by Richard A. Epstein
Hoover Institution
August 28, 2014
No one should condone excessive police force, private crime, or violent public protests. The hard question is figuring out the ways in which to tamp down on these issues. That is ultimately the challenge of any responsible system of public administration. Oddly enough, that task need not raise profound questions of what counts as right and wrong conduct. The inconsistent accounts of the Brown killing all play off a common moral substrate. Killing an unarmed civilian in cold blood is a crime. Killing in self-defense is not. The task of public administration is to find out which happened, and to do it quickly and in a way that can command public confidence and respect. No easy job, it seems.

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