Questions about the NYPD I cannot answer

Recently, the NYPD started a Twitter hashtag campaign, and it backfired.

Several of my friends — actual, real life good friends — shared this story on Facebook in a, let’s say, somewhat triumphant mood. And I wasn’t sure what to think. This is what I wrote.

I’m having trouble understanding what all this signifies. Here’s what I come up with that I am sure about:

I’m having trouble understanding what all this signifies. Here’s what I come up with that I am sure about:

  • my friends do not like cops
  • clearly there are other people who do not like cops
  • people who do not like cops are either more common on Twitter or more vocal than those who like them
  • the NYPD sure have beaten up a lot of people

But, these are the questions I remain unable to answer:

  • I think we probably want a police force that engages with people on social media. How should they have engaged?
  • Were any of these beatings “proportionate?” This is horrible language, I know, but give it a pass for a moment.
  • Is any beating ever proportionate? How could we even know the answer to this in principle, let alone in specific cases?
  • What is the overall record of the NYPD? Is this a question that even has meaning given the multidimensional nature of the problem? Can the answer be anything other than “terrible” if there are incidents like these?
  • What would I do if I was king of the NYPD?
  • Will my friends perceive this post as “defending the cops”? Will there be social sanctions of some sort for expressing these ideas? Is my echo chamber just as pernicious as the echo chambers of those that belong to my perceived “other”?

– Yours in sadness and inquiry.

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