The New York Senate has passed a bill making it illegal to “harass” a police officer by “any type of physical action” — even action that does not otherwise constitute interference, obstruction or assault. Given that “obstruction” and “interference” are famously broad, it’s hard to imagine what conduct the police and the NY Senate believe they need to control by statute, though there’s a clue in the statutory language, which makes it a felony to “harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.”
In other words, if you cause any physical contact with a police officer, even unintentionally, even if the contact does not rise to the level of assault or obstruction or interference, you can be convicted of a felony and imprisoned if the officer can show that your conduct “annoyed” him. This is the kind of statute that seems calculated to allow the police and prosecutors to put people in jail for very long stretches (remember that 97% of people indicted for felonies in the USA plead guilty under threat of decades of prison should they fight and lose) just because they don’t like them very much.” —
So, it’s alright for the NYPD to harass, threaten and annoy people on the street based on race, but don’t you dare flip them any shit in the process.
What the fuck ny
Great, just fucking great. More laws for them to fall back on when those assholes unjustly jail us up. They were already placing us in jails for stupid reasons, now they’re gonna straight up have the time of their life with this.
While there has been due outrage about the news regarding the NSA’s Verizon surveillance program, there has also been a loud echo of Senator Lindsey Graham’s “I am a Verizon customer. It doesn’t bother me one bit for the NSA to have my phone number.” See this Twitter account for a collection of such reactions in the Twitterverse. These responses range from Senator Feinstein’s “It’s lawful” and “It’s just metadata” to “It’s a necessary means of protecting the nation” and “It’s been in place for a long time.” And finally, the oldie but goodie, “If you aren’t a terrorist, what are you even afraid of.” None of those are valid defenses of a program of this scope, particularly not when paired with the follow-up news of PRISM, the program that tracks online activity through partnerships with Google, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Skype, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, and PalTalk, or the news that information gleaned from data collection has been shared with British security agencies.
Infringements and violations of rights don’t happen in a vacuum, they have real effects. Whether or not this is now ingrained practice and technically legal don’t make it good policy - either in the sense that it is an effective and appropriate way of maintaining national security, or in the sense that it has legitimacy, constitutionality or morality. As Cole and Dempsey note in Terrorism and the Constitution (a good read if you want to be paranoid but very well-informed), the American homeland security model has long rested upon the practice of assigning suspicion to particular ideologies and political affiliations and perceives advocacy and violence as ends of a spectrum. So, yes, people who aren’t terrorists certainly have cause for worry over what erroneous links might be drawn between nonviolent advocacy or political affiliations and perceived potential for violence and criminal activity.
And yes, this is metadata. This isn’t en masse wiretapping, but as Susan Landau, a mathematician and former Sun Microsystems engineer, points out in this Jane Mayer post over at The New Yorker, imagine all the information that can be pieced together with metadata. It’s potentially more dangerously informative on a larger scale than content mining.
As to whether or not this has been worth it, what is arguably a massive breach of one version of security (the 4th amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…”) for another, I refer you to @emptywheel’s Twitter commentary from yesterday: “Remember: Mike Rogers said the Section 215 dragnet justified bc ONE terror attack thwarted. ONE. In 7 years.” This is referencing Rep. Mike Rogers, the House Intel Committee chair, who cited one unspecified terrorist attack that he says the program thwarted. Sen. Rand Paul (yes, I know) in a Guardian op-ed today quoted then-Senator Obama on FISA in 2008…
We can give our intelligence and law enforcement community the powers they need to track down and take out terrorists without undermining our commitment to the rule of law, or our basic rights and liberties.
Yes. That civil liberties are in constant and inevitable tug of war with our safety is so axiomatic that it becomes the default explanation for rights and privacy violations. That understood tension between rights and safety seems to have been taken to mean that if a policy invades the privacy of millions, it must be working extra well. Sometimes rights are at odds with safety, to an extent, but it’s never so simple as a sacrifice of X amount of civil liberties for an equal amount of safety. Often, that trade-off is not worth it. Being asked (and by being asked, I really mean, being grudgingly told its been done for years) to trade this information en masse for limited evidence that harm has been prevented or could be prevented by these means is not a fair trade-off.
For some further evisceration of data dragnet, see The New York Times editorial from yesterday. They spare the administration nothing.
Short version of this blog post: I can’t believe I actually mostly agree with Rand Paul about something.
Just don’t do it.
1. All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level. (Stephen Schneider)
2. Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. (Dandemis)
3. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. (Francis Bacon)
4. Never fall in love with your hypothesis. (Peter Medawar)
5. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts. (Arthur Conan Doyle)
6. A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong. (Francis Crick)
7. The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting. (Richard Feynman)
8. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. (Charles Darwin)
9. It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. (Mark Twain)
10. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong. (Thomas Jefferson)
11. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer)” —
Prospero’s Precepts – 11 rules for critical thinking from history’s great minds.
Oh my God, I met Jedward last night. And here’s what I wasn’t expecting - they came up to me and went, “We love you.” Why are Jedward reading a book about feminism?
And they immediately went, “You’ve got something in your teeth.” And I went, “What?” They went, “You’ve got a sesame seed stuck in your teeth.” So I was trying to get it out and they went, “No, no, it’s there.” And I was like, “Where?” And I tried to get it out, and they were like, “No, we’ll do it.”
So one Jedward put their finger in this side, and the other Jedward put their finger in this side, and they were going like this, but they still couldn’t get it out. And I was holding in my hand a business card that I’d just been given by a film producer who wanted to make a film with me. And I was like, “This is my golden ticket!” And the Jedward on the left took this business card and went [scraping noise] on my teeth and they still couldn’t get it out.
And then anyway, I was whisked away by Dick and Dom and I didn’t get a chance to talk to Jedward for a while. But then all the way through the rest of the evening, whenever I saw the Jedward on the left, he would just go [coyly rubs finger on tooth] at me in a way that simultaneously was meant to make me feel insecure but also felt quite flirty.
And I’ve had many things happen to me in the last couple of years, but of all the things I wasn’t expecting, it was to be flirted with by a Jedward. And not only that, but to find it quite pleasant. They are quite hot! They are… Jedward are quite hot. Is quite hot. That is quite hot.