Crazy Has Its Own Logic

Like many Americans, I have been following the protests in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the reactions of police and others. I was particularly impressed by the thoughtful statement issued by Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the wake of the mounting tensions between police and the communities they serve.

Jabbar began by noting that his father and his grandfather were both police officers. He then addressed the recent assassination of the two officers in New York.

We need to understand that their deaths are in no way related to the massive protests against systemic abuses of the justice system as symbolized by the recent deaths—also national tragedies—of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Michael Brown. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the suicidal killer, wasn’t an impassioned activist expressing political frustration, he was a troubled man who had shot his girlfriend earlier that same day. He even Instagrammed warnings of his violent intentions. None of this is the behavior of a sane man or rational activist. The protests are no more to blame for his actions than The Catcher in the Rye was for the murder of John Lennon or the movie Taxi Driver for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Crazy has its own twisted logic and it is in no way related to the rational cause-and-effect world the rest of us attempt to create.

Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors. This is the same strategy used when trying to lump in the violence and looting with the legitimate protestors, who have disavowed that behavior. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.

Shaming and blaming, unfortunately, are the currency of the day.

I don’t understand why it is so difficult to see the difference between criticism of inappropriate police behavior, on the one hand, and antagonism to police and policing on the other. I can complain about service at a restaurant without being labeled “anti-restaurant.”  I can criticize a schoolteacher without being anti-education. If I punish misbehavior by my children, that is actually evidence that I love my children enough to raise them properly.

Most police officers are good guys. Some, however, aren’t.

Police who get angry and defensive when someone points that out are probably part of the problem.


  1. Just yesterday I received an E-mail from my friend in Santa Clara, CA, commenting on nightly protests and clashes with police in San Francisco, Berkely, San Jose, CA, and one protest shutting down a major highway. I have seen nothing about this on our news here. I had to ask what protests she was talking about because she didn’t refer to the Michael Brown, Eric Garvey, et al, assuming I knew what she was referring to. Are we in a blackout area regarding this news or do Indianapolis leaders and newscasters just not care? What else are we missing? I ignore the Reader’s Digest version of USA Today in the daily Star (maybe this is how I missed reports on those protests) but decided to read about new laws in effect for 2015. It was a brief article on page 1 with few details. Nothing of course in section one of the Star which used to provide us with most national and internationsl news. Guess we will hear about them when we violate them.

    Regarding the murder of the two NYC police officers, I read an article stating the NYPD had been notifed of the man’s threats to kill officers an that he was headed to NYC via FAX. Who uses FAX these days? This supposedly caused a delay in notifying their officers about the danger. A few years ago in my small neighborhood we suddenly had patrol cars on a regular basis, not the usual routine here. One officer stopped me to tell me to be on the lookout for a specific person who periodically lived across the street from me. He stated the man was wanted for robbery; I asked he officer they had been told that his man was on parole for armed robbery and could be armed. NO; they had not been given that information, he immediately got on his car radio to call headquarters. It appears police can be their own worst enemy when uninformed and poorly trained.

  2. How do broadcast personalities like Rush, Beck, Mark and Hanidy use these situations for their political agendas ?

  3. But too many people hate all cops. Too many, like Radley Balko, spread the anti-cop furor based on any perceived inappropriate behavior. Yes, there are bad cops. There are probably more bad lawyers, bad professors, bad journalists… as a percentage, but the don’t call a cop because he’ll likely shoot you ridiculousness is too pervasive.

  4. The police officers that turned their back on the mayor during his speech at the funerals was disgraceful and political. Not the time or the place for that message and that’s part of the problem. If the police have nothing to hide, then they should wear cameras every second and minute they are on duty. The outrage about Garner’s death was that it was recorded and shows exactly how they choked that man to death. Ferguson wasn’t recorded but Garner’s was and that is why there have been protests. That of course, is my opinion. Happy New Year !

  5. Clearly we as a society suffer both from the rages of dysfunction and more methodical imposition of will. There is a fine hard to position line between the two.

    The crazed cop killer in NYC was clearly on the unhinged side. No more or less horrific for the two victims and their friends and family nor we, the people who hire them to do an essential important and sometimes dangerous job. They were somewhere between random and random but in uniform victims, probably closer to the latter.

    But what of the murders of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Michael Brown? Random or racial? They were all misbehaving which attracted police attention. If they were younger I’m sure that their behavior would have normally drawn stern parental retribution in typical families. But the death sentance by by those who society chooses to empower with weapons and deadly physical training?

    Two questions. One has to do with the process of hiring and supervision of the three perpetrators of those murders. The second has to do with the racial facts involved. Where is the primary seeming fault? Closer to systemic or merely personal with the three perpetrators with the timing so close together merely coincidence?

    The murders and more importantly what followed in their wake suggest, but don’t proove, systemic institutional racism. Something that deserves our attention even if not establishable beyond the shadow of doubt.

    Have the murders received the systemic attention that they warrant?

    It doesn’t seem so. Once the press went away so did the questions. Does that mean that the social rage was not severe or persevering enough to be effective?

    I think so.

  6. This is, and pretty much always has been, about money. If a large core of policemen are familiar to a given neighborhood, and remain there over time, they’ll inevitably build a degree of trust (assuming they’re good guys) within that neighborhood. Would it help to mirror the profile of the neighborhood? Sure, but familiarity wins over that every time.

    The slogan is, and for a long time has been, Community Policing, but to achieve that, you need the same police in the same place for a long time. That means more police, and more police means more taxes.

  7. Kilroy–it’s a lot more systemic and I would be an idiot to think otherwise. I also am not put off by the trap of ‘some people hat all cops.’ So what if they do? And as far as the analogy of there are probably more bad lawyers–lawyers aren’t carrying guns, using choke holds, and arresting people and confining them. The police are there to enforce the status quo and the powers that be have decided that the unemployed no longer needed for the manufacturing base are disposable, so small wonder we have record number of inmates in prison. The number will go to 15%–unless they can be conned into the military. It’s one way of controlling a restive, and rightfully resentful–throw-away population.

  8. girl cousin; lawyers can destroy more lives than police even though they don’t carry guns. The people who need legal protection most cannot afford lawyers which allows their lives and/or livlihoods to be destroyed and the qualifications for legal aid often do not qualify many people making minimum wage. There are also more lawyers than police officers and they are often needed to go against police but…police are protected by their own lawyers. Big businesses get away with white collar crimes due to lawyers who specialize in loopholes to protect CEOs and businesses from prosecution. The 1% have the best loophole specialists and those lawyers are almost as wealthy as the people they protect. They also keep or get criminals out of jail knowing they can’t get paid if their clients are sitting in jail or prison. They don’t need guns to put those with guns back on the street, they need knowledge of the law and all of it’s quirks and those ever-present loopholes.

    Sorry Sheila; I’m not disparaging honest lawyers like yourself and those I have known to be honest and humanitarian. This situation, as with police, not all lawyers are the bad guys but…most of them are unaffordable by the vast majority of people who need help.

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