Everyone has it Backward
I suppose it's about time I said something about the Jena Six case. I don't read the news as closely as I used to and only found out about the case through Facebook, when one of my "friends" (whom I've never met, but never mind) signed up for a group supporting the perversely-named "civil rights" protestors.
- The Jena 6 are a lynchmob, and public opinion defends them for this reason. This is a line I stole from Guy Herbert in a comment thread on Samizdata. Of course I was outraged that anyone was defending what amounted to a racially-motivated beating, but that particular irony hadn't occurred to me until I read Herbert's comment. He's exactly right, though. The Jena 6 beat up a white kid to "put him in his place" after he expressed "the wrong attitude" toward black people. In the eyes of public opinion, this is all (at least partly) justified because three completely-unrelated people who also happened to be white strung some nooses from a tree several months earlier. So yes, this is a lynchmob attack to the letter of the definition - and the so-called "civil rights movement" (which is misnamed in precisely the same sense as the "German Democratic Republic" or "Pravda" (Russian: truth)) has finally reached apogee in terms of absurd Orwellian self-parody.
- The case is revealing about the depth to which anti-Southern bias exists in the public consciouness. Another commenter on Samizdata pooh-poohs the idea that the charges against the Jena 6 could have been just because "Thank heavens we can rely on police in the South to be impartial in racially charged situations. LOL" I take issue with this, I'm afraid. Southen cops had a well-deserved reputation for racism 40 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then. I have no idea what the situation on the ground in Jena, LA is. Knowing little about the surrounding events, I would have to say that it seems plausible that the local justice system is racist simply judging from the fact that the 6 were originally charged with attempted murder for something that seems to be a run-of-the-mill bloodletting - i.e. nothing of the kind. Ganging up on someone 6-to-1 to beat him into the hospital is, and should be, a felony offense. But the 22 years these kids were facing was just off the charts, and I wouldn't be surprised if racism explains at least some of the local prosecutor's zeal. But whether or not the local law enforcement in Jena is racist is surely irrelevant to any conclusions to the effect that southerners in general are??? This is, after all, the same South that coughs up human dung like Mike Nifong - an opportunist who prosecuted his victims because they were white. In other words, the "South," just like any other region in the country, runs the gamut between pro-white racist, pro-black racist, and fair-and-impartial-non-racist law enforcement. So let's please keep our accusations of racism local - like we do when we're accusing the LA cops of racism (it was never suggested after Rodney King that "the West" was racist), or Boston cops of racism (I don't recall hearing in school that the desegregation riots in Boston ca 1975 fueled the general perception that "the North" is racist).
- Hate Crimes legislation is an absurdity, but as long as it's on the books it clearly applies to this case. If we're going to talk about a racially unbalanced administration of justice in America - which, thanks to the presence of race pimps like Al Sharpton in Jena this week, we apparently are - we need to talk about why these teens aren't being charged with a hate crime. Before I get misquoted on this - hate crimes legislation is (or should be) a legal absurdity in a free society. That is because hate crimes legislation punishes thought, something the law should not attempt to do. An assault on a person is not a greater violation of his rights because it was motivated by opinions that are unfashionable (however much free-thinking people may agree with the trend to condemn them). It is simply a violation of his rights - regardless of the motivation. So I do not want anyone charged with a hate crime in this case. But that is because I do not want people charged with hate crimes at all. That said, it is telling that no hate crimes charges are being contemplated in this case. If the law were applied fairly, they would be - because this is a "hate crime" in every sense of the term. What it means is: Sharpton's and Jackson's (and associated race-baiters') assertions to the contrary, public opinion in the United States is racially biased, it just happens that it's biased in the opposite way from what they say.
- I am really tired of people peppering their commentary on this and similar cases with sanctimonious proclamations of just how wrong it was to hang the noose in the first place. I mean, yeah, it was wrong, and the students were appropriately punished (which is to say, it is appropriate that they were punished, though I am in the camp that thinks that three days suspension is a bit light given the circumstances). High school students do things like this. There is no need for the kind of hyperbole that leads one of Samizdata's leading contributors to write: "I hope the fuckers who put up nooses to intimidate black people die a very long, painful death." Honestly, let's not get carried away. In what parallel universe is "a long and painful death" appropriate reward for hanging up offesnive and/or intimidating symbols? All anyone accomplishes with comments like this is to confirm that they can no longer think for themselves. They are so intimidated by the race-baiting lobby that saying things that will please them becomes more important than making intelligent contributions to the discussion. It really does remind one of Stalinism, where even the slightest practical suggestion for change would have to be prefaced by paragraphs convincing the relevant officials of one's overall loyalty. That's the only function such hyperbole ever serves - to convince the brayers that you're a team player overall. But why does anyone want to convince the likes of Sharpton and Jackson that they're team players? Don't feed the zoo animals - they'll just bite off your hand. No one in an intelligent discussion should have to convince the spectators that he's non-racist (especially not using these kinds of terms!) just for saying something Al Sharpton is likely to disapprove of. You should simply say your thing and wait for someone else to be obtuse enough to accuse you of racism (counterrevolution, being an enemy of the working class, whatever). And when they do, if you are not, in fact, racist, then you can get righteously indignant and respond appropriately. After all, you will have been falsely accused. But to volunteer this kind of slogan - well, it's just cowardly. Not that anyone's cowardice is any of my business - but I do think that this is the kind of thing that keeps Mr. Sharpton employed, and I object to it on those grounds. All such statements do is serve to prove that Al Sharpton and his ilk can still intimidate the public - essentially without trying. Would that they could not.