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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Paladins of Police Abuse and Militarization

3 quick thoughts on the MSM, Libertarians, and Ferguson

1. The mainstream media have been lagging libertarians and citizen journalists on the issue of domestic militarization and police abuse for years.

Only with the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has police abuse become a “story.” Thankfully it is. But where were the mainstream media when Radley Balko was reporting on police militarization in 2006—and about abuse in general for a decade? Where was the MSM while Reason was reporting on police abuse daily? Citizen activists like the Peaceful Streets Project have been trying to raise awareness for local areas like Austin. Copblock has similar awareness-raising strategies and encourages citizens to film police as often as possible. The Free Thought Project also catalogs police abuse, and I must have read a story per week like this, on average, in the lead-up to Michael Brown’s killing. Now the MSM shows up and attempts to gallop to the front, as if paladins who'd been there all along.

2. Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman is either a liar or a fool.  

I don't want to appear as if I'm going all ad hominem, but I can't think of any other possible hypothesis for Waldman. In this article, he says libertarians have been MIA on the matter of Ferguson. Nevermind that his own WaPo colleague Radley Balko, mentioned above, covers this beat. It’s clear Waldman hadn’t done any due diligence before he wrote the piece and turned the event into a opportunity to take a cheap shot at Rand Paul. Senator Paul (R-Ky) has since published his views in Time.

As I said above, libertarians have been jumping up and down about this issue for a long time, and recent events in Ferguson are no exception (see here and here). Sometimes we’re the only ones writing about militarization. And progressives seem only to care about it when it's going to prove the whole country is racist. It’s silly to most of us that this one instance has become so important right now because the mainstream media have decided it is important. Some combination of an information cascade and bandwagon effect was in play, I suppose. In any case, Paul Waldman simply hopped on that bandwagon and used it to pull a drive-by on the very people who have been trying to raise awareness for a long time. 

Elizabeth Nolan Brown has no time for this sort of garbage, as she demonstrates over at The Dish.

3. The treatment and detainment of two journalists, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, is a cakewalk compared to what other journalists and citizen journalists have endured.

Consider the case of Antonio Buehler, who was slammed to the ground by police after he filmed a New Year’s Eve traffic stop in which he witnessed two officers roughing up two young women suspected of DUI. They then threatened and arrested Buehler on felony charges, allegedly for spitting at one of the officers. Another person, quite fortuitously, filmed the Buehler incident and determined that the police had lied about the spitting. Since that time Buehler has spent considerable time and money fighting all the trumped-up charges. See his story here:


Similarly, citizen journalist Ademo Freeman had been looking at significant jail time for felony wiretapping charges. See tons of other examples at Photography Is Not A Crime, The Free Thought Project, and These folks are not invisible to those who care. They have just been invisible to the MSM, who apparently circle the wagons around their own and make these practices a story when it suits them. 

  • Max Borders is author of The Social Singularity. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Social Evolution—a non-profit organization dedicated to liberating humanity through innovation. Max is also co-founder of the Voice & Exit event and former editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Max is a futurist, a theorist, a published author and an entrepreneur.