Of Course "When the Looting Start, the Shooting Starts"

"Chang Lee gripped his fingers tighter around the gun and screamed at potential looters from the rooftop of the small strip mall where he stood."


Twitter flagged President Trump's below with the label, "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible"; it also hid the Tweet so that it wouldn't be visible until people clicked on it (which I'm pretty confident they would).

It seems that, if a similar message was posted by an ordinary user, and people complained to Twitter, Twitter would delete it under its "glorification of violence" policy, which says "You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence." (UPDATE: Politico notes that "The company also barred individuals from retweeting Trump's post but only after it had been shared more than 23,000 times.")

But of course looting does tend to lead to shooting (not invariably, but "when X starts, Y starts" is a figurative way of describing a tendency, not a logical certainty). Under Minnesota law, it's legal for ordinary citizens to use deadly force to prevent "an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm [which could be as little as a lost tooth] or death" or "the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode."

This means that deadly force can't lawfully be used by store owners just to prevent looting of their stores—but nondeadly force can be used to defend property (and even just to prevent trespass), and then if the attackers start to threaten the lawful defender with death or great bodily harm, the defender can use deadly force to defend against that. To quote the Model Penal Code, which I think captures well the underlying principle (though I haven't found Minnesota cases specifically on this point), use of deadly force is allowed if

the person against whom the force is used is attempting to commit or consummate arson, burglary, robbery or other felonious theft or property destruction and either:

(A) has employed or threatened deadly force against or in the presence of the actor; or

(B) the use of force other than deadly force to prevent the commission or the consummation of the crime would expose the actor or another in his presence to substantial danger of serious bodily injury.

What's more, under Minnesota law police officers are also entitled to use deadly force "to effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person" when the office reasonably believes the person (a) "has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force" or (b) "will cause death or great bodily harm if the person's apprehension is delayed." Lots of possibilities of legal shootings there. The "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" phrase was apparently made prominent by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in 1967, and may well have been used then to threaten possibly illegal shootings by police officers. But it certainly covers (especially when expressed by someone who isn't himself giving the orders, but talking about what others might do) the risk of justified police shootings as well.

There are also possibilities of illegal shootings by citizens defending themselves, or shootings the legality of which will be impossible to determine. And there is the risk of other deadly violence, whether by defenders or by other looters who think the chaos gives them a safe way to do what they like. You go into a lawless zone where mobs of people are doing lawless things, and you might become the victim of lawlessness.

And of course one deterrent to looting is precisely the risk of shooting, legal or illegal. I suspect that if a child of yours was thinking of going out with some looters, you'd warn him of the risk that he'll die or be seriously injured. If someone was about to loot your store, and you were armed, you might warn him of the same thing:

Chang Lee gripped his fingers tighter around the gun and screamed at potential looters from the rooftop of the small strip mall where he stood. The 35-year-old had never held a firearm before the LA riots. Lighting up the blocks around him, Lee could smell the fires burning in Los Angeles' Koreatown.

Under Minnesota law, it appears that "simply firing a gun into the distance does not meet the definition of deadly force," and may thus be permitted even just to protect property; neither would simply brandishing a gun and threatening to use it. And if the looters keep coming in the face of such a lawful threat (thus reasonably leading the defender to fear for his life), deadly force may become lawful, too. I wouldn't go as far as Vice-President Biden in saying, "[if] you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door"—not generally sound advice, legally speaking—but when law and order temporarily collapses, I expect some similar behavior, including by people defending their businesses.

More broadly, one tool the American legal system uses to prevent looting and other crimes is precisely the implicit threat that people who do that might get shot. All criminal laws are ultimately backed by the threat of violence (arrest), including indirectly the threat of deadly violence (potential shooting if you violently refuse to go along with the arrest). But laws against looting, I think, are even more clearly backed by the threat that someone, whether police or otherwise, will shoot.

It's not unconstitutional for Twitter to block tweets that express this sentiment. Twitter isn't the government, and thus isn't bound by the First Amendment. Nor does Twitter violate any statutes in blocking such tweets (again, Twitter didn't block Trump's tweet, but I take it that its message is that it could block the same tweet from a private citizen). Nor does it lose immunity from defamation liability based on other tweets by blocking this sort of tweet.

But I do think this example helps show why people are concerned about Twitter's policies, and the dangers that they will restrict (to be sure, just on this one privately owned but very important platform) legitimate discussions and warnings.

NEXT: Upcoming Free Online Talk About My Book "Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom"

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  1. In light of the pandemic some store owners might benefit from their store being burned down…arsonists are real.

    1. How heartless can you be? How many senior citizens would have lived 6 months, 12 months, or 18 months more if the Idiot in Chief did his job and locked down the country earlier? We could have saved the lives of 100,000 Americans if Trump listened to the scientist, who vote overwhelmingly Democrat by the way.

      1. Good narrative, did you write that yourself?

      2. Does it occur to you that there may be a reason why people who do logic and reason for a living are disinclined to vote Republican?

        1. Did you see that video of the white guy dressed in all black with a hammer?? I think it is highly likely business owners are looking for an insurance windfall.

        2. Absolutely! Urban intellectuals voted for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Suburban and rural retards voted for Donald Trump and the GOP because they’re racists afraid of their own black shadow.

        3. I don’t know who they are voting for then. Clearly nobody with any grasp of logic whatsoever would vote for the party of the jackass. They certainly chose the right symbol……..

      3. Funny how liberals wax and wane about the pure theory that “tens of thousands of lives could have been saved” if we “just did something more” but could give two shits about the tens of thousands of babies that were murdered as a matter of due course in the same time period.

        1. A troublesome fetus is life unworthy of life. #WomensHealth

          1. A troublesome slut is life — that????

      4. Ah yes, the State Science Institute. How is Dr Floyd Ferris?

      5. I read a piece this week that earlier lockdowns wouldn’t have been possible because the death rate was so low. I don’t recall the source. This argument applies equally to the Orange Man Bad who lives in your head and to saintly, prescient governors like the brother of the CNN anchor. It also has the virtue of making sense.

      6. How many senior citizens will DIE because of this bullshit?
        I am personally worried about one….

      7. Trump doesn’t have authority to “lock down” the country. I guess you confused the US with a dictatorship somewhere.

      8. Scientists like Fauci who claimed COVID-19 was very low risk to the US?

    2. I was thinking the exact same thing….

  2. Given that this statement was often used by George Wallace and is associated with him, I think the context matters just a bit …

    1. It’s been traced back to Miami police chief Walter Healdey in 1967, who helpfully added that he didn’t mind being accused of police brutality.

    2. Seems to me the context is people rioting and looting and committing arson, so the sentiment is perfectly admirable.

      1. It’s actually not because it’s still advocating killing in defense of property.

        1. Setting aside that people die in fires, I have no problem with advocating killing in defense of property. See my remark below: When you destroy property, you render valueless the time people put into earning it. Often an expensive building can represent multiple lifetimes of effort.

          Destroying property IS destroying life, second hand.

          1. So you’re a sociopath. Got it.

            1. No the sociopaths are those who burn down the hard work of generations of their own neighbors.

              Are you one of them? Or do you sympathize with them?

              1. No. I am a person who believes killing in defense of property is categorically wrong in all circumstances. A life is unique and cannot be compared to an object. I will not dehumanize people by advocating that life be taken in defense of objects.

                1. Congratulations! You live in a democracy where many of your citizens take a different view.

                  You can avoid coming into conflict with them by not destroying their property and incoming.

                  1. They take a different view that is highly immoral and should be shamed for it.

                    1. Ooh, I feel ashamed.

                      Will you be heading out to burn down someone else’s property.

                    2. No. Because I also am not a dick who destroys peoples things.

                    3. They take a different view that is highly immoral and should be shamed for it

                      And when everything you own has been stolen and you are starving?

                2. So you believe that “killing in defense of property is categorically wrong in all circumstances.”
                  Yet arrests and, indeed, all law enforcement is effected under the threat of lethal force.
                  The implication is that you are saying not only that it is never justifiable to kill in defense of property but that no defense of property is allowed. If I walk up and steal your car, your house, even your dog, not only will you not use lethal force, you will not support the use of force by others to defend your property.

                  If yours ever became the majority opinion, how long do you think you’d be able to hold on to your stuff before someone just took it away from you?

                  1. Yet arrests and, indeed, all law enforcement is effected under the threat of lethal force.

                    You go way too far.

                    Would you kill some one who tried to pick your pocket? If you called the police and identified the would-be pickpocket would you expect them to kill him if necessary to keep him from escaping? Would you think that was appropriate?

                    1. Every confrontation with the police has the potential to escalate to lethal violence. If you are not willing to accept that responsibility, then don’t call the police.

                      It’s not about “expecting” them to kill the pickpocket – it’s about acknowledging that it could happen regardless of what we want or expect. (And that’s even with fully-trained, emotionally stable police who sincerely want to protect and serve their communities. God help us when we have to factor in the cops who are in it for the authority.) We hope that it’s a small probability lethal consequence but it is inevitably non-zero. We call the cops anyway because the long-term social consequences of never punishing thieves are worse than the alternatives.

                      LawTalkingGuy’s claimed moral standard, however, forecloses that approach. While he may not realize it, the implication of that moral standard is that he can’t call the cops for any property crime. And that’s untenable.

                    2. Rossami, danger of death is always inherent wit hany use of force, it is true. But intentionally trying to cause death is a different thing.

                      You are conflating the first to defend the second. That’s quite a thing to do.

                    3. Sarcastro: Floyd was passing counterfeit bills, a non-violent crime of fraud.

                      The store called the police to arrest him.

                      Then he ended up dead. The agents of the state killed him.

                      Should the store stop calling the police for property crimes in the future?

                    4. KevinP, look up what ‘intentionally trying to cause death’ means and try again.

                    5. Sarcastro: Are you saying that the store or the responding officers intended to cause death?

                    6. Sarcastr0, please re-read LawTalkingGuy’s original premise. It was an absolute statement. Intentionality had nothing to do with it.

                    7. “The agents of the state killed him.”

                      Let’s see the autopsy first — they definitely didn’t help but he also reportedly was on something — and I’d like to see my facts before I convict people. I’m kinda funny that way….

                      And likewise, this may have been First Degree murder — let’s wait for the facts.

                3. Is not looting the initiation of force in order to gain objects? Right there we see how aggression is both a violation and a waiver of individual rights against forcible restraint and neutralization via retaliation. Communist infiltrators cross-dressing as libertarians can be counted on to not understand that. But even sparrows need no explanation, so do we suppose this is an IQ problem or a death wish?

                  1. Force is a continuum, Hank.

                    Your libertarian philosophy wankery is great in a vacuum, but the real world is a bit more complicated and can handle the nuance between stealing and killing.

                4. You realize that most of the thugs looting probably have IQs of 80? In other words, they’re barely more functional than orangutans.

                  1. they’re barely more functional than orangutans.

                    Like you, IOW.

                5. When it comes down to it the police are there to protect the criminals from the citizenry. I’ve lived in a country where shoplifters are routinely given a severe beating because people have no confidence in the justice system.

                  To be a civilized country a dependable justice system is necessary, one that protects private property as one of its primary missions. Because once it’s no longer civilized a rougher justice will emerge from the people.

                6. “A life is unique and cannot be compared to an object. ”

                  True. Objects in and of themselves do no harm. Criminals, including looters, do a great deal of harm. Consequently the elimination of criminals including looters has the potential to be quite beneficial. Not so with property. The logical conclusion? Shoot looters and repeatedly state how in fear of ones life one was. A jury will have no problem believing it either when they see some of the footage of the violent mobs in action.

            2. Go fuck yourself.

              1. Why so defensive? He didn’t call you a sociopath. Are you a sociopath? We know you’re a shameless, even proud, racist. And it seems intuitive to this layman that there may well be a correlation between sociopathy and the empathy deficit inherent in your kind of malignant racism. But while all of that makes you a despicable human being, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a sociopath, now does it? I mean, I can’t imagine it would surprise anyone to learn that you are in fact a sociopath, and by anyone I mean any single human being on planet Earth, but that’s still not conclusive. As far as I can tell, your sociopathy is merely a matter of justifiably confident surmise, but it’s yet to be dispositively proven.

                1. You wrote all that and said essentially nothing. Ever consider a career in politics? You’re a natural.

            3. You’re a born victim who will bend over for anyone who wants to take what you have. Got it.

          2. “I have no problem with advocating killing in defense of property”

            Pro-life, doncha know?

            1. You misconstrue what “pro-life” means. It means defending innocent life. Not people who need killin’

            2. Your IQ must be on par with that of a houseplant if you can’t understand the difference between taking the lives of parasites who violently victimize others and innocent life that has harmed nobody.

        2. So the force initiated by looters is by definition not even potentially deadly? Resistance is reactionary and needs to be made futile?

        3. There’s a long tradition of cases in common law that it is wrong to, say, rig a shotgun to fire at anyone who breaks into a building. Because the Common Law had this crazy, socialist idea that human life, even of cretins, was worth more than property.

          1. Traps are illegal, but only because they indiscriminately will fire on anyone who trips the trap including first responders and others who had a lawful reason to be present on the property in question.

            This is a completely different situation than the property owner being present and making a conscious decision to protect her property against looters.

            1. No, Kevin. The tort cases about shotguns don’t have that logic at all. They actually have QA’s logic about not using deadly force to protect property.


              Alas, the law is not a psycho.

              1. Laws in numerous states permit deadly force in defense of property. Florida is an example. In fact there deadly force can be used to prevent a whole host of “forcible felonies” including things such as simple burglary or arson without any requirement that life actually be in danger. Technically speaking if you are in the process of trying to set my house on fire in Florida I can kill you with a scoped rifle from 1000 yards away and be completely within the law even though you pose no danger to my life or anyone elses. All I need to show is that killing you with said rifle was necessary to prevent arson and game over.


            2. Sarcastro, from the Wiki page:

              The Court ruled that using deadly force on intruders in an unoccupied property was not reasonable or justified. Briney would have been justified in defending himself with the shotgun if he had been home during the intrusion.

              I haven’t read the actual opinion, but this seems to me to be very much in line with the homeowner being entitled to protect his property. Note that, if he was physically present, and confronted the burglar, and if the burglar had pressed the confrontation, he would have been entitled to use deadly force against him.

              1. Kevin, did you ignore the HOLDING OF THE CASE? The Court ruled that using deadly force on intruders in an unoccupied property was not reasonable or justified.

                Your outcome-seeking cherry picking is pretty easy to understand in that context.
                Lets think of what is different from him being there versus his not being there.

                The property under threat has not changed.

                The person being under threat has changed.

                I think the castle doctrine is dumb, but it’s a self defense doctrine. It’s *not* about property.

              2. Depends heavily on the state. In Florida for example you can be lawfully killed for a whole host of “forcible felonies” a number of which require no threat to anyone’s life or safety at all. Any arson for example in Florida automatically justifies deadly force. You could be trying to burn a broken down chicken house that hasn’t been occupied by anything in 2 years and killing you is still 100% justified. Under Florida law I can head shoot an arsonist attempting to burn said chicken house from 500 yards away and am acting 100% within the law. This is as it should be. Don’t be a criminal and you have nothing to worry about.


      2. When the lynching starts, so do the fires.

        But you may be surprised who is lighting them. I have heard video of a cop smashing windows will be released as soon as a positive ID is made.

        As usual, the people shouting “false flag” are the ones doing it.

        1. Who knows. Reports are sketch at the moment to say the least. Beware the alluring narrative and wait till the facts are in.

        2. I have seen this video. But:

          All videos are a snapshot in time and it’s not clearly documented about when and where the video was taken.

          There’s no evidence that the person (wearing a full face respirator and fully clothed in black) is a cop. He looks like a fair skinned guy with two eyes. That’s about it. My first impression upon viewing the video was that it could be a Black Bloc / Antifa type like those who can be seen frequently in Portland. But there’s no evidence of that either.

          1. He could have been a FIRED cop trying to justify whatever.
            He could be private security, or a for-hire arsonist. Don’t dismiss that with the economy the way it is.

            Find out WHO and then guess as to why…

        3. Arson of any inhabited structure will automatically and easily justify deadly force virtually everywhere because it inherently endangers life. Try to burn any structure I own and you can expect sustained rifle fire at you and everyone with you with a scoped semi automatic rifle until you are either:

          a. Are clearly dead or incapacitated.

          b. Surrender and follow any and all commands you are given.

          b. Withdraw beyond effective range.

          PS Darkness won’t hide you. I have IR.

    3. George Wallace may have said it, but it isn’t a very creative phrase. Looting clearly rhymes with shooting. I am sure a lot of people have thought of this pretty obvious linguistic pattern independently.

      1. Wallace spoiler votes pretty much destroyed the Dems–and wrote most of the GOP platforms for as long as Nixon was bombing the other side of the planet. Spoiler votes used to be a bad thing before the LP came along.

        1. Nixon effectively ended Vietnam. Johnson by contrast relentlessly escalated it.

  3. It appears at least 2 more people have died in the violence in Minneapolis. A man was shot Wednesday and a business owner arrested. A woman was found dead in a vehicle in the area of the violence. Very little information on these events is easily available.

    1. Right wing violence is a scourge on the soul of American. Progressive saints, like Heather Heyer, deserve more acclaim than Donald Trump or Mike Pence. #RepublicanShame

      1. Oh, sarcasm! I get it know.

      2. Do you perform your act professionally? Like, Lion’s Clubs, or birthdays?

      3. What a load. As usual it’s leftists committing violence all over America. Looting, arson, mass vandalism. Anytime that’s going on on any significant scale, guaranteed the left is doing it. Ferguson, Baltimore, now cities all over America, not a right wing rioter in sight anywhere.

    2. “A man was shot Wednesday and a business owner arrested.”

      Good luck getting 12 jurors to convict. The “man” was a looter endangering life and safety and only 1 juror needs to be so convinced.

  4. Amazes me that a libertarian website could at all argue anything against Twitter here. If you don’t like it, wouldn’t the market just create a new one?

    And good- finally actually use those policies against this idiot and sad, sad excuse for a “leader.”

    1. Twitter doesn’t break into the top 10 most used social media sites in the world. The -only- reason its cited because its popular with a certain US President, the media, and libertarian law professors.

  5. “He who saves the life of one man saves the entire world.”
    Please remember that before you undermine the value of human life, Eugene. Most of these businesses are insured against loses due to riots so the monetary cost is insignificant compared to the life of one African-American. #BlackLivesMatter

    1. Many insurance policies will not pay out in case of insurrection or civil disturbance.

      1. That is generally true of most contracts of just about any kind.

      2. “Many” is being conservative, almost all have civil insurrection/unrest clauses.

  6. The phrase has a history which helps explain I think why this tweet was targeted.

    1. Republicans have been using the “big lie” technique since 1933.

    2. Frankly, so what? A looter is a looter. Looting does not become less damaging because one race or the other is doing it. Good luck prosecuting anybody who shoots looters effectively too unless they are absolutely stupid about how they do it. If they stick to the fear for their life narrative it will be game over. Jury bias against looters in general will do the rest.

  7. Immediately after the Executive Order, Twitter censors a Presidential Tweet. You can talk about policies here, but what this really comes down to is Dorsey saying, “Bring it.”

    1. Really? Twitter used the power of the state to prevent Don’s words from being read by others?

      One would think a seasoned commenter on legal blogs like Brett would understand words.

      1. You would think a person could realize that anybody is capable of “censorship”. It’s only unconstitutional if that somebody is an agent of the government.

    2. The EO came after the censoring and the EO is a bad idea. It’s clear overreach and an attempt to rewrite the CDA 230 which neither Trump nor any other president has the power to do. On net it will also harm free speech to any extent it is upheld and enforceable which is the opposite of the stated intent. So, generally a bad idea all around. Trump should stick to the clearly established GOP party platform and appointing federalist society judges and stop going rogue. Frankly the best thing that could happen for his re-election and a potential future term is if Twitter would just ban him completely.

  8. (A) has employed or threatened deadly force against or in the presence of the actor; or

    (B) the use of force other than deadly force to prevent the commission or the consummation of the crime would expose the actor or another in his presence to substantial danger of serious bodily injury.

    Given ongoing civil unrest, it seems like “(B)” is broad enough to justify pretty much any killing whatever. Some folks get off on that, which is a problem, not part of the solution.

    It’s property. Impose a duty to retreat, and let the police handle it, or not. What civil unrest never needs is avoidable escalation to the next level of violence.

    1. Likewise with rape. Don’t let women defend themselves from rapists, that just leaves a grieving family behind. Require her to turn tail and run.

      It’s sex. Impose a duty to retreat and let the police handle it, or not.


      1. Eddy, what would lead you suppose that I would think being raped is analogous to property loss? Or is that your thought?

    2. “What civil unrest never needs is avoidable escalation to the next level of violence.”

      To the contrary, such unrest usually needs a “whiff of grapeshot” but sadly seldom gets it.

      The police let their own building be burnt and looted. Might has well disband them for all the help they can give.

      1. Wouldn’t a whiff of grapeshot result in indiscriminate killing of people no matter their specific conduct? You can’t exactly control the trajectory.

        Would you be willing to fire it yourself?
        Would you be willing to then stem the bleeding of the victims?
        Or would you be content to watch them bleed out and cry for help? Would you smile and laugh or feel bad about it?
        Would you be willing to bury the bodies yourself?

        What would you say to the families of a dead bystander? Would you apologize? Go to your funeral?

        How willing are you personally to engage in such violence?

        1. If you can’t control the trajectory, you shouldn’t be firing the gun.

          1. So no grapeshot? Maybe you’re less sociopathic than I thought.

            1. Its a metaphor.

              1. A violent one that references something Napoleon did which resulted in people dying. What level of violence are you comfortable with to defend things?

                1. ToughTalkingGuy,

                  If you were about to be raped, would you submit or resist with deadly force?

                  It’s just sex after all.

                  1. Interesting question. But your premise has a key flaw. Rape is an act of violence against the human body. Sex is not in any way equivalent to property.

                    I probably would not use deadly force in such a scenario, mainly because I would likely lack the capability to impose it. (I doubt I would have a gun, and unless it happened in my kitchen I probably wouldn’t have access to a knife. Maybe if there were scissors around? Who knows.)

                    I have never been the subject of a sexual or violent assault. So I could not say what kind of burden that is for survivors. It is probably uniquely terrifying to have a person inflict grave harm on you. But from my own experience suffering traumatic and catastrophic injuries, I’ve found the human body and spirit to be remarkably resilient. So I think for me at least the knowledge that I could overcome a trauma would militate against killing. Living with the knowledge I am a killer would probably be worse for me personally than overcoming another form of trauma.

                    1. Kudos to LawTalkingGuy for giving a reasonable, thoughtful response to a question that did not at all deserve it.

                    2. Nova, thanks for the compliment. But funnily enough I think the question deserves an answer. One because I’m out here asking pointed questions about people’s comfort levels with violence. So if I can dish it I need to take it. And two it is probably the toughest question out there regarding the appropriate use of violence.

                    3. A reasonable answer. But note that:

                      You can only make this choice for yourself.

                      You cannot make this choice for other people, Nor accuse them of sociopathy for wanting to defend themselves.

                      You cannot call for help or ask for any kind of police assistance during or after your assault those people bring guns and are capable of using them.

                    4. Kevin, the choice of what kind of force one person may use on another in what circumstance sis EXACTLY The sort of question rhat is answered socially, not individually.

                    5. Sarcastro, sure, by law and by its practical application through judge and jury. I fully support that and as a law abiding gun owner and firearms instructor, I make sure to stay well on the right side of the law.

                      ToughTalkingGuy is taking a high moral stand though. And he is full of BS. He can make that choice for himself, although to be morally consistent, he must then forego seeking police assistance to regain his property. And he should also forego making an insurance claim, because insurance companies often employ their own investigators and refer their findings to the police.

                      ToughTalkingGuy doesn’t get to preen and condemn different choices made by other people.

                      As just one of many examples: if you are a working class workman and your pickup truck is being stolen along with the tools of your trade in it, you are in real risk of losing your livelihood and your means to get to your job. ToughTalkingGuy is privileged that he isn’t in that situation.

                    6. ??? Stuff can be immoral well before a jury convicts you. What are you, some sort of sovereign citizen?

                      You sure as heck get to condemn other people about the choices they make about killing others.

                      You are not making that choice just for yourself, you’re making it for a victim. And other people are absolutely allowed to care about that.

                    7. Sure, ToughTalkingGuy is free to say whatever he wants; it’s a free country with freedom of speech.

                      And the rest of us are free to respond and call out his hypocrisy and imbecility.

                    8. KevinP,

                      Funny story. I got mugged outside my apartment building once. They took my phone and laptop. They also wanted the take out I had with me, but I told them no and they ran away when someone shouted out a window at them. I used a neighbor’s phone and called AT-T to shut off the stolen phone. And then I got a new phone. I bought a new laptop later that summer. No police necessary.

                      You may or may not be surprised to know this…but I don’t have any property worth getting the police involved for. Things can be replaced. There are some books and sentimental items I care for, but those really wouldn’t be worthy of police attention if they left me either.

                    9. ? Here’s my point: your ‘No judging how someone else values other peoples’ life’ is ridiculous and frankly antisocial.

                      LTG isn’t a hypocrite, you’re just being defensive because your bloodthirsty flex is not going well.

                    10. KevinP,

                      “He can make that choice for himself, although to be morally consistent, he must then forego seeking police assistance to regain his property. And he should also forego making an insurance claim, because insurance companies often employ their own investigators and refer their findings to the police.”

                      You are an idiot. LawTalkingGuy did make that choice, so consider yourself pwned. In addition, there is nothing hypocritical about not shooting someone to protect your property and then contacting the police in the expectation that they will use non-lethal means to take the person into custody and/or track down your property. Ditto contacting an insurance company.

                      The normal course of police work, at least at this point, is not to shoot people in the course of investigating a theft. That is why police shootings and killings of people being arrested or detained for suspicion of minor crimes leads to protests and nationwide news coverage. You needn’t assume the police will result to killing just because they too often do and, therefore, refrain from calling them unless someone ought to be shot.

                      Go take a course in logic. Please.

                    11. KevinP: You cannot make this choice for other people, Nor accuse them of sociopathy for wanting to defend themselves.

                      The problem, evidently, is that with you, Bellmore, and plenty of others, “wanting to defend themselves,” preexists any context to justify doing it with a gun. It’s a permanent state of mind.

                      I would trust you as a gun carrier if you *didn’t* want to defend yourself. If, for instance, you were willing to retreat and surrender property instead of escalating. But on the basis of the comments here, you guys are bristling to escalate, and hoping to get the chance. That attitude, at least, deserves to be called sociopathic, whether or not you guys are actual sociopaths.

                    12. @LawTalkingGuy at 10:03pm

                      I assume that your muggers threatened you with a weapon of some sort, something that could take your life if used against you. That is where I draw the line. I wouldn’t use lethal force against someone who was driving away in my car but I would be willing to in the situation where someone is apparently willing to use it against me to get what they want.

                2. “What level of violence are you comfortable with to defend things?”

                  Whatever the level is that stops the riot and no more.

                  A weak police response just encourages more rioting, as we have seen.

                  Stores and an affordable housing site on night one. Police station on night two. Maybe city hall tonight.

        2. Nowadays fast neutrons, IR, gamma and compression take the place of canister. Neighborhood effects are yet another good reason to vote for a party that eschews the initiation of force. The moral case was settled by Louis Ridenour back in 1952. Quicksilver rubbed it in with “Oh you who place your faith in fire, in fire your faith shall be returned!”

      2. Disbanding them and starting over with raw material that doesn’t consider lynching appropriate is a great idea.

    3. It is easily sufficient and states like for example Florida are MUCH more lenient as to when deadly force can be used. Try to burn the dog house a dog hasn’t even actually used in 5 years there and you are committing second degree arson and have thus justified deadly force against yourself. Ditto for a whole slew of other “forcible felonies”.

  9. I don’t think Eugene is interpreting Trump correctly. I don’t take Trump as predicting that looting will cause shooting. I take him as approving (rhetorically, if not in reality) the shooting of looters. Which is clearly illegal and unconstitutional. Plenty of other people have interpreted Trump in this manner as well.

    1. Well, as I noted in my post, shooting of looters is often — not under all circumstances, but under a considerable range — quite legal.

      No-one has a legal obligation to just give his property up to shooters; he may try to lawfully defend it using nondeadly force. That will often lead to threat of death or great bodily harm against defenders, to which the defenders may legally respond with deadly force. Likewise, police officers are free to try arrest looters, and if the looters (either the arrestees or others) threaten the police (or others) with death or great bodily harm, the officers may legally use deadly force.

      1. They can’t shoot you in the back. Smash the windows and grab the expensive stuff quickly and then run away. Sure, a few store owners will shoot looters in the back while running away with some property. They’ll be publicly lynched by media first and then legally lynched by the government for manslaughter, if not murder.

        1. So shoot first, before they have time to turn their back to you.
          And practice this phrase: “he was advancing toward me and I was afraid for my life”

      2. None of which justifies shooting looters.

        It’s disappointing – maybe I shouldn’t be surprised – to see you bending over backwards to defend Trump, who is stoking violence here when he should be trying to get things calmed down. It’s just another appeal to the worst elements of his base.


        1. Surely, the deplorable Republicans will be voted out of office this November. What sensible person would be opposed to Joe Biden?

          1. I guess people who don’t want an authoritarian, obviously senile, credibly accused rapist as president.

        2. It’s the looters who are despicable, and violence to stop them is perfectly appropriate.

      3. Professor Volokh, you are an expert on law. But on the subject of gun violence you seem a poor source, lacking in practical experience. I’m guessing, of course, but if I am wrong, and you have plenty of first-hand experience with guns, and people targeted by them, then your dispassionate commentary does little credit to your empathy. On guns, your tone strikes too close to that of a chess master, discussing the pros and cons of a pawn sacrifice.

        Please, tell me you have never seen anyone killed or seriously injured with a gun. Assuming you have not, then I suggest that before you comment again on the subject, you should get that experience.

        You are nationally acknowledged as a gun use legal expert. That should stand you in good stead to request a ride with EMTs, as they go about their business of rescuing wounded shooting victims, and pronouncing the deaths of the corpses they find. Call up, explain your background, and tell them you feel like your expertise is missing the practical experience piece.

        Do it in Chicago or Baltimore, where you will get plenty of action. Spend a week or two. Follow up in emergency rooms, to see what the medical staff see there. Maybe arrange interviews with some of the gravely wounded—those lucky enough to survive—and hear about their post-shooting lives.

        Or if that seems daunting or inconvenient, at least get a gun in your hands during hunting season, and go out and kill game. I do not want gun expertise, not even gun legal expertise, from anyone short of first-hand experience with what guns do. Still less do I want that expertise from anyone who supposes it is possible to achieve a moral separation to divide gun law and gun policy, from gun injuries and gun killings.

        1. Agreed. We need legislation to ban Teflon coated, hollow point bullets that have been designed to slip through Kevlar body armor and explode in the human body. Even the Geneva Convention recognizes that certain instruments of war, like hollow point bullets and shotguns, are too inhumane for armed conflicts.

          1. Teflon coated bullets are an urban legend believed only by people who watch too many movies and think they are real. HP bullets in general are ill suited to penetrating body armor because they will expand upon hitting it which will impede penetration. You would not use HP bullets to defeat body armor unless they are massive overkill i.e. a rifle round against body armor that is only handgun round rated. HP bullets prevent over penetration, maximize incapacitation potential to eliminate a threat and are thus highly desirable, other than to complete fools who want bystanders hit by over penetrating rounds and desire poor stopping ability resulting in more rounds needing to be fired to then in turn hit more bystanders. In short anyone advocating not using HP rounds in defensive situations is completely ignorant regarding defensive firearms use and should be completely ignored on the subject.

        2. This is the dumbest post I’ve ever seen on Reason, and that’s saying a lot.

        3. Lathrop once did some hunting back in the ’60s and has been hostile to guns and gun owners ever since. He must have had many “thug” friends and decided that all gun owners were thugs thereafter.

          1. KevinP, I’m far too discriminating to be hostile to all guns and all gun owners. Long experience with guns, and with people who love guns, taught me they are not all alike. I am just hostile to the wrong kinds of gun owners, and to the wrong kinds of guns. You distinguish both kinds by the attitudes of the owners about what guns mean in society, and by their choices about which guns serve those attitudes.

        4. Steven, some people “need killing.”

        5. Don’t loot and you won’t have to worry about getting shot for looting and thus will not have to worry about the effect of gun shot wounds on looters. We don’t shoot people because we wish them well in their endeavors. We shoot them to stop them NOW! Perhaps those of you so concerned with the welfare of looters should post your home and business addresses along with your solemn promise not to harm looters in any way, thereby redirecting the looters away from those of us who may, or even likely will, harm them.

      4. I think it is going to come out this time that some of the looters are the cops.

        There has been very strong suspicion about this in the last couple riots, and there was some video that was suggestive, but no proof. I’ve been told there’s video with a decent view of the perp’s face this time and they think they know which cop it was, and are now trying to verify.

        It looks like the cops were running both sides of this show.

        1. That’s certainly possible. You’d need evidence, but there’s no question that some percentage of cops are dirty.

        2. Precious few looters are cops because almost all the cops are on duty due to the looting, rioting, arson and general stupidity. Looting in a police uniform and riot gear tends to be a bit obvious.

      5. No-one has a legal obligation to just give his property up to shooters; he may try to lawfully defend it using nondeadly force. That will often lead to threat of death or great bodily harm against defenders, to which the defenders may legally respond with deadly force.

        Well said. As a practical matter, two things happen frequently:
        * The looter / thief runs away, in which case the defender has been successful in protecting her property through the implied use of deadly force. This is likely what happens in the vast majority of cases.
        * The looter / thief escalates the confrontation to a threatening point where the defender may now defend herself using deadly force.

        So the defender is on solid ground as long as she gives the looter / thief some fair warning and a chance to run. This reduces the “deadly force in defense of property” to a small number of cases, in which a jury is often reluctant to favor thief over defender.

      6. EV:

        If looters try to use deadly or very dangerous force to steal or resist arrest, of course they can lawfully shot. But then they aren’t really just looters, are they?

        You are narrowing what Trump said. So, I think offering him a more sympathetic interpretation than many others.

        Trump is not always clear. Maybe he meant your more narrow definition. But, OTOH, he says so many things that are seem off the wall, my first instinct isn’t to interpret him in the most charitable manner possible.

      7. Can we be clear? Are you talking about looters or arsonists?

        They are not the same, your Trumpist conflation of the two notwithstanding.

        1. Society is not obligated to tolerate either and the potential use of lethal force is the only means to stop it and to deter it. It isn’t just a few tv sets but the disintegration of civil order and it must be stopped.

    2. “Which is clearly illegal and unconstitutional.”

      Which is nothing of the sort.

      Let me channel my inner Randian: Property is crystallized life. It’s the tangible representation of the hours and days of your life you spent earning that property. He who destroys property destroys the hours and days of people’s lives, time they will never get back. I’m fine with shooting them.

      Is that too high a price to pay for burning down a building? Maybe that’s a question the arsonist should be asking themselves.

      1. Let me channel my inner Randian = let me channel to everyone that I am an extremely immoral and selfish person who acts without regard to anyone else.

        “I’m fine with shooting them.”

        How many?
        Will you stop the bleeding after they are hit or let them bleed out?
        Will you smile while they die in front of you
        Will you be discriminate in your targeting or allow bystanders to be shot?
        Will you bury the bodies?

        And final question: what’s it like to be a sociopath?

        1. 1)Depends on how many are attacking.
          2)Once they stop attacking, I stop shooting. I’ll even render first aid. 3)Nope.
          4)I’m always discriminant in pointing a gun.
          5)Probably not
          6) Don’t know, ask the rioters.

          1. Maybe I need more info for six: do you have a dollar value on what property you would be willing to kill another human for?

            1. You should ask the minority business owners in Minneapolis that question. For many of them have insufficient insurance.

              You’re just a privileged white guy passing judgment on other people’s livelihood.

              Perhaps you should join Antifa? You would fit right in.

              1. “You’re just a privileged white guy passing judgment on other people’s livelihood.”

                No. I’m a privileged white guy passing judgment on everyone’s endorsement of lethal violence in defense of property.

                “Perhaps you should join Antifa? You would fit right in.”

                Isn’t the right always saying Antifa is super violent? Why would I want to join a violent group when my position is consistently against violence?

                1. Refusing to allow others to defend themselves against unlawful violence, promotes and increases violence.

                  1. Violence against the self not against property. Property is not the same as a human. That’s what we’re talking about.

                    1. If any of your property is ever stolen, you should not call the police or file a police report.

                      After all, the police will attempt to recover your property while carrying guns and being prepared to use them against the thieves who stole your property.

                      If your home is being broken into during the middle of the night the same applies, since the home invaders are probably just after your property.


                    2. Oh, and just to be clear, you should not file an insurance claim, either. Insurance companies often employ investigators who refer their findings to the police, thereby triggering the potential use of deadly force to recover your property.

                      You should just eat the loss, no matter how small or how large the amount. If it puts you out of business or leaves you bankrupt, too bad, so sad. At least your morality will be pristine.


                    3. KevinP: deal. I’ve been mugged and didn’t call the police lol. I just got a new phone.

                2. LTG….serious questions.
                  Is there any justification for using deadly force to defend your property?
                  When is it ‘Ok’ to blow away looters who are attempting to destroy/steal your property?

                  Leave aside the horrific video (personally, I think the cop deserves death). When did it become Ok to just stand aside and let mobs loot and destroy property? The primary function of government is to defend life, liberty and property. If they cannot do that, why have a government?

                  1. Reasonable questions. I don’t think there is ever a justification for lethal violence in defense of property. I think non-lethal violence can potentially be justified depending on what is at stake. But as George Floyd demonstrates what starts as non-lethal can seamlessly turns lethal violence. So there is really not a satisfactory answer to what constitutes lethal vs not lethal. But I think at the very least no one can intend to kill in defense of property.

                    Now, this leads to another good question: like what about the loss of homes and livelihoods? I would say that if societies and communities have good values, there will be support such that no one will lose livelihood and things will be rebuilt.

                    That doesn’t solve the problem of unique objects, like a childhood home or a beloved object. Those can’t be replaced no matter the level of community support. But they will never be unique as a human life. They will never affect people in the way that one life will. Killing also results in taking something from the parents, siblings, children, friends of the victim. We also don’t know what the person is killed was going to become. They may give up their current ways one day and improve the world in unexpected ways. You’re possibly depriving yourself of something as well.

                    1. Not parents. Parent, as you know full well most of these thugs were raised by single “mothers,” and most likely don’t even know their sperm donor, I mean father.

                  2. Commenter_XY: When did it become Ok to just stand aside and let mobs loot and destroy property? The primary function of government is to defend life, liberty and property. If they cannot do that, why have a government?

                    It’s a good question, but you mistakenly conflate government with Joe Packer, in his private defensive capacity. Joe does not, and cannot, stand in for government. If Joe wants to defend property during a riot, quite often, Joe has no choice except to start killing people. That he does with no go-ahead, and no say-so from anyone. Joe’s violence is not constrained by any kind of discipline. Which is an especially dangerous contribution to make to a riot.

                    Government ought to be able to get the job done without Joe’s disadvantages. Government force can show up in numbers so imposing that they simply quell violence by their presence. And that is the way to use them. While doing it, all the government actors are under discipline, and subject to supervised constraint. That is a far safer approach to quelling a volatile mob than anything Joe can do.

                    1. If someone wants to be safe from people defending their property they have a very good means to do so, don’t take people’s property from them.

                    2. You write like a monarchist.

                      Here in the U.S. it’s not supposed to work that way.

            2. Well, obviously it would have to be something more expensive than a .45 LC round.

              1. I hope that’s a joke and not a statement of belief.

                1. Telling that, rather than a serious answer, Brett can only muster a joke that minimizes the value of human life. Thanks, LawTalkingGuy, for your tireless defense of morality and respect for human life. Too bad the likes of KevinP and Brett are unwilling to actually engage when you get to the nub of the issue.

                  1. “respect for human life”

                    Its disrespect for human life in the end to oppose ending riots as early as possible, with sufficient force if need be.

                    Cleveland had riots in the 1960s, it was 30 years before those areas even started to recover. Even today, those areas are shadows of what they were.

                    How many lives were ruined by despair and poverty caused by the riots?

                    1. Bob,

                      Again, you fail to offer a serious effort. I don’t see anyone in this thread arguing that riots should just continue. There are other ways to end riots than the use of lethal force, just as there are ways to hold police officers to account for killing citizens in their custody short of lethal force. I am sure you agree both that (a) preventing police from killing citizens in their custody as soon as possible is a worthy goal and (b) a person who stepped in and used lethal force to stop officers such as the officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck would make the overall situation worse, not better. Can you not even consider that using lethal force against looters may not be the best solution, particularly when there are non-lethal alternatives to stop current rioting and discourage future rioting?

                      Important in my point is that you recognize that encouraging the use of lethal force to stop riots will necessarily involve mistakes that likely will lead to innocent people dying AND will necessarily increase the anger of protestors and therefore will worsen the situation.

                      Your analysis seems to be:
                      1. Rioting is bad;
                      2. Bad things should be stopped as soon as possible:
                      3. Killing people doing bad things is the fastest way to stop bad things.

                      You do not follow this logic in all cases. This logic chain is obviously immoral applied to all cases. As applied to this case, there is a serious question whether 3 is true, both because it may prolong unrest and it may have reverberating repercussions that make future unrest more unlikely and there is almost a guarantee that some people who should not be harmed (either because they are running away and threatening no one at the time they are shot or because a mistake was made by the shooter, either in aim or in misidentification).

                      Joking that people should be shot if what they are stealing costs more than round of ammunition just adds heat, not light, and suggests you just enjoy the idea of people doing bad things getting shot. You’d do better than not play into the caricature of “law and order” types, but provide your pro-violence perspective the sort of reasoned response LawTalkingGuy does from a non-violence perspective.

                2. Yes, obviously it’s a joke. Equally obviously, I’m not going to hire an assessor to give me a figure on the property value before plugging someone.

                  If I see somebody committing arson, that is, I believe, in most states adequate cause for the use of lethal force. Short of that, google “citizen’s arrest”. It’s legal in Minnesota.

                  1. Brett, you sound eager. Try not to sound eager.

                    1. This.

                    2. Lathrop, most people are not like the thugs you hung out with in your young and stupid years.

                      Stop projecting.

              2. I just bought 10,000 more rounds of 9mm for 19 cents/round. Not bad considering the shortage.

        2. In an earlier age, they were impaled on posts to be a disincentive to others.

          Just sayin….

      2. He who destroys property destroys the hours and days of people’s lives, time they will never get back.

        Nonsense. Like pretty all of Rand. If I get paid for a week’s work, use the money to buy something, and that object gets stolen I haven’t lost that week of my life. It hasn’t been destroyed.

        The value of a chunk of my life is vastly greater than the money I earn during those hours.

        I would not shoot someone who stole from me. I know this because people have stolen from me and, while I was angry about it, I had no desire whatsoever that they be executed.

        You’re a sociopath.

        1. Oh look! A textbook sockpuppet indulging in the self-deception flowing from altruism. Rotsa ruck with reality, Bernie!

          1. Fuck you, Hank.

            Do you have something to say, or you just spewing bile?

    3. There is nothing clearly illegal and unconstitutional about it. A mob that attempts to loot any occupied structure EASILY places the occupant in reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm which justifies deadly force almost anywhere, albeit maybe with a requirement to retreat, but effective retreat may well not be possible in which case – dead looters are still 100% ok. If the property owner lives on the property, even if it is also used commercially it then becomes a residence and in many states deadly force then becomes a slam dunk and almost impossible to prosecute as presumption of reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm kicks in. Regardless of the specific laws, prosecution of a shrewd individual who shoots looters and knows what to say and more importantly what not to say will be very difficult given bias against looters in general. All the jury will need is an excuse to acquit and it only takes one to hang it.

  10. “But I do think this example helps show why people are concerned about Twitter’s policies, ”

    An interesting observation at a blog that banned a commenter for making fun of conservatives (at 6:02 p.m. on October 6, 2010, for those of ostensibly faltering memory). When Twitter bans Pres. Trump it will have adopted this blog’s policy and practice on content-driven censorship.

    (This tone-deaf defense of Pres. Trump is making it increasingly difficult to ascribe some of the race-related content at this blog to benign motivations. Is that the sound of a dean preparing another apology in the background?)

    1. You’re fairly tone-deaf yourself, Rev. I can always count on you to slam your thick head against the same brick wall repeatedly.

      1. Mitch McConnell and Ivanka Trump have distanced themselves from the President’s ‘shooting’ tweet, and Pres. Trump has tried to distance himself from the plain meaning that tweet, but you and Prof. Volokh refuse to be cowed by the great liberal horde!

        1. Ivanka needs to scream to Daddy about those terrible assault rifles that are carried by the ignorant yokels from the countryside.

  11. If the police fire live rounds into a crowd, some of whom are vandalizing, some throwing stones, and some holding signs, and in the process kill some of each, would that be excessive force?

    1. Yes.

      (Whether the police unions would agree is a different story.)

    2. Possibly.

      But not in India, where, interestingly the Penal Code addresses this very hypothetical and says that no crime is committed by firing into the mob, even if innocent people are killed!

      1. You don’t know? Really?

        What does India have to do with it?

      2. Ah yes, a celebration of the “Heroes of Amritsar” so gloriously extolled in Orwell’s “Burmese Days.” The book was of course banned for as long as it could possibly be banned by the UK.

        1. What are you referring to?

  12. I take him as approving (rhetorically, if not in reality) the shooting of looters. Which is clearly illegal and unconstitutional.

    Your first sentence is illogical, because in context, the comment is directed to the Governor, not to potential looters. What follows should be taken as statement of the consequences if the local & state leaders cannot get the situation under control.

    Your second statement is patently false for the exact reasons that Volokh outlines.

    Trump tweets are hot garbage, but words and sentence structure have meaning, people.

  13. This is the President, talking about calling in the Military, and then saying “the shooting starts”. He was obviously not talking about store owners.

    This post is irrelevant to what happened here.

    And BTW, if Trump was not President, he would have been banned from Twitter long ago.

  14. I can’t tell whether this is making excuses for president Trump or for the police in Minnesota. Either way, very disappointing.

    1. Refreshingly, the police in Minnesota have NOT got Officer Chauvin’s back. On the contrary, he’s been arrested by them, and is being charged with murder. And Trump has clearly taken the right side in this.

      So there’s hardly need to make excuses for either.

      1. Sure, but arrested for what though? (Last I heard, it’s for third-degree murder and manslaughter.) And what about his accomplices?

        1. “third-degree murder and manslaughter”

          Reasonable charges according to the summaries I have seen. If you overcharge, it increases the risk of an acquittal because the state can’t prove it.

          If convicted, he is getting far more punishment than this planned murder:

          “On 15 April 2003, Volkert van der Graaf was convicted of assassinating Fortuyn and sentenced to 18 years in prison.[15] He was released on parole in May 2014 after serving two-thirds of his sentence, the standard procedure under the Dutch penal system.”

          1. I am not sure what a Dutch case has to do with this. But, in any event:

            How sure are you that “if convicted” Floyd’s killer will get more than 12 years of time actually served?


            Police officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second degree murder, for a 2014 killing and by 2019 was out of prison.

            Sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to four years for killing someone in custody and restrained.

            Police Officer Roy Oliver was convicted of murdering Jordan Edwards and was sentenced to 15 years.

            Police Officer Michael Slager pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation for killing Walter Scott (the judge determined that the underlying offense was second degree murder) and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison which means he will likely serve 18.

            Etc., etc.

            But I assume you just wanted to highlight that sometimes crazy leftists resort to violence. Which doesn’t really mean much as crazy right wingers also sometimes resort to political violence, you know, like in the assassination of pro-migration politician Walter Lübcke. Or the assassination of El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero by right-wingers. How about, we just agree that political violence is abhorrent and extremists who resort to it or who encourage political violence should be denounced and shunned in polite society?

            1. I think martinned is Dutch.

            2. Police officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second degree murder, for a 2014 killing and by 2019 was out of prison.

              Cops including Van Dyke do get slaps on the wrist, but this is not right. In late 2019 he was transferred from federal custody to state custody; he’s still in prison.

              That having been said, your comment makes it look like he spent 5 years in prison. In fact, they covered up the murder he committed for years, so even though the events took place in 2014, he didn’t actually go to prison until 2018.

              1. David,

                Thank you for the correction. Mea Culpa. I misread a news item on the transfer.

          2. Yes. It is well established that the US criminal justice system hands out crazy sentences. That’s one of many symptoms/consequences of US racism. So what’s your point?

      2. He was arrested by the state, not the city.

    2. Yeah, this isn’t Trump making an observation.

      The post reads like an advocacy brief from an attorney without the facts on their side, splitting every hair they can.

      1. It’s the kind of defence of Trump that Republicans would come up with in 2016, where they pretended that there wasn’t a whole pile of contextual evidence (i.e. everything the man’s said and done before) to suggest that he wasn’t just making an innocent observation. In 2020, only Trumpist sycophants tend to still write these kinds of things.

        1. I know. Which is why it is so disturbing to see Eugene resort to this sort of parsing of trees while ignoring the forest.

          1. The forest in this case is rioters and looters destroying a city.

      2. Welcome to the real world in which enforceable legal decisions are handed down, and men with guns sent out to enforce them. Never forget that the hair they split may well be your own.

  15. Twitter has literally tens of thousands of posts trending right now, openly celebrating and glorifying the rioting, looting and violence.

    Twitter is going to be very busy cleaning up all these posts in order to avoid falling over the “good faith“ clause of section 230.

    1. They’re trying to overturn a Russian coup…what could be more “good faith” than that?


    2. You don’t understand the Constitution or the law. There is nothing in the law that requires a provider to restrict access to all content that is covered by the section if the provider restricts access to some content that is covered by the section. I don’t see how a provision that mandates some necessarily arbitrary “ideological balance” on content restriction would pass constitutional muster. But Section 230 doesn’t even try that, so the constitutional issue isn’t even raised.

      1. The President’s recent executive order is proposing specific rules to put teeth into the good faith clause of section 230.

        You should read this order, even though or especially if you are a lawyer.

        1. LOL that’s not even what it does.

          ‘you should read the order?’ are you for real? You clearly haven’t read it!

          1. Here it is:


            (ii) the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not “taken in good faith” within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be “taken in good faith” if they are:

            (A) deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service; or

            (B) taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and

            (iii) any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.

            1. That part isn’t enforceable. The FCC is an independent agency.

              1. It wouldn’t matter anyway, because the FCC has not been delegated any authority to interpret § 230. The FCC’s opinion is as relevant as Dairy Queen’s.

            2. Carr backs Trump—but Ajit Pai and rest of FCC did not endorse executive order.

              It’s just whingeing that looks like a rule, but I can see how you’d take it as more and apologize for roasting you on it.

              1. No apology needed; we beat up on each other all the time and still mostly get along 🙂

                Sure, it isn’t a rule YET. But if the FCC promulgates a rule, then that moves the action down the field. Twitter can still appeal to the courts for a more favorable interpretation of “taken in good faith”. But after years of being essentially ignored, that phrase is now in play.

                1. KevinP,

                  I am not sure you understand what Section 230 does now. And the Constitution has more than a little bit to say about whether the federal government can treat parties differently based on whether they express political views with which the party in power agrees. The “good faith” provision relates directly to censoring content and says platforms won’t be held liable for censoring content. Trying, via EO, to put an ideological limitation on censorship that the Congress specifically approved will not pass statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court. Congress specifically identified that content that could be restricted as that which “that the provider or user considers to be…excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.” You can’t then, consistently with the text of the law, define content as objectionable if KevinP or Donald Trump or a federal court “considers [it] to be” so. And, again, you can’t smuggle an ideological test into the “good faith” clause. The choices made by a provider regarding what is “otherwise objectionable” are necessarily inconsistent with criteria KevinP or Trump or a panel of judges has. That’s why the discretion to decide what is “excessively violent” or “otherwise objectionable” is left wholly up to the provider.

                  If the EO made it past the statutory interpretation hurdle, it won’t pass Constitutional muster. The phrase “in good faith” simply can’t be made a political weapon by Trump or anyone else.

                  1. You should certainly contact Twitter and offer them your expertise in this interpretation of “good faith”.

                    But remember, people like me show up on juries and may not buy your interpretation. Especially after discovery and a long line of Antifa riot-organizing tweets that were not supressed.

                    1. It won’t get to a jury, KevinP.

                      You can’t, in good faith, read “good faith” to obliterate the wide discretion platforms have to restrict access to content that they, in their sole discretion, deem objectionable. The law gives Twitter to the right to restrict access to content it deems objectionable, not content that you believe is objective objectionable. You seem unable to grasp the fact that what you deem objectionable (or what the jurors you fantasize about deem objectionable) is utterly irrelevant under the explicit terms of Section 230. Again: “…that the provider or user considers to be…” Not “is”. Not “Trump considers to be”. Not “KevinP” considers to be. Not “what a random group of jurors considers to be”. What Twitter considers to be. Deal with it.

          2. Note that I am not necessarily endorsing this EO. But “pretextual” is basically Twitter’s middle name, and if you just spend 5 minutes on the Twitter hashtag link I posted above, you will find dozens of tweets that violate Twitter’s TOS far worse than Trump’s tweet and yet remain up.

            Twitter will have to clean up those tweets or its actions will be very arguably not “taken in good faith” . Twitter may well defend its position in the courts as it has the right to do so. And it can do so again and again, as there are literally tens of thousand of people who have been banned, shadowbanned or otherwise harmed through Twitter’s inconsistent application of its own TOS.

            1. You don’t understand how the law works. Nothing in the law says that a provider must restrict access to everything in a category (as defined by KevinP). It says providers may restrict access to things the provider considers to be excessively violent or otherwise objectionable (or other categories). Note too, the law allows the provider to let users restrict access to certain content. Surely you aren’t suggesting that if users engage in what you believe is “inconsistent” restriction of content, the provider loses protection? And, yet, the language on which you rely is identical as to providers and users.

              Bottom line: There is nothing in the law that says a provider must restrict access to all categories of content if it restricts access to any of those categories of content. Likewise, there is no textual basis to conclude that a provider must restrict access to all material that KevinP or a court decides is similar to or more egregious than other content to which the provider restricts access. Sole discretion on what content is subject to restricted access is left to the provider, and they are protected from liability for that choice. That’s the a major point of the law. (The bigger point is to ensure the platform is not considered a publisher or speaker of content created by others.)

  16. Twitter is really helping Trump out here. Running for president against villainy is so much easier when someone leans into the villain role.

    This would have just been 1 more of 1000 tweets without Twitter deciding to censor it.

    1. And they have set themselves up to be a good test case for the good faith clause of section 230.

  17. If this is what counts as “glorification of violence”, then the term has lost all meaning. Trumps an idiot but Twitter seems to be actively working to discredit their own moderation policies.

  18. You basically have to be autistic to read Trump’s tweet and see it as merely a benign recognition that there is a correlation between looting and escalating violence. As Twitter put it, it is a glorification of violence that has historically been used by white supremacists in an attempt to curry favor with other white supremacists and to implicitly threaten black communities to mind their place. Eugene, it is somewhat shameful for you not to address this aspect. This isn’t even a dog whistle. It’s just a whistle.

    1. Strangely enough, Monday was “glorification of violence” day, in a sense. It’s mindless to refuse to distinguish between wrongful and righteous violence.

      1. Yes. Which is what makes Trump’s tweet even more egregious. He makes no such distinction, but implies he favors shooting, particularly given historical context (both his prior support of violence against protestors and the white supremacist origins of the phrase he chose to tweet). Glad we can agree on his mindlessness. I hope Eugene can manage to do the same.

        1. “He makes no such distinction”

          Oh, Bullshit. ” when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” That’s making a distinction, unless you’re depraved enough to think looting is morally neutral.

          1. Brett,

            That phrase makes no distinction. And my opinion on looting doesn’t make that phrase any more or less a nuanced moral distinctions as to when it is okay to shoot people, unless that nuance is what you have advocated. You are on record supporting the notion that it is morally defensible to shoot to death someone stealing your Twix. You obviously do not understand the terms nuanced or depraved.

  19. I usually ignore Voelkischer anything, but this was cogent, timely and germane. Too many “libertarians” listen to anarcho-communist infiltrators and lose touch with such concepts as “menacing,” which are woven into laws intended (perhaps not always perfectly) to enable the exercise of individual rights. Good work!

  20. So the rioters (not looters) have now attacked and are besieging CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta this Saturday evening.

    1. As of 10:15 pm ET, the CNN center is surrounded on three sides by violent rioters, held back by outnumbered police.

      It’s a dangerous situation. I hope no life is lost. No property is worth the loss of life.

      1. …Do you think some on here are arguing the rioters are good and just?

        One can understand, and not condone.

  21. Rarely has it been so clear how the bloggers here suffer for the lack of a black voice, or maybe even a black person in their lives who they find it appropriate to discuss serious issues with.

  22. Always entertaining to read comments here.

    Hard for me to take seriously someone who says EV should not comment on gun law until he has seen someone die from a gun shot would, or even better killed someone with a firearm personally. I have had few disagreements with EV and generally agree with him. But there are few who know more about the 2A than he does.

    As for what is the legal standard for using force to defend property I don’t pretend to be an expert. But I know enough to say it changes with the jurisdiction. In a state like Florida the castle doctrine allows deadly force in almost any situation; and in some cases you can chase the perp out of your castle. In some of the blue states it is basically 180 degrees in the other direction.

    But as a rule when mob rule (or orders from pols) drives the LEOs into hiding and looting and arson are common place even in blue states shooting can be legally defended.

    As for what Trump really was trying to get across anyone who thinks they know his true motive is delusional. My personal guess is, as he almost always does, Trump is goofing on those he wants to enrage. He posts so many things that make little sense unless they were designed to make his foes pull out their hair.

    My personal philosophy is along the lines of Judge Roy Bean who famously said something along the lines of ‘I seen plenty of people that needed killing, but I never saw anything that needed stealing’.

  23. I see lots of discussion in this thread equating looting with theft. The problem is that in a looting/rioting situation the societal norms have at least temporarily broken down. Police protection is not available to citizens in these types of situations. Law enforcement does not have the resources to respond to property crimes, and in many cases does not have resources to respond to any crimes outside of a limited area.
    Now look at what happens in failed states where societal order breaks down and you will see that even minor crime is treated very harshly when the actors are caught. When order is restored the norms of police enforcement and due process will return but until then expect people to be shot for looting.
    The people in places like Minneapolis have expected the government to enforce order as expected in our civilized society, but they are not seeing this. If the government does not regain control soon I think you will see a radical change in the way citizens deal with looters and rioters.

    1. Looting sucks, but it is not the Purge.

  24. This article is the definition of tendentious

  25. Twitter’s rule against glorifying violence would get a better reception if they didn’t let Antifa openly organize riots on their service.

    If our system of justice is fair at all, Twitter will now face charges of helping a known terrorist organization.

  26. Many states, mine included, specifically allow for deadly force simply to prevent unlawful entry into a home or workplace so long as the person using force is legally permitted to be there with only a few exceptions such as that the force may not be used against LEO or bail enforcement agent, none of which would apply to a looter. Further reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm is presumed simply based upon the act of illegal entry or attempted illegal entry and the user of the force is immune from civil litigation.

    Bottom line: Looters are taking their lives in their hands forcibly and illegally entering a home or even a business in many states including mine. If they are killed in a state like mine in the course of forcing entry into a business, even in mass, legal recourse against the person who kills them is essentially non-existent. Killing 50 looters unlawfully entering would be no more legally actionable than killing one.

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