Cruz walks out of gun violence hearing after Democrat stops him from hijacking the agenda — disputes reason for leaving

Sen. Ted Cruz

CSPAN screenshot

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun violence, including discussion of "ghost guns" — which are illegal firearms that are made at home and don't have a serial number. But Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, during the hearing, wanted to change the subject — and instead of addressing gun violence and "ghost guns," the far-right senator obsessed over Democrats he claimed were trying to "abolish the police."

The slogan "defund the police" was used by some protesters following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis almost a year ago on May 25, 2020. But the term is by no means universally embraced by advocates of criminal justice reform, including those in the Democratic Party. MSNBC's the Rev. Al Sharpton, for example, has said that he opposes defunding the police and favors "reforming the police" instead. But far-right Republicans have been harping on that "defund the police" slogan to scare people, and Cruz takes it a step further by claiming that Democrats want to "abolish the police."

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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