The Times has a story today on the rise in homicide in some American cities. It’s an important story—one which is hurt by the utterly baseless suggestion that those who protested against Ferguson may well have blood on their hands:
Among some experts and rank-and-file officers, the notion that less aggressive policing has emboldened criminals — known as the “Ferguson effect” in some circles — is a popular theory for the uptick in violence.
“The equilibrium has changed between police and offenders,” said Alfred Blumstein, a professor and a criminologist at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University.
Others doubt the theory or say data has not emerged to prove it. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said homicides in St. Louis, for instance, had already begun an arc upward in 2014 before a white police officer killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in nearby Ferguson. That data, he said, suggests that other factors may be in play.
One might defend these paragraphs on the grounds of objectivity. But the writing here is not so much objective as it is vague. Note the deployment of qualifiers and weasel words—“some experts,” “some circles,” “other factors.” Note the juxtaposing of one expert opinion unhampered by facts (“the equilibrium has changed”) with another expert opinion directly rooted in one crucial fact (the rise in homicides in St. Louis precedes the Ferguson protests.)