Since we live in an era of identity politics where all opinions are prefaced with, "As a strong independent woman, I believe," I'll share my views on the Baltimore Riots as a white male libertarian.
1. I've worked on actual police misconduct litigation cases for years and am one of few people who understand Section 1983 litigation. If you don't know what qualified immunity is and don't get the "Scalia's new police professionalism" inside joke, you aren't allowed to have an opinion on my civil rights bona fides. (I'm talking to you, hashtag activists.)
2. I've known and spoken out about the problem of police misconduct for almost 20 years. The problem has only gotten worse and will continue to get worse until liberals question some of their deeply-held assumptions about how the world does and should work.
3. Police unions make it nearly impossible for a police force to fire a corrupt or abusive officer. The same hashtag activists posting on Twitter are pro-union. The cognitive dissonance astounds.
Also, under most police union contracts, officers themselves are not held liable for their misconduct. If an officer beats you with a baton, you sue and win, it's the city who pays up.
4. Affirmative action, another darling of liberals, allows abusive and unqualified officers to be hired for the force, and because of unions, it's nearly impossible to fire them.
5. Black officers are just as likely to beat a black man as a white officer is. Power is color blind, and weird things happen to people when they put on that blue uniform, pin on a shiny badge, and strap themselves with a Glock.
6. Congress could cut police misconduct in half by eliminating the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity.
7. In fact, qualified immunity is the most important issue in civil rights cases. Anyone who is not talking about qualified immunity is a talking head who lacks serious understanding of police misconduct.
8. Qualified immunity provides police who break the law get a free pass. This NY civil rights lawyer explain the doctrine well:
I often write about qualified immunity. This a legal doctrine that allows public defendants in civil rights cases to win the case if their objectionable actions did not violate clearly established law even if, in hindsight, the court finds that their actions were in fact illegal.
In other words, ignorance of the law is an excuse if you're a cop. Conduct covered by qualified immunity has included using a tazer to torture a man, sodomizing a man with a police baton, and sexually assaulting a woman.
How can police get a pass for obviously immoral conduct? Simple. Power protects power. Judges view themselves as being on the same team as police and prosecutors.
9. If you want to reduce police abuses, petition Congress to abolish qualified immunity. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for citizens, and it should be no excuse for those who have sworn to uphold the law.
10. Police misconduct is such a problem that when I and my white civil rights lawyer friend were confronted by police, we felt our safety was in legitimate danger.
Simply put, blacks are abused by police because blacks have more encounters with police. Blacks should be taught to avoid police at all costs and to be super police and compliant. Is that racist? Whatever. I care about saving lives rather than getting a pat on my head for being a good little white person.
You can cry about racism and hashtags and say black lives matter. Unless and until police unions are reformed and qualified immunity is abolished, nothing will change.
But the truth is, we don't really care.
These riots are just another show to watch. If we're lucky, maybe we'll status signal and "hash tag activate" our ways to being seen as an "acceptable white."
Maybe we'll get a column in Slate or Salon, where we can continue to status signal how good-and-decent we are to upper-class liberal white people.
Or maybe we will get famous. The 24 hour news cycle always needs new talking heads. Ignorance of the law is no barrier to entry! (And besides, qualified immunity is a boring legal doctrine that puts people to sleep.)
But we don't really care.
If we did care, we'd stop posting to hashtags and start demanding Congress and the President hold police officers accountable for violating the law.
But we won't.
I'll post this article online. Some people will call me a racist, others will call me anti-cop, and nothing will change. Ever.