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Students Put UCLA Taser Video On YouTube 1583

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the police-buddhism-studies dept.
dircha writes "As widely reported, an incident in which Iranian-American student Mostafa Tabatabainejad was tasered up to five times by UCLA police on Friday, has been captured by a fellow student using a video enabled cell phone and published to YouTube. From the Daily Bruin: 'At around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tabatabainejad, a fourth-year Middle Eastern and North African studies and philosophy student, was asked to leave the library for failing to present his BruinCard during a random check. The 23-year-old student was hit with a Taser five times when he did not leave quickly and cooperatively upon being asked to do so.' In a story which has raised concerns of racial profiling, police brutality and the health risks of taser use, the ubiquity of video cell phone technology has given us a first hand record of an incident which might otherwise have been a he-said, she-said affair. While the publishing of the video to YouTube has given the issue compelling popular exposure beyond the immediate campus community."
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Students Put UCLA Taser Video On YouTube

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  • by DwarfGoanna (447841) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:50AM (#16925822)
    Say what you want about this kid's motives or lack of discretion, but the thing that struck me while watching this was that nonviolent protest (poorly represented or not) is truly dead in America. The widespread and almost casual use of "non-lethals" in these situations clearly goes beyond their intended purpose. Well...ostensibly intended, anyway.
  • Bystanders (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lspd (566786) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:55AM (#16925864) Homepage Journal
    What's up with all the sheeple standing around watching? It's shameful that such a large crowd was too timid to stop the police from doing something so obviously wrong. What exactly would it take to get the crowd to intervene?
  • surveillance society (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:56AM (#16925868) Homepage

    The words "surveillance society" scare a lot of people, but I would actually love to live in a surveillance society that worked the way this event worked out: the surveillance is carried out by individuals, in a public place, voluntarily, and all they're doing is recording something that they saw with their own eyeballs anyway.

    Similarly, I would love to see photo red light reimplemented so that if other drivers saw you run a red light, they could slap a button on their dashboards, and the video would be posted on you-tube. Hell, we wouldn't even need a DMV anymore. Insurance companies would just hire people to watch traffic videos, and log patterns of stupid behavior by certain individuals. The insurance companies would then refuse to offer insurance to those people.

    I'm a teacher, and over the past 10 years of teaching, I've had the following experiences: (1) a student gets upset and disrupts my class for 10 minutes (10 minutes is a long time); (2) a homophobic student harasses a gay student while I'm out of the room; (3) a student attacks me in the hall, throws me in some bushes, and threatens to kill me. In all three cases, I would have loved to have the whole thing recorded on you-tube, because significant disagreements arose later about what really happened. In incident #2, in fact, a room full of students were unable to identify the harasser, and it turned out that it was more of a two-way thing than the initial witnesses (the gay student's friends) had claimed. A room full of witnesses is nice, but a video is a lot nicer.

    The good or bad effects of this kind of technology depend a lot on who uses the technology. It's like guns. Guns in the hands of Nazis stormtroopers: bad. Guns in the hands of individuals: good.

  • by Essequemodeia (1030028) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:59AM (#16925918)
    A UCLA student and a member of the crowd that witnessed this event posted his reaction on a board that I moderate, www.blogwars.com [blogwars.com]. Forgive the reference, but the tally of the first-handers who witnessed this event points toward the victim being a gigantic jackass, refusing to show his ID and not cooperating with campus police. When I was in college being asked for my student ID was never a protestable offense. In order to get into my dorm, enter the student recreation center, the campus gym, a football or basketball game, etc... we had to pony up our student IDs. If the police have to deal with an angry, shouting person who won't identify themself, show ID, or cooperate... what are they left to do?
  • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:59AM (#16925924)
    Many PDs require that officers authorized to use Tasers submit to a stun. Some even volonteer for a sustained jolt:

    http://www.orrville.com/OPD/Training%20Taser.htm [orrville.com]

    "i dare you to do it to yourself."

    http://www.orrville.com/OPD/Training%20Taser%20Vid eos.htm [orrville.com]

  • by rebootconrad (836537) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:20AM (#16926124)
    The UCPD is a wholly separate entity from the LAPD. It is the University of California Police Department, found at all UC Campuses.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:25AM (#16926160)
    And before you say it...yes you can stand after being tased..once again that can be easily researched. His little rants between being tased sound VERY rehearsed to me.

    If this is true, then why does virtually every police demonstration (where one cop tazes another one) does the tazed cop fall on his ass and have trouble standing without falling down for several seconds. After a single hit?

  • police POV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:38AM (#16926264)
    As a police officer, I have two things to say about this:

    1) This kid sounds like an ass and I'm certain that there will be more than enough "He got what he deserved posts." I might even agree in the moral sense, but not in the ethical or legal sense, because....

    2) This cop should never work in law enforcement again. This is inappropriate use of force by any professional standard. One post is not nearly enough to recount the things he did incorrectly, but I'll hit the high points;

    General rules for any controlled encounter (one where you aren't in danger from the get go) include finding out what the issue is, telling the subject what he/she needs to do, and explaining what will happen if they do not. There is almost never a need to place your hands on anyone for any reason until you are ready to take them into custody unless you are suddenly attacked. This "officer" is grossly incompetent. Understand we deal with aggressive people that posture by yelling and swearing at us all the time - this should not disrupt the officer on bit. Keep. Your. Cool. So, screaming/swearing or not, this encounter should have been over with three sentences from the officer.

    A) "Sir, per university rules and regs, I need you to show me your valid student ID or leave the library."
    B) "I need to to show me your valid student ID or leave the library right now, or I'll have to take you into custody for trespassing and disturbing the peace."
    C) "Sir, I am placing you under arrest." Then Mirandize him and be done with it. If he does anything but exactly what you tell him ("Sir, place your hands behind your back.") then....

    Now and only now, if he/she resists (NOT if he simply fails to cooperate i.e. passive resistence), you may use force sufficient to subdue him to the point of having him cease to be a danger to the officer or bystanders. That's pretty simple stuff, folks. Basically, never be the first to use force, but when you do - do it quickly and overwhelmingly then STOP when he's restrained. You are a trained professional who owns the situation and NOT a street brawler.

    From what I can tell, he never told the subject he was under arrest until after at least five taserings, some of which occurred while he was in cuffs and all but the first while he was on the ground unable to stand under his own power. This "officer" grabbed the guy's arm while he was leaving. Bad move, even if it seems like a little thing. Physical contact constitutes use of force, and any trained officer knows this is a big line to cross. I don't care if he didn't leave immediately - in that case place him calmly in custody early on and be done with it, no argument needed. You're the cop; you NEVER need to be in an argument. You aren't asking him what he wants to do, you're telling him. Never ever let a subject think they are in control. Arguing tells the subject they have some power.

    What he did is inexcusable. If this power-tripping bully didn't have a badge what would you think of somebody tasering a defenseless person on the ground FIVE TIMES some while he was handcuffed and yelling at him to "get up." A badge doesn't free you from responsibility, it adds to to it exponentially.

    This sadistic SOB gives all true professional LEOs a bad name and is part of the reason so many distrust cops. I've had training on most of the common less-than-lethal systems (lawyers don't let us call them non-lethal) including tasers, stun guns, pepper spray, rubber bullets and even conducted some training on the same. Unless this guy was issued a system with no training, he knows damn well the individual won't be getting up immediately after one tasing, let alone five. Frankly, I hope this guy answers for assault charges.

    To summarize, to non-cops this might appear to be a case of overreacting during a tense moment with a belligerent person. To most professionals, this is about as vanilla an arrest as there is where the cop did basically everything wrong. So wrong, in fact, I intend to use these videos as a training aid.

    This was so absurd that I actually laughed when the guy threatened to to taser the bystander who asked for his name and badge number. It's almost like he was trying to get fired and sued.
  • Re:Sick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ildon (413912) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:42AM (#16926304)
    If anyone other than myself had actually read any articles about this, you'd know that the library had instituted a policy of randomly asking people for their student ID's after 11 PM because of a history of sexual assaults within the library at night.
  • by spasm (79260) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:48AM (#16926360) Homepage
    Regardless of whether the cops were responding appropriately by tasering him or not (and, as you point out, we're missing the first half of the interaction), the fact the cops refused to provide names and badge numbers to onlookers on request tells you either a) the cops believed they were doing something wrong; or b) the cops believed they did not need to be accountable. Either of those is a huge problem, independent of the justifiability of the initial tasering.
  • by zerocommazero (837043) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:09AM (#16926574)
    But he didn't physically shake the cops off. The story says he fell limp. If he resisted using physical actions then i could see where the taser was warranted. But in reality, he fell limp, an obvious sign of non-violent protest. The cops could've tasered him, then two cops could've cuffed him (he was wearing cuffs but i don't know when they were put on), picked him up and carried him out. Wouldn't that've been the correct response?

    Whether you or i agree on his opinions, he does have a right to protest and he was doing it non-violently. We don't know if this guy was just stirring shit or has been a repeated victim of profiling by the campus cops in the previous weeks. But what we do know is that the cops took it too far as shown clear as day on video.

  • by Anomolous Cowturd (190524) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:11AM (#16926604)
    I know the University of Sydney, where I studied, usually has tons of people on campus and at the library who are not students or staff of the uni. After all it's got a huge library that is useful to more than just students. Sounds like it's a bit harder to get into a decent library over in the land of the free. Why?
  • by ArcherB (796902) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:32AM (#16926780) Journal
    You seriously want to say that tasing somebody 5 times is safer than just dragging him out? Maybe if he was raging on PCP, but this guy clearly was not thrashing around in danger to himself or anyone else.

    Listen to it again and tell me that you are 100% certain that this guy is not on anything. And yes, tasing him 5 times is safer than trying to drag this guy out a door, possible down the stairs, to the police car, force him in, then back out at the station and forcibly drag him up the stairs and into the police station.
    This guy was screaming at the top of his lungs before he was tased. Watch the video again and pay attention to audio when the frame is on the computer screen. You clearly hear they guy screaming "DON'T TOUCH ME". Then you hear him screaming "HERE IS YOUR PATRIOT ACT! HERE IS YOUR FUCKING ABUSE OF POWER! I SAID I WOULD FUCKING LEAVE!" A short time later, the police man told him to stand up, he said, "fuck off". (Obviously, he had no intention of leaving)

    Then again, maybe you are right. When someone goes into the library late at night with no way to prove that they are even a student at the college, if he doesn't want to leave, the police should just go home and let him be. It sure beats getting sued for trying to drag him out by force (he could bump his head) or tasing him.
  • Used in same manner (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hopopee (859193) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:03AM (#16927068)
    A finnish guy filmed two mall guards beating up a man and posted in on YouTube. The press got a whiff of it and now one of them was suspended, the other one fired and there's an ongoing criminal investigation. Yay for YouTube. A link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvsUA-qEzy0 [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:25AM (#16927284)
    The only people that like having cops torture people for not showing their papers on demand are Nazis and Communists.

    Which are you?
  • by indiechild (541156) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:46AM (#16927442)
    He's American actually. Are you saying that having dark/olive skin doesn't make you an American?
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:49AM (#16927458)
    Myself, I find it rather disturbing that three police officers were able to continue brutalising this chap for a full 6 minutes with dozens of people looking on, and the most that happened was someone piped up "Can I have your badge number?"

    That behaviour, combined with the refusal to give a badge number, would have me dialling emergency services and saying "Three men impersonating police officers are attacking a student" because quite frankly, that's what it looks like.
  • citizen's arrest? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by casehardened (700814) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:08AM (#16927602)
    Here's a question for ya: if I see a cop do something flagrantly illegal, which poses a physical threat, do I get to perform a citizen's arrest on the spot? I mean, seriously, these cops weren't tasing the guy because they were physically threatened (he was in handcuffs). They were tasing him because, well, they wanted to. That's assault. Shouldn't someone have, you know, done a bit more than ask for a badge number? I'm not saying it's the wisest strategy, since you'll likely get beaten down, but is it _legal_?
  • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:28AM (#16927748) Homepage
    Please, by all means, go out and tase yourself until tasers no longer affect you. Then, register an account, come back, and tell us all about it.

    (Goodbye, Excellent karma. We knew ye well...)
  • by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:37AM (#16927826)
    There are actually very few precedents in all of recorded history for police or military officers NOT killing students. For some reason, once someone is educated, their lives become completely meaningless to people in positions of authority. The number of massacres in universities and colleges by police is staggering. There is simply no other social group that police are so completely willing to mow down in large numbers.
  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ ... .ca minus distro> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:36AM (#16928170)
    Huh, are you nuts? The person was unwilling to show his card. Fair enough, then escort him out. If necessary handcuff him. But don't taser and then keep yelling, "stand up, stand up, stand up" like a bunch of freaken drones. The student has a case against the police for excessive force.

    The supreme court has said the following: (http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/1997/oct975.h tm)
    1) the severity of the crime; The guy did not show his student card! This is not a severe crime!

    2) whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others; The guy is a student who fell to the ground and did not move. He did not fight, nor raise a fist, nada!

    3) whether the suspect actively is resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight; He resisted arrest, but did not run away. He became a clump of lead.

    Put these factors in, and the security guards went way over the line and used excessive force. There is a civil lawsuit here. Some people said "why did he mention the patriot act?" Simple because of my referenced link where the supreme court explicitly said, "Hey you can only use so much force, which the patriot act nullifies."
  • by Shawn is an Asshole (845769) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:22AM (#16928440)
    Kuro5hin is still good, though. It's not as active as before, but it does have original articles added every few days. Plus I like the diaries feature.
  • Re:UCLA slogan: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:31AM (#16928896)

    In fact, some British universities (Cambridge, for example) are so old that they have bizarre/amusing legal trivia of their own. IIRC, the Proctors at Cambridge (who are senior university officials) technically have the authority of a constable and not a member of the public, while various public authorities including the police themselves may not enter the grounds of certain colleges without the advance permission of the Master or Head Porter. (Your vague memories may vary; please check the books before relying on this!)

  • by bshroyer (21524) <bret.bretshroyer@org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:55AM (#16929084)
    Using a Tazer (or four!) to enforce ID card possession makes as much sense as this:
    Headmaster: Well... Well... Well, it's all got to do with the library, you see. We've had a lot of trouble recently with boys taking out library books without library cards. Your son was caught, and I administered a beating, during which he died. But you'll be glad to know... You'll be glad to know that the ringleader was caught, so I don't think we'll be having any trouble with library discipline. You see, the library card system...
     
    Mr Perkins: I'm sorry...
     
    Headmaster: ...was...
     
    Mr Perkins: You beat my son to death?
     
    Headmaster: Yes, yes, so it would seem. Please, I'm not used to being interrupted. You see, the library card system was introduced...
     
    Mr Perkins: Well, exactly what happened?
     
    Headmaster: Well, apparently, boys were just slipping into the library and taking the books!
    (excerpt from civfanatics [civfanatics.com] )
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:04AM (#16929168)
    The description left out at least one critical point. Here is the actual timeline:

    - Security asks him for ID.
    - He does not produce ID.
    - He is asked to leave.
    - He protests, verbally.
    - Security, without any force, attempts to "guide" him to the door.
          (Think someone putting their hand on your shoulder and saying "Ok, buddy, you've had enough")
    - HE FALLS TO THE FLOOR AND GOES COMPLETELY LIMP
    - Security tells him multiple times to "stand up and leave".
    - He starts screaming at them
    - Security tells him "If you do not co-operate, we will taser you."
    - They repeat this warning several times over the next minute or so. He remains on the floor.
    - He is tased.
    - Still refusing to comply, they give additional warnings and tased him again.
    - Two officers have to drag him out of the building because he remains uncooperative.

  • by Progoth (98669) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:57AM (#16929700) Homepage
    You've got most of this completely wrong, sorry. Here's a hint - the video doesn't show everything. Another hint - he WAS handcuffed. Yet another hint - once the police have been called for trespassing, "cooperating" doesn't involve trying to run away when you're being questioned.

    It's obvious what should happen? I'm glad you are omniscient. How about YOU try to respond to a trespassing call as a police officer, while surrounded by 50 idiot college kids screaming at you with an EXTREMELY suspicious individual also screaming nonsense at you and trying to incite the stupid kids to attack you.

    The officers did what they were supposed to do when confronted with a non-cooperative individual who is lying limply, goading you to bend over him (so he can stick something in your eye? knife you?) Unfortunately, this is California, so the moron will probably win money anyway.
  • by numbski (515011) * <numbski@NOspAm.hksilver.net> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:06AM (#16929786) Homepage Journal
    There is something very specific that disgusts me about this: no one stepped in to stop it.

    Yeah, it's the police. Big freakin' whoop. Maybe because I have friends or family on the police force, but they're human beings. "They might throw obstruction of justice at me." Ya know...it saddens me how everyone will stand back and watch a spectacle like this and not take action against it when it's happening. Perhaps it's just choosing your battles, I dunno. If I'm standing there, I at least attempt to intervene. Now, perhaps we're seeing this out of context. We got tossed in after the tasering begins. I seriously doubt he did anything to that point to deserve it. He may have been a jerk, an a**, whatever, but enough to deserve getting a taser? Look, I've been unlucky enough to forget to turn off the TV after a football game and have "Cops" come on. You wanna see people acting stupid? There you go. Tasers come out on occasion, but I don't recall ever seeing someone tasered for failing to produce ID or failing to move when told.


    Everyone stands around watching the show, and no one is principled enough to stand up and say, "This is wrong, stop it. Cuff him, carry him out, do what you want, but stop inflicting pain upon him wrongly." Are we all either that entertained by the abuse of others or that afraid of our own persecution that we won't act? Or the last one....we just don't care? :(

  • by gordo3000 (785698) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:55AM (#16930484)
    I agree the cops here were out of line, but to say that that is the number one philosophy among cops does many good police officers a disservice. just as it is wrong to bucket all Arab/Persian/brown skinned foreigners as terrorists, its equally wrong to say most cops are just out to physically confront people.

    but I'm only speaking from my personal experience with my local police officers and that is another limited view. so maybe its equally wrong for me to form my conclusions on that basis.
  • by intheshelter (906917) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:05AM (#16930660)
    Okay, lets say that all you said was true about the video starting late. They still tortured someone in handcuffs. He was NOT a threat. Was the justification for that covered in your lab monitor handbook?
  • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:04PM (#16933408)
    I'm not convinced what the officers did was all bad, just some bad.

    Remember, you only got to see a tiny piece of the situation, and not even very well at that.

    After reading some accounts like this one [tuckermax.com], it seems pretty clear that tasing the guy once was justified. Tasing him again while in handcuffs, of course, was unjustified.

    During "after hours" in Powell, they send security around every half an hour or hour to check ID's and ensure that you're actually a student. The guy refused. Loudly. Was told that was fine if he didn't want to show it, he would just have to leave. Refused. Campus security couldn't get him to leave, and the police couldn't get him to leave. He was absolutely not trying to leave on his own power. At one point they started to try and drag him out, and he just went limp and started grabbing onto things.
    Another eyewitness said that the officers had already tried unsuccessfully to restrain him with compliance holds before using his taser. I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason why the first taser use was excessive given the background information. Again, tasing a restrained, unarmed person is never justified.

    Regarding threatening to tase a mob participant while the officers were in the process of subduing a belligerent person, it may have come out poorly, but that was not the time or place to demand a badge number. Wait until the officers have the situation under control, and then you can ask for whatever number you want. Heck, if you wait a few hours, you can go read the arrest report and get every detail down to the serial numbers of the tasers fired.

  • Re:fp (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AgentSmith (69695) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:08PM (#16933538)
    I watched the video. You could barely see the begining of the incident. You could hear some of it.

    Before anyone bitches one way or the other, I have something to ask.
    Have any of you been tazered?
    I have. Not as a result of a crime, but during training to know what it feels like.
    After being tazered once, I had to have someone help me up. This was at a time when
    I was young and physically fit. When you tazer someone, they are not always going to
    "get up" under their own power. I keep thinking in my head "If you want him to get out
    after the first taze you will need to move him. Duh."
    Being tazed for a no show on ID is a little extreme, but he did continued to be uncooperative.

    As a security officer (I'm not talking real law enforcement), you usually give your badge number if someone has a complaint.

    I'm kinda surprised the mob didn't rush them. When they started going too far.

     
  • Re:police POV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Procyon101 (61366) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:27PM (#16935552) Journal
    Assuming you are really a police officer, I have a question for you:

    Would it not be prudent, when an officer refuses to give his badge number and responds with threats of violence, and you, as a citizen have witnessed the officer in the commission of a crime, simply and calmly announce that as a citizen you are placing the officer under arrest and that since the original suspect is subdued, he must immediately refrain from any use of force or himself be resisting arrest?

    If I'm not mistaken, assuming the original threat is subdued, you are now the cops until other, non-involved police backup. If the officer(s) does not back down, I also believe the students can enact their Posse rights, relieve the police officers from duty, and use any force neccissary including lethal force to ensure that the crime they are witnessing is stopped... not that this would be the best course of action against armed police officers, but gently reminding the most calm of the officers of this possibility might defuse the situation.

    Please correct my understanding if I am wrong. I would like to know what my rights are as a bystander.
  • Re:Good job UCPD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Squirmy McPhee (856939) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:49PM (#16936152)
    This reminds me of an attorney I once knew who worked as a prosecutor for a major U.S. city. The city included several universities, and whenever one of the university police forces turned over a case to her there was a far higher than average chance she would have to drop it because of the lack of professionalism of the police. Generally it was because proper procedures were not followed, so evidence was either (a) missing or (b) inadmissible in court, though I do seem to recall her mentioning a case where someone was arrested for doing something perfectly legal. I can't recall any stories of gross misconduct like this one, though.
  • by NoTheory (580275) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:42PM (#16938740)
    Alright i'll be more specific. (and skip to the bottom if you already understand bayes rule)

    Here's bayes rule: P(A|B) = P(B|A)P(A)/P(B)

    Bayes rule gives you the likelihood that A is true, if B is true. It does this by asking what's the probability that B is true, if A is true, assessing what the likelihood of A is, and finally putting that in context of the probability of B.

    So lets make this more concrete. We want to know what's the probability of a person being a terrorist if they are a Muslim, or in other words what is P(Terrorist|Muslim).

    So Bayes rule says this question is equivalent to asking, what the likelihood that a person is muslim if they are a terrorist P(Muslim|Terrorist), and what the probability of a person being a terrorist is, or P(Terrorist), and then whether this matters given the number of muslims out in the world P(muslim)

    P(Terrorist|Muslim) = P(Muslim|Terrorist) * P(Terrorist) / P(Muslim)

    First, a comment. A lot of people assume that P(Terrorist|Muslim) = P(Muslim|Terrorist) is true. It is not. The fact that some terrorists are muslims, does not make all muslims terrorists, or even that it's more likely that most muslims are terrorists.

    So, now, given any human, we first evaluate whether our random human is a muslim (i.e. P(Muslim)). The likelihood is high (i'm not saying it's near 1 or whatever, but it's a big number statistically, naively we'll assume that it's 1/3 for the sake of argument).

    So, now pick a number for the likelihood that our random person is a terrorist (i.e. P(Terrorist)). This number is going to be low. The fact of the matter is that there are like >10 billion people on earth, and only a small number of them are psychopathic lunatics who want to send messages to others by killing people. Even if you want to say that there are currently a million terrorists out in the world, the probability that any individual is a terrorist would be 0.0001 (pretty small).

    So that puts us at P(Terrorist|Muslim) = P(Muslim|Terrorist) * 0.0001 / 0.33

    It's not all that important how many terrorists are Muslims (i.e. P(Muslim|Terrorist)), because even if ALL terrorists are Muslims (i.e. P(Muslim|Terrorist) = 1), the probability of a Muslim being a terrorist is 0.00030303030303 (i.e. not very fucking likely). And since P(Muslim|Terrorist) is definitely significantly under 1, it's even less relevant to know whether a person is a muslim, if you're trying to identify whether they're a terrorist or not.

    If you want to find terrorists, you do in fact need to find better indicators which correlate more strongly between the population with that indicator, and being a terrorist. And what i've been saying is that those indicators are not things that a border guard, or a TSA agent is going to be able to find out quickly, with the small amount of time they have with each individual they inspect. This is why immigration requests take months to process. So your implication is correct, i think that law enforcement is not capable of making quick accurate judgements, and that furthermore, quick judgements that they make are going to be inaccurate to the point of ineffectiveness, or counter-productiveness. And just to jump back to your bandana example, lets substitute cars instead. If crimes keep being committed using cars, you're sort of SOL, because everyone uses cars. It may be a common thread, but it's totally irrelevant because there are way too many cars out there. Race is just the same way. It will never be an effective indicator, because there are way too many people with that characteristic, you may as well ignore it. (Also i still do not acknowledge race as anything but an anachronistic fiction made up to divide people)

    So, to sum up the nasty mess above, most people don't understand statistics. Most people don't understand the amount of information you need to be able to make good statistical judgements. Most people don't have access to the sort of informat
  • by NoTheory (580275) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:49PM (#16938870)
    Sorry, i should be more clear. If a tool has a fatal flaw, all you need to demonstrate the flaw, is that it behaves contrary to its purpose, or that it does no better than randomly guessing. To demonstrate that it behaves contrary to its stated purpose, you only need a single case. To indicate that it doesn't do any better than randomly guessing, then you do need a battery of test cases. In the case i make above, i take the second path. However, that still doesn't invalidate the possibility of the former.
  • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:58AM (#16946664)
    The whole idea is that you know it's illegal, and choose to risk arrest and/or punishment anyway, because you believe the cause is just.

    I wonder what cause he thinks he was fighting... if any?

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