The unbearable hellishness of customer support

by MooshiMooshi

This article popped up in the NYTimes the other day. It is about how terrible phone and online customer support is, and more importantly, reasons why companies make their support so bad.

Having recently spent hours with Verizon trying to set up a kid-tracking service for our smartphones (the support tech never got the app to fully function, and she managed to delete my account in the process, despite assurring me she wasn’t going to mess up my account), and time today with the Marriott reservations (where I had to tell the machine bot screener what my question was, which of course it couldn’t parse, until I resorted to machine pidgin speak “reservation! cancellation! question!”, and then the agent had no idea what the cancellation policy on the booking site meant, and couldn’t even see the same rooms I was seeing), this is very much on my mind.

My most hated customer service companies are Verizon (totally, hands down) and any airline. My DH especially despises Apple, mainly because every time he tries to download a movie onto one of the kids Nanos, it fails and he ends up with customer service trying to make the download happen.

Who has the worst customer support in your opinion? Are there any that shine? (The small Linux-oriented company where I purchased my behemoth machine was fantastic when the laptop wasn’t charging properly, and I have had really good luck with Kindle support too). Do you have any particularly hilarious or horrifying customer support stories?

And, online support chat – yea or nay? I personally love it and always choose a chat over the phone. Much easier to follow, I can do other things at the same time, and I get a transcript.

 

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207 thoughts on “The unbearable hellishness of customer support

  1. Comcast has always been the worst for me, but for the past six months, since I’ve been on some new plan that got me a much cheaper rate along with the wonderful fanciness of X1, I haven’t had to deal with them, and the rate has not crept up like it used to.

    I, too, like the chats, for all the reasons you mentioned. I just hate the required canned responses. “Can I take a few moments to look over your account?” “Thank you for your patience.” “Do I understand your question correctly?” “Thank you.” “Can I take a moment to look into your question?” “Thank you for your patience.”

  2. Oh my God. Recently I was on the phone with Comcast and the robotic human in some terrible developing country kept telling me that I should buy some additional service, and I kept telling her I already HAD the additional service, until eventually I was screaming “MA’AM!! MA’AM!! PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT. STOP SAYING THAT. STOP SAYING THAT.” At which point she told me I didn’t need to be rude, but it was like a horror show with her insisting on reciting her script over and over EVEN THOUGH I ALREADY HAD THE SERVICE.

  3. I think Verizon and Comcast are equally bad – we have been dealing with Verizon lately since the FIOS was already installed in the new house, so it was switching over to ours. Took forever – they switched from a “self install” to a “technician install” without telling us – then they told us they would show up between 2 and 3 and then arrived at 5:30. ARGH.

    Bank of America is always bad too – it is impossible to reach the actual branch (unless you keep their cards that they give you) and you have to be on hold forever. I take to screaming “AGENT” over and over until they give me someone.

    I like Nordstrom customer service, and Costco. Surprisingly, Sleepy’s is great too over the phone – we got a new king size mattress (side note, king size bed is the best thing ever!) and they were very nice and scheduled the delivery right away and then showed up when they said they would!

  4. Verizon is awful. A few days ago I spent six hours with them trying to fix an issue on my phone. Apple is miserable and condescending. If you product is all that intuitive, I wouldn’t need to call customer support so stop telling me that I shouldn’t need help.

  5. 1. Verizon (by far). 2. Cigna. 3. healthcare related billing departments. We try to keep as low tech as possible so we don’t have to call for computer support. DH is pretty good at figuring most things out.

  6. I did have a somewhat amusing experience a few weeks back. I was at the doctor getting a prescription renewed. As she was walking me out, my phone rang and I saw it was CVS. They said, “Your prescription just came in but it was rejected by your insurance as your provider ordered the wrong thing.” So, I said, “Actually, my doctor is right here would you like to talk to her?” My doctor grabbed my phone and yelled at CVS for a few minutes and then handed me back my phone and said, “It will be all set in 15 min.”

  7. Mooshi,

    I see a large graphic image from the story and a synopsis, if you click on the image it takes you to the article. It renders very well.

  8. DS1 would say Comcast. Took almost a month to get his modem & cable box from when he signed up and they kept claiming they didn’t anywhere in his area that he could go to and pick them up. This is in the 5th largest city in the US! Not to mention the extra long phone waits.

    “Bank of America is always bad too – it is impossible to reach the actual branch (unless you keep their cards that they give you) and you have to be on hold forever. I take to screaming “AGENT” over and over until they give me someone.”

    L – if you have even $25k with BA you’ll be in their “preferred” club and since I moved an old IRA there a couple of years ago (Meme’s suggestion) I have been very happy with the customer service. I get a person by the second ring whenever I access them thru my phone app.

    I’ve actually been pretty ok with the service from Verizon Wireless. Not great, but recently at least they’ve efficiently helped me with what I needed.

  9. I haven’t had to deal too much with Verizon, just lucky I guess. My previous health insurance was the worst. And I’ve only met one medical billing group I’ve liked. I started taking my bills back to my insurance company to fix (how’s that for backwards)… and my health insurance was so nice about it too.

    Paypal has horrid customer service. If you ever work with an organization that uses PayPal, don’t ever change the treasurer/CFO/person responsible for the money. They get very angry.

    I’ve had RMS’s experience too. And they get mad at me for getting mad at them. I call them to get help, not to be upsold a product that (a) I don’t need or (b) already have. Get off the script, use the brains you were given, and let’s find a solution.

    So yes, put me down in the category of people who like the online chat functions.

  10. I also despise our IT group. I can do a better job of managing and maintaining our systems than they can. Lord knows how much my company pays them for sh!tty service. I think I’ve had 1-2 techs who knew what they were doing.

  11. On Verizon and Fios – when Fios was pretty young, we got lots of marketing material pleading with us to sign up. It looked good, so DH called them and asked if we could get Fios in our area. The rep checked and said yes. So they sent someone out, who mucked about our wires for a while and then announced that we were too far from some kind of station. About a month later, a salesdoodle calls and says that our area now has Fios, so do we want it? We thought maybe something had changed, so we said yes. The service person came out, mucked about our wires for a while, and then announced that we were too far from some kind of station. The next day, a salesperson calls, and says, no you really are in the right area for Fios, and we are sending someone out. The service person came out, mucked about our wires for a while, and then announced that we were too far from some kind of station. The next time the salesrep called, we told him that 3 separate service people had visited us and decreed that we can’t get Fios. The salesrep started ARGUING with me, saying that couldn’t possibly be right, that he had a MAP.

    We still don’t have Fios.

  12. I make these kinds of calls in the blue tooth head set. This lets me do other things while the call proceeds. I can say how poor my experience has been with Windows 10. People who know things (mooshi?), can I just down load a Linux OS and skip window altogether? The browser will be Chrome.

  13. “The salesrep started ARGUING with me, saying that couldn’t possibly be right, that he had a MAP. ”

    Because maps are always right and on-the-ground-knowledge is always wrong. I think the salesperson may also follow a GPS blindly, even though the road changed since the last time s/he updated it and they find themselves in the river.

  14. ” I think the salesperson may also follow a GPS blindly, even though the road changed since the last time s/he updated it and they find themselves in the river.”

    I think they’re doing their best. Many are still learning the English language, they probably have very limited experience and familiarity (if any) with the product that they are selling, they’ve been told that their new name is “Barbara” or “Michael,” and their job performance is scored on checking certain boxes. __ Thanked the customer every time he said something. __ Recommended an additional service, etc.

  15. I haven’t had a lot of issues with customer support, but I am probably not interacting with them too often at my old people infrequent purchasing level. I am not close to satisfied with fios and Verizon wireless product, but the customer service humans have been fine the website is terrible and an app upgrade right before a trip torpedoed my remote viewing access. I have zero trouble with BoA either app or phone or branch. My only card company troubles were with Amex.

    My main problem recently was the 4 mos it took and the 8 to 10 phone calls with long waits to get my Phillips fancy espresso machine repaired under warranty. A tip i found useful in dealing with overseas call centers make calls at different halves of the 24 hour world wide day. Usually one call center is much better than the others. Not necessarily by regions. For Phillips East Asia was great, Latin America a disaster. It has been the other way around sometimes.

  16. Mooshi – same thing happened to a local NYC council member/district representative. He couldn’t get FIOS even though the Verizon map said his neighborhood was covered until he said something to a high level Verizon rep at a public meeting about their bad service. The doohickey that needed to be installed in his neighborhood suddenly made it to the top of the installation list. His neighbors were happy.

    A friend posted an exchange (actually 3 exchanges) with Verizon reps on just this issue (copied directly from the online chats) on Facebook. It’s hysterical – when it’s not happening to you.

  17. Not strictly customer service but a service guy gave DH his number. Turns out he was doing fixes for customers on his own time and taking cash for this.
    I don’t deal with any of the tech type items for our home so my experience has been with retailers for exchanges/returns with companies that have better customer service like Lands End, Garnett Hill etc. so my interactions have always been with a person who taken care of the issue. Chat has also been a good experience with such retailers.

  18. Best customer service – Discover. I don’t often have an issue, but every time they resolve it and it is minimal hassle on my side. Sprint is hit or miss – really depends on who you get on the phone and how complicated the question is. Insurance company of any sort for any reason = nightmare.

    I like chat because most of the time at the end you can request the transcript be mailed to you. Then, if it doesn’t end up that way, you have “proof”, not just what you remembered or a he said/she said situation. Also, with chat if it is a set of instructions that you can’t follow at that very moment or need to repeat later or on another device, you have it written down.

  19. We couldn’t get Fios at our new house even though the people who lived on the same lot had it and all of our neighbors had it. Apparently our house got lost when they built the new one and Fios is unable to locate it.

    I have had excellent customer service with everyone I have ever talked with that works for the state of Virginia. Uniformly good service, responsive, everyone follows up. It is strange for the government. We might have our flaws and have former governors carted off to prison then released, but Virginia is efficient and pleasant.

  20. We have the Chase Sapphire credit card, and their customer service is outstanding.

    I recently canceled my New York Times subscription, and they could not have been more annoying throughout the whole process.

  21. When we had the flood 2 years ago, I had to deal with Allstate. I had recently signed up for a new product (called House and Home or some such fancy nonsense). The reps at Allstate didn’t even know the product. I had more information about it using what I could salvage from the house (our policy didn’t get wet, but in moving things, the file cabinet got wedged in a corner). It was utterly frustrating.

    When I relayed this information to our agent, he asked me why I didn’t contact him directly. I said “I did. You never called me back. They did.” Considering our insurance needs aren’t great, I keep him around. But if we move, I may consider finding another agent or switching companies.

  22. In the same vein as Kate, I had prompt service when I contacted the city for big item trash removal and delivery of an extra recycling bin. I used to be so spketical but every time it was done right on first time.

  23. My version of “death by a thousand cuts” hell is CVS. They offer this allegedly awesome automatic refill system, which I am theoretically a huge fan of, because it means I don’t have to do anything. Except for no reason anyone can identify, my prescriptions get taken off the system every 3-6 months, so I show up and they’re not there, so then I have to make a second visit. And then the guy swears he put them in again, but the next month they’re not there. My favorite was this last time: “Oh, I see we sent you a message asking if you still need the prescriptions.” Umm, yeah. Because even though I have been reliably picking up levothyroxin from them every month for the past multiple years, they somehow thought my thyroid might have spontaneously and miraculously started functioning. Effing brilliant.

  24. Texas DMV. To schedule a driving test, some, but not all locations use an online scheduling software. But they do not all use the same one. To schedule, you have to choose your location, click through multiple levels entering hits of information along the way, then it will tell you the first open date for that location. If you don’t like that date, you have to go back to the start and repeat with other locations. Most appointments are 2 months out, so you’re going to want to try multiple locations. Some have no online scheduling. You have to email them and wait for them to respond with a proposed appointment. If you’re busy doing your day job and don’t respond right away, the appointment may be gone by time you respond. If you decide to call the location, to see if they except walk in, as soon as you tell the phone tree that your question pertains to the driving test, it route you to a central location that only has recordings, see you can never speak to an actual human at the office you want to go to. One location requires you to physically come to their spot to schedule your appointment for sometime in the distant future.

    My son did not have the affidavit stating he had watched a required video the first time, and was sick on the day of his next scheduled driving test, so I am going through this fresh hell again.

  25. I just got to the Frugalwoods post:

    These things don’t define me. I am not my sofa or my hemline. I am not the sum total of the things I own.

    She’s pretty much defines herself by the homestead. It’s so interesting how she’s created this mythology about herself, that makes perfect sense to her, but is utterly ridiculous.

  26. Maybe it’s my bubble, or maybe it’s her bubble, or maybe a little bit of both, but again, I just don’t see how they’re all that special. I know a LOT of people who are about as frugal as they are, and I just don’t think they give it one tenth of the amount of thought and analysis that that woman does. Who are all these people criticizing them?

  27. So timely. I have been trying to reschedule an oncology followup appointment all day. The practice must have switched their appointment procedures since my last visit months ago, but now when you call the main number you get a recorded voice, then a human operator who routes you to the “appointment scheduling” line, where you have to leave a voicemail and “someone will get back to you by the end of the day.” They called back when I was not available, and now I am starting round two of phone tag.

    Not really that awful, but then again there are no routine appointments with an oncologist. Every single visit has the potential to destroy your life. Many patients aren’t in remission like me — they are in active treatment and stressed and sick and tired and scared and should not be forced to play telephone tag to schedule an appointment that might destroy their life. The assumption that the staff is too busy to answer the phone and deal with the schedule, but that the patients can be expected to take a call at any moment and be in a position both to talk and to consult their calendar is so inconsiderate. There is a separate phone line for calls to speak to medical staff, so they cannot use that excuse.

  28. Verizon Wireless and Apple wasted hours of my time last year when I tried to get my new iPhone activated. I was extremely patient in waiting for call backs and diligently executing their instructions to get my new phone up and running. This was by phone since the Apple store had over a week wait time for an appointment slot, and when I relented to go to a Verizon store it just so happened their system was down at that time so they couldn’t help me! At one point I went to Twitter and finally after getting my third phone delivered and handing it to the Apple genius everything was resolved. In hindsight, the “all your data will be lost” message that kept coming up was apparently not a problem. The Apple genius looked at it and said to ignore it. Why couldn’t the phone reps have told me that???

    HSBC is a problem. They told me I cannot change my assigned rep unless I go in person to tell that rep, who is located at a branch a few miles farther away than the rep at the branch down the street from me. Nope, can’t do it by phone or online. So the nearest rep has been helping me and she agreed to be my “unofficial” rep.

  29. As a follow up to vacation splurges post, I just put down the 500 deposit on the one solo traveler slot at my travel company for Namibia fall 2017. Hubby says he will chip in 25 per cent on one luxe trip and 50 percent on one short middle class trip per year, so with his acquiescence if not blessing I will schedule one solo active or exotic trip per year.

  30. Ooo, Scarlett, I have one doctor who does that too and I HATE IT. And I’m not even sick!

  31. We have had pretty good experiences with Verizon Wireless. My last call was a few weeks ago, after being notified that we had used up our data with 10 days left in the billing cycle. I’ve tried without success to get the other members of the family to read a book instead of watching netflix on their phones when they are trapped in airports, so I called in prepared to pay for additional data. They gave it to me for free, without so much as a hint that I might take my business elsewhere, “because you’ve been such a loyal customer (sucker).” So I think we are probably paying too much, and it’s time to start looking around for an alternative. In the meantime, I’ll take the “free” data, and the customer service rep was extremely helpful.

    PayPal helped me delete a duplicate account for our nonprofit, and GoDaddy walked me patiently through the steps of setting up our website. Apple has been outstanding. AT&T not so much, but I make DH handle that because he is the one who insists that we need U-Verse. Listening to his half of those conversations is almost as bad as making the calls myself.

  32. Scarlett, I’ve had similar experiences with Verizon Wireless. For a while they had some kind of secret policy of charging less once your contract expired. I was never notified, but when I called to ask about it the rep cut $20 or $30 off the monthly charges for two of our phones. Apparently some customers got retroactive refunds going back several months, but I only got the refund for one month IIRC.

  33. Who are all these people criticizing them?

    Because, as you said, she puts way too much thought into it. Her buying the homestead is no different than you buying a lake house or a boat. OK honey (and kids) we’re going to cut back on X, Y and Z so we can get the lake house. OK, sounds great.

    It’s all the preaching and moralizing without a hint of self awareness that the homestead is just as much a silly extravagance as anything else.

  34. “with his acquiescence if not blessing I will schedule one solo active or exotic trip per year”

    I should do this because other family members don’t always have the time or inclination to travel with me.

  35. DH likes to ski and I don’t. He goes off skiing by himself or with a friend about 2-3x per year. It makes the both of us happy.

  36. I don’t read frugal woods. But I don’t understand people who make a virtue out of frugality in itself. What else do they have to offer to the world? Do they follow a higher purpose or direct their money saved to noble causes?
    I see people who have a higher calling and don’t think that their sofa defines them and act accordingly.
    It’s like my aunt, who always talks about how the fact that she does not color, making it sound virtuous somehow. Behind it is also an implied reproach of those of us who do.

  37. CoC, I might hate traveling alone. I have to give it a try. But by reserving early I can get the one slot reserved for a solo traveler no roommate the tour is limited to 7, the number of window seats in the expedition vehicle. This company, unlike the cruise lines, only requires full payment 3 mos in advance.

    And one airfare, one package, even with a 15 per cent single surcharge, is a lot less than 2.

  38. MBT- totally agree. Our au pair is supposed to get a Texas license but the appointments available were further out than the date for which her written test results would remain valid. We were pleasantly surprised with our social security office visit and her card arrived promptly. I was really bracing myself for misery.

  39. Dell – my in laws are like that. Whatever way of life they choose is best and the rest of us are immoral, lying, cheating, spendthrifts. I call it the martyrdom complex. Like Rett says – some people just enjoy choosing the hard way and then preaching about it.

  40. RI allows AAA to do a lot of the DMV tasks, so I head there. I think they can also do passports, which is on my list of things to get done this summer. AAA is always fantastic – from rescuing me on the side of the road to going into their office to handle DMV transactions. Always pleasant.

  41. @ Scarlett – if you have the Verizon family plan, you can set limits on certain people’s data use. DS is on my plan, and between the 2 of us we have 3G. I have it set so he can only use 1. Once he uses it up, he can’t use any more, although he still has unlimited text and calls.

    I think you should bring that up to your oncologist.

    My OB/GYN is booked up for annual appointments for over a year out. I don’t know how this is possible, or how this comports with Medical Board rules that you have to be reasonably available to your patients.

  42. Yes, exactly Louise. Glad you understood my jumbled up post though! Posting on phone is tough sometimes.

  43. “my in laws are like that. Whatever way of life they choose is best and the rest of us are immoral, lying, cheating, spendthrifts.”

    Louise, these are the inlaws who live with you??? Do they at least commend YOUR lifestyle, especially your generosity and patience?

    Lark, my solution was not to tell the kids that I increased the data plan. Two of them are grownups who could get their own phone plans, but it’s much cheaper to pay the $45 for their share of our plan, and I’m fine with that until the next time we bump up against the new and expanded data plan. Then I AM cutting them loose to fend for themselves.
    And I called the doctor’s office and asked to speak with someone about their new system. I ended up venting to a secretary who told me that she shared my concerns “125%” and encouraged me to put a complaint on the website. It is beyond belief that this little DIN item is going to remain undone for another day because the practice is unwilling to hire sufficient support staff properly to run the office.

  44. Lark – my OB is usually booked out for routine appointments for months in advance. But they only accept a limited number of routine appointments, leaving them available for patients who need immediate attention, or for patients who need more attention. After years of not needing the OB side, I found out just how wide open the schedules were when I was pregnant. Magically, every time slot I needed was available.

    Scarlett – I second Lark’s suggestion. My dad does this for his stepson because his stepson is like your folks – lots of streaming content. It will save your sanity. Or if you haven’t looked at your plan in a while, check out the data-bucket plans. We have the small data plan (3 GB for the 2 iphones, 1 dumb phone, and i ipad), which is like $30 cheaper than we were paying before that plan. Once you pay off your phones (apparently Verizon sells them to you in monthly installments), the cost of your plan drops again because you are only paying for the connection and data.

  45. Hooray, Meme, for the solo trip to Namibia. I went to New Zealand and Australia for two weeks before I was married and I enjoyed traveling alone.

    Since Mr WCE likes hunting and I like cities and museums, I hope we can do some stuff solo when we’re through the family life stage. I like walking with him while he scouts, and I could just walk away when he needs silence for stalking.

  46. Rhode, we had 12 GB and that wasn’t enough. I think that we have 16 now. I tried to buy my last phone outright, but the man at the Verizon store did not seem to understand and I ended up with the monthly installments that I didn’t want. The bill is incomprehensible. But DS sent more than 5000 text messages last month. That part I could read.

  47. I ended up with the monthly installments that I didn’t want

    They don’t offer any kind of discount for buying outright anyway, so you’re not paying extra by having the monthly installments.

  48. Scarlett – ya that’s odd. Usually people can’t afford to buy outright, but those that can should be offered it (or at least the bill should be corrected).

    When DH’s iphone5 came up on the “new every 2 plan” it f-ed up the bill royally. The numbers were right, but I couldn’t understand why his connection charge was pro-rated and then pre-paid for the next month. It took me a while to get through that. I figured out that because he owned the phone outright now we were only paying a reduced connection charge. And ownership came due mid month, we were pro-rated the reduced cost, and then had to pre-pay the next month or some such nonsense. I didn’t care because the bill was less than the previous month’s bill.

    I honestly don’t understand how 12 GB isn’t enough. Can’t they use wifi? How often are they in places where you have to buy wifi? And is it cheaper to buy the wifi periodically than pay overage charges or for the larger data bucket?

  49. MBT – thanks for the info on the TDL. In never occurred to me that you’d have to make an appointment and no one in the whole Drivers Ed process mentioned it. One office has spots the Friday before school starts…a month away! The rest are not until school starts. I have resigned myself that we might be driving her for a month or two if she doesn’t pass the first time.

    I was really hoping to know by 7/29 as that is the last day to get on the bus for the year. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

    I use data way more than text or phone. I’d do better with free data and pay by the phone call!

  50. I honestly don’t understand how 12 GB isn’t enough.

    With 5 people that’s 5 min of standard definition Netflix video per person per day.

  51. I still have unlimited data from T-Mobile. At one point the CEO was calling all us loyal customers “thieves” because we were using the unlimited data that we were contractually entitled to. That didn’t go well for him.

  52. “They don’t offer any kind of discount for buying outright anyway, so you’re not paying extra by having the monthly installments.”

    Yes, that was my takeaway, and I tried to explain it to DH when I got home, but he insisted that I had been talked into something that cost more. Though he declined to come along and assist in the transaction.

    I thought that 4 GB was enough, and then surely 8, and certainly we would never hit the 12 GB level. Every month, it seems that someone was traveling, or moving into a new place and having to wait weeks for wifi installation. They tell me that wifi service “sucks” in many public places, and God forbid that you have time to kill and you can’t watch YouTube. What do I know? It seems to be cheaper to use the phone, and every time I try to figure out whether that is actually true, I give up in frustration.

  53. I hate Verizon, and there are times where I have almost lost my mind with them.

    My OB/GYN and our ped have joined a large medical group in the county. They do not have a phone that rings in this state. If you call for any reason, the calls are answered in North Carolina. I can never speak to a person in the office unless they call me back. Some of the doctors and even some of the nurses will take pity, and give out their personal cell or emails. It drives them nuts too, but there really are no phones.

    The pediatrician switched to this group last year. If it was always like this – I never would have joined such a practice. It is all fine until you get sick, and have to see them more than once or twice a year.

    I used to get frustrated with the call center, but I’ve just learned to give the same information over and over if I need a call back. I walk around with my cell for hours so I don’t miss the call back. It can be challenging.

  54. “With 5 people that’s 5 min of standard definition Netflix video per person per day.”

    I would never watch Netflix if it weren’t on wifi. I don’t even run Pandora on data, nor do I download my Mom’s 8 MB pictures on email.

  55. I don’t have any sort of wi-fi available in my office. My kids don’t have wi-fi available at school, unless someone gets the password and shares it with the other students, and then it’s only temporary till they change the password. It’s certainly not a given that any place you might find yourself waiting around, a lobby or a shopping center or waiting room of some sort, would have free wi-fi. So we have a generously sized data plan.

  56. I like the option of being able to play Pandora in my car. I like to have my podcatcher turned to the setting where it keeps my podcasts of choice up to date. I like to be able to use the maps. I mean, why pay so much to have this little pocket computer that makes calls, and then limit my ability to make use of its capacities to a limited subset of places so that I can make that payment slightly smaller?

  57. I just upped to 4 GB per month, which is all my usage. Some public or free hotel wifi is stepped down so much that I turn it off and just use mobile data. I think Feb and March are the only months I am not tempted to stream live sporting events, and the “free” NFL mobile and the “free” FIOS mobile are data use generators – that’s why they are free.

  58. I would never watch Netflix if it weren’t on wifi. I don’t even run Pandora on data, nor do I download my Mom’s 8 MB pictures on email.

    I can’t imagine anything being worth worrying about money at that level. Not even:

  59. “The deaths highlight the fact that most cruise lines do not have lifeguards at their pools, said Jim Walker, a maritime lawyer with the Miami-based law firm Walker & O’Neill. “Cruise ships have warning signs by their pools that say that passengers are swimming at their own risk, but the problem is that many young children can’t read these signs,” Mr. Walker said.”

    Well, yes, but if a child is too young to READ, then he is too young to be allowed to swim without parental supervision.
    There are no life guards at our health club’s indoor pool, which has the “swim at your own risk” signs. Presumably the liability insurers are fine with that, but I negotiated the insurance coverage for our neighborhood swim club in Virginia, and we had to provide detailed information regarding our lifeguard coverage. “None” was not an option, and we even expanded guard coverage to include swim team practices. Basically, any time a person was in the pool, a guard was in at least one of the chairs. At $8 an hour (then), it was well worth the cost.

  60. At $8 an hour (then), it was well worth the cost.

    The third world staff cruise ships hire start out at $800/month, so the cost would presumably be even less than $8/hour now.

  61. “I would never watch Netflix if it weren’t on wifi. I don’t even run Pandora on data, nor do I download my Mom’s 8 MB pictures on email.”

    Clearly you are not a teenager, to whom on-demand availability of all such services is a fundamental human right that belongs right below that right to free speech and way above those silly habeas corpus whatevers.

  62. My understanding (because I have looked into this for medical liability) is that there is very little that a cruise line is liable for as long as you are in international waters. I think that the pools are closed when the ship is docked in the US? Anyway, I am sure people with more than a Google-law degree have examined the issue, but I don’t think there is significant risk (to the cruise operator).

  63. The third world staff cruise ships hire start out at $800/month

    More than many adjunct professors…..

  64. We have a lifeguards at our community pool and some parents do NOT watch their kids. When our pool is really crowded, it can sometimes be difficult to see every little kid. Parents are in the water, but they are chatting with their neighbors etc. I am surprised at what parents do when their kids are so young.

    When you consider how much staff is on these boats and how little they pay their staff – all of the major cruise lines are being penny wise and pound foolish about the lifeguard thing.
    Just add some lifeguards! the pools are tiny and they wouldn’t need a ton of additional staff.

  65. I miss DD when she is at camp, but we share our data. I have to admit that I love having the whole data plan to myself for 7 weeks!

  66. way above those silly habeas corpus whatevers

    Yeah, there’s no point in putting a teen on restriction nowadays. Shutting off the internet is the only game in town.

  67. “You’re Amish!!!”

    That was the line some comedian used when describing the only effective punishment for kids.

  68. Trying to avoid completing charts, but I am at home, so….must be time to write up the Italy Trip Report.

    We started with an overnight with friends in Munich and then took the train to Brescia. The impetus behind the trip was the opportunity to see Christo’s Floating Piers, and Brescia was a pretty good jumping off point for that. It is a cute and fairly unremarkable town.

    The response to the art exhibit overwhelmed the region – they had 2-3 times more people than anticipated. There were special trains running the 20 miles between Brescia and Sulzano, but they cancelled a few to slow flow of people into the region. We were told to get to the station for the 5:55a train. We arrived at 5:50 and were unable to board – the train was already too full. Nothing to do but stand in line for 2 hours for the next train, or take a train to Iseo and walk 7km to Sulzano. OR…take a cab. Surprisingly, no one (out of a few hundred waiting) was doing this. We shared with a mother-son from Germany and split the 50E and were delivered right to the exhibit.

    It was now 7a, and the piers were pretty full. At least we didn’t have to wait in line to go out. There was a 4.5km path, most of which you walk over twice. It was a beautiful and impressive undertaking, but the logistics kind of made it less pleasant. Also, the crowds on the entire piece. I had been to see The Gates in NYC, which was more my speed. I feel so fortunate we had the chance to be there, despite my complaints. It seemed most of the tourists were Italian.

    We went from Brescia to Florence. I had never been and thought it was lovely. We bought a Florence Card – 72E for 72hours of all the major museums in the area. Reserving entrance tickets to the two major museums is 40E, and requires more foresight and planning than I wanted to do. It enabled us to go to a lot of small and interesting places that I probably would not have been interested in paying to enter (I know, I know, we paid, but…). Highly recommended – it also allows you to go to separate short lines at the big museums. We saw some beautiful, contemporary sculptural pieces provocatively placed in a number of museums, which is something you don’t see in the US. (Statues made of beetles in rooms full of old furniture and frescos). We climbed to the cupola at the Duomo, and that was more amazing and far more claustriphobic that I had anticipated. (We were stopped for about 15 minutes in a spiral staircase. Not clear why, could only see DH behind me and the girl in front of me who was explaining to her Italian guide that the only pasta we have in America is at Olive Garden. No windows, no ventilation, no way to move.)

    And we ate and ate and ate – marscapone gelato, pistachio croissants, stuffed fried zucchini flowers, aperol spritz, panzanella….

    (Rome to come).

  69. My DS was so worried about going over the data plan. We don’t go over because DH has his work phone and I am usually at home when I am streaming movies and shows. DS’s school will not allow them to take out their phones during the day so he has only a short bus ride to use his new phone. I usually have free wifi most places I frequent. Our biggest bottleneck was at home when everyone was on their device so we had to go to get a new router.

  70. So speaking of giant hassles, my daughter got rear-ended by a semi in downtown Houston today. It was in heavy traffic so low speed, and she is not injured, but the trunk was not so lucky. The driver did not stock, so this will be on our dime. I hope to be adding a new driver, so I don’t know what to do about the insurance. Does uninsured motors claims count against your driving record? The car she got hit in was the one my son planned to use for the driving test on Tuesday, so that adds another level of inconvenience. I am so relieved, but I’m not really letting the rest of it bother me too much, but don’t want to throw money away. The quote I got was $1800 using a used trunk. Using OEM parts would be much more.

  71. Lauren, I think our doctors are in the same large practice. Getting anyone on the phone is like pulling teeth. It has led to some very seroius situations, such as a kid unable to start prescribed meds for 4 days because there was no callback on a Thursday, the doctors office was closed Friday, and so the call didn’t get returned until the following MOnday

  72. Lauren, I was actually so furious about the out of state call center that I dinged the practice on Yelp, where you can find many complaints about the same issue

  73. Does uninsured motors claims count against your driving record?

    No, but you still have your deductible. If you get rear ended and they stop, then it’s zero cost to you. If they run, then you have to pay the first $500 or $1,000 or whatever is your deductible.

  74. @WCE – I was looking for Mooshi’s DS1 and I am sure your kids would make the team in the future.

  75. Louise, I’ve never met someone who made the team and only know of them second hand. Even my acquaintance who was the top woman on the Putnam and qualified for the International Math Olympiad camp didn’t make the team. It is incredibly tough.

    My kids are capable but not brilliant. And having known people who are profoundly gifted, I’m glad they aren’t. That level of intelligence is also profoundly isolating.

  76. Wow, I shouldn’t type on my phone. The other driver did not stop. I am relieved she was not injured, and I’m asking about the impact of filing an uninsured motorist claim.

  77. MBT: Thank goodness your DD is ok. It will be expensive to fix, but your record won’t get dinged, as it was the other driver’s fault.

  78. @WCE – if my DD got on any such competitive team the first thing she would do, is redesign their outfits !

  79. I might think about switching if I had three kids with some serious medical issues. I love our doctor, but your situation is different. My brother left and he still found there were a lot of good choices with smaller practices. 4 to 6 pediatric doctors, and still independent.

    My practice of six peds used to be open seven days a week because there was always a doctor there for sick visits in Sat/sun. They never work now on weekends and we have to go to their urgent care or ER.

    It’s fine for us due to DD age, but it would not have worked when she was younger.

  80. On the drowning on cruise ships sidebar, kids can drown right in front of their watchful parents. It happens because parents don’t necessarily recognize the signs of drowning. That is one of the key differences between trained lifeguards and untrained bystanders. A drowning person may make no noise and may not even appear to be struggling. I’ve witnessed two close calls with kids where a bunch of parents were there watching them and didn’t recognize that the child was struggling. Both were in shallow water that the child could have stood up in, but they were panicked and couldn’t get themselves up. Fortunately in both cases someone did realize in time that there was a problem.

    http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/8-quiet-signs-of-someone-drowning/

  81. In both of the drowning rescues I witnessed, the rescuers were people who had had some training – one had been a lifeguard in his younger days, the other was a teacher who had had some first responder training.

  82. Agree with GFM 100% about drowning.

    MBT – glad your DD’s OK.

    Rhett – Like the Scarlett O’Hara family, DW and I piggy back off of my brother’s and SIL’s family plan, and split it in half. We pay $90 a month for the two of us, but I never quite know how much data we’re using. My brother tells me that DW and I hardly use any.

    We’re just frugal people. :) We’re happy to do without.

  83. MBT, what a relief your DD is ok, but what a PITA. It’s good the accident won’t count against her driving record, but I wonder what impact the claim will have on your insurance rates.

    We’ve been inching up on our data usage and are currently up to 25 gb for 4 phones. When I get around to it I’ll analyze who’s using the most. Now that I have my Pokemon Go cranked up I might have to increase our plan. :) Last time I checked usage, videos were not a problem. Where are places you can buy wifi, beside airports and hotels?

  84. I still maintain that Mrs. Frugalwood is mentally ill. I think Marie Kondo is as well.

  85. I’m in the process of changing the dermatologist I’ve used for 10+ years because she couldn’t see me for a possibly urgent issue until 3 weeks from when I called. I really like her, and a friend who had a similar experience with this doctor thinks it’s her stupid receptionist that is the problem.

  86. Mrs. Frugalwoods reminds me of a college admissions essay writer: trying to cram in as many long words as possible to show off her vocabulary but missing the subtleties of meaning and usage.

    I want to find a red pencil, mark it up, and send it back to her in passable prose.

    Maybe her kid will turn out to be the rare sort who will not resent wearing only hand-me-downs and playing with pebbles and sticks instead of Legos, but has she never met anyone raised by a health food nut? Most of the kids I knew who got red peppers as dessert now have a large chocolate stash….

  87. I think Kondo and Mrs Frugalwood are merely eccentric people to whom the Internet has given a platform. I reserve the mental illness classification for issues like psychosis and hallucinations.

  88. We don’t have the problem with our kids using up our data, because our kids don’t have smart phones.

    What they do have are iPod Touches, which are pretty much iPhones without the phone capability. Most of their time is spent either at home or at school, and in both places they have wifi access (except when they do something egregious enough to make me or DW take them off our wifi router) and can pretty much do anything they could with an iPhone. They’ve also been accumulating knowledge of places where there is free wifi available.

    They also have dumb phones, primarily to maintain contact with me and DW.

  89. “Two of them are grownups who could get their own phone plans, but it’s much cheaper to pay the $45 for their share of our plan, and I’m fine with that until the next time we bump up against the new and expanded data plan. Then I AM cutting them loose to fend for themselves.”

    Scarlett, how about not cutting the grownup kids loose, but letting them find and pay for a plan, and freeloading off them?

  90. What they do have are iPod Touches, which are pretty much iPhones without the phone capability…They also have dumb phones, primarily to maintain contact with me and DW.

    That doesn’t sound a little “dumpers tunic” to you?

  91. So, we went from Florence to Rome. On a high speed train, which is really quite amazing. 250km/hr most of the way.

    I was in Rome many years ago, but it felt the same, only more crowded. I remember that we had a very hard time finding the Pantheon before (it’s not particularly tall and it is in a neighborhood of closely set, similarly sized buildings). We wandered in circles for awhile on the previous trip. This time, there were rivers of people approaching from every directions. I hate to tell those kids to get off my lawn, but it used to be a lot more peaceful (we were there on a weekday in July before, too).

    We did a day trip to Pompeii, saw a lot of famous sites, and did some shopping. Skipped the museums in Rome – we’d had our fill. Ate more good food, including a meal at Eataly, the gigantic grocery store trying to celebrate Italian artisanal food products. A lot like Whole Foods with a few more restaurant-y divisions.

    Overall, a great trip. I’m putting together a post about Air Bnb and our lodgings, so more details on that to come. We walked a ton (25k steps per day, per the iphone). It was great to be able to go as much as we liked without accommodating the walking, sleeping, eating needs of tiny people, though I did miss them by the end.

  92. The customer support systems I can’t stand are the ones that are really set up to weed out anything that a machine could possibly take care of, so I wind up practically begging for a person to talk to. Best in that regard is CVS pharmacy. All outlets have the same phone system, so 3, 4 will get you a pharmacy tech. Dazzle them with your complicated question, and they’ll get the pharmacist. I think my current least fave is USAA, because it is a system that tries too hard to be too smart and won’t believe me when I just.want.a.freaking.person. I usually prefer to figure things out on my own, so if there is a decent, succinct website, I’ll only call if my question truly is not covered.
    Apple doesn’t bother me much, because their tech support seems to actually know he products, so I can ask other questions or we can chat about bs while waiting for something to load.
    But I don’t think any call to tech support can be as bad as being tech support. Too bad I’m not as smart as the sister who claims that installing a printer is beyond her capabilities.🙄 Calling Apple or the cable or cell phone company for my parents can be very frustrating, because their explanation of the problem is often wrong, i.e. “I can’t get any emails” broadens to include Internet, and, after we’ve uninstalled the mail client, checked for updates, and reinstalled it, then it turns out that things download whenever she goes to the mall; the router is down. And my dad has trouble describing what’s on the screen. I have learned that “there’s nothing there!” can mean that the menu titles are present all across the top of the screen, or even that there is an open window. I hate it that I lost my patience with him over that a few times, even though it was a few years ago. Thank goodness my kiddo came up with a way for us to take control of my parents’ computers from ours, or from our phones! Makes Mom nervous, because that means he has access to their finances, but I can’t picture him going there and it is SO MUCH EASIER.

  93. We had two Apple devices in our family that were used but for one the screen turned blank and for the other the screen was beginning to lose sensitivity in some places. We took both to the Apple Store where they first said that they would repair the devices. On the next visit they offered to give us a new piece of whatever version we had. One of those devices was my old phone. I upgraded to the new version and DS instead of getting my old used phone, got a new phone – though a previous version. (Some #dumpstertunic there, perhaps it ended up being #desserttomato).

  94. Finn,
    Sometimes I ponder taking that approach. They would probably go to reddit and get whatever plan those guys tell them to get. Reddit knows all. DS is apparently a regular contributor to the coffee sub-reddit, and was horrified when he saw me consulting reddit after a Google search on some arcane tech issue — he thought I was stalking him.

  95. Laura, have CVS send you texts when your prescription is ready. Then if you’re about ready for the next months supply and you haven’t gotten a text, you can call and tell them to make it (3,1) instead of going there & being disappointed. I’ve he’d the opposite issue–prescriptions I don’t need anymore being filled. The texts don’t tell you what the medicine is (or they might use the first letter of the brand, which I never remember–I go by the name of the actual medicine), so I’ve had to learn to check what it is that’s “ready for pickup”.

  96. What is so frustrating to me about service in general is that I feel I have to double check everything, even if a so called qualified person gives me advice. If I decide to book the solo trip, I have to buy the trip insurance now or the pre-existing condition exclusion for my family member’s medical conditions will not be waived. I have read policies in the past and I know the drill. I asked for the price of the full insurance package when I emailed my travel co-ordinator at the tour company and he said, you can buy the insurance later – pre existing condition exclusion only applies to you, the traveler. So I went back and read the policy again, and went to 3rd party websites to double check, and no, I am right.

    I know that an average person can navigate life successfully without my bandwidth. And there are many domestic/mechanical areas of life in which I need assistance and others can do for themselves. But when it comes to social security, taxes, medical care/insurance, regulations, day to day technology it seems like the system has been deliberately or incompetently set up for maximum frustration and minimum financial benefit to the end user.

  97. Méme, your comment reminds me of an observation in my favorite memoir, by a woman whose husband died of HIV when it was not yet well-understood. As they navigated labyrinthine medical problems, she wondered what people did who didn’t have their capability. And her answer is they died much sooner. (excerpt here, if you’re curious http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2900)

    My Dad and I had a similar conversation about his stepfamily. My strengths are like yours, and his stepfamily has different strengths, so I will help in my areas of strength when needed. His step-son-in-law-to-be is local and recently helped him install a ceiling fan in the bedroom.

    My most frustrating technical issue this year was when the DTMF tones (sounds a touch tone phone makes, in contrast to rotary phones) on my cell phone quit working and there was no way to navigate any phone tree. I submitted the issue on their website and customer support was useless on the callback. It fixed itself by the next day- I suspect it was a glitchy software update and they quickly recognized the problem.

  98. MBT, why doesn’t the driver who hit her have to pay? I’ve never heard of paying when someone hit you (although I did just get a 70-30 split when a kid decided he needed to turn left, so came to a full stop in a traffic lane next to two turn lanes. Waiting for the cop he cheerfully launched into a description of how the other people he’d hit were nowhere near as nice about it as I was being-I lost track of how many accidents!)

    Meme, did I understand correctly that your husband is paying for you to take vacation without him? Lots of bad-joke potential there!

    On wifi limits, I just wish I could swap my unlimited with my son, but he’d have to have my phone number too. Looking at how he sorts mail, I don’t think that’s a good idea; I wouldn’t be able to see his “rejects” to explain what we really do need to keep.

    On unreachable pediatricians: don’t they have after hours partners on call? We once lost my kid’s prednisone after he took just one dose; on-call doc lrescribed new. Pulling a muscle in my back has led to all sorts of issues: oncall doc called in three scripts one night. And idk what we’d do without same day appts. The boy had an ear infection last semester, and a separate incident of 8 days with temp around 102. That’s pretty typical, so I couldn’t handle not being able to get him in, especially now that my dad can’t prescribe meds any more.

    And people on cruise ships are drowning? I had not heard. My kid is more likely to get shot by the police than go back n a cruise ship or get in the water.

  99. Scarlett, where did you get that figure? And do you have similar stats for white kiss?

  100. Scarlett, where did you get that figure? Is it over the course of a lifetime, and do you have similar stats for white kids?

    On kids drowning when parents are nearby–scariest near-drowning I’ve ever seen was in a tots swim class. My kid was 6 mos, I think the class went up to 18 mos, but am really not sure. After class was over, a dad was standing in ankle-deep (for him) water while his daughter held onto his leg. He was talking to a friend who wasn’t in the class, and was worried that his light-colored swimsuit was too transparent when wet. Meanwhile the girl sat, and then leaned forward, eventually was face-down in the water, holding onto dad worrying about how he looked, the whole time. I was thinking through how to pick her up without putting me me down when the instructor made a very quick and splashy rescue. She managed to remain calm while explaining danger signs and need for constant watching to the dad, but all the rest of us were very freaked out. I’m sure he picked up the vibe & realized that being more into your suit than the kid at your ankles is not a good look.

  101. Saac, I saw that statistic in a recent story on police shootings. Can’t do links on my phone. But as (black) economist Roland Fryer has recently demonstrated, police are actually more likely to shoot a white suspect than a black one. The media response has been somewhat muted to that study but even the New York Times covered it.

  102. Saacnmama – au contraire. My husband has a lower travel price threshhold than I do. Although he enjoys our luxury trips, he doesn’t want to spend his (second marriage, we both have adult kids) money/son’s inheritance on more than 25% of the total cost of one every 18 mos. So instead of resenting him for the trips we can’t take while I am still young enough, I am scheduling one alone paid for out of my accounts. We’ll still do shorter cheaper joint trips for which he is willing share the cost. If I enjoy this one I will continue to do this each year, always choosing solo destinations that he can’t tolerate because of his health. And I’ll fly in the front of the plane, too.

  103. Meme, so when you travel together, you pay for more of the trip than he does? That makes sense if you are the one who really wants to go.

    Scarlette, do you have any sources? The things I’ve seen point out that more white people than black are shot by police, because (duh!) black people are only 13% of the population, so fewer black people getting shot is like my son’s chances of dying in a pool on a cruise ship are reduced by the i likeliness of him being on a cruise ship and the infrequency of his dips in the water when he is at a pool. I don’t think I’ve seen anything on the statistical likelihood of getting shot by police, would be interested to see such a calculation.

  104. Saab, black men are disproportionately involved in violent crime events. Duh. Google the Fryer study if you don’t believe me.

  105. What they do have are iPod Touches, which are pretty much iPhones without the phone capability…They also have dumb phones, primarily to maintain contact with me and DW.

    That doesn’t sound a little “dumpers tunic” to you?

    being frugal on phone plans is nothing like dumpster tunics

  106. Scarlett, what’s with the rude tone? The kind of accusation you’re using it with squares its inappropriateness. And I know I asked you for stats, but how about some statistics relevant to the question at hand–people minding their own business, not breaking laws being pulled over, hassled, mishandled, and possibly shot by police?

  107. Scarlett, you are being inappropriate and rude while making racially-charged accusations and refusing to stay on the topic of statistics about people who are mind I g their own business, not breaking any laws, being stopped for no reason or on made-up charges (like saying the taillight is out when it is functioning) being arrested, injured, and killed.
    I’m done talking to you.

  108. I don’t understand why we do so many mental gymnastics so that we can conclude that there is no racial bias by some police officers. Unarmed black men get shot much more often than unarmed white men. What are we gaining by fighting against what appears to be the reality? Certainly they are not the only ones who have biases.
    I know I have some biases. I fight against them and try to change my thinking. I am not sure why we don’t think it is possible that police officers have developed some.

  109. Of course we all have biases. And a single instance of police brutality is one too many. But the Black Lives narrative, pushed by the media and our president, that white police are systematically shooting down black men is based on statistical aberrations. The data do not support what everyone thinks they know. The New York Times labeled the Harvard findings as “counterintuitive.”
    But there they are. Those inconvenient facts.

  110. I don’t understand why BLM is so controversial. The statistics show that there is a lot of bias and resulting negative actions starting as young as preschool. It isn’t just about white police shooting black men. But about black men being pulled over for stupid things. Different punishments in school. Treated very differently in the justice system. I don’t understand how we improve things if we cannot even acknowledge these things and we explain away the disparate treatment as something inherent about the black community.

  111. S+M– I think the stats out there are not great because to get them, you need good statistics on police actions to begin with, which we don’t have. This was one piece of analysis I read recently that was useful.

    “U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/?tid=pm_national_pop_b&utm_term=.68fc6294a7d2

  112. The statistics do NOT support the narrative spun by BLM. “Hands up don’t shoot.” The demonization of the police has consequences, both in the apparent Ferguson effect and more recently in Dallas.

    When a gunman attacked Planned Parenthood, the immediate reaction by the media and PP was that abortion opponents had inflamed tensions and inspired violence. The immediate reaction to Dallas was that BLM was blameless, even though some speakers at their protests, such as one in Portland, advocated violence against police.

    So, yes, BLM is controversial. And for good reason.

  113. The statistics that you have stated are pretty suspect. It is hard to have good evidence when the police self-report and investigate this stuff. And there is quite a bit of evidence that black men are subjected to more violent action by police when compared to white men.

  114. The Post analysis also reveals that, though half the population is female, a hugely disproportionate number of people shot by police are male. Likewise, those shot by police are disproportionately young. Is that because the police are biased against young men in favor of old women, or because young men are more likely than others to be engaged in potentially criminal behavior?
    Because young black men commit crimes out of proportion to their numbers in the population, there are going to be more black men in the total pool of police shooting victims.
    Roland Fryer said that the results of his study were the most surprising of his career. He did not undertake his research with the goal of exonerating the police. But the numbers simply don’t support the narrative that many would like to believe.

  115. Also – no one is even sure if the Ferguson effect is real. And BLM denounced the Dallas shootings.

  116. Kate, if the research of a Bates award-winning black economist at Harvard is suspect, what data WOULD convince you? This is a real question, not a rhetorical one.

  117. His is one study. There are countless others that provide other meaningful statistics that show the opposite. And when I am certain that people have a bias against black men in many different circumstances, I tend to agree with the ones that make the most amount of sense. I would love it if our police had no bias against black men. I just cannot really believe it when that bias exists everywhere.

  118. I read a statistic within the last couple of days that if you are not a felon, your odds of being shot by police is 1 in 500,000. Given the 310 million people in the US I expected it to be lower than that. There were no racial breakdowns of that number.

  119. There are countless anecdotes, but not really countless data-based studies on racial disparities in police shootings. That is what motivated Fryer, a man whose improbable trajectory from crack family to academic star was described in Freakonomics, to dig into the data for himself. This study is a working paper undergoing peer review, and it will be interesting to see whether his peers can successfully challenge his findings. But rejecting the study because the results contradict common assumptions about police behavior is not very productive.

  120. The biggest criticism I have read thus far is that it is pretty meaningless since it looks at the data after the stop. Not before the police decide to stop someone.

  121. Meaningless how? We’re talking about shootings and killings. Do you doubt the numbers as they’re reported about shootings?

  122. There is bias in the decision to stop a person. So, a black guy gets stopped for driving a nice car in an area that is predominantly white. A white guy doesn’t get stopped for that reason. He only gets stopped when he actually does something pretty bad. The fact that black men then get shot at the same rate isn’t really that compelling. Plus, you have to rely on the reports of what the police write about what has happened. Something tells me that police have a pretty big incentive to say that someone was being violent after they shoot a person. And we have pretty compelling data to suggest that people generally perceive black men to be more violent/threatening compared to white men doing the same thing.

  123. There may be some truth to that, and that could certainly make for a reasonable protest and political effort. But this whole movement, and saac’s weird comment that started this sub thread, were specifically about getting shot by police. Not profiled, stopped, harassed. Shot. And I don’t see where the data on whether someone was shot would be fudged or controversial or questionable.

    You would think realizing that there is no racial disparity in police shootings would be welcome news.

  124. I don’t think many people care that when you look at the data in a very specific way that ignores much of reality and how these things really go down and relies heavily on self-reporting that white people get shot at the same rate. We know it is more dangerous to be a black man. We know that police sometimes act differently when there is a black man compared to a white man involved. I will tell you that I find some of the discussions here very frustrating. It seems like we often reject the idea that being a white male is this country is the most privileged position to have.

  125. Data is, by definition, reality. Unless you believe that police in Houston are secretly murdering black men, then the data on police shootings in Houston describes the reality. “How these things really go down.” A team of researchers painstakingly sorted through the data on each shooting, which contained more details than is apparent in ANY of the viral videos. Yes, police sometimes act differently when there is a black man, and the data showed that they were LESS and not MORE likely to shoot the black man than a white man. We may think that we “know” it is more dangerous to be a black man, but the reality of this particular data set shows that, when it comes to being shot by police in Houston during 2015 (I think), that we don’t.

    I also find it frustrating that we often cling to the narratives we like even in the face of the facts, at least the best available facts. It is important to understand that data on police shootings has, until very recently (and as a positive result of the BLM), been very poor. There aren’t myriads of studies to support what we think we know. And it is very hard to see why male white privilege has anything to do with a study run by a black male who grew up in the projects.

  126. Well, no. The data that is used to draw the conclusions matters. If the data isn’t great, we don’t really care about the result. If the data comes from self-reporting of a group that has every reason to be less than 100% accurate, it matters. If we conclude that black people should be joyful because one study over a short period of time in a select area that may not be representative of the rest of the country concludes that police shoot white people just as often, it matters. This is one study. And to conclude that because of it that there is no problem and that the black community doesn’t have some very real grievances is ridiculous.

  127. And the group representing those stopped by police, many of whom are armed and intent on criminal behavior, does have every reason to be 100% accurate?

  128. Kate – is it your suspicion that citizens are being shot and killed by civil law enforcement in this country, and those shootings and killings are not being reported in the DoJ data?

  129. Milo – no. My issue is that this is one study that has some pretty significant limitations, including those that Fryer himself acknowledges and that it is very dismissive to declare that there is no issue based on this one study.

  130. Scarlett – of course not. But those people are dead, so their account isn’t really the issue. I know that if I shot someone, I would absolutely frame it in a way that made me look the best, particularly when there is no one to dispute it. And even if I didn’t intend to do so, people naturally are the heroes of their own narratives. Is anyone really going to admit that their actions were in any way racially biased? I think self-reports probably aren’t the best source of reliable information. I do think cameras are useful. It is a shame that they have a tendency to fall off.

  131. Kate – have you seen similar studies about police shootings that contract these findings?

  132. Kate – you’re questioning the motivations of the shooter (the degree to which it was legitimate self-defense) and that’s certainly a valid question. I may have misunderstood this, but I thought the focus of the study was shootings in general, for any reason.

  133. About every other study that I have ever seen says that there are differences.

    The biggest issue I have is that pulling people over is racially motivated. If the police really do shoot without regard to race, ok. But they are shooting at a different pool of people when you look at black people compared to white people. I don’t think I am doing a good job explaining. Maybe read this?

    http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12148452/police-shootings-racism-study

    And regardless, this is one study. I don’t know how you conclude that there is no issue based on one study primarily looking at shootings in one city over a short period of time. If this gets replicated over and over in many places, thay would be much more persuasive, particularly if they control for the issues that have been identified.

  134. We absolutely do not have good numbers about police brutality and killings. Any study you look at begins with that fact. States are not required to report killings by police, and some, including Florida, California, and Illinois, do not. In the states that do report them, there are discrepancies in how data is reported, and by whom, so it is impossible to compile numbers from different states, or compare them

  135. If Fryer’s study had concluded that police were more likely to shoot black men, you can bet that the media would have been all over it, especially considering Fryer’s race and family background.

  136. Good Q&A. It seems there are two separate questions.
    1) Are Black people more likely to be shot by police than White people? The answer is No, in Houston, in 2015, and we observe that most shootings are associated with responses to violent crimes in progress for which assistance was requested, not police decisions about whom to pull over. It may or may not be safe to assume that calls for police assistance are unaffected by the race of the criminal, but it’s probably safe to assume that police respond to all calls for assistance during a violent crime.

    2) Do Blacks disproportionately experience racial profiling? The study does not address that question. A study that attempted to address is would have to control for the fact that blacks are more likely to live in urban areas with a strong police presence, in contrast to my neighborhood, where I don’t think I’ve ever seen an officer patrolling in my 15+ years of living here. The study observed racial bias in the use of nonlethal force, so we’d need to explain why the methodology shows bias in the use of nonlethal force and NOT lethal force, if bias during lethal force exists.

    I’ll note that “unarmed” is a tricky definition. We recently had an attempted suicide by cop in which the officer chose not to shoot, even though the person was threatening the officer. The officer waited behind his patrol car, called for backup and talked to the person and when the person finally dropped the weapon, it was determined to by a toy gun with its orange plastic parts removed. I was interested because there is judicial involvement in how long the person can be in jail/psychiatric ward and one of the officers guarding the person is a guy we knew from Mr WCE’s youth group 15 years ago. He observed that the person claims to want to attempt suicide by cop again. I’m not sure if the data would consider this person “armed” or “unarmed”.

  137. WCE, one of the problems with Frysr’s paper is that he only looks at 15 inner city police forces in large cities. Poling and public attitudes and historical events are different in different parts of the country, and between large and smaller cities, rural areas, suburbs and inner cities. None of that is included in his study. It is perhaps a little more reflective of the country as a whole than the study of just one city that you mention; but certainly misses out on many variations. It also only looks at what happens after a traffic stop, so as Kate mentioned before, it doesn’t look at how to choose who to stop. The cases where police are called that you mention are of course important too. There have been occasions when police were called to make sure someone is ok, mental health-wise, and shot the person very quickly. Another problem with Feyer’s study is that it doesn’t survey other existing studies. None of them are complete, but the FBI, the Washington Post and a voluntary organization all have databases that go back for years, and have much more data, and broader data, than Fryer’s study. None of them is complete, but looking at as many such reliable sources as possible yields better understanding than just looking at a small selection and not even considering others’ findings.

    Anyway, I got my answer: Scarlett doesn’t have any evidence for her claim that my son is not more likely to be shot by police than the children of anyone else here. She was simply reflecting the hot piece that’s been splashed all over the media recently. I’m not going to bank my son’s life on that.

  138. Oh, and on your question about racial profiling, you might want to look up what the only black Repunlican Senator had to say about it this week. The experiences of the conference participants in 1991 mentioned here make it pretty clear that DWB has been policed for much longer than many white people are aware. Cell phones are bringing it to broader attention, but it is not new. http://www.ibtimes.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-targeted-police-astrophysicist-shares-his-experiences-racial-2391934

  139. My question is less “does racial profiling exist?” (I think it does, along with profiling by age, sex and other aspects of appearance) and more “What are the trade-offs between racial profiling and crime in a community?” as described in the City Journal article on Chicago. Blacks are disproportionately likely to be murdered. Stop-and-frisk statistically reduces crime in a community. Our society is still figuring out how many unnecessary stops are OK to reduce crime and how much risk we expect our police officers to take during ambiguous, challenging situations. Maybe one way to reduce the impact of some stops (broken tail light types) would be to allow more warnings/reduce fines so communities don’t use such stops for revenue generation.

    A friend (white, female, 60ish) is stopped frequently by police because she drives through a neighborhood where DUI is very common and she drives an old car. Most people here, including her, find it reasonable to be stopped by police unnecessarily in order to reduce DUI. They at least perceive a trade-off between unnecessary police stops and crime.

  140. “Most people here, including her, find it reasonable to be stopped by police unnecessarily in order to reduce DUI.”
    Seriously? I would not find that reasonable at all.

    I have appreciated Tim Scott’s voice on this matter.

  141. WCE,
    The City Journal article you linked noted that some 80% of the victims of the recent surge of violence in Chicago are already known to police. It’s not clear whether that represents a shift in the victim demographic. But maybe some residents of the violent neighborhoods are willing to have less proactive police presence if it means letting gang members kill each other off.
    I liked the Dallas police chief’s invitation to protestors to get off the protest line and be part of the solution by applying for jobs as police officers.

  142. Saac –

    Do you have any numerical, statistical evidence for your claim that your son is in greater and significant danger of being killed by the police?

  143. “Not sure how that would work, in practice, because people stopped for real or mistaken traffic violations can often be less than cooperative.”

    One possibility would be that as soon as someone is less than cooperative, you can call in the real police, or just walk away and send them a court summons in the mail, just like a traffic camera would. I’m not sure that either would be much better; the first is going to exacerbate the problem of forcing people into an ever-deepening hole of missed court dates and bench warrants. The second puts the meter maid in greater danger while waiting for backup.

    The bigger issue is how much proactive policing does the community want. What would happen if the model shifted entirely to cops being evenly distributed by geographic location while on duty, and doing absolutely nothing but waiting for 911 calls to respond to.

  144. Scarlett, I read that too, but anecdotally at least, it seems like a lot of DWB stops are for things like not fitting the profile of those living in a certain neighborhood or of the typical owner of a certain type of car.

    OTOH, it also seems like while those are the real reasons for the stops, the reasons cited by the police are things like not signalling before making a turn, so making that change might force the police to be a bit more honest and transparent about their DWB stops.

  145. Another option is to turn the thought process over to a justifiable algorithm. The police car camera scans all license plates. It beeps on any associated with outstanding warrants. Then we have to ask if we want some sort of alert when it finds a license plate of someone with a criminal record. Maybe, maybe not. But at least then it would be free of human racial bias.

    When I was pulled over last winter doing the very Totebaggy activity of taking my kids to their Saturday morning extra enrichment classes for gifted or some such, the trooper asked how my driving record was. He seemed a little skeptical when I told him it was clear, but after running my license, he returned and said “you’re right, there’s nothing on it.” But he did cite me for an expired state inspection. I’m not sure how much sense it makes to base the decision for a warning or citation on past driving record.

  146. And count me in as someone who is not ok with being stopped without cause so that we can catch more DUI offenders. I am not ok with giving up the entire idea of probable cause, which kind of forms the basis for due process.

  147. Kate – The data that they present seems to be about the same as the other study, in that you need to control for the disproportionate number of black offenders. You can’t simply ignore that.

    For those who are not OK with random stops for DWI checks, how do you feel about TSA at the airport?

  148. The article WCE linked to had some interesting statistics on the number of guns possessed by felons that were taken off the street through traffic stops – it was over 20 per day. So the people being stopped for these traffic offenses are not all Tim Scotts. I completely agree that there is a problem with how it is implemented. The Castilo guy who was killed had been stopped around 50 times in the preceding 12 years. That sounds crazy to me. But if I lived in a community with an astronomical murder rate and police were finding 20 people per day in my community with illegally owned weapons, I would want them in my community trying to make things better. The article details how the police’s ability to solve crimes has gone down with the reduction in stops, because the info obtained in the stops often led to identifying suspects. .

    Saac, those killed by police seemed to share some combination of additional characteristics beyond race, such as being previously known to the police, previously served time, in a high crime area, or resist. I am not implying those things justify a shooting, just saying your son would not likely have any of those characteristics. Although there is no disputing he is likely to be pulled over more than my son will.

  149. Milo – at least according to my reading, they address that. And I agree, you cannot ignore the fact that there is more crime in predominantly black communities. I find that fact troubling and something that we also need to address, but agree that it needs to be controlled for in studies.

    TSA v police – I don’t think TSA is all that great, but their function is different than law enforcement and doesn’t raise the same due process concerns as unwarranted stops by the police. And you know you are going to be searched by TSA, so it doesn’t bother me as much. I think to is pretty reasonable to be screened prior to air travel. I do not think it is reasonable to be screened for driving through a neighborhood with an old car. Particularly when they aren’t screening those with nice cars. I am not sure how I feel about checkpoints that sometimes get set up on things like holiday weekends. I think I don’t like them but I haven’t looked at the full arguments/data behind them.

  150. “Really? Why not?”
    Unless WCE’s acquaintance is in the habit of weaving or otherwise appearing to be driving erratically, I’m not in favor of pulling her over.

  151. If you drive through/around fraternity row on a weekend night at 26 mph instead of 25 mph, or commit any other offense, you may get pulled over. I was pulled over and given a warning once because I committed a “rolling stop” at a residential stop sign when making a right turn. My friend has to drive through there to get home. She’s never had a ticket, so they don’t use it for revenue. Without some type of enforcement, there are a ton of college kids who would otherwise be even more likely to drive while drunk.

    In a local article interviewing a local cop, the cop noted that she interacted mostly with people known to her. She sees Bob, Judy and Mike on the streets driving around and pulls them up on her computer to see if any of them are in violation for parole. She pulled the license plate on a vehicle known to be involved in crime and sure enough, there was a reason to pull it over.

    I had the same thought experiment as above- what if we put cops in geographically random locations, or required pedestrian cops to stop-and-frisk people and Denver Dad’s nursing home? That might achieve more equity in stops, at the cost of more crime.

    I think we should reduce tickets for routine traffic offenses if we’re to automate them, or send a lot more warnings. When I’ve driven in major cities, almost no one on the freeways drives at or below the speed limit. Traffic tickets should be two digits for everything except maybe exceeding the speed limit by over 20 mph. I was reading about a judge in the south that described excessive traffic violation fees as an unjust tax on the poor/working class.

  152. A big issue with automated traffic tickets is that the offender doesn’t have to pay them unless they are personally served or signed for by certified mail. Otherwise it cannot be verified that the person received the violation notice. I have “gotten out of” several photo radar tickets by simply not paying them. In Denver, the city has decided it’s not worth their effort to follow through, even though the violator is responsible for the cost of being served.

  153. Rocky, I think they have 45 days from the violation to serve you. If they send you a notice by certified mail, you just don’t sign for it. But they haven’t even done that. I just got second and third notices and then they gave up.

    The other trick is to register your cars in only the spouse’s name rather than the primary driver. Then the notice goes to them, and they send a copy of their license showing they weren’t the driver and it gets dropped.

  154. Part of the research on this topic should include figuring out when traffic stops are being used for revenue generation and establishing an alternate revenue model for policing. One of the reasons the DUI enforcement isn’t too controversial here is that it was funded in large part with a bond measure to add police officers for public order.

  155. “Milo – at least according to my reading, they address that.”

    No, unfortunately they don’t. They concede as much in the very link you posted:

    “It is important to reiterate that these risk ratios come only from the sample of individuals who were shot by police and census data on race/ethnicity-specific population information. The USPSD does not have information on encounter rates between police and subjects according to ethnicity. As such, the data cannot speak to the relative risk of being shot by a police officer conditional on being encountered by police, and do not give us a direct window into the psychology of the officers who are pulling the triggers. The racial biases and behaviors of officers upon encountering a suspect could clearly be components of the relative risk effects observed in the data, but other social factors could also contribute to the observed patterns in the data. More specifically, heterogeneity in encounter rates between suspects and police as a function of race could play a strong role in the racial biases in shooting rates presented here.”

    As they say, we don’t have great data on the relative frequency of police encounters by race, but if you look at the fact that blacks are 12-13% of the population, but are responsible for over 50% of all homicides–black males commit homicide at a rate of eight times that of white males–and then you say that black males are only three times as likely to be shot by police compared to white males, then you most certainly have not shown any evidence of negative racial bias by the police toward black males when it comes to the use of lethal force.

    The profiling is real; I believe Senator Scott. The disparity in killing, this notion that non-criminal black males are at some heightened danger of being shot by the police is a myth.

  156. Saac, those killed by police seemed to share some combination of additional characteristics beyond race, such as being previously known to the police, previously served time, in a high crime area, or resist. I am not implying those things justify a shooting, just saying your son would not likely have any of those characteristics.

    MBT, read the article I posted at 12:24 and the first one in my 12:53 post. If your point is that they weren’t killed but “merely” stopped going to the office, perhaps carrying a box of math & physics books, then you are correct. But that is still not the way things should work. Notice how many of these men say they are scared at every interaction with police. How many white men at their level of influence would say the same? If you have difficulty believing that, then look up the video of the doctor who worked on the Dallas cops in the ER. I think his last name is Daniel; he is mentioned in those articles by name. The effect of these stops is not “oops. They goofed. I’ll brush it off” I’d say it’s part of a practice of over-surveillance of black men at every level in our society. The stress it brings, and the persistent message that “you don’t fit in” can be part of why black men would decide not to pursue higher levels of education and/or influence. After all, nearly everyone has those thoughts at some point. One way to get past them is to trust the opinions of people around you who say you do belong.
    Also, there have been countless articles and thought pieces written recently on The Talk that parents of black boys must have with their sons. That that is far more difficult than any question related to sex I can think of (& ‘saac has come up with some good ones). As one of the men in those articles points out, in telling your son how to stay safe, you are telling him to treat himself as a second-class citizen. NPR had a good interview with Levare Burton about it. One point he makes is how young these conversations have to begin. There are many studies that show that the ages of black boys are consistently estimated to be older than they really are. I’ve put enough links in this thread, but that is another thing you might want to look up.

  157. Milo, it doesn’t make logical sense to say that the disparity in who is stopped is real but the difference in killing isn’t. If you get stopped several times a year, you are obviously more likely to be killed than someone who is stopped every 5 or 10 years. You can also look up the many studies that look at cause of death for entire populations and see the clear disparity.

  158. “If you get stopped several times a year, you are obviously more likely to be killed than someone who is stopped every 5 or 10 years.”

    I don’t think that one necessarily leads to the other, nor does the data suggest that. If you have data that does, I’d be happy to look at it. What the data seems to suggest is that being a criminal makes you more likely to get shot by the police.

  159. HFN,
    What do you think about roadblock enforcement in high DUI or other problem areas, in which the police require EVERY car to stop for driver questioning? Is that any different than TSA?

  160. ” roadblock enforcement in high DUI or other problem areas, in which the police require EVERY car to stop for driver questioning”

    I’m wondering if Google maps has reduced the efficacy of such checkpoints. They typically result in traffic slowdowns, around which Google maps direct drivers.

  161. Scarlett,
    I’m ok with roadblocks that stop everyone but they make me nervous.
    There’s one outside our neighborhood every New Years Eve. And we always caution our boys about it. DH has drilled into our sons that if pulled over by the police, turn on the inside light, keep your hands in view on the steering wheel, ask the officer’s permission to reach for your wallet or open the glove compartment for the registration, and speak politely. He’s been telling them this since before they could drive. I was actually surprised to learn that other white parents don’t seem to give their kids the same guidelines. One acquaintance was telling me that her son had been pulled over in the city where he attends college. When the officer said “do you know why I pulled you over?” Her white son replied “because I’m black?” The mom thought this was clever and hilarious. I thought it was a good way to start something very unfortunate.

  162. Milo – that is the issue. They separate out the stop from the shooting. If there is a disparity is who is stopped and only people who are stopped are shot, you can’t conclude that equal numbers are shot if you don’t look at why they are stopped. The white people group is a worse group. They are actually people who have done wrong things. They should be getting shot more often. The black people group includes innocents as well as people who have done wrong things.

  163. Finn – some of the checkpoints that police put up are actually fake (only a sign for one). They wait to see who avoids the checkpoint and then pull those people over. Especially in states where regular checkpoints are not allowed. So, if you see a sign for a checkpoint for drugs or in a state that doesn’t allow checkpoints, you should drive through it. Not sure if anyone has challenged these, but breaking the law seems to be exhausting.

  164. HFN, I recall telling the older boys what to do if pulled over by a cop, but don’t think I had that talk with the youngest. But getting pulled over and shot by a police officer while going about one’s business is an extremely low-probability event, so it’s not surprising that parents may not have this conversation with their kids.

  165. And as to whether being stopped more frequently leads to a higher risk of getting shot – I think you can only conclude that it does not if you believe that the police always get it right. They never shoot someone who wasn’t actually threatening their lives. Otherwise, getting stopped less frequently must decrease your risk of getting shot.

  166. “The white people group is a worse group. They are actually people who have done wrong things. They should be getting shot more often. The black people group includes innocents as well as people who have done wrong things.”

    Now this is getting ridiculous. This only has a chance of making sense if cops are just randomly shooting people whom they stop. Don’t be silly.

    And if it were true, you would see more blacks being shot than the data currently shows. But you’re not. They’re getting shot at a rate disproportionately LOWER than their level of criminality would suggest.

    Honestly, I can’t understand why some of you are so desperate to believe that this tale has merit. These mental gymnastics are astounding.

  167. “And as to whether being stopped more frequently leads to a higher risk of getting shot ”

    If it did, and assuming the stopping disparity does exist, then blacks would need to be getting shot at significantly higher rates. For some reason, you’re going to be disappointed that they’re not.

  168. If Fryer has failed to take into account all of the relevant variables, why is no one challenging his finding that blacks are more likely than whites to be roughed up by cops?

  169. The Baton Rouge shooter was also a veteran. That’s another connection that needs to be looked at. How are we dealing with the damaged souls coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan, etc? The shooter in Dallas was also a vet, if I’m not mistaken.

  170. RMS, you are correct. And in his remarks, the Dallas police chief touched on the fact that the legislature is underfunding veterans’ services and mental health care, then expecting the police to deal with the effects on their $40K per year. He made some excellent points.

  171. Rocky – I don’t know about yesterday’s Baton Rogue guy, but from what I read about the Dallas shooter, he deployed to Afghanistan but never saw any combat or firefights or ambushes, and he never actually left the base. Later he was kicked out on sexual harassment allegations.

    While health care for veterans with PTSD is a big issue, I don’t think that in the Dallas case, there’s any reason to believe it’s relevant. His experience would not have been that different from the hordes of contractors who are shipped over to keep the IT networks running, to service the air conditioners, and to staff the Pizza Hut.

  172. Scarlett – I think because no one on that side is trying to use his study to prove anything. It is just one thing. A lot of data exists to show that there is disparate treatment. One set of data doesn’t really change that either way. Let’s assume that his study is correct with no flaws. It really doesn’t do that much except show that for a short period of time in Houston that the shootings were equal and that treatment with respect to other things were not. We obviously have a difference of opinion about this. And that is fine. But the BLM movement (which I think has some legitimate complaints though I certainly don’t condone any of the violence) likely isn’t going away, the media isn’t likely to change its coverage and we need to find a better way to get these problems under control than declaring one study to being the definitive proof that everything is just fine.

  173. “A lot of data exists to show that there is disparate treatment.”

    Yes, but there is no data to show that there is disparity in shootings, and it’s irresponsible for BLM and others to imply that there is. It’s also clearly dangerous to both law enforcement and private citizens to use such inflammatory rhetoric without justification, and ultimately it’s counterproductive.

  174. Also, Kate, the study that you linked to yesterday looked at police shootings nationwide for the three years from 2011 to 2014, and the general trends seemed to align with the Fryer numbers. So it’s not just Houston for a short period of time.

  175. The Houston data set was the most granular, which is why Fryer chose to focus on it for part of his research. Also, it covered more than one year. (My mistake in an earlier post).

    People are of course entitled to their own opinions, but they aren’t entitled to their own facts. Some have observed that Black Lives Matter should be called Facts Don’t Matter, because that organization and its leaders show so little disregard for them. And the mainstream media is complicit in spreading the false narrative.

  176. Suppose that antiabortion activists uploaded a video that showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of baby parts. The video went viral and inspired many prolife activists to picket PP abortion centers, urge the government to defund PP, and start local chapters of Baby Parts Matter. PP insisted that any baby part sales were rare, not sanctioned by PP, and accused the new movement of creating a hostile environment for abortion providers. When an angry man killed several people at a PP center, PP and the mainstream media blamed his actions on Baby Parts Matter, even though it quickly became obvious that the guy was a nut job. The media scolded activists for relying on a misleading video instead of PP’s repeated denials. The President invited leaders of Baby Parts Matter to the White House to encourage them in their protest movement, telling them to keep the faith.
    Except for the last sentence, it wasn’t a thought experiment.

  177. “It’s also clearly dangerous to both law enforcement and private citizens to use such inflammatory rhetoric without justification, and ultimately it’s counterproductive.”

    IMO, there’s a fine line. Such rhetoric can inspire change that less inflammatory rhetoric might not.

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