"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Two Americas

I become increasingly convinced there are in fact "two Americas," as John Edwards infamously claimed befored losing the last presidential election. But not the "haves" and "have-nots" that the left constantly attempts to pit against each other in a zero sum game of trying to increase the size of the welfare state.

No, I'm thinking of the other two Americas, in which one group sees social order, traditional morality, and values like following the law and respecting authority as vital to the health and viability of our nation; and another America that sees chaos as desirable, that rejects traditional morality as oppression, and that preaches (and lives) contempt for authority, particularly for the police, the most manifest public symbol of social order.

Item: Pittsburg criminal Rayco Saunders "has had a hard life. He says he never knew his father; his mother died of a drug overdose when he was 11. He was stabbed in the back at 15, shot in the chest at 21. He says he shot at people himself and dealt drugs. He was arrested six times from 1994 to 1997 and served four years in prison after a shootout with a police officer. He says he was framed."

This piece of human wastage offers this advice to his fellow citizens:

• Don't snitch on others just to save yourself. "Stop snitching is for those guys out there ... selling more drugs than Noriega, and their only out is to tell on somebody. ... If a (criminal) wants to be a Good Samaritan, OK. But send (him) to jail. Don't give him immunity to do what he wants on the street."
• witnesses have no obligation to help police. "Do your job — you're the police. ... I've been wronged by the system. Do you think I would help the system? ... Do cops snitch on other cops?"
• The authorities can't protect witnesses. "What's happening to the innocent witness? They get dead or ... terrorized for life."
• Sometimes you must right wrongs yourself. "I'm a man, and I can handle my own situations like a man. ... I've done dirt. I'll admit that. So I can't run to the police."

And so, better the guilty go free (as long as they're my homies-- if they're my enemies, I'll exact street justice) than the evil cops get an arrest.

Item: U.S. Congress"person" Cynthia McKinney bypasses a security checkppoint at the Capital, is not wearing her identifying pin, and when she is stopped by an officer saying "ma'am, ma'am" proceeds to assault the officer. Her take? In a press conference, McKinney told reporters, "Let me be clear. This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman." Her support group consisted of "Lethal Weapon" Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte. Her lawyer opined that she was "just a victim of being in Congress while black. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, like thousands of average Americans across this country, is, too, a victim of the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials because of how she looks and the color of her skin," This is not the first time she has pulled the ole race card out against Capitol police doing their jobs to protect the Capitol by making sure only authorized individuals are allowed through checkpoints.

[UPDATE: to her credit, Ms. McKinney has apologized for the incident, even while a grand jury considers whether to indict her for the assault]

Item: Some lawyers with an agenda and a hatred for the police try to perpetuate the myth that if one officer is bad, "this is how these guys think." Or "to really understand what it's actually like to deal with cops, watch" one officer deal rudely with a media plant playing "gotcha" with the police department. Of course, this same defense lawyer swoons over seeing and meeting Bill Clinton while hobnobbing with the New York social set, so perhaps he does belong to another America than most of us. But the penchant for broad-brush smears doesn't stop with the police: he also thinks that if one prosecutor does something bad, then "prosecutors do it all the time." Never mind that if one were to say "look at that [member of ethnic group A] dealing crack. [Members of that ethic group] do it all the time. To understand [ethnic group A], just watch this crack dealer," this person would have a fainting spell and need his smelling salts.

One might excuse a defense lawyer, since lawyers don't often view reality like most people do. After all, if 99% of your clients are guilty and you have yourself wrapped up personally in their cases, of course you want to blame society, or the police, or the prosecutors, or the Republicans, or whomever. It makes you feel so much better about representing the 99 guilty if you can make yourself (and try to make everyone else) focus on the 1 case in a hundred where a mistake is made in getting the right person arrested.

It's not surprising, however lamentable it may be. Logic, after all, is one of those constructs of dead white males and shouldn't shackle the passionate paragons of self-professed enlightenment personified by these examples.


WAR187 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

As Americans, it is very important to jump to conclusions, even before an indictment or conviction and condemn people and insist that they apologize.

Not everyone thinks that wearing a badge or a laminated ID tag is really cool. Some people consider it a nuisance and would just rater get to work.

Anonymous said...

I just cannot get over Mr. McKenna ragging on David Feige. They are like two five year olds, chasing each other around the school yard swapping kisses and throwing dirt clods at each other - I'll bet they grow up to get married in a quiet civil ceremony in Massachusetts.
Mr. McKenna cannot recognize that he paints the "opposition" with just as broad and ridiculous a brush as Feige. Just look as his post about funding for court-appointed attorneys or his knee-jerk rants about the drug-legalization movement. He is a caricature.

Faithmy said...

So many anons, so few rational moments......

Anonymous said...

Tom, I think that you may be making a few errors. In many jurisdictions, an attorney-client relationship is established before an initial appearance is made by the defendant. At that appearance, prosecutors announce their changing decisions, and often decide not to prosecute the defendants. (Although they may have spent up to 72 hours in jail, most of them are poor and/or black, so the prosecutors figure that they don’t have anything else to do with their time. This is “reality” as a prosecutor once stated it to me.) But, of these people whose cases are dismissed (which account for about 30% of the dockets in some places), attorney-client relationships have been established with people that are actually innocent (or at least as innocent as our system can determine), even BEFORE a plea is entered.

Of the remained, charges are often dropped at a later date, and some are even acquitted at trial, making the number much lower than 99%. Of course, this number varies by jurisdiction and type of crime.

I don’t think that most lawyers have a “hatred” of the police. But they do have some bad experiences with some cops lying. They also think that some police tactics are unfair, and probably motivated by racism or some other improper motive. I don’t know if this constitutes “hate” or not, but it extends to just the behavior of one officer. These are perceived systemic problems. (In fact, I should note that many public defenders in New York actually support some of the police union’s positions regarding salaries, simply because paying cops more will result in less psychos running around the streets with a badge.)

Anonymous said...

One of your correspojdents is right.It is a contest between the two Americas. Let every coment begin with a stratement whether the writer believes in the social order as it exists. If he does not, there is nothing to discuss. If he does, then we are talking about improving the administration of justice.McKenna would agree with that and the discussion could be more useful. It would also weed out those who consciously choose chaos.

jimleemck said...

There are two Americas. It might help the discussion if each commenter stated up front whether he supports our system of justice. If he doesn't, there is nothing to discuss. He votes for chaos. If he does, we are talking about improving the system. McKenna woulod agree with that, and we could seek to improve without contaminating the work in progress.
That is now the stance of those who choose chaos. There is still good and evil. Those who support the good have a right to be heard, even more than those who support evil.