Recently in Social Factors Category

Way Beyond Unhinged

| No Comments
Criminal justice, sentencing, and police behavior  --  especially behavior toward African Americans  -- have become contentious issues.  As one would expect, they have shown up in the race for each party's Presidential nomination.  They have opened a window on (1) what treatment is given speakers with opposing viewpoints, and (2) what, in some circles, is considered an "opposing viewpoint."

The appalling state of play was summed up in this headline from CNN:  "O'Malley Apologizes for Saying 'All Lives Matter" at Liberal Conference."  The first three paragraphs of this extremely depressing story are:

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley apologized on Saturday for saying "All lives matter" while discussing police violence against African-Americans with liberal demonstrators.

Several dozen demonstrators interrupted the former Maryland governor while he was speaking here at the Netroots Nation conference, a gathering of liberal activists, demanding that he address criminal justice and police brutality. When they shouted, "Black lives matter!" a rallying cry of protests that broke out after several black Americans were killed at the hands of police in recent months, O'Malley responded: "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."

The demonstrators, who were mostly black, responded by booing him and shouting him down. 

When the President of the United States hypes racial grievance at every turn, this is what you get.

What Happens When We Lose Our Nerve

| No Comments
What happens is that we return to past failures.  An article in Quadrant begins:

Welcome to the 1970s! In New York, anyway, one of the decades Tom Wolfe denominated "purple" has made a stunning comeback. Consider crime. After a precipitous decline that began under the mayoralty of Rudy Giuliani and continued under Michael Bloomberg, violent crime has soared in the city. From May 2014 to the end of May this year, shootings increased almost 10 per cent while murders jumped a stunning 19.5 per cent during the same period. Meanwhile, Central Park has once again become a haven for thieves and muggers. "Police are investigating another mugging in Central Park," begins a May 20 story in the New York Post, "the latest in a string of robberies that has residents on edge."

It continues:

The centrepiece of Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign in 2013 was a promise to end one of the most effective weapons against violent crime: "stop and frisk", the practice by the police of stopping, questioning and, in some cases, frisking suspicious characters. De Blasio wanted to end the practice because the overwhelming majority of those stopped and frisked were Black. The reason for this was that the overwhelming majority of suspicious characters that the police encountered were Black, but that reality did not prevent de Blasio from pretending that the practice was inexcusably racist. Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly warned that "people would suffer" if the prophylactic practice was abandoned. No matter. It was too good an opportunity for a left-wing demagogue to ignore.

I don't subscribe to everything the author argues, but I very much subscribe to the underlying thesis:  If we turn away from standards, and the enforcement of standards, that made life safer and better, it will return to being more dangerous and worse.

The Destruction of Baltimore

| No Comments
Actions have consequences.  So do failures to act.

When rioters smashed their way through Baltimore, supposedly as an exercise of First Amendment "protest," Mayor Rawlings-Blake chirped that they would be given "space to destroy."  They heard her loud and clear, and took advantage.  The police stood down.  

The cynical among us believe, however, that the "protesters" were less interested in the First Amendment than in just looting.  Not being dummies, among the most coveted items for them were the drug supplies of smashed-in pharmacies.

Now those drugs are fueling a turf war among traffickers, much increased drug abuse, and --  guess what  --  a murder spree unlike anything Baltimore has seen in decades.

If you think, however, that this will change the narrative that the whole problem is racism, cops, and thuggish prosecutors using mandatory minimum sentences, you haven't been keeping up with Al Sharpton and his enablers in Congress and academia.
No, they aren't.  

And this goes beyond the fact that the Police Commissioner, the Mayor, the Chairman of the City Council, and a goodly chunk of the police force are black.

Liberal African American columnist Colber I. King points the finger elsewhere:

Births to teen mothers; families headed by single women; violent crime; where police recorded gunshots; people age 25 and older without high school diplomas; the unemployed; people living below the poverty line; and welfare and food stamp recipients.

So is the answer more welfare programs, fifty years of which have brought Baltimore to its present state?

A Culture of Shirking

| 1 Comment
I don't recall specific episodes at the moment, but I know I have seen instances where, when there was some horrendous accident in, say, Japan, Taiwan or somewhere else in the Far East, the person responsible and/or the head of the company makes a public apology. He admits wrongdoing and seeks (or sometimes begs) the forgiveness of those he has injured. The concept of responsibility, shame and remorse still has meaning.

I thought of that when I read the following excerpts from the reporting of attempts to interview the engineer of the Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring about 200:

What was Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian doing and thinking when his speeding train careened off the rails in Philadelphia, killing eight people and sending over 200 more to the hospital?

He can't say.

That's what Bostian's lawyer told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, saying his client "has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the events" after losing consciousness in the crash Tuesday night.

"He remembers coming into the curve (and) attempting to reduce speed," the attorney, Robert Goggin, said.

The Real "Root Cause"

| No Comments
We have heard a good deal about the "root cause" of the Baltimore riots, not to mention a great deal of other criminal behavior.  Thomas Sowell sets the record straight:

You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization -- including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility, and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain -- without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state -- and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves. 

One key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994. Behavior matters and facts matter...

Satire vs. Reality

| 1 Comment
Kent posted earlier today about how difficult it has become to tell satire from reality. His subject was what remains of freedom of speech on campus.

In a matter of hours, I stumbled across the following.  It's from a New Age piece about how we can fix inequality.  The basic suggestion is that we should abolish the family, since childhood experience tells much of the tale about where a kid will wind up, and where he winds up is likely to be unequal to where some other kid winds up. And no, this is not something I imagined.  Unfortunately, it's not satire, either:

One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.'

'What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn't need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people's children'. . .

'The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don't--the difference in their life chances--is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don't,' he says.

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion--that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted.

This kind of stuff is enough to make Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby look sober.

Root Causes and Baltimore

| No Comments
William McGurn has this column in the WSJ:

There is another view. In this view, the disaster of inner cities isn't primarily about race at all. It's about the consequences of 50 years of progressive misrule--which on race has proved an equal-opportunity failure.

Baltimore is but the latest liberal-blue city where government has failed to do the one thing it ought--i.e., put the cops on the side of the vulnerable and law-abiding--while pursuing "solutions" that in practice enfeeble families and social institutions and local economies.

These supposed solutions do this by substituting federal transfers for fathers and families. They do it by favoring community organizing and government projects over private investment. And they do it by propping up failing public-school systems that operate as jobs programs for the teachers unions instead of centers of learning.

In her New York Post column, "The Perilous New Push to Excuse Lawlessness," Heather MacDonald brilliantly sums up the racial demagoguery actually at work under the guise of criminal justice "reform":

[A] wide-ranging movement is already under way to transform the criminal justice system in order to avoid a disparate impact on blacks. This push will jeopardize the country's two-decade-long crime drop.

The pretext for the current decriminalization movement is the half-dozen highly publicized deaths of blacks in encounters with police over the past nine months, including the recent case of Freddie Gray in Baltimore....

The criminal justice pendulum is swinging against personal responsibility and toward the use of race and poverty as an excuse for noncompliance with the law....

[A] two-tiered system of justice that winks at lawlessness when it is committed by officially favored victim groups will make life miserable for the millions of law-abiding residents of poor communities and erode the public-safety gains from proactive policing.

The Ghost Game

| No Comments
For the first time in major league history, a game will be played before an audience of zero.

The Baltimore Orioles decided that, given the riots, arson and looting, it was too risky to have fans at the ballpark for the game this afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.

The Washington Post reports, inter alia:

The decision to play in an empty ballpark will cost the Orioles revenue: no ticket sales, no concessions, no parking. The first two games of the series against the White Sox, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. starts Monday and Tuesday nights, have been postponed, and the club announced it will make up those games in a 4:05 p.m. doubleheader on May 28 at Camden Yards.

Of course, it's not just the Orioles who will lose revenue.  It's the dozens of people  -- generally not people at the top of the economic ladder  --  who man the concession stands and carry hot dogs, ice cream and drinks up and down the aisles for sale to the fans.

Those losses will barely count among all the other, more appalling ones, that have come from this lawlessness.   But those people work for their money.  So, even if their losses don't count with The Elite, they will count with me.
The WSJ has this editorial, titled The Blue-City Model with the above subhead.  Here is the portion on-point for this blog:

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.

Let's take them in order. The first and most important responsibility of any city government is to uphold law and order. When the streets are unsafe and crime is high, everything else--e.g., getting businesses to invest and create jobs--becomes next to impossible.

People also start voting with their feet. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has stated that one of her goals is to attract 10,000 families to move to Baltimore. Good luck with that after Monday night.

It's not that we don't know what to do. Rudy Giuliani proved that in New York City, which he helped to revive in the 1990s starting with a revolution in policing that brought crime rates to record lows. A good part of this was policing in areas that had previously been left to the hoodlums.

His reward (and that of his successor, Mike Bloomberg, who built on Mr. Giuliani's policies) was to become a villain of the liberal grievance industry and a constant target of attack. Few blue-city mayors elsewhere have been willing to take that heat.

Why Culture Is More Important than Law

| No Comments
And why strong parents are more important than every entitlement program and every Public Defender's office ever invented.

Watch one of the few encouraging things to come out of the Baltimore meltdown.

Painting the Criminal as Victim

Anyone who spent as much time as I did watching allocution knows how routine it is for defense counsel to try to turn the client into the victim.  In a sense, I don't blame them.  What else are they going to say?  They can't very well just tell the plain truth  --  that the client did it because he gets his kicks hurting people and thinks rules are for suckers.  That's not the world's most persuasive pitch for leniency.

It's thus one thing, and understandable, for defense counsel, and the culture in which criminal defense takes root, to make this sort of argument.  It's another when anyone else buys it, much less makes a fetish of it.  But that's what happened in a fairly prominent case last week in Minnesota, in which six Somali immigrants were arrested for plotting to join the world's most notorious throat-slitters, ISIS.

In a remarkable statement, US Attorney Andrew Luger said that the plot was "a Minnesota problem."  That claim is false, if not absurd; the "appeal" of joining ISIS has nothing to do with, and is scarcely limited to, Minnesota.

The problem is that the US Attorney's statement goes beyond mere absurdity.  It pulls back the curtain on the extent to which the culture of criminal-as-victim has permeated Obama's Justice Department.

Accusing the police of racially-motivated abuse has become a favorite indoor sport. As the title of this entry suggests, the most prominent recent episode by far was the malicious and fake accusation that white police officer Darren Wilson murdered a peaceful and compliant Michael Brown simply because Brown was a teenage African American.  It turns out that the accusation was concocted, but it got plenty of currency, including from the Attorney General (until his own Justice Department, months later, quietly debunked it).

As ever undeterred by the truth, the Cops-Are-Klansmen industry keeps right on going. The latest episode I've learned about was this case, in which a rich Hollywood actress accused the cops of  --  you'll never guess  --  racially profiling her son.

As it turns out, the son is a small-time druggie and made up the story.  The actress at least had the decency promptly to apologize to the police.  Would that some MSNBC hosts had the same scruples.


A Culture of Rape or a Culture of Lies?

| No Comments
According to multiple sources, including this ABC News piece, the sensational story of a sadistic gang rape by (white, let's not forget that) frat boys is unsupported by any substantive evidence.  In other words, after searching for months, the police couldn't find a single witness or a single piece of forensic evidence to support the story.  Zip. The ABC article begins (emphasis added);

A five-month police investigation into an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, described in graphic detail in a Rolling Stone article, showed no evidence the attack took place and was stymied by the accuser's unwillingness to cooperate, authorities said Monday.

The article entitled "A rape on campus" traced the story from a student identified only as "Jackie," who said she was raped at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on September, 28, 2012. Police said there were numerous discrepancies between the article and what they found in their investigation.

"All I can tell you is that there is no substantive basis to conclude that what was reported in that article happened," Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said.

Longo said Jackie first described a sexual assault in May 2013 when she met with a dean about an academic issue, but "the sexual act was not consistent with what was described" in the Rolling Stone article. When she met with police, she didn't want them to investigate the alleged assault.

She also refused to talk to police after the article was printed in November and ignited the national conversation about sexual assaults on college campuses. 

Ah, yes, our old friend the "national conversation."

Monthly Archives