Friday, April 13, 2007

The Duke Rape Case

(For those living in a cave. Or in other countries, I guess.)

The prosecutor's behavior was outrageous. He and the accuser should be prosecuted. The people in the press and at Duke who jumped on the bandwagon against the boys were in the wrong.

But spare me your faux-outrage, conservatives.

Radley Balco (a libertarian blogger and FOXNews.com contributor) has a great response to this idiotic statement by Glenn Reynolds:
In the conventional imagination, it used to be -- see To Kill a Mockingbird or reports of the Scottsboro rape trial -- that it was the noble fairness-obsessed lefties who supported due process against the ignorant right-wing hicks who tried to lynch people out of a mixture of racism, political opportunism borne of racism, journalistic sensationalism, and sheer meanness. Now the hats have switched. That's worth noting.

Balco's response:
I'm not left-wing or right-wing (though I've been accused of both).

But the reason why the narrative for most of the last century has been that of noble, left-wing ACLU and NAACP lawyers coming to the aid of black people wrongly accused by racist white people is because for most of the last century, that's the way it has actually happened. Over and over and over. And I'm not just talking about the Jim Crow era. See Tulia. Or Hearne. Or the dozens of people freed by the liberal lawyers at the Innocence Project.

And let's not go overboard in heaping praise on the Duke players' more conservative defenders. Reynolds is an honest-to-goodness civil libertarian. So I don't include him in this. But to hear law-and-order right-wingers like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, or the Powerline crew scream about prosecutoral excess, the rights of the accused, and political opportunism on the part of a prosecutor these past few months really strained all credulity. Yes. I'd love to think their interest in this case was motivated solely by their sense of justice. But come on. Does anyone not think the race and class of the accused, the race and class of the accuser, and the politics of feminism and anti-feminism had something to do with their sudden embrace of and familiarity with NACDL talking points?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe these conservatives have gotten religion. Maybe in the future, O'Reilly, Hannity, & Co. will actually make a cause celebre about cases where the accused aren't rich white kids with high-paid attorneys accused of raping a poor black woman. I'm skeptical.

8 comments:

Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

But come on. Does anyone not think the race and class of the accused, the race and class of the accuser, and the politics of feminism and anti-feminism had something to do with their sudden embrace of and familiarity with NACDL talking points?

Of course is does, and it's the media's fault. They're the one who jumped on this story and portrayed at as privileged white kids vs. the poor black woman. They hyped this story like crazy because it fit in exactly with their own notions of race-politics.

Ezzie said...

What CWY said, basically.

Part of why this story is such a big one for conservatives now is that even when it seemed obvious to be false, it was still pushed by the media as a big story for that very reason. The reverse argument is "hey, you jumped at this because of race, and that's ridiculous. Judge cases on merits, not color."

Jewish Atheist said...

The media, for the most part, jumped on the story because it's man-bites-dog vs. dog-bites-man. I (and Balco) already agreed that those who jumped on this case were very much in the wrong.

But you and CWY are not addressing my point, which is, why are conservatives up in arms when this happens to rich, white kids because they are rich white kids, as opposed to when it happens to poor black kids because they are poor black kids.

At least the rich white kids got great lawyers. If they had public defendants and the case wern't national news, they might all be in jail today.

And what of the hypocrisy regarding "anti-terrorism" policy? There, "conservatives" spend all their time arguing that we should just trust the government to imprison all the right people without trial and to only tap phones of people who really deserve it, etc. The irony is that all of the sudden when it's rich white kids being railroaded, conservatives are outraged about the lack of due process, etc. Conservatives who would probably do away with Miranda rights if they could.

Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

But you and CWY are not addressing my point, which is, why are conservatives up in arms when this happens to rich, white kids because they are rich white kids, as opposed to when it happens to poor black kids because they are poor black kids.

At least the rich white kids got great lawyers. If they had public defendants and the case wern't national news, they might all be in jail today.


If this had been poor black kids, then the whole story would have played out differently. Yeah, they would have been arrested, but the media wouldn't have hyped the story, and the prosecutor wouldn't think he'd score political points by pursuing the case even after it was quite clear that there was no case. Then the poor black kids would have been quietly releases when the charges were quickly dropped.

JA, this wasn't just another case were someone was wrongly accused, and you know it.

And what of the hypocrisy regarding "anti-terrorism" policy? There, "conservatives" spend all their time arguing that we should just trust the government to imprison all the right people without trial and to only tap phones of people who really deserve it, etc. The irony is that all of the sudden when it's rich white kids being railroaded, conservatives are outraged about the lack of due process, etc.

There's no hypocrisy- it's well known that conservatives think that fighting terrorism shouldn't be subject to the same rules as law enforcement.

Our criminal justice system is built on the notion that it's better to let 10 guilty people go free than to imprison one innocent person. Even conservatives believe that. But they don't want that standard to apply to terrorism, the risks are simply too high.

Conservatives who would probably do away with Miranda rights if they could. Yeah, probably. Miranda v. Arizona was a terrible decision, but the controversy over it is pretty settled. No one at this point is looking to overturn the decision.

Jewish Atheist said...

If this had been poor black kids, then the whole story would have played out differently.

This particular story, yes. But don't you think there are hundreds of cases all over the country where poor blacks get a bad deal out of the justice system because of bias combined with bad public attorneys? Where is the conservative outrage there? Where were the conservatives when it was coming out that blacks who kill whites were disproportionately likely to get the death penalty, for example?

JA, this wasn't just another case were someone was wrongly accused, and you know it.

I agree, of course. But prosecutors do this sort of thing all over the country with the races reversed so that they can look "tough on crime" and get re-elected. And you know that. :-)

Your point about terrorists vs. criminals is a fair one. It's not hypocritical, per se, although I strongly disagree.

Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

This particular story, yes. But don't you think there are hundreds of cases all over the country where poor blacks get a bad deal out of the justice system because of bias combined with bad public attorneys? Where is the conservative outrage there?

There's a difference between someone getting a bad deal because of poor representation and someone getting screwed because of a renegade DA. I can't think of any case in recent memory where it was so clear to the DA that the accused was innocent, yet the case still went forward.

Where were the conservatives when it was coming out that blacks who kill whites were disproportionately likely to get the death penalty, for example?

That just means that we need to execute more white criminals.

I agree, of course. But prosecutors do this sort of thing all over the country with the races reversed so that they can look "tough on crime" and get re-elected. And you know that. :-)

No I don't. Show me a case in recent history where the prosecutor knew the accused was innocent, yet still proceeded with the case and held press conferences denouncing the accused.

asher said...

You are all right. As soon as the accuser faces charges for filing false charges, and the DA is disbarred from practicing law (much like Clinton was) we will all agree that justice has been done.

beepbeepitsme said...

Poor people are more likely to get a crap deal from the legal system. Poor people are more likely to get crap medical care as well.

Historically prisons are the place to store poor people. They are mostly poor before they went in and they are mostly poor when and if they get out. (Unless they secure a book deal.)

The reality is that poor people do not have access to the justice system in the same way that the rich do.

How many rich people do you see in jail for parking violations? None that I know of. Does it mean that rich people don't accrue parking violations? Nope. It means they have the clout to either have them waived or that they have the funds to pay them.

Of course, my views are slightly coloured on this issue because I live in a country to which thousands of poor people were shipped, as the storage systems for the poor in England became overloaded. The next best solution was to ship the poor people somewhere else.

The rule has basically been the same, if you have enough money and enough political or social clout, you have a much better chance of avoiding prison than a poor person who committed a sinilar crime.