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Good words used badly: equitable

Writes The Washington Post:

Council member Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) echoed Mendelson’s remarks. Bowser, she suggested, “can ask [D.C. police] why they’re not patrolling equitably across the city, or provide data on what they’re doing, or [ask] why the U.S. attorney is declining two-thirds of the cases. I want to reiterate: This council is united in addressing public safety issues and we’ll continue to do it.”

This is in regards to a new emergency public safety bill passed by the council in response to a spike in violent crimes, and if you took Nadeau’s comments to heart you would think that the problem was restricted to certain neighborhoods — you know which ones they are — and was a direct result of there being less police presence than in some other areas — you know which ones those are as well.

Throwing out words like diversity and equity has become a verbal tick for some, but if council member Nadeau said that the D.C. police were not patrolling equitably with intent, we are deeply in newspeak Ministry-of-truth territory. Because the police are, in fact, patrolling equitably: in the wrong direction. Bad decisions have consequences D.C. council cut the police budget by $15 million in June 2020; by April 2023, police staffing reached a 50-year low which came both from the cuts directly, and indirectly from the burnout of those who remained. and instead of owning up to their mistakes — the equitable policing the Council achieved meant that previously safe parts of town are now also unsafe — they double down on their bad reasoning.

But to justify the title of the post: equitable — unlike, let’s say, gaslighting is a precise word, which in my book makes it a good word. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that achieving equity is always good. “Socialism makes everybody equal: equally poor”, went the old joke, and what goes for equality can also go for equity, as D.C. Council has just shown.

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