Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the words-and-letters dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Stephen T. Stone, neatly taking down the "don't rush to judgement" angle on the black college student who was thrown to the ground and got a gun pointed at his head for taking a selfie:

We have three law enforcement agencies refusing to explain what prompted the need to tackle, assault, and ultimately arrest the only young Black man on a bus full of students coming from a swim meet. We have the perspectives of the victim and, I assume, several of the witnesses to the event. Only a fool takes these facts into account and thinks “maybe we need to hear both sides before we make a judgment”.

In second place, it's rangda with a cutting quip about the same incident:

As one of my facebook friends says "99% of cops are giving the rest a bad name". Sadly sometimes I think his estimate is too low.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Scary Devil Monastery expanding on the claim that "we have only one perspective" on what happened in that incident:

That's wrong.

We have multiple police officers using force and oppression against a civilian. and not a single one of them has justification for it. They haven't even tried to give a reason for their actions.

When a person raises his hand against any other person the default legal situation is that either there is a good reason which can be clearly shown - or it's a felony assault. This is true whether the person raising the hand is a law enforcer or not. In this case assault is already proven. Justification which would make it a legal action, has not.

So if the police can't bring a reason to the table then it's already an open-and-shut case of police brutality. No further questions need to be asked. The facts of their guilt and physical action is already demonstrably proven.

If the police HAVE a reason for the assault then the situation becomes a different one. Until they do that, however, the only evidence we have is that they assaulted a civilian for no reason.

The only fool here is the one trying to invent facts out of whole cloth and wishful thinking.

Next, we pivot to the story about the copyright dispute with Disney over a unicorn van design, with Peter highlighting what we can learn about Disney's real attitude:

Thank, you, Disney, ...

... for making absolutely clear that, contrary to what your PR department says, you do not see copyright law as a means to ensure fair compensation of creatives or, as the founding fathers put it, "to promote the arts and sciences".

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter talking about the driver who was left stranded when a "smart" rental car lost cellular service, and the coming solutions for the issue:

So what your saying is that they will soon have 5G power super smart cars. that can only be used in visual range of a major sports stadium. and only if a game isn't currently happening.

In second place, it's another anonymous commenter with a joke about Hot Water, one of the winning games from our public domain game jam:

That's how instant games work. They come dessicated, so adding hot water is the optimal rehydration method, giving also a preferred serving temperature.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Beefcake, who linked the failing rental car to a potential industry resurgence:

Meanwhile, somewhere a buggy-whip factory is planning to reopen.

And finally, we've got kog999 responding to the game developer who took an amusing jab a pirate group by selling posters featuring their information file:

but what incentive will codex have to crack games if people dont respect their NFO file's copyright.

That''s all for this week, folks!


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2020 @ 2:19pm

    But there's zero evidence that is what occurred. I'm ashamed that people who know how to diagnose technical problems wouldn't realize that what people tell you they think happened with their computers and then what really happened are very often totally unrelated. Now, knowing this, and having some good sense, we can see we should give our judgment a rest until we have the actual body camera footage. Until then, we have some stories of little worth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Feb 2020 @ 5:23pm

      'If I cover my eyes you don't exist!'

      Multiple witnesses, a gorram lawsuit, not a single justification or explanation given after a year and you're still trying to cling to the idea that there simply must be camera footage that exonerates the thugs involved that they've withheld for reasons, despite the fact that releasing it could have resolved the lawsuit before it even began.

      As hills to die on go that one is just sad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2020 @ 7:20pm

        Re: 'If I cover my eyes you don't exist!'

        If there's no footage, then give it a rest, we'll never know. Why do people think otherwise? The evidence is a mountain that all you can rely on is footage, otherwise it's just a judicial "process", which means utterly devoid of truth, but an action of possibility of violence to one party or another, an abuse to their persons, which propiciates the mobs, who of course are equally useless.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 10:41am

          If there's no footage, then give it a rest, we'll never know.

          Except — and this is gonna blow your mind, so maybe take a seat before you read this — the police don’t dispute what happened vis-á-vis the act of violence described in the lawsuit. They’re not saying it didn’t happen. They’re refusing to say why it happened.

          We can assume who is telling the truth here. (Spoilers: It’s the Plaintiff and any witnesses from the bus full of students.) What we can’t assume is why the cops did what they did. We need a valid explanation for that. So far, the cops aren’t offering one. We hold the cops to a higher standard. These cops aren’t trying to reach that standard, let alone exceed it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 5:18am

            Re:

            "We hold the cops to a higher standard. These cops aren’t trying to reach that standard, let alone exceed it."

            Actually the cops are held to a far lower standard when it comes to justifying assault than anyone else. They hold the violence monopoly and as a result MUST, instantly be able to present a reasonable justification when their actions include abusing another citizen's civil or human rights. Such justification needs less burden than if the perpetrator had been a civilian but if they can fulfill it they get off scot free.

            The cops have failed to present any justification at all which means, in effect, that they are already guilty of assault and lethal threat.

            And yet because this is a subsequent lawsuit the victim now standing as plaintiff needs to, as sole recourse for justice, prove his initial innocence in order to win the case.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2020 @ 11:09pm

      Re:

      Look: No. Clearly, they can't even come up with one of the standard lies which they think is good enough. They would have had a story and maybe video the second this hit the news. They always do, if they think it could possibly support their actions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 12:18am

      Re:

      "But there's zero evidence that is what occurred."

      An entire bus full of people?
      And the police haven't denied the factual events?

      " I'm ashamed that people who know how to diagnose technical problems wouldn't realize that what people tell you they think happened with their computers and then what really happened are very often totally unrelated."

      That's a lot of bull. The proper analogy to the assault situation described would be that thirty people called tech support, all reporting a blue screen with one and the same error message.

      At that point the IT specialist will not even consider any other alternatives than by starting by investigation with the assumption that the provided error message is legitimate.

      It would take a desperate police apologist or a fanatic to start with the assumption that the proven assault was, in fact, justified.

      You'd make as shit an IT specialist as you would a juror, I think.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JustSomeGuy, 23 Feb 2020 @ 2:21pm

    Interesting re 'Only a fool takes these facts into account and thinks “maybe we need to hear both sides before we make a judgment”'.

    I would definitely say that you need to hear both sides, regardless of how ridiculous you may expect one of those sides to be. You need all the information to make a judgement. Anything else is a miscarriage of justice, and makes you as bad as, let's say, cops who throw a guy to the ground and threaten him just because of his skin color.

    Don't get me wrong, I think these cops are pretty much idiots and deserve what's coming but I would not damage the justice system to bring this about. If you think differently, I suggest you go read "A man for all seasons" and the brilliant discussion near the end:

    Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

    William Roper: “Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 23 Feb 2020 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      Perhaps you missed the fact that no one at the 3 involved agencies could give an explanation or give out any pertinent facts. Regardless of what predicated the incident, ALL agencies involved have by their own actions afterwards shown that they only deserve scorn and ridicule, and the officers involved as cowards that doesn't belong in law enforcement.

      Anyone that still thinks both sides need to be heard is just a deaf fool that can't hear the agencies trying to sweep this under the rug.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JustSomeGuy, 23 Feb 2020 @ 11:56pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually, no, I didn't miss that, and the assumption that people disagreeing with you are "deaf fools" is a stunning display of arrogance. With your "I'm right and everyone who disagrees is wrong" attitude, I'm guessing you feel strongly about this case, but that's exactly the frame of mind rational people should avoid.

        I do agree that they deserve "scorn and ridicule" for their silence but assumption of guilt in the legal sense must be made should require a higher standard.

        Testimony can be compelled by the legal system and, in the absence of testimony under those circumstances, judges have wide latitude for punishing refusal to comply. This ranges from incarceration until orders are follwed all the way up to actual assumption of guilt (such as with spoliation of evidence).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 12:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Actually, no, I didn't miss that, and the assumption that people disagreeing with you are "deaf fools" is a stunning display of arrogance."

          What you DID miss - and this is a whopper - is that you're trying to take Roper's side while using Thomas More's argument. That's either disingenious rhetoric or a major blunder on your part.

          Assumption of innocence would have the black guy in the article being the victim. That means the default argument must be that the police assault is unjustified.

          It's up to the police to deliver evidence that their actions were justified. Lacking such evidence Mr. Butler is presumed innocent and the police action a simple case of assault.

          That's how the law MUST work. You are in fact advocating that the police should NOT be held to the same standard of law everyone else is. Essentially, laying the law flat out of convenience to catch the devil, to paraphrase Thomas More.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            JustSomeGuy, 24 Feb 2020 @ 2:32am

            Misunderstanding

            Actually, I'm not taking sides at all, I very much agree that More was correct in that the law should never be set aside for the convenience of convicting people you may think are guilty. Guilt has to be established by the legal system.

            In fact, from all I've read, it appears these cops are guilty as hell, and their reticence to prove otherwise will no doubt be their undoing because, in an unbalanced-power situation, the group with the most power needs to prove they used it wisely. That means the student should be presumed innocent in preference to the cops but not to the exclusion, at least to start with.

            You are mistaken in thinking I believe the cops should not be held to the same standard, in fact, they should be held to a higher standard given said power imbalance.

            What I do object to is presumption of guilt without legal proceedings. If the cops continue to refuse an explanation after it's demanded by the legal system then, by all means, said legal system is free to assume whatever it wants.

            But a finder of fact, whether jury or judge, is best able to function if they see both sides of an argument first (if at all possible).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 5:23am

              Re: Misunderstanding

              "What I do object to is presumption of guilt without legal proceedings."

              Well, it has been established that the cops assaulted Mr. Butler and threatened him with hot weapons.

              We are already in the legal situation where one of two scenarios must be established;

              1) The officers have provided a perfectly valid justification for their rather violent and hazardous apprehension of Mr. Butler. In fact, they would have been perfectly clear about that justification before they performed the coordinated apprehension.

              2) The officers did not have a clear-cut reason for their actions in which case they are - as you noted - "guilty as hell".

              The point is that the "legal proceedings" we need to look at here, have already been performed. There is no doubt that the police assaulted Mr. Butler. There is also no doubt that the officers have failed to instantly provide good reason for this assault.
              And this is pretty important. The failure to provide due reason means that what took place was simple assault. There are no further questions to ask from the officers when this is the case.

              What is more interesting is that for these officers to see a courtroom to establish which penalty will be applied a number of hurdles have to be passed through the legal system - one which is inextricably linked to the officers in question and where the stakeholders have every motive not to see policemen convicted.

              so although the principle of law would have these officers behind bars for being unable to produce a valid reason to use their violence monopoly, the practice means it's highly unlikely even one of these officers will ever see the inside of a courtroom as part of the penal case this should result in.

              Instead Butler has to bring his grievance through the civil system. I find that already a clear indication that the laws are "laid flat" to a very alarming degree.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 6:52am

                Yes, the system is broken in ways that plainly favor LEOs. But LEOs are still people, and that means they have civil rights, too. How do you propose we fix a broken system without doing away with everone’s civil rights?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 7:58am

                  Re:

                  "How do you propose we fix a broken system without doing away with everone’s civil rights?"

                  Well, to begin with in this particular shit-show we could start by having a judge take a look at the background of the lawsuit and make the call that "Yes indeed, this calls for a criminal trial". Since, quite obviously, we won't find the state or district attorney bothering to come down harshly on Barr's boys in blue.

                  Then run that criminal trial first and adjudge the severity of malfeasance practiced by the LEO's in question.

                  At that point we'll have the proper sequence and practice of jurisprudens. Because Right now what we're looking at is a lawsuit which only exists because a victim was forced to prove his innocence before law enforcement overreach can be determined.

                  You want to fix the system? For this spectacle, easy enough - don't allow the LEO's to dodge, in the first place, the criminal investigation of them assaulting a citizen without due cause.
                  Because the reason they could do that is the primary reason why this lawsuit proceeds according to a complete reversal of the presumption of innocense.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 8:10am

                    Can a judge unilaterally bring criminal charges against defendants? If not, what you’re suggesting with…

                    having a judge take a look at the background of the lawsuit and make the call that "Yes indeed, this calls for a criminal trial"

                    …seems like a massive overreach in judiciary power. And that lands us back in the “can’t fix the problem without curtailing civil rights” issue which you’re claiming to avoid.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 5:26am

                      Re:

                      "…seems like a massive overreach in judiciary power. And that lands us back in the “can’t fix the problem without curtailing civil rights” issue which you’re claiming to avoid."

                      It probably IS a massive overreach, and I'm not sure how you'd allow a judge to escalate a civil case in their court to a criminal one without putting several other safeguards at serious risk.

                      Mind you, the current situation described in this case already breaks legal accountability so badly the worst thing you could say about a public lynching of the officers involved would be that it maintained the same standard of jurisprudens hitherto observed.

                      I'm arguing from the standpoint where the fact that the police were able to arrest, threaten, and - had Butler not dropped to his knees with his hands behind his head - been able to execute him without sanction...as fairly good evidence that the legal system failed on all levels to a point where "law" no longer had any part in the proceedings.

                      Bluntly put, it's thuggery of a level you might expect from the pseudomilitia of an afghanistan warlord, with roughly the same effort spent by authorities to rectify the situation.

                      We're not talking about a problem you can "fix".

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 11:22am

                  Re:

                  Level the playing field by applying equal rules, tweaking them only as much as absolutely needed and only in specific cases to fit the circumstances.

                  No more applying the 'no one is dumber than a cop' rule. Cops are given extensive power, it's well past time to hold them to an appropriately raised standard to take that into account, and if anything the penalties for a cop violating the law and/or rights of the public should be higher than would be faced by a member of the public to account for that.

                  No more general qualified immunity, rather exceptions are allowed in the law only in specific and previously defined areas in order to allow them to operate. So for example if a chase requires that a cop speed then that would be allowed, but that would not give them a pass on dangerous and/or reckless driving during said chase so they'd still be on the hook for that as that just replaces one threat to the public with two.

                  Independent investigations by an agency willing and able to impose real penalties. No more in-house 'investigations' that are as predictable and unbiased as having the mob look into their own actions.

                  I'm sure I and others could come up with others, but in tl;dr version it would be something along the lines of 'Kick them off the pedestal they are currently enshrined on, stop treating them like they're gorram idiots and instead hold them to a standard appropriate for the level of power they have, and if the job requires reasonable exceptions to the law then they should be specific and be the exception rather than the default.'

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 24 Feb 2020 @ 1:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Nobody made a judgement of their guilt in the legal sense, the judgement was a moral one.

          As with these types of cases, all public available evidence points to the officers being guilty of disregarding the 4th amendment at minimum and the most likely legal outcome is that they'll use qualified immunity to avoid any consequences from that.

          So, I'll continue calling people for fools if they still think both sides need to be "heard" when one side can't even give a coherent explanation even when given multiple chances.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Feb 2020 @ 3:38pm

      Lay people can make moral and ethical judgments about the actions of others however they see fit. My judgment is thus: Since any or all of the three agencies involved have offered no explanation for their actions and have produced no evidence that justifies their actions, they are trying to hide the fact that the people from those agencies acted with what appears to be blatantly racist intent. They don’t deserve the benefit of my doubt, nor will they receive it.

      My judgment is not the law; if it were, I’d bite my tongue until it bled. The law should give the benefit of a doubt to The Devil. But I’m not the law — and neither are you. Question my judgment, but don’t tell me I can’t make it before some arbitrary point at which you think I have the right. You won’t appreciate my judgment of that proposition…or of the person making it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 12:51am

        Re:

        "My judgment is not the law; if it were, I’d bite my tongue until it bled. The law should give the benefit of a doubt to The Devil."

        You seem to be missing the same rather vital aspect as everyone else here, Stephen.

        The police officers are law enforcement.
        Mr. Butler is the victim.

        The law assumes Mr. Butler is innocent of wrongdoing, and that he similarly has not given due cause for aggravated police action.
        So unless the police can deliver compelling reason as to why they assaulted Mr. Butler then we are left with the required assumption that Mr. butler, being an innocent man, has had unjustified violence done to him by agents of the legal system.

        Unless the police officers DO deliver a compelling argument as to why they acted as they did, that in itself renders the police action a simple cause of assault.

        The police aren't victims - Butler is. The police are under the requirement to justify why they treated a civilian as a suspect. Not the other way around.

        An explanation from the police still isn't forthcoming which leaves us with the sole implication that Butler was simply Being Brown In Public, leading to police action with a very high risk - or desired outcome - of death.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 2:42am

          Yes, the police aren’t victims. But they are the defendants. The court can’t assume guilt; it must give the police a benefit of the doubt until the police exhaust that benefit. That the police have done so is beside the point.

          I don’t want to sound as if I think cops deserve qualified immunity for everything (they don’t), or that cops deserve to avoid punishment for anything short of outright murder (they don’t). But if we have a system of laws that gives defendants a presumption of innocence until they’re proven guilty, we must apply that standard to all defendants — even ones we dislike — or else the system is broken.

          Or, to tie back into that quote: “Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!”

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 5:32am

            Re:

            "Yes, the police aren’t victims. But they are the defendants."

            In this lawsuit, yes. I concur that within the context of said lawsuit proceedings are required.

            However, the fact of the case is that what the lawsuit brings to the table is the scenario of a group of police officers who have already groundlessly assaulted a citizen. Bizarrely they are being sued, in civil court, for having committed a crime which is obvious and manifest, where the relevant facts are admitted not only by the plaintiff but also the defendants.

            And the reason that becomes even more bizarre is that the first legal address of the issue is one where the victim is required to demonstrate the guilt of the perpetrators...by essentially proving his innocence.

            Broken by design?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 6:47am

              You can’t “fix” a “broken” issue like the one you lay out without erasing the idea of presumed innocence. Defendants must be given a benefit of the doubt — i.e., they must be given the chance to either justify their actions or prove a plaintiff’s claims are false. We give The Devil benefit of the law so that we all can have it if we need it one day. To deny that benefit is to upend the entire U.S. legal system. Unless you have a solution that still gives all defendants that benefit — regardless of how you feel about certain defendants — you have no solution worth considering.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 8:10am

                Re:

                "Unless you have a solution that still gives all defendants that benefit — regardless of how you feel about certain defendants — you have no solution worth considering."

                Only one way, as I outlined a few comments up;

                Don't let law enforcement dodge the initial criminal investigation.
                Every citizen is to be considered innocent until proven otherwise. No one is to be considered a suspect without due cause.

                If a police makes an arrest action, thereby depriving a person of liberty - or, possibly, life - then we need that police to be able to provide a sufficient reason for his action, immediately.

                Or else, by default, it's an overreach of justice and the officer in question needs to be fired from the force with the record of assaulting civilians at random, and have his ass hauled into court over the unwarranted premeditated assault he is guilty of.

                If you can't custodiet the custodes you are already up shit creek and end up, as in the case of Mr. butler, with justice being a case of random chance with the actual offenders being given the benefit of doubt that should have been given to the original victim

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 12:36am

      Re:

      "I would definitely say that you need to hear both sides, regardless of how ridiculous you may expect one of those sides to be."

      We have the facts - a police assault and brutality. There are no "two sides" to be heard about that.

      What we do not have is a valid reason for said assault. This is where we need to hear the other side come up with a legitimate explanation. If no such explanation is forthcoming then that is the answer of the other side.

      At which point, by any law you care to name, what we already have falls under the "intentional assault" heading of the penal code with, depending on the jurisdiction, hate crime being a possible invocation.

      Sir Thomas More isn't a good authority to call on unless you were invoking him on behalf of the victim in the case who must be presumed to have been innocent unless the police can offer an alternative explanation.

      I think you need to have yourself a little moment of shame for trying to invoke presumption of innocence on behalf of the authority holding the violence monopoly.

      Roper could have used your argument, stating that More was being a dick for trying to obstruct laying the laws flat, and saying that the judge laying the law flat should have been presumed to be innocent of malfeasance. Cute rhetoric.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Feb 2020 @ 3:56pm

    The silence is telling

    It looks like a case where the police are not saying anything because, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. They also may be working on a cover story together to make their actions sound better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Feb 2020 @ 4:03pm

      I would think that they’d have a story ready after a year’s time between the incident and now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Feb 2020 @ 4:23pm

        Re:

        If law enforcement had better imaginations they would be in different careers. Hollywood could use some help.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 23 Feb 2020 @ 5:16pm

          Re: Re:

          Not at all, 'no accountability, even if you get caught' has got to be quite tempting for any number of corrupt individuals, why would they give that up to go work in hollywood where that sort of perk is only likely to apply for those at the top?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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