Groups vs systems

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:13 am
dpolicar: (Default)
[personal profile] dpolicar
I am so very tired of the narrative of "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."

Here's the thing: there's a difference between a group of people and a system of people. The difference is that a system of people comprises not only the individuals, but also the social constructs that guide the behavior of those individuals... in other words, the system itself.

For example, a company isn't just a bunch of people who coincidentally happen to work on the same projects in distributed ways. A school system isn't a bunch of teachers and administrators who independently happen to work the same way. A police precinct isn't a bunch of officers who just happen to follow the same rules.

In each of these cases there are policies and guidelines and hierarchies and informal structures and so forth that shape behavior. There's a system.

And when we praise or condemn the public school system, or the police, or Microsoft, or etc. we mostly aren't praising or condemning a whole group because of some good or bad individuals. I mean, sure, those individuals exist, but they aren't the reason. We are praising/condemning a whole group because of the system that organizes it. And the larger the system we're talking about, the more true that is: when we say that democracies are more just than totalitarian states, or that capitalism is more efficient than communism, or that communism is more humane than capitalism, or various other claims along those lines, we're basically not saying anything at all about any individual.

Or at least, that's how it should be. I mean, sure, sometimes we praise or condemn a group of people just because we're applying aggregate-level stereotypes to all the individuals in that group. And in those cases the "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group." narrative makes sense: we really shouldn't! Or at least, we're overwhelmingly likely to be mistaken when we do; we can draw our own ethical conclusions from there.

(I am reminded now of a friendship I broke some time back by expressing both the idea that condemning individuals because of their group affiliations is bad, and the idea that analyzing the common behaviors of individuals is the only way we can identify pathological systems, in ways that struck them as infuriatingly and relationship-endingly hypocritical.)

And sure, sometimes we make analysis errors in this space. Sometimes there's a system operating we're unaware of. Sometimes we infer the presence of systems that don't actually operate, or aren't relevant to what we're talking about. It's easy to talk about the behavior of people while ignoring the systems that shape us, and it's easy to handwave about notional systems without actually making any concrete or testable claims about whether they exist.

I'm not saying I expect us to be perfectly accurate when we describe groups and systems. But I want us to be better about acknowledging that they are two different things.

When someone condemns racism as a systemic attribute of a society, for example, there are folks who reply that no, racism is a property of individuals, end-of-story.

And in principle that can be a legitimate disagreement; if someone wants to argue that there really aren't any social systems underlying/guiding/constraining/coordinating the racist behavior of individuals, for example, that's a totally relevant argument. (Mind you, I think it's obviously false, but that's another matter.)

But usually they aren't arguing that; rather, they are simply insisting that we can only talk about individuals, because when we say that racism is also demonstrated through the systems that essentially all white people in this country participate in, we're talking about a whole group, and (all together now) "we shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."

And I don't know how to say all of this, or any of it, in ways that are at all useful within the conversation itself. And I watch other people trying to do it, and not getting very far either.

And I understand that often that's because other people just don't want to hear it, and in general I don't believe that there's a way to say everything that will be accepted by the person I'm talking to and that it's my job to find it. But still, I try to express myself clearly and compellingly.

So, anyway. I am so very tired of the narrative of "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."
dpolicar: (Default)
[personal profile] dpolicar
(A comment from another discussion)

I acknowledge, of course, that we are all imperfect humans, and what an individual officer does in a specfic situation is always the result of a million variables that are impossible to predict and often impossible to determine after the fact.

That's why I tend to focus more on training and evaluation protocols than on specific events. It's unjust to expect officers to do X in a sitution if they've been trained to do Y, but it's perfectly reasonable to expect officers to be trained to do X if we prefer that they do X in a situation.

I would prefer that police be trained and evaluated as peacekeepers rather than killers. So I would prefer, for example, they be trained and expected to identify situations that don't require a death, and to act so as to not create a death where none is required.

That said, how police are trained and evaluated is a collective decision, and if we collectively prefer police to choose deaths that aren't required -- for example, if we prefer to train and equip police as military officers who happen to deploy among civilian populations -- then that's how we should train and evaluate them, regardless of my preferences. That's part of the price I pay for living in a collective.

If police _are_ trained to choose unnecessary deaths, we should (individually and collectively) treat calling the police, permitting them into our homes, and otherwise making use of their services as a use of deadly force. Consequently, if we don't individually endorse the use of deadly force in those situations, we should not call the police, any more than we would fire a gun.

Those are individual decisions, not collective ones, and it's perfectly reasonable to hold one another as individuals accountable for them.

I acknowledge that this means that individuals who eschew deadly force in a situation may find themselves in conflict with any police who may arrive. I don't like this, and I don't endorse it, but I acknowledge it.

Anniversary Dinner at O Ya

Sep. 16th, 2017 09:19 pm
lillibet: (Default)
[personal profile] lillibet
Today was the twentieth anniversary of our first date and our seventeenth wedding anniversary, so Jason booked us an early dinner at O Ya. We've been there twice before. The first time we had the omakase (chef's whim) of seventeen courses, just to see what they were about. The second time we sort of wanted to order a la carte, but their menu is extensive and the portions are small and trying to figure out a dozen or more courses on the fly seemed overwhelming. So this time I sat down with their online menu several days in advance and made notes on what we wanted, not really a solid plan, but enough so that we were able to come up with an order on the fly. Here's what we ended up with:

KUMAMOTO OYSTER watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette

ORA KING SALMON Vietnamese dashi caramel, spicy rau ram salsa

BLUEFIN MAGURO Republic of Georgia herb sauce

SANTA BARBARA UNI TOAST "NIGIRI" smoked trout roe, truffle honey

HAMACHI TARTARE ginger verjus sauce, spiced chile oil

WARM EEL Thai basil, kabayaki, fresh kyoto sansh

BLUEFIN TORO TARTARE ginger kimchee jus

LOCAL SHRIMP TEMPURA bacon truffle emulsion, scallion ginger oil

MARTHA'S VINEYARD SMOKED BLUEFISH rainbow trout roe, wasabi vinaigrette, micro celery

AVOCADO TEMPURA kabayaki, truffle salt, yuzu zest

CHICKEN BROTH foie gras shumai, Tokyo leek, shitake

WAGYU TSUKUNE 2 oz., confit egg yolk, green onion, dried mushroom

CRISPY PORK BELLY Akashi glaze, celery root purée

We declined to order dessert, but they decided that our anniversary merited something sweet, so they gave us coconut tapioca with lime granita and yuzu sesame dice and moshi donuts with jasmine caramel dipping sauce.

We decided that the next time we go--in another few years--we will concentrate more on the nigiri portion of the menu, because those were our favorites, but everything was delicious and fascinating and special.
randomness: Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), photograph by Malene Thyssen, cropped square for userpic. (Default)
[personal profile] randomness
My phone is still in boot loop. I posted about this problem in passing on August 21. Nothing about the phone has changed.

I still have many images and some text messages I would like to recover from it. I am willing to pay someone to get them back for me.

If you have had good experiences with a service and you would like to recommend them, please let me know.

Profile

cevad

June 2017

S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
2526272829 30 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 04:17 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios