Black lives matter
Black tennis player Sloane Stephens won the recent US Open. She beat Venus Williams in the semi-final. She won on Arthur Ashe court, the first black American to win Wimbledon and the US Open.
These black lives matter. Which is not to say others appear to not matter. I am reminded that James Blake, whose progress as a tennis professional I followed for many years, was wrongly arrested and manhandled in New York city on the way to the US Open in 2015. Blake was handcuffed and shoved against the wall. The police later apologised to Blake. They admitted that it was mistaken identity. They also lied about the nature of the manhandling. Blake had video proof to show the police lied. I believe Blake and the video.
Scores of black deaths at the hands of police have prompted the Black Lives Matter campaign against police. Policing in the US is fraught, but BLM advocates need to hear some facts. The key is, ninety three per cent of blacks in the US are killed by blacks. A street gangster in Los Angeles shot dead Venus and Serena William’s half sister.
Why hobble police?
And yet, Black Lives Matters wants to hobble police in their response to black violence. To hobble police law enforcement may lead to less protection for blacks against their assailants: blacks. Elliott Spector, in his 2017 book, Beyond Black Lives Matter, sets out a compelling response to the BLM diatribe against policing in the US. Spector is a former police officer turned lawyer who represents officers accused of misconduct. Officers have to protect the public, including bystanders and themselves. Any death count at the hands of police has to be adjusted to discount the decision a police officer has to make on the spot. Discount events and judgements such as accidental discharges and bystander incidents. Discount events where those shot were involved in unlawful acts. Discount events where those armed refuse to drop their weapons, or choose to attack police.
Spector reckons that if the actual instances of police shootings were divided into the number of police-citizen encounters, the chances of an innocent person being intentionally shot by police solely because of his or her race are greater than 100 million to one. By contrast, the chance of a police officer being shot is about 20,000 to one.
So many Aborigines in gaol
Australia’s version of black lives matter plays out in Aborigines in custody. Similar discounting needs to apply. According to Don Weatherburn, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, on an age-standardised basis, between 2001-15, the rate of Aboriginal imprisonment rose by 40 per cent, but the non-Aboriginal imprisonment rate rose by 10 per cent in NSW prisons. The rate of Aboriginal imprisonment has risen in every jurisdiction in Australia.
The perplexing part is that the rate of arrest for violent and property crime has fallen. Does Australia have its own basis for a Black Lives Matter Campaign? Weatherburn found that the cause of the growth is an increase in the number of offenders given a prison sentence (not an increase in sentence length), which is partly due to the fact that courts have become more willing to imprison convicted offenders and partly due to a growth in the number of defendants convicted of offences that are likely to result in a sentence of imprisonment.
Why are the courts more willing to imprison? Pretty simple. Because they do not like serious assault resulting in injury, or stalking and intimidation. They do not like ‘justice procedure offences’, the benign sounding category which represents escaping custody, breach of home detention order, breach of suspended sentence, breach of community-based orders and breach Apprehended Violence Order offences.
They also do not like dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons and prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences including dangerous or negligent operation (driving) of a vehicle.
There is also an increase in the number of arrests resulting in convictions. The police do not like unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter and illicit drug offences. And courts do not like granting bail for these offences.
But, the courts and police have not only decided that enough is enough, but it is possible that offenders have longer criminal records than previously, or that more offenders have multiple concurrent offences or that the offences became more serious between 2001 and 2015. It is likely that time has caught up with Aboriginal crime. It is also likely that the recent emphasis on protecting women was also bound to send more men to gaol.
Asian Lives Matter
It is time to call out bad behaviour, even when it has a clear racial basis. The fact is some parts of a race or culture do well, others do not. This is hardly the fault of racism.
Asians are as visible in the US and Australia as blacks. With one big difference, they do not commit crime in the same proportion. They do not commit crime because they are successful. Todd Pittinsky of New York University explains why. Asian-American:
- families are more likely to attribute achievement to effort than to inherent intelligence.
- parents often make extraordinary efforts to live in neighbourhoods with good schools.
- parents are more likely to respect educators to a greater degree and to explicitly teach their children to do so.
In Australia the story is the same. Australian BLM cadres blame the system, they believe that blacks are unfairly targeted by police and unfairly treated by the courts. The evidence does not support the accusation.
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