From Police Brutality, Derek Chauvin, George Floyd, Rousseau’s Social Contract Part 2,
CNN) National security adviser: ‘I don’t think there’s systemic racism’ in US police forces. Quoting Robert O’Brien,
“No, I don’t think there’s systemic racism. I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. Many of them are African American, Hispanic, Asian, they’re working the toughest neighborhood, they’ve got the hardest jobs to do in this country and I think they’re amazing, great Americans.”
This is easily contradicted:
- If 5-10% of males (Australian estimate), or 1-5% (other estimates) are workplace psychopaths, then 99.9% of cops can’t be great Americans. No sampling of any profession or group of Americans shows 99.9% of people you just want to love. There are lots of rotten people, everywhere you look….
The participants in the fatal attacks on George Floyd and Tyre Nichols did not initiate simultaneously. In each case, one individual initiated. In the case of Floyd, the rest remained passively complicit. Statistics imply, without proof, that Derek Chauvin and at least some of the “Memphis Scorpion Five” are workplace psychopaths.
In (CNN) Opinion: The police who killed Tyre Nichols were Black. But they might still have been driven by racism, Van Jones suggests that racism may have a part. Though self-loathing occurs in minorities, it can be only a part of what causes a police officer to slip the bonds of civil behavior. The huge occupational hazard, per Friedrich Nietzsche:
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
The Stanford prison study conducted by Philip Zimbardo offers a horrific alternative to the notion that brutality is the domain of the psychopath: In conditions fairly easy to obtain, ordinary people can be induced to behave like workplace psychopaths. Quoting Zimbardo about the Lucifer Effect,
“I had been conducting research for some years on deindividuation, vandalism and dehumanization that illustrated the ease with which ordinary people could be led to engage in anti-social acts by putting them in situations where they felt anonymous, or they could perceive of others in ways that made them less than human, as enemies or objects,”
“Good people can be induced, seduced, and initiated into behaving in evil ways. They can also be led to act in irrational, stupid, self-destructive, antisocial, and mindless ways when they are immersed in ‘total situations’ that impact human nature in ways that challenge our sense of the stability and consistency of individual personality, of character, and of morality.”(Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect, p. 211)
Police Brutality, Derek Chauvin, George Floyd, Rousseau’s Social Contract Part 2 proposes an approach with three forks:
- Mitigating the direct cause, preventing cops who shouldn’t be cops from becoming cops.
- Fulfillment of the social contract. In our culture, this means that crime is punished, even if the perp is a cop. This won’t prevent a repetition, but the social contract demands it.
- Only then will the people consent to be governed.
The Memphis Scorpion Five, which forced a look at the Stanford prison study, suggest this is inadequate.
What else is there? Hint: It’s in the title.
***The Stanford Prison Experiment***