George Zimmerman’s ugly divorce took a disturbing twist Wednesday when his estranged wife said he nailed a bullet-riddled bull’s-eye to a wall of her parents’ house.
We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.
Nobody really doubts that law enforcement will only become more brutal and violent to accommodate the brutality and violence of our legal rules. But that isn’t what’s actually bothering Sheriff David Morgan this week. What bothers him is that Americans are still capable of outrage when innocent people are brutalized in their homes by his police officers. What should bother the rest of us is that he is not.
If more men spoke up before, during, or after incidents of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse by their peers, they would help to create a climate where the abuse of women—emotional, physical, sexual—would be stigmatized and seen as incompatible with male group norms. That is, a man who engaged in such behavior would lose status among his male peers and forfeit the approval of older males.
Ultimately, this would cause a shift in male culture such that some men’s sexist abuse of women and girls would be regarded—by other men—not only as distasteful but as utterly unacceptable. In this new climate, individuals would be strongly discouraged from acting out in abusive ways because of the anticipated negative consequences: loss of respect, friends, and status, and greater likelihood of facing both legal and non-legal sanctions.
In fact, if men’s violence against women truly carried a significant stigma in male culture, it is possible that most incidents of sexist abuse would never happen. This is because contrary to popular myth, the vast majority of boys and men who assault, harass, and bully girls and women are not sociopaths. They are average guys. Many of them see the sexist treatment of women as normal.
When cops in a Rialto, California were forced to wear cameras, their use of force dropped by over two-thirds. Additionally, the officers who were not made to wear the cameras used force twice as much as those who did. This strongly suggests the majority of the time police use force is unnecessary. In other words, the majority of the time these officers used force they were simply committing acts of violence which they don’t feel comfortable committing if it’s captured on film. From The New York Times: HERE’S a fraught encounter: one police officer, one civilian and anger felt by one or both. Afterward, it may be hard to sort out who did what to whom. Now, some police departments are using miniaturized video cameras and their microphones to capture, in full detail, officers’ interactions with civilians. The cameras are so small that they can be attached to a collar, a cap or even to the side of an officer’s sunglasses. High-capacity battery packs can last for an extended shift. And all of the videos are uploaded automatically to a central server that serves as a kind of digital evidence locker. William A. Farrar, the police chief in Rialto, Calif., has been investigating whether officers’ use of video cameras can bring measurable benefits to relations between the police and civilians. Officers in Rialto, which has a population of about 100,000, already carry Taser weapons equipped with small video cameras that activate when the weapon is armed, and the officers have long worn digital audio recorders. But when Mr. Farrar told his uniformed patrol officers of his plans to introduce the new, wearable video cameras, “it wasn’t the easiest sell,” he said, especially to some older officers who initially were “questioning why ‘big brother’ should see everything they do.” He said he reminded them that civilians could use their cellphones to record interactions, “so instead of relying on somebody else’s partial picture of what occurred, why not have your own?” he asked. “In this way, you have the real one.” Last year, Mr. Farrar used the new wearable video cameras to conduct a continuing experiment in his department, in collaboration with Barak Ariel, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge and an assistant professor at Hebrew University.