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January 23, 2011

The Crime of Not Getting it: Pittsburgh FOP / Fraternal Order of Police

The great crime is the beating of Jordan Miles, and the subsequent failure of the system that is supposed to protect him to take any action on his behalf, which diminishes public confidence and the rule of law. Our leaders politicians don't get that.

We are amused at Pittsburgh Police Fraternal Order of Police investigating internet crimes. Does the FOP have any jurisdiction? Do they control the Cloud? Could the FOP seize the router from a suburban Wifi hotspot? What will they do with the (previously private) information on that server? Is the city liable for the FOP closing a business for two days? Would they have closed the Duquesne Club's wifi as quickly as they shut down "Pittsburgh's premier source for independent, foreign, gay+lesbian & documentary DVDs"? (per their website)

The Great Hoax serves well to remind us of the event, but the attention paid to the Hoax by the FOP, the City, and the Media actually overwhelms the attention paid to the Beating, and serves as a distraction. Every good magician needs a distraction to fool the audience. We shouldn't let the Hoax distract us from the Beating.

If the Fraternal Order of Police had ignored the Hoax, it would have blown over in one news cycle. But they reacted and over-reacted, sent seven cops into a coffee shop, and the Hoax has fixed public attention on the FOP's priorities for a week. They don't get it.

People who do "get it" see this as a manifestation of the Streisand Effect.
The Streisand Effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of perversely causing the information to be publicized more widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no contrary action had been attempted. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, following a 2003 incident in which her attempts to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.

As early as 1993, John Gilmore observed that "the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Examples of such attempts include actions against photographs, numbers, files or websites (for example via a cease-and-desist letter). Instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity, often being widely mirrored across the Internet or distributed on file-sharing networks.
By the way, the Hoax Letter is online, if you're interested.

The conflation of the City, the Police, and the FOP in their responses to the Hoax blurs any boundaries of propriety or fiduciary responsibility. The FOP is not a law enforcement agency; they are a labor union. The police department should not take direction from the employee's union. The District Attorney should not wait for the Justice Department to tell him what happened. There is a complete abdication of civilian / political leadership. They don't get it. It isn't 1952 any more, Toto.

A few weeks ago, I suggested that if Pittsburgh had any real journalists, they'd conduct an interview with the young coed victimized in the Roethlisberger debacle of last summer.

Now I have a second person on my List of Those Who Should Be Interviewed: If there's a journalist working in Pittsburgh (rather than enabling sports writers, shills for the Allegheny Conference, and apologists for the Marcellus Coalition) can we also please have an interview with Jordan Miles? How is he doing? Is he holding out as well as the three men on paid administrative leave? Have the results when you Google his name affected his college applications? Is he okay?

And finally, the Crime that has not happened yet. It would be wonderful for the city, the police, the politicians, and the Pittsburgh F.O.P. if something bad happened to Jordan Miles. I pray that it does not happen.

Related: EBM: Justice Delayed: "Does anyone not get that the charge by minorities that the cops sometimes act like they are part of an occupying army is grounded in fact?"

You could Google Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police, or else Google Pittsburgh FOP.


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