply can not go without being at best verbally threatened, or attacked, or arrested for whatever the offense might be that week…..

    I have travelled extensively, and spent some time in Brooklyn. While Brooklyn had it’s scary moments none of them are a patch on my experiences in Adelaide. I only visit that city when I have to, and no joke, every time I have there’s been a knife fight in Hindley St…that’s four times in a row now. And ;-) I don’t think the same people have been involved each time, and none of them were black…..

    And yes, I am being serious.

  99. Katz

    A few whites among many blacks don’t disqualify vagrancy and ghettoisation as a racial phenomenon. Take a look at the racial composition of the long term unemployed. Is it surprising that they are overwhelmingly minorities?

    Unlike the Nigerian issue discussed above this over representation of minorities in the workless and homeless cannot be dismissed as an artefact of small numbers or of skewed population characteristics.

  100. Mercurius

    @94, go easy on Duncan, now. His excellent statistical summary has led me to an important discovery which carries implications for the grave threat posed to us by 49.8% of the population.

    According to the US Department of Justice, men in the USA commit murder at 10 times the rate of women. Obviously the solution is for more pro-active policing of people who persist in flaunting their ‘male’ identity, or wearing obviously ‘male’-related colours and clothes.

    It would also be nice if the government could more closely monitor the movement of ‘males’ between countries, as we don’t want to be importing a murder threat from beyond our borders.

    It would be preferable if men could be made to wear an identifying marker, perhaps a yellow star, so that upstanding civilians can be informed that they are dealing with a ‘male’ person, and take appropriate measures to defend themselves and their families.

    Finally, I think we can all agree that if a person feels the need to defend themselves from one of these ‘men’ (remember, you’re 10 times more likely to be killed by one than by a ‘woman’!), then we shouldn’t quibble too much over the circumstances, or investigate whether the response was proportional to the threat. When dealing with people descended from the dangerously violent and overtly criminal ‘male’ culture, one can’t be too careful…

  101. Mercurius

    Also, men start about 99.85%* of stoushes on the internet, making the place extremely unpleasant for everybody else. My proposed solution is government surveillance of all internet activity by people of the male persuasion, and/or enforced gender reassignment surgery, until your manners improve.

    * This is a completely made-up figure.

  102. BilB

    While I was penning those thoughts, EricS, I was contmplating the situation for women at times and their experiences with excessive learing by men, and the potential for fear there.

    So there are a number of ingredients in this soup. Race is one (and not just black and white), unemployment, homelessness, wealth disparities, gun ownership, history of intolerance, inappropriate laws, lack of access to health care, drug abuse, education, manipulative media,,. The problem for the US is that all of these chunky issues are all floating very near the surface, they are hard to avoid. The real threat is that as we are now on the headlong spiral into resource depletion and destructive climate change, all of these forces have the potential to merge into an ugly future for the US as their economy is decimated over the next thirty years.

  103. paul walter

    Yes, noisy black people are shunned Helen, no denying it.
    What’s not understood is why, because white Australians generally don’t know their own history and the impact it had on creating dysfunctional indigenous communities and individuals.
    Some have tried to discover and explain what really happened, like Prof. Henry Reynolds and have been smeared for it, because apart from soiling the white armband sensibility and offering reasons for current problems that threaten bourgeois sensibilities and consciences and challengethe mean middle class spirit, the agenda of indigenous recovery has threatened the narrow imperatives of big mining and agribusiness as well as shining a light on a default conservative scapegoat for control through “othering” and law and order.
    I agree that aboriginal history is an “other” history, history not unlike the history of Australian women as set out by people like Profs Summers and Lake, or related blue-collar histories that offer insights that relate to phases of (neo) liberal “reform” in their actual guise as instruments of repression.

  104. Katz

    Merc, I think you are taking an overly broad-brush approach to this problem.

    It is quite clear that testosterone explains 93.28%* of male behaviour. Accordingly, a relatively minor operation obviates this problem. This would be a small price to pay for any person of male birth who wishes to migrate to what is still a very peaceful and well regulated civil society.

  105. BilB

    Katz, yes the minorities aspect is very pertinent. Gun toting rednecks use the marginalised to elevate their egos further inflating the dangers.

    “Is that something that you would ever experience in this country?”.

    Thinking about that some more, apart from aboriginal people, some Indian people experience problems and more recently the Somali sports person attacks.

    Thank goodness we do not have wide open gun ownership.

  106. BilB

    “testosterone explains 93.28%* of male behaviour”

    that does depend upon the time of the month.

  107. BilB

    Now that I think about it just 2 mornings ago I recal hearing of a study called the “Flat League Effect” which postulated that pheromones from mens Jocks in the confines of team change room aligned men’s cycles, and this was evident as fluctations in team performance from month to month with the result that teams that should be trounced in the league were able to stay in the competition longer due to cyclical surges in their performance. The “scrummage” was also mentioned as a contributing factor. As I heard it.

  108. Patrickb

    @81
    “all they’re worried about is solving crime and prosecuting criminals”
    In the past this has lead to some rather dodgy prosecutions. I have a more sceptical view of what the may motivate the police and their ability to carry out their duties competently. It seems to me that they are all too ready to accept increased coercive power without considering whether or not they have the resources, planning or training to fairly exercise that power. The police here were very keen on stop and search but they didn’t have any idea how that would practically play out.

  109. Nick

    Helen @ 98, fwiw, I read the connection you made as:

    - the Victorian case of a young Ethiopian man found dead hours after being released from custody, apparently with several obvious wounds to his body, who the police would later pronounce to have drowned unsuspiciously.

    - “that malarky going on in the US” where a 17 year old boy was pursued (heh, stand your ground) engaged and shot dead by a vigilante who the police would decide they had no cause to arrest.

    Both are classic cases of two sets of rules.

    Why the deaths of two young black men would prompt Duncan to want to argue over the national crime rate of black people, I’m not sure…maybe he was being a bit thoughtless.

  110. Chris

    Mercurius @ 106 – or perhaps men are convicted at a higher rate because of a police bias towards investigating men for violent crimes and courts are less likely to let them off compared to women ;-)

  111. David Irving (no relation)

    Eric Sykes up thread a ways, I’ve lived in Adelaide for almost all of my 61 years, and I’ve never seen a knife fight in Hindley Street (or elsewhere, for that matter).

    Some people have all the luck.

  112. Helen

    Nick @115, correct… and it’s also about how, while both Australians and USians react to black males with fear and suspicion, in fact, black males and their families are the ones living in fear, because they are the ones most likely to end up dead.
    Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    “There were Trayvon-like dudes with their pants down,” Mr. Taaffe said.
    As the father of a black boy, this is chilling. Frank Taaffe has no real way of knowing how Trayvon Martin wore his pants. I doubt that he much cares.

    What amazes is the casualness of the racism, a casualness which does not see black boys as boys at all–but an indistinguishable super-predators in waiting. “Trayvon-like dudes.”

  113. Chris

    DI @ 117 – I’ve travelled to many places around the world including a few 3rd world countries in some scary situations and yet the only place I’ve been assaulted is Adelaide! Though admittedly I’m a lot less cautious when in Adelaide.

  114. Helen

    Further reading: Some historical and legal background from political science prof. Melissa Harris-Perry.

    Trayvon Martin: What it’s like to be a problem

    This is not a straightforward issue of racial inequality, discussions of which are often reduced to an almost competitive empirical analysis of which Americans have the most problems. On those terms, there’s ample evidence that black Americans have consistently had fewer resources and opportunities. But this case is not about which race or group of people has the most problems…

    … But the democratic social contract is not violated when citizens have problems; it is violated when some citizens are a problem. In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois described the experience of being black in America as a constant awareness that others viewed him as a problem. “Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question…. How does it feel to be a problem?” This is not a statement about black people having more problems than their white counterparts. Du Bois captures the defining element of African-American life as the very self, but most especially the visible, black self in public space as being a problem.

    Editorial: Trayvon Martin: Guilty of being black

  115. Ken_L

    An adult with a gun killed an unarmed teenager. The adult could have avoided any contact with the teenager but chose not to. Person or persons unknown in the service of the state decided no offence had been committed and to this day have not attempted to justify or explain their decision.

    It is beyond my comprehension why people of any mainstream ideology cannot see that a legal system which condones this kind of unaccountable extra-judicial killing is fundamentally, irredeemably undemocratic and unjust. Yet many of Zimmerman’s most vocal apologists are also the ones who bawl about the evils of big government. Don’t they understand that allowing the state to decide who can be killed with impunity is kind of a big deal? Apparently not.

  116. duncan

    Helen,

    have you ever visited or worked in the US? It certainly sounds like you haven’t.

    There is not a general fear of race in the US… they are in general a very tolerant society who treat people as individuals, not groups.

    Do not judge them through the media prism.

  117. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    There is not a general fear of race in the US… they are in general a very tolerant society who treat people as individuals, not groups.

    However, they seem to have a habit of electing politicians who treat people as groups, not individuals. Okay, “they” in this case is Texas, but still. And believe it or not, Duncan: that link was in one of the other tabs of the browser when I read your post. First thing that came to mind.

    I haven’t been to the US since 2001 (before 9/11) but I do remember quite a few nice people. But it helps if one is white when one is visiting.

  118. Katz

    Were those Hindley Street knife fighters disputing ownership of barrels of pickling fluid?

  119. Katz

    There is not a general fear of race in the US… they are in general a very tolerant society who treat people as individuals, not groups.

    What do you mean by this Duncan?

    “Fear of race” is a very vague semantic construction.

  120. Helen

    Well, Duncan, I went to school there for a year but I’d have to say that, being six, I didn’t learn much about the sociological implications of anything, except the existence of snow and Halloween and other wonders. I do think your assertion is quite egregious, though. There is plenty of evidence that institutional racism is still rife in the US. You would have to be fairly biased to ignore it.

    As for viewing events through a media prism, there is a point beyond which just flatly disbelieving everything becomes tinfoil-hatty. The facts, as Ken has just re-stated, are not all in dispute.

  121. Helen

    Katz @124 – DUDE.

  122. David Irving (no relation)

    That was uncalled for, Katz. Very few of us put bodies in barrels.

  123. duncan

    Katz,

    the ‘merican’s I have worked with have always evaluated people on individual behaviour. I haven’t seen any signs of treating black/white/asian/hispanics/indians/ any differently due to their racial background (I’m not saying that doesn’t exist, but generalising them as people who ‘treat blacks with suspicion’ is misguided).

    Helen,

    re: Ken’s facts. It is not unreasonable for a person to be suspicious of someone loitering around looking like they’re up to no good. Does the whole of society ignore this person, or does someone man up and approach them to ask them what they’re doing?

    The ‘facts’ beyond that first point of encounter are not well established, and it is up to a court of law to do just that. I do not agree with the American law that seems to allow a killer (in self defence) to go scot free without a manslaughter trial; but again, it seems there are internal conflicts within the police and judicial system in the US over whether or not he should be charged with manslaughter.

    Zimmerman may be a maniacal vigilante, I don’t know.

    re: the media prism.. you were tarring the whole US population based on this, and (I presume) other high profile incidents.

  124. Ken_L

    ‘…they are in general a very tolerant society who treat people as individuals, not groups’ @122

    Duncan do you ever read anything published in the USA? Everything is full of contemptuous sneering at groups: ‘liberals’, ‘righties’, ‘Obamabots’, ‘wingnuts’, ‘welfare queens’ etc etc. It is obvious that the mental model of the world of many Americans includes little but faceless, inferior, malevolent groups.

  125. Ken_L

    ‘…it seems there are internal conflicts within the police and judicial system in the US over whether or not he should be charged with manslaughter’ @129

    Nonsense. As far as the local law enforcement people were concerned, Zimmerman was home free and the case was closed. WTF do you think started all the fuss? The massive public outcry is the ONLY reason he might ever have to face the court of law you claim to want. Thus my comment about the total unacceptability of low-level public servants having the authority to retrospectively sanction extra-judicial killing without being accountable to the public, but this appears to be the current situation in Florida, which so many conservatives have inexplicably decided is one they wholeheartedly support.

  126. Katz

    Duncan, you have constructed a straw man. Have fun beating him to death.

    DI(nr), I’m relieved to read it. However, I was alluding to that fine Barossa/German tradition of making copious quantities of sauerkraut.

    (funny you should mention that other thing).

  127. David Irving (no relation)

    Perhaps we’re overly sensitive, Katz, but we get a lot of sneering and mockery from the eastern states about being the weird murder capital of Australia.

  128. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    duncan: since we’re exchanging anecdotes, I’ll share one of mine. One of the most racist people I have ever met was a contractor I had the misfortune to work with in the 90s. He was American, but lived on the Gold Coast and commuted up to Brisbane each day. He said that Free Republic was “too wishy-washy” for him; I originally thought he was joking – more fool me. He shared links in all seriousness saying that Karl Marx had practiced witchcraft under Alastair Crowley. As my father dryly remarked, that must have made Crowley a very precocious boy indeed – he was 7 when Marx died. But I was tolerating him for “political differences”.

    I think it all changed when we finished work late one night, and walked to the bus stop. He really believed in IQ inequalities between races (especially “White” and “Black”), and was trying to push that shit down my throat. He was frightened of his mum back in San Diego being overrun by Mexicans. We argued. He would not accept that I did not share his views on “IQ differences”, and got angrier and angrier – despite my willingness to drop the argument. He wanted me to agree with him, in increasing levels of vehemence.

    I actually got very frightened and very revolted, and had to leave him arguing him on the streets. I actually told my manager the next day, because I didn’t want to deal with him any more.

    (As it turns out, the contractor had been putting substandard work in, and didn’t get his contract renewed. I didn’t have to speak to him again at work.)

    duncan: this is an anecdote, not data. But I’m wondering how common his views were and are in the US. The episode happened in the late 90s, after the “reputable” (hem, hem) Bell Curve was published. This was a book that argued for the existence of racial differences in IQ, and proposed the elimination of welfare policies to prevent lower-IQ people from dominating America. It sold quite well, I believe.

  129. GregM

    re: Ken’s facts. It is not unreasonable for a person to be suspicious of someone loitering around looking like they’re up to no good. Does the whole of society ignore this person, or does someone man up and approach them to ask them what they’re doing?

    Duncan, no you do not man up and approach them and ask them what they’re doing.

    If you are so concerned about their apparent behaviour you observe them from a safe distance and then you call the police if your suspicions turn to something more than suspicions. That is why we have police.

    There are very sound reasons for this.

    First the person you suspect may have some entirely innocent and appropriate reason for being where they are and you have no business at all in questioning their entirely lawful conduct of just getting about with their lives. Your “loitering” may be another person’s waiting for someone to meet them so they can earn a few dollars from them for picking up leaves or cleaning their swimming pool.

    Second even if they don’t then under your observation at a safe distance (safe to both them and you) they might just leave, no offence having been committed.

    Third you are quite unqualified to handle the task of approaching someone to ask them what they are doing, and especially so if you are carrying a gun. They might tell you, as they have every right to, to mind your own business and you might then have a higher sense of your right to enforce the law than the law allows and shoot them.

    That’s the way it works in this country anyway.

  130. Chris

    Perhaps we’re overly sensitive, Katz, but we get a lot of sneering and mockery from the eastern states about being the weird murder capital of Australia.

    But we are the weird murder capital of Australia!

    Sort of back on topic, as someone of asian racial background who lived in a fairly white mid-west city for a couple of years (as an adult) I’d say the attitude of the average person in the street to race in the US is not much different to Australia. If anything in public and workplace they tend to be a bit more careful about what they say. That’s not to say there aren’t extreme examples to the contrary.

    Like for many other things the extremists (both good and bad) are more extreme than Australia but the average is about the same. They’re much more likely to accept an asian immigrant as an american first and asian second than an australian would accept an asian immigrant as australian first and asian second.

    I think if you imported into Australia the US gun culture, the absurd gun laws and the handgun ownership rate, it’d be just as messy if not more so. It amplifies all sorts of existing problems.

    Take this link for example http://www2.tbo.com/news/politics/2012/apr/02/permitted-handguns-will-be-allowed-in-citys-clean–ar-387365/

    The local government wants to ban guns amongst other weapons, in a clean area for the republican national convention. But they can’t because a state law prohibits them from doing so. So the net result is that you won’t be able to carry a piece of string longer than six inches, but you will be able gun. Filed under WTF!

    Ken_L @ 131

    Nonsense. As far as the local law enforcement people were concerned, Zimmerman was home free and the case was closed.

    Apparently (well some news reports, presumably leaks for the police department say) the police wanted to charge him with manslaughter but were not allowed to by the DA.

  131. Katz

    Look on the bright side. You are the sauerkraut capital of Australia as well.

    And no. Correlation is not causation.

  132. Mercurius

    Duncan:

    It is not unreasonable for a person to be suspicious of someone loitering around looking like they’re up to no good.

    Is this incantation connected with anything in particular, or is it just a data-free nostrum, like ‘apple pie is delicious’ and ‘kittens are cute’? What does ‘looking like they’re up to no good’ entail, exactly? Eating candy? Wearing a hoodie in the rain? Walking home from the shops?

    Does the whole of society ignore this person, or does someone man up and approach them to ask them what they’re doing?

    Do they need testicles to do this job, or can the vaginally-endowed also participate in home defence, Duncan?

    If you were trying to make a point about the Trayvon Martin case, I’d like to know how come nobody decided to man up and confront the jittery, vexatious 911-calling, armed, toey white/Hispanic guy what he was doing stalking a teenager who was walking home from the shops? And why the police didn’t man up and arrest him after he killed an unarmed teenager who was walking home.

    And what was so suspicious about Trayvon Martin, exactly? The suspicious way he was holding his skittles, or the loitery way he was walking home, trying to shake off the creepy armed stalker on his tail?

  133. Winston

    A bit pointless arguing who was right or wrong. A bit like jumping to a conclusion in the Craig Thomson matter.

  134. duncan

    Ken @ 131.

    So what’s going on here?

    ABC News reported last week that Sanford police detective Chris Serino, unconvinced by Zimmerman’s story of self-defense, wanted to charge him with manslaughter, but was overruled by Wolfinger’s office

    Mercurius, don’t be an idiot. Its a turn of phrase.

  135. adrian

    Yes Mercurius, don’t you know that a turn of phrase is a completely innocent grammatical (or not) construction that has no meaning, implicit or otherwise.

    Speaking of nongs, was

  136. adrian

    Don’t know what happened there, or why I got the ‘mobile theme’ when I’m not using a mobile.

  137. adrian

    A bit like jumping to a conclusion in the Craig Thomson matter.

    Nothing like it actually.

  138. Joe

    Another massacre in the US.

    Praise the Lord, that in the most heavily armed civilian population it isn’t the guns that do the killing. Hah!

    And another dead black kid to mount on the front grill of the Winnebago.

  139. Joe

    Sometimes though, you do get a bit sentimental about Bill Clinton. In The Guardian, Bill Clinton says laws need ‘reappraisal’ in wake of Trayvon Martin case.

    “It’s going to be almost impossible to prove what was in someone’s mind when a certain thing happened,” he said in an interview with ABC.

    “The law is going to create real problems because anyone can basically be a part of a neighbourhood watch where they have a concealed weapon, whether they had proper law enforcement training or not, and whether they’ve had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.

    “People have always had a right to have a handgun in their home, to protect their homes, then we’ve seen this breathtaking expansion of concealed weapons laws. I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the ‘stand your ground’ laws, that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man’s loss will not be in vain.”

  140. Chris

    Joe @ 143 – when I lived in the US there was a massacre about once a month. I suspect not all of them are reported here because its so common. Even sadder is that the gun lobby use them as a reason why everyone should own and carry a gun with them!

  141. Mercurius

    Riddle me this Duncan –> between the kid walking home in the rain with a hoodie on, and the armed guy trailing him in a vehicle, who would you say is “loitering around looking like they’re up to no good”, and which of the two would you man up and confront?

    And how come nobody did confront the jittery, overzealous, armed, self-appointed vigilante? Can you think of a reason?

    Can you explain any of this, or do you just have more deflection and straw-man to offer? I know that in polite company it’s now a far graver social crime to accuse someone of being a racist than actually being an out-and-out racist, but can you explain any of what happened without recourse to race-based profiling?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot. According to the New Right Rules, racism is never committed by conservatives, only by lefties and blacks. That’s how you know what racism is: If a conservative dunnit, it ain’t racist…

  142. Joe

    Chris,

    doesn’t “multiple homicide” just sound nauseating. It’s like they’ve hidden the meaning behind a technicality. I mean, even if these crimes are due to mental health problems– a responsible government must try and reduce the harm caused by shootings and restrict the number of guns.

    Going back up thread again– what fn said is actually really profound. Nobody can provide any evidence of the counter-factual question– How many crimes are prevented by gun-ownership? We can’t present that information statistically. But, honestly, so what? The gun lobbyists shouldn’t be allowed to get away with such a dishonest line of argument.

  143. alfred venison

    “loitering around looking like they’re up to no good”.

    ho ho ho – like my partner & in sacramento, ca. my sister dropped us off in the city center where we went about sight seeing & arranged to collect us at an agreed time at the bus stop by a mall close to the state legislature.

    so we stand & wait at the bus stop, located on a corner with traffic lights. and what happens? every middle class honky, in every waiting car, stared at us with ill-disguised suspicion until their light changed. not just the first car, but every car in the line – driver & passenger(s). and they continued to stare at us while they went around the corner or through the light. we waited for 15 minutes & constantly got the stare & nothing surreptitious about it – just a blatant i don’t trust you & i’m ready to report you stare. this was two reasonably well dressed middle class whiteys at a bus stop – a place actually designed for people to stand & wait.

    “loitering around looking like they’re up to no good”, my ass! it shouldn’t be up to anyone to not look suspicious. struth!
    a.v.

  144. Ken_L

    Duncan @140 I assume you understand the difference between ‘there are internal conflicts within the police and judicial system in the US over whether or not he should be charged with manslaughter’ and ‘reported last week that Sanford police detective Chris Serino, unconvinced by Zimmerman’s story of self-defense, wanted to charge him with manslaughter, but was overruled by Wolfinger’s office.’

    The first quote, from you, is what is called ‘present tense’, meaning things that are happening now. Your second quote is known as ‘past tense’, meaning things that have already occurred. In other words your second quote admirably supports my statement that unknown junior public servants decided that Martin deserved to die and it was a done deal before the public got interested. Your first argument is what is technically known as wrong.

    Frankly I couldn’t give a continental what happened on the night of Martin’s killing. The issue that concerns me is the cavalier attitude from people like you that there is nothing to get agitated about. A good proportion of the American population seems to have no objection to letting junior public servants decide who deserved to get blown away without the killer having to face any significant consequences. Moreover said junior public servants don’t even have to explain or justify their decisions.

    Do you agree that this is sound public policy?

  145. Chris

    Joe @ 148 – the gun lobby has stats on guns save lives that they bring out every time there is a massacre, but I think in general its pretty hard to classify whether the presence of a gun made a difference or not. The huge problem that the US has is that there are so many guns around, banning the sale of them now is not going to have any real effect for decades even if they could stop smuggling. At the time of the Columbine massacre I thought that it might finally be the event that got the politicians in the US moving. And for a time it looked like something might get through, but nothing changed in the end. I’m very pessimistic now that there will be any significant tightening of gun ownership laws in the future in the US.

    alfred @ 149 – Don’t have a car in california? You can’t get much more suspicious than that!!

  146. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Winston@139:

    A bit pointless arguing who was right or wrong.

    Since we’ve been rolling out the logical fallacies on this thread like barrels during Oktoberfest, let me introduce you to another one you might have heard of. It’s called false equivalence, and I think you just committed it.

    On one side, we have a dead African-American teenager. On the other side, we have the Peruvian-American adult who shot him (despite being cautioned by the police not to approach him), and behind him we have a police and judicial system who didn’t even do decent forensics at the scene, and who have so far stymied any attempts to arrest him for manslaughter.

    So you can’t tell the difference between right or wrong here?

  147. alfred venison

    dear Chris
    you’re right on the mark there! we felt at the time that our greatest failing, in their eyes, was to be on the street & not in a car. and that at a bus stop. and white. and not poorly dressed. god, what the poor blacks & the poor whites must have to go through every waking day in that country! and abject poverty right up against wealth – like in their faces. we could cross a street in san francisco & suddenly find we’ve switched over from streets with shops, with windows & stuff in them, to streets, with shops & windows boarded-over, sporting generations of handbills & posters – mute testimony, if any more were needed, to prolonged under-investment. just in crossing the street you crossed from white neighbourhood to black neighbourhood & from wealth & development to poverty & under-development! crossing a city street. this wasn’t long after the acquittal of the cops over rodney king & what followed in la, san francisco & other cities. and all the time “these people” are staring at us, we’re waiting to be picked up by someone in a cadillac & whisked off to her swish place, in a gated community, for a few days – you can’t choose your family, any more than you can choose the ironies you find yourself in sometimes. we can pass through, over a few days, feeling irony & anger, but they live their lives there, day to day, with anger & angst. honest to god, i’m so glad i grew up in canada & live in australia.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  148. Winston

    Thanks for the lecture but it’s a bit silly to go spouting off when you rely only on a handful of cherrypicked media reports. Far better to wait but thanks anyway.

  149. Winston

    April 1, NYT – witnesses described to the 911 dispatcher what resulted: the neighborhood watch coordinator, 5 foot 9 and 170 pounds, and the visitor, 6 foot 1 and 150, wrestling on the ground.

    Just one example. Just saying.

  150. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    alfred@149: my jaws dropped to an appropriate level of incredulity. Today, I made heavy use of the buses. I had to pick up a car from Kedron, so I took two trips there. I dropped it off at The Gap, and took two buses back. It never occurred to me that I was partaking in an activity of utter seediness and dodginess, nor that the Cultural Centre was a haven of ne’er-do-wells.

    Amazing what Google find out: apparently there is a stigma to riding the bus in the United States. Is anyone going to be surprised that race is involved?

    Outside the scope of the audit came an observation: one major reason bus manufacturers weren’t profitable was because localities preferred to purchase trains, highways, and just about any other kind of transportation other than buses. Why? In general, people don’t like riding the bus. In the United States, riding the bus carries a social stigma, as if riding a bus is a humiliation. In fact, years ago when I was working in a hotel in Baltimore, one co-worker said Baltimore’s transit system, the MTA, stood for “Move Those Africans.” That coworker’s observation stuck with me all these years, not just because it was racist and condescending, but because it was also an indication that only the poor (blacks) rode the bus where Real Americans drove cars or, at least, took the train.

  151. alfred venison

    “ABC News reported last week that Sanford police detective Chris Serino, unconvinced by Zimmerman’s story of self-defense, wanted to charge him with manslaughter, but was overruled by Wolfinger’s office.”

    So what’s going on? that’s not hard, they’ve bumped it up the ladder: its racial, its florida; its an election year.

    Down and Out of Sài Gòn: i use the buses all the time, where ever i’ve lived & think its the natural way to go. in my marginal electorate in sydney the service is packed with a multi-cultural mix of mostly middle class burghers, who could vote any way if they didn’t get their proper bus service, and whose white component’s counterpart in usa apparently wouldn’t be seen on a bus.
    a.v.

  152. Chris

    DOSG @ 156 – it depends on the city of course. Lots of well off people take public transport in the NY city. But in a lot of the urban sprawled cities anyone who can afford a car would get one. Many suburbs are actively hostile to pedestrians – no sidewalk or places to cross busy roads. People will drive a couple of blocks rather than walk. So a pedestrian can really look out of place in some areas because they are so rare. No idea at all if it applies to this case though.

  153. Jules
  154. Patrickb

    @129
    “It is not unreasonable for a person to be suspicious of someone loitering around looking like they’re up to no good.”
    er … may be not, but it’s unreasonable to shoot that person. Dead. And they haven’t done anything to warrant it. This person has shot someone else. Dead, in public, in a suburb, in the US. I don’t really see what you are getting at.
    As to the US and race, I’ve visited a couple of times and one thing you notice is the predominance of black people in low paid service jobs. So if you go to a good restaurant all the wait staff aren’t black but if you go downmarket not a white man in site (well maybe a manager). Didn’t you notice this? Not proof of racism but, well, it’s kind of odd don’t you think?

  155. paul of albury

    So much fear on that Newsweek cover, Jules. It’s scary.

  156. Nanalevu

    The sudden increase in the rate of Nigerians in Australian prisons relative to numbers of Nigerians in Australia is an indication of a much greater issue. Several of the women in prison from other nations were drug mules for Nigerian ‘boyfriends’. Nigeria joined the ‘war on drugs’ and things got worse in Nigeria. http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22010:how-nigerias-latest-drug-abuse-defies-legislation&catid=24:star-feature&Itemid=208 But I suspect the 40 in Australia prisons says very little about Nigerians settled in Australia since most would have been drug mules on tourist visas picked up at the airports.

    Organised crime syndicates need to be understood in their historic and geographic specificity. A few guys get caught and the rates for particulary countries go up. A few years ago Tongans were among the highest rate in prison relative to numbers of Tongans in Australia. Now they do not even figure in the main list. A few German men are picked up on sex offences and suddenly Germany figures in the list.

  157. Mercurius

    @159, wow, Jules, just wow.

  158. Helen

    Yes, seconded. :-(

  159. Fran Barlow

    and thirded … if I’m not too late. OK +1

  160. Winston

    If you are saying that the investigation and/or the decision not to proceed and let things flow in the normal fashion is repugnant then you are correct but otherwise banging on based on changing media reports is ridiculous.

    So you can’t tell the difference between right or wrong here?

    Sure can, but your confusing being outraged about due process and an opinion without a credible base.

  161. BilB