Professor: “Looting Is An Expression Of Power”

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Michael Smerconish had an interesting discussion today with Professor Cliffort Scott, Professor of Social Psychology at Keele University.  Scott believes that rioting should not be portrayed as random and without meaning.  I think that is true. There are deeper causes that should be considered when considering violent dimensions to some protests. While I find Professor Scott’s work on protests and “hooliganism” quite interesting, I do not agree with his assertion on the program that “looting is an expression of power.” It is more often a means of acquisition not expression (unless they are expressing their desire for a Nintendo Switch). In other words, it is a crime act that arises in a myriad of public emergencies that offer an opportunity to steal with less risk of detection or arrest.

Scott is the co-author of such work as Stott C and Radburn M. 2020. Understanding crowd conflict: social context, psychology and policing. Current Opinion in Psychology, vol. 35, 76-80.  I commend his research to you because such work can challenge assumptions and bias in viewing scenes of violent demonstrations.

However, it is the looting point that I find troubling and less compelling.  Scott invoked Dr. Martin Luther King who once said riots are “the voices of the unheard.”  It is obviously not a view shared by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who declared last night: “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos.”  Likewise, Minnesota Tim Walz objected last night “The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice].”  Today he called claims of the violence as an “expression” is a “mockery.”

Sometimes a crime is a crime.  Deterrence is often found in the relationship between the rate of detection and the severity of punishment. As detection falls, increases penalties can theoretically achieve the same deterrence.  When detection rises, penalties can be lower.  During a public emergency a rational actor can conclude that the chances are lower that they will be detected or arrests. The result of the reduction of deterrence is greater crime.

I have previously discussed my problem with the media “guide” to refer to rioters or looters as protesters.  I think that framing of such terms is as artificial as claiming that everyone involved in a riot is just drawn to mayhem. I have the same reaction to Professor Scott’s view of looting.  I fail to see how running out of a Target with a flat-screen television is an expression of anything other than opportunistic crime.

231 thoughts on “Professor: “Looting Is An Expression Of Power””

    1. I’m sure the looters will immediately go back to lock down, and hold their heads in shame while they dream…
      M Bottoms is an angry mommie, and they will laugh at her.

  1. “Looting is an expression of power.”

    – Professor Scott

    “However, it is the looting point that I find troubling and less compelling. Scott invoked Dr. Martin Luther King who once said riots are “the voices of the unheard.”

    – Professor Turley

    – “All men are created equal…” – with self-reliance on their individual acumen for the success or failure of their lives.

    – Professor Clifford Scott enjoys the freedom of speech including hysterical, incoherent, unintelligible and irresponsible speech – his

    employers enjoy the right to remove their employees.

    – Marty King was a liar, fraud, philanderer and plagiarist who promoted communistic, dependent parasitism; he was not one typically

    relied on by rational people for profound and sage advice.

  2. Jonathan Turley. along with many others are not getting the whole point of the looting. It’s not just about taking things. It’s CAN be described as an expression of protest. Everyone is saying they should be doing this or that if they want to protest. BUT here’s a point that escapes many including Turley. Everyone who is denouncing the looting as simply crimes that should be prosecuted keep forgetting that the last couple of weeks African Americans have been seeing in real time that THEY are being subjected to injustices and people are indifferent to it. Amy Cooper, who clearly showed just how callous the racism can be when she literally stated that she is going to call 911 and lie about the situation to a black man KNOWING she will be believed because it involved a black man. If it were not on video nobody would have questioned her claim.

    With floyd, the same thing the police officers indifference clearly showed that he had no regard for this man’s pleas because he was a black man. Arbery’s killing was being justified immediately because of the presumption that McMichael’s claim was more credible than a black man’s.

    Trevor Noah made a much better argument for the looting and mayhem that is happening around the country. He made a point that as a society the basic principle of being a society is that we all agreed to abide by a basic contract to treat everyone fairly and expect everyone, EVERYONE to practice fairness in justice, respect, etc. When black folks see nearly every day that they are being treated unfairly when they see white folks EXPECTING to be treated fairly they rightly have serious grievances. The looting and rioting is their expression of saying, NO why should we be expect fairness when others don’t respect it. Trevor Noah had a very deep and more fundamental point that JT would never get. Anyone should watch the clip of Noah’s argument. It’s quite riveting and to the point.

    1. THEY are being subjected to injustices and people are indifferent to it.

      Invoking the Central Park dog walker is an indication of the triviality of your perspective.

      1. Absurd, no it’s not trivial. It’s a fundamental problem that has been made quite clear by the multiple incidents he notes. Look at all those people who made 911 calls to essentially “snitch” with impunity and a tone of racism that is becoming more of the norm. It’s an expression of just how embedded the sense of privilege is in society.

        Amy Cooper clearly KNEW that making up the claim that she was being THREATENED by a black man would trigger a harsh response that would end up being judged in her favor. The man was simply pointing out the rules that EVERYONE was expected to follow, instead of acknowledging it she chose to threaten him with a claim she KNEW would be seen in her favor. That is fundamentally what is happening to the african american community in this country. The Killing of George Floyd was the last straw.

        1. Yes it’s trivial, Shane. If you had real problems to address and were willing to address them, you would understand that.

        2. You should have stuck with Christianity which requires two witnesses, and common sense.
          Instead, you read tea leaves and scream Amy, in the middle of woods in a park (check google map sat) all alone in a dangerous area of rape culture, and now you cannot admit the lady was scared.

          The Minnesota incident is another thing. I saw a couple vids and I watched the guys head go toward pavement and likely that’s when he died – no longer able to keep his mouth to the side to breath, and when someone passes out or dies they go limp among other things so the cops knew it instantly yet it appeared they were pretending nothing happened.
          You want that all to be racism, but much of it or all of it may not be. The media plays you people for fools. For the democrat party, for the outrage hits and their bottom line.
          If you haven’t noticed many cop videos show they are on a hair trigger almost all the time. One wrong look, action, or comment, or failure to be polite and comply and it goes downhill very fast. If you dress poorly, speak poorly, smart off and argue, expect the worst.
          But that’s what you people push, along with the media, your activism groups, your college classes, and your t-shirts and music. You pretty much call for cop genocide on the far end, and everything in between. You push that as culture.
          But then you claim racism ? Well, is it the bird or the egg, one could say.

          They’re covering up video in the incident in Minnesota, and patch working clips on the news, they’re guilty IMO.

          1. Shakdi D – the initial autopsy report is out. They are still waiting for some tests to come back, however Floyd’s airways were open. However, the charging document has an interesting point. They have him in the SUV and then they take him out which when the put him on the ground.

            One of the tapes shows him collapsing as they round the driver’s side of the SUV. He went down just like I did when I had my stroke.

            1. That is what I think happened to Floyd. I bet it was meth that killed, not Poor Derek Chauvin.
              In the long term, meth use can cause irreversible harm: increased heart rate and blood pressure; damaged blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes or an irregular heartbeat that can, in turn, cause cardiovascular2 collapse or death; and liver, kidney and lung damage.

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

              1. Squeeky – he had underlying heart issues, for some reason (not stated in the charging document) they took him out of the car and put him on the ground. Somebody called the ambulance, unknown from the charging document.

                1. I am having trubble getting my artsy stuff to post today:

                  Samantha Shader
                  A Parody Song by Squeeky Fromm
                  To The Tune of Eleanor Rigby

                  Ah, look at all the crazy people
                  Ah, look at all the crazy people

                  Samantha Shader,
                  Picks up the gas at the station where nobody works
                  Molotov cocktail
                  Chucks in a window
                  Trying to fry her some cops sitting there in the van
                  Death to the Man!

                  All the crazy people
                  Where do they all come from?
                  All the crazy people
                  Those Democrats are dumb!

                  Raman and Mattis
                  Two young attorneys and obviously partisan Dems
                  Molotov Cocktail
                  Toss on a cop car
                  Trying to fry them some bacon and blow up some cops
                  It never stops!

                  All the crazy people
                  Where do they all come from?
                  All the crazy people
                  Those Democrats are dumb!

                  Professor Cliffort,
                  Spinning his theories on hooligans, looters and thugs
                  Ivory Tower
                  Lives in the burbs!
                  Making excuses and quoting some Michel Foucault
                  What can we do???

                  All the crazy people
                  Where do they all come from?
                  All the crazy people
                  Those Democrats are dumb!

          2. Shakdi, your assumption that she might have been scared because it was in a park were rapes occur is utterly absurd. It was in broad daylight in an area frequented by people. Amy Cooper was not scared, she was being patronizing and knew exactly what she was doing. The amazing thing is she literally told him she was going to report a something that was clearly not true.

            You’re speaking from a position of privilege you’ve never experienced racism towards you. You don’t have the burden of knowing just how bad it is. This is exactly the problem.

            1. No I’m not, and yes I do.
              Schmucko tried to steal her dog – his words ~ “Come here puppy !”

              Now you people are on the verge of total insanity. Some time of late, you went with the N word as the perfect test – yet ________ use the N word all the time ! ________ use cracker, whitey (see how I can type and say those no problem !?), white devil, paleskin, privileged, etc etc

              So it is clear to me ‘your standards’ are a pile of C R A P. When you arrest and publicly attack and cause to lose their job of every _________ that uses the N word, get back to me. That means probably every rapper and every rapper whatever they call it concert attendee gets the same treatment… not to mention a large portion of the _______ ‘community’.

              But now you’ve gone a step further. You and yours demanded the AA phrase as designation. That replaced the demand for the B word only. Before that the C word was required. Before that it was the other N word commonly used. The one that was on Obama’s birth cert in Hawaii if he ever had a real one there, because the fraudulent one uses your AA demand, the current one !

              Well that aside, now you’ve gone completely nutso or nearly so, and when a person uses the demand AA phrase as a sign of respect and compliance in the middle of a heated freak out where controlling that impulse to let the truth come out is probably impossible – you STILL HAVE A COW …. and scream the R word…

              Can you let me know what the new accepted word or phrase is for _______, not that using it won’t be R or KKK, but I’d like a heads up anyway, so I have some kind of clue who is being an R ‘for real’.

              Also, let me know when the N word users have been denounced and prosecuted. No I don’t give a D that they are __________ when using it !

    2. Shane – People threaten to call the cops on others all the time. People unjustifiably use the cops as a threat to scare the other person in an escalating fight.

      I literally stand on my balcony and watch police come by all the time to the parking lot across the street, pertaining to the local liquor/ market store.

      The owner’s wife is nutso, and she chases people down with bats and pepper spray. One time, she even pepper-sprayed herself. Oops.

      The parking lot is small and tight. Persons/customers get into throw downs all the time. I have seen weapons, fistfights, women grabbing each other’s hair.

      And someone Always calls the cops, and the cops Always show up.

      They were over there 2 days ago, for hours, getting the police report of an altercation between an Asian and a Mexican over a parking spot.

      Did it turn into a racist thing? Idk. But you could hear the screaming from the apartment across the street with the windows open.

      Front row view to the market antics for all the apartment tenants here. And we, the apartment tenants talk about it casually and sometimes laugh.

      I will say this, people DO use racist comments to hurt other people. Amy is Not racist, she just knew that would Get to him. It ended up backfiring on her. Lol.. I hope she learned her lesson about calling the cops.

      And she used the racist comment, as a scare tactic, and it did not work, bc Christian was not the type to be scared. He is not Brain Washed by the system’s programming. Good for him!

      Some types like to use the cops for fear reasons. The Asian and the Mexican, one of them, called the cops, and the other took off from the parking lot.

      Which one do you think left? Take a guess.

      1. I guess what I am getting at, is there is a certain level or degree of System racism as part of predictive programming.

        You can be white, black, Asian, whatever…if you grew up on American TV shows and Films, you have been programmed at some level.

        There are certain groups that are targeted more, we know which ones, usually poor and Black, at least here in America. Or poor and Hispanic. Depends where you live. The underlying theme is being poor and disenfranchised.

        Neither Amy nor Christian was that, just the opposite, in fact.

        Was Amy racist? No, just a Narcissistic Manipulator.

        1. Anonymous,. the point is she took advantage of the fact knowing the man was black and used her threat to clearly imply what is sadly commonly assumed. A black man being the aggressor. It was racist in it’s intent.

  3. Statement from A.G. Barr re: the rioting:

    Re: Barr’s claim that “It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting. We will enforce these laws,” will he enforce them against far right extremists too, or only against “anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics”? Because we know that far right extremist also cross state lines “to incite or participate in violent rioting.”

    An example from a related protest in Buffalo:

    1. I find it disturbing that too many are focusing on the looting instead of what it really is. Trevor Noah made a very good point last night in this youtube channel about why the looting IS a form of expression and not JT’s more “technical” view. It’s worth watching because he really gets the heart of the problem.

        1. Then you’re exactly why this is the problem. Your ignorance and indifference is why these things keep repeating. It’s exactly what Trevor Noah was saying. Thanks for confirming it.

          1. I don’t care how you validate or excuse looting, because my IQ is so high and knowledge is so sought after, I already took in the whole caboodle.
            He blabbered about Amy in the park, so I know he’s a moron. You did too, above. You’re clueless.

            Now my point is, if you want improvement, you have to change what you and your ‘community leaders’ do. To see what crud it is read my comment to you above. You need to drop all of that. You need to push something better. You need to be polite, and change your attitude. Police absolutely react off attitude. Off duty and online some will tell you that. Your friends will explain that to you too – someone gives them an attitude their actions differ greatly compared to no attitude given. People talk about that on the job concerning others.

            Yes sir, no sir, right away, and tell the truth. Best behavior, best manners. Try that on for size when you encounter the police. All that “racism” will suddenly fade into nothing.

            1. Shakdi, no. again you are entirely missing the point. Speaking from a privileged position is what doesn’t help you here. This is the entire point Trevor Noah as making. The interactions with police with black folks even when they have a “nice attitude” doesn’t stop the abuse. This is why they are now rioting and looting. Have you ever been the target of racist assumptions about your behavior, have you ever been assumed you are up to no good just because you are white?

              “Yes sir, no sir, right away, and tell the truth. Best behavior, best manners. Try that on for size when you encounter the police. All that “racism” will suddenly fade into nothing.”

              What you don’t understand is that even when they do that they are still subject to the abuse. This is exactly why they are not tolerating it anymore. I’ve seen people trying hard to justify the actions of the cop who killed George Floyd because the automatic expectation is that George Floyd MUST have done something to deserve it and the video clearly didn’t show that. Even the official statements didn’t match up to what happened in the video. if it wasn’t for the video it would have been reported just as another “thug” getting what he deserved because he “should have obeyed orders ” or “not resist”. Only THEY KNOW how many times that isn’t true. What this event culminated in is the sheer clarity about what transpired. Even hardcore conservative pundits could be seem trying hard to find an excuse to defend the cop, but found themselves in the difficult position of actually condemning law enforcement. This is only happened because there is no possible way to blame George Floyd for anything that could have led to a cop putting his knee on his neck and there seems to be a sense of frustration among many conservatives as a matter of habit in always defending law enforcement that this isn’t what it supposed to be. That it supposed to be a black man who is automatically assumed to be a criminal got “roughed up a bit” and got what he deserved. No assumption of innocence whatsoever. None. But this instance it was a clear choice as to who was in the wrong.

  4. A store in Jennings, MO which is near Ferguson, built a deep hole with a trap door in the sidewalk at their front door When a looter left they opened the floor and he went down. They kept him there for a long time and feed him junk food and dropped down paper towels so he could wipe. They took him to Minneapolis and let him loose about a week ago.

  5. If “Looting is an Expression of Power”. so is my Resistance to Looting and the method I choose to resist the taking of my property.

  6. I think the Onion said it best: “Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first.”

  7. Anybody this afternoon want to dispute Hobbes and his graphic depiction of the state of nature with its war of all against all. The only thing that saves us from this madness is the law. Fairly investigated and rigorously prosecuted by tough people.

    1. Not true or we we’d be in constant turmoil and never would have advanced as a species as we have. People are highly social and mostly want to stay in line, be part of the tribe, and even help others without direct or immediate reward. There is no doubt that there are predators and competition, but mostly there are billions of humans interacting every hour of every day in benign or neutral ways and the per cent who are preyed upon or otherwise face violence from other humans is exceedingly low and getting lower all the time.

      Cheer up.

      1. I tell my friends similar things when they claim the whole world is a cesspool.
        I have to explain to them for the national news to feed them their daily horror, they have the entire nation to pick a few stories from, where 99%+ of everywhere else isn’t experiencing their horror story.
        Then I ask them when is the last time they encountered, personally, the things they were basing their blabber on. …. “Oh, I guess you’re … right.” …

        The bad thing about it all is msm mind control/attitude control works on some people.

    2. Mespo– Yes, the ‘state of nature’ has trended to self regulating sovieties rather than anarchy, beginning with the First Farmers in Anatolia.

  8. Those asturdBays who looted Ferguson after the justified shooting of that Mike brown guy were just following the advice of Browns mother. Steal, like Mike would, if he could!

  9. Black firefighter put his life savings into a bar only to have it burned down by the rioters. Truly a shame. I feel sad for him and the other decent people whose businesses have been destroyed. If the politicians and police continue to fail people will have to go Korean and protect themselves. Tell the police to go home, eat some donuts,, and stay the hell out of the way.

    1. Absurd– the Democratic Governor of MN still does not get it. His quote for the day: “The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard. Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world – and the world is watching.” Pure BS. The ashes today are real examples of the handiwork of lawless thugs who have learned that because most of them are black, no Democrat leader of any city or state will do anything to stop or even catch them.

      1. Many years ago, the late Cathy Seipp asked one of her daughter’s teachers about some inane pedagogic fad being used in the classroom. Why was this being done? The teacher replied: “That’s where we are in the cycle right now. I’ve been doing this so long I can see the same wheel just keep turning round and round.” Thomas Sowell, who, at his most scholarly is an intellectual historian, will tell you that fads in social policy are generally a recapitulation of the fads of a previous era. (He also said you get so disillusioned as you age that you stop fearing death).

        What’s disconcerting about Walz is that he’s from a small town in a desolate section of Nebraska and spent 24 years in the National Guard. Not the sort of thing you’d expect of a terminally fatuous person. OTOH, he was employed as a schoolteacher when he wasn’t on deployment.

      2. Do you have evidence that “most of them [i.e., ‘lawless thugs’] are black”?
        If not, it sounds like a racist assumption.

          1. Except that isn’t a “restate[ment]” of my reply.

            It comes across as an attempt to avoid answering the question. If you have evidence for your claim, present it. If you don’t, then honestly say so. If you’re relying on your personal video viewing as evidence, don’t assume that it’s a random or representative sample. There’s plenty of video of whites destroying property in the last 24 hours (let me know if you want some examples). Personally, I don’t know what the racial distribution of the rioters is. I doubt that you do either, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong by you presenting some actual evidence.

    2. the last guy, the public safety officer, said protect people, protect their lives protect their safety protect their liberty

      He said nothing about protecting businesses, infrastructure, homes, buildings, traffic lights, etc.

  10. “Execution” is a word for killing but the government claims some right to do so when a trial is done instead of a lynching.
    The pig up in that Minnie city needs to be lynched. Put a knee to the neck.

    Where did the pig go to high school?
    Does he have prior crimes for which he is uncharged?

  11. In a tweet today, JT wrote:

    “…after the President offered conciliatory words yesterday, he is again engaging effective taunts and threats. Mayor Bottoms showed how a leader can denounce looters and rioters without escalating the rhetoric of violence.”

    and posted:


    Powerful stuff and the truth.

  12. Just looking at some of individuals involved in the protests (e.g., carrying weapons) on the newscasts, many appear to be something like wild animals unleashed who do not have much real interest in either the fact of an innocent person being killed by police or the fact that he was innocent and black. That suggests that those persons, many looking pretty “thuggish,” have their own person / other motivations and are happy to have the opportunity to take to the streets carrying their weapons. .

  13. Portland PD is looted and destroyed by leftists and blacks. That is almost as much fun as watching CNN get attacked. The Portland Pussies Police Department usually stands around with their respective thumbs up their collective butts while Antifa assaults people in the streets. Hope their coffee maker and stack of donuts is destroyed along with the law enforcement equipment they don’t use to enforce the law.

    1. It’s Portland. Without a doubt, a retreat to the doughnut shop is a consequence of current policy, not an initiative of the police themselves.

    2. “Portland PD is looted and destroyed by leftists and blacks. ”

      Laughing. I saw them standing down before when antifa was carousing and attacking R, conserve, the right, tea party, etc

  14. Looting is not an “expression of power.” It is stealing. When there is a riot, people see an opportunity to steal, and they take it.

    Looting during a disasters, like after a tornado or flood, or during a pandemic, is a terrible crime. CA Penal Code 463 makes looting more than $950 a felony. Of course, one of the reasons why people loot is that it seems unlikely they will be caught.

    When CA increased the felony threshold to $950, shoplifting in general got out of control. In order for me to leave Walmart, I have to present my receipt. Same with Costco. But shoplifters just push entire carts out. The people manning the door can’t get physical with them. They call the police. The police can’t get there in time to stop them before they get the 50 feet to their car, and they’re off. Meanwhile, Walmart has to spend the extra money on additional staff to check the receipts of non shoplifters, as well as the cost of the stolen items.

    That’s a big store. The little mom and pop shops end up closing when the stealing becomes too much. There is this little health food store that I love. At one point, the stealing got so bad that they hired a burly security guard to plant his feet in front of the exit. I only saw him there a month or two. It was probably too expensive for such a little niche store.

    There are businesses barely holding on. Barely able to pay their employees. Looting and burning trashes their hopes to survive the pandemic. These stores can close, and maybe never reopen. Jobs lost. Business owners wouldn’t want to invest in a new location if it had been looted and burned. Who would?

    They drive the opportunities right out of their own communities, with gleeful smiles on their faces. Fools. Imbeciles. And activists call their self destruction brave.

    They didn’t even bother waiting to find out if there was a racial element at all to George Floyd’s death.

    1. Big biz maybe loves it, they’ll be the only ones left standing much like after the lock down – I can’t help but smell an agenda…

  15. I think what we’re suggesting here is that the various factions present in Minneapolis and elsewhere at the moment share some underlying pathology that would allow us to generalize. To do that though we’d have to survey virtually everyone, which no doubt we will attempt, but would it not perhaps be more efficient to simply embrace the anarchy? And sort all out when the smoke clears? Do you really think these evolutionary free-radicals will survive? Or does the “Good Society” truly rule supreme? And if so, why?

  16. I’m hearing that there are undercover law enforcement personnel mixed in with the rioters. It would be interesting to find out who the organized instigators are and where they are from. I’m also curious who sponsors these people. Where do they get their financing from?

  17. Last thing we need is the weak excuses of the sociology non profession. The useful words similar but 100% different are a’ conscious social conscience’ or another is ‘social contract’ but they have nothing to do with the weak brained. Good reason why that waste of classroom space ranks dead last and is NOT a science.

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