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Law and Justice in Real Time Privacy, Security, and Freedom of Speech

Police Shootings: What’s Our Current Rating?

Towards the end of 2014 and beginning months of 2015 it seemed as if police shootings were starting to become a more frequent occurrence. For several months, it was a consistency across all media sources, story after story. Currently, as of November 4th, (around 10 am), 829 people have been shot dead by police here in the United States, just this year alone.


With extremely advanced media technology today, these events have erupted across media sources in a matter of minutes. According to what gets placed into the news, it seems as if blacks are seen as the main targets for police shootings, seeing as it gets more attention. Surprisingly, that is not the scenario. Compared to blacks, whites are more likely to be killed by the police. Approximately, 48% (398) of those killed by police in 2015 have been a white person, whereas 25% (211) have been a black person. In comparison to states so far California (150) has the highest number of deaths on civilians caused by police. Here in the state of Washington 14 have been killed by police. To one’s surprise there are two states in the United States which have no record of a police officer killing a civilian (Washington Post, 2015).

(England and Wales police shootings from 2005-2014)

Compared to other countries, the United States statistically rates enormously higher than the rest in the number of deaths caused by police. Police in the United States are taught to shoot center mass, whereas European countries police are taught to aim for the knee caps or shoot at the suspects’ feet; essentially wound and not kill the suspect. Also, some European countries do not allow for police to carry a gun. Without a doubt police work is a highly stressful profession, so not having some source of protection in a heated confrontation would be an uneasy scenario. So if some countries have been successful with this method, why is the United States not? As of June of 2015, England and Wales have had “55 fatal police shootings in 24 years, whereas in 24 days (from January 1- January 24, 2015), there have been 59 fatal police shootings in the United States” (Lartey, 2015). In some cases, the United States has had thousands of individuals killed by police, whereas some countries have only recorded a handful of deaths over fifty plus years. Another prime example is, here in the United States there has been over eight-hundred deaths of a civilian by police in just a little over ten months, whereas in the United Kingdom (England and Wales) has only recorded two deaths the entire year thus far. Just five months into 2015, in Stockton, California, “three people were fatally shot by police, however over 71 years Iceland has only recorded one” (Lartey, 2015).



  1. Do you think police shootings have risen over the past year or two?
  2. Why does it seem like police shootings have become a major issue in recent events? Could it be that once one shooting gets into the news, then it seems like that is all the media wants to display or talk about?
  3. If the United States were to change their police tactics to those like other countries (not aiming center mass for example), do you think the number of people killed by police would decrease?
  4. If police work is an extremely stressful profession, how is it that other countries are able to have such lower police cause deaths compared to the United States? Could it be a population differential? Could it be the militarization training and mentality of “shoot to kill?”



Washington Post (2015). Retrieved: (November 3, 2015).

Jamiles Lartey. (June 9, 2015). “By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years.” The Guardian.  Retrieved: November 3, 2015.

Images: (graph)

The Rich White Man’s Burden: House Arrest In a Mansion

Many people know Oscar Pistorius as the first double leg amputee to perform at the Olympics. However, on February 14, 2013, Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in the bathroom of his estate in Pretoria, South Africa. There has been some controversy over whether Pistorius knew that Steenkamp was in the bathroom, which determines whether this was pre-meditated murder (after a domestic dispute on Valentine’s Day) or if he truly thought that there was an intruder in the house; the location where Steenkamp was sitting/standing/crouching in the bathroom; and whether he took the time to put his prosthetics on or if he was just on his “stumps.” The entirety of the facts of this case will probably never be known, because this all happened in the privacy of his own home.

(Source: "Paranoid Parrot Oscar Pistorius Meme")
(Source: “Paranoid Parrot Oscar Pistorius Meme”)











During the trial, Oscar Pistorius showed a lot of emotion, including crying, or more like sobbing, as well as puking when he saw a picture of Steenkamp’s remains. However, he also seemed very confident that he would be released and be back on the track shortly.

Q: Were the emotions that Pistorius showed helpful or hurtful in his trial? Was he able to cry because he is an athlete who is confident in his masculinity? Was the perception of his masculinity, or lack thereof, misconstrued by him crying? Did his emotions thwart the outcome of his trial?

This case is very similar to the OJ Simpson case. Both OJ Simpson and Oscar Pistorius were athletes and were both accused of murdering their significant others. Being athletes, they are famous around the world and are also of a higher socioeconomic status. They are also more confident individuals in that they play sports at a highly competitive level. Therefore, they can be seen as dominant to their female significant others, especially with the use of a weapon.

Q: Which social construct is most important in this case: socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, or gender, or do all of them work together?

(Source: Times Live "Pistorius Roses are Red Meme")
(Source: Times Live “Pistorius Roses are Red Meme”)

After 49 days in trial over a course of seven months, Oscar Pistorius was charged with culpable homicide. Culpable homicide is a lesser sentence than pre-meditated murder in South Africa, which is the rough equivalent of involuntary manslaughter in Anglo-American law, or the unlawful negligent killing of a human being.

Q: Do you think that Oscar Pistorius was charged with culpable homicide because of the fact that he was a well-known athlete? If he was an average human being, do you think that he would have received the same punishment?

Although he was sentenced to five years in prison, since both of his legs are amputated, he is expected to be staying in the hospital wing of the prison while he is in prison, away from most of the other prisoners. South Africa also has a law stating that for sentences of five years or less, you only have to be in prison for one-sixth of the time that you are sentenced; in his case, he is required to stay in prison for 10 months out of the five years that he was sentenced and then he can petition for house arrest for the remainder of the sentence. He was sentenced on October 21, 2014 and released on October 19, 2015 after spending just less than one year in prison and will now spend the next four years on house arrest at his uncle’s mansion (pictured below).

(Source: The Telegraph, 2015, "Oscar Pistorius will live in luxury after his release under house arrest")
(Source: The Telegraph, 2015, “Oscar Pistorius will live in luxury after his release under house arrest”)

I chose to discuss Oscar Pistorius’ murder case, because he was just released from prison last week and is now on house arrest. Also, this case encompasses race, class, gender, and privacy. Steenkamp is a victim of homicide as a result of her being in a heterosexual relationship with Pistorius. Regardless of whether the act was purposeful or accidental, Steenkamp would not have died that night if she was not in a relationship with Pistorius. Although Steenkamp was a white victim, Pistorius, as a white man, did not receive as harsh of a sentence, in my opinion, as a black man would have received. However, Pistorius’ fame and social class also contributed to the lenient sentencing. A person living in a poverty also would not have received the same sentencing as Pistorius had. Finally, the fact that Pistorius did this in his own home and that there were no reliable witnesses, also contributed to this being sort of up in the air, not knowing the whole truth about the sequence of events that happened that night.

Q: Do you think that Pistorius’ lessened sentence (culpable homicide vs. murder) as well as the fact that he was released from prison to be sentenced to house arrest in a mansion devalues the life of Reeva Steenkamp? Should Pistorius be required to compensate the Steenkamp family for what he did?



(2015). Q&A: What House Arrest Means For Oscar Pistorius. Sky News. Retrieved from

(2014). Oscar Pistorius Trial: Evidence. BBC News. Retrieved from

Phipps, C. (2014). Oscar Pistorius Trial: The Full Story, Day By Day. The Guardian. Retrieved from


Norms & Stereotypes Defined by Privacy?


Privacy and gender can be connected by using the way our norms // stereotypes affect our social self. While in the safety and security of the private sphere, we are able to express ourselves in a way which correlates to how we feel and act inside. Consequently when this protective coating is peeled away and exposes us to an outer world, we lust to fit to societies standards, changing our actions to suit this norm. As privacy soon disintegrates and we are rarely ever able to be our actual selves, conformity takes control and personal freedom is lost.

Connecting to Social Psychology, there are two fundamental axioms ::

  1. People create their own reality; meaning that each individual has a different interpretation of the world in which we live. Even though these views may misrepresent the actual truth, they are subjective, not objective.
  2. The power of the situation has more influence on how you act than you ultimately do. (Ponder for a moment this scenario, if you were to fall down a staircase, how would you react by yourself, with a friend, or in a part of a play; now how about a crush you’ve been eyeing?)

So when we strut around in the world our actions will be relational to what we feel those observing us find acceptable. For women this may mean having to act womanly, kind, “pretty” instead of how they actually feel inside. Men must take on a masculine approach, being strong, brave, or the forefront of a conversation. Though we have taken strides to alter our perception of right and wrong, there are still issues of correcting negative behavior to address.

(start 6:00 in)


As our lives become more complex with the various accounts, devices, and drones; the chance for someone peeking through, becomes an issue. With various areas to give away personal information to the internet such as Google and Facebook, our private lives are becoming less private. For those who enjoy keeping their opinions and interests to themselves this is a growing problem which can affect other areas of our lives as well.

Being something not directly related to criminal justice, going further as to gain access to a potential criminals history and activity may bring possible evidence to light for a conviction. One such image // story which took a stroll around some Facebook accounts depicted an NFC chip (<– link) in new phones. Though some people did believe this piece of hardware was able to track their person and report it back to some government agency. However silly this is, processes with the same outcomes don’t need some hardware, when being discreet is the name of the game. Instead a series of code is embedded (similar to government sanctioned back doors) to collect their sought after information; thus preventing any ability to hide details about yourself from public eye. Personally and emotionally, it becomes drastic. Those private moments, photos and conversations which took place when no one was watching, well now people are and if people find them… judgement ensues.


In 2014 a mass of private photos stored on iCloud were hacked and released to public eyes, disclosing many celebrities secret pictures. A popular name ,The Fappening, was a designated headline which displayed how gender-centric around men this event was. Since only women’s pictures were the main news story, we are shown how much more we objectify women than men. As actress Lena Dunham stated on twitter following the event, “viewing these pictures violates these women over and over again”. 

Though I personally don’t feel threatened about how our internet history is tracked, or our likes are recorded because in the end, you are you, why is this something that needs hiding? However when our entire private selves are purged onto the internet for the public eye, a line has been crossed. 


Why do we need privacy?

How much do you value your privacy? Internet life vs. reality life?

What are the consequences if every move you make over the internet was recorded and posted online?

Do gender stereotypes continue even when in a private setting? And how much of difference would people act if there was no sense of privacy?

Image “Artifact” link