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I'm sure some of you saw this article from Commentary Magazine: "The Ridiculous Ruling Against the NYPD". It's amazing how poor the argument that Seth Mandel makes is.

So, let's go back to ELEMENTARY CONSTRUCTION OF ARGUMENTS!

A straw man is when you take your opponent's argument and replace it with an argument that sounds similar to the original one, but that is, in fact, not the same. It's weaker and sillier in some fundamental ways.

So, what was the argument that Judge Scheindlin made in the decision?

The case was about the stop and frisk policy of the NYPD. It's been a pretty common news story. If you, somehow, haven't heard about it, the policy is relatively simple to explain. If you're black or hispanic in New York, the police stop you and search you. If you're white, you're obviously not a criminal and they let you go. (Incidentally, while someone might call what I just said a straw man, they'd only be partially right, it's a joke that's well borne out by the evidence in the case.)

After the break, The New York Times will explain why this might be seen as a constitutional problem and I will make fun of Republicans some more.

The New York Times explains why this might be seen as a constitutional problem,

She noted that about 88 percent of the stops result in the police letting the person go without an arrest or ticket, a percentage so high, she said, that it suggests there was not a credible suspicion to suspect the person of criminality in the first place.
For those of you who don't have a pocket constitution, the fourth amendment reads, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

Thus, easily putting these together, the argument the judge made over 195 pages is that, since the NYPD is letting almost everyone they search go, there must have been no reason to search them in the first place. And, given the vast racial disparities of the people searched, they must not have had any real reason to search them in the first place. Therefore, the policy violates their right to be secure in their persons, violating the fourth amendment. See, easy!

Seth Mandel explains what a vastly more illiterate person gleans from the decision,

Thus we are now aware that Scheindlin has no idea what she’s talking about–not to mention the fact that her reasoning would suggest the officers would be less suspicious if they made more arrests during the stops.
Hmmm... Well, for starters, I'd say Judge Scheindlin would have taken issue with the number of arrests that held up in court, rather than the number of arrests that had been made, but that's just me.

Ah, but later in the article he makes an even more hilarious claim:

She doesn’t like the number of stops being made by the police without additional arrests, which would seem to make any constitutional objection to stop and frisk even more acute.
Illegal searching, they aren't a problem. Arresting people without evidence and illegally searching them, that would be a problem! He goes on to claim that it would only be a problem to rational (read: illiterate) people, like him, the judge clearly wanted more arrests.

Huh? Is this really the best they can come up with against this case? I'm sure there are better arguments against it. I haven't thought about it, the decision seems pretty good to me, but I'm sure that they exist!

Sometimes, I just can't understand the conservative brain. Law and order is crucially important, but liberty, that's important too. When the two come into conflict, law and order seems to win out. Obviously, for some reason I can't understand, they don't think financial crimes, are crimes, per say, which is why they campaign so hard against them.

The framers of the constitution (when you precede an argument with those words, it means it's originalist, so according to conservatives, it must be correct) did not only intend to protect the captains of industry. It meant to protect the little man as well. The man who has his rights infringed in the streets, the woman who has her home illegally broken into by the sheriff, those who cannot protect themselves, and are buffeted by the most powerful force there is -- the government -- must have rights to protect themselves from that trespass, else society breaks down. The law only matters if all are protected by it. We recognize that it's harder to protect those who are poor than it is to protect those who are rich. But, Stop and Frisk goes out of the way to harm them.

The attacks against this decision, like this one, are especially stupid. They are rightfully mocked. This is an important civil rights battle, and we cannot let the powerless man lose out, as he all too often does.

Originally posted to Greg Meyer on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 06:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the explanation of a straw man. (10+ / 0-)

    I've always vaguely known it was a fake of some kind, but I like your definition:

    A straw man is when you take your opponent's argument and replace it with an argument that sounds similar to the original one, but that is, in fact, not the same. It's weaker and sillier in some fundamental ways.
    My dictionary says only that a straw man is a scoundrel.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:05:54 PM PDT

    •  You need a new dictionary. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Dirtandiron

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 05:32:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's an excellent discussion of "straw man" (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, ccyd, ksheahan, Laconic Lib, DBunn

        in Wikipedia. The origins are unclear.

        One common folk etymology is that it refers to men who stood outside courthouses with a straw in their shoe in order to indicate their willingness to be a false witness.
        Wikipedia says the term was first included in a textbook in 1956:Guides to Straight Thinking but was not included in the classic 1970 text Fallacies. Wikipedia points out that "the technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged, emotional issues," and Aristotle appears to have been concerned about it.

        The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

        by ybruti on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:37:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They huff and they puff ... Thanks for this. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

    by plankbob on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:54:03 AM PDT

  •  "First they took my legs off and... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, micsimov

    ... they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out and they threw it over there! "   ;)

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 02:32:52 AM PDT

  •  Soooo many of these (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumbi

    ...in my facebook feed from the in-laws and, sadly, my dad.  I usually ignore them because my husband really doesn't want to raise tensions with his family (and my dad is 91 and in poor health...congestive heart failure and various other issues, so I'm always afraid that I'll upset him and send him into a heart attack.) .  Though sometimes I simply can't let the stupidity slide. I'm usually met with crickets.  An occasional "like" that shows that at least a few people in their friend lists have some sense.  Once in a while, though, they admit they didn't understand the core issue and thank me for explaining it to them.  

    Conservatives are like spoiled children who don't want to share. "Marriage is ours and you can't have it!" ~stomps foot petulantly~ http://www.ljpimages.smugmug.com

    by abbysomething on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 04:41:48 AM PDT

  •  It's either entirely stupid, entirely disingenuous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib

    or c) both.

    Ayn sucks. Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer.

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 04:55:35 AM PDT

  •  attempts at a factual discussion (8+ / 0-)

    Are usually met with "I am enrolled to my opinion.". Yes, but one is not entitled to make stuff up.  For example, one could believe that the moon is made of cheese and have a right to do.  However, one would be wrong.  That's the part of the debate that trips them up.

  •  George Lakoff (5+ / 0-)

    Since we're discussing the elements of political discourse, I would like to mention the work of George Lakoff - professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley, and a groundbreaking analyst of political speech:

    http://georgelakoff.com/

    Lakoff is sort of the progressive antidote to Frank Luntz - the slippery Republican spinmeister who was so cunningly effective at "adjusting" the right-wing lexicon in the 1980s and beyond, i.e. making "liberal" into a dirty word, convincing the plutocrats to say "job creator" instead of "capitalist", and so on.

    Lakoff takes on the whole mess of it, not only pointing out the most commonly-used logical fallacies & buzzwords that are routinely abused by the Right, but also drilling down deeply into the connotations & cultural associations of words, to support progressives in presenting their views accurately and convincingly.

    Case in point: Lakoff recommends replacing the term "entitlements" (as it pertains to Social Security, Medicare & pensions), with "earned benefits".  Lakoff is a must-know for every Kossack.

    Truly knowledge is power. And knowledge of spiritual things is spiritual power.

    by Mystic Michael on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:46:58 AM PDT

  •  Obviously... (4+ / 0-)

    Didn't read the Constitution:

    Thus we are now aware that Scheindlin has no idea what she’s talking about–not to mention the fact that her reasoning would suggest the officers would be less suspicious if they made more arrests during the stops.
    Um, the Constitution has NOTHING to do with suspicion.  It is not left up to the intuition of law enforcement (that's being charitable - It's not left up to the whim of law enforcement in actuality) - it talks about what is 'reasonable'.  Reasonable means what WE ALL think, not about the 'suspicions' (or whims) of law enforcement.  In fact, the 4th amendment was put in there precisely to protect against the 'opinions' of authority.  Idiot.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

    by RichM on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:21:40 AM PDT

  •  Standards for "Stop & Frisk" (9+ / 0-)

    Terry v. Ohio set the standard for police stops at "reasonable suspicion"

    ... in justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion. ... [G]ood faith on the part of the arresting officer is not enough. ... If subjective good faith alone were the test, the protections of the Fourth Amendment would evaporate, and the people would be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, only in the discretion of the police.
    Internal quotes omitted.

    The NYPD Stop and Frisk policy was more the latter than the former.  No matter the officer's "good faith," he or she must still be able to articulate facts and inferences that lead him or her to the conclusion that a stop is warranted.

    I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use -- Galileo Galilei

    by ccyd on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:31:50 AM PDT

  •  If I only had a brain... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    micsimov, ybruti, ZedMont

    Scarecrow, strawman, what's the difference?

  •  Your tags are hilarious! (0+ / 0-)

    2 dumbs and 3 stupids. lol

    Even more hilarious are certain people in the comment sections of this story.

    "Well, blacks and Latinos are DOING ALL THE CRIMES. IT ARE A FACT. I KNOW BECAUSE OF MY LEARNINGS! I NOT RACIST PROFILING! RACE CARDZZ! YOU ALL HAZ A RACE CARDZ!!!"

    "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

    by GenXangster on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:51:44 PM PDT

    •  Not THIS specific diary, of course (0+ / 0-)

      but in other articles on other sites...these people have no sense of self awareness.

      Jesus H. Macy....

      "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

      by GenXangster on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:53:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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