John Klar: Vermont condemned as racist by manipulation of statistics

By John Klar

For years the liberal media and politicians in Vermont have condemned the state’s police, and entire legal system, as “systemically racist,” based on flawed statistical analysis of incarceration rates of blacks in the Green Mountain State. These “flaws” are by design — the truth has been clouded quite deliberately to fuel ideological division.

A University of Vermont “study” became the fulcrum to slander Vermont’s police when it demonstrated disparities in police stops, arrests, and incarcerations of black and Hispanic drivers. But this effort is embarrassingly biased, even contrived.

John Klar

The study’s author, Stephanie Seguino, measured police bias by comparing traffic stops of black and Hispanic drivers to the Vermont general population, without regard to residence of the drivers. Seguino’s supposedly revelatory research became the tool to undermine police efforts to combat an opioid epidemic in which inner city gangs (of color) transport fentanyl and other drugs to Vermont. But she has persistently compared out-of-state apples to in-state oranges, perverting results.

The left argues that Vermont has a much higher incarceration rate of blacks than its underlying population, which is true, and so is systemically racist, which is patently false, even absurd. If Vermont police arrest out-of-state fentanyl dealers who are demographically quite distinct from Vermont, of course the incarceration rate of blacks will increase relative to the underlying white demographic — that is drug interdiction, not systemic racism.

Seguino’s study ignores origin, focusing on “stop rates by race compared to racial shares of the population.” How does shoddy research like this get used to craft false conclusions and slander good policing? Answer: easily, with an uncritical Vermont media that refuses to examine the underlying facts.

RELATED JOHN KLAR VIDEO: Is Vermont systemically racist?

Thomas Sowell explains this Stalinesque pattern of obfuscation accurately in his book “Discrimination and Disparities.” American progressivism was at the forefront of the eugenics movement, and the deterministic view that genetics was the defining measure of utility. Karl Marx shifted this to economic determinism. Now the American progressives have embraced an equally dogmatic stupidity regarding race as determinant — what Sowell calls a “seemingly invincible fallacy,” and “a non sequitur underlying the prevailing social vision of our time.”

Professor Seguino’s work is just such a non sequitur, drawing outrageous conclusions from skewed statistics. Sowell specifically condemns such “disparate impact” statistics as being ideologically motivated by a “political crusade” to create a “presumption of discrimination.”  He explains that facts don’t matter to dogmatists:

Stampedes toward one-factor explanations do not exempt even the leading intellectuals of an era … [from] a default setting in many social theories that regard the absence of equality in outcomes as automatic signs of some sinister influences which have prevented this natural equality from taking place. … The historic consequences of treating particular beliefs as sacred dogmas, beyond the reach of evidence or logic, should be enough to dissuade us from going down that road again — despite how exciting or emotionally satisfying political dogmas and the crusades resulting from those can be, or how convenient in sparing us the drudgery and discomfort of having to think through our own beliefs or test them against facts. (“Discrimination and Disparities” pp. 26-8)

Professor Seguino’s study remains untested against facts. Indeed, her latest updated report again avoids assessing state-of-origin of detained suspects, though she notes: “Given the low percentages of people of color in Vermont, even a small amount of missing race data can distort results.”

This is precisely why she and others love to abuse Vermont statistics, and why they refuse to examine out-of-state origins of defendants. Vermont has seen a 33% increase in opioid deaths in one year — perhaps the drugs are being transported here by “gangs of color” and the police are just doing their job? That possibility is anathema to race crusaders who formed judgments before examining truth. The opioid crisis explains Vermont’s spike in black incarcerations, but it doesn’t fit the party line.

A 2020 study by the Justice Center concluded that “Black people who are identified as residents of other states make up a small number but a larger proportion of non-residents within Vermont corrections populations.” Additionally, 19% of drug offenders were black out-of-staters, versus 5% whites (p. 31).

Vermont Public Radio covered this story in 2018, but noted the absence of out-of-state statistics:

Joy’s next study is looking at something we mentioned earlier: the question of how many African-American inmates are residents of Vermont, versus from out of state. … And according to that new report from the Department of Corrections, just 1.6 percent of Vermont’s prison population in 2017 were black people from out of state.

But Vermont is only 1.4% black: didn’t this just prove that Seguino’s statistics have been warped beyond useful analysis? — “just 1.6%” is “just” 114% of Vermont’s underlying black demographic.

A 2019 study, commissioned to assess the conduct of the Bennington Police Department, noted the shortcomings in Seguino’s work:

[Seguino’s] study … was seriously flawed and its conclusions do not stand up to academic rigor. First, the data used included multiple ticket/warnings for events. This means that if a driver received a warning and a ticket at one stop, the study counted it as two separate stops. And if a search was conducted, two separate searches. Second, it is also not clear from the authors how they resolved data inconsistencies around searches and hit rates. … In the data provided for our study, we find that in 1,000 of the 3,235 stops, the drivers had residences out of state. An additional 246 drivers had residences in Vermont but outside of Bennington County. This means that one-third of the drivers stopped had no relationship to the demographics of Bennington County.

Vermonters won’t hear about that in their media. It doesn’t fit their race mantra.

As Sowell warns: “Two of the monumental catastrophes of the twentieth century — Nazism and Communism — led to the slaughter of millions of human beings by their own governments, in the name of either ridding the world of the burden of “inferior” races or ridding the world of ‘exploiters’ responsible for the poverty of the exploited. While each of these beliefs might have been testable hypotheses, their greatest political triumphs came as dogmas placed beyond the reach of evidence or logic. … Discrimination as an explanation of economic and social disparities may have a similar emotional appeal for many.”

In Vermont, this “emotional appeal” of hate is clouding common sense as well as evidentiary analysis. It is also dangerously undermining police and opening a whole new gateway to drug traffickers from parts unknown, which will kill more citizens.

Reality will defeat dogma, in the end, one way or another.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.

Image courtesy of state of Vermont

26 thoughts on “John Klar: Vermont condemned as racist by manipulation of statistics

  1. Excellent article, John, once again. It would be nice if you could have a meeting with the Governor to present this other, rational and unemotional side of this issue. I think he is just in the liberal tank. After all, it is easier to go along with the whiners, rather than question their claims!

    • I do hope Phil Scott will chime in here. How can he support these statistics, even though he’s been using them as a club against our police for years? He can say “Gee, that IS wrong.” Or, he can say “Well, we know most Vermonters are racist anyway….” I think he believes the latter.

    • John Klar, right on! Must we arrest 20 white folks in Burlington every time two black persons have a shoot-out in Burlington – to make it racially even.

      Must we arrest 10 working fathers every time some culprit comes up Rt. 7 or 89 with a car load of deadly drugs?

      The police MUST use their intuitions, carefully, or our laws will just go to hell.

      If there is manhandling of innocents – then that alone needs to be handled – NOT
      allow the guilty to go free on a quota system!!

    • Why are so many young people buying and selling drugs? Study economics. Market demand, profit. Post WW II? My grandfather, born in 1886, said they were selling them – a lot of them – when he was young. They just weren’t illegal – they sold them over the counter – like cigarettes. Like with prohibition, making them illegal created black market millionaires. They have drugs now they didn’t have then, but it’s obvious why they weren’t selling them back then.

      • Good — but separate — question. I say in an accompanying video: I’d rather have you legalize heroin rather than wrongly accuse all Vermonters of racism. But that’s how you do it — you PASS A LAW legalizing killer fenatnyl, pat yourself on the back from rescuing blacks from inner city squalor (you will have done nothing there), then tell the police to let them go. You don’t tell the police to detain them and then call them racist for complying with ideologically-manipulated evidence. The gig is up! No more lies!

    • Mr. Grady, let’s have an honest chat — “Interesting this story came out….” You think TNR timed this? I find it “interesting” you suspect a conspiracy theory about the truth — I wrote the piece, and how would True North know what VPR is coming out with? You sound conspiratorial. 🙂

      So you think “the demographics of the Northeast should be used?” OK — how about a Northeast numerator and a northeast denominator? See how that would be…math? The junk science is Seguino’s, and you are rattled because the truth doesn’t jibe with your preconceived (very racist!) notion. Sowell exposes your idiocy, right in this “junk article.” Why don’t you write an intelligent expose: spare us junk comments.

      Finally, why are young people buying so many drugs? Is that the only “real topic,” because I surely cover that one. I ma a Recovery Coach. I’d rather have you deranged people just legalize heroin than call my family racists with no evidence. It is criminal — let’s keep up the conversation you are terrified we will have. No more lies, Mr. Grady. Don’t you have family who could be killed by drugs? And do they know you are paranoid?

    • Please enlighten and provide deets re frequent slam of post WW2 society sir as well as similar slam of the American Dream. Is it you who also references “Generation Fail”

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16K6m3Ua2nw

        Rated – R swearing
        The most honest three and a half minutes of television, EVER…
        8,840,444 views
        •Jun 26, 2012

        https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2019

        Decades of playing the population off against 3rd world labor has turned the country into a 3rd world country.

        Over $80 trillion in debt built up in 50 years.

        Record numbers of suicides & drug overdoses.
        Crime in our cities is out of control.

        The Amusement Park of America and the all we can eat coast to coast buffet is going bankrupt. The Ponzi Scheme economy some have benefited from isn’t sustainable.

        • Tho some of your cobbled together points may be true – not “the truth”. Entire premise falls apart because it relies upon the “Correlation = Causation fallacy:
          OPINION·Published May 18, 2019
          Larry Taunton: Did the Greatest Generation ‘fail’ us?
          “In guiding my thesis, he cautioned me against a kind of nonsense common among historians: imposing the mores of our own time on
          those who lived in another. Curbing my youthful idealism without
          anihilating it, McDonald counseled me to recognize that while I might author history books, I am nonetheless a part of history and therefore subject to the same limited perspectives as those I would presume to judge.”
          https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/larry-taunton-greatest-generation

        • And no it’s not just “swearing” it’s taking the Lords name in vain and all I need to know about this jackass and silly HBO series. Hurling invective-laden insults to all is *not* newsworthy nor is the Hate America agenda, another shining example of msm malpractice aka failure – so who’s the “fail” here:
          “The Newsroom is a rare underwhelming piece of storytelling from Aaron Sorkin. The highly-anticipated HBO show never lived up to the hype or talent involved. Now, The Trial of the Chicago 7 writer-director is acknowledging he was “never able to get it quite right.””
          https://gritdaily.com/the-newsroom/

          Has been described as a series of lectures using “Newsroom” as the vehicle – looks like the wheels fell off quick.

          Personally disagree with the Hate America chorus in all of its iterations as it’s pretty clear who’s doing the directing – there’s no redeeming value to the railing and rantings of a nutjob who appears to be having a PTSD induced psychotic break and should have been white-coated imho.

          I for one believe The Greatest Generation *is* the greatest generation and no opinionated complation of rearranged factoids using flawed logic will ever change that sir.

          • Clear an attempt at “Revisionist History” popularized by the epic fail of Marxist regimes which has become so fashionable in the US – and currently used to brainwash our youth btw.

            Fail much lol 100 million dead in 100 years and still counting – not a very good record imo.

  2. There is no systemic racism involving the Police in the State of Vermont. That assertion is contrived. The police are effectively doing their job and enforcing the law, and everyone is equal before the law. And for that I’m glad. For those who are concerned about bogus claims of disproportionate traffic stops? There are no free passes for any group. Don’t break the law!

    • You are correct, using the traditional definitions of “Systemic Racism”. However, these definitions are changing rapidly to suit the agenda and arguments of some. To redefine words and phrases to suit seems to have skyrocketed after Clinton’s “Depends on what your definition of sex is” in the ’90’s. Obama used redefining as a crutch thru out his reign.
      Am I to be forced to believe that Sworn Police Officers in Vermont are racist- that they intentionally seek out minorities for persecution? That being Caucasian gives one a “bye” on a traffic stop? Nope. Not happening. Mr. Klar’s article shows once again, the facts are being manipulated for the desired outcome. Perhaps the real and growing problem is that the legislature hears and sees only what the lobbyist wants seen and heard, unable to discern reality from manipulated “studies” and “reports”.
      Perhaps the current state of affairs in Burlington, with the mandated “Defund the Police” policies will bear out what benefit a proper police force really provides. Regretfully, Burlington residents will pay a high price to prove the obvious to their city councillors.

  3. Just more Liberal propaganda agenda……..

    Another “Non-Issue” , that’s being manipulated to show an issue from outsiders,
    more big-city transplants…just look a who they are.

  4. By the logic behind the UVM study, we are undoubtedly discriminating against Canadian citizens and residents from other states!

  5. It is not surprising,

    Fishermen, who want to be productive, fish where are the fishes.
    Policemen, who want to be productive, fish where are the law violators.

  6. Xusana R. Davis, Vermont’s Executive Director of Racial Equity, also resorts to citing traffic stops in her 1/15/21 Annual Report to the Vermont House and Senate Committees on Government Operations in which she writes:

    “For years, traffic stop data have shown that motorists of color are disproportionately stopped by law enforcement in Vermont. Rates are even higher for motorists of color with out-of-state license plates.”

    The report goes on to cite other statistics painting a picture of systemic racism in Vermont using less than adequately explained or examined numbers. If Ms. Davis’ work is to be accepted as credible, she must significantly tighten her analysis. Projecting behavior on to Vermont by using incidents or statistics from other states around the country or using questionable sources of information is a failing strategy. If statistics from Vermont are used to identify problems, the data must be carefully vetted and adequately explained.

    Read the Executive Director of Racial Equity Report and decide for yourself:

    https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Legislative-Reports/EDRE-Report-to-GA-2021.pdf

    • Thanks for the article. When you say it shot down the idea, you mean it agrees with my concerns?

      I don’t get the BB, and hadn’t seen it. Have you read Thomas Sowell? The problem is that the BLM people refuse to read anything that conflicts with their false narrative, while saying anyone who questions them has blinders on. We must have an open exchange… Sowell is very good at that.

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