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Louisana woman brutalized in police custody

This is the second video in a series of 5. The first one is fairly uneventful. In it, the woman, Angie Garbarino, insists over and over again that she needs to make a phone call. The police officer, Wiley Willis, mechanically reads a script to her about submitting to a breathe test. She tries to leave the room. He physically restrains her. She tries again and he cuffs her hands behind her back. She tries to get away from him and he swings her by her elbow with enough force to lift her off the ground and slams her into a wall. He then puts her forcefully in a chair. Most of the video consists of the woman insisting that she has the right to make a phone call.

Here's the second video in the series.





In this video, the officer slams the woman against the wall again, approaches the camera to turn it off, and when the video resumes, the woman is lying on her side on the floor, still hand-cuffed, with a pool of blood next to her. The officer rolls her onto her back (with her hands still cuffed behind her) and mills about for a moment and then leaves the room. Most of this video consists of the hand-cuffed woman bridging to keep her weight off of her cuffed wrists, crying, spitting blood, and generally lamenting her situation. Several people look in at her briefly, but not until the very end of the video does anyone approach her to offer any sort of aid or ask her what happened. I won't speculate as to what concerns other than helping this woman occupied the various people who became aware of her plight but took no visible action to assist her.

Paramedics took her to LSU Hospital in Shreveport, where she was treated for a broken nose, a fractured cheek bone and bruises on various parts of her body. Two of her teeth were knocked out.


Officer Willis claimed that she sustained these injuries when she slipped and fell.

In a post this morning which does not explicitly mention this incident, michaelanissimv wrote:
For me, the issue of high-tech torture is sufficient to legitimize the prospect of a trans-national body capable of violating the sovereignty of states to intervene in cases of state-sponsored torture. Police are the world’s number one torturers. Of course, this is a step towards world government, and I’m perfectly comfortable with that. I love my country, the United States of America, but I think some causes are so important they transcend statehood. Preventing torture is one of those causes.

People used to think that torture is one of those things that only bad people do. Not so. Under the right circumstances, practically anyone could become a torturer. The long-term solution is overwhelmingly obvious — modify the human genome so that we no longer have the desire to torture, no matter the circumstances. This is a case study for the generalized argument that reengineering the human species is a moral imperative. It might make some people squirmy, but because humanity isn’t perfect, there are some major possibilities for improvement. When the potential benefits become obvious, the polity will welcome them wholeheartedly.

When proposing modification of the human species, note that I advocate leadership by example, and never obligatory eugenics a la all the scaremongering sci-fi out there.


As blameworthy as former officer Wiley Willis may be in this instance, the real problem here, I think, is the institutional structures and practices that, in an over-regulated, high-tech, non-human scale, officious, bureaucratic society, place citizens under the complete control of a class of people who are encouraged to glorify righteous violence and to subscribe to an absurd, morally white-washed, self-justifying narrative about what role they actually play in society.

This narrative also provides a ready template for lazy story-tellers tasked with holding the attention of vulgarized consumers of mass media. Whether through deliberate intent or simple laziness, our corporate story-tellers re-enact and re-enforce this narrative endlessly. This problem is made far worse by the fact that many people who because of age or economic status stand very little chance of ever finding themselves in Angie Garbarino's situation also subscribe to said narrative and give the police their unquestioning support.

That said, I think it's a little premature to say that this problem is inherent in human DNA and that only germ-line genetic engineering will suffice to solve it. I don't believe that humans have yet made a credible attempt to institute a system of good governance based on an honest and informed understanding of the "atavistic" psychological drives and needs of human beings that generally get lumped together under the category of "human nature." I don't see this as a moral failing. I think that we're just now starting to formulate an informed image of "human nature," and so looking at it honestly and using it to correct maladaptive systems of governance is just now becoming a viable option.

I've said this many times before, but it's worth repeating. I've traveled outside the United States. Some of that travel was in the "Third World." I think that police in the United States do a markedly better job of resisting the temptations of their powerful office than do their counterparts in some parts of the world. In many countries, not all of them archetypes of squalor and desperation, police see their office as a license to rob, rape, and otherwise victimize the citizenry, and they act accordingly. Obviously it happens in the United States, and I'm not so naive as to believe that every single act of police misconduct ends up on YouTube, but I hold to my opinion that American cops do a pretty admirable job, on the whole, of navigating the extreme moral hazards of their profession.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
prester_scott
Feb. 21st, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Although I cannot but agree that torture is a problem, I boggled at this:

"The long-term solution is overwhelmingly obvious — modify the human genome so that we no longer have the desire to torture, no matter the circumstances."

This sentence is so laden with extremely controversial philosophical assumptions about human nature that I can't take seriously anyone who would claim that it's "overwhelmingly obvious."

I think your observations stand on their own without recourse to this citation. (I don't necessarily agree with you fully, but at least you're plausible.)

Edited at 2008-02-21 07:34 pm (UTC)
kmo
Feb. 21st, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah
This sentence is so laden with extremely controversial philosophical assumptions about human nature that I can't take seriously anyone who would claim that it's "overwhelmingly obvious."

Unfortunately, among enlightened, transhumanist technocrats in the their early twenties, that "overwhelmingly obvious" statement is just that and not the least bit controversial. He avoids the maniacal fringe of that crowd by suggesting that the eugenic quick fix should remain voluntary.

I do admit that bringing in the Anissimv material muddies the water a bit in that Anissimv was writing about high-tech torture, and I do not believe that officer Willis engaged in torture. I think he was placed in a position that required levels of good judgment and emotional restraint that he did not possess. He lost his cool and beat up a prisoner. This does not put him in the same moral boat with someone who pauses in the act of pushing bamboo shoots under a captive's fingernails to sip a latte and check his email before calmly returning to the task.

Ideally I would have addressed the Anissimv material and the video in separate blog entries.
carocrow
Feb. 21st, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Have you been following the story in FL about the paraplegic guy who was dumped out of his wheelchair (on video) by a deputy who did not believe he couldn't walk if he could drive? (He has a hand-controlled vehicle)

I'm not so sure that cruelty is not inherent in us, and that our "virtues" so to speak are socialized into us. The only people I have known that didn't seem to have the capacity for cruelty are Down's Syndrome.
kmo
Feb. 21st, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
I had not heard about that story in Florida. I don't seek this stuff out. I try not to spend much time seething with righteous anger. I just happened to catch this story on tv this morning when I turned it on to see if my son's school was closed due to freezing rain. It was closed, by the way. I have both boys at home today.

I do think that violence and domination are part of our human character. I just think it's way too early to say that the only effective way to mitigate those tendencies is via a campaign of enlightened eugenics.
victoriapandora
Feb. 22nd, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
School closed here too...
What genome do I need to modify? My girls are annoying me, and we are approaching cabin fever.

Education is the answer.
Sure humans are lacking, I won't argue with that.
But bottom line is, police training is different now...
This isn't a result of any change in "genetics."

I can just about see what is going on.


zenjammin
Feb. 22nd, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)
I grew up near there. That's the accent all right..!
Pretty piggish folk in them parts, altho some unique creatives too.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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