The discretion to escalate

by Henry Farrell on June 14, 2020

Police forcing a protestor to bump them

[Reader Attention Conservation Notice: This post consists of me trying to make the obvious a little more precise, at considerable length. Since it’s on topics where I have no obvious expertise, I may very possibly not only be reinventing the wheel, but adding superfluous corners].

The video linked above has been doing the rounds on social media. A protestor is arguing with a police officer, who moves in front of him and then (clearly quite deliberately, from the body language) stops suddenly, so that the protestor has no choice but to bump into the officer. This then provides a pretext for the police to swarm the protestor and subdue him, presumably on the theory that he has physical assaulted the officer. Up to a couple of weeks ago, this kind of technique wouldn’t have gotten much public attention. Some of the problems (certainly far from all) with the police in the US and elsewhere, reduce down to the problem of how much discretion police should be allowed. Much of this problem, in turn, reduces down to what might be called the discretion to escalate. [click to continue…]

A guest post by Professor Sophie Grace Chappell (Philosophy, Open University)

As an open response to the following blog post by JK Rowling:

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

June 11 2020

Dear Ms Rowling,

I am as far as I know the only Professor of Philosophy in the UK who is also transgender. Because my own research is in ethics, because I have in the past been a Governor of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (though I’m not their spokeswoman here), and because obviously I am also personally involved, I have said a few things in public on transgender issues. So I hope I won’t offend you if I chip in with a few thoughts about the current furore over your recent remarks. [click to continue…]