2013 November 01 Friday
NYT: Brazilians Driven To Kill By Inadequate Policing

Poor guys. I've got to cry some crocodile tears for brutal killers in Brazil after reading the funniest story in the New York Times today. The Gray Lady hires writers who like to cast killers as victims of The Man. The poor victims (i.e. the killers) did what they did because powerful people make other people feel hopeless and underpoliced.

The truth seemed far more complicated. It involved two murder victims a distressed teenager and an older friend with a temper and interior Brazils wider culture of knives and revenge. It touched on hopelessness and rage born of poverty and inequality, and mistrust that seethed from inadequate policing and uneven access to justice.

It touched on hopelessness and despair. Well, no wonder the killers sliced the guy up into pieces. No wonder the guy first killed some other guy who wanted to kill him for throwing him out of a soccer game. Inequality. The gift that keeps on giving when the New York Times needs to spice up a story with something other than the cold hard facts.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 November 01 08:23 PM 

Michael L said at November 2, 2013 10:56 AM:

living in under-policed conditions is not all bad. In the absence of effective police force the government is either incapable or at least severely hampered in imposing dictates like zoning laws, taxes, domestic violence and family law, mandatory "health insurance" (cough, cough) etc. The governance and justice meted out by the local gang may not be of angelic quality, but whether it is any worse than the sort of governance the State would want to impose on the locals if it had enough boys in blue on the street to get its way is not in any sense a settled question. Well, for normal people - for the State-worshipping liberals who write and read NYTimes that's not even a question.

Randall Parker said at November 2, 2013 10:22 PM:

Michael L,

Some communities need very few police because the people are so well behaved. Other environments have such a heavily criminal population that only a very heavy and aggressive police presence can keep the peace. Why are some people disinclined to commit crimes while others jump at the chance to rape, murder, rob, and beat up with alacrity? The Gray Lady ignores the subject. Yet scientific research on innate causes of criminality is quite enthralling.

Michael L said at November 3, 2013 10:25 AM:

the local gang can keep criminals in check as well. It may also allow/encourage private retribution, as this NYTimes article seems to lament. These gangs are somewhat like a town government - they collect "taxes" from local businesses and they beat up on people who violate social order as they understand it. In the absence of police the businesses may avoid paying taxes to the legit government, so in the best case it may all even out. When people disagree with how the gang understands social order, they can try moving to another neighborhood; a convenience not available to those who disagree with how the federalized police force understands social order.

A classic example of social order through gangs is Mexican gangs driving our blacks from their California neighborhoods. They seem to be evincing quite a solid understanding of causes of criminality there, much better than that of their police/FBI competitors.

Randall Parker said at November 3, 2013 8:53 PM:

Michael L,

The local gangs in Brazil are not protecting the innocent.

Social order thru gangs in Mexico: They kill the police. The people live in fear.

Jim said at November 4, 2013 11:55 AM:

When I lived long ago in North Newark, NJ the rumour was that it was safer than Central Newark because the Mafia was strong there and didn't want muggers around. I don't know whether this was true or not but I certainly had zero faith in the ability of the Newark Police Department to protect the public.

Toddy Cat said at November 4, 2013 12:24 PM:

It's getting harder and harder to tell the NYT from the Onion...

Michael L said at November 4, 2013 4:18 PM:

I am not sure how you figured out that Brazilian gangs do or do not protect the innocent. If the non-policed favelas have been around for decades on end, and give what we know people's ethnic background there, *somebody* must be protecting the innocent. Otherwise they would have burned down in an orgy of looting and murder long ago. So there must be some "policing" mechanisms in place there, whether involving gangs or threat of personal or friendly posse based self-defense or retaliation by gang-unaffiliated "civilians". Normally gangs ought to be particularly interested in protecting businesses that are paying them protection money (if such a business get wiped out by robbery, no more payment) but disciplining thugs who mess with poor widows is also pretty good for public relations.

RE Mexico, I find media coverage to be too scant and untrustworthy. That the cartels kill police and government officials disloyal to them, that's obvious. Why should everybody else automatically live in fear because of that (and is that in fact the case or not), that's not so obvious.

Finally, it also helps to remember that just because police have an effective presence in the neighborhood it doesn't mean that they are preventing crime. Tax collection and enforcement of (often dubious) laws against the innocent - that's for sure. But whether they do or do not contribute to preventing crime or finding and punishing criminals, that's another matter entirely. E.g. England today is an excellent case of a place where police zealously enforce gun control and otherwise terrorize civilians into utter helplessness against criminals while making minimal effort in counteracting or punishing thefts, assaults and other crimes. But few people get killed in England for lack of guns - hurray! Better utter lawlessness without guns than law and order and some "gun violence victims".

aandrews said at November 4, 2013 7:46 PM:

"Why should everybody else automatically live in fear because of that (and is that in fact the case or not), that's not so obvious."

Yeah, right.

Sam said at November 6, 2013 10:29 AM:

I knew a guy who lived in Las Vegas when the mob ran it and he said that petty criminals had their legs broken. Petty crime and thuggery was bad for business.

Bob said at November 7, 2013 9:57 AM:

Coming to a country near you. One of the more charming effects of turning America into a third-world dump is that in the future there won't be enough money for adequate policing and prisons.

Randall Parker said at November 7, 2013 1:13 PM:

Since Brazil's murder rate is about 25 times Italy's murder rate I'm thinking Italy is a way better place to live, especially northern Italy.

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