Respect Mah Authoritah

By Sean Carroll | February 15, 2008 2:37 pm

Actual footage of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter questioning National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell as part of an inquiry into whether or not the New England Patriots sneakily videotaped their opponent’s sidelines. An issue, we can all agree, of world-historical importance.

  • todd.

    “I’m not dude, I’m Officer Rivieri.” Are you, really? Well, that’s good to know, because now we can suspend you.

  • correction is compassion

    dude … er .. CHICK … ummm … this just proves that there are some aspects of human nature that are not gender neutral. one of those is Male Teen psychology. there’s not a damned thing wrong with this video EXCEPT that it omits the running of this punk’s BIG FAT MOUTH which sparked the confrontation.

    young men play violent video games because we are still MONKEYS craving development of our survival skills in our formative years. zillions of years of evolution are not going to just suddenly change course because we built concrete cages called cities for ourselves.

    to our monkey brains, the world is still a JUNGLE and the jungle operates by rules of STRENGTH. cooperation and collaboration are secondary to identifying the STRONG … with whom we then seek to collaborate in order to further strengthen ourselves.

    few things aggravate me more than the PUSSIFICATION of interactions with young men. guess what, my politically correct brothers and sisters? YOUNG MEN NEED STRONG GUIDANCE.

    how many times does montel have to show you that sending punks to DISCIPLINE camps WORKS, before you believe the DATA?

    would it be better if reason and boundaries and self-discipline were developed within the home with less fanfare? of course. am i asserting that parents should treat their sons like this? of course NOT. get a grip.

    what i am saying is that once a household has FAILED to teach young men respect for others; has failed to explain that a PUNK’S rights end where CIVIL society’s begins; then that household culture has CREATED the conflict we see here.

    we a MONKEYS. discipline can be instilled in a family through a combination of Reason, Incredible Patience, Clear and Consistent Communication; however, these are not skills that are taught in any school and not skills that the vast majority of copulating monkeys have the slightest clue about.

    bottom line, this video is NOT and incrimination of officer rivieri … this video is an incrimination of primarily NEGLIGENT CHILD REARING MOTHERS … and fathers. but mostly it’s the MOTHERS … who “unconditionally love our little angels” and sabotage fathers from providing the STABLE FRAMEWORK that young male monkeys REQUIRE to develop appropriately.

  • Spocko

    The meek shall inherit the earth…

  • Sean

    My momma taught me to use capital letters at the beginnings of sentences.

  • todd.

    Sean, if you waste all of your capital letters on PUSSIFIED grammar, it won’t mean as much when you use them for EMPHASIS. MONKEY.

  • Tommy

    I don’t know the details of this incident, but I can attest that cops in various areas are truly disrespectful if you are on a skateboard or even just carrying one. A few years ago I was skating around downtown Philadelphia with a friend and we stopped off to walk through Love Park, which used to be a skate mecca but has since been put off limits. Note, I said walk. We picked up our skateboards, walked into the park, sat on a bench for a bit and then walked out. At no time did we so much as let our boards touch the ground, much less skate on them. On the way out a cop came up to both of us and started yelling that we were skating in an illegal area, threatening us with everything from confiscating our boards and arrest. My friend and I (a doctoral student and engineering postdoc, not exactly thugs) tried to calmly explain we were doing no such thing. He called us liars and ranted some more. Fortunately we were able to defuse the situation, but sometimes people with “authority” can take it way too far and the treatment of various types of people, from skateboarders to things like racial profiling can be taken much too far.

  • Matt

    Well done, todd.

    Well. Done.

  • correction is compassion

    ROTFLMOMAO! rolling on the floor laughing my own monkey ass off!

    thank you, lowercase todd with the emphatic period after the first name. :-)

    also, i’m not at all denying the truth of tommy’s case. there are many badly behaving monkeys on both sides of the equation.

    all i’m suggesting is that we not always jump to the SEEMINGLY obvious conclusion of such thin slices of random cosmic variance, such as typified in this video.

    a complete diagnostic MRI of the dysfunctional brain of contemporary collective american society is made up of many slices. variance in one thin slice may be understandable within the normal range of deviation observed in an adjacent slice. probably, most monkeys won’t understand what i just said, and for that i apologize, but don’t have the time to really tighten up the text and improve the clue-throughput just now.

    also, i do NOT enjoy this video one single bit. it infuriates me that kids like this end up waltzing out of the shadows with shotguns in the classroom five years later … primarily because isolated, screwed up nuclear FAMILIES FAIL THEM.

    the universal teaching of child rearing strategies and techniques should be as mandatory as mathematics, from middle school, onward. what do we drop in order to make room for this key curriculum? all the whining about how the BLACKS were so abused … all the ASIANS were so abused … all the JEWS were so abused … all the IRISH were so abused … all the ITALIANS were so abused … all the INDIANS, ARABS, blah,blah, blah …. wah, wah, wah … yes EVERYONE has been abused in american history.

    let’s STOP ALL THE ABUSE by teaching the entire society how to raise children who will not be subject to such abuses, because they each have a powerfully developed sense of SELF … bright young monkeys like us, who develop a healthy awareness and respect for their own individual gifts and talents and hence for those aspects in others, as well. monkeys that know how to raise up monkeys … who then build upon those outstanding traits, perpetually improving themselves and others … as effortlessly and confidently as they now shout out “4!” in response to the question, “what is 2 plus 2?”

    it’s not rocket science, but we do need to confront these social issues with critical thinking and scientific rigor.

  • Matt

    Damn it, the formatting screwed up my html joke.

    Let me try it again, but you’ll have to imagine angle brackets in place of [].



    Well done, todd.

    Well. Done.

    There. Not the same without the right formatting, though.

  • correction is compassion

    finally, i’m not saying to stop teaching history! i’m saying that rather than dwell upon the wrongs, we briefly and succinctly explain in the curriculum that the reason we dwell up CHILD REARING is *because* of those historic atrocities.

    i’m not saying to deny, avoid, evade, or dismiss the injustices of history! i’m saying, let’s rather take action to AVENGE and PREVENT those past wrongs, permanently, by raising up the greatest monkeys the world has ever seen!


    i love you fellow monkeys … every one.

  • Joseph Brant

    The cop looks to me like he is lacking in physical fitness.

    Then again, I guess it doesn’t require a whole lot of fitness to knock little skinny kids down and steal their skateboards, as well as write up the occasional parking ticket.

  • Big Vlad

    is it so disrespectful to call someone dude? When I was at school we called everyone dudes.

    also, I’d have trouble taking seriously a policeman wearing shorts!

    All that cop has done is teach the kid that the way to be respected by other people is to shout and get violent.

  • Pete

    Being a “punk” like those kids is actually a natural developmental stage in the teen (rebel) years. It is very similar to a 4 year old child playing with toys. They both PREPARE for adult life.

    Yes, I also did skatebaording when I was younger and similar uncalled incidents happened all the time and you as a teenager simply don`t have the rights nor the life experinece to convince such a person about how you see yourselves as a peaceful person who respect others.
    btw. I recommend the sport to everyone because it makes your whole body move and by focusing on what you are doing, you forget that you move all day..:) (pretty healthy, dont you think?)


    For me this means to avoid heirarchy based systems where people expect others to obey them according to their age, status, sex etc. This kind of behavior or expectany creates fear not respect and fear might lead to crime.


    False. Young men need strong understanding and patience and later they may behave in a similar way. If you gently ask them to leave or if you explain them why that place is not suitable for skatboarding they will probably understand it and MR OFFICER would now have new friends. Mr officer definitely had a strong guidance but it`s not clear in what direction.

    Yeah, we are monkeys but by understanding how cultural evolution can overcome biological and as consciousness gives us the opportunity not just to examine nature but to adjust our lives according to what we have seen and are aware, we could also focus on the phenomena of symbiotic relationships to avoid “our monkey brains to operate by strengh”.

  • Pete

    is it so disrespectful to call someone dude? When I was at school we called everyone dudes.

    No dude, its perfectly fine. :)

  • jeff

    That cop is an ass, and obviously on a power trip. He needs to attend an anger management class and cut back on the twinkies. Those kids weren’t that bad, and I bet they even knew how to capitalize sentences.

    Is it just me, or am I seeing a whole lot more cops around then I used to? This country seems like a police state lately. If there’s too many, maybe some of them need to justify their existence, and start looking for crimes where there are none.

  • todd.

    Come on, Matt. If you’re going to make HTML jokes, you have to know that &lt; produces <.

  • eric gisse

    I wish half the authors of books on my shelf had that kind of attitude. Not enough snark in my textbooks.

  • Neil B.

    Yeah, it’s stupid to put so much effort into big G (heh, government not God, but what’s the big difference) monitoring people’s own self-improvement schemes – let the people running sports decide how to kick people out they don’t consider “natural” enough. As for what really is important, increasing credit card debt is one of the issue. See below what Barack has to say here on Yglesias (and the interesting comment thread, also c.f. reference in WaMo’s Political Animal.) Barack has almost wrapped it for me with those ideas, assuming it’s sincere (and to compare, Hillary doesn’t even want to raise the cap on FICA-subject income! No populist there):

    PS: Sean, could you please put in a preview option? It would be helpful, so would a comment removal icon, (Bee’s system e.g. is good) tx.

  • thomas

    Hey correction-is-compassion,

    Evolutionary psychology is nothing more than a bunch of just-so stories. Go practice pseudoscience somewhere else.

    What’s heavily ironic about your post is, many of the kids who you say “need strong guidance” come from abusive households.

    tl;dr: die in a fire; if i ever meet you f2f i’ll break half the bones in your body before you hit the ground

  • Mike

    It’s interesting that the situation only escalated when the cop caught himself saying that he asked the kid if he “had the thing on,” despite the fact that if he indeed “had the thing on”, he wouldn’t have been able to hear him ask. I think he realized that that was dumb, and tried to distract from it by yelling.

    There may be (very reasonable) laws against skateboarding in certain places (especially without helmets), but there’s no law against being “disrespectful”. Of course, I think it’s clear that the kid wasn’t being all that disrespectful. That’s just how teenagers talk. If you’re okay with them talking like that, they respect you a lot more (even though it may not seem like it).

    Very bad lesson for the kids, and a terrible example of policing. And that whole “someone’s gonna kill you” comment… *way* out of line.

  • Mike

    Maybe a disclaimer is in line. I’ve tangled with police many times over behavior like that. I even spent a night in jail once because of it. Perhaps may “disrespectful” threshold is just way too high.

  • MedallionOfFerret

    Dumb, authoritarian cop, not-so-sharp kids. There was no “correction”–there was only shouting & physical violence. The kids are unlikely to have learned anything useful to their socialization from the episode. The cop should have been busted, and eventually was. It could have been a lot worse.

  • Diego

    I think that you can only ask for respect when you are yourself being respectful, children included. It is very ironic that this man (if you can call him that) was asking for respect at the same he was acting in the most disrespectfull and rude way. That cop was not teaching respect, he was teaching how to be abussive to someone weak. I hope he got a suspension or something.

  • Joseph Brant

    Diego, see the very first post. The cop did indeed get suspended with pay. I’m sure there’s a parallel world, though, where he didn’t get suspended because he confiscated the camera before he stole the kid’s skateboard.

  • Jonathan Vos Post

    (1) Authority? Authoritarianism? Power trips? I’m a former Adjunct Professor of Mathematics (5 great semesters in Woodbury University, until I was laid off for no cause in violation of university procedure and state and federal law by a psychopath Dean, who was subsequently deposed by the Senior VP of Academic Affairs but whose threat to sue on the grounds that, since she was out-of-the-closet gay, this was Sexism and Homophobia. So, to avoid expensive litigation, she was deposed as Dean, but given 3 years pay at Dean’s salary even though now busted back to mere Assistant Professor.

    (2) Authority? Authoritarianism? Power trips? I was previously Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Cypress College, reporting to the Chairman of Physics and Astronomy who got his PhD from Greg Benford (who recommended me for the job, as did Physicist/ sometimes Astronomer Caltech VP/Provost Steve Koonin), I never had my contract extended to full-time Tenure Track, because the “Equivalence Committee” of bureaucrats decided that if I had at least 210 publications, presentations, and broadcasts about Astronomy and the Space program some of them Science Fiction with the likes of my coauthors Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and Heinlein, then I must be far too busy writing to have enough time for teaching students.

    (3) I took a big pay cut to do substitute teaching to the most challenged and challenging students in the Pasadena Unified School District, including those teenagers on the cusp of expulsion for gangs, drugs, alcohol, weapons, sexually transmitted diseases, or other problems. By a plethora of advanced techniques, including spending an order of magnitude more time and energy than a teacher is expected to do, I’ve been able to provide classroom structure (based on mutual respect and rigorous confiscation of skateboards, cellphones, iPods, iPhones, and hand-held computer games) and then debug the false axioms and fallacious algorithms with which they’d been burdened by bad teaching in the past, and then regress them to the point before they went off track, and then put them back on the right track. As my mentor and co-author Richard Feynman (who died exactly 20 years ago as of 15 Feb 1988) put it: anyone can teach Physics to people who don’t know it. The hard thing is to teach Physics to people who think they know it, but wee taught wrongly in High School.

    (4) Don’t ever talk back to a cop in Pasadena, California. There is quite an amazing self-published pamphlet explaining why.

    Bobby Fischer Dead at 64
    Category: Chess
    Posted on: January 18, 2008 8:21 PM, by Jason Rosenhouse

    Former World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer has died of kidney failure at the age of 64. The New York Times has an informative article here.

    For chess fans Bobby Fischer was the classic example of the need to separate the art from the artist. Away from the board Fischer was an emotionally disturbed misfit, entirely unable to take care of himself or deal with the world in a reasonable way. His incoherent,
    hate-filled rants against Jews and America made him more an object of pity than of anger.

    But at the board he’s the best there ever was…




    I met Bobby Fischer on the Promenade, Brooklyn Heights, when he was a teenager and I in single digits. He and I both moved to Pasadena, California, where I did better (Caltech Life Alumnus) than he did (“I was tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!” by Bobby Fischer). That document was the last book he wrote, though not, technically speaking, a Chess Book.

    The Nabokovian (The Defense, 1930) irony of his dying at 64, the number of squares on a chessboard, was instantly obvious to all chess professionals.

    (5) Don’t ever talk back to a cop in Pasadena, California, Part II.

    When an undergraduate at Caltech, I once was riding my Peugeot bicycle near campus. Since it was 3 a.m., good weather, and there was essentially no traffic, I did not brake and re-accelerate but ran a red light. I was ticketed by a traffic cop in a suddenly powered-on but formerly dark patrol car.

    I challenged the ticket in traffic court. The cop spoke first. “… at which point defendant ran through the red light, without even slowing down, with his Peugeot…”

    My turn came next. “Guilty with an explanation, Your Honor. The aforementioned Peugeot was a Peugeot bicycle…”

    Judge: “Is that correct, Officer Bob Doggett?” [name slightly changed to protect the authoritarian, who by the way was a former Pig farmer, I kid you not]

    Doggett: “Yes, Your Honor.”

    Judge: Case Dismissed [bangs gavel]. And if you ever pull that crap again, Doggett, it’ll go in your personnel file!

  • Arun

    Off-topic, but do you know Bill Foster, physicist and now running for Congress?

    Anything nice or bad to say?

  • Sam Thornton

    Big cop in a tiny car on park patrol. What does this tell us? A) He wasn’t suitable for regular patrol duties; B) He lacked either the desire or ability to be promoted to more responsible duties; or C) He was so stressed out by his previous duties or personal situation that this kind of duty was considered a good place to ‘park’ him.

    On the other hand, there may be a perfectly reasonable and exculpatory explanation as to why a man of Officer Rivieri’s age and girth was assigned by his superiors to troop around in public in a colorful, matching shirt ‘n shorts outfit.

    More facts are required. Inquiring minds want to know.

  • watchdog

    This incident sounds alarmingly like the 2002 incident, where a LEO (“law enforcement officer”) ASSAULTED a black teen:

    The first frames of the video show a skinny young kid lying face down on the asphalt, handcuffed, utterly still. Four beefy cops surround him. They yank his limp body off the pavement by grabbing the silver chain around his neck. He is choked unconscious. They slam him hard face-first onto the trunk of the black-and-white. The blow jolts him awake. The camcorder zooms in on his face: His mouth is red-wet, and the blood smears across his cheek. His jaw is slack and his eyes can’t focus. He tries to lift his head, but it falls back down. The four cops are close around him, an unforgiving wall. Officer Jeremy Morse, on the Inglewood force for three years, grabs the back of the kid’s head and turns it to the right, spending a few seconds to position it just so. He smashes his clenched fist into the youth’s face, then wraps his hands around his throat. On the video, you can see Morse’s face clearly: contorted by a grimace, teeth bared in a snarl, he truly does look like a beast.

    The LEO in question was found to have had a history of abuse (at least 2 cases, see above article where one of his victims was in a coma for 5 days).

    The below comments from a news bbs summarizes it best:

    T*O*P*I*C Discussion Started: 07-10-2002, 2:54 PM
    Attorneys for a teen who was videotaped while an Inglewood police
    officer slammed him onto a squad car plan to file a lawsuit over the
    incident as public pressure mounts and various law enforcement agencies
    launch separate investigations. Meanwhile another man claims he too was
    beaten by Inglewood police officers. What do you think about the police
    brutality situation in Inglewood? Elsewhere? What, if anything, do you
    think the videotape proves?

    don87654 07-16-2002, 3:27 PM
    Southern California cops are just plain crooked, period! I was once a
    State of California Correctional Peace Officer at the California
    Institute for Women at Frontera. We were taught in the Academy at Galt
    how to formulate evidence to make ourselves look good and victims to
    look bad.
    I refused to cater to this treatment and was fired by an
    abusive Lieutenant that was in charge of Internal Affairs at the time.
    Later because of my outspoken stances on this, charges were levied
    against me involving vehicle tampering and simple assault and I was
    convicted of this by what appeared to be paid police witnesses. My
    attorney at the time, one of the best criminal lawyers in southern
    California, told me to pack my bags and leave town, which I did. It took
    him 8 long years to get my conviction erased from court records and to
    get the warrant for my arrest dropped by the court so I was no longer
    “wanted”. It does not matter where they are at….these California cops
    that completed the Academy in Los Angeles, or for the State, are just
    plain crooked–they are taught to be that way

    Jbp912 07-10-2002, 6:21 PM
    I am a disabled military veteran. I am in my senior years and I have
    become cynical of police officers and the entire judicial system. There
    has been too much lying, cover-ups, and irresponsible behavior by law
    enforcement persons. It seems there is a lack of proper training, poor
    recruitment, and too much hubris. The bottom line is bad management and
    no accountability, but we live in an age of extreme mediocrity.

    Thank you, JBP

    Patriottoo 07-10-2002, 4:20 PM
    This is a clear cut case of a rabid, over zealous, adreinaline pumped,
    and I’m suprised his eyes weren’t bulging out of his head cop! The teen
    was OBVIOUSLY in custody when he was BRUTILIZED with the UNNECESSARY
    FORCE of SLAMMING his head on the trunk lid of the police car and then
    PUNCHING him FIST CLOSED in the face, by the this cop. I don’t care who
    a person is, or what they have done, NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY deserves
    to be treated in that manner.
    Once the ‘cuffs’ are on, all force that
    was necessary to place a suspect in custody MUST STOP! I hope this
    maniac of a police officer is prosecuted to the fullest extent that the
    law allows, and receives the maxium penalty for his crimes! Only when
    the courts get serious and start holding those in the police agencies
    around the country who would engage in this type of brutality, fully
    responsible for thier crimes will we see an end to it!

    Patriot Too

    I find it OUTRAGEOUS that the so called LEOs (“to protect & serve” emblazened on their patrol cars) are actually the criminals. America sounds like a 3rd world country.

    There was the famous case of Frank Serpico, who exposed massive corruption in NYPD:

    “10% of the cops are corrupt, 10% of them are honest..the other 80% WISH THEY WERE HONEST”
    ..was his testimony to Congress

    Connect the dots. Los Angeles, NY, Baltimore. The renowned “Code of Silence” (a “closed system” which doesn’t allow corrective feedback) allows the crap to happen.

    I remember the commission report on the 1968 Democratic Convention:

    “It was a police riot”

    The famous video of a cop striking a guy (college student) full face with a baton, & the student striking back.

    “You don’t need a lawyer..JUST GOTO THE MEDIA” lawyer friend told me. Youtube is an extension of the Freedom of the Press (a sacrament in American Constitution) for citizen journalists, which can be the negative reinforcement against bad cops.

    Everyone, carry your camera cellphone (w/video capability) to protect yourself.

    In retrospect, those kids were pretty smart, their technology savviness beat that dump cop. Cops have police unions and lawyers to back them up, which explains the outrageous end game of the Morse-Jackson/Inglewood case: Morse gets 1.6 million settlement for racial discrimination (!?). The cellphone video/Youtube effect is a powerful tool for justice: the Court of Public Opinion.

  • Josh

    This officer was suspended with pay — placed on administrative leave — pending further investigation (link). There are several videos surfacing regarding his behavior. I agree with previous posts regarding the use of YouTube and other video sites by journalists and watch dog groups to advance the role of “citizen oversight” in certain cases. Another unintended use for online media…


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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