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A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘murder

Waukesha, Arbery, and absurdity

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It appears that the sentencing for Darrell Brooks, the mass-murderer behind the Waukesha massacre, and someone whose prior life demonstrates him to be a true piece of shit,* is in. Looking at Wikipedia on the Waukesha Christmas parade attack, he seems to have received six consecutive life sentence for the six deaths, as well as a slew of accumulated other punishments for the many injured and endangered. (A death sentence was ruled out in advance, as Wisconsin does not appear to have the death penalty.)

*Consider, e.g., the “Criminal History” section of the linked-to Wikipedia page and previous anti-White and anti-Jewish hate propaganda, including calls for violence.

So far so good—but he will still only serve life.

Consider the case, instead, of William Bryan (cf. Wikipedia on the Murder* of Ahmaud Arbery, [1], and [2]). He killed no-one and many who have performed worse acts have gone entirely uncharged or seen a short and suspended sentence. As is, he too is serving life on a state sentence. Yes, he does have a possibility of parole after 30 years—but parole is not automatic and there is that pesky additional federal sentence set at 35 years. As he was born in 1969, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be free again.**/*** (I am very sceptical to the treatment of the two McMichaels, too, and a two- or three-fold miscarriage of justice and/or law might be argued, but the case is particularly clear-cut for Bryan.)

*Wikipedia’s word—not mine. Cf. [1] and [2].

**Not even by pardon or an over-turned sentence, as he has independent convictions on the state and federal levels, and would need to have both removed. The presence of both sentences is, arguably, a systematic problem that violates the double-jeopardy limitations and disenfranchises (for want of a better word) the state’s justice system.

***I am unclear on the exact beginning of the sentence, how time served is counted, whether the sentences run concurrently or consecutively, etc., but even using the day of the event as a basis, we land at a minimum of 2020 + 30 resp. 35 years, at which point he would be 80 resp. 85—and that is assuming that only one sentence carries weight, that, in the first case, he actually receives parole, and that he is actually still alive at the time. On the off chance that he does get out, how is he supposed to start over as a free man at that age and having been cut off from society, friends, relatives, whatnot, for so long?

Then consider the many other problems around these two cases:

Publicity? The deliberate massacre, with six deaths and numerous non-lethal injuries, by Darrell Brooks had a short impact—the possibly accidental, possibly self-defense death of Ahmoud Arbery lead to an enormous coverage. For the former, race was downplayed or the perpetrator blended out (“an SUV drove into a parade”); for the latter, race was the main focus of reporting, and a sole motivation of racism seemed to be assumed in a blanket manner. This despite there being strong signs that the McMichaels and Bryan were merely following a suspected criminal (not a “suspected Black guy”), that they were doing so in good faith, and that the suspicion was strongly warranted (and not caused by racism). Moreover, despite the fact that Darrell Brooks was a known anti-White racist and while the parade and his victims were predominantly White.

Prosecution? Bryan and the two McMichaels were hit by both state and federal prosecution; Brooks by only state prosecution.

Wikipedia? In the Ahmoud-Arbery case we have the highly disputable title “Murder of Ahmaud Arbery”; in the case of Waukesha “Waukesha Christmas parade attack”. (Note: not “massacre”, not “murder”, but a mere “attack”.) The motive given for Ahmaud Arbery is “Anti-black racism” (with not one ounce of proof, cf. above); for Waukesha a paradoxical and disingenuous “Unknown” is given (cf. above).

Note on links:
I give versioned links to Wikipedia, as the contents of these pages might change over time, especially if revised by someone not pushing a Leftist agenda, and as the current contents are used to demonstrated the partiality of Wikipedia.


Written by michaeleriksson

November 17, 2022 at 6:09 pm

The ubiquitousness of evil and the thin veneer of goodness

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This week’s text was intended to deal with the highly odd classification of the Nazis as a Right-wing movement, but recent readings make me postpone it in favor of some further thoughts on evil. (For older texts on this topic see, among others, [1], [2], [3], [4].)

Firstly, I have repeatedly seen pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian writers complain about alleged war crimes by the “other side”. (Including some heated discussions on whether the Russians or the Ukrainians were behind the Bucha killings.) This complemented with discussions of other war crimes in other wars and by other parties. (Including a common sentiment that “the U.S. is no better than Russia—look at X, Y, and Z”.) Here, the simple truth is that war crimes follow automatically whenever there is war, sometimes on the level of individual soldiers or units, sometimes on the level of official policy.* Some wars and war parties might be worse than others, but a war without war crimes is not yet, and might never be, realistic.**

*Note e.g. the extensive bombings of both German and Japanese civilians and civilian buildings and infrastructure during WWII—by the side almost unanimously considered “the good guys” of that war.

**And if it ever is, it might be in a near machines-only setting, which could increase the risk of wars going on for decades, because the civilians are not disturbed and outraged enough. This might then open the doors for a “Nineteen Eighty-Four” scenario or give us A Taste of Armageddon.

Secondly, yesterday, I read Wikipedia’s take on the Murder of Sylvia Likens. To understand exactly why what happened did happen might involve an entire book and still remain speculation; however, there is a fair chance that a stupid/mean* adult woman and a group of children pushed the borders of what was acceptable and, in some sense, normal further and further, step by step, over several months, until early spankings had turned into horrifying humiliation, life-threatening starvation, and a foot to the head. When poor Sylvia was dead, one of her tormentors cried and cuddled her.

*And, maybe, one who might have turned out differently with a different prior life.

I strongly suspect that the time frame involved made the events easier, that the change of “normal” made something acceptable that would not have been so, if suggested up front. Moreover, chances are that the number of involved individuals spread the responsibility too thin, making them mere members of a group.* That most of them were children did not help, as they might have looked at the sole adult and concluded that what she considered acceptable was acceptable. (The lower intelligence, lack of maturity, and poorly developed moral compass of children hardly helped.) Then again, I do not say that it took so long for their preferences to change (it might or might not have)—the issue is at least partly what preferences they dared implement. (Consider the murder of James Bulger or the attempted “Slender Man” murder to see how fast things can go.)

*To tie in with my previous text. A single individual saying “This is wrong!” can make a difference where a dozen silent group members cannot. As a counterpoint, a sufficiently strong group norm of “This is wrong!” and a dozen speaking group members can be even more valuable—but here there was no positive norm and reliance on such norms opens the door to manipulation through changing the norm (cf. portions of the below).

In both cases, war crimes and Sylvia Likens, we have the fundamental problem that the veneer of civilization and “goodness” of most (all?) humans is quite thin. So thin, indeed, that I must consider claims like “humans are born good” and “humans are good by nature” highly naive. Looking at children, such claims border on the absurd—children, contrary to what would be expected, were these claims true, are extremely lacking in ethical understanding and concern for others.* Now, scratch at that veneer. Have group members tell each other that this-or-that hitherto unacceptable act is acceptable. Have propaganda tell them that Russians/Ukrainians/Jews/whatnot are evil (and, therefore, without rights), killed their grandparents (time for vengeance), or out to destroy them (better strike preemptively). Apply group/peer pressure, remove personal responsibility, lead by (negative) example, … If the veneer does not crack fast, just be patient and push the borders little by little.

*The more so the younger they are. Those too young might even lack a “theory of mind” (an un-expression that I use under protest) or be so solipsistic as to not understand the personhood of others.

To this, we must also note complications like many or most humans having a natural sadism and interest in violence, as demonstrated by Roman games and many modern movies. And, no, this is not a matter of violent men, with women being radically different. Look at the many female perpetrators around Sylvia Likens, consider the French tricoteuses, note how often a mobbing boss, driving employees to tears, turns out to be a woman, or consider the many mentions of women having an interest in horror and murder stories. Women are not just often bloodthirsty but can have a great tendency to be mean and cruel to (above all) each other.*

*Indeed, if off topic, meanness in adults is something that I would associate much more with women than with men. As to “toxic masculinity”: The toxic women that I have met have likely outnumbered the toxic men—despite how many more men I have encountered in the office, in college, etc. A better target for disapproval would, then, be “toxic femininity”.

The sometime claim or perception that the Nazis were a unique evil in human history is utterly faulty. What set the Nazis apart from a great many other perpetrators in human history is scale of and competence at e.g. extermination. Even here, however, they were preceded by the Soviets, whose methods the Nazis adopted and adapted—and they were followed by the likes of Mao and Pol Pot. For that matter, the Allies began large-scale bombing of civilians before the Nazis … Or take the ancient Chinese mass-slaughter after the Battle of Changping. Or consider the allegedly noble savage, who appears to often have been more savage than noble. Or consider some of the acts of Nero and Caligula. Or consider the Milgram experiments, which illustrate the thinness of that veneer so well.

Going by all that I have seen so far, true goodness is almost inconceivable without a deliberate set of ethical principles, overriding human nature and lived consistently, even when they do not favor their holder. (Note some similarity with the Categorical Imperative, which, however, is potentially more far going.) The nature of these principles can vary. The ideal is a sturdy set of self-developed principles based on thought and understanding, but this is beyond most, as most will not even be aware of the benefits. However, a solid set of good* and adopted values provided by someone or something else might be a great help. (Many have done well with the Bible.) The point is that there must be a clear concept of right-and-wrong, not e.g. good-or-bad-for-me, us-vs-them, it’s-what-everyone-else-does, or it-seems-like-fun. Certainly, mere childish or animalistic drives must be suppressed when an ethical decision is called for. (Consider some of the pains of Sylvia and how they appear to have given a thrill or entertainment of some kind to her tormentors.) Ditto emotionality and attempts to “reason” by use of feelings or cheap sympathy**. Leftist biology-denialism and “tabula rasa” thinking is a particular danger, as it destroys the awareness of what lies below.***

*This raises the question what constitutes good values, which makes for a tricky decision. (Or even the problem of realizing that a decision is needed, for those who reflect too little and would need to adopt values.) Many who search, today, grab at values that are very far from good by any reasonable standard.

**For instance, a great many adults, especially women, have assumed that the crying child is in the right and the non-crying in the wrong, without looking at the facts of the matter. Similarly, the better (adult) sob story often wins in politics.

***The first step to overcome a weakness is almost proverbially to realize that a weakness exists. Denying the biological, and often far from civilized, underpinnings of human nature is as dangerous here as trying to find a sound diet while denying the need for proteins.

Then again, here we have a problem: as I have often noted, the typical human is stupid and we cannot rely on “human goodness” arising among the stupid. Worse, even the intelligent can fall short if they lack the self-discipline or self-insight, have failed to think on related issues, or are simply very young or lacking in experience and exposure to different perspectives.

To wrap up some additional points before this text grows too long:

  1. The veneer is vulnerable to drugs that weaken reason, lower inhibitions, or otherwise bring the brain into a state where it is less likely to apply ethical principles.
  2. Similar claims apply to unusual and unusually stressful situations (including war).
  3. It is important for the individual to stand up for what is right, even in opposition to opinion corridors, peer pressure, “nudging”, etc. We might disagree on what is right and wrong in a given situation, but caving to the other side for poor reasons is a recipe for failure and a good way to let evil win.
  4. The common Leftist and/or quasi-Marxist division into us-vs-them, oppressor-vs-oppressed, and similar is a good way to create the type of hateful thinking and artificial tension/conflict that leads to so much evil. Look e.g. at the 20th-century Communists or large parts of the current U.S. Left and/or New Left.

Excursion on the self-proclaimed good doing evil:
The above deals largely with cases that seem obviously evil. However, as I have often noted, evil is often done in the name of good—and is never more dangerous than when it has the guise of good. (And, as also repeatedly noted, this is one of the reasons to be very wary of the Left.) Moreover, the keyword is often “seem”—what is obvious to a neutral third-party need not be so to those involved in e.g. a conflict. A current Russian or Ukrainian soldier might well think that a particular obviously-evil-to-us act is for a good cause or the infamous “greater good”.* Soviets, Nazis, whatnot all had plenty of idealists and true believers. It cannot be ruled out that economy destroyers like Mugabe, Chávez/Maduro, or Biden genuinely believe that they are doing something good. Etc.

*And, in all fairness, it might often be that the local soldier on the ground knows something that the foreigner in his ivory tower does not.

Excursion on charity, etc.:
An interesting problem is the common conflation of “being good” with e.g. being charitable—while neglecting the much more important aspect of respecting the rights and interests of others. Consider e.g. an industrialist who rips off his customers through misleading advertising and a substandard product, but who spends half the ill-gotten gains on charity: in what way and in what universe is he a better man than one who delivers what he promises and foregoes the charity? Or consider the mother who pounces on a child with the demand that this-or-that toy* be shared (especially, when it is not her child): Yes, maybe, sharing is the right or kind thing to do,** but what example does she set for the child? She violates his rights and interests, denies his right to determine how to handle his toys, and teaches him that what the one has, the other can use and take at his leisure. Her demands are not an act of goodness but of evil. (To boot, they are likely to backfire and upset the child or create reactance.) Or who is the better person? The hardworking (and heavily taxpaying) office worker who spends his weekends with his family—or a welfare parasite who collects unemployment, without bona fide attempts at finding work, but who also volunteers in a soup-kitchen on the weekend?

*Assumed to be his. When it comes to e.g. communal toys owned by a daycare or toys (voluntarily!) borrowed from a third party, the situation might be different.

**But there is not necessarily a guarantee, and the sharing might often come with a price for the child, as not all sharing is cost-free. Consider sharing with someone with a tendency to break or mistreat toys, sharing building blocks when every block is needed for the envisioned building, or sharing a toy in a manner that interrupts the storyline of the ongoing play.

Excursion on “the banality of evil”:
My readings on Hannah Arendt are superficial and second-hand; however, her idea of “the banality of evil” is somewhat overlapping, in my limited understanding, e.g. in that someone could perform an evil act in a largely unreflecting manner, say, “because this is my job”. (And a great many, seemingly normal, humans do, if on a lesser level than Eichmann. Take your typical modern German civil servant, for example.) The core of the above lies elsewhere, however: it is not a matter of banality, but of a lack of understanding for others and of concern for their rights, of limits on behaviors that are weak and easy to manipulate, of major bad* egoism/opportunism/whatnot, etc. Terry Pratchett once wrote something along the lines of** “evil begins with treating people like things”. I do not necessarily agree, finding this claim too general,*** but it seems a good description of the overlap between the above and “the banality of evil” (again, in my limited understanding).

*I see nothing wrong with some forms of egoism/opportunism/whatnot, e.g. that one tries to win while abiding by the rules, even be it with a within-the-rules cost for others; however, trying to win outside of the rules is another matter. Consider e.g. the business methods that different used-car salesmen might apply: The one offers a car at a certain overblown price, hoping that the prospective customer buys, while being (a) truthful and open about the car and all modalities, (b) willing to discuss the price, should the customer want to haggle or be unwilling to buy. The other offers an equivalent car at an equivalent price, while lying like a, well, used-car salesman, refuses to take “no” for an answer, and pesters the prospective customer into buying at that overblown price.

**His phrasing might have been different, but the idea was this.

***Consider e.g. the minimal difference in attitude that many, myself included, show between paying for groceries after a long day in the office with, respectively, a human cashier and an automatic self-service station. They might both be equally “thingy” in the moment, and might remain so over repeated interactions over months, but they would still warrant radically different treatments, respect, and rights in a situation that called for it. (To me—not necessarily to the banal Eichmann.)

Written by michaeleriksson

April 12, 2022 at 4:16 pm

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The Arbery trial / Follow-up: Various

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To continue the recent discussions of race and treatment in the courtroom, etc. (cf. [1], [2]):

Today, we saw a near complete conviction of the three accused in the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. (Travis and Gregory McMichael, William Bryan. By “the shooter” I refer to Travis McMichael.)

At a minimum, this speaks against the claimed-by-the-Left pervasive problem with anti-Black judgments (juries, judges, police, whatnot). It might even speak in favor of anti-White or anti-Right judgments (etc.).

I have not followed this trial anywhere near as closely as the Rittenhouse trial, and I do find the behavior of the convicted potentially* much more troublesome than anything that Rittenhouse did. In particular, the type of “provocation” reasoning that (rightfully) failed against Rittenhouse might very well have worked here**—that Arbery might never have grabbed the gun, had he not been followed and spoken too for a prolonged time before the final scene. (Note also the asymmetry that Rittenhouse was trying to get away from the persons that he shot, while here the person shot was the one trying to get away.) Moreover, there might have been lesser crimes (cf. below) involved in a more legitimate manner than for Rittenhouse. At a minimum, there was a lot of stupidity on display.

*The usual disclaimers and reservations like “I was not there” apply.

**With obvious reservations for the different jurisdictions.

Still, I had expected the two non-shooters to be cleared of at least the murder charges. (While the shooter presented a trickier call—at least, based on my level of knowledge.)

This is not at all what happened. Instead, they were deemed guilty almost throughout, including some oddities. A large portion of this is explained by the absurdity that is felony murder—i.e. commit a felony that, even inadvertently, leads to a death and you are a murderer. As can be seen here, the consequences can be entirely out of proportion. Laws concerning felony murder must be removed or reduced to a more reasonable scope.* I am also strongly puzzled over the multiple counts of felony murder per convict, as only one person died.** More generally, as with Chauvin, I find it annoying with multiple convictions for the same crime. (Not to be confused with multiple convictions for different crimes during the same overall event, say false imprisonment at time X and murder at X + two minutes).

*For instance, if someone brings a gun to a bank robbery, even without the intention of more than threatening, a resulting death from an intended warning shot might be a reasonable case of a modified felony murder, because a willingness to kill can be presumed in a different manner than with the Arbery case. (This while deliberately killing someone with the same gun would be regular murder.) However, extending culpability to other participants would, even in this scenario, be very disputable.

**I have not investigated the details of this, but would speculate that each separate felony led to a separate felony-murder charge.

So far, we have mostly issues with unsound laws, not something that involves race.

However, if we look at malice murder (of which only the shooter was convicted), I have considerable doubts. The linked-to page claims:

Malice murder is a criminal offense in the U.S. state of Georgia, committed when a homicide is done with express or implied malice.


Express malice is “that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.” Malice is implied when “no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.”

I cannot see malice, per this definition, as sufficiently clearly present (remember: beyond reasonable doubt) that a conviction would be possible.* On the contrary, if this had been the case, just shooting Arbery as he moved along would have been easily possible. On the outside, I could imagine a situation where someone tried to provoke an apparent self-defense situation in order to shoot with plausible deniability, but this is far-fetched, would be very hard to prove, and seems like far more planning and intelligence than plausible with the current trio and in the comparatively short time-frame.

*But I caution that courts often ignore the “plain text” reading in favor of a slippery slope of diverging precedent. A Georgia lawyer might see it differently.

On the contrary, I see a very large risk that race and/or political opinions* played a greater part than the events and what was plausible to assume from the events.

*I have not studied their opinions in detail, but my superficial impression is that these were legitimately unkosher. (To be contrasted with e.g. the fake claims against Rittenhouse or the general “all Republicans are evil” attitude shown by some Leftists.) Still, the opinions should only be of tangential importance, and only play in where it is important for the case.

Speaking as a non-lawyer, something like manslaughter would have been a more reasonable charge, with “guilty”/“not guilty” hinging on how a self-defense claim played out with the jury.

Other convictions, e.g. for false imprisonment, might very well be justified. (Here I would need a deeper study of the details, but I suspect that, had I been in Arbery’s shoes and had the police arrived before the shooting, I would have filed legal charges of my own.)

Finally, on the race of Arbery: From what I have seen so far, he was not targeted because he was Black, but because he was very legitimately suspected of repeated criminal activities in the neighborhood. Indeed, there is a very fair chance that he actually had just engaged in such activities at the time. (I do not remember whether something conclusive was said on this.)

Excursion on calling the police:
Much of this might hinge on whether the claim, by the shooter, was true that he genuinely believed that the police had been called at a very early stage. If true, it puts a potentially different light on many behaviors; if false, they look very odd indeed.

Excursion on what I thought happened:
I suspect that the convicted were more lacking in judgment than overflowing with malice, that they genuinely thought that they were helping the police and the neighborhood, and that they had no a priori intention of harm, but that their behaviors put Arbery in a position where a great many others would have reacted similarly, e.g. to “grab the gun before he shoots me”. This then followed by a reverse “fire the gun before Arbery can take it and shoot us”.

Excursion on the potential negative influence of anti-White stereotypes on Arbery:
If we look at the scenario in the previous excursion, it might very well have been made worse by the attempts to paint Whites as racists, many of whom would just love an excuse to get rid of a few Black guys. What if this type of propaganda left Arbery with a “they are out to kill me” instead of a “they will drag me to the nearest police station”?

Excursion on another self-defense case/Andrew Coffee:
In parallel with the Rittenhouse case, a Black man was (almost entirely) acquitted on grounds of self-defense, despite having been involved in a shoot-out with the police, instead of fighting of unlawful assailants. Cf. e.g. [3]. So much for Rittenhouse receiving special treatment for being White.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 24, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Waukesha car crash? murder? terrorist attack? / Follow-up: Rittenhouse verdict

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The reactions to the Waukesha parade incident* go far to prove my points in my recent text on the Rittenhouse acquittal:

*Due to varying claims in sources, I am deliberately vague.

Darrell Brooks, a Black criminal and Trump hater, drives a car into a White crowd killing five (?) and sending dozens to hospital. Headlines encountered today including talk of a mere “car crash” and that the driver would have been fleeing from a knife fight—by implication, innocent victim of circumstance. (How did he get into that knife fight? Would he not have been safe in his car? Should he not have driven more carefully, even if someone with a knife (!) was chasing him? Was someone actually stupid enough to chase a car with a knife?)

Now, maybe these claims are true—I know far too little about the details. However, look at the state of reporting around Rittenhouse at a similar time or how the same incident with “reverse colors” would have been handled: “White supremacist terrorist mows down Black celebrators!!!”

Certainly, calls for life in prison would already be raised by Black activists, no matter the presence or lack of evidence or the presence or lack of exculpating* explanations.

*With regards to e.g. criminal or racist intent. Criminal or civil liability of e.g. gross negligence, reckless endangerment, involuntary manslaughter, or similar, might still apply.

Or consider the case of James Alex Fields Jr., who was involved in a similar incident in Charlottesville. I do not know in detail what happened there either, and I do not claim that he was innocent of intent, but I do know that he received a radically different treatment in the press, long before either conviction or the appearance of a clear image of events. A White man with the wrong political opinions—must be domestic terrorism!

This is equally reflected in his punishment (life + 419 years after “only” one death), which far exceeds the typical level* for even coldblooded murder, even in the U.S. (which tends to have harsher punishments than e.g. Sweden and Germany). Enormous amounts of violence, with definite intent, by Antifa thugs have gone entirely unpunished (including in Charlottesville).

*He did avoid the death sentence. However, (a) this might have been merely the result of a guilty plea, whereby he avoided the risk of death by the guarantee of a long prison term, (b) statistics on the death penalty give a mere 39, nationwide, for 2017, the year of the event and similar numbers for 2018 and 2019, when trials and sentencing took place. (To be compared with far higher numbers of murders.)

As to the conviction, with the reservation that I have not done detailed legwork: He claimed fear, not anger or hate; and I have read a few supportive accounts (a long time ago; I do not vouch for their correctness), including talk of a gunman chasing him. (And note that gunmen are far more dangerous to someone in a car than knife wielders are.) There are signs that he was mentally ill, not evil, even were the act deliberate. (Note e.g. that wannabe presidential killer John Hinckley was given a few decades of psychiatric care and is now back on the streets.) It will, I suspect, be very, very hard to acquit Brooks by arguments that would not also have given Fields a considerable chance of acquittal (assuming equally fair juries).*

*Which is not in anyway a prediction that Brooks will be harshly punished. Considering the overall trends in society and the justice system, I suspect a very different result in terms of sentencing. (How different, I leave unstated.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 22, 2021 at 9:09 pm

Rittenhouse verdict / Follow-up: various

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Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote:*

*And even with regard to Rittenhouse the opinion is likely to have been older. (Definitely so on the more general issues.)

Similarly, news reporting around various race-related court cases is often heavily distorted, creating an impression that there is a very clear case, that the accused did have certain motivations, or similar—and if a court, even quite legitimately, finds the opposite later, well, then cries of scandal, racist jurors/judges, and whatnot ensues. And then comes the riots … For an example, the same Swedish news source referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a right-wing extremist, which is (a) disputable, (b) irrelevant in what currently appears to be a clear-cut self-defense case. But, no, the reader is to think “evil Nazi” and ascribe a motive of hate and malevolence.

After one year, the justice system has caught up on (b) and cleared Rittenhouse fully. Indeed, anyone who has actually followed the trial through non-propaganda channels must have seen the self-defense claims as almost obviously true, including through testimony and video evidence. Well, anyone with an intelligent mind who did not suffer from massive prejudice. (As to (a), I have still not seen one shred of evidence for this being true. However, it would still be irrelevant for a fair trial, even had it been true.)

The news reporting around Rittenhouse and his trial has been a scandal, however. Many sources have tried to distort the events horribly and in a manner not compatible with what was actually shown during the trial. Indeed, even post-trial, the situation is ridiculous and libelous. For instance, visiting MSNBC earlier today, I found headlines like “Kyle Rittenhouse trial was designed to protect white conservatives who kill” and “The Rittenhouse verdict is a symptom of a much bigger sickness in America”—these turn the world on its head. Notably, as to the first: there are strong signs that Rittenhouse was prosecuted and persecuted because he was a “white conservative” (not despite it); the disparate treatment of various ethnic and political groups over the last few years strongly point to “black liberals” (up to and including Antifa terrorist and BLM rioters/looters) being treated far better in court and the justice system than “white conservatives”; and it appears that Grosskreuz (?*) remains unprosecuted for the attempted murder of Rittenhouse, despite the evidence against him being stronger than the evidence against Rittenhouse for the attempted murder of Grosskreuz. Sick and twisted.

*I do not have the energy to check name details.

Looking through older texts, I have found one other that mentions Rittenhouse. In that text I express fear about the risk that fair trials might be disappearing. At least in this specific case, my fears did not materialize. (At least not to the point of a change in verdict. Doxing attempts and prosecutional misconduct did take place, to Rittenhouse’s disadvantage, as might some other problems.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 20, 2021 at 1:12 am

TV and defamation of the dead / Follow-up: Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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Almost exactly fifteen months ago, I wrote about the absurd and grossly unethical attempts to paint a dead man as the murderer of Olof Palme. (Also see several other follow-ups.)

Among other things:

Here we have a potentially innocent man who will be considered the murderer by great swaths of the population and many history books—who has no chance to say anything in his defense.

This fear now risks being cemented: Netflix has released a TV series, which appears* to push this very angle—he did it. For those who can read Swedish, great amounts of discussion can be found in the comments to a Swedish article ([1]).

*I have not, and will not, watch it myself. I go by claims by those who have seen it, including in [1].

This is the more absurd, as my readings since my original text point very strongly to the accusations being faulty. To the degree that they are not faulty, the evidence is so slim that the prosecution would have been laughed out of court, had the alleged murderer still been alive and been brought to trial. Of course, not even all Swedes will have done corresponding readings, and international viewers of this series are quite unlikely to have done so.

No, for many, it will be “I know that he did it—I saw it on TV”.

Excursion on “based on a true story”, etc.:
Generally, even when no immediate fear of major defamation is present, I tend to avoid series and movies that are “based on a true story”, as they tend to be poorly made, necessarily will contain at least some (often considerable) distortion of reality, almost necessarily will be partial, and as they tend give grave mischaracterizations of at least some of the characters.

Similarly, I often react negatively to the inclusion of real historical characters in otherwise fictional works.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

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No defamation charges against Krister Petersson (murder of Olof Palme)

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In an earlier text, I noted that prosecutor Krister Petersson risked prosecution, himself, for defamation of a dead suspect for the murder of Olof Palme ([1]; cf. [2] for more context).

It appears that he will remain unprosecuted:

A (likely paywalled*) Swedish site cites the överåklagare** Anders Jakobsson as saying:

*This newspaper usually is. Currently, 2020-08-19, it claims that all articles are free until September 1st.

Min bedömning är att Krister Petersson visserligen pekat ut en person på ett sätt som kan vara förtal enligt brottsbalken, men sedan är frågan om det var försvarligt att lämna ut namnet. Och det anser jag. Mordet på Olof Palme och den utredning som sedan har genomförts har varit föremål för ett betydande allmänintresse, och i massmedierna och av så kallade privatspanare har den så kallade Skandiamannen vid flera tillfällen pekats ut som mördaren. Då menar jag att med hänsyn till dessa omständigheter har det varit försvarligt av Krister Petersson att i sitt beslut namnge den personen.

My estimation is that Krister Petersson did point out a person in a manner that could be defamation according to brottsbalken [roughly, “criminal code”], but then the question is whether it was justifiable to provide the name. And I am of that opinion. The murder of Olof Palme and the investigation that followed has been of considerable interest to the public, and in mass media and by so called privatspanare** the so called Skandiamannen*** has been pointed out as the murderer on several occasions. Then**** I opine that, with consideration of these circumstances, it has been defensible for Krister Petersson to name this person in his decision.

*The original is in overly complicated and poor “government language”. I have not made any greater attempts to provide additional clarity or to translate into a more English idiom (governmental or otherwise).

**A term that probably arose during the Palme investigations, to refer to amateur investigators with an interest in the Palme murder. A somewhat literal translation is “private scouts”, but “investigator” is likely more idiomatic than ‘scout”. These, however, are typically not “private investigators” in the U.S. “P.I.” sense.

***An anonymizing alias commonly used for the man whom Krister Petersson mentioned by name.

****Translation of the idiomatically awkward word “då”, which I will discuss in a later text.

I am far from certain that I would concur with the above, as I am highly skeptical to “the public has the right to know” arguments,* as fingering Skandiamannen seems unnecessary to me, and as there was no true gain from mentioning him by name (as opposed to alias). Note that Anders Jakobsson, himself, uses the alias and not the name. Krister Petersson could simply have said something like “Personally, I favor Skandiamannen, but as things stand, we can never know for sure.”, but he went a fair bit further and did mention the name. I stress that I would see a considerably stricter standard for a public official speaking in his official capacity than I would for a private individual expressing his private opinions, including the privatspanare.

*Excepting matters that are truly of public interest and public nature, say governmental policy, professional misbehavior by politicians and civil servants in office, and similar. The fact that Palme was murdered qualifies, that this-or-that celebrity has a drug problem does not, and whether Krister Petersson’s statements is on the right side of the border is disputable.

As an aside, I would not necessarily reason “it is very easy to find out the name of Skandiamannen; ergo, there is no harm done in mentioning the name over the alias”, as Anders Jakobsson might have. The opposite might be more reasonable (“[…]; ergo, we should not mention the alias either”).

Written by michaeleriksson

August 19, 2020 at 12:17 pm

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Blogroll update / Follow-up: Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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After a recent text on absurdities around the Palme murder I did some reading on other people’s reactions (and the murder in general). Gratifyingly, for once, most debaters seem to have agreed with me.

Indeed, some have even attempted to have Krister Peterson, the prosecutor* in charge, prosecuted … For instance, a Swedish source, claims that three notable Palme debaters have filed a complaint concerning “förtal av avliden” (“defamation of the dead”) with Riksåklagaren**.

*A word that did not occur to me during the writing of the original text. (Should someone wonder at the inconsistency.)

**In U.S. terms, a hypothetical “Prosecutor General”.

Generally, this blog has a wealth of information and discussion around (lately) the Krister Peterson fiasco and why he was wrong to proceed as he did, and (for years) the Palme murder and investigation. The author, Gunnar Wall, has himself written several books on these and other topics (that might also be discussed on the blog).

While I have not attempted to go through more than several of the older posts, it can make a worthy blogroll entry—especially, if it it makes the pressure on Krister Peterson a little higher.

The blog is entered on my Swedish blogroll:


Written by michaeleriksson

July 2, 2020 at 8:51 pm

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Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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As I visited my father in February, Swedish TV made a lot of noise about the 1986, still unsolved, murder of Olof Palme—new hotshot investigator Krister Petersson* announced that the time for big revelations was upon us. In just a few months (why the wait?) he would either announce** the perpetrator or (!!!) close the investigation.

*Not to be confused with Christer Pettersson, who was once convicted (and later acquitted) of this very murder. Cf. below.

**This is a while back, so I do not remember the exact formulations, what he said and what the media speculated, etc. The “announce” is the likely minimum for Krister Petersson; he might or might not also have spoken about arresting someone, but some media certainly did. Other speculation included that the murder weapon had been found. This speculation was not quashed by Krister Petersson. This is the odder, because today’s claims include that it would be impossible to match the bullets fired at Palme to any given weapon—something that must have been know for a very long time (if true).

My spontaneous reaction was that Krister Petersson was more interested in making publicity for himself and that the result would be the “or”, that the investigation would be closed.

Today, 10th of June, was the day for the big revelation, almost four (!) months later. The result: the investigation is being closed …

True, he did also name his candidate for the culprit, but one that had been on the table for decades and who was long dead. In other words, we do not have an interesting revelation but just a rehash with a little more (claimed) certainty—not quite as bad as “Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK!”, but not much better either.

Moreover, because the accused murderer, Stig Engström is conveniently dead, there will be no trial and he will not be able to defend his name, e.g. by providing new exculpating evidence—and he will certainly not be able to file a libel suit or otherwise strike back. Here we have a potentially* innocent man who will be considered the murderer by great swaths of the population and many history books—who has no chance to say anything in his defense.

*An important word: I do not claim that he necessarily is innocent. He might be an innocent man who made a convenient scapegoat; he might be guilty and crucified without due process.

An additional aspect is that his death is the justification to close the investigation: “We know whodunit; ergo, it is a waste of time to look for someone else. The murderer is dead; ergo, it is a waste of time to spend more resources on him. Double-ergo, we can close the investigation in good conscience.”

The whole situation reeks.

What would a good investigator have done? He would (a) have skipped the publicity making in February, (b) closed the investigation without naming names (even if he was personally convinced), (c) accepted that this was not his stepping stone to fame and fortune.

The exact timing of events might be coincidental, but it is an oddity that today’s revelation appear to be just short of twenty years after Stig Engström died (“26 June 2000”, according to the linked-to Wikipedia article), while the original publicity came shortly* before the anniversary of Palme’s death.

*I do not remember the exact timing, but it was likely after the 20th of February. The murder took place on the 28th (in 1986). Also note that Stig Engström has been dead for the clear majority of the time since the murder—twenty years out of thirty-four and change.

Moreover, irrespective of whether Stig Engström was the murderer, the investigation has resulted in at least one grave miscarriage of justice—what in Sweden is dramatically called a “justitiemord”*. Either he is innocent, and then he is a victim; or he is guilty, and then Christer Pettersson was a victim; or, maybe, both were victims. (Barring some conspiracy setting, where they were both, somehow, involved in the murder.) Who then is Christer Pettersson? A petty criminal, drug user, and mental patient, who in 1989 (!) was convicted for the very same murder that is now pinned on Stig Engström. Mere months later, the conviction was overturned, but by that time, virtually everyone in Sweden knew him by both name and sight—and many still considered him the killer, many more** the prime suspect.

*Literally, either “murder of justice” or “murder by justice” (either justice it self has been murdered or justice has committed the murder, in both cases metaphorically). I am uncertain which is historically more warranted, but I always understood it as the former as a child and this matches the textual shape of the English “miscarriage of justice” better—hence, the dramatic title of this text. (If there is a connection to the English “judicial murder”, the meaning has drifted considerably.)

**Including yours truly, until I left Sweden in 1997 and lost track of the investigation.

Christer Pettersson, incidentally, died in 2004: If the two main candidates have been dead for sixteen and twenty years, respectively, then closing the investigation with a generic “It is highly unlikely that we will find revolutionary new clues after more than thirty-four years of very little success and, if we do, there is a considerable risk that the culprit is dead anyway. Besides, the witnesses are dying* too.” seems justifiable.

*Notably, the main witness, Palme’s wife, is also dead. I have not investigated the more secondary witnesses, but even if they are alive, thirty-four years is far, far too long for someone to remain a reliable witness.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 10, 2020 at 2:14 pm

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