It’s time to erase the Thin Blue Line. (part 3 of 3)

In his book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, by Dan Heath, he recounts the story of carpet manufacturer Ray Anderson who demanded his staff act as if they were 100% responsible for any environmental issues they caused as a company. He goes on to say, what if a married couple both told the story of their relationship problems as if they were solely responsible? What if teachers told the story of high school dropouts as if the teachers were 100% responsible for every student that dropped out? What difference could be made if people accepted full and complete responsibility for problems they’re maybe only partially responsible for? What if, instead of feeling trapped in an unwinnable situation we were forced to explain the situation as if we were the ones fully responsible? Could we go from feeling like victims of the problem to feeling like co-owners of the solution? What if police officers accepted full responsibility for the killings of unarmed citizens, and what if they worked together to develop a plan to bring an end to it without assigning any blame to anybody else? 100% their fault. And, what if the black community accepted full 100% responsibility for the deaths of the members of their community at the hands of the police, and they had discussions to find ways to stop these deaths that had nothing to do with the police changing, but they themselves changing. What if society said, “Hey, all these deaths at the hands of police officers is entirely our fault. What can we do to fix it?” And, what if all of them did this independently? How many good things could happen? What if all three parties said, I choose to fix this problem, not because it’s someone else’s fault, but because it’s my fault, I can fix it, and it’s worth fixing? Imagine the possibilities if all three parties could look at the root cause of the problems and implement strategies and procedures to fix these upstream causations with downstream correlations.

Let’s start with what the police could do in looking upstream for solutions. Remember, police officers, we’re approaching this as if this is all your fault. All the problems we’re experiencing are entirely on you. YOU must make the necessary changes to fix the problems.

  1. The first thing would be to weaken the power of their unions and guilds. This is going to be infuriating to some cops because when officers get fired spuriously, maliciously, and injudiciously, as with the firing of Atlanta PD officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan last week, they need the collective bargaining agreements that protect their jobs. However, I know there are a lot of good cops who are right now working alongside bad cops who only have a job because of union protection, and those good cops are appalled and scared for their own safety and the safety of the public because of these protections. Union protections often don’t even allow supervisors to move an officer from patrol duty to desk duty if they feel he’s unsafe, and this is pretty much a travesty that has certainly contributed to many unnecessary deaths.
  2. End the preference point system in the hiring process. We should be striving for the smartest police departments possible. The absolute best candidates are the ones who show intelligence and critical thinking skills, something reflected in your final score on the civil service exam. Some people get extra credit added right to their final score, and this extra credit is known as preference points. Right now, preference points are given to candidates for any number of things including legacy preference, residency preference, foreign language fluency preference, and military preference. Some of these things like residency and legacy preference are absurd. Just because you currently live in a jurisdiction does not mean you will be a better cop. Just because your father or grandfather was a cop does not mean you will be a better cop. I can get on board with foreign language proficiency because that is a valuable street skill, but education preference is also worthless. You can have a college degree and still be dumb, and in fact there’s little evidence that a college degree has any value whatsoever to police work. However, the real preference point issue I want to discuss is military preference points.Prior to 1997 our police departments were soft and officers were dying at a high rate, and somebody decided it would be better to supplement police ranks with soldiers. And this was a good idea.

    Tactically, prior to the North Hollywood shootout, police had little or no training in any weapons other than revolvers and shotguns, and our streets were ripe for the kind of criminal domination we saw in that event. Now, however, our police departments are overrun with retired military veterans, and, thanks to this 20-year war on terror quagmire we’ve been mired in, a huge number of them have actual combat experience. Although it’s good to have some solid tactical police officers with military training, there are too many right now. In fact, there probably aren’t statistics to prove this, but I would bet there are more police right now who have actual combat experience than there have ever been, maybe with the exception of the mid-seventies right after the Vietnam war ended. When all of your training for your entire adult life has been tactical decision making, every problem looks like a tactical problem. Every solution you arrive at is a tactical solution. Military vets tend to have a war mentality along with a blind obedience to authority, and both of these traits should be undesirable in modern policing. Compassion, critical thinking, and outside the box problem solving become back-up options. Instead, everything becomes a military-style movement with maximum force and minimum empathy.

    Contrary to popular police opinion, combat skills translate quite poorly to the civilian policing world. There are very few situations in which combat skills are necessary in policing. The times when those skills might be needed are so limited that we can certainly conduct our own training that is specifically pointed toward civilian combat instead of military combat and arrive at better officers than those who receive their training from the military where civilian casualties are an accepted cost of war.

    This is not meant to disparage veterans in any way. I love the idea of our veterans becoming our police officers. They bring a lot of quality skills to policing, however, intelligence and ability to think critically should be the number one priority in police hiring. A person should not be able to jump over a more qualified candidate for the sole reason that they get extra credit for serving in a war. This practice lowers the overall IQ of the department.

  1. Police officers need more training in both de-escalation tactics and in defensive tactics. When you’re confident in your training you’re less likely to escalate situations. If someone is attacking an officer and he feels entirely confident in his ability to fight hand-to-hand without weapons or tools, he won’t feel the need to quickly escalate the situation to more dangerous use of force levels. Police officers do not receive near enough training in either of these things, and academies should be expanded to enhance them. Additionally, in-service training should be expanded to include instruction in martial arts. If you’re going to give preference points to anything during hiring, let’s give them to masters of defensive martial arts disciplines. Imagine how many fights would end in the suspect being pinned instead of dead if all cops held black belts in Judo. Fear is a primary reason why officers escalate uses of force. Fear that they’re going to lose the fight, fear that their weapon will be taken from them and used against them or the public. Fear is the killer of rational thought. It is what has caused so many of the murders and accidental shootings we’re seeing. Making officers more confident, more capable of handling themselves reduces fear, and that will reduce the number of these critical incidents. Police academies need to stop instilling fear in recruits through the constant barrage of imagery of officers being murdered, and instead focus on making recruits more confident, more capable, and better at de-escalation tactics.
  2. Officers should call their sergeants and command staff by first names instead of titles and get rid of the titles “sir” and “ma’am” completely when addressing senior officers. If you work for a small department or a progressive department, maybe you’ve already done this, but this is still incredibly prevalent in large agencies. This really goes back to the hierarchical nature of policing and the need to implement a program similar to CRM for the airlines. It is now commonplace for captains to insist to the first officer that he call them by his first name as opposed to, “Captain.” The reasoning is that a junior officer feels more comfortable asserting a problem to “Bob” than he does to “Captain Robertson.” The same applies to police. Take a look at this video showing Buffalo police shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground. As a long-time supporter of police, seeing some of the videos of police violence against non-violent protestors during these riots is absolutely infuriating. It’s not that police are making many of these decisions, it’s that they’re following orders. The two officers in this case have been charged with assault, but I can’t help but notice the man behind the two officers. The two officers have actually stopped their advance to have a discussion with the citizen when the officer behind them steps up and says something. I can’t prove it, but it seems like he gives them an order. Maybe just, “Let’s go!” or “Move him along!” or something of that nature. I doubt he says, “Shove him to the ground!” but whatever he says, these officers react instantly, and they shove him to the ground. If they reacted to an order from a superior officer here, part of this responsibility lies once again in the hierarchical nature of police work. Smarter officers with more advanced critical thinking abilities might have heard that order and grabbed the guy by the arm, moving him along firmly but gently. Instead of “Yes, sir,” smarter officers in a less hierarchical organization might have said, “Easy Bob, he’s an old man,” when Sergeant Robertson ordered them to move the man along. Now, it is important to note that there’s a fine line here, and police departments, at least on the west coast have taken some pretty big strides to mitigate the militaristic lean of their forces. It is important for officers to obey orders in most tactical situations. Police training just needs to implement some sort of CRM program for when those orders create a dangerous situation to the public.
  1. Police officers need to be in better shape. Unions have regularly put a stop to physical conditioning standards which exist in hiring criteria but often are considered a violation of contractual rights for fully employed officers. This is why there are so many fat cops out there. Peak physical conditioning should be an absolute requirement of the job. Police officers who cannot pass a rigid physical need to be removed from the streets. Being out of shape endangers both your life, your partners’ lives, and the lives of the community. Being unable to fight because you’re in such poor cardiovascular health leads to lethal force being your only option. This is atrocious, and police departments need to put an end to it. Bring back physical standards for police officers. Every six months make yourselves pass a physical agility test that is equal to the standards for hiring (which, by the way, is a pretty atrociously low bar.) If an officer can’t pass the physical, give them a month to get there, then pull them off the street until they can pass it. It’s so embarrassing to see so many fat cops out there. If you’re a police officer and you’re in shape, I know you agree, so quit protecting the bargaining agreements that allow this. You’re contributing to dangerous conditions for yourselves and for the public. Strive to make the next generation wonder where the inspiration for this image came from:
  2. Police officers need more days off, PTO days without having to give a reason. When you’re having a bad day at work at Amazon, you might punch a package, argue with a co-worker, perhaps cause breakage during package delivery because you’re more careless. When you’re having a bad day as a cop, you write tickets for things you might have given a warning for otherwise. You arrest in situations where you might have cited and released. More importantly, you go hands-on with suspects sooner, your fuse is shorter, your temper is quicker to rise, you become more aggressive, and you escalate situations faster. Police officers have personal lives too, and when they’re having a bad day due to personal issues, they should be able to take the day off without any fear of reprisal. We expect them to be perfectly professional all the time, yet they have bad days just as frequently—and probably more frequently due to the nature of their work—then people in other jobs. And yet, they are still expected to put that behind them, to act professionally, to accept a constant barrage of verbal abuse on the job without snapping. No other job requires you to take abuse like that. This is an impossible expectation to set.
  3. Stop hiring so many young people. In many departments police officers are hired as young as 21 years of age. It costs a lot of money to hire and train an officer, and departments want to get as much time as they can out of them before retirement. However, this is a ridiculous strategy. The immaturity of a 21-year old, or even any officer throughout their twenties is very difficult to measure. People are still growing emotionally and learning during that time, and it often isn’t until something truly awful happens that we discover that this young person was not cut-out for the job. Young people tend to be more into the job for the power and the thrill of driving fast, shooting guns, and arresting bad guys. In this day and age, these are undesirable traits that are quite easy to cover up. Every department asks candidates why they want to be a cop, and every candidate answers that they want to help their community, however, how many 21-year olds truly want to help their community? I’m sure these unicorns exist, but the vast majority of them are lying. They want the badge. They want the authority. They want their friends to look at them with awe. They want to fly down the street with lights blazing and siren wailing and slam a bad guy against a wall to hook him and book him. They want the adrenaline rush that the job provides, and anything else they claim is pure B.S.
    In addition, cops get lied to all the time. Literally every day, with the vast majority of their contacts. This wears on a person, particularly a young person. Immaturity plus a callous indifference brought on by constant deception creates the veteran officers who couldn’t care less about the community and think every single person is a scumbag. Departments need to strive for maturity in their hiring process, and young applicants should be considered completely immature out of hand with a tough bar for them to prove otherwise.
    In addition to this, departments should strongly consider ending the desire for a racially and sexually representative department. Police chiefs are passing up qualified candidates to hire candidates who check a sexual or racial box, and it’s a terrible practice. In addition, they are pushing officers through the training who have no business passing just because they need to fill that quota. I don’t give a rat’s ass if Safeway hires terrible cashiers in an effort to have a racially or sexually diverse workforce. In fact, I’m all for enacting laws and regulations like Affirmative Action that ensure that type of hiring practice. But not in critical jobs where the lives of citizens are at risk. If you want to hire more black officers or more female officers, then target your recruiting efforts toward those citizen demographics, but stop pushing these check-mark candidates through training in situations where they otherwise would have failed. There are so many examples of officers getting into situations where they are so clearly out of their element, so clearly incapable of competently handling the situation, that you wonder how they could have possibly passed the stringent hiring process. The answer, nearly every time, is that they passed because of some external element like sex, race, or nepotism. This needs to end! This is killing people out there. You can see video examples of this here, here, here, and here. There are a hundred more I could link to, but hopefully this illustrates the point. It’s highly probable that none of these people should have ever become cops. There’s little chance they showed competence in simulated stress situations, and yet, here they are.
  4. Stop referring to each other as warrior, or sheepdog. Police need to bring an end to the mentality that they are the protectors of civilians who are all sheep. They need to stop looking at the population as if citizens are merely serfs or the hoi polloi who have no ability to defend themselves and are entirely reliant on the police. Even if this is true, this way of thinking is creating a mindset that is psychologically detrimental to police-community relations. If citizens are sheep then so are police officers. Police are simply sheep who have some training, and there are a lot of civilians who are better trained than the police! In fact, this article states that the average civilian concealed pistol permit holder has more pistol training than the average police officer and is actually a better shot. So, while civilians may indeed rely on the police to protect them from the occasional wolf attack, far more often we are simply relying on the police to be either impartial witnesses for our disputes, or to be agents of the state who are capable of deploying the state’s mechanisms, i.e. dusting our stuff for fingerprints to be run through the database when we get robbed. Police need to drop the mentality that they are warriors and sheepdogs and that civilians are merely clueless sheep who would all be dead if the officers weren’t there to protect them because that is such a miniscule part of what they actually do day in and day out.
  5. Police need to attempt to get the average time of their contentious encounters with civilians way down, particularly with minorities. Recognize the perception, right or wrong, that is out there, and fix it. Multiple studies have shown that the longer an officer spends in confrontation with a suspect, the greater the chance that it will go bad. Police can fix this. They can start by choosing to not enforce some of the more ridiculous laws out there. Police have discretion in most of the enforcement they do, and it’s time to start using that discretion. If someone rolls through a stop sign on a street with no traffic, coming almost to a complete stop but not quite, are you seriously going to tell me that you enforcing that infraction is making the streets safer? If somebody doesn’t use their turn signal while making a turn from a TURN ONLY LANE, have you seriously helped save lives by stopping and warning or citing for that? If someone has a license plate light out, or a tiny crack in their taillight with a wink of white light showing, are you seriously going to tell me that this is a safety hazard? Or, are all of these things just legal fishing expeditions, justified solely because the law is on the books, bored officers looking for warrants, drugs, or whatever else? These traffic laws exist for public safety. Officers enforcing them when there is CLEARLY no safety issue needs to end. Marijuana laws? What a joke. Stop enforcing them. Stop arresting primarily minority perpetrators of minor drug offenses. When you encounter marijuana on a routine encounter, ignore it or destroy it rather than citing or arresting for it, and, even more importantly, let the subject know that’s what you’re going to do right from the start. De-escalate the situation before it even begins to escalate.
  6. Stop lying to citizens in your everyday encounters. I’m not talking about lying during interrogations of detainees suspected of violent felonies, I’m talking about the lying that happens so often during routine traffic stops and encounters. Things like, “Just be honest with me and things will go a lot better for you.” So many times, I’ve seen police encounters where something like this is stated, followed by honesty from the suspect, followed by an arrest for some minor misdemeanor crime like marijuana possession. Let that shit go. Quit trying to get suspects to confess to something in a complete fishing expedition. Not only are you extending the time of contact with the person, you’re eroding what little trust remains. This is the era of video. Everything you do is being recorded. Why then, do you keep doing things that are optically terrible just because you’re legally allowed to? Start thinking about how your actions are going to LOOK to the general public not what the intent of your actions actually is.

Let’s talk about what Black Lives Matter and the black community needs to do in looking upstream for a solution. Remember, BLM, we’re approaching this as if this situation is all your fault. All the problems we’re experiencing are entirely on you. YOU must make the necessary changes to fix the problems.

  1. Acknowledge that the entire Black Lives Matter movement was based off of poorly interpreted data, and that the entire platform was a scam in the beginning. Admit that when Colin Kaepernick was kneeling in protest to what he claimed were racially motivated and disproportional police killings of African Americans, he was wrong and was fooled by badly manipulated data. Even now with recent events there’s a widespread movement trying to convince people that Kaepernick was correct after all, that police were killing blacks in a plethora of racially motivated murders. BLM has convinced people that cops are killing black people in extraordinary, racist-driven numbers, and it’s simply not true. There is no epidemic of racist cops. Take a look at this study titled, An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force from the National Bureau of Economic Research. I suggest reading the entire study which is incredibly informative, but here’s an excerpt:

On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force – officer involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings

There is plenty of ammo in this study and dozens of similar studies such as this one for Black Lives Matter to acknowledge the auspicious nature of their beginnings and to shift their platform to a more data-driven narrative that complains about police use of force against minorities instead of police killings of minorities.

  1. Acknowledge and attempt to fix the actual problem of blacks perpetrating violence against law enforcement officers. In the three examples at the very beginning of this article, all of the officers were killed by black men. These are the three deadliest attacks against law enforcement since 9/11, and they were all three perpetrated by black men. In 2019, 48 police officers were feloniously killed, 15 of them, or 31% by black men. In 2018 56 police officers were feloniously killed, 23 of them, or 41% by black men. In 2017, 46 officers were feloniously killed, 16 of them, or 36% by black men. In fact, in the last decade, almost 40% of all police officers killed in the line of duty were killed by African Americans. For a demographic that makes up only 13% of the U.S. population, these are atrocious numbers, and the black community needs to acknowledge it. Even looking at this from a police contact perspective, black Americans make up about 28% of all arrests in the U.S., so the number of blacks who murder the officers who contact them is significantly higher than for any other demographic even with that standard. This is a problem, and it falls on the black community to address it.
  2. There is an overall problem of violence in the black community. We’re going to address this as a societal problem as well, but remember, for this exercise we’re using the Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen idea of fully accepting all blame and using that to come up with solutions. The last weekend in May, when protests were flaring up over the police killing of George Floyd, there were 92 people shot and 27 of them died in Chicago alone. Almost every single one of these consisted of black men killing black men. In the past, BLM activists have scoffed at the idea that there’s a black on black violent crime problem, asserting that there’s also a problem of white on white violent crime, and Asian on Asian violent crime. They’ve argued that people tend to murder people of their own race, and that’s partially true. In 2017, 2970 blacks were killed, and of the known offenders, 2627 of them were black. That’s 88.5% for black on black murder. 264 of the offenders were white, or just under 8.9% for white on black murder. 3567 whites were murdered in 2017, and of the known offenders, 2861 of them were white. That’s 80.2% for white on white murder. 576 of the offenders were black, or about 16.2% for black on white murder. This isn’t an anomalous year either. 2018 statistics show almost identical numbers. Although white on white crime is definitely a problem, black crime, both against whites and against each other is markedly and detrimentally worse, and it’s a problem the black community could acknowledge and work on solving. Just acknowledging the problem and addressing it rather than denying and deflecting from it would be a good start.
  3. What is the common denominator in every one of these police shootings of unarmed black men? All of the victims were resisting, fighting, or fleeing. Remember, for this exercise these deaths are not the fault of the police. They bear no responsibility at all. If we look at this as the sole responsibility of the black community, then how do we stop all of these killings? Simply comply. That’s it. All these guys had to do was comply. The black community has ingrained into their youth that the police are bad, and if they get stopped or if they get arrested, they’re going to die. This simply isn’t true, as I hope I’ve illustrated with the surfeit of links to studies throughout this article, but the perception that the police are going to kill them absolutely is true. Parents of these youth and leaders of the community bear a huge portion of the responsibility. Marching with chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “I can’t breathe,” and deluging our youth with images and videos of African Americans dying in police hands has done the same thing that inundating police recruits with images of cops being murdered has done. It has instilled fear in both parties of these contacts. Fear is killing us. And irrational fear is killing us irrationally. So many of these shootings didn’t have to happen if the victim had simply complied. When a police officer decides to arrest you, comply. Argue later, sue them for false arrest, take your day in court. Adopt the motto that I’m trying hard to get the police to abandon. “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” needs to become the new motto of Black Lives Matter.
  4. Accept responsibility for racism. I suspect this will be the most contentious and difficult item of this entire exercise. The black community needs to take a look at why people are racist. It’s important to understand that generational racism is going to take a long time to erase. Many, many generations, but we are moving in that direction. There’s little the black community can do to erase generational racism that is passed from parents to children, but what they can do is focus on people who become racist without an education that instills it. We need studies into why people become racist during adulthood, and the black community needs to look at those studies and figure out what they can do to fix it. If it’s stereotypical perception, then let’s take a look at ending those stereotypes. If it’s cultural misunderstanding, then let’s take a look at how you can help educate people about the culture, how you can get them to embrace it and accept it. Racism can go both ways, and hate and vitriol begets hate and vitriol. If racism is being created by media portrayals of the African American community, then insist that those portrayals end, both with the media and with the subjects of the media report. I don’t know what it is that creates institutional racism, but if the black community figured that out and took responsibility for fixing it, those efforts would leach out to the sufferers of generational racism, cutting down the number of iterations it will take to end that ugliness.
  5. End the false narrative that police forces are rampant with racism. Of course there are some police officers who are racist. Nobody is denying that. What they are denying is that there is a systemic problem of racism in the police profession, and the data seems to back that up. Just the statistic that black officers shoot black people at a far higher percentage than white officers do should back that up. White officers are objectively terrified to shoot when the person at the other end of the gun is black. And this fear is contributing to far more white officer deaths than it should. BLM needs to end this narrative. When you have a solid platform for change, and that platform is fully supported by statistics and facts, then why do you need to augment it with narratives that are half-truths at best and quite possibly outright lies? This objectivity should be a priority for the black community.
  6. Stop deriding those who propagate All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter. Yes, they have appropriated your platform and undermined it. However, acknowledge that they’ve done this out of anger. They’ve done this because your platform was based off of misrepresentations and falsehoods that YOU disseminated. Allow them to feel vindicated, particularly with regard to Blue Lives Matter. Police officers and their friends and family are suffering. Remember, the blue community has suffered more felonious losses at the hands of the black community than the other way around. And their platform was actually based on facts and data. They are feeling unsupported, unappreciated, and left behind, and they’re still showing up and putting their lives on the line every day. Instead of deriding Blue Lives Matter, acknowledge them. Support them. Make your community understand that this is a two-way problem that requires support, compassion, and an open mind.
  7. End the usage of the n-word. Retire that word completely. I know it means “friend” to you. I know that you use it because you’ve, “re-appropriated it.” I know it’s important to your culture, but this word is POISON. I’ve read this article from (and I hope everyone will read it) that explains why you use it, but, as the author says, “The word is inextricably linked with violence and brutality on black psyches and derogatory aspersions cast on black bodies. No degree of appropriating can rid it of that bloodsoaked history.” In addition, very few people, white people in particular, are able to understand exactly why you use it. Why is this problematic? Because it’s really divisive. Division keeps us from coming together. Division keeps us from solving our problems, and we need to consider losing the things that are both unnecessary and divisive. The n-word is a relic of a brutal past, and, much like the statues and monuments we’re erasing all over the country, this word should be erased from our vocabulary. Let this word finally die, completely and utterly.

Let’s talk about what society needs to do in looking upstream for a solution. Remember we’re approaching this as if this situation is all our fault as members of society. All the problems we’re experiencing are entirely on us. WE must make the necessary changes to fix the problems. If you’re a police officer or you’re black, you’re obviously also a member of society, but I would rather you focused on your individual responsibilities above more than on the ones listed below. If all police officers and blacks accept blame in the society category, then there will be nobody to accept in the others, and this approach requires full cooperation from all three points of the triangle.

  1. How is it possible that there are still 24 states in this country where marijuana possession is still criminalized? How is it possible that there are 8 states where you can’t even use it medically, where it is 100% illegal and criminal? This is insanity, and we as a society have to fix this. END THE WAR ON DRUGS. It is a confirmed massive failure. Hundreds of studies have been done on the effect of marijuana legalization in places like Washington, Colorado, and California. Not only has it increased tax revenue and decreased police contacts and arrests, not one of the concerns of fear-mongering right-wingers has come to fruition. There is no increase in property crimes, no increase in DUIs, there is actually a decrease in underage possession, and there is a marked decrease in opioid use, and this last one is true in every state that has legalized medical marijuana as well. Decreasing opioid use and addiction ALONE is a very good reason for marijuana legalization. Minorities have been unfairly targeted for marijuana use, and crime begets more crime. White people have a tendency to use and abuse alcohol. Black people have a tendency to use and abuse marijuana. ( Alcohol is legal. Marijuana is illegal. Laws that shouldn’t exist or that are racist by either design or by application are OUR responsibility to fix. A young man gets arrested and booked for possession, and that leads to a warrant which leads to another arrest and booking, which leads to him being fired from his job, which leads to crime, which leads to further arrests, which leads to not wanting to go back to jail, which leads to running from the police, which leads to his death. THIS NEEDS TO STOP. This is not the fault of the police, and it’s not the fault of the black community, it’s the fault of society, and we need to fix it! I don’t even use marijuana, but it is incomprehensible to me that in 2020 it hasn’t been fully legalized, and the fault for this lies in right-wing extremism, the same people who brought us Blue Laws that prohibit alcohol sales on Sunday. This is nonsense. We must end this. We need to insist that our lawmakers pass legislation to change these archaic laws.
  2. Police are there to enforce our laws. We task them for that job. How then, do we blame them for doing the job we’ve tasked them to do? If we don’t like the laws, there are mechanisms to effect change, but let’s not blame cops because they wrote us a speeding ticket for going 7 over the limit, or they arrested us for possessing drug paraphernalia or having a suspended license. That is LITERALLY their job. They are LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. We need to treat them with respect when they’re doing their job, the job we literally pay them to do. The courtroom is where you have the ability to argue your case and prove your innocence. Police officers are mandated to enforce laws, and sometimes they get them wrong. Berating them or attacking them makes us part of the problem. This needs to end.
  3. Acknowledge white privilege and acknowledge that there is systemic depression in minority communities and that is the primary cause of black crime. It’s our job to fix this, and nobody else’s. Let’s talk about reparations for a minute. You don’t have to agree that slavery continues to have a detrimental effect on African Americans 150 years later to agree that these communities need a hand. You can agree that pumping money into depressed, primarily black communities will decrease crime and murder, and that reparations can be in the form of investments, both private and public, in the areas that need the most help. A compromise of this type hurts nobody, and it helps our communities heal and thrive.
  4. Allow me two paragraphs of soapboxing and then I’ll stop. I voted for Obama. I have never felt excluded or ridiculed when I’ve announced that to a group of conservative friends. I also voted for Trump, and when I admit that to my liberal friends, I am often ridiculed, demeaned, and my opinions after that point are dismissed out of hand. When I post something negative about Trump to social media, my conservative friends engage me in discussion without resorting to ad hominem attacks. When I post something positive about Trump to social media, I have been blocked, unfollowed, and called racist by acquaintances on the left. Liberals will attempt to justify this type of behavior by exclaiming that any and all support for Trump is misguided or intentional evil, and that he represents the absolute worst of society whereas Obama was a great man. They will attempt to explain to me that siding with righteousness even when it’s misguided is always acceptable behavior. The problem is, they have no ability to see the haughty, patronizing, condescending nature of their stand. The left is incredibly and detrimentally intolerant of any dissenting opinion. They tend to be completely lacking in compassion for anybody who doesn’t share their beliefs. Intolerance of racism is honorable, but it has led to complete fear of criticizing this cancel culture that is destroying us. Leftists have spun themselves into a funnel of righteousness that has made it impossible to criticize even the most ludicrous of stances by the fringe lunatics because of fear of reprisal. They have propagated this culture of calling so many people racist, that even when they see behavior that is so clearly cultural exclusionary extremism as opposed to racism, they are afraid to criticize it lest they be thought of as racist themselves. As a society, we have got to end this.
    We have to stop letting the far-left and the far-right control us. Think I’m picking on the left? As I said before, the far-right is just as bad. They are just as exclusionary and just as judgmental. They thump their bibles and declare their righteousness and moral superiority while often engaging in some of the most egregiously hypocritical behavior our society has ever seen. They will rail against sexual proclivity while lying in their mistress’s bed, or downloading child pornography. They will tell us how evil abortion is, how it’s murder, while they sneak their girlfriend off to another state where she can have an abortion anonymously. They will willfully and wrongfully misinterpret bible verses to declare alternative sexual preferences as morally wrong, while they carry on gay love affairs in secret. The far fringes of our society are the absolute worst of us, and yet we kowtow to them, not just allowing them to have the loudest voices, but actually encouraging them, propagating and fulfilling their lunatic ideas in an effort to ensure that we are not misperceived by those on our side of the centerline. The far-right will deny scientific near-certainties such as global warming or the Covid Pandemic and disseminate obviously fake, thoroughly debunked “news” articles from completely disreputable organizations as their source. As a society, we have to stop this. We have to be reasonable, tolerant, and less rigid with our beliefs. We have to be more open-minded, more thoughtful, and more empathetic to anybody who thinks differently. We absolutely need to approach our decision-making with logic, facts, and science instead of with emotion. We need to rid ourselves of the echo-chamber that our lives have become.
  5. We need to reduce the burden on police officers by developing agencies to deal with non-priority, non-dangerous calls for service. Our police officers have too many hats to wear. Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying. I’m absolutely not calling for a defunding of police in any way. In fact, I think police officers should be paid more money for the sole reason that it helps attract better applicants. Be honest—do you seriously want your police officers to be the type of person who fights that hard for a job that pays $40k a year? What does that candidate pool look like? I want my cops making serious bank. I want it to be a job that intelligent people, critical thinkers and people able to use logic and common sense are flocking to, not just young guys looking to flex. Whatever salary that requires, that’s the salary I want my police officers making. No, the budget for these other agencies should not come from the police unless it’s determined that shrinking the police department because of the reassigning of calls can be done with community safety in mind. I’m not versed well enough in state and local budgets to say where the money should come from, and I’m not naïve enough that I think it’s going to be an easy task, but I do know that our police officers are expected to perform too many tasks, and this is causing unnecessary deaths. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bandwidth existed for these social workers or whatever we would call them to be a volunteer corp. Citizens trained to perform specific tasks on a volunteer basis. There certainly seems to be enough interest in the idea and the desire for change that this is at least a plausible plan.
  6. Take full responsibility for racism. Racism is our fault as a society. We have long lauded ourselves for fighting a war to end slavery, but the rest of the world did this just by deciding it was wrong. Now we’re in another war, and it’s a war to end racism. Unfortunately, some people have taken this too far. They’ve made it their crusade to white-knight themselves and call out even the vaguest hint of racism, and this has had the reverse of the desired effect. It has resulted in a society that has descended into cancel culture, and it has only widened the divide as people compete to see who can discover the most subtle hint of historical racism in present-day objects. You end racism not by screaming and berating and destroying, but by changing people’s hearts and minds. You end racism not by tearing down statues and rebranding syrup bottles, but by having honest conversations. You end racism not with name-calling, insulting, and abusing, but with empathy and understanding. We have failed in our mission to end racism, and this one truly is our fault.


These lists are nowhere near comprehensive, and I recognize that the number of bullet points are not equal. I can certainly think of other things to add to the BLM list and to the Society list, but I’m actually hoping that YOU the reader will help me add things. As a member of one of those two groups, what can you add to the list of ways that we can accept full responsibility for the devastating divisiveness in our society today?

How far upstream can we plan in an effort to change our problems before they’re arriving at us? There’s a fable in the book “Upstream” that talks about a child drowning in a river and two citizens that jump in to save it. As they’re dragging the child out of the water, another one floats downstream flailing and choking and they jump in to save that one. Before they even get to shore, another child appears, and then another child and they have their hands full trying to save the children from drowning when suddenly, one of the men jumps out of the water. “Where are you going?” the other screams. “I’m going to kill whoever is throwing these kids in the water,” he answers.

Our society is drowning right now, and the problems are all developing upstream, around a bend, out of our sight, and we are overwhelmed with trying to stop the problems as we see them. What we need to be doing is looking upstream for the source of our problems and finding solutions there. In what way can you contribute to upstream thinking?

On the Karpman Drama Triangle of our current situation, the triangle itself is spinning out of control. The police, the black community, and society itself are in constant flux between The Victim, The Rescuer, and The Perpetrator. The metaphorical triangle is spinning so fast that it’s often difficult or impossible to discern which is which, and that means that we need to all look at the situation as if we are all of these things. We need solutions and ideas for how we can be none of these things, how we can move all of our groups completely off the spinning triangle before we’re thrown off into chaos.

What can you do to help?


Thin Blue Line article source material:,figure%20as%20high%20as%20440%2C000. Upstream, by Dan Heath Crime and arrest rates by crime and race. Officer grabbed her gun instead of her taser Video of officer grabbing gun instead of taser Video of shooting of Walter Scott Hispanic officer shooting a mental health worker Sam Harris making sense podcast

( Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs excerpt from American Sniper National Academy of Sciences study of racial motivation in police shootings. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell Crew Resource Management manual AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF RACIAL DIFFERENCES IN POLICE USE OF FORCE – National Bureau of Economic Research Yale study on police shootings between 2000 and 2015 Buffalo police shoving 75-year-old Perpetrator profiles for officers feloniously murdered Murder offenders by race 2017 Murder offenders by race 2018 Alcohol and marijuana comparison study by race


It’s time to erase the Thin Blue Line. (part 2 of 3)

There’s a book by Erik Larson called, “In The Garden of Beasts.” It’s a chilling depiction of an entire society—Nazi Germany—that descends from relative normalcy into almost universal madness in just about a year. Unfortunately, as interesting a story as this would be were it fiction, it is instead devastating in that we know it actually happened. And I see it happening again. We are freefalling into almost universal madness and we need to slam on the brakes before we crash.

This three-pronged approach that I’m suggesting is going to require acceptance and change from all parties, the police, the black community, and society as a whole. There’s a social model of human interaction known as the Karpman Drama Triangle. It maps a type of destructive interaction that can occur between people in conflict. In this model, which when mapped out is shaped like an inverted triangle, Karpman assigns the three points of the triangle the names, The Victim, The Rescuer, and The Persecutor. The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, and helpless. The Rescuer’s stance is of someone who is here to help. The Rescuer feels guilty if they don’t help. In reality, the Rescuer is simply avoiding his own problems by deflecting his energies under the guise of concern for the Victim. The Persecutor insists that everything that is wrong is someone else’s fault. The Persecutor is critical of both parties, angry and oppressive, rigid in his beliefs, and sure that he’s right.

Where do police officers, the BLM movement, and society fall in these roles? Depending on your current rigid and unflexing stand, you may think that The Victim is BLM, The Persecutor is the police, and The Rescuer is society. Or, you may think that The Victim is the police, The Persecutor is BLM, and The Rescuer is society. Or, if you’re sitting at home watching the riots with anger, you may think The Victim is society, The Persecutor is BLM, and The Rescuers are the police. The truth is that in my version of this Karpman Drama Triangle the roles are completely interchangeable. The police, BLM, and society are each, at varying times and to varying degrees, The Victim, The Rescuer, or The Persecutor.

I’m going to start with the police.

Most police officers think they’re good cops. Probably close to 100% of cops you asked would tell you they’re a good cop, and most of them unequivocally believe that they are. Many of them actually are. However, an incredibly high number are really just victims of their own observation bias. They’ve genuinely convinced themselves they’re good cops even when they aren’t. When they have a true and rare moment of introspection, when they ask themselves if they’re good cops, they tend to remember the things they’ve done well as a cop. The things that have made them “heroes.” The time they gave CPR to the four-year old girl floating face-down in the pool. The time they comforted the victim of domestic abuse, spent hours with her getting her resources, walking her through the process of getting away from the abuse. The time they bought food for the forlorn family with a cart of much needed groceries and a debit card that was declined. The time they spent hours talking to a troubled teen with an abusive family, gave him their personal phone number, told him to call 24/7 if he ever needed anything at all. The time they conducted a death notification to a parent of a dead child, and sat in their living room crying with them. The times they went above and beyond, when many officers would have just filed a report and moved along, but they didn’t quit, working a case and getting justice for a victim who might not have otherwise received it. The hundreds of times they risked their own life running toward danger as fast as possible, putting themselves in harm’s way for a stranger who doesn’t even appreciate them until they’re needed, and will trash them as soon as they’re gone. And these are the things that do make them a good cop, but what they don’t remember, or what they tend to gloss over, to shove to the dark corners of their minds, are the things they’ve done that make them bad police officers, and in some cases bad people.

Sure, maybe they’ve never stolen from a crime scene, never planted contraband on a suspect just because he deserved to go to jail, never accepted a bribe. But they have done things like pretended they heard a shout for help so they could enter a private residence illegally, or watched another officer claim he heard that plea and said nothing, despite knowing it was a farce. Looked up an obscure law so they had a reason to cite or arrest someone just because he was mouthing off. Stacked charges or infractions just because they were having a bad day and it felt good to spread the misery. Written criminal citations for completely unnecessary or arbitrary violations, knowing the citizen would never show up for court and it would end up in a warrant and the officer would be able to arrest and book the person in the future. Made up a reason to conduct a traffic stop, like improper lane travel, or failure to signal a turn at least 100 feet prior to the turn just as an excuse to check the driver for warrants because he looked shady. Engaged in competitions to see who could write the most tickets under the auspices of keeping the streets safe, but really just to win a bet at the financial expense of a number of people who probably would have been better off with a warning. Spent every day breaking the very laws they’re citing people for, under the color of their authority, laws like speeding, failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or failure to wear a seatbelt. Intentionally escalated a situation with a scumbag just so he’d take a swing so that they could beat the shit out of him while yelling, “stop resisting” and then they could book him into jail on a serious felony charge of assaulting an officer. Profiled people based on race and actually justified the profiling because crime statistics back it up. Used unnecessarily painful pressure points and holds that leave no marks, that are impossible to notice on video, and then laughed about it afterwards with their coworkers. Justified stretching the truth or outright lying in court or on a report because they knew the guy was guilty, the truth was unknowable, and the scumbag deserved to be punished. Used an “ends justify the means” mentality and carefully worded a report around that theory to increase the odds of a conviction. Let their friends, coworkers, acquaintances, other civil servants like firefighters, and local celebrities off with a warning when any other citizen would have received a ticket or been arrested. Intentionally targeted minority citizens for specific offenses simply because they’ve seen so many other minorities of the same persuasion committing those same offenses that the officer has lost all ability to be compassionate and objective about that minority class. Enforced laws unequally, giving warnings to people who were polite and citations to those who were rude based solely on those criteria. Escalated situations that they knew could have been deescalated just because they were pissed off and the guy deserved to be punished. Invoked the Thin Blue Line and “It’s us vs them” principles to turn the other way at co-worker wrongdoing. Invoked the “I’d rather be judged by twelve then carried by six” mentality to justify violating someone’s civil rights in some form or another. Celebrated their own or a co-worker’s first citizen complaint under the justification that “if you aren’t getting citizen complaints you aren’t doing your job.” Used the power of their badge to bully, harass, intimidate or threaten, knowing the subject could do nothing about it, knowing there was no legal, civil, or departmental violation that could actually be pinned on them for these actions.

When do the good things someone does as a police officer override the bad things? When do the bad things tip the scales that are precariously balanced on the pivot point of right or wrong? The answer is that even a very few of the bad things can outweigh an enormous amount of the good. If an officer has done every good thing on this list and a hundred others, and only a few of the bad things, he’s probably a bad cop. He has contributed to the anger that has boiled over in society and is currently spewing forth in cities all around the world. He has contributed to the problems that plague our democracy. He has helped to solidify the narrative that cops are all bad actors. If you’re a cop and you know that you fall into this category, it’s okay. You can change things now. Society can be myopic when it comes to looking at the past, as long as the future is in bright focus. When an officer acts inappropriately, uncompassionately, or unnecessarily violent just one time, the victim of that action tells that story. Sometimes it’s on video and the story goes out to the public, inflaming them and solidifying the wall that the Thin Blue Line has become.

The Thin Blue Line is a concept that’s been around for more than a century. It’s a construct by police to assert that THEY are all that stands between organized, peaceful, productive society and an anarchical vast chasm of chaos, death, and destruction. It originated from the Thin Red Line, a Crimean War battle where a small group of Scottish Highlanders fended off a much larger contingent of Russian cavalry. The Thin Blue Line is a novel concept. A heroic construct that allows police officers to feel as if they’re heroes, and allows them to justify poor behavior in the name of the public good. And, at one time it probably was a novel and benevolent idea. But now it has turned from a line into a wall. It’s become the kind of wall that Donald Trump could only dream of, impenetrable, foreboding, and unbreachable. It’s become the very chasm it was devised to prevent. A chasm that separates the police from the citizens they are sworn to protect.

“On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs” is an article by retired lieutenant colonel Dave Grossman, the author of the book “On Killing.” In the article, he describes the idea that the general public are sheep, incapable of violence and even incapable of imagining violence, unable to defend themselves against attack, and completely reliant on their guardians. Wolves are the predators, the criminals, the corrupt, heinous, evil people of society who prey on the sheep and seek to do them harm. Wolves are constantly circling the flock, looking to pick off the weak and vulnerable. Police officers are the sheepdogs, the designated saviors of society, always on watch over the flock, guarding them against the wolves, even when the sheep don’t want them there. To the sheep, Grossman says, the difference between the sheepdogs and the wolves can be difficult to discern, and the sheep may tend to lash out at the sheepdogs thinking they’re going to do them harm. The sheep may not think that they have any need for sheepdogs, that the wolves don’t actually exist, or that their numbers are so small as to be of no concern. The sheep live in denial and that is what makes them sheep.

This concept was glorified in the movie American Sniper with Bradley Cooper where his father quotes him this article, telling him he better never be a sheep and he damn sure better never be a wolf. Police officers have seized ahold of this concept as well, using it much like they use The Thin Blue Line to glorify their role in society. The problem is, this article and this construct are complete bullshit.

True sheep are completely helpless, completely reliant on others to protect them from violence, with zero natural defenses. People are not like that. Sheep are born to be sheep, they have no choice, they can never change. People have full choice in what role they want to play. The analogy sounds great if you’re evil. A wolf is a badass creature with no compassion, no morals, and an appetite for soft flesh. What villain wouldn’t want to be described as a wolf? If you’re a cop, the idea that you’re a sheepdog is incredibly enticing. You are elevated above society, sitting on the hill above the serfs, watching over them. It’s glorious and you’re the unrecognized, under-appreciated hero who does his thankless job day in and day out. Not a bad way to present yourself. But, if you’re a member of society, you’re one of the sheep. Who wants to be a goddamn sheep? There might be no better analogy propagated by police officers to completely isolate, divide, and disconnect themselves from the rest of the population than this stupid fable by LTC Grossman. Much like the Thin Blue Line construct, this story has done incredible harm to the perception of police officers by society and of society by police officers. If you’re a cop and you buy into this propaganda, then everybody you contact is nothing but a sheep. When citizens are sheep who can’t make good decisions and can barely even manage to stay out of their own way, when they can not fathom the idea of danger, or of evil, or they don’t understand that people want to hurt them, then it becomes very easy for police officers to justify all manner of actions against society, under the color of doing it for their own good and protection.

When police officers divide all of society into binary roles of either sheep or wolves, decisions become black and white instead of the multiple shades of gray that actually exist. This type of binary view of society combined with the elevated self-assigned role of protector, leads to abuses on both a micro and macro scale, and contributes greatly to a perception by society that police departments are not just infected by a few bad apples, but that the entire orchard has been poisoned.

And the fact is, police officers are draping this perception upon themselves.

Let’s talk about Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter is an organized social movement that sprung up after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. It became a widespread, national movement after the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York City. They claim inspiration from the Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The platform for BLM is that police officers are inherently racist and that they kill black people at a much higher rate than they kill white people. Now, they have other platforms and movements within the movement, and I’ll talk about some of those in a minute, but their primary objective is to stop what they see as a rash of racist killings of African Americans by white police officers.

And that entire concept is a manipulated scam.

BLM seems committed to peaceful protest despite the escalated violence we’re seeing right now that has been manipulated by extremists’ causes. As a general statement of fact, I agree that black lives matter. In fact, I identify more with that slogan than I do with “All Lives Matter,” because I definitely do not believe that all lives matter, and they objectively don’t all matter on the same scale. It’s hard to say that you don’t agree with BLM without sounding racist, because how can you possibly think that black lives don’t matter unless you’re a racist. Sort of like with Antifa. It stands for Anti-Fascist. How can you not be against fascism? The problem with Black Lives Matter (and with Antifa) is not that their cause doesn’t matter, it’s that the catchy name is hiding a deeply and fundamentally flawed platform and credo.

Supporters of Black Lives Matter point to the data: On a per capita basis, police officers kill 2.5 times as many black people as they do whites. This is true. African Americans comprise about 13% of the population, and they comprise a little over 31% of unarmed Americans shot dead by the police. Taken in the abstract, this statistic seems horrifying, and many supporters of BLM have pointed to this as a demonstrable example of the existence of a systemic racial bias in police. I would like to point to another stat that will show that the police, in addition to being very racist, are also incredibly sexist. Men make up just under 50% of the U.S. population, but they comprise more than 93% of all unarmed Americans shot by cops. If one of these conclusions is true—that police are racist—than the other also has to be true—that police are sexist—according to these comparable data points. So many people would scoff at the idea that police are inherently sexist and kill men at a higher frequency because of sexism, but they happily accept that the correlation exists with race. They refuse to believe the data that shows that black people commit homicides and violent felonies at a much higher rate than white people do. BLM supporters make justifications for this, citing systemic racism in the justice system and unfair targeting of minorities as the reason for the elevated statistics. Even if you could make this argument in support of petty crimes like theft, DUI, or simple assault, it’s pretty hard to find the correlating path that leads to murder and other violent felony convictions. It’s like the principles of Occam’s Razor and even those of logic and reason are shoved right out the window by emotion when it comes to these police shootings of black men.

However, like so much of the data that has been manipulated and cherry-picked by organizations and even by the media in order to forward a narrative, police do not kill men because of rampant, systemic sexism in the ranks. They kill more men because men commit more violent felonies than women do. A lot more. According to FBI statistics in their homicide database, men commit almost 90% of all murders and more than 90% of all violent felonies. Men also resist arrest and escalate the violence and scope of that resistance far more often than women do, and this leads to more shootings.

Here’s an excerpt from an article from the National Academy of Science that disputes the idea that there is racial disparity in police shootings:

26% of civilians killed by police shootings in 2015 were Black even though Black civilians comprise only 12% of the US population. According to this 12% benchmark, more Black civilians are fatally shot than we would expect, indicating disparity. News organizations and researchers using this method find robust evidence of anti-Black disparity in fatal shootings.

However, using population as a benchmark makes the strong assumption that White and Black civilians have equal exposure to situations that result in FOIS. (Fatal Officer Involved Shootings.) If there are racial differences in exposure to these situations, calculations of racial disparity based on population benchmarks will be misleading. Researchers have attempted to avoid this issue by using race-specific violent crime as a benchmark, as the majority of FOIS involve armed civilians. When violent crime is used as a benchmark, anti-Black disparities in FOIS disappear or even reverse. *bolding is mine.

African Americans commit about 30% of all rapes, about 55% of all robberies, and 33% of all aggravated assaults. Again, this is despite consisting of only 13% of the population. I won’t go into the lessor crimes like burglary and theft because it is almost certainly true that blacks are charged with those crimes at a higher rate than whites are, but the violent felony numbers are appalling. If these numbers make you uncomfortable, don’t worry, it’s not entirely the fault of African Americans. One of the platforms of BLM is that blacks have been discriminated against for so long that they find themselves in a position where economically one has no choice but to resort to crime to stay afloat, and this is absolutely true. Our circumstances in life lead to our decisions, and it’s tough to stay on the right side of the law when the alternative is a life of misery. If your family is starving, burglary or theft seem like easy decisions comparably. If life is continually beating you down, it might be easier to resort to drugs for a release. If you feel constantly wronged by systemic racism, it can feel right to lash out at the apparatus of that racism. Any of these decisions can lead to arrest, conviction, and jail or prison. When you are a convicted felon, society makes it nearly impossible to succeed further, especially when you’re plopped right back into the very soup of despair that cast your original decisions. And so, these decisions escalate and compound and the vicious cycle repeats itself until you feel that you have no choice but to resist arrest because prison is unbearable. Until you feel that the system is stacked against you and there is no escape, and so you embrace the darkness.

It’s a nauseating cycle, and Black Lives Matter is absolutely correct about this type of systemic problem in our society. If you don’t agree with this, you are approaching it from a perspective that comes from true white privilege. Citing examples of blacks who have pulled themselves from the wreckage of the ghetto and become successful is simply pointing to what are indisputably outlier events in denial of the incredibly tough life and circle of bad decisions that encompass the existence of the vast majority.

Poverty will absolutely create criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

This is a society problem on my Karpman Drama Triangle and society needs to address it, but Black Lives Matter needs to own up to the fact that they have a part to play in this as well. Right now, BLM is The Victim and the police are The Perpetrators. Society is acting as The Rescuer with all of the marches and rioting. But the narrative is flawed and destructive actions based on flawed narratives only serve to widen the divide. BLM needs to stop the false narrative going out to our children that police officers are bad. “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “I can’t breathe.” These mentalities and teachings become self-fulfilling prophecies. When black people are convinced from childhood that cops are racist pigs and that they’re going to get killed on a routine traffic stop, they become much more nervous. When they’re nervous they look suspicious. This extends their interaction time with the police officer which extends their nervousness, which draws more questions, which leads to panic. How many of these videos we see of police shooting black men started out with a fairly calm interaction only to escalate into the black person fleeing or fighting? Why are they fighting or running when the cop first makes physical contact for the simple reason that they’re going to either pat them down or to restrain them? Why are so many of them fleeing or fighting when they’re completely innocent of criminal wrongdoing? Why do we see so many black people run from police and then, when they’re caught and sitting in handcuffs and they’re asked why they ran, the answer is, “I don’t know.”? It’s because of fight or flight syndrome. The instinct is kicking in because the confrontation starts with such high energy already. The suspect/victim isn’t able to control that instinct because it has built to the point where it has become a fog and they are no longer capable of good decision making. It derives from an ingrained, indoctrinated idea for their entire life that interactions with the police are going to end in violence or death for them, and this is a tragedy.

BLM needs to educate the public. When a cop decides to arrest you, it is not a negotiation. You are going to be arrested. Whatever that takes. When you resist, the level of violence escalates, and it can escalate quickly. When people fight with the police, it’s not the cop’s job to make it a fair fight. When a cop is getting punched, it’s not his job to just punch back—to stand there in a slugout. He’s going to escalate the level of violence because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen if he loses this fight. He can’t lose this fight for the simple reason that he’s carrying a gun. If he’s knocked out, pinned down, beaten to the ground and incapacitated, and his gun is taken from him, this is a situation where he or a member of the public is often going to be murdered. This is always on his mind. So, he must escalate the violence. He needs to assure that he will not lose this fight. Pepper spray applied to a suspect can scatter in the wind and end up incapacitating the officer. A taser is often ineffective at close range. His asp/baton/nightstick may work, but that can be a deadly weapon too, especially if it’s taken from him. If a cop is losing a fight, particularly if he’s outmatched and outmuscled, he might have no choice but to resort to his gun. It’s not his job to be a champion bare-knuckle brawler, or a Judo blackbelt. It’s a citizen’s job to not resist arrest. When a cop makes a decision that he’s going to arrest you, you will be arrested, regardless of your opinion on the matter, or even of your guilt or lack thereof. And when you decide to resist, you are often going to get hurt, and sometimes you’ll get killed. That’s on you, not on the cop. We are cultivating a culture of resisting arrest which means we’re going to see increased violence in police/civilian encounters.

In his incredible Making Sense podcast #207, “Pulling back from the brink,” Sam Harris says this:

“When a cop goes hands on a person in an attempt to control his movements or make an arrest, that person’s resistance poses a problem that most people don’t seem to understand. If you haven’t studied this problem…if you don’t know what it physically takes to immobilize a non-compliant person, who may be bigger and stronger than you are…and if you haven’t thought through the implications of having a gun on your belt when attempting to do that…a gun that can be grabbed and used against you or against a member of the public, then your intuition about what makes sense here, tactically and ethically are very likely to be bad. If you haven’t trained with firearms under stress, if you don’t know how suddenly situations can change, if you haven’t experienced how quickly another person can close the distance on you and how little time you have to decide to draw your weapon…if you don’t know how hard it is to shoot a moving target, or even a stationary one when your heart is beating out of your chest, you very likely have totally unreasonable ideas about what we can expect from cops in situations like these.”

(By the way, this podcast is one of the best podcasts I’ve ever heard, and I highly recommend giving it a listen. It’s about two hours long, but if you’ve read this far into this article, you obviously have a lot of time on your hands. This excerpt was from around minute 53, but you can find the full podcast here:

People often complain when they see multiple cops taking someone into custody. “How many cops does it take to arrest one guy? Come on!” They’ll shout. What they don’t realize is that swarming a combative person is for the suspect’s own good. You should want to see multiple cops making arrests in these situations. The more cops there are, the more likely it is that they’ll feel confident enough that they will win this fight that they don’t have to resort to lethal options. When police get into a fight, citizens expect them to be fair about it and that’s ridiculous. This isn’t a sanctioned boxing match. This isn’t the wild west days where two men meet on the street at noon and draw at a prescribed moment. The cop didn’t ask to be in this fight and he’s not going to make it a fair fight. He’s going to do everything possible to ensure it’s NOT a fair fight. Because, no matter what, he can’t afford to lose. It’s not a bar brawl where the loser goes home with a shiner, a bloody lip, and some hurt pride. The result of losing a simple fistfight when you’re openly carrying a weapon, and, if you’re alive to give a description of the person who won the fight that person will go to prison for a long time, can be deadly. The cop may, and often does, lose his life when he loses the fight. And he didn’t start it. He doesn’t want to be fighting. He wants to go home to his family, so he’s going to make sure that he can do that. He’s going to win the fight however he needs to.

Black Lives Matter should make this clear to their followers. They should encourage people not to resist, to allow themselves to be arrested, even if you know for a fact that you are innocent. If you are falsely arrested, you will have a chance to defend yourself. In some cases, you may be eligible for compensation for false arrest. At the very least you’ll still be alive, and it’s a lot easier and more rewarding to defend yourself from above ground than below it.

The evidence is overwhelming that African Americans receive harsher sentences for similar crimes than whites do. This is a massive problem with the justice system, and this part of the BLM platform is absolutely justified and supported by fact. This is a problem that society needs to solve, so let’s discuss the third point of the Karpman Drama Triangle, society.


There is NO QUESTION that somebody, probably multiple somebodies, will label me a racist for my regurgitating of facts that definitively shows fundamental flaws in the BLM platform. This is a society problem. We as a society have absolutely lost our collective minds. So many people today have made it their mission to tear down the very fabric of our society and remake it more to their liking. They have assigned themselves a quest to silence any and all opposing opinions and to make a world in which they won’t have to hear any opinion that is at variance with their own little echo chamber. They are attempting to force their own will and vision on the rest of society under the umbrella of being “woke” and pure and righteous, with intolerant indignation toward anybody who dissents.

This tweet by my friend, Liv Boeree says it better than I ever could:

Greyscale – and indeed any colour scale – is beautiful because of its nuance. Like all things in this complex world, there is so much more to it than just right and wrong, good and evil, black and white.

But social media is the antithesis of nuance, forcing us to oversimplify complex ideas and points of view into basic hashtags and memes – a dangerous path, because complex problems require complex answers.

Don’t let the dark side of social media suck your mind into this cartoonish good guy vs bad guy view of the world, because it is making us lose sight of the intricacies of people and reality.

I recently saw this article by Alaska Airlines that claims they’re taking steps to increase the number of African American female pilots in their fleet in an effort to bring that percentage closer into line with their representation in society.

Why? I don’t care about the racial makeup of the cabin crew on my flight, I care about having the safest, most competent pilots available. I think this is fine to do in general, as long as your only efforts along this path have to do with recruiting, but I suspect that what they will do is what every company has done in an effort to diversify…they will push through underqualified pilots just because of the diversity goals they’re trying to reach, and this will make us all less safe. I’m not saying that black females are not every bit as capable of being superb pilots as white males, or white females, or whatever, I’m saying that when you decide that competency is less important than racial characteristics in a role as important to public safety as commercial airline pilot, you compromise all of our safety. If there were qualified black female candidates out there, why aren’t they already pilots? Alaska Airlines is either admitting that they have employed racist hiring policies in the past, or they’re admitting that they’re going to intentionally alter their hiring practices in order to conform to public perception, and either one of these is really bad. Now, in their defense, they do say in the article that they’re focused on recruitment to forward this goal, and that’s great, but what recruitment practices have they been employing already that didn’t encompass black females? These types of knee-jerk responses when public safety is on the line are concerning.

The brand, Aunt Jemima, which features a picture of a black woman on its label, just rebranded to remove that labeling from its products, and it was closely followed by brands like Cream of Wheat, Uncle Ben’s, and Mrs. Butterworth’s. What is going on here? These are more examples of companies deciding that the feelings and opinions of a tiny minority of the country—the fringe far-left—matter more than common sense. Nobody wants a picture of a black person on their label because that is now deemed racist? This is cancel-culture and lunatic appeasement. It takes a true stretch of the imagination to link these brands to detrimental activities against African Americans in any way, and yet, these companies are so terrified of the screaming minority that they want to be seen as enlightened.

Everybody seems to be in a massive competition to try to prove how racist they aren’t, and the way to prove this seems to be constant and vocal virtue-signaling. Facts and logic are being overshadowed by the narrative, and the overwhelming majority of this is spewing from the far-left. Don’t get me wrong, the far-right isn’t any better. In fact, the political fringes of our society have created what is probably the most daunting, most destructive, and existential threat our civilization has ever faced. However, the far-left is unequivocally the most vocal and therefore the most dangerous. It’s easier to side with the left than it is to side with the right if for no other reason than bullying. The left is full of vocal bullies and purveyors of righteous indignation, while the right simply sneers and calls you a snowflake, usually in a message full of misspellings and punctuation errors. The far left will pander to anybody who agrees with them with sickening levels of sycophantic fawning and a complete inability to find any level of criticism. The far right will tell you that they are better than you because both of their lords and saviors, Jesus Christ and Donald Trump have told them that theirs is the path of the righteous.

Both sides are idiots.

If you’re over the age of three-and-a-half and you’re spouting that Donald Trump is the best president of your lifetime, you need to reexamine your history. Actually, you need to rethink your life choices. His divisiveness alone objectively disqualifies him from that honor, not to mention the hundred other things he does and says that make him both a terrible person and a terrible president. If you say that he’s the worst president to ever live, you’re also delusional. There are quite a few good things that he has accomplished and just that fact alone elevates him over a few presidents who accomplished nothing at all for the good of America. If you’re unable to even objectively view the good that he has accomplished, or the bad that he has propagated, then you’re part of the problem. Unfortunately, neither side of this argument seems capable of objectively looking at any fact without spinning it into their narrative, and this is destroying us.

With regard to the police, we as a society expect too much of our police officers. We expect them to be medics, grief counselors, family counselors, teen counselors, domestic abuse advocates, firefighters, targets, and shields. We expect them to be fair and impartial, but at the same time cut us some slack when they pull us over. We expect them to make perfect decisions every single time. We expect them to be robotic, to show up for work every day and never let their own personal problems affect their job performance. We expect them to see the horrors of pure evil, and never let those sights affect their mentality, objectivity, or job performance. We expect them to be emotionless robots who never lose their temper. We expect them to take a barrage of verbal abuse that would have made Ghandi throw a punch. We expect them to know every single law every single time and to never make a mistake in their interpretation of those laws when even the Supreme Court often can’t agree on what the laws exactly mean. We expect them to accept that we will file a complaint or sue them every single time they get something wrong. “I screwed up, I’m sorry,” is NEVER acceptable to us, even for minor, correctable mistakes, and we expect police to live with that and go about their jobs with a smile on their faces.

As of June 15th, 27 police officers have already been feloniously murdered this year. 22 others have been accidentally killed in the performance of their duties. Can you name a single one of them? Unless you’re a cop or a close relative of one, I bet you can’t. For that matter, can you name a single one of the unarmed white people killed by police this year? There are more of them than there are unarmed black people killed, but I’ll bet you can’t name one of them either. However, I bet you can name at least 3 or 4 of the unarmed blacks killed this year or last. And that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem lies in the media portrayal of these killings. Is it a surprise to you to learn that police officers kill more unarmed whites—twice as many, actually—than unarmed blacks every year? It was to me, and that’s because of perception driven by both the media and by social activists.

Police officers in this country make about 10 million arrests every year. Approximately 1000 of those result in the suspect being killed by the police. Taken without any further information, you have about a one in ten thousand chance of being killed by the police if you’re arrested. However, this isn’t the abstract, and the fact is that not all arrestees are equal. You see, many of them are armed and decide to use that weapon against the police or a citizen. Of the 1000 people killed by police last year, only about 50 of them were unarmed. Of those 50, the majority were actively fighting with the police, or at least actively resisting arrest. While quite a few of those deaths are tragedies, and a couple might actually be murders, as a percentage of the 10 million total arrests each year, the number is staggeringly low.

And here’s the thing: This number will never be zero.

If you had a magic machine and could somehow completely eliminate racism in its entirety from our civilization, and if not a single person ever resisted arrest, there would still be people killed by police. 10 million arrests is a staggering number, and some percentage of those will end up dying. We as a society need to find a way to accept that. No matter what changes we make, it will never be zero.

What we can do to lower the fatality number though, is to lower the number of arrests that police make each year. 10 million arrests is ridiculous. A huge number of those arrests are due to drug charges, and many of the fatalities stem from probable cause arrests that are drug related. This is absurd. There is a plethora of information out there that proves that this forty-year war on drugs is an absolute, unmitigated failure, and it needs to end. By decriminalizing drugs, we can instantly cut the number of arrests by a huge number. In fact, just by decriminalizing possession alone, we can chop 1.2 million arrests each year—12 percent of them—and save tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. Going into a comprehensive discussion of all the problems of the war on drugs is well beyond the scope of this article, but aside from the far-right extremists, most people agree it needs to change.

Right now, the Defund the Police movement is gaining strength and traction. This is a fringe-leftwing movement. It is not a position held by most liberal people. In fact, it’s such an absurdly lunatic position, that liberals have tried to control the narrative and soften the stance by claiming that Defund the Police just means “moving some resources around.” However, this was not the original intent of this movement, and it is not the current platform of the demented segment of the population that occupies so much of our time and our social media timelines. They truly want to abolish the police entirely, or at least disarm them, under the premise that the police do more harm than good. It is our job as civilian members of this modern society to strongly disavow this concept. It is the job of police officers to figure out how to alter the perception that they do more good than harm, and it is the job of BLM to say, “Hey, this is not our platform. We want change, not anarchy.” But instead, everybody seems to be elevating this concept through their actions or words, and it’s absolutely incredible—and entirely our fault—that it has gained as much traction as it has. Quoting Sam Harris from his Making Sense podcast again, “If you think a society without cops is a society you would want to live in, you have lost your mind.”

In part three of this three-part series of articles, I’m going to talk about how each group: the police, Black Lives Matter, and society, need to accept responsibility for change, as well as how we need to be looking for solutions upstream, a concept taken from the book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, by Dan Heath. You can read part three by clicking HERE:

It’s time to erase the Thin Blue Line. (part 1 of 3)

On March 21, 2009 in Oakland, California, Lovelle Mixon killed two police officers on a routine traffic stop, and then two further officers who attempted to apprehend him during a SWAT raid.

On November 29, 2009, four police officers in Lakewood, Washington were murdered by Maurice Clemmons at a coffee shop while they worked on laptops.

On July 7, 2016, in Dallas, Texas, Micah Xavier Johnson killed five cops and wounded nine others in an ambush designed explicitly to kill white police officers as retaliation for what he felt were unlawful killings of black men.

All three of these perpetrators were black. All of the murdered cops were white.

On October 12, 2019, in Fort Worth, Texas, Atatiana Jefferson was murdered by Officer Aaron Dean who shot her through her bedroom window while she was in her house playing video games with her nephew.

On April 4, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, Walter Scott was murdered by Officer Michael Slager who shot him five times in the back while he was running away.

On October 20, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois, Laquan MacDonald was murdered by Officer Jason Van Dyke who shot him sixteen times, fifteen of those while he was laying on the ground unmoving.

All three of these victims were black. All three of these officers were white.

Why are these shootings so important? What do they all have in common? What makes them all so contentious and so critical to our understanding of the issues our nation is currently facing? Why is the race of both the perpetrators and the victims in all six of these cases of vital importance?

In this article I’m going to talk about police officers, the Black Lives Matter movement, and society as a whole. I’m going to discuss the problems with each of these organizations along with the perspective that each has for the other. Parts of this article are going to be difficult for some people to read, especially if you are the type of person who is dead-set in your opinions, with no ability to keep an open mind. If you’re that type of person, you might as well quit reading right now because this is a long article, and agreeing with everything I say that matches your current view of the world while scoffing at everything I say that is at odds with your current beliefs serves absolutely nobody, including yourself. I ask only that you keep an open mind, read through everything, and discuss with each other and myself anything you may not agree with. My goal with this article is to help pull us back from what I see as a precariously balanced position on the edge of a chasm that is growing exponentially wider and deeper. It won’t be long before we as a society tumble into that chasm with no chance to drag ourselves out. This article was heavily researched and in these days of so much fake news, I believe all of my sources are considered quite credible and well-vetted for authenticity. There are links in the text for everything I’m citing, and all sources are listed at the end of the article.

Before I get started, I want to explain something about the police profession. No matter what your opinion of the police, you have to admit that it is not an easy job. It’s the only job I can think of where you can do everything right and still lose everything that matters to you as a consequence of your actions. It’s the only job where the same people you will put your life at risk for hate you for it. It’s the only profession where true mistakes in decision-making can get you sued for everything you own, fired from your job, and prosecuted criminally. As an example, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University, doctors kill more than 250,000 people every year through medical mistakes. A quarter of a million fatalities because of bad decisions every single year! Somehow this rarely gets mentioned. I would bet that you had no idea it was this many. I know I didn’t. Society understands that doctors do a very difficult job under high stress and that they have to make the best possible decision in a snap moment. We know that medicine isn’t perfect and doctors do the best they can, so we shrug off statistics like this and go about our day. Police officers have the same problem, but people don’t seem to understand or accept that. Police officers are expected to be perfect every time, to make the right decision 100% of the time, to never make an error in judgement, often in snap decisions under high stress conditions, in poor weather, darkness, and completely chaotic circumstances where information may be incomplete or even intentionally false. Police officers kill 1000 people every year and only a handful of those are accidental, malicious, or illegal. Doctors kill 250 times as many, and all of them are accidental, malicious, or illegal. Police officers receive incredible press and scrutiny for these deaths. Doctors complain that their malpractice insurance is too high.

Police departments and public officials want their police forces to closely resemble the racial makeup of their city or county, and there are many good reasons for this that mostly have to do with public perception. Predominantly black neighborhoods want predominantly black officers patrolling their streets and responding to their problems. But this manifests into even more problems. This kind of selective recruitment makes our departments dumber. I don’t mean departments are dumber because black officers are dumber. I mean they’re dumber because this type of race-based hiring means that better-qualified candidates are passed over for lesser-qualified candidates simply because they check a race box. Think this isn’t true? According to an article in the New York Times, there are hundreds of police departments across the country that have more than a 30% positive disparity between white officers and the number of white citizens in the community they serve. Police departments have been actively trying to shrink this disparity for decades because of studies that have shown there is a huge image problem when departments are racially out of sync with the composition of their communities.  This means that they are very often taking extraordinary steps to both hire and, more importantly, to retain officers simply because of their race. This is a dangerous practice when we’re talking about giving someone the power to take your freedom away. Or your life. Police departments should be striving to attract and hire the most intelligent critical thinker and decision maker possible. Bypassing a candidate who scored higher on the civil service test for one who scored lower but is of a certain skin color cannot be good for the quality of the department. Retaining an officer who routinely shows poor judgement or decision-making skills, or passing them through field training just so you have that percentage to an acceptable level is incredibly detrimental to public safety. And this is happening all over the country every day.

When police officers are hired, they’re sent to the police academy where they theoretically learn a massive number of things needed in order to enforce the laws of the land and keep the peace. One of the biggest focuses of the academy is officer safety. Recruits are inundated with a barrage of videos showing officers being murdered in the line of duty. This is a problem because it sets a mindset in the recruit. It tells them that the streets are dangerous, and that’s true, but it makes that cop think that everybody is out to get them. It establishes an ingrained doctrine of fear when it comes to dealing with the public. Recruits are taught how to use instruments of force like pepper spray, tasers, and asps or batons. They spend a hundred hours or more learning firearms. They spend dozens of hours learning defensive tactics like pressure points, limb control maneuvers, and hand-to-hand combat techniques. They also learn how to follow orders. They learn military-like policies and procedures. They learn how and when to salute, how to address a superior officer, how to stand at attention. They learn how to follow orders and they’re taught to not question orders from superiors during critical incidents. They learn how to act in a quasi-military command structure that doesn’t allow dissenting opinions.

This last statement is a huge problem in modern policing.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s New York Times bestselling book, Outliers, he describes a study into a strange phenomenon in aviation. Asian and Latin American based airlines were crashing. A lot. Korean Airlines was leading the pack, experiencing a deluge of fatal disasters, and the underlying cause of these crashes was a mystery. Investigators knew from flight recorders that pilot error was a major factor, but why they were experiencing such a huge number of pilot-caused crashes was perplexing. And the crash frequencies were atrocious. In 1977, a KAL 707 wandered into Russian airspace and was shot down. Two years later, a 747 crashed in Seoul. Three years after that, another 747 crashed in Russia, then a 707 went down in the Andaman Sea in 1987. Two planes crashed in 1989, one in Tripoli and another in Seoul, and then yet another crash in 1994 in Cheju, South Korea, followed by a 747 that slammed into a hillside in Guam in 1997. For perspective Gladwell goes on to report a comparison using United Airlines. Between 1988 and 1998, the UAL crash rate was .27 fatality incidents per million departures, or about one crash for every 4 million flights. In that same period, the crash rate for Korean Airlines was 4.79 per million departures, almost 18 times higher than a comparable US airline!

The question was, why? There was no obvious answer. Pilot training was up to standards. The planes were not outdated and maintenance records showed that all maintenance was performed as per regulations. If you haven’t read Outliers, I highly recommend it, and the story for how this unfolds is incredibly interesting, but the answer to why Korean Airlines was experiencing such a high crash rate had to do with the hierarchical nature of Korean society, in particular with mitigated speech in the cockpit. In Korean culture, deference to authority is so deeply ingrained into the psyche, that it was inevitable that it would carry over into the cockpit. Interestingly, investigators looking for an answer to the crash rate found that most of the KAL crashes occurred when the captain was flying the plane as opposed to the first officer. At first this seemed ridiculous. How could the more experienced pilot be responsible for more crashes? The answer was that when the captain made a mistake, the first officer was, almost without exception, afraid to speak up. In fact, he was culturally unable to speak up. Doing so would have been tantamount to questioning the authority of the captain, an unthinkable act in a culture like Korea. If the first officer was flying and made a mistake, the captain would immediately speak up and take control of the plane. In fact, studies found incidents where captains would actually slap their first officers across the face if they made a mistake! And the first officers would bow and feel ashamed to have disappointed their superior. This seems absurd to western society, but was commonplace and completely accepted in Asian society.

The only recourse a first officer had if they saw the captain making an error was to hint around the issue. Things like, “Boy, trying to deice these wings seems like a losing battle sometimes” when the first officer has noticed an alarming amount of ice building on the wing. Or, “Our weather radar sure is useful, isn’t it Captain?” when the first officer has noticed they were about to fly headlong into a dangerous thunderstorm. Or, “It’s amazing how accurate these fuel gauges can be.” when the first officer noted the plane was dangerously low on fuel. As absurd as these examples might seem, these are the types of mitigated statements that investigators found in black box recordings during crash investigations. And it wasn’t just Asian based flight crews either. Latin American flight crews were experiencing similar problems, as with the crash of Avianca flight 52 from Medellín, Columbia to New York City in 1990. This Boeing 707 literally ran out of fuel on approach to JFK because the copilot used mitigated speech in his conversations with the control tower despite the captain telling him to declare an emergency. The tower was completely unaware of their low fuel state as the controller ordered them to circle out for a long approach to landing. The tower remained unaware of the fuel state right up until the moment both engines flamed out and they crashed, killing two-thirds of the passengers onboard.

After these findings, combating mitigating speech became one of the great crusades in commercial aviation. Cockpit Resource Management or CRM training was first initiated by United Airlines in 1981. Slowly, this training migrated to other parts of the world including Asia and Latin America. This training was later renamed Crew Resource Management, and Delta Airlines developed a comprehensive course on the subject in 1993. Mitigated speech is just one of many components of CRM training which is heavily focused on error management, but it also teaches junior officers how to be assertive, clear, and concise in their communications with the captain. It teaches flight crews how to work together in a hierarchical system and standardizes procedures for all of them when something goes wrong. First officers are allowed one attempt to use mitigated speech to address an error, but they quickly escalate that to clear and concise speech, followed by arresting physical control of the aircraft from the captain to correct the error. A decade prior, this type of action would have been unthinkable in Asian and Latin American aviation. This kind of training changed aviation for the better. Korean Airlines went from an airline that was a national disgrace and was under a State Department warning for U.S. travelers, to one of the safest airlines in the industry, with a spotless safety record for more than twenty years now.

Much of what we know of culturally significant hierarchical issues comes from studies done by Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede. He created what’s known as Hofstede’s Power Distance Index (PDI). This measures a country’s attitude toward hierarchy and how much they value and respect authority. In low PDI countries, power is something they’re almost ashamed of, something they try to downplay at every possibility. In higher PDI countries, authority is shoved down an underling’s throat, and they are happy to accept verbal and even physical abuse by superiors. The lowest PDI countries are Austria, Israel, and Denmark, all with a score under 20. The highest PDI countries are Malaysia, Guatemala, and Panama, with scores of 104, 95, and 95 respectively. The United States scores a 40, making it the 15th lowest country score. South Korea scored a 60 and Columbia a 67, putting those two countries well above the median score.

So, what does all this have to do with police work? Well, police departments in the United States are a rigid, top-tier hierarchy inside a rather low PDI country. Police chiefs in Malaysia and Guatemala have no issues with teaching police recruits order, control, and chain of command respect because the citizens recruits are quite comfortable in that role. In the United States however, that subservience often has to be drilled into recruits and cadets, and that conditioning begins even before a new hire is sent to the police academy. It is such a pain to teach this kind of conformity and deference to superior officers, that police departments are very over-represented in their ranks by former military veterans. This is intentional and even desired. Military members are very comfortable with authority and power structures. They are grounded in subservience to superiors, a core part of military life. This quality is so desired in police departments that preference points are given to former military members during recruitment. That’s right—smarter more qualified candidates are often passed over in favor of candidates who served in the military and were honorably discharged.

Is this a problem? Yes. I believe this is one of the biggest problems in policing today. Let’s take a look at the killing of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago.  As we all know, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, an action that seems to have at least contributed to his death if it wasn’t the actual proximate cause. For this action, Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were involved in this incident, and they’ve all been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin in both of those felony crimes. The other three officers are Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung, and Tou Thao. We’re going to talk about hierarchical structures in police work so it’s important to understand who was in charge of whom on this crew of four officers. And, unfortunately, that’s not entirely clear. What is clear is that Derek Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene with almost nineteen years of service. Tou Thao had eight years on the job, and Keung and Lane were both rookies, with six months or so on the job for Keung and apparently only four days for Lane. What’s interesting is that there seems to be some real discrepancies here, particularly with regard to Keung and Lane. There are conflicting reports about Keung’s time of service, with some reports that he was hired in February of 2019 but that he graduated the academy in December 2019, though his lawyer has made the claim that this was only his third week as an actual patrol officer. No matter what’s true here, there’s no doubt he was a rookie with no more than six months on the job. The real issue is that all reports I’ve read from the city and from the prosecutor’s office, including the charging documents for all four officers and the probable cause statements indicate that Keung and Lane were patrolling together in the same car when they responded to the initial call. The records also indicate that Chauvin was Keung’s training officer, but nobody seems to know who Lane’s training officer was. It seems clear from the video evidence and written reports that Derek Chauvin arrived in the car with Tou Thao several minutes after Keung and Lane had arrived and had already taken Floyd into custody. None of that makes any sense whatsoever. There’s literally no department ever that would have two brand-new rookies riding in a car together with their training officers in a different car, and there’s zero indication that Lane, who was on his FOURTH DAY ON THE JOB even had a training officer on the scene. It’s really bizarre, but we’ll just have to ignore this unexplainable phenomenon until MPD decides to clear it up for us.

None of the officers were official supervisors, that’s not in doubt. There was no sergeant or lieutenant on the scene when the incident occurred. When there are no supervisors on a scene, the most senior officer is almost always the one who has tactical command of the scene. Even in departments where this isn’t the case, Lane, with four days on (if that’s indeed correct,) and Keung with six months on (same caveat) would have deferred to Chauvin. Even Thao with eight years on the job would have possibly deferred to him, though certainly to a much lesser extent. Eight years on the job makes an officer “experienced,” “a veteran,” and Chauvin and Thao would have likely considered each other near equals in the scheme of the hierarchy. For Lane and Keung though, this would definitely have not been the case. Those two would have deferred to either of the others and would have followed orders almost blindly. Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re not Nazis in Hitler’s military and wouldn’t have pulled out their pistols and executed all Jew witnesses on Chauvin’s order, but they would have followed all “lawful” orders, and would in fact have been expected to do so, under the implied threat of punishment up to and including suspension or termination.

Police departments are quasi-military organizations with full command structures. Things like insubordination, lying, failing to follow orders, violating grooming standards, malfeasance, failing to adhere to uniform standards, failing to follow protocol, disrespecting a senior officer, are all grounds for discipline up to and including termination. On the Hofstede PDI scale, while the United States is a low-end 40, police departments themselves would be well over 100, just below actual military ranks. Senior police officers have the authority to give orders to junior officers, and junior officers are required to follow those orders—as long as they’re reasonable and lawful—without questioning them. Obediently and blindly. This is especially important in police departments when they’re on an active scene or a call. This obedience is drilled into recruits right from the beginning.

When a police officer applies for the position, they go through a battery of tests and background checks often performed by specialized cops. Interviews with an oral board and with senior command, polygraph, medical, psychological testing, all conducted with superiors who expect the recruit to treat them deferentially, with “yes, sir,” and “no, sir,” responses. When the academy starts, students are expected to adhere to a rigid set of guidelines that include saluting the flag as well as instructors, and jumping to attention whenever anybody who might be even a lowly rookie commissioned officer steps into their presence. They’re required to maintain perfect grooming standards with regular inspections for meticulously ironed and creased uniforms and shoes polished to a mirrored finish. They’re required to stand for inspection with yelling officers routinely, and to maintain a perfectly organized dorm room at all times. Everything from the very beginning of the training is highly militarized and hierarchical, and any sort of rebellion is quashed immediately. This is done under the umbrella of the importance of (almost) blindly and obediently following supervisors’ orders during an active, high-pressure scene where lives are on the line. And, there’s certainly some justification for this rationale. There is no democratic process during an active scene, and trainees are taught to obey orders immediately and ask questions later. Asking why a given order was made during a debriefing is thought of as a good learning experience—a training opportunity—but it’s never allowed in the moment.

If a superior officer tells a junior officer to “arrest that man,” the junior officer will put the man in handcuffs without having any idea why he’s doing so. This is absolutely compulsory. Officers are taught to trust their superiors, and even to trust their partners of similar or even lesser status. If Officer A tells Officer B to arrest a subject, Officer B trusts that Officer A has probable cause for the arrest, regardless of his experience, and even if Officer B doesn’t know what that probable cause is.

This can even extend as far as applying force against a suspect, up to, and even including deadly force. I happen to know that there are training officers in academies who suggest that if your partner fires his weapon at a suspect, you should fire yours at him as well, because you should trust that your partner saw a valid reason to shoot. This is pretty atrocious, but it has been taught. A more plausible scenario, and one that gives cops nightmares because of the potential ramifications to blind decision-making, is what if your partner yells at you, “Shoot him! Shoot him, he’s got a gun!” What do you do then, if you don’t see a gun? What if its your sergeant or your training officer who’s yelling that to you? What if you’re a rookie, on your fourth day on the job, and you hear that order? What do you do? Are you willing to put your career, your freedom, your house, your family, maybe your life on the line because of pure trust that a fellow officer has made a good observation and a good decision? There is no clear answer to this, and no training can prepare you to make decisions like this. You are forced to make a snap judgement call in a situation where either decision might end in a fatality at your hands.

Back to the death of George Floyd. Charging documents indicate that on two occasions, Officer Lane asked Derek Chauvin if they should ease up on Floyd and roll him to his side. Here’s an excerpt from the probable cause statement for the charging document for Officer Lane:

You can see that Lane is concerned. He’s aware of the dangers of excited delirium, a condition that can cause death after vigorous, strenuous, or stressful exertion in combination with drugs or medical issues. He’s probably also aware of positional asphyxia, a condition where a person may not be able to breathe while flat on their stomach. He asks Chauvin, a training officer with 19 years on the job, if they should roll him to his side. He mentions excited delirium. Chauvin assures him that he’s considered that possibility and having Floyd on his stomach is the best position. Lane is presumably fresh out of the police academy where he has learned all about excited delirium. He has been taught that when excited delirium is a concern, the subject should be placed on their side. But now Chauvin is telling him that he’s keeping Floyd on his stomach precisely because of concerns over excited delirium.

Nobody but Lane can know what he’s thinking right here, but we can speculate. When a police recruit graduates the academy and hits the streets with the training officer, its very common for the training officer to make some sort of statement along the lines of, “You’ve learned how police work should be done by the book, now you’re going to learn how its ACTUALLY done.” It seems likely that Lane is running his mind back to what was probably about a 15-minute slide show or lecture on excited delirium. 15 minutes out of 800-1000 hours of training. He’s thinking to himself, “Damn, am I wrong? I thought they said put him on his side, but maybe it was leave him on his stomach.” More importantly, he’s got a 19-year officer telling him that they’re doing the right thing, and Lane has been on the job FOR FOUR DAYS!

This is a tough position for a rookie to be in. Don’t get me wrong, at some point Lane should have INSISTED that they roll him, ease the pressure holds on him, and even start life-saving measures like CPR. Particularly when Officer Keung checked for a pulse and COULDN’T FIND ONE! Their failure to step up here is a truly massive breakdown of civic and legal responsibility. They deserve some blame for this. However, THE SYSTEM also deserves blame. Although officers are taught that they have a “Duty to intercede” in training, this mandate is often in conflict with their duty to follow orders. It’s rarely black and white, particularly when an order seems like it might be dangerous but maybe doesn’t rise to the level where duty to intercede would be invoked.

What Officer Lane did was to make MITIGATED STATEMENTS to Officer Chauvin, just like the junior pilots did in all of the Korean Air flights that crashed. “Should we roll him onto his side?” is a suggestion. It’s a mitigated question designed to express concern while remaining deferential to the superior knowledge and tactical awareness of the much more experienced officer. This is the same thing as, “Boy, trying to deice these wings seems like a losing battle sometimes,” that the pilot of the doomed Korean airliner said to his captain. “I’m concerned about excited delirium or whatever,” was his next statement. Note the “or whatever.” This is mitigation in its extreme form. He’s telling the superior officer that he’s concerned, and he knows he’s already expressed that concern once, so this feels like escalation to him. He’s uncomfortable with escalation so he mitigates it with the “or whatever.” Now he’s expressed his concern twice and he’s been overruled both times. It’s expressly because of the inflexibly rigid structure of command hierarchy drilled into them throughout their training that Lane and Keung did not feel as if they could override Chauvin’s decision. This is why Lane stopped at his two mitigated statements. This is why Keung stopped at his single mitigated statement, “I couldn’t find one,” in reference to having checked Floyd for a pulse.

Its frustrating as observers to see these officer stop here, knowing that had they taken action at any point in here, Floyd would be alive today. And while they have a huge share of the blame here, perhaps even the lion’s share, I can’t help but assign a large portion of blame to the system that drilled this culture of mitigation into them.

Crew Resource Management in the airlines has forced a cockpit culture that has eliminated these types of problems, and an unknown but significant number of lives has certainly been saved because of it. Pilots are allowed one mitigated statement of concern. If the senior officer doesn’t act on that first statement, they are required to forcibly state their concern and the remedy they deem necessary. If the senior officer STILL doesn’t act, the pilot is required by policy to physically take control of the aircraft and make the necessary correction. If police officers had a policy like this, Officer Lane would have felt comfortable changing his second statement to a more forceful, “Hey, Derek, get your knee off his neck and let’s roll him, I think he’s actually in serious trouble here.” Had Chauvin still refused to move his knee, Officer Lane would have been fully justified and confident in physically shoving him to the side and taking control of the situation.

With the current training, there was almost no chance that was going to happen. And that’s tragic, as we all know from not just George Floyd’s death, but from the disastrous aftermath. Lane made the best decision he could with the training provided to him. It’s his training that was lacking. Officer Lane’s attorney agrees:

“I’m not claiming that he was following orders,” (Lane’s attorney,) Gray said in response to a question from CNN’s Josh Campbell. “I’m claiming that he thought what he was doing was right. Because he asked a training officer: ‘Should we roll him over?’ Twice. You’ve got to have criminal intent for second-degree murder. And, frankly, this is bullshit.”

There are other problems with officer training that I’m going to spend time discussing later, but I want to move on for now and discuss the great divide in this country between police supporters and Black Lives Matter supporters who seem to be completely at odds with one another. A line has been drawn in the sand, and it has never been more defined or sharper. You either side with the cops or you side with BLM, and there is no middle ground. If you side with the police, BLM supporters brand you a racist. If you side with BLM, police supporters dismiss you out of hand. If you try to straddle the line, or try to articulate support or criticism of both sides, or try to claim you’re neutral on the issue, both sides will ridicule you. It is, however, without question the fringe left that is the most vitriolic with their criticism of dissenting opinion. If you try to bring logic, reasoning, rational thought, or science and data into the argument with someone from the far left, you’ll be told in no uncertain terms to shut your racist mouth. You’ll be told that you’re white, brimming to overflowing with the privilege that comes with your skin color, and that your opinion has no place in these discussions. The country has descended into irrational madness driven by the spurious screaming of the culturally woke, and there is no room for logical, fact-based argument. Well, I for one do not accept this. I do not conform to what I view as a massive competition to prove who can show the world that they’re the least racist person out there. All information has become weaponized. Confirmation bias is destroying objectivity. When logic, science, and data are discarded for emotion-based irrational and unending action, then we find ourselves teetering on the brink of a chasm of destruction, and rational voices are necessary to pull us back.

In order to make things right in this country, it’s going to require the cooperation of the police, the African American community, and society in general. A three-pronged approach, and I’m not talking about the approaches that have already been tried and have failed. I’m talking about a new approach, one that has never been implemented. One that will be incredibly difficult to actualize partly because of the extraordinary community cooperation required, but mostly because of the anarchical barbarians of extremism who have deluged both the mainstream media news cycle and social media with their irrational and preposterous screaming.

In the next article, I’m going to talk about the role of police departments, Black Lives Matter, and society using a social model known as the Karpman Drama Triangle. Read part two by clicking HERE:

Is Elon Musk really a Bastard?

Elon Musk is a bastard.

At least, that’s what Robert Evans, the host of Behind the Bastards thinks. Behind the Bastards is a podcast that focuses on the worst people in the history of mankind, both present-day and historical. Their tagline reads, From Hitler’s love of YA fiction to Saddam Hussein’s shameful romance novels, this podcast sheds new, weird light on history’s monsters. The format is simple; Evans, teamed up with some random comedian, spends from one to four hours, often split over two shows, trouncing an either well-known, or somewhat obscure person from history who Evans feels is deserving of the title “Bastard.”

“Wait,” you’re probably asking. “Elon Musk made that list? The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, the man who’s going to take us to Mars and back to the moon, the only person to ever successfully make a viable, affordable, and desirable fully electric car?”


In the eyes of Robert Evans, Elon Musk is apparently on equal footing with bastards like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Rodrigo Duterte, Saddam Hussein, Jeffrey Epstein, cocaine queens, child molesters, and Harvey Weinstein.

You’re probably thinking, “How can this be?” and I was asking myself the same thing, which is why I decided to take three-and-a-half hours and listen to the latest Behind the Bastards drop, “I do not like Elon Musk very much.” Now, I listened with quite an open mind. After all, I don’t know Elon. I have—or had—little knowledge of his background, his lifestyle, his personality, his leadership style, or his ethics. I only know that his companies are among my favorites and that he has accomplished some absolutely incredible, jaw-dropping, world-changing things in science, business, and philanthropy. I follow him on Twitter, and I watch nearly every launch of SpaceX with utter fascination. I’m a huge fan of Tesla, both the company and the car, and someday I hope to actually be able to afford to own one. But, if he is truly a bastard, I kind of want to know. I mean, I sort of idolize the guy, at least as much as it’s possible for me to actually idolize a living person, and I hate to be duped.

So, I listened to the podcast with an open mind, prepared to have my image shattered of the man who I truly feel is changing the world for the better.

The guest comedian for this episode is Sofiya Alexander, someone who I knew absolutely nothing about, and the producer, who seemed to chime in often, is someone named Sophie, so with a Sofiya and a Sophie, it tended to get a bit confusing who was talking, though it didn’t much matter in the long run as they all seemed to share the exact same sentiments with no dissenting opinion.

The podcast literally starts with Robert yelling “CUCKKKKK!!!” to open the show. He then goes on to explain that Producer Sophie decided that Elon was a cuck before they started recording. No explanation is given as to why Elon was called a cuck, and no apology is given for using such a preposterous invective, but Robert then says that he hates “cuck” as an insult because the worst people on the internet use that term and Nate Silver (of fame I’m guessing) is one of the worst people on the internet. Again, there is no accounting for this slanderous statement, the listening audience is left wondering just what in the world is going on, and this podcast is not off to a good start.


The underlying theme of the premise that Elon is a bastard is apparently that “It’s bad to be a billionaire.” This is a ludicrous premise of course. There are obviously bad billionaires but being a billionaire doesn’t automatically make you evil, despite the far-left socialist narrative that would have you believe this blanket characterization.

Robert goes on to say, without apparently even recognizing the carelessly prejudicial nature of the statement, “I will try to be scrupulously fair as I outline why he’s a piece of shit.” He says the main source material for this episode is a book called “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” by Ashlee Vance. This mention then becomes quite memorable as Robert and Sofiya spend the next 3+ hours quoting from this book that Robert allegedly studied, while referring to Ashlee Vance dozens of times as “the woman,” “her,” and “she.”

Ashlee vance is a man. And not the kind of man who uses alternative pronouns.

What’s especially humorous about this gaffe, is that they use a passage from Ashlee Vance’s book to try to suggest that Elon is exhibiting some sort of sexist behavior in his interview with the man that they think is a woman:


It’s apparent that this negligent blunder is brought to Robert’s attention sometime between the drop of part one and the drop of part two a couple of days later. He has his producer, Sofie, edit in a blurb at about the eight-minute mark of part two where she passes along Robert’s apology for calling Ashlee a female. He does not have Sofie apologize for his failure to perform even the most basic of research into the author of the primary source material for his podcast. I checked Robert’s Twitter account to see if he bothered making a public apology to Ashlee for such a blunder, and though it may be hidden in the thousand or so tweets he’s sent in the last two weeks, I was unable to find any actual apology from him. He did, however, find time to apologize to a woman at the Portland riots whom he referred to in Tweets as “her” and “she” before finding out that she uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” so it was apparently more important for Robert to apologize for calling a woman “she” instead of “they,” then it was to apologize for calling a man “she” instead of “he.” Makes sense, right?

Sofiya Alexandra took it a step further when she was informed on Twitter that Ashlee was a man.

Yes, that’s right, Sofiya apparently found this lack of research integrity to be funny, and actually blamed Ashlee for having his name end with ee. As if he had a choice in the matter of his naming? As if it would have been much easier to discern his sex if he spelled his name Ashley? As if it was impossible to consider that Ashlee may be a sort of portmanteau of Ash and Lee? As if it’s his fault that the two of them couldn’t even bother to flip the book over and read the back of it, with the picture of Ashlee and his biography, or to type the name of the author of their primary source material into a simple Google search to check his background, even if to just make sure he was actually a credible source? Complete disgraceful social and journalistic behavior on both their parts, and definitely not a good way to convince their audience of the reliability of their premise.

Part one of I do not like Elon Musk very much is all about Elon’s childhood and upbringing, with an emphasis on the amount of abuse and bullying that Elon was subject to as a withdrawn and socially awkward youngster. Elon grew up bullied, beaten regularly and often severely, a loner, an outsider, mocked and ridiculed at school before going home to a dysfunctional family and a dad who was a terrible person. In an era where such kids sometimes decide to shoot up their schools and murder their classmates, are we seriously going to trash Elon for what he made of himself?

Apparently so.

Robert directs the narrative to Elon’s familial history, discussing his namesake grandfather’s decision to move the family from Canada to South Africa. The stated reason by Grandpa Elon was that, “he felt the moral character of Canada had started to decline.” Robert makes a strong implication that this statement meant that Grandpa Elon was a raging racist, saying, “He thought Canada was too immoral in 1950 and moved to South Africa. Do some math.”

There’s no doubt that South Africa was smack in the middle of it’s brutal Apartheid in the 1950s, however, there are probably a few alternative reasons other than rampant racism that might incentivize a man to move his family from Canada during this time period. To draw the conclusion that grandpa was an unrepentant racist based on nothing more than this life decision to change his residence, in what’s becoming a theme of unremittent speculation by Robert Evans is a blatant violation of journalistic ethics.

Grandpa Elon was a pilot, and he ends up dying when our Elon was a baby. Here’s how Robert describes that:

“He died when Elon was like a baby. In a plane crash, because he hit some shit, because he was flying like an asshole, I guess.”

It’s probably safe to speculate that the cause of Grandpa Elon’s death was that he “hit some shit,” as that is the ultimate cause of most plane crash deaths, however, the journalistic integrity hole continues here as he adds that Grandpa Elon was, “flying like an asshole, I guess.” Because, obviously a suspected racist could never have an airplane crash caused by anything other than flying like an asshole, right? Not satisfied with the speculative nature of his racist assignation of Elon’s maternal grandfather, Robert makes several further utterances to make sure that the audience knows that he thinks Grandpa Elon was a racist, calling Elon’s mother, Maye Musk, “Elon’s mother, and obviously that cool, probably a gigantic racist plane dude’s daughter.”

Robert goes on to discuss Elon’s father, Errol, who, by all accounts, including Elon’s, is not a good dude. Elon himself claimed in an interview that his father has committed every crime on the books and that he’s evil. Robert, of course, can’t help but add a racist slant to the shadowy story of Errol by completely making up facts, albeit with the disclaimer that he’s making them up:


Robert isn’t a dummy; he’s just completely lacking in ethics. He knows that by stating the three men Errol killed were probably black, the sentiment of racism will be instilled into the listener and will contribute to the subconscious idea that if Elon’s entire family is racist, it’s likely that Elon himself is as well. Now, I have no idea if Grandpa Elon was a racist who came to South Africa to become part of the Apartheid movement. I have no idea if Errol is a racist who killed three black men under the guise of home defense. The point is, that Robert doesn’t know this either, and to insinuate such is abhorrent behavior, particularly on the part of a professional journalist. To continue the theme of racism in the Musk family, and to further insinuate that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Robert ends part one with a statement about Elon being on President Trump’s economic advisory council in 2016:


He’s criticizing Musk’s decision to leave the advisory council after Trump removed the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, stating that Elon drew the line in the sand with this climate-change denying decision but didn’t draw a line on what Robert felt were racist decisions by the Trump Administration on the southern border, separating Mexican illegal immigrants from their families and “putting children in cages.” His premise is that Elon, as an immigrant to the United States, should have left the council at that decision point instead of waiting. He barely notes that Elon spoke out loudly against both the immigration policies and the climate change denial that he felt was rampant in the Trump administration.

Part one is terrible, and certainly doesn’t in any way make listeners think that Elon is a bastard deserving of the company of the subjects of Robert Evans’ other podcasts, but he assures the listeners that he’s just getting started, and that we’ll feel differently when we hear part two. Okay.

Part Two

Interrupted awkwardly by the post-edit interjection of Producer Sophie at the eight-minute mark where they acknowledge they’re now aware that Ashlee Vance is a male, part two of the podcast starts off with complete nonsense that somehow made it past the less-than-stringent cutting room floor at Behind the Bastards Podcasts. By the time they get back to the actual subject, Elon Musk, I was rapidly hitting the “forward 30 seconds” button and growing rather frustrated.

When they finally roll around to Elon, they start with his first business endeavor, a partnership with his brother Kimbal Musk called Global Link Information Network, a name they eventually change to Zip2. Sofiya, who, as seen with Ashlee, apparently loves to utilize the comedically genius strategy of making fun of peoples’ names, has some input on this name change:


To Elon Musk fans, the romanticized nature of his business background has its roots in this first company, Zip2. Elon and his brother started this business from scratch, and they worked incredibly hard, spending days straight without leaving the office, ordering in food and not showering as they coded through the long hours. Robert, of course, makes fun of this and attempts to delegitimize Elon’s auspicious beginnings by quoting the debunked statement from Elon’s estranged father that Elon started the business with a $28,000 loan from dad. Robert tries to make us think that this is an enormous amount of money:


First of all, as anybody who has actually started a business could have told him, $28,000 is nothing. If you try to start a business any more ambitious than a snow cone stand in your front yard with $28,000, you are going to definitely be on a shoe-string budget and you’ll be constantly one mistake or poor decision from bankruptcy. In addition to this obvious fact, Elon didn’t actually get any such loan from his father. Elon debunks this in a Rolling Stone article that I know for a fact Robert Evans read as he himself quotes from it several times in the podcast. Here’s the quote from Rolling Stone:

After Musk became successful, his father even took credit for helping him – to such a degree that it’s listed as fact in Elon’s Wikipedia entry. “One thing he claims is he gave us a whole bunch of money to start, my brother and I, to start up our first company [Zip2, which provided online city guides to newspapers]. This is not true,” Musk says. “He was irrelevant. He paid nothing for college. My brother and I paid for college through scholarships, loans and working two jobs simultaneously. The funding we raised for our first company came from a small group of random angel investors in Silicon Valley.”

Now, since we know that Robert read this but chose to ignore it because it didn’t fit into his narrow narrative and this correction does in fact undermine his thesis that Elon’s past is shadowed in hyperbole and overstated anecdotes, we can ascertain that Robert Evans is a terrible journalist who’s astonishing willingness to completely negate the concept of integrity in journalism in the name of entertainment is a stain on the industry. Robert’s underlying theme of this podcast is privilege. He’s convinced that Elon was able to succeed because he grew up wealthy, and the fact that he fled that wealth to start with nothing is irrelevant. He wants to convince us that despite Elon being broke at this time, he was never at risk because he could always flee back to his wealth, and this type of privilege makes what Elon achieved almost insignificant. How did Elon succeed? He knew how to talk to investment bankers and financiers. How did he know this? He grew up privileged, in a rich household, surrounded by his father’s banking buddies.

Not convinced that Robert is wrong? Okay.

Robert next decides to take on the entire field of tech engineering and to broadly mischaracterize them as disgusting pigs with the following statements in regard to Elon’s work ethic at Zip2 that resulted in him showering at a less than optimal frequency. Robert says:

“I’ve read a lot of biographies about a lot of tech guys and they all smelled terrible, and so did their little offices. They were all fucking nasty. It’s not hard to shower once a day, guys.” “They get their best ideas by forming a, like a fucking crown of scrotal sweat around their fucking drawstring pants.” “There’s a smell that engineers have, we all know that. Its engineer stank.”

If this characterization isn’t bad enough, Robert and Sofiya spend an inordinate amount of time discussing Elon’s passion, work ethic, and dedication to his goal. They quote Elon during one of his early investor pitches:

“My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku then fail.”

Robert and Sofiya find this incredibly funny, and they spend some time laughing and making fun of Elon for this statement. Here’s an audio clip where they make fun of his work ethic:


If I’m an investor and I’m considering putting my money into a start-up company, this is the mentality that I want my horse to hold. The seppuku quote is sentiment only, obviously, and not to be taken literally, but this must-succeed attitude is what makes Elon so special and so undeniably successful. This is how you’re going to show us that he’s a bastard?

In February of 1999, Elon and Kimbal sold Zip2 to Compaq for $307 million and Elon himself walked away with $22 million. Robert makes a big deal about how Elon left the company immediately instead of staying on to run it, adversely stating that Elon obviously only cared about the money and not the company itself. Okay, so what? It should be obvious to all that Elon had bigger fish to fry than staying on to run an online advertising company for another owner. He wanted to use his money to do bigger things, and that’s supposed to be bad?

Elon spent $1 million dollars and bought a McLaren F-1 sports car, one of only 62 in the world. Three years earlier, he had been (not often, apparently) showering at the YMCA and sleeping in his office, and suddenly, he’s a kid with $22 million in the bank. Yes, objectively this is an ostentatious purchase, and an incredibly irresponsible amount, both in actual dollars, and in percentage of wealth to spend on such a ridiculous display of prosperity. However, Elon was 27 years old. Who among us can say we were fiscally responsible at such a young age, particularly with such an incredible influx of previously unknown wealth, the culmination of incredible discipline and determination? I have no doubt that Elon is probably embarrassed by this video showing a young and objectively immature Elon Musk:

Here’s the clip where Robert and Sofiya make fun of Elon without regard to the circumstances surrounding this purchase:


Within months of selling Zip2, Elon invested the vast majority of his newfound wealth into, an online bank that eventually merged with Paypal. Robert and Sofiya spend a lot of time making fun of Elon for the name, and discussing the takeover that got him ousted and Peter Thiel installed as the CEO of the merged companies. This is mostly nonsensical background that does nothing to further the thesis that Elon is a “piece of shit,” so I won’t go into all of the obtuse takes they come up with in this segment.

In July 2002, Ebay purchases Paypal for about $1.5 billion, and Elon walks away with $250 million, a more than 12x return on his investment in just about three years. Now, this is the point where many people would and have simply walked away from the business world to retire in extravagant luxury. $250 million is an enormous amount of money that allows living in comfort on the interest alone without ever touching the principal. Elon didn’t do this though, and this is what makes him special. He took the money, $180 million after taxes, and invested nearly all of it in three companies:

$100 million into SpaceX

$70 million into Tesla

$10 million into Solar City

With additional investments in other, smaller projects, Elon took the vast majority of his wealth and spread it around into businesses that he felt were going to change the world. Robert and Sofiya spend a lot of time complaining that Elon gets credit for starting these businesses when, particularly with regard to Tesla, they were actually started by others, but what they choose to ignore is that Tesla was almost certainly doomed to failure without the drive, vision, ambition, and capital funding that Elon brought to the table. Here’s a quote from Robert:

“What’s not debatable is how fucked up it is that Elon Musk gets credit for building all these wonderful devices that he did not build. A January 2020 Fortune article got the title, “How Elon Musk built a Tesla factory in China in less than a year.” Obviously, he didn’t, he’s never built a factory in his life.”

Robert is saying that Elon has never physically built a factory. That he’s never operated a welder, poured concrete, installed windows. He’s taking the “built a Tesla factory” literally and taking the stand that Elon shouldn’t have gotten credit in the title of the Fortune article because he didn’t LITERALLY construct the building! It’s incredibly hard to imagine how obtuse this line of thinking is, but Robert somehow gets there. He continues:

“Musk gets a lot of credit in general for the wonders that his companies have produced.”

Seriously, no kidding? The CEO and in many cases founder, innovator, designer, decision-maker, and engineer of a company gets a lot of credit for the wonders that the companies produce? This is supposed to be some kind of revelatory statement that’s supposed to make me feel that Elon is a bastard of history?

Robert triples down on this idea by quoting this passage from the Rolling Stone article:

But what he has done is something that very few living people can claim: Painstakingly bulldozed, with no experience whatsoever, into two fields with ridiculously high barriers to entry – car manufacturing (Tesla) and rocketry (SpaceX) – and created the best products in those industries, as measured by just about any meaningful metric you can think of. In the process, he’s managed to sell the world on his capability to achieve objectives so lofty that from the mouth of anyone else, they’d be called fantasies.

Robert adds: “That’s frustrating to me because he did jump in without any experience…but he didn’t create those fucking products.”

It should be obvious that people who start companies with hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of employees do not necessarily “create” the products they deliver. What people like Elon do is bring people together, design a vision, implement the strategies and procedures to recognize that vision, and inspire and drive their employees. When all of these things come together and a brilliant product is created, the credit goes to the person who made all of that happen, and this is Elon Musk. Yes, credit needs to go to the engineers and the line workers and the architects, the team that actually builds the product, but Susie Samsonite pushing the button that activates the robotic arm that attaches the brake calipers on the Tesla Model 3 is not going to get recognized by Rolling Stone magazine, and to suggest that she should is completely ludicrous. To further suggest that Musk is a bastard for accepting this credit is asinine.

Now, Robert and Sofiya make a tremendous effort to get us to hate Elon by claiming that he assigns blame when things go wrong, and accepts credit when they go right. As evidence, they cite the explosion of SpaceX’s first rocket, Falcon 1 shortly after launch from Omelek Island in March 2006:


While it might be true that Elon and SpaceX did assign blame to the tech at the time, the idea that Musk didn’t accept the blame is not entirely true. Once again, Robert fails to show any sort of journalistic integrity by presenting both sides of the equation, but rather, only cites from the source that casts Elon in the worst light possible. A simple Google search brought me to a video where Elon accepted full blame for the failure of all three of the first Falcon 1 launches, and where he discusses that had the fourth launch failed, that very likely would have put SpaceX into bankruptcy and there would be no SpaceX today. This is Elon explaining his role in those failures to the International Astronautical Congress:

“And the reason that I ended up being the chief engineer or chief designer, was not because I want to, it’s because I couldn’t hire anyone. Nobody good would join. So, I ended up being that by default. And I messed up the first three launches. The first three launches failed. Fortunately, the fourth launch which was – that was the last money that we had for Falcon 1 – the fourth launch worked, or that would have been it for SpaceX.”

You can view the full video of his speech here:

Robert goes further in his efforts to convince us that Elon is a terrible manager. He decides to quote a section of Ashlee Vance’s book that talks about Elon’s firing of his secretary Mary Beth Brown. Robert says that Brown asked for a pay raise and Elon told her to take a vacation and he would do her job then decide if she was worth it upon her return. When she got back, he told her she was unnecessary and fired her without ceremony.

Sofiya Alexandra chimes in on this: “I remember reading about that and being like, that is the most insulting way to fire someone that’s given so much of their time and life to you. To just make sure that they know that you think they’re worthless before you let them go. That is so shitty for no reason.”

The problem here is, this fable is probably not even true. Here’s an article where the story originated.

Elon addressed this in a series of Tweets to Business Insider: “Ashlee Vance’s biography is mostly correct but also rife with errors and never independently fact-checked, despite my request that he do so. Of all the bogus anecdotes, this one troubles me the most. Ashlee never actually ran this story by me or my assistant. It is total nonsense. Mary Beth was an amazing assistant for over 10 years, but as company complexity grew, the role required several specialists vs one generalist. MB was given 52 weeks of salary and stock in appreciation for her great contribution and left to join a small firm, once again as a generalist.”

His mother, Maye Musk, also joined in the conversation on Twitter and added: “I agree. Some of the facts were glaringly wrong, but altogether the “bio” was interesting.”

It would seem that once again Robert Evans has chosen to cherry-pick his anecdotal evidence to fit the narrative he’s trying to front. To my knowledge, Mary Beth Brown has never stepped forth to either confirm or deny these claims, and Robert Evans certainly made no mention that he made any effort to contact her before simply spewing out the slanderous claims without regard for any dissenting evidence. It seems incredibly unlikely that Elon would take a public stance that this story isn’t true unless he was being honest, afterall, it would be incredibly embarassing to him if Brown came forth and confirmed it.

Despite wanting to continually deride Elon Musk, at a few points they can’t help but allow the deeply suppressed admiration they hold to shine through. Robert talks about how Elon had enormous input on the development of the Tesla design, saying that one of his big contributions was insisting that the door handles on the Tesla pop out, which he calls “Silly and unnecessary but cool as hell and that it makes people happy and loyal to the product because it delights them.”

Sofiya then says, “My husband has a Tesla and he fucking loves it. The amount of joy he gets from driving it, I’m like, this is stupid but it is cool.”

This is absolutely laughable. They are trying to deride a man who creates a product they both agree is incredibly innovative and cool. Robert goes on to compare Elon to Steve Jobs, saying that he understands what people want and he puts out a product that delights people. This is an incredible talent and Robert can’t help but recognize that. Robert also mentions that Elon insisted that SpaceX create the vast majority of their rocket components inhouse rather than using external suppliers. This allows them to bypass the bloat that a lot of the heavily regulated space industry has. Robert admires this, calling it a “good idea” and “a policy that was successful in reducing the cost of shooting shit into space.” His issue is that Elon gets too much credit and uses the world-saving goals of his company to treat his employees like shit whenever they get in his way, sentiments that don’t seem to be supported by the evidence presented.

Next, Robert and Sofiya move on to Elon’s personal relationships, trying to show the world what a scumbag he is because of the way he treated his wives. They point to an article in Marie Claire magazine written by Elon’s first wife, Justine, titled, “I was a starter wife.”

Robert reads from this article, pulling passages that attempt to fit his narrative while ignoring the passages where Justine praises Elon and states her lack of regrets. One passage he pulls is this one:

After graduation, he’d moved to Silicon Valley. He was sharing an apartment in Mountain View with three roommates and building his first dot-com company, Zip2. I soon flew out for the first of many visits. One night, over dinner, he asked me how many kids I wanted to have. “One or two,” I said immediately, “although if I could afford nannies, I’d like to have four.” He laughed. “That’s the difference between you and me,” he said. “I just assume that there will be nannies.”

This despairingly poorly edited podcast then skips backward a few minutes to repeat a previous story about Justine and Elon dancing at their wedding, before it skips forward again to this story about him assuming they’ll have nannies. Robert and Sofiya spend some time implying that he’s a scumbag for assuming they’ll have enough money to hire servants as if that kind of financial dreaming is nothing but thinly veiled satanism. They then make fun of Elon asking Justine to dye her hair:

And no matter how many highlights I got, Elon pushed me to be blonder. “Go platinum,” he kept saying, and I kept refusing.

Sofiya chimes in sarcastically about this passage: “It’s hot when someone you love just tries to change you all the time. I love it. It’s completely healthy and dope…People just want to be told that they’re garbage and they need to change.” So, Elon wanting his wife to change her hair blonde is somehow evil? This is the best you guys can come up with? Well, they go on to discuss how Elon tricked Justine into signing a postnuptial agreement that obliterated her rights.

Elon disputes many of the statements and claims in Justine’s exposé, particularly those about the postnuptial agreement, with an article in Business Insider. Once again, Robert chooses to completely ignore any evidence contrary to his thesis in what seems to be a routine lack of journalistic integrity:

Elon says, “Given the choice, I’d rather stick a fork in my hand than write about my personal life. Unfortunately, it seems that I don’t have any other option. Several awful things have been widely reported that are simply false, but a falsehood uncorrected may as well be truth.” Justine tried to dispute the separate property agreement that we signed in March 2002. This agreement said that any separate property we created would remain separate property, so the novels she wrote would be hers and any companies I created would be mine. We began negotiations two months before marriage with separate legal counsel and an independent mediator drawing up the agreement, and signed it six weeks after marriage.” According to multiple reports, Justine got $2 million cash, $6 million for child support and $80,000 per month for alimony, plus 10% of his SpaceX stock, along with a Tesla Roadster.

After divorcing Justine, Elon met and quickly proposed to Talulah Riley, a British actress. She is 14 years Elon’s junior, 22 years old to his 36 years at the time they meet. Sofiya is, of course, appalled by this:

“Ugh, so gross and just like cliché, I’m like dude come on.”

Quoting again from the Rolling Stone article by Neil Strauss who wrote “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” they discuss Elon’s emotional turmoil over his recent (at the time of the article) breakup with Amber Heard. Musk tells Strauss that he’s lonely and afraid of being alone, and Strauss suggests to Elon that he might want to work on the reasons for why he exhibits what he says is clear co-dependent behavior.

From the article:

I explain that needing someone so badly that you feel like nothing without them is textbook codependence.

Musk disagrees. Strongly. “It’s not true,” he replies petulantly. “I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.” He hesitates, shakes his head, falters, continues. “It’s not like I don’t know what that feels like: Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. Fuck. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that?”

Robert and Sofiya somehow find humor in this sad and honest introspection. They even go on to suggest that Elon find a sex worker to comfort him instead of looking for a relationship. These people are sick:


Another four-minute editing blunder where the recording loops makes listening to this professional podcast excruciating, but it’s almost over and I power through as Robert goes into the closing Anecdote of the podcast, how Elon Musk destroyed the small town of Boca Chica, Texas. This section is based on an Esquire article which is found here:

Robert and Sofiya discuss how Elon came to town with the intention of launching SpaceX rockets from the beach near this small town with only two permanent residents and a few dozen snowbird part-time residents. In an effort to make sure nobody was killed in a devastating rocket explosion, SpaceX attempted to buy up everyone’s homes, offering three times the market value and attaching a deadline to the offer, the unexpressed and underlying threat of Eminent Domain backing the offer. Although there’s no question that Eminent Domain seizures suck from the perspective of the homeowner, they happen, and they are historically necessary for the good of the country. Regardless of how you might feel about such an action, there’s no doubt that an offer of three times the market value was a generous offer, particularly if the backup to such an action is an Eminent Domain seizure. Robert and Sofiya disagree of course, and they make several very unfair assessments of the situation. They also choose to completely ignore any contrary evidence even from the very source they’re citing. As the author of the article, Rachel Monroe, states:

And so when I returned to Boca Chica in late December, I imagined I’d find a depressed, depleted place. Instead, after a tumultuous year, the community seemed infused with a fresh spirit. Residents seemed to have come to terms with SpaceX’s presence, for better or worse. The rocket might be intrusive, but it was their neighbor, and unlike them, it was here to stay. For some, that was an incentive to hash out an agreement with the company.

Sofiya, of course, sinks to crudity reminiscent of how they started the episode when they called Elon a cuck: “What’s a few hundred thousand, however many people in pursuit of one man’s, probably with a tiny dick’s, dreams.”

Robert chimes in: “We’ve all become worse because of our exposure to Elon.”

This podcast was filled with crude name-calling, ad hominem attacks, half-truths, and flat-out fabricated nonsense in some perverted desire to disparage a man who is openly trying to save humanity, a man with lofty goals of elevating our species to the stars, halting global warming, and safely guiding us into the future with a carefully planned immersion into creation of artificial intelligence. Along the way, he has risked everything, succeeded through determination, hard work, excellent ability to surround himself with great people, and certainly a decent amount of luck. Although I tried to listen to this podcast with an open mind, it didn’t take long to recognize this for exactly what it was; a hatchet job perpetrated by a man with a desire to espouse the evils of anyone who has risen to a success he’ll never achieve. Perpetual desire to bring attention to articles spouting statistics that have been debunked for the simple fact that people may remember only the debunked fact as opposed to the truth is beyond wrong, it’s abhorrent.

I have no doubt that Elon Musk is not a perfect man. I don’t doubt that he has occasionally screwed people over, acted inappropriately, impetuously, and petulantly. Name one person who has achieved Elon’s success who hasn’t occasionally acted in these ways. That Elon is socially awkward is obvious. That he has repressed resentments from childhood that affect his relationships and decision-making is probable. Are these reasons to call him a bastard? Are these reasons to disparage him, mock him, and scorn him? I heard a quote once that at a certain intelligence level, this world is mostly unbearable and the IQ level where that sentiment manifests is not really that high. Elon Musk is uncommonly intelligent, and I suspect he mostly finds this world oppressive and intolerable. The fact that he navigates it so successfully is admirable and laudable.

Robert ends the podcast by quoting an article that said Elon Musk hates the color yellow and that he won’t allow yellow safety lines to be painted in the factories, an obsession that has caused dangerous conditions to exist. This is something that is simply not true, and it was debunked thoroughly, something brushed off by Robert in his quest for complete disinterest in impartiality or objectivity. Robert Evans is either incapable or uninterested in critically evaluating some of the negative, slandering propaganda that has been published about Elon, rather choosing to add to the sewage and filth with a three-and-a-half-hour podcast full of gossip-rag worthy faux journalism, disinformation, and fabrications.

Robert Evans should be ashamed. Actually, he’s kind of a bastard.