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. Jonathan: Just because a black man runs “out of a Target with a flat-screen television” does give license for the police or national guard to shoot that person dead. But that is what Trump expects because everybody protesting in Minneapolis over the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer are just “THUGS”. Trump wears his racism on his sleeve–just as do many white people. Whether white people will admit it or not they understand that the role of the police is to keep order in the black community–to protect whites from blacks who will use any opportunity to “riot”. This conveniently ignores the social and economic context in which the present uprisings are taking place around the country. Now if you are a black person who has always lived in poverty (who can’t afford a big flat-screen TV) and knows that statistically he/she is more susceptible to the coronavirus than your white neighbors how would you respond when another black man is murdered by a white police officer? You erupt in anger and take that anger out by burning your local police station and businesses that have exploited you for years. Systematic racism by police and economic inequality are the breeding ground for violence.

    But all this is lost on white academics who see it through a different prism. For them when a black person runs out of a Target store with a TV it is just an “opportunistic crime”–a “means of acquisition not expression”. But black people know a different reality. They understand that years of peaceful protest over the killing of unarmed black men by police has not produced many tangible results. So the unprovoked killing of George Floyd struck a raw and festering wound. But white academics don’t understand or acknowledge these harsh realities. They live in the rarefied world of academic discourse in which they can parse the meanings of “hooliganism” and “looting”. They also understand they can ignore the social and economic injustice in black communities around the country because they can always retreat to their homes in the suburbs–safe in the knowledge that the police will always be there to protect them from the next “opportunistic” crime!

  2. Let Professor Scott experience their “expression of power” on himself, his home and family! Leave the rest of us out of it.

  3. The Fairfax District in LA looted and destroyed. I suspect a new crop of anti-gun liberals will be first-time gun buyers come Monday.

  4. How about some looting at his house, would he be OK with that? Saw a young black woman being interviewed about the demonstrations, she said it was “time to burn things”. So let’s start with her place of residence.

  5. Shooting is an expression of power.

    You loot, I shoot.

    Let’s see who wins the power struggle.

    1. Turley loots a lot from taxpayer funds (how much did we pay him for testifying like a goon for trump)

      So if the rule is loot then shoot I guess it may be time to take up arms and head to dc symbolically of course. Turley hides like a coward only speaking to groups with like minded views.

  6. “Professor: “Looting Is An Expression Of Power””

    – Professor Turley
    _______________

    Rioting and looting constitute manifestations of irreversible genetic flaws.

    In the current era, this looting and rioting has persisted and been defended by varying rationales and pretexts since the 1960’s.

    No more excuses.

    These riots of 2020 prove definitively that these rioters can and will never assimilate.

    The political emulsifiers of generational welfare, affirmative action privilege, forced busing, quotas, etc., have failed to maintain the mix of

    societal oil and water.

    This charade is over.

  7. Dang! My really good and long comment got yanked! Oh well. Let me try some more Words of Wisdom.

    You have to look at Professor Scott’s statement as a form of mental self protection. More precisely, DENIAL. As a liberal white, his theory is that Whites are to blame for black problems. Blacks themselves are NEVER responsible for their own bad choices.

    So he can not square blacks looting a Target store or a liquor store with it being simply theft, criminality, or just plain general mayhem. It has to be viewed as an extension of the whole societal injustice narrative.

    Professor Scott is suffering from cognitive dissonance and this is how he deals with not having to face reality, and the fact that his theory is wrong – to wit, in the year 2020, blacks bring most of their problems onto themselves. Or their single black mothers brought it on them by refusing to bring their children into a loving, two-parent home.

    I would be totally surprised if any white liberal does otherwise. That is why some are blaming the riots on White Supremacists, or neo-Nazis, or who knows, maybe even the Russians. If they ever start putting the blame where it belongs, on blacks themselves, then their whole racial narrative comes crashing down.

    That is why you get these utterly ridiculous statements from them.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  8. Has Joe Biden made any of his comments about this chaos? Can’t wait to here his wisdom.

    1. Senile, creepy, hair-sniffing Joe has to first figure out which of the black rioters are really black.

    2. Ind Bob………..He wiil probably say : “If you ain’t lootin’ and stealin’ tv’s, then you ain’t black”. and will think he sounds profound.

  9. This has to be kind of funny. The leftist mayor of Nashville invited Black Lives Matter to join him for a protest on Saturday.

    They did. Then they burned down City Hall and the Courthouse.

    Don’t invite vampires into your home. They don’t come to make friends with you.

      1. That won’t ‘woke’ many of them. Who cares about Nashville?

        What will really sting is that the anarchists took over part of Rodeo Drive today and began looting.

        I bet even Cher is pi$$ed about that. Where will social justice pioneer elites shop?

        1. It is now getting out of hand, the elites are having their feathers ruffled.
          The MSM might have to start clamoring for things to calm down – give some spun and slick persuasion to their constituents. I suspect it is already happening.

  10. Squeeky……Terrific comment! It’s so nice to see the raw truth in print.
    The black community, as a community, is ruining America. I’m finished with defending them, and caring about them.
    They are the most self-centered, destructive, uncaring group of losers I’ve ever seen.
    I don’t regard intelligent, caring, hardworking people like Candace Owens, Tim Scott, and other conservative blacks, as part of the black community. They are not.

  11. Mike Lindell( Mr. Pillow) is thinking about running for governor of Minnesota. From drug addict to successful businessman to who knows what’s next.

    1. That’s a double trailer and the looter is stuck between them the driver had no clue.
      I’m sure they’ll demand the drivers head and despite the facts…

  12. What does anyone think will happen if any of the ” demonstrators” were to scale the metal fence that protects the White House?

  13. “A riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?” is a quote from 1953. That’s almost 70 years ago. Since then, we’ve had a black president. I think, as a linguist, in trying to look at the problem from a million miles away, the problem in 1953 was that nobody was listening. The problem in 2020 is that nobody is speaking, at least in any kind of language that can be understood by the interlocutor. There is a fundamental failure on both sides to understand that the language they are speaking is not being understood by the other side. When athletes kneel at the national anthem, obviously there is a message being sent, but I don’t think the message the athletes think they’re sending (which I believe is something like, “We’ll take the money and the fame but we’re really, really angry”) is the message the other side is receiving which is basically a raised middle finger. I can’t think of a nicer way to put it. Side 1 thinks it’s communicating; Side 2 thinks it’s being insulted. They’re both right and they’re both wrong. Same deal with the looting. Side 1 thinks it’s communicating and sees the free Air Jordans as long-overdue reparations. Side 2 thinks Side 1 should write a letter to the editor or tweet if it’s unhappy. Both sides have unrealistic expectations. Side 1 thinks that with enough violence, Side 2 will eventually hear and understand and help, but nobody wants to help someone who just burnt down their city. That’s a simple fact of life. When you speak truth to power, it’s important to speak in a language power understands.

    1. I understand their language just find. I reject their message as it is unreasonable.

  14. Nintendo Switch…hahaha. I had a good laugh at that comment.

    Looting is a sign of power? No, it is a sign of opportunistic behavior.

    The same way one animal steal another animals food or other resources.

      1. The entire American welfare state is unconstitutional, including, but not limited to, affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, HAMP, HARP, TARP, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

        Article 1, Section 8, provides Congress the power to tax for only “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for indivdual or specific welfare, any form of redistribution of wealth or for charity. in the same Article and Section, Congress is provided the power to regulate only money, the “flow” of commerce and land and naval Forces. Congress has no authority to regulate anything else. The 5th Amendment right to private property is unqualified by the Constitution and, therefore, absolute, and Congress has no power to claim or exercise dominion with the sole exception of “taking” property under the principle of eminent domain.

        Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto 59 years after the adoption of the Constitution because none of the principles of the Communist Manifesto were in the Constitution. Had the principles of the Communist Manifesto been in the Constitution, Karl Marx would have had no reason to write the Communist Manifesto. The principles of the Communist Manifesto were not in the Constitution then and the principles of the Communist Manifesto are not in the Constitution now.

  15. Africans “…are [no] days away from fundamentally transforming the [Minneapolis] of America.”

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