36DDFCAA-C09B-40F5-9BA2-CA72564612C7

 

Author’s Note: I submitted this piece to several local newspaper outlets. It appears as if none of these establishments have elected to publish my brief essay. It is possible that the my writing is a little weak. Even the topic is too technical or controversial.

I still applaud myself for attempting to take this on this issue in only 200-250 words ( Pinal Central: limit of 250 worded. AZCentral: limit of 200 words). This maybe a lesson to avoid issues that are overly complex when writing a letter to the local newspaper. Qualified Immunity requires more than 250 words to be properly addressed. I even had to cut references to William Baude’s 2018 paper on the subject.

That doesn’t  mean I have given up, there is another local publication that publishes longer form editorials.  After that I might give QI a rest, as I don’t want the content on  this blog to become to stagnant.

The top photo has nothing to do with the topic at hand. The free photo application   on WordPress was giving me some issues. So I decided to upload this photo I took back in April. I was walking my dogs around the neighborhood and thought the painted rock was interesting.

 

Editorial:

 

Dear Editor,

The death of George Floyd has left Americans with many questions. How did the police officer that killed Mr. Floyd still have a job after 17 previous complaints? How do we as a country combat police brutality? One potential solution may come from Representative Amash’s proposal to abolish Qualified Immunity. What is Qualified Immunity? It is a legal doctrine that protects government employees from being sued for performing essential job functions. Providing their actions do not violate any well-established rights.

 

The modern application of this legal status was defined by Harlow v. Fitzgerald (1982). Establishing the need for clear “statutory” evidence that the plaintiff’s rights have been violated. Eventually evolving into the requirement for a previous case in which the details of the violation are identical. Leading to instances of constitutional violations with no restitution. One glaring example, Baxter V. Bracey (2014), where the suspect was attacked by a police dog after surrendering. These strict requirements make it nearly impossible to seek proper recourse when our civil rights have been infringed upon.

 

Most police officers are decent and law-abiding. Few would ever dream of using cruel or unnecessary tactics to subdue a suspect. The minority of bad cops need to be held fully accountable for their actions. The best way to do so would be eliminating institutional barriers to punishment.

10 thoughts on “The Unpublished Letter to the Editor (QI)

  1. I love the little green rock you painted and the letter, but why haven’t any local media outlets published it? One reason could be that most people (including local editors) are not familiar with the qualified immunity doctrine, so they don’t know what to make of your letter. I therefore recommend two different strategies: (1) swing for the fences; send the letter out to the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Economist; (2) reframe your abolish QI alternative in terms of the “defund the police” debate; e.g. since defunding the police is a very risky strategy, why not make the police more accountable by simply abolishing QI. Also, even if “defend the police” were a serious proposal, it would take years to work, since it would have to be done on a piecemeal basis — one police department at a time, while abolishing QI would have immediate and nationwide effects!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the rock as well. I wanted to bring it home, but I wasn’t worth the risk. A lot of people out here in AZ will paint rocks and leave them for others to pick up.

      I think the “ swing for the fences” strategy is a great idea. I also would include a submission to FEE ( they will be sympathetic to the position).

      I will begin this early next week. Spending some quality time with the Mrs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think your trouble there was that you addressed police brutality as a legal issue, not as a race one, and that you acknowledged that most cops are alright. These two assumptions put your letter at odds with the zeitgeist, and any editor who dared publish it would probably face repercussions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a point regarding how I framed the issue. I was probably too neutral on the topic. Should have mentioned the dynamic of race.

      Ironically, I live in Arizona, I may have not gotten published for the opposite reason. I was too anti-law enforcement. Opinion pieces in defense of the police have been chosen over my letter.

      Like

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