September 24, 2007

Jena... maybe everyone's wrong.

Jeralynn Merritt of TalkLeft tries to sort through what we know of Jena. Orin Kerr responds:
Based on her summary, it looks like we don't yet have clear evidence of racial discrimination in the charging decisions. There were two charging decisions that seem questionable, but we don't yet have the context to know why they were made. Perhaps we'll get that evidence in time, but I don't think we have it yet.
These are very complicated (and conflicting) reports, strained through high passions. It's important to keep a clear head and try to get a complete picture. And don't forget that you don't have to choose sides. It's possible for everyone to be wrong.

ADDED: The last line of this post got the song "For What It's Worth" playing in my head: "There's something happening here/what is is ain't exactly clear... Nobody's right if everybody's wrong."

32 comments:

Gahrie said...

Based on what I can tell, everyone except the school principal seems to be at fault.

The biggest offenders at this point do appear to be the school board and the DA however.

elliot said...

"And don't forget that you don't have to choose sides. It's possible for everyone to be wrong."

The best quote ever.

Hope you don't mind that I'm gonna link to it.

Of course, you don't really need my traffic. ;)

Fritz said...

Gahrie,
You showed you hand, you bought the trope. The school board, the principal have nothing to do with Bell. The only reason they become part of the story is to create a justification to cry fowl. Mr. Bell remains in jail and properly so because he is a criminal, not because he is black.

Doyle said...

Shorter Althouse: "Lots of people are upset about this situation. You shouldn't be."

paul a'barge said...

Why does the Orin Kerr link take you to a Wikipedia page about a cross?

Bender said...

It's possible for everyone to be wrong.

Well, if everyone is wrong, then those who say that everyone is wrong must necessarily also be wrong. Please let's not go down the road of such silly illogical absurdities.

Truth exists. There is a truth out there. Someone out there knows that truth. So, let us not suggest that there is no truth and that everyone is wrong. Someone out there is right -- but, as usual, it most certainly is not the racial hucksters and elite intelligentsia.

paul a'barge said...

Lots of people are upset about this situation. You shouldn't be.

Any time a criminal with a history of violence is given leniency because a trade is enacted based on the color of the skin of the criminal, everyone should be upset.

If you're not, you should be upset at your own lack of morality.

Danny said...

"And don't forget that you don't have to choose sides. It's possible for everyone to be wrong."

That's what my racist grandad said/still says about MLK Jr. and George Wallace.

Palladian said...

Doyle doesn't believe anything he writes, he just likes insulting Althouse.

This story, to borrow a concept from PJ O'Rourke, is like a knowledge subtracter; the more I read about it, the less I know. It's shaping up to be some sort of Southern Gothic/Spike Lee version of Rashomon.

Trooper York said...

Julio has been robbed overnight, and Fred saw the robbers but is refusing to cooperate]
Officer Smith: Mr. Sanford, by turning these men in, you give them the opportunity to be rehabilitated.
Fred Sanford: Yeah, but that'll give them the opportunity to have me decapitated!
(Sanford & Son)

davidc. said...

Here is a complete breakdown on the incident by someone in the community: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?AuthorID=17296&id=32967 I only think he gets the racism part wrong as there seems to be more black racism than white.

Trooper York said...

Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony
Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord, Why Don't We?

We All Know That People Are The Same Where Ever We Go
There Is Good And Bad In Ev'ryone,
We Learn To Live, We Learn To Give
Each Other What We Need To Survive Together Alive.

Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony
Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord Why Don't We?

Ebony, Ivory Living In Perfect Harmony
Ebony, Ivory, Ooh
(Two White Guys sitting at a Piano)

MrBuddwing said...

Bender: With all due respect, I find your reasoning faulty. You go from saying, "Truth exists" to saying "Someone out there is right," as if to imply that somebody must know the whole truth - we just don't know who it is yet.

The problem is, one statement does not automatically follow the other. I'm afraid Prof. Althouse is right - even though "truth exists," why is it mandatory that someone out there already possesses it?

I'm reminded of a story I heard in childhood about six blind men who were examining an elephant by touching different parts of the animal's body, and came up with six different descriptions of what an elephant is. By your logic, at least one of them had to be right - but the point of the story was, all six of them were wrong, or at least, all six had an incomplete picture of what an elephant is like.

Edgehopper said...

I'm reminded more of Hugh Laurie's protest song:

It's so easy, to see
If only they'd listen, to you and me.
We got to.. [ mumbles incoherently ] as fast as we can
We got to.. [ mumbles incoherently ] every woman, every man
We got to.. [ mumbles incoherently ] time after time
We got to.. [ mumbles incoherently ] vodka and lime.

Hazy Dave said...

Those wishing to learn more about the situation, rather than merely stating their opinions about race relations or media frenzies in general, should definitely read the article davidc. links above.

A funny thing about "For What It's Worth" is that it wasn't originally on Buffalo Springfield's first album. When it became a hit single, it was added to the second pressing, replacing "Baby Don't Scold Me". (The mono mix is far superior to the common stereo version, by the way, as demonstrated on the Buffalo Springfield Box Set.) There's another Stills song titled "Everybody's Wrong" on the album, too.

Cedarford said...

Jeralynn Merritt did a pretty good job boosting her credibility in the Duke Rape Case by spurning the Lefty Metanarrative that of course whites are the guilty oppressors - and being objective.

She does a fairly good job starting her Jena inquiry that like Althouse and Kerr, she doesn't think the facts are yet coherent enough to make a good read of the case.

Her two conclusions so far I happen to disagree with.

1. It is wrong to charge a student with higher crimes than committed simply to get him into the adult system from juvenile justice. Because no kid should be tried as an adult. - I disagree because I think the prosecutor saw 6 dangerous, violent thugs that had 4 with extensive records almost kill a kid, could have killed the kid with the head stomping blows they aimed. And, for protection of the community, determined the 6 must be removed from a juvenile justice system that failed to stop their violent actions.

(And without facts, it is difficult to know if ANOTHER reason exists. Two of the Jena 6 are rumored to have priors for arson and are suspects in the arson investigation regarding the burned down high school - a pretty big deal, I imagine..that happened just days before the Jena 6 almost killed someone)

2. "Failure to prosecute the white who got a gun while prosecuting the 3 blacks that were in an altercation with him was racist." I disagree with Jeralynn in that she came to a judgement in a matter she warned about in an opposite way to start her post - that the facts are unknown. Her judgement appears to be skewed by Jeralynn's belief of proper behavior - that use of a gun is wrong if someone can flee attackers, and just displaying a weapon should be a criminal act. Maybe in her state, but not there. It is allowed to stand your ground, display a weapon if you feel threatened with significant bolidy injury, and not have to try to flee from people that menace you. (Especially standout athletes you are highly unlikely to outrun)

As this case goes on, because the black grievance industry will keep it alive, 3 key areas need to be scrutinized for more details:

1. The police and DOJ investigation of the "nooses". Hate crime? Or are rumors the nooses were painted in school colors and hung as part of a "school spirit" thing for a theme "Hang the Cowboys!" for an upcoming football game. If the investigation determined that the two racial attacks on whites in days after that were tied to nooses...it took a week after the September attacks for a local black activist to complain about "the nooses".

2. Burning down the only high school in a small town is a fairly big deal. It provides context to the Jena 6 attack because the attack followed what must have been a massive trauma to the citizens and taxpayers of Jena and the major crimes arson investigation is ongoing.

3. If the Jena 6 had any members that tried excusing their actions, pinning the attack on "nooses compelled us to" in initial questioning or witness testimony. Or this was an excuse their lawyers came up with later. If any Jena 6 were offered a deal that charges would be reduced if they had info on the school arson.

Trooper York said...

Shaft: Warms my black heart to see you so concerned 'bout us minority folks.

Lt. Androzzi: Oh, come on, Shaft, what is it with this black shit, huh?(Holding a black pen to Shaft's face) You ain't so black!

Shaft:
(Holding a white coffee cup to Androzzi's face) And you ain't so white, baby.

(Shaft,They say this cat Shaft is a bad mutha...-Shut yo' mouth!But I'm talkin' about Shaft...we can dig it.)

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry about the botched link. Fixed.

"That's what my racist grandad said/still says about MLK Jr. and George Wallace."

Did Martin Luther King ever sneak up on a guy from behind, knock him unconscious and then kick him in the head?

I'm sorry, but the guys who did that attack seem to have committed a serious crime and deserve punishment. The criminals don't go free because the prosecutor screwed up. And the criminals don't go free because other people committed crimes on other occasions.

ricpic said...

Race trumps everything. Six of ours beat up one of theirs? Ours are right because...because...whitey deserves it!

Eli Blake said...

Note: I wrote on this last June before it became a big media event and everyone got involved, right here and in the process linked to both the original article by a white preacher from Jena which caused it to spring into the national media, as well as to another article by the same (conservative, evangelical) preacher in which he acknowleged that there is a race divide but says he was misquoted in the original article. Since I wrote it before the whole thing became politicized I think it is a fairly balanced post, though I am in general a liberal blogger.

The overarching issue I see here at the moment is not that the assailants committed assault-- they did, but the double standard of justice based on race that exists across the South. It's why these kids, who comitted an assault (and should be charged with the same, and likely in juvenile court to begin with) were instead charged with attempted murder in adult court, while as we saw in the other case, white kids who are charged in similar cases get minor or no punishment. Also, note that in Georgia, Genarlow Wilson is still expected to serve 10 years in prison and register as a sex offender because as a minor, he had oral sex with a girl who was two years younger than he was (which also raises two questions-- 1. would he have been prosecuted for consensual high school sex if he was white? and 2. why are teenage girls never prosecuted for having sex with teenage boys, while for him it was a felony?)

Revenant said...

It's why these kids, who comitted an assault (and should be charged with the same, and likely in juvenile court to begin with) were instead charged with attempted murder in adult court, while as we saw in the other case, white kids who are charged in similar cases get minor or no punishment.

Two things:

(1): A white kid getting into a fist fight with a black kid at a party is not "similar" to six black kids kicking an unconscious white kid and sending him to the hospital.

(2): At least some of the black kids had prior convictions for violent crimes. So far as we know the white kids didn't. Priors facto in to determining both what charges a DA brings (he's more likely to throw the book at a habitual thug than a first-time offender) and into what sentence is handed down upon conviction.

You're comparing white apples and black oranges here.

blake said...

Eli,

If you've been following this longer, perhaps you have sources that are at least less tainted than the rest of us.

Care to share? I see a lot of "he said/she said" stuff but little I would feel comfortable with were I sitting on a jury.

Danny said...

"I'm sorry, but the guys who did that attack seem to have committed a serious crime and deserve punishment. The criminals don't go free because the prosecutor screwed up. And the criminals don't go free because other people committed crimes on other occasions."

Of course they deserve punishment. The same punishment a white person would get. I know it kills you to side with Al Sharpton and all those nutty liberals you left behind in Madison but the other option, the level-headed compromise you seem to fetishize, is little more than pretending that racism ended with Brown v. Board.

Revenant said...

Of course they deserve punishment. The same punishment a white person would get.

No -- the same punishment a white person SHOULD get.

If white criminals are getting off lightly, justice is not satisfied by letting black criminals off lightly. It is satisfied by fixing the problems that are leading to white criminals escaping justice. Letting black criminals off easy doesn't solve anything -- it just makes matters worse.

Thought experiment: say some white racists lynch a black man and are freed by the racist white jury. Will justice then be served by freeing the next black man to murder an innocent white guy?

If, like Sharpton, you see justice in strictly racist terms, where all blacks are indistinguishable from one another and all whites similarly so, then yes -- justice is served, as each race loses 1 person and sees 1 criminal go free.

If, like me, you see justice in color-blind terms, then no. Letting the black murderer go free simply means that two acts of gross injustice has been committed, and everyone is worse off for it.

Too many jims said...

The criminals don't go free because the prosecutor screwed up. And the criminals don't go free because other people committed crimes on other occasions.

I agree with this sentiment, to a point. But if the prosecutor has screwed things up so badly in the community that (1) a black person believes that whites can commit crimes against whites without recourse and (2) a white person threatens a black person in such a way that the black person believes the threat and believes the white person can get away with it then I think the black person would be justified in taking whatever actions are necessary to prevent or discourage the white person from committing the threatened act.

I have no idea if the prosecutor screwed up that bad, if the "jena-6" believed he screwed up that bad nor what was said to them.

Paco Wové said...

"Did Martin Luther King ever sneak up on a guy from behind, knock him unconscious and then kick him in the head?"

And how do you know he didn't? Answer me that, lawyer lady.

Oh, and I hear Mohandas K. was a pretty mean drunk, too. Little guy, but he'd cold-cock you in a heartbeat.

MrBuddwing said...

And how do you know he didn't? Answer me that, lawyer lady.

'Cause J. Edgar Hoover would have been on it in a second.

theMickey's said...

I found this interesting, sorta...

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/columnists/jason_whitlock/story/284511.html

Paco Wové said...

I was hoping you'd respond in the spirit of the comment, Mr. Buddwing. E.g., "'Cause J. Edgar Hoover would have been on it like a cheap cocktail dress."

But, alas.

MrBuddwing said...

Sorry, Paco. I generally don't write like Mickey Spillane. Or Dan Rather, for that matter.

Trooper York said...

And white people say I suck!
(Blackula 1972)

mark said...

I don't know, when you target a person to beat unconscious solely because he has a different color skin than yours, doesn’t that become a text book hate crime? And how can a protester, claim the moral higher ground when the people they are defending are guilty of the very kind of racial violence being opposed?
And so what if the white kids wanted meet around a tree? Don't Caucasians have a right to free assembly? Was it the “white tree” that the black students were protesting, or were they imposing themselves to deny others, not of the same color, a constitutional right to meet? That does not make the DA or the Principle, or the town innocent---some common sense, a good talk and some community service on both sides could have prevented this.