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On Reverse Racism: Three Thought-Experiments

[cross-posted at BHL]

For some, especially on the right, reverse racism is just as serious and problematic as regular racism. For others, especially on the left, reverse racism is impossible; a black person, say, may be hostile toward or prejudiced against white people, but cannot count as racist toward them.

This disagreement is due, in part, to a further disagreement as to whether racism, and/or the badness of racism, is essentially a matter of individual attitudes and actions, or essentially a matter of systematic power relations. And the same issues arise with sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, and so on.

I think both sides are wrong. That is, I think reverse racism (along with sexism, etc.) is a) possible and real, but b) less seriously problematic than the regular sort. Let me say why.

I’ll start with a thought-experiment designed to convince those who already accept the existence of reverse racism (etc.) that it is less seriously problematic than the regular sort.

Thought-Experiment #1: Bobby Shafto’s Burger Shack

Bobby Shafto has an odd obsession with freckles, specifically facial freckles. He likes people with an even number of freckles on their face. (That includes people with no freckles on their face, since zero is an even number.) But he has an aversion toward people with an odd number of freckles on their face, and he refuses to allow them into his Burger Shack, either as employees or as customers. In his world, which we’ll suppose to be ours as well, Shafto’s particular prejudice is of course highly unusual. But on Twin Earth, let’s say, the same prejudice is widely shared among the even-freckled, and as the even-freckled command the lion’s share of economic and political power, they are able to make their prejudice effective.

Suppose Bobby Shafto and his odd discrimination policy really exist somewhere. We might well disapprove. But how concerned would we be about it? Not very, I suspect. And the reason isn’t hard to find: Shafto’s prejudice is so rare that it causes very little overall harm; it’s easy enough to find other places to work or to eat.

By contrast, when we consider the Twin-Earth scenario in which Shafto’s prejudice is the norm among those with economic and political power, then the life-choices of odd-freckled people would start to be systematically constrained, and the prejudice in question would begin to look like something in need of being condemned and combated in a serious and organised way. (Such combating need not necessarily take the form of legal coercion; but that’s a distinct issue.)

When I say that prejudice against odd-freckled people is a worse evil on Twin Earth than in our world, I don’t just mean that it has worse consequences (though that’ part of what I mean). I also mean that it evinces a worse motive and character – since it involves knowingly contributing to ongoing oppression, as Shafto’s does not.

So discrimination against the odd-freckled is a serious evil on Twin Earth; but our world is not Twin Earth. And considering Bobby Shafto in our world – Bobby Shafto the isolated eccentric weirdo – I ask those who think reverse racism is as seriously problematic as regular racism whether they also think Shafto’s discrimination policy is as seriously problematic as regular racism. If – as I predict – they mostly don’t, that would seem to show that they’re committed to acknowledging that the badness of racism is at least in large part a matter of the systematic constraining of people’s options – of their oppression, in Marilyn Frye’s sense. But that means that reverse racism – i.e., racism by an oppressed group against a non-oppressed group – cannot be as serious an evil as racism by a non-oppressed group against an oppressed group.

My argument presupposes, of course, that blacks are an oppressed group and that whites are not. (And ditto mutatis mutandis for women vs. men, etc.) Obviously some of the people who worry about reverse racism will deny that supposition. I think they’re crazy to deny it, but that’s a debate I’m not getting into here. For purposes of this post I’m addressing those who grant that blacks are oppressed while whites (quawhites) are not, but who nevertheless regard regular racism and reverse racism as equally bad. The point of my comparison between Bobby Shafto and Twin Earth is to convince holders of that position that they can’t hold it consistently.

Let me now turn to the second group – those who deny the possibility of reverse racism, on the grounds that racism is essentially about systematic , institutional oppression, not merely individual attitudes. The usual criticism of this view is that it conflicts with ordinary usage. That criticism is, I think, a strong one, but not quite as strong as its proponents suppose.

Why is the appeal to ordinary usage strong? Because the standard use of the word “racism” in ordinary language does treat individual attitudes as sufficient (even if not necessary) for racism. People are of course free to give the word “racism” a special sense as a technical term referring exclusively to institutional racism; but if that is all they are doing, then they are not entitled to criticise others who use the term in the ordinary way. By analogy, the term “trope,” as used in my profession, means something radically different from its use(s) almost everywhere else (whether in rhetoric, in literary theory, or in ordinary language); but it would be silly for me to criticise those who don’t use it as analytic philosophers do.

Why is the appeal to ordinary usage not necessarily decisive? Because a term’s ordinary use can legitimately be rejected if there turn out to be something wrong with that use – as I’ve argued is the case with, for example, the term “capitalism.”

But is there anything wrong with the ordinary meaning of “racism”? It allows for the possibility of reverse racism, of course, but is there anything wrong with doing so? One might think so, if one thought that acknowledging reverse racism as a category committed one to regarding reverse racism as comparable to regular racism either in extent or in moral seriousness; but no such commitment exists. (That the existence of reverse racism does not entail its being comparable in moral seriousness to regular racism was the moral of my Bobby Shafto thought-experiment above.) Of course the sort of people who tend to bang on about reverse racism do typically regard it as comparable, both in extent and in moral seriousness, to regular racism; but we do not need to deny the existence of a category in order to deny that the category has the significance that those who are most invested in the category generally attribute to it.

Another reason one might have for rejecting the ordinary meaning of “racism” is simply the need for a term that conveys the systematic, institutional dimensions of the problem; if “racism” as commonly used doesn’t do that, maybe we should change it so that it will. But in fact we have terms that do the trick, such as “oppression,” “white privilege,” and (mutatis mutandis) “patriarchy.” Those terms are all asymmetric; “racism” doesn’t need to be (nor, e.g., does “sexism”).

In any case, insisting that nothing counts as racism unless it involves systematic, institutional oppression has some consequences that even those who take that view ought to find awkward. This brings me to my second thought-experiment.

Thought-Experiment #2: Unfrozen Caveman Owner

Take someone you think is an obvious racist; presumably Donald Sterling will do (he’s also a sexist, so this example can do double duty), though pick someone else if you like. Now suppose that while touring a cryogenics facility he falls into the vat and is instantly frozen. When he is revived, many years (decades? centuries? millennia?) have passed, and he wakes into a world in which true racial (as well as gender, etc.) equality have finally been achieved. But all of Sterling’s attitudes remain the same as they were in the early 21st century. Is Sterling no longer a racist (and ditto for sexist)?


If racism necessarily involves society-wide power relations, then Sterling in my example is not a racist once he wakes up, since the power relations in question are gone. But it seems bizarre to deny that future-Sterling, with all his attitudes unchanged from those of present-Sterling, is a racist. I don’t just mean that it seems bizarre to me. Rather, I’m predicting (subject of course to falsification) that even those (or most of those) who are attracted to the denial of the possibility of reverse-racism will find it plausible to think of future-Sterling as a racist. But if he is a racist, then racism does not essentially depend on systematic oppression (even if much of racism’s moral interest stems from such oppression), and so the chief case against the possibility of reverse racism must be abandoned.

But perhaps it will be said that future-Sterling counts as a racist only because his beliefs and attitudes were formed in a social context of white privilege and so are still defined by their origin. Well in that case let’s consider a final thought-experiment.

Thought-Experiment #3: The Red and Yellow Peril

Two distinct ethnic groups, the Winkies and the Quadlings, live in adjacent territories. Each side regards the other as racially inferior degenerates who deserve to be either subjugated or exterminated. The two are at constant war with each other, but as they are roughly equally matched, neither side has succeeded in subduing the other. Are the Winkies and Quadlings not racist?

The mutual race hatred between the Winkies and the Quadlings seems like the kind of situation that the concept of “racism” is tailor-made to describe. But while each side seeks domination, neither has it. There’s no inequality, no privilege, no oppression. So racism, I suggest, need not involve these. In which case reverse racism is possible. Though not necessarily that big a deal.

Plymouth Stock

The talking point popular among right-leaning libertarians that the Plymouth colony is an example of the failure of the commons has been dealt with on C4SS. But it takes a list to make clear just how often the same piece has been rewritten:

  1. Tom Bethell, “How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims”, the Hoover Institution’s Hoover Digest
  2. Jerry Bowyer, “Lessons From A Capitalist Thanksgiving”, Forbes
  3. Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, “The Pilgrims and Property Rights”, Reason
  4. Jim Cox, “Celebrating Individualist Private Property—Based Production Day”, the Ludwig von Mises Insitute’s
  5. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, “Giving Thanks for Private Property”,
  6. Richard Ebeling, Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of Free Enterprise in America”, Epic Times
  7. Gary M. Galles, “Property and the First Thanksgiving”, the Ludwig von Mises Insitute’s Mises Daily
  8. Anthony Gregory, “Giving Thanks to the Market”, the Independent Institute’s The Beacon
  9. Daniel Griswold, “How Capitalism Saved the Pilgrims”, the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty
  10. Henry Hazlitt, “Private Enterprise Regained” (PDF), the Foundation for Economic Education’s The Freeman (In his editorial comments to the 2004 issue, C4SS’s own Sheldon Richman concurred.)
  11. Kathryn Hickok. “What Governor Bradford Learned at Plymouth’s First Thanksgiving”, Cascade Policy Institute
  12. Aloysius Hogan , “Thanksgiving and Markets“, Competitive Enterprise Institute
  13. Jacob G. Hornberger, “Thanksgiving, Socialism, and the Free Market”,
  14. Richard J. Maybury, “The Great Thanksgiving Hoax”, Mises Daily
  15. Benjamin W. Powell, “The Pilgrims’ Real Thanksgiving Lesson”, the Independent Institute
  16. Sartell Prentice, Jr., “Our First Thanksgiving”, The Freeman (and summarized succinctly in an official tweet)
  17. Howard Rich, “A Thanksgiving Lesson”, Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily
  18. Murray N. Rothbard, “What Really Happened at Plymouth”, Mises Daily, excerpted from Rothbard’s book Conceived In Liberty
  19. Byron Schlomach, “Giving Thanks for Lessons Learned”, Goldwater Institute
  20. Paul Schmidt, “The Real Story Behind Thanksgiving”, the Advocates for Self-Government’s The Liberator Online
  21. John Stossel, “The Tragedy of the Commons” (2007), “Happy Starvation Day” (2010), “Thankful for Property” (2013) and “Thanks, Property Rights!” (2014), Creators Syndicate
  22. Alex Tabarrok, “A Thanksgiving Lesson”, Marginal Revolution
  23. Kim Weissman, “The Plymouth Experiment”, Congress Action
  24. “The Real Thanksgiving Story”, webpage with unidentified author on the website of the Foundation for Economic Education (as well as a prominent section in founder Leonard Read’s famous speech “The Essence of Americanism”).

It should be noted that some of the pieces, unlike the one analyzed in the linked C4SS piece, do mention that Plymouth’s economics were imposed by it being a corporation, but none draw a parallel to the modern corporation’s not escaping the same problems. (Prentice’s remark that “Each time I produce less, in my work, than enough to earn a profit for my employer, I am stealing from someone else” gets it even more backward.)

Compare with the take on Plymouth of single-taxers like Fred Foldvary. The elision of the otherwise eagerly-cited account by William Bradford’s noting that his assigning colonists private land was “only for present use (but made no devission for inheritance)” has long been one of their points of contention with the mainstream libertarian movement.

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Victims of Abortion Criminalization on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents Valdenor Júnior‘s “Victims of Abortion Criminalization” read by Christopher B. King and edited by Nick Ford.

I agree with jurist Ronald Dworkin in his book Life’s Dominion. He states that people wish to ban abortion because they understand there is some intrinsic value to life that must be preserved. However, that sacred value is interpreted differently by different people. It is perfectly possible that the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made taking into account whether valuing life actually means going ahead with an undesired gestation with little ability to support the future child. It is not a decision the state should be making. This moral issue is best left to the person who will suffer its consequences in her body and mind: the woman.

Feed 44:

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Challenging the Motives Behind War on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents Chad Nelson‘s “Challenging the Motives Behind War” read by Christopher B. King and edited by Nick Ford.

But in war, all the war-making murderer needs is a place where he or she claims bad people exist. To hell with other details or circumstances. The rest of the war-making murderer’s conduct gets blanket immunity so long as that low threshold requirement is met. Most of the time even that part can later be found false or mistaken. The actual execution of war never matters. Its implementation always ends up being reckless, depraved, and of such a nature that even a toddler would recognize it as guaranteed to lead to the murder of innocents. Yet presidents and congressman always get away with behavior that would land any ordinary person behind bars, probably on death row.

Feed 44:

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Informe del coordinador de medios hispanos, noviembre de 2014

Durante el mes de noviembre traduje al español “Cómo la Ley de Tierras mantuvo el sometimiento de los negros en Brasil” de Eduardo Lopes, “Secesionismo brasileño: Sao Paulo contra el Noreste” de Valdenor Júnior, “Sorpresa: La guerra contra las drogas no tiene nada que ver con las drogas” e “Y yo que pensaba que el monopolio era la esencia de la ‘propiedad intelectual’“, ambos de Kevin Carson.

Como siempre, aprovecho la oportunidad para recordarte lo importante que es tu apoyo económico para hacer lo que hacemos en C4SS: reflexionar seriamente sobre la idea de una sociedad organizada en base a la cooperación voluntaria, y difundir esa idea con el objetivo de inspirar la acción que la haga realidad. ¡Por favor contribuye hoy con una donación de 5 dólares!

¡Salud y Libertad!

Spanish Media Coordinator Report, November 2014

During November I translated into Spanish “How the Law of Lands Kept Black People in Submission in Brazil” by Eduardo Lopes, “Brazilian Secessionism: Sao Paulo Against the Northeast” by Valdenor Júnior, “Surprise: The Drug War Isn’t About Drugs,” and “I Thought Monopoly Was the Whole Point of ‘Intellectual Property’,” both by Kevin Carson.

As always, I want to seize the opportunity to remind you about how important your economic support is for us to keep doing what we do at C4SS: to keep reflecting upon and promoting the idea of a society based on voluntary cooperation, and inspiring an increasing number of people to take action aimed at turning that idea into a reality. Please donate $5 today!

Salud y libertad!

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The Inherent Flaw of the Criminal Justice System

The grand jury proceedings for Michael Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson, show us just how fictional the United States government’s system of checks and balances is. Unfortunately, the only ones who appear to be pointing this out are the protesters on the ground in Missouri — that is when they’re lucky enough to secure two-minute- interviews on the nightly news programs.

It seems logical: how could a state prosecutor possibly carry out a truly adversarial criminal prosecution of one of his closest allies in the state criminal justice system — a police officer? The symbiotic relationship between the prosecutor’s office and the police department is clear. Without arrests, the prosecutor has no criminal charges to press. Without a prosecutor to pursue the legal case against the alleged criminal, the police officer’s work is all for nought. The two offices work closely together, almost always collaborating in criminal matters. They have mutual interests, the one’s success depending largely on the success of the other.

This close working relationship between prosecutor and police officer is not viewed as controversial in most cases. People generally understand that police officers and prosecutors are a team — much like two members at different points in a factory assembly line. But in a prosecution like that of Darren Wilson, the criminal defendant is the police officer. What prosecutor, who depends upon a good working relationship with his local police department, wants to alienate the department by zealously prosecuting one of its members? It’s certainly possible, but one would have to think that such rebel prosecutors are few and far between.

The protesters who utter such concerns about the validity of a state prosecution of a police officer have their finger on an issue that market anarchists have long recognized. Government checks and balances are a farce. In For a New Liberty, Murray Rothbard notes that allegedly “separate” branches of government are just that — separate branches of the same government. A well-functioning government depends upon the mutual success of all branches. They are not in competition with one another, despite occasionally engaging in turf wars which might create the appearance that they are. To think that one government branch, bureau or department would carry out a truly oppositional battle against another is to ignore common sense.

Further compounding the backwardness of the state criminal justice system, the prosecutor carries out a legal case against the alleged criminal, not on behalf of the victim, but instead, on behalf of “the people.” These unidentified “people” are presented as the aggrieved party in a state criminal prosecution, but again, common sense leads us to question the wisdom of this setup. The real victim in Michael Brown’s case was clearly Michael Brown. In all crimes, it is the actual victim who ought to be carrying out the prosecution of the criminal. The victim alone is the interested party in the matter. In Michael Brown’s case, had Brown’s surviving family members had a choice, a state prosecutor would likely have been the last attorney they would have selected to represent them in the courtroom.

Michael Brown’s killing, indeed all police killings of citizens, serve to highlight some of the enormous procedural flaws inherent within the American criminal justice system. It is skewed in favor of the state from the get-go.

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Leninismo corporativo

No dia 9 de setembro, Dilma Rousseff, em sua campanha pela reeleição, afirmava que a concorrente Marina Silva pretendia “entregar aos banqueiros” a condução da economia brasileira. O blefe eleitoral de Dilma presumia que os eleitores acreditassem que os banqueiros não sejam uma classe capaz de ditar os rumos da política econômica atual do governo. Nem Dilma acredita nessa lorota: pouco mais de dois meses depois, com mais quatro anos de governo já garantidos, Joaquim Levy foi anunciado como o novo nome da Fazenda. Levy é diretor do Bradesco e trabalhou no FMI durante os anos 1990. O mesmo FMI que, segundo a propaganda política de Dilma, voltaria a controlar o país no caso de uma vitória de Aécio Neves.

Não satisfeita, Dilma conduzirá Armando Monteiro ao Ministério do Desenvolvimento. Monteiro é nome forte entre os sindicatos patronais: presidiu a Confederação Nacional da Indústria (CNI) e a Federação das Indústrias do Estado de Pernambuco (FIEPE). Durante sua campanha fracassada para o governo de Pernambuco em 2014, Monteiro reiteradamente lamentava a falta de uma “política industrial” consistente no estado.

Kátia Abreu, ex-PFL/DEM, pecuarista, líder da bancada ruralista no Senado, presidente da Confederação Nacional da Agricultura, é quem deve assumir o Ministério da Agricultura. Kátia Abreu fazia parte da oposição nominal ao governo do PT durante a administração de Lula. Durante o governo Dilma, gradualmente se aproximou do governo, inicialmente interessada em ditar os rumos da nova política portuária do governo — ou seja, subsidiar os portos para o escoamento da produção agrícola do agronegócio.

A indicação dos três para o governo Dilma mostra que a falta de escrúpulos do governo petista não é preocupante porque levará à implantação de alguma forma de socialismo burocrático, como temem críticos conservadores. Na verdade, a falta de escrúpulos do PT é problemática porque o partido já está perfeitamente alojado dentro da estrutura de poder do estado e não pretende quebrar o equilíbrio dessa estrutura. E, assim como o tzar e a aristocracia russa não permitiam a construção de novas ferrovias no império, preocupados que uma nova distribuição de poder econômico pudesse minar seu poder político, partidos tão incrustados dentro da máquina estatal quanto o PT não pretendem fazer mudanças radicais numa estrutura política que os beneficia.

Joaquim Levy, Armando Monteiro e Kátia Abreu se chocam frontalmente com a ideologia nominalmente defendida pelo Partido dos Trabalhadores — não só por sua militância, mais radical, mas também pelo núcleo petista. Representam bancos, a indústria e o agronegócio. Seus interessem particulares simbióticos aos do estado corporativo estão em clara oposição aos “trabalhadores” que o PT carrega em seu nome. Mas esses nomes não se chocam com o objetivo mais amplo de autopreservação do próprio poder através da manutenção da estrutura social vigente, da distribuição de poder econômico e a consequente perpetuação do poder político nos mesmos nódulos. Assim, a presença de lideranças setoriais no governo, como Armando Monteiro e Kátia Abreu, não são surpreendentes: são nada menos do que o esperado, dados os incentivos estruturais.

O estado, afinal, é um jogo de ricos. A retórica do punho em riste e os comerciais em vermelho na TV podem passar a impressão de que sua natureza muda: na verdade, é sempre a mesma. Se seremos bolivarianos, caudilhistas, varguistas ou peronistas, depende do marketing mais em voga no momento dentro da América Latina. Como Hugo Chávez e Nicolás Maduro são uma continuação do sistema oligárquico venezuelano, o PT de Lula e Dilma é uma continuação do sistema oligárquico brasileiro.

Karl Marx observou que o estado era apenas o balcão de negócios da burguesia e, nesse ponto, o petismo é a expressão máxima do marxismo: seus 12 anos de domínio da política nacional são caracterizados pelo relacionamento próximo com a política corporativa “burguesa”. O que, apesar das percepções generalizadas e da polarização cultural durante as eleições, não é uma ruptura; como afirmava Raymundo Faoro, no Brasil sempre vigorou um “capitalismo politicamente orientado”, direcionado e redirecionado de acordo com os desejos e as percepções do “estamento burocrático” que controla o estado.

Há um sentido, porém, em que o PT permanece distintamente leninista: sua cúpula ainda se julga uma vanguarda revolucionária e mistura o sucesso de seu partido com o sucesso nacional. Ainda existe um campo de força militante que defende o partido de críticas externas: as únicas críticas válidas ao PT são as feitas pela própria militância. Para a ideologia fundante do PT, como a de todos os partidos leninistas, estipula que se o PT vai bem, o país vai bem, e a revolução está em curso. Talvez seja verdade. Afinal, entre o capitalismo burocrático brasileiro e o centralismo burocrático soviético não há um abismo tão enorme.

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Director’s Report: November 2014

We are nearing the end of the year and November was another fantastic month for the Center for a Stateless Society. We were honored to be able to publish a Portuguese translation of Kevin Carson’s The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand and included a brand new introduction, by Carson, just for our Portuguese speaking readers….

Continue reading at Center for a Stateless Society …

Cory Massimino on Politics For People Who Hate Politics

C4SS Fellow Cory Massimino participates in Lucy Steigerwald’s show Politics For People Who Hate Politics. C4SS Fellow Ryan Calhoun, also, gets an honorable mention.

A libertarian podcast where ranting is optional, and smashing the state is mandatory.

Our enthusiastic, liberty-loving panel discussed President Obama’s immigration order and the dangers of executive power — even when it’s doing something we like. We then had a long talk about the idea of rape culture — going off of Cory Massimino’s new, controversial piece that cites it as an example of spontaneous order. There were a few tangents about popes, and what the state really consists of, and whether yelling at Meter Maids is good for liberty. We concluded with Jeff Tucker’s harsh words about fancy wine.

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State Justice Failed Michael Brown. People’s Justice is Just Getting Started.

More than three months after Darren Wilson executed Michael Brown in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri, the grand jury’s decision is in. No state prosecution, no justice from the state’s court system, for his crime. Wilson will never be tried, let alone convicted. But in the real justice system, this is not the end for Wilson — it’s only the beginning.

We already know the state’s “justice” system is stacked in favor of cops, who enjoy immunity from ordinary standards of right and wrong. Juries are selected for credulous acceptance of police and prosecutorial claims. If police in pursuit of a non-violent offender kill innocent bystanders, the suspect is held criminally liable. If a cop gets bloody knuckles from beating an unconscious victim, “assault and battery” are added to the long list of charges flung at the accused to blackmail her into a plea deal. A cop who says “I felt my life was in danger” receives the benefit of doubt — whether for shooting a family’s chihuahua in front of the children, or an unarmed teenager in the back. If someone is beaten to death for “resisting arrest” while in a diabetic coma or an epileptic seizure, or “committing suicide” with hands cuffed behind his back, cops still get that benefit of doubt.

So we already knew an indictment was unlikely. Any change to lawless, killer police culture will come from outside, not within, the system.

The criminal justice system has always protected cops from justice. Until recently, there was no publicly available counter-narrative outside radical underground newspapers and Indymedia. Things began to change with the video footage of Rodney King, curled into a fetal position, kicked and bludgeoned by half a dozen cops. But given the expensive and cumbersome nature of camcorders and the broadcast media’s gatekeeping role, real change awaited cheap, ubiquitous, easily concealed video recording capability and independent means of reaching the public.

With near-universal smart phone ownership and the easy streaming of video to the Web, that day has come. Challenges to the official police framing of events with compelling counter-narratives came into their own with the Occupy movement. Thanks to YouTube and streaming video links of police violence in Zuccotti Park, Oakland, Tulsa and elsewhere, it was easy to prove that police accounts were flat-out lies.

The consequences for cops who draw public attention due to their extreme levels of brutality, in this new age of citizen journalism, is instructive. The people are more than happy to administer justice when the state’s courts refuse to. Despite his release from prison, Johannes Mehserle — the murderer of Oscar Grant in Oakland — is regularly recognized and ostracized, sometimes leaving public establishments in shame when noticed by the decent people around him. Lt. John Pike, infamous for pepper spraying peaceful UC Davis students s they sat quietly on the ground, wound up retiring on disability with a nervous breakdown from the public hostility he experienced daily.

As I wrote of Pike in 2011, Wilson will probably spend the rest of his life afraid to leave his house. He’s hardly begun to grasp the hell the rest of his life is going to be. His phone number, email address and street address soon will be (if they aren’t already) widely publicized. Even if he isn’t discharged from the Ferguson police force, whenever he encounters a citizen in the course of his duties he’ll wonder if that’s a sneer of contempt or just his imagination. Every time he deals with a server or cashier, or meets anyone new, he’ll see that brief look of recognition followed by a frozen mask of politely suppressed revulsion. He can run, but he can’t hide.

God told Cain, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground,” sentencing him to live as “a fugitive and a vagabond … in the earth.” Because Cain feared the vengeance of outraged humanity, “the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

Darren Wilson bears the mark of Cain. The state’s own hired killers skate through the state’s “justice” system. But the people’s justice system — our eyes, video, doxxing, ostracism and shaming — can never be evaded.

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