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“So what?”

27 Apr

How do you like them apples?

I am puzzled as to why racism is thought to be a terrible thing, rather than entirely natural and often reasonable, and why people allow themselves to be brow-beaten about it. Maybe we should stop. Domestic tranquility would follow in torrents.

As nearly as I can tell, a racist is one who approves of rigorous education, good English, civilized manners, minimal criminality, and responsible parenthood, among other things. I am, then, a racist. I see no reason to grovel about it.

I decided long ago that if, while I was doing a radio interview, a caller-in told me, “You a racist!” I would hesitate as if puzzled, and say “…So what?” This would add immeasurably to the planetary supply of stunned silence. The expectation is that anyone so charged will fall on his knees and beg for mercy. It would be a lesser offense to be caught sexually molesting autistic three-year-old girls while attending a Nazi torch-rally.

Herewith another and yet worse confession:: I do not see, or care, why it is thought my duty to like, or dislike, groups because of their race, creed, color, sex, sexual aberration, or national origin. Nor do I think it their duty to like me. I especially do not understand why the federal government should decide with whom I ought to associate.

But back to “So what?” Among its charms is that there is no answer to it, other than huffing and puffing and indignant expostulation. All of these amuse me. Used frequently, “So what?”would shut up people who badly need to shut up, or else force them to think. Not likely, as most apparently cannot.

Let us, improbably, glance at reality. A characteristic of human groups is that they do not like each other. The greater the difference between the groups, the greater the dislike; the closer the contact between them, the more open the friction. Note that before the advent of mass immigration, Americans of whatever politics had no dislike of Hispanics.

Thus separation increases the likelihood of amity. Is this not obvious? The instinctive rancor between disparate groups accounts for most of the world’s problems. Moslems and Christians dislike each other, Tamils and Sinhalese, Cambodians and Vietnamese, blacks and whites, Americans and Frenchmen, men and women, homosexuals and the normal and, as Tom Lehrer famously sang, “…everybody hates the Jews.”

Except that in America Jews are so assimilated that most of us don’t remember to hate them. They aren’t different enough. I’ll have to make myself a note.

Humans like to be among their own kind. This can mean many things. It can be political. In Washington, white liberals cheerlead for diversity while spending their time exclusively with white liberals and execrating Southerners, Jesus Creepers, genocidal conservatives (understood to mean all conservatives), Catholics, racists, owners of guns, rednecks, and so on. No dissenting voices are heard because, like conservatives, liberals choose to be among their own. Similarly, if in any of Washington’s dives you know that one person in a table of six has an IQ in excess 130, it is a good bet that all do. It isn’t snobbery. Smart people enjoy the company of smart people. Their own kind. So what?

If left alone, people will naturally and peacefully form such associations as seem to them desirable. If left alone. So what?

The Chinese cluster together in China Towns because they want to be among their own. So what? Jews have yeshivas because they want to preserve their culture. So what? On campus, black students want separate fraternities and dormitories. So what? When men can find a pretext for being among other men, they do. So what?

In all of this, I am a bit of an outlier, having lived among many cultures and generally liked them. Some can do this. Yet as a white American of European extraction, I too want to preserve my culture. This involves (or did) respect for law, studiousness, the production of children within marriage, self-reliance, honesty, sexual restraint, and so on. Another part of my cultural package is the literature of Milne, Milton, Twain, Galsworthy, Gibbon, and others at length. I want my children to read them

However, I do not want to impose my values and culture on others. American blacks for example are truly African Americans, and quite reasonably may have as little interest in European history as I do in African. Rationally this would argue for separate schools where each could study what and as it chose. For reasons impenetrable to me, to suggest this is thought worse than genocide.

A reason for letting people associate as they choose is that, while groups naturally do not like each other, they overlap in curious ways. Left to themselves, people sort these matters out like water reaching its level. When I lived in Washington I used to spend afternoons over a Bass and several of its friends at the Cafe Asia, on Wilson Boulevard just across Key Bridge into Virginia. The Asia was then staffed by Asian girls—Malays, Chinese, Vietnamese, and a lovely Japanese woman who managed it. The clientele ran to young white professionals.

Their unanimous opinion held of these women by white men was highly favorable. Why? Well, these young ladies—they were ladies–were sleek, pretty, classy, never toilet-mouthed, and smart. Smart: One was doing graduate work in computer security, another was a wide-area network engineer, a third had been unable to find work after a master’s in biochem, and so was in dental school.

Here we have an example of people, being left alone, deciding for themselves who to hang out with. The young white professionals had decided, probably not consciously, that the Asian women had enough in common with us, and enough not in common but appealing, that we really enjoyed them.

Where is the fly in this ointment? I suppose we were racists, as we were assuredly discriminating racially: We thought Malays pretty. The horror. No doubt we were sinners all.

Today of course we are federally admonished not to choose our own friends and neighbors as if our lives were our own business. No. Instead we must follow the social directives of the Potomac Soviet, whether anyone wants to or not. Few do. In Washington, on the Hill, upper Connecticut, the inner suburbs, the outer suburbs, everywhere, clubs and restaurants are either almost perfectly white or perfectly black. Whites happily patronize Latin American restaurants intended for the general trade, yet in mini-barrios many venues tacitly are for browns only. So what? It is how people want it. If freedom of association is racism, I am for it.

So what?

 

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Cohan the Barbarian Assaults the Truth (Again and Again)

27 Apr

When I picked up my new copy of William D. Cohan’s new book on the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case, The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities, I discovered that the book was very light, despite its large size. Indeed, if there is anything symbolic about that moment, it is that Cohan has written a very large book that is empty of substance.

(I will point out that he quotes an LRC blog post that I wrote on pages 409-410, and he quotes it in the right context. Unfortunately, he then draws conclusions that conflict with everything that I and other bloggers had been pointing out.)

For all of the praise this book receives from The Usual Suspects in publishing, i.e., the New York Times, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal, it is a book that defies logic, and takes known facts and either ignores them or tries to change them on the fly. While I already have reviewed this book, the fact that Cohan has about 700 pages of material means there is a lot of stuff I could not cover in one article, and as I go through material again and read articles countering Cohan’s claims, it becomes obvious that he has no intention of being reasonable or telling the truth, or at least a truth that might disagree with Michael Nifong’s version of “truth.”

Second, Cohan has been on a big publicity book tour, making the rounds on talk shows, and I had the “pleasure” of hearing him on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. (I say “pleasure” in the way that hemorrhoid surgery would be pleasant or having a dentist remove my wisdom teeth without using anesthesia.) Knowing this case as I do, I truly was stunned at what he said, not because he was sharing “new information,” but rather was taking established facts and twisting them in order to try to make the accused players seem to be guilty.

Before, I take on some of the most egregious errors that Cohan has made in both the book and on his recent book tour, let me urge readers to visit K.C. Johnson’s blog, Durham-in-Wonderland. K.C. and co-author Stuart Taylor wrote Until Proven Innocent, a detailed account of the case that is not filled with innuendo, half-truths, and interviews with disgraced and disbarred prosecutor Michael Nifong that try to make the man look to be credible. The popular blog daily skewers Cohan’s book and his talk-show comments, and K.C. pulls no punches, although his language always is restrained.

The fact that Cohan goes on talk show after talk show and makes unfounded declarations that Nifong is credible and “something happened in that bathroom” where the alleged rape supposedly took place invites a response from people who actually know a few things about the Duke Lacrosse Case. I’d like to think I am not beating a dead horse when I take on someone trying to resurrect every false notion about this case that supposedly was debunked when North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans to be “innocent” on April 11, 2007.

However, the truth of the case has come into direct conflict with the American Left, which never can accept the truth about anything should the truth go against their dearest beliefs and narratives. As I see it, Cohan is trying to rewrite the case’s history, and because he already is a darling of the set of New York literary folk that believe The New York Review of (Each Other’s) Books is a stronghold of truth and reasonable thinking, he is getting a near-free ride.

From what I can see, Cohan seems to be motivated by both leftist principles and by his disgust at the kind of behavior he sees from students at his alma mater Duke University. Indeed, I do share his disdain for the decadence that rules the modern campus of our citadels of higher learning, although I must admit that I am not shocked, SHOCKED at the logical results when the modern university makes promoting and enforcing the tenets of the Sexual Revolution front-and-center in its educational “mission.” We should expect decadence at places like Duke University when university officials openly hand out condoms, celebrate the utterly-decadent event called “Sex Week,” openly welcome the Sex Workers Show onto campus, and encourage students to be sexually active.

Furthermore, why should anyone be surprised that high-prices “elite” private universities like Duke are going to be populated mostly by the children of wealthy whites, since middle-class students and most minorities cannot afford to go there unless they receive vast amounts of financial aid? In our increasingly bureaucratized and stratified society, going to “the right school” is more significant to a student’s future than ever before, and the people with the wealth and best connections are going to be standing at the head of the line.

(The supreme irony is that American Progressives claim they hate stratification, yet they are the most responsible for the current situation because they have used their political power and their places in the “commanding heights” of civil society to impose a state of affairs that brings about the very social structures they claim to despise. The one thing that would do more to change this current stratified status quo would be to liberalize the economy so that entrepreneurs can transform the economy, but Progressives despise entrepreneurship and they despise a free-market economy even more.)

As noted before, Cohan has written a long book and K.C. Johnson is devoting himself to chronicling the errors. I’ll just deal with a couple of the most egregious claims, the first being Cohan’s claim that the DNA results in the lacrosse case were irrelevant, and the second being his attempt to infer that David Evans and Reade Seligmann actually may have raped Crystal Mangum after all.

DNA DOESN’T MATTER – EXCEPT WHEN COHAN WANTS IT TO MATTER

Cohan in both his book and also in many of his radio and TV talks show interviews has stated that the DNA results – finding no DNA of any lacrosse player (not just the three accused) and the discovery of DNA of at least four other men on her body and in her “body cavities” – was a “red herring.” In other words, the DNA results were irrelevant.

Why? According to Cohan, since there were rape prosecutions (and acquittals of and convictions for) before DNA results became part of forensic science, DNA results then should have no bearing, at least in the rape accusations against Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans. To bolster his claim, Cohan quotes Nifong, who declares, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Forget that the “fishing expedition” non-testimonial order that came from Nifong’s office (he claims he had nothing to do with its creation) declared that the DNA results (which were then taken from each white lacrosse player) would both determine who was guilty and who was innocent. Only after Nifong had committed himself to prosecuting this case at all costs, and after he got the word from North Carolina’s crime lab that there were no DNA matches to be found in contact with Crystal Mangum, did Nifong then decide that DNA should not matter, anyway.

Thus, Cohan (and Nifong) have constructed a most interesting syllogism which goes as such:

  • No DNA from any lacrosse player, including the three accused, was found on or in the body of Crystal Mangum, despite her account to police and to the medical staff at Duke University Medical Center that the three players had beaten her, forced her into oral sex, and ejaculated on her body, in her body, and in her mouth;
  • Before DNA testing was developed for forensic purposes, rape cases were pursued, with the evidence being other factors, including physical trauma, personal testimony, and the like;
  • Therefore, DNA results should have no bearing on the outcome of the Duke lacrosse phony rape case.

Tell that to prosecutors who regularly get convictions because of DNA results; tell that to people associated with the Innocence Project that DNA can never be exculpatory because testimony from alleged victims always trumps DNA. Tell that to all of the people who have been released from prison and their convictions for rape, murder, and assault.

At the same time, Cohan tries to convince readers that while the absence of DNA means nothing – even though the three lacrosse players were indicted because police told grand jurors that the young men carried out a rape in a manner that certainly would have left a massive DNA print – he then insists that David Evans must have done something awful to Crystal Mangum because his DNA profile was found on one of Mangum’s fake nails that was put into the trash can in the bathroom in the house on Buchanan Street.

Numerous times throughout his book and also during the talk shows (I heard him make the claim on the Dianne Rehm Show), Cohan asks the question: “How did David Evans’s DNA get onto Mangum’s fake fingernail?” For example, on page 562, speaking of the testimony that David Evans, Sr., gave to the North Carolina State Bar during Nifong’s June 2007 trial (in which Nifong was disbarred), Cohan declares:

Not surprisingly, Evans’s father made no mention of the evidence regarding the possibility that his son’s DNA was on Mangum’s fake fingernail when he took the stand. In an interview, Nifong explained why he thought neither the defense nor the media made more of the fingernail evidence.

Nifong goes on to claim that this “evidence” almost was completely ignored. Not true. Nifong based much of his indictment of Evans on the so-called evidence, and journalists and talk show hosts like Nancy Grace declared at the time that it was something of a “magic bullet” for the prosecution. Once again, we see both Nifong and Cohan trying to rewrite history.

The prosecution’s story was that in the assault of Crystal Mangum, Evans ripped off her fake fingernail, hence his DNA on it. There is a huge problem with that account, however, one that apparently Cohan either does not understand or, more likely, does not want to understand.

There was no singular DNA profile of David Evans or anyone else on that fingernail. Instead, it was part of a DNA mixture that featured very slight (for DNA purposes) traces of approximately 15 people, all members of the lacrosse team. If the Cohan version were true – that Evans got his DNA onto the fingernail as a result of assaulting Mangum – then it would be necessary for there to have been 15 assailants.

The much more likely explanation is that Evans lived in the house, and a lot of other players also had thrown something into the can. Their DNA was on whatever they put into the can, and the DNA then transferred to the fingernail and other objects into which the material came into contact. Scientists call it DNA transfer, and because there were slight profiles of so many others, the only sensible explanation is that the transfer occurred in the trash can.

However, Cohan wants to the readers to believe Nifong’s account, which is that the profiles of all of the players except Evans came through DNA transfer, but Evans had his profile on the nail because he attacked Crystal. That might seem logical to Cohan, Nifong, and their supporters, but scientifically speaking (and we all know how Progressives worship “science”) it is an absurdity.

To put things into perspective, when Brian Meehan, the DNA specialist who did a private examination of the rape kit and the fingernails for Nifong, he was wearing near-space suit protective clothing, yet his DNA profile – a profile stronger than that of Evans or the other players – appeared in the DNA results of Mangum’s rape kit and fingernail. If we were to apply Cohan’s “logic,” at least the “logic” he uses when discussion David Evans, Brian Meehan would have to be a rape suspect.

So this is what Cohan wants us to believe: three young men can beat a woman for a half-hour, ejaculate in her mouth, ejaculate in her vagina and on her body, crawl naked over her, and not leave one speck of DNA. (She did have DNA of at least four unidentified men – none lacrosse players – in her vagina, her anus, and in her underwear.) The DNA testing was so sensitive that even Meehan while wearing protective clothing left a full DNA profile in her rape kit, but Cohan claims that not leaving DNA somehow is “proof” of a rape, while the fact that others left DNA on her is a “red herring.”

As one easily can see, Cohan is being utterly dishonest, but in that regard, he simply is channeling Nifong, a person Cohan claimed on the Dianne Rehm Show as being “an honorable man trying to get to the bottom of what happened.” (Emphasis mine) When those efforts to “get to the bottom” of the accusations veered into outright dishonesty, Cohan ignores that point. Like Nifong, Cohan presents a “head I win, tails you lose” version of the case.

WHEN IS AN AIRTIGHT ALIBI NOT AN ALIBI? WHEN COHAN SAYS IT IS NOT

Cohan does not slander only David Evans. Instead, he stoops even lower to try to implicate Reade Seligmann in the alleged rape, and he lies in the process of smearing this highly-regarded young man. (Seligmann recently was graduated from Emory Law School and now is clerking for a federal judge in Camden, New Jersey. He also is involved with the Innocence Project.)

Mangum “identified” Seligmann during a so-called photo lineup in which Mangum was shown only photos of the Duke lacrosse team and told to pick out three of them. (The process, which was run by Nifong and a rogue Durham cop named Mark Gottlieb, clearly violated all state and federal standards for photo lineups and almost certainly was illegal. Of course, Cohan defends that action, too.)

There was a major problem, however, and that was that the timeline that the police and Mangum constructed for the alleged rape was such that Reade Seligmann was more than a mile away when the alleged rape was supposed to have occurred. He had proof.

About midnight on March 14, Seligmann decided he did not like the tone of the party, and he had not suggested bringing strippers, anyway. (Two of the captains had made that decision on their own.) He called a cab company and asked for the cab to meet him at a house around the corner, thus avoiding the congestion of cars at the Buchanan Avenue house.

Moez Elmostafa, an African immigrant, picked up Seligmann, drove him to a bank teller, where Reade took out some money, and then took him to a restaurant where he got takeout food. Elmostafa then drove Seligmann to his Duke dormitory, and Reade gave him a $7 tip before going into his dorm, swiping his dorm key card.

This was significant because Seligmann was with Elmostafa when the supposed rape was occurring. After Elmostafa was interviewed on TV news as backing Seligmann’s story, Nifong had him picked up on a bogus shoplifting warrant. Before arresting Elmostafa, however, a Durham police officer asked him if he wanted to change his story; when Elmostafa refused to lie, the officer – and Nifong’s directive – slapped handcuffs on him.

(Elmostafa faced a trial later in the summer of 2006. With police officers literally leering and trying to intimidate him, Nifong’s office presented what amounted to non-evidence and Elmostafa was easily acquitted. This was after the Durham County DA’s office had promised it had “convincing” material that would become obvious when the public viewed the tape from a store camera. In other words, it was clear that the prosecution was nothing more than an attempt to intimidate a vulnerable immigrant into lying to support Nifong’s dishonest case.)

I bring up this account because Cohan in his interview on the Dianne Rehm show claimed that there was no intimidation at all, and that the action against Elmostafa was perfectly legitimate. (Cohan, unfortunately, cannot get the man’s name correct in the book, calling him “Mostafa.”)

Likewise, the Seligmann’s actions that I have described above are “evidence” to Cohan that Seligmann did “something” to Mangum. Why? He went to a bank teller, and Nifong told Cohan that he must have done it because he knew he would be recorded, and then he went to a restaurant because he knew there would be electronic evidence that would prove his whereabouts. But it gets better. Nifong also claims that Reade gave Elmostafa a $25 tip, ostensibly to bribe him to…tell the truth.

One has to understand the depths of the depravity in which Cohan and Nifong have descended here. Nifong had Reade Seligmann indicted for rape according to a timeline that directly contrasted with all of the cellphone records, a bank camera recording, and a visit to a restaurant, and that is supposed to mean that Seligmann raped Crystal Mangum. You see, Reade planned all of this as an alibi, according to Nifong, and Nifong and Cohan are having none of it.

Seligmann’s then-attorney, the late Kirk Osborne, tried to give Nifong the alibi evidence in April 2006, but Nifong refused to accept it, telling Osborne that “I don’t read fiction.” After Osborne put the information on the Internet for the world to see, Nifong then told his assistant DAs that none of Osborne’s criminal defendants would be permitted to plead out, which essentially ended Osborne’s business in Durham.

To counter Seligmann’s alibi, Nifong changed the timeline in December. This ran into problems, however, as a number of phone records, gas card records, and time-stamped photographs counter Nifong’s it-happened-an-hour-earlier-than-we-thought thesis.

But Cohan isn’t through digging up bogus “evidence” against Seligmann. During one of her conversations with police, Mangum said that one of the rapists said he could not go through with it because he was getting married the next day. During his testimony to the State Bar, Seligmann said that he was known to be a “nervous Nelly” of his team because he got flustered a lot.

Thus, reason Nifong and Cohan, that must be proof that Seligmann raped Mangum because Mangum described someone who was too embarrassed to actually complete a sex act with her. I am not kidding. (Cohan includes that one on page 554.

And there is one more thing; Cohan quotes Nifong, also on page 554, claiming that Seligmann committed perjury in his State Bar testimony: “Not everything he said was true, but he did come off well,” said Nifong.

QUESTIONABLE COMPANY

On his tour, Cohan claimed to have been the first person to make Tara Levicy’s SANE report “public.” That was untrue, as a number of sources, including Until Proven Innocent, had put the report into public view. Cohan then claims that “something happened” in the bathroom during the party, but he does not specify what the “something” might be.

The fact that Cohan does sloppy research and fails to interview people directly involved in the investigation after making false claims about what they did speaks much about his integrity and competence as a writer and researcher. By uncritically repeating Nifong’s claim that special prosecutors Mary Winstead and James Coman were “sandbagged” and “shocked” at Cooper’s declaration of “innocent,” Cohan conveniently fails to tell the readers that Coman and Winstead wrote the report that Cooper used to base his claims of “innocent,” and was following the directive of the two prosecutors.

This is dishonesty at its worst, and it happens in broad daylight. But there is another thing that points to the craven character of William Cohan, and that appears in the book’s acknowledgements. At the end, he thanks a number of people for giving him guidance. One is an HBO producer who was going to take Until Proven Innocent and change to plot to have Mangum actually raped. (That project fell through, although one cannot help but wonder if Cohan’s book will have its own HBO movie to follow.)

He also thanks Bethany McLean, the same Bethany McLean who wrote dispatches from the criminal trial of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling that were nothing more than pro-prosecution propaganda. The reason McLean’s articles and commentary were suspicious was that at the time she was writing the material, she was in a “relationship” with the federal government’s lead prosecutor. (They married after the trial, but denied having any pre-trial relationship, even though people in Houston did see them together as a couple beforehand.)

But there also is one other person of questionable integrity who served as a friend and advisor to Cohan: the infamous “Client Number Nine,” who also is known as the disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Given all of the lies, innuendos, and smears that make up this disgrace example of New York publishing, I don’t think anyone should be surprised to know that Cohan believes that Mike Nifong and Eliot Spitzer are men of integrity.

 

For Progressives, “Thoughtcrime” is Worse than Mass Murder

27 Apr

As any reasonably well-informed attorney knows, if a police officer follows a driver long enough he will witness a violation that supposedly justifies a traffic stop. Once this happens, the officer will “build the stop” by seeking a pretext to search the vehicle for evidence of violations that can lead to an arrest of the driver, or seizure of the vehicle and its contents.

Cliven Bundy, among others, can testify that Regime-oriented journalism operates in a very similar fashion: Have a reporter from the New York Times shadow a 67-year-old Mormon rancher from southeastern Nevada long enough, and eventually the subject will say something that offends current sensibilities about race. To be specific, Bundy used retrograde racial terminology in musing aloud about the damage done to the black family by the Welfare State—which he suggested might be as evil, in some ways, as the odious institution of chattel slavery.

Mr. Bundy is unusually media-savvy for a rancher, but he doesn’t speak in sound-bites. He wasn’t lamenting the fact that black Americans are no longer required to pick cotton for other people who supposedly “own” them, but that the modern welfare state has cultivated dependency, undermined the family, and helped to bring about both the a stratospherically high incarceration rate for black men and a shockingly high abortion rate for black unborn children (a development he wouldn’t lament if he genuinely hated black people).

That perspective could have been tidily packaged for media consumption in the following phrase: “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, the harshest Jim Crow laws and racism could not have done, namely break up the black family.”

Those sentences were not uttered by a white rancher from Nevada, but by a black academic from Virginia – Dr. Walter Williams, to be specific. It takes a remarkable gift for dishonesty to accuse Dr. Williams of indulging in racism, but Ed Shultz – who serves as MSNBC’s left-wing analogue to Sean Hannity – was equal to that challenge. Shultz apparently doesn’t consider it to be an act of paternalistic racism for a white Progressive to tutor a black academic about matters of racial etiquette.

On April 11, the day before the “Battle of Bunkerville,” President Obama found time in a schedule cluttered with drone strikes against brown people overseas to address Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention. Sharpton is man of many parts, nearly all of them loathsome. He is a shake-down artist, a racial incendiary, and – as we were recently reminded – an asset of the secret police.

The least objectionable facet of Sharpton’s record is his tax “evasion,” given that protecting one’s assets from theft is not a crime. That being said, I find it fascinating that on April 11 Mr. Obama was embracing as a role model a public figure said to owe millions of dollars in taxes, and on the next day his administration was prepared to kill a Nevada rancher described as a “deadbeat” because he refuses to pay grazing fees to a branch of government that is not constitutionally permitted to collect them.

This disparate treatment could easily be explained as a question of identity politics. J.D. Tuccille points out, the Obama-era Progressive movement insists that all anti-government activism is reductively racist. This could be seen as part of a cynical, murderous political deal struck early in Obama’s reign.

Several months into his first term, Barack Obama signed into law a “hate crimes” measurethat enriched the federal government’s power to investigate and punish improper thinking. That measure likewise diverted plundered funds to fill the troughs of left-wing pressure groups that gather intelligence on “thought criminals” on behalf of the Feds.

In order to ensure passage of the Hate Crimes measure (which we should call the Thoughcrime Enforcement Act), the Obama administration attached it to a $680 billion military appropriation measure that included at least $120 billion to fund the the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The irreplaceable Chris Hedges, a relentlessly candid opponent of the Warfare State, describedhow this arrangement managed to unite advocates of tyrannical “tolerance” on the home front with those who promote the mass murder of harmless foreigners abroad:

“It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game.”

The same “Tolerance Industry” that treats every uncouth utterance by an aging “right-wing extremist” as matter of transcendent outrage was willing to abet the murder of innocent people abroad in order to expand the power of the Regime to punish their enemies at home. From their perspective, cops and drones may break people’s bones, but only “hateful” words can really hurt us.

Cliven Bundy is a robustly imperfect individual, something I suspect he would eagerly concede, even if he didn’t consider his racial views to be among those shortcomings. Unlike the rampaging federal regulatory agencies arrayed against him, Bundy is not in the business of picking pockets or breaking legs. As the photograph above demonstrates, he is not a reflexive bigot. Indeed, his first reflex upon spying a little brown boy – one who strikingly resembles the children being slaughtered by the Regime overseas — was to drop to a knee and offer him his cowboy hat.

Most importantly, it should be remembered that the same BLM that has targeted Cliven Bundy and other white ranchers in Nevada did not spare the Dann family, impoverished Shoshone Indians whose livestock was seized by the agency in order to clear “public” land for exploitation by a politically connected corporation.

Obama-aligned Progressives are too busy gleefully dilating on the wickedness of Cliven Bundy to condemn the BLM’s persecution of Carrie, Clifford, and the late Mary Dann. But then again, why should this be surprising? The Danns, after all, are just a few more brown people whose rights must be sacrificed in the cause of building the Almighty State.

And while we’re on the subject…

… guess what other Nevada Mormon of a certain age has used racially insensitive language?

 

 

Jesus Lived in a Police State

27 Apr

Those living through this present age of SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, and invasive surveillance might feel as if these events are unprecedented. Yet while America may be experiencing a steady slide into a police state, it is neither the first nor the last nation to do so.

Although technology, politics and superpowers have changed over time, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being have remained the same: control, power and money. Indeed, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Martin Luther King Jr. went head-to-head with America over racial segregation.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those who came after him. Yet for all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. And as the ruling class and the wealthy class merged, the lower classes grew easily distracted by “bread and circuses.”

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well.

Martial law. The Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. Revolutionists were always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment, as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state. Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.

Torture and capital punishment. Any one of the charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for the most extreme political crimes. As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed, “The cross…served as kind of a public service announcement that said, ‘Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.’”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state.Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus because he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so often cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression and was nailed to a cross as a warning to others, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics. Yet the resounding theme of Jesus’ life and teachings is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire. Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus is to be an example for our modern age.

 

He Cooperated with the Cops — and is Paying the Price: The Ordeal of Mark Byrge

27 Apr

American Fork, Utah

When Mark Byrge had a minor traffic accident on a street in American Fork, Utah, he did the “responsible” thing by reporting the incident to the police. He has never stopped paying for that mistake.

Within a few minutes of receiving Mark’s call, a pair of American Fork cops arrived to document the damage to Byrge’s delivery truck from a collision with a tree branch that protruded into the street. Mark was cooperative – and he put up no resistance when the lead officer, Andres Gianfelice, placed him under arrest for an outstanding traffic ticket (as well as citing him for not providing proof of insurance).

Byrge submitted without complaint to his officially sanctioned abduction, including the demeaning injury of being shackled. He politely made a single request of his captors: Owing to several back surgeries and the implantation of a $50,000 Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS), Mark asked that the officers cuff him in front.

While explaining his condition, Mark very slowly and carefully lifted his shirt in order to display an iPod-sized rectangular lump in his lower right back.

Neither Mark’s cooperation nor his explanation made an impression on Gianfelice.

“Don’t tell me how to do my job – put your hands behind your back!” barked Gianfelice, instructing his trainee officer, Jennifer Nakai, to apply the cuffs. Before being shackled, Mark called his wife Tina to tell her he was being arrested.

He didn’t disconnect the call – which means that Tina was able to hear everything that would happen over the next several minutes.

Despite the fact that he was obviously in pain, Mark placed his hands behind his back. Local resident Bob Cardon, on whose property the untrimmed tree was located, expressed concern over Mark’s treatment.

“Do you really have to handcuff him that way?” the elderly man asked the officers.

“Shut up, or you’ll be put in the car next to him,” snarled Gianfelice.

After Mark was stuffed into the back seat of Gianfelice’s cruiser, he leaned away from the cuffs, attempting to prevent any damage to the expensive medical appliance embedded in his back.

Ignoring Mark’s protests, Gianfelice shoved him against the seat to buckle his seat belt. As that happened, Mark later recalled, “I could actually feel it [the stimulator] breaking.”

“You stupid son of a bitch,” Mark gasped, “you just wrecked my back.” He didn’t know at the time that Tina was listening to this exchange over an open phone line.

Tardily realizing that he had made a terrible mistake, Gianfelice relented and used a “belly chain” to cuff Mark in the front. This allowed the officer to claim in his official report that he had “accommodated” Mark – but by that time irreparable damage had already been done.

The SCS was designed to send electrical impulses along Mark’s spine in order to neutralize pain receptors. This allowed him to ramp down his dosages of narcotic prescription pain medications. This, in turn, is what made it possible for him to run his courier delivery business, which required both the physical capacity to load and unload cargo, and the mental acuity to drive his truck and fill out paperwork. Without the stimulator, Mark would either be too crippled to lift, or too doped-up to focus.

Subsequent medical scans of his stimulator documented that it went inactive on April 18, 2012 – the day that Officer Gianfelice, after arrogantly dismissing Mark’s entirely reasonable request to be cuffed in the front, shoved him against the rear seat of his police cruiser.

As Gianfelice pulled away from the scene of the accident, Mark informed the officer that he needed to be taken to a hospital, and he eventually convinced the officer that the jail wouldn’t admit him without hospital clearance. When they arrived at the hospital, Gianfelice parked about fifty yards away – significantly, in one of the few spots concealed from security cameras.

By this time, Mark’s right leg was already convulsing – a tell-tale indication that the SCS had malfunctioned. Gianfelice dragged Mark out of the cruiser by his right arm and began walking him toward the hospital entrance. Mark’s right leg had seized up and was refusing to cooperate with his own wishes, let alone the demands of his captor. In his subsequent report, the officer claimed that Mark began “pulling” and “jerking” away from him.

The officer didn’t explain why a handcuffed man who was in obvious pain and who had asked to be taken to the hospital would “resist” being escorted to the emergency room. Nonetheless, in short order, Mark found himself face-down in the dirt of a nearby flower bed with Gianfelice on top of him, shouting the shared refrain of police and rapists: “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”

“I’m not resisting – get off my back!” pleaded Mark. Indeed, given his physical condition, Mark didn’t have the ability to resist.

Gianfelice claims that the crippled, handcuffed man somehow managed to drag the two of them down to the ground. Mark reports that the officer threw him down and to the right. However they wound up on the ground, the officer – knowing that Mark had a back injury – drove his knee into Mark’s lower back, placing his entire body weight on the fragile and expensive piece of hardware embedded under Mark’s skin.

This incident was witnessed over the open phone line by Mark’s wife, Tina.

Officers Gianfelice and Nakai pulled Mark to his feet and escorted him into the emergency room. Once inside, Mark gasped out a complaint to the first nurse he saw:

“This officer just assaulted me. Please call for a third party officer to investigate.”

The nurse, who was legally obligated to report on an assault against a“vulnerable adult,” ignored Mark’s request. The officer responded by “check-punching” the handcuffed victim in the chest.

“What the hell are you doing?” Mark exclaimed, his patience long since exhausted. “Let me f****ng go!”

“Don’t use that kind of language!” snapped the nurse, suddenly alert to matters of decorum after being torpidly indifferent to the violence inflicted on Mark.

Gianfelice cited Mark for “disorderly conduct,” listing the offended nurse as a witness. Predictably, his report didn’t mention his act of criminal battery against the handcuffed victim. That crime, however, was documented by the emergency room’s security camera. Significantly, Gianfelice did not charge Mark with “resisting arrest.”

This was the only video record made of the encounter between Mark Byrge and the American Fork PD – despite the fact that the department takes extravagant pride in the fact that all 33 of its patrol officers are “wired” with VidCam units.

“The American Fork Police Department claims to be the first law enforcement agency in the country to outfit all of its officers with video cameras and microphones pinned to their uniform,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune in November 2007.

“We’ve been waiting. We’ve been looking for something like this to document the good work that police officers do,” explained Lt. Sam Liddiard.

Last October, Lt. Liddiard told KSL news that “any time an officer deals with someone, they’re required to be recording.” He offered unqualified praise for the video recording technology, insisting that the record usually cleared officers accused of abuse.

There were three wired officers involved in the encounter with Mark Byrge – Gianfelice and his trainee, Nakai, and their supervisor, Sgt. James Bevard. The officers either suffered an inexplicable simultaneous failure of their VidCam units, or they didn’t bother to activate them. Nor was a dashcam recording made by either of the police vehicles on the scene.

Shortly before Mark was assaulted by Gianfelice, he had visited a local clinic to have his SCS calibrated. He went back to the clinic following the assault and was told that the leads connecting the device to his spine had shifted, rendering it useless. The device had stopped functioning on the morning of April 18 – while he was in the custody of the American Fork Police.

Since that incident, “the patient’s pain as gotten worse and his right leg is now showing signs of possible Complex Regional Pain Syndrome,” observed Gary Child of the Utah Pain Relief Center in April 2013. CRPS is a serious degenerative condition that has left Mark unable to work – and is rapidly depriving him of the ability to walk.

Mark is a 43-year-old former football player and wrestler with a compact, muscular build and low center of gravity. He walks with the assistance of a cane as his right leg atrophies. Dark striations are inscribed in his right foot, ankle, and shin. His toes are splayed at wild angles owing to involuntary muscle contractions and spasms that convulse his right leg without warning or relief.

His body slowing cutting off circulation to his lower extremity “as if it is trying to break off my foot,” Mark explained to me. CRP Syndrome can lead to other severe complications, including major organ failure.

“There’s a good chance that this could be what kills me,” Mark predicts.

It should be recalled that Mark was entirely cooperative in his dealings with the American Fork Police Department. As Gianfelice admitted in his report, he had the option of cuffing Mark in the front, rather than wrenching his arms behind his back. Why was he so intransigent?

Mark points out that Gianfelice was accompanied by a trainee officer, which “always creates a temptation to show off, be a hard case, and put the citizen in his place.” An officer will be especially prone to strut and show off when the trainee is an attractive blonde female, like Officer Nakai.

Prior to the arrest, Mark and Gianfelice did exchange words. While the officer was taking photos of the accident, Mark suggested that he get a few of the protruding tree branch, which should have been clipped by a city maintenance crew.

“You sound like someone who doesn’t want to accept responsibility,” hectored the officer.

“Well, you sound like a city employee who’s worried about financial liability,” Mark replied.

The officer responded by ordering Mark into the cab of his truck – before ordering him out to arrest him.

As Mark attempted, unsuccessfully, to recover from the trauma inflicted on him by Officer Gianfelice, he filed complaints with the American Fork Police Department. He collected witness statements from several people who had been on the scene, as well as his wife and brother, who had overheard the incident over the open cell phone connection. He assembled statements from health care professionals about the damage done to him by Gianfelice’s assault. When the AFPD didn’t respond, Mark took his evidence to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Mark’s persistence didn’t endear him to AFPD Chief Lance Call.

“You’ve run to every agency on the Wasatch Front,” groused Call when Mark contacted him to demand that action be takenr against Gianfelice. “I already investigated it – and I cleared the officer.”

“You didn’t talk to any of the witnesses or review any of my evidence,” Mark plaintively replied. “How can you `clear’ him just by reviewing his side of the story?”

“I told you `no’!” Call responded, hanging up.

“After this happened, I called the mayor’s office, even though it was after five o’clock,” Mark recounted to me. “I left him a message describing what Call said, and why I needed him to support an honest investigation.”

Unexpectedly, Mark received a reply the first thing the following morning.

“The mayor called at about 8:00 and left a message on my answering machine, telling me that he was going to have the Utah County Attorney’s Office conduct an investigation,” Mark relates. “The fact that this literally happened the first thing the morning after my call indicates that the mayor and other officials had been discussing what to do about my case.”

Before the county attorney’s office began its inquiry, Mark received another official visit from the AFPD.

“An American Fork officer showed up at our door – a really big guy I hadn’t seen before,” Mark attests.

“I’m here to tell you that if you pursue this it will not go well for you,” the officer growled at Mark, taking care to cover his badge with one hand.

“What’s your name?” Mark asked. “Are you threatening me?”

“You should just know that this isn’t going to go well for you,” the officer said, ignoring Mark’s question and turning to leave.

The official inquiry, which was conducted by Sgt. Scott R. Finch of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, was the typical preordained exercise in validation. In his interview with Finch, Gianfelice repeatedly claimed that he “could not recall,” “could not remember,” or “could not recall from memory” several critical details of the incident.

Among the matters that eluded the memory of this trained observer was whether “he was shown anything that would indicate Mr. Byrge had a back injury”; whether “he or someone else did the handcuffing of Mr. Byrge”; whether “he handcuffed Mr. Byrge in front initially or if he was cuffed behind his back at first”; or if “any other citizens [were] present or approached them at the scene of the accident.” He offered the unqualified statement that Mark “did not complain of injury when they were on the scene.”

Two witnesses one the scene – Bob Cardon and Jason Wilde – testified that Mark complained of his back injury. This was confirmed by two witnesses who overheard the encounter via cell phone.

In his initial statement to Sgt. Finch, Gianfelice claimed that “he will evaluate or estimate a person’s flexibility and size and help them out by handcuffing them in front” and that he told Mark “he had a belly chain and he would allow Mr. Byrge to be cuffed in front.”

After Finch provided Gianfelice with a copy of his report “to refresh his memory,” the officer changed his original story, admitting that he did initially cuff Mark behind his back before transferring the cuffs to the front. This is the crux of the issue: Gianfelice ignored Mark’s pleas to cuff him in front until after the damage had been done, then he lied about doing so during the subsequent investigation. He did this despite clear and detailed warnings about what this would do to the victim.

In the original reports from Gianfelice and Nakai, Mark was described as “not combative.” In their revised versions, he was described as “out of control, angry, loud, and yelling.” Significantly, in her initial account of the “scuffle” at the hospital, in which Gianfelice wound up with his knee in Mark’s back, Nakai said she “was not sure what caused Mr. Byrge to fall” because “she was on the other side of the car” – yet despite the fact that she didn’t see what happened she insisted that this was caused by “Mr Berge jerking his arms away and he lost his balance.” She conceded that Gianfelice might have used a “touch-push” to deal with a supposedly uncooperative detainee.

Despite these abundant and crucial self-contradictions, Finch pronounced the expected benediction on his fellow officers, concluding that “After conducting this investigation I believe the officers’ actions were legal and responsible.”

Charged with “disorderly conduct,” Mark – who was forced to represent himself — attempted to obtain sworn statements from officers Gianfelice and Nakai.

“Sgt. Finch said that this wouldn’t be necessary, because they were sworn officers already under oath,” Mark informed me. “But all of my witnesses were required to make sworn statements under penalty of perjury. And then when I attempted to enter the officers’ statements as evidence in my trial, I was told that they weren’t admissible, because they hadn’t been made under oath. So I was deprived of any opportunity to demonstrate that the officers had contradicted themselves – which meant that I had no defense.”

Fully disabled and unable to make a living, Mark is pursuing a civil rights case against the AFPD. He is also a candidate for the Utah State Legislature.

“My campaign is going to focus entirely on abuse of power by public officials, especially the police,” Mark told me. “I’m in constant pain, and my body is literally devouring itself. I want to do anything I can to prevent this from happening to somebody else.”

Meanwhile, the assailant who left Mark an invalid, Andres Gianfelice, is receiving a salary of $83,682 a year as part of a 33-officer force patrolling a city of 21,000 people with a negligible violent crime rate. Officer Nakai, one year after finishing her probationary term, is drawing an annual salary of $63,932 – a pretty decent rate of compensation for a job open to anybody with a GED and a capacity for casual sadism.

 

Wage Discrimination

27 Apr

“President Obama Vows Zero Tolerance on Gender Wage Gap,” read one headline. Another read, “Women Still Earned 77 Cents On Men’s Dollar In 2012.” It’s presumed that big, greedy corporations are responsible for what is seen as wage injustice. Before discussing the “unjust” wage differences between men and women, let’s acknowledge an even greater injustice — which no one seems to care about — age injustice.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers ages 16 to 24 earn only 54 cents on every dollar earned by workers 25 or older (http://tinyurl.com/n6puf6j). This wage gap is 43 percent greater than the male/female gap. Our president, progressives, do-gooders, academics and union leaders show little interest in big, greedy corporations ripping off the nation’s youth. You might say, “Whoa, Williams! There’s a reason younger people earn less than older people. They don’t have the skills or experience.” My response would be — if I shared the vision of the president, media elite and do-gooders: Just as there can be no justification for big, greedy corporations paying women less than they pay men, there’s no justification for them to exploit the nation’s youth.

The 77 percent median income statistic, used in discussions about male/female differences in earnings, tells us nothing about differences that might explain the differences in income, and it leads to stupid discussions. Let’s use some common sense and look at some differences between men and women that may have a bearing on earnings.

Kay S. Hymowitz’s article “Why the Gender Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever,” in City Journal (summer 2011), shows that female doctors earn only 64 percent of what male doctors earn. But it turns out that only 16 percent of surgeons are women, whereas 50 percent of pediatricians are women. Even though surgeons have put in many more years of education and training than pediatricians and earn higher pay, should Obama and Congress equalize their salaries? Alternatively, they might force female pediatricians to become surgeons.

There are inequalities everywhere.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian men and women have median earnings higher than white men and women. Female cafeteria attendants earn more than their male counterparts. Females who are younger than 30 and have never been married earn salaries 8 percent higher than males of the same description. Among women who graduated from college during 1992-93, by 2003 more than one-fifth were no longer in the workforce, and another 17 percent were working part time. That’s to be compared with only 2 percent of men in either category. Hymowitz cites several studies showing significant career choice and lifestyle differences between men and women that result in differences in income.

According to 2010 BLS data, the following jobs contain 1 percent or less female workers: boilermakers, brick masonry, stonemasonry, septic tank servicing, sewer pipe cleaners and trash collectors. By contrast, women are 97 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers, 80 percent of social workers, 82 percent of librarians and 92 percent of dietitians and nutritionists and registered nurses.

For people having limited thinking skills, differences in earnings cannot be explained away. For them, Congress has permitted — and even fostered — a misallocation of people by race, sex and ethnicity. They’ll argue that courts have consistently concluded that “gross” disparities are probative of a pattern and practice of discrimination. So what to do? Maybe President Obama and Congress should require women, who are overrepresented in preschool and kindergarten teaching, to become boilermakers, garbage collectors and brick masons and mandate that male boilermakers, trash collectors and brick masons become preschool and kindergarten teachers until both of their percentages are equal to their percentages in the population. You say, “Williams, to do that would be totalitarianism!” I say that if Americans accept that Congress can force us to buy health insurance, how much more totalitarian would it be for Congress to force people to take jobs they don’t want?

 

When an Accusation Becomes Proof: America’s Legal Revolution

20 Apr

 

In the spring of 2006, three white lacrosse players from Duke University were charged with raping a black stripper who briefly had performed at a team party. It was the proverbial “Perfect Storm” of race, class, and sex, and united many of the usual political pressure groups that infect our body politic today.

The so-called Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (or better put, Non-Rape case) received media and political mileage because of who was involved, and the story had an ending that was somewhat more unusual than what is seen when accusations of rape and sexual assault occur. That was because the prosecutor that pursued the lacrosse players, the infamous Michael B. Nifong, went from hero to villain when defense attorneys successfully exposed that Nifong and his “star” witnesses had fabricated inculpatory evidence and Nifong had hidden evidence that was exculpatory.

His once-adoring media sycophants turned into inquisitors after Nifong’s lies became public and his name became synonymous with prosecutorial misconduct, and he ultimately lost his job as Durham County District Attorney and the State of North Carolina revoked his law license. Unfortunately, people believe that Nifong’s lies and willful misconduct were the real story of injustice, but they are not. In fact, they only are a sideshow of the legal terror that literally thousands of people have faced in the past 30 years, and the actual story is much worse than anything Nifong did because misconduct and wrongful convictions (or open invitations to misconduct) are built into the law itself.

Those of us that are intimately familiar with this case know how close these young men came to being put on trial in Durham and being convicted of “crimes” that never happened. The sad irony is that thanks to federal law and federal policies, Nifong did not have to present any real evidence in order to gain a conviction. All he needed was an accusation from Crystal Mangum, the accuser, and jurors would have had all of the “proof” they needed to vote “guilty.” Given the political and racial climate in Durham, it almost is certain that jurors would have convicted the three simply because the powers that be in that city would have demanded nothing less.

That Mangum’s story was not credible from the beginning was irrelevant to how the “justice” system worked in the Duke case – and in many cases involving accusations of sexual assault or molestation, not to mention the carrying out of drug laws. As a result, I will make an astonishing claim: I believe that thousands – yes, thousands – of people are or have been incarcerated in prison for “crimes” that never happened because of America’s legal revolution during the past century.

This state of injustice has not come about accidentally. Instead, it is the result of a politicized age in which intellectuals, politicians, and policymakers who deem themselves to be “Progressives” have fashioned the law into a set of rules and policies that even tyrants like Nero and Caligula would have considered to be unjust.

It Always Starts With Progressivism

American criminal law today does not reflect what the USA inherited from common law England, complete with the “Rights of Englishmen” that Americans also assumed for themselves. From the founding of the republic until the Progressive Era of the early 1900s, criminal law in this country mostly reflected the principle of malum in se, a legal doctrine that has holds that certain acts are bad in themselves.

For example, almost every society that has existed in history has had prohibitions against murder, theft, and robbery. From Hammurabi’s Code to the Ten Commandments to modern law, certain actions have been criminalized because they involved things everyone recognized as being wrong. This does not mean that such laws cannot be abused, but they do tend to reflect universal principles.

Unfortunately, legal systems also have reflected the legal doctrine of malum prohibitum which says certain acts are bad and worthy of punishment because they violate certain rules that government agents have created. For example, at the turn of the 20th Century, it was legal for Americans to ingest drugs like marijuana and cocaine, and alcohol was readily available. In a couple of decades, however, the law prohibited consumption of drugs and possession of alcoholic beverages because the powers that be had decreed as such. Furthermore, violation of those laws could mean a spell in prison, something that previously had been reserved for those who ran afoul of malum in se laws.

American Progressives, who had Grand Visions for how to organize life for Americans – including those Americans who had no desire to take part in the Grand Visions, tended to favor a legal system based upon malum prohibitum because they believed that individuals in society needed to conform to a set of social and political ideals created by the Great Superior Minds of Progressives. The idea that governments should not interfere with the routines of daily life – and especially those routines that involved mutually-consensual acts and the actions of the marketplace – was scorned by Progressives, who believed that individuals should not be permitted to act outside of boundaries set by political authorities who supposedly knew what was best for everyone else.

Progressives relentlessly attacked social institutions that did not easily fit under the umbrella of state-based control, and over time those institutions – entities like religious groups, voluntary societies, and local education – succumbed to statist pressure. All of these actions took place under the guise of “reforms” in which society was to be centralized under federal power with Progressive intellectuals and “reformers” being the ones to determine the boundaries of conduct of individuals.

The so-called Progressive reforms transformed American law in two ways. First, its insistence upon the expansion of state power and state-enforced regulation over the lives of individuals meant the inevitable growth of criminal law under malum prohibitum. The “duty” of Americans was to “obey” state directives, and those who did not obey were to be punished via imprisonment. Thus, in 1919, it was legal to possess alcoholic beverages and it was legal for business firms to brew and distill them. A year later, such things were crimes, accomplished by the mere stroke of a pen.

Second, by demanding the centralization of political, legal, and economic power via Washington, Progressives helped to create a federal legal system which permits prosecutors to take almost any individual action and find ways to criminalize it. No longer was the legal emphasis upon the protection of life, liberty, and property, but rather it was on subjected people following sets of rules created by intellectuals and politicians.

The legal system that came from the Progressive Era and has metastasized unabated for more than a century is hostile to the venerable “Rights of Englishmen” that undergirded American criminal law for many years and nowhere is this better reflected than in the evisceration of the important but now little-known legal doctrine of mens rea. To understand the contempt that modern Progressives have for individuals and to understand the utter tyranny of modern American criminal law, one first must understand why mens rea is vital to protecting individual rights.

The term mens rea essentially means “a guilty mind.” That is, in order for one’s action to be determined as criminal or not, the mindset of the person engaging in a particular action was paramount. For example, say I am driving cautiously in a neighborhood when suddenly a child chasing a ball comes out of nowhere and appears in front of my car, and I hit him. I did not intend to hit the child, nor was I acting in a reckless manner; the result was an unavoidable accident, not a criminal act on my part.

However, say that I see a child in the street and speed up my car in order to hit him. The action was deliberate and, thus, criminal under a doctrine of mens rea. In other words, intent matters under criminal law, or at least it is supposed to matter.

The growth of the regulatory and bureaucratic state with its emphasis upon malum prohibitum, however, is incompatible with mens rea and over the years, American courts have slowly but surely eliminated it from this nation’s de facto body of law. Every year, local, state, and federal agencies churn out thousands of new regulations, most of which have the power of law, with many carrying criminal penalties for people who violate them. Furthermore, the American courts have ruled time and again that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for disobeying them.

In other words – and I am not exaggerating here – every American is responsible for knowing every regulation and every law that is passed and, more important, must obey each one or face a penalty and even prison for failure to do so. For ordinary people, there is no exception unless a judge or administrator decides not to punish someone for violating a rule of which the person had no knowledge.

There are classes of people that are exempt from having to know all of the laws and regulations, however: those charged with enforcing the laws, from administrators to police to prosecutors to judges. I am not kidding, nor do I exaggerate. The very people who are supposed to be the most intimate with laws and regulations because their very livelihoods rest upon their enforcement also are the very people who are legally permitted to be ignorant of such laws and regulations.

It gets worse. People in those enforcement lines of work who are caught violating the law or policies pertaining to enforcement are exempt from having people whom the law enforcers have victimized from seeking legal redress in the courts. Thus, when the three falsely-accused defendants in the Duke Lacrosse Case filed lawsuits against the City of Durham and prosecutor Michael Nifong, the federal courts dismissed most of the claims because of the legal doctrines of immunity that the courts and legislatures have imposed.

The effect is that wrongdoers, should they be employed by government, are pretty much exempted from having to face consequences of their wrongdoing. This is not an oversight; it is the result of the political goals that perpetrators of modern regimes have imposed. I call it a corollary of what economists call “Capture Theory.” The government employees in the law enforcement lines of work have “captured” the system and have rewritten the rules in order to protect themselves at the expense of the people these government agents victimize every day.

And even in the very rare events when perpetrators are charged with wrongdoing, they often are acquitted by the system. For example, the infamous “not guilty” verdict in a recent trial of two former police officers from Fullerton, California, for beating a homeless man to death despite the overwhelming evidence of their guilt (evidence caught on videotape) reflect the modern political reality that government agents truly are shielded from consequences of their own actions, even when they break the law. William Norman Grigg also has documented numerous times when U.S. police officers essentially engaged in summary executions of unarmed and unthreatening people, yet have faced no legal or even personal consequences for their actions.

Accusations and Political Goals

All of this brings us back not only to the Duke case but also to the thousands of cases in which people are charged with sexual assault and/or child molestation. At this point, I will make a very provocative statement: U.S. prisons are full of thousands of wrongfully-convicted people and thousands more outside of prison live under the weight of being convicted felons. American law has become so tyrannical that many wrongfully-charged people cannot defend themselves from false charges because the law is stacked against them.

In 1974, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act or CAPTA, better known as the Mondale Act for its vocal sponsor, Sen. Walter Mondale of Minnesota. The law had all of the hallmarks of the Progressive outlook for which Mondale was famous, including the offering of federal money to the states to encourage the prosecution of more people for child abuse and child molestation. (Congress passed new editions of CAPTA over the years and it remains on the books today.)

Congress later passed the Violence Against Women Act which encouraged states and localities to prosecute rape and sexual assault against women, promising federal money to those governmental entities for doing so. The laws also helped to create and fund governmental and government-connected agencies such as Child Protective Services to investigate claims of abuse and molestation and to aid law enforcement agencies in bringing charges against alleged perpetrators of abuse.

Understand that the offenses listed in these laws are not imaginary constructs. Children are abused and, yes, many are molested and the damage done to those children is incalculable. If the law had resulted in the actual prosecution and punishment of real perpetrators, that would have been one thing – and I would not have written this article. Rape and sexual assault are terrible things and no one denies that fact.

Instead, the laws led to what I believe are thousands of false charges and convictions because they changed the fundamental rules of evidence. Before CAPTA and the VAWA, most states required corroborating evidence besides the mere accusation of abuse and the like because authorities recognized that it is too easy for people to make false charges due to ulterior motives.

For example, it is not unusual for warring spouses in divorce litigation to make accusations of abuse or worse against one another to aid their own claim for child custody. Before CAPTA, such accusations would have required evidence other than the spouse’s claim. After CAPTA and after VAWA, the accusation itself became absolute proof of criminal wrongdoing.

These new standards of evidence, while guaranteeing false accusations and wrongful convictions, were not written to satisfy justice but rather to satisfy pressure groups with political goals. The modern child protection industry, with parents having to worry about a government agency falsely accusing them of abuse or worse and having their children removed from their own care, could not exist without CAPTA. Likewise, it now is much too easy for someone to be accused falsely of rape, something that feminists and their political allies have demanded for years.

What makes things worse is that prosecutors, both state and federal, are permitted to pile up charges upon charges on people and then hold the very real prospect over their heads of draconian punishments should they be convicted on even one of those charges. The result is that 95 percent of all U.S. criminal cases result in guilty pleas, and lawyers of people who demonstrably are innocent often will encourage their clients to plead to “something” just to give prosecutors their little victories and to prevent even worse punishments.

Many other writers and I have written about how a false accusation industry sprang up, and how innocent people were railroaded into prison. Absurd prosecutions now have become the norm, as the lure of federal money and political benefits to crusading prosecutors have overcome any whit of interest in justice.

In the LRC piece, “Nifonged in Narragansett,” I wrote nearly seven years ago, the attorney general of Rhode Island charged a man with rape for actions he allegedly committed 32 years before. The accuser had been undergoing the infamous (and discredited) “recovered memories” therapy and suddenly “remembered” this man having raped her.

Now, she could not remember when or where it happened. Instead, she just “remembered” that it was some time in a six month span and somewhere in the neighborhood where she lived. In other words, the whole thing reeked of absurdity, but it was perfectly logical under the terms of the VAWA. (Shortly after the LRC piece was published, the AG dropped the charges. However, that did not change the fact that he still could have won a conviction with just the woman’s claims, should the jurors have chosen to believe her.)

Likewise, we saw a spate of child molestation investigations that would have made the weirdest episodes of “The Twilight Zone” seem to be logical by comparison. I have written about many of them and have seen how some of the worst offenders – like Janet Reno – have been rewarded for gaining wrongful convictions. For that matter, Nifong himself was the darling of the U.S. mainstream media for many months (and especially the New York Times) until it became abundantly clear that he was lying. And even then, a number of media and legal writers, including Lester Munson of ESPN, still tried to cover for him.

Many of these wrongful convictions came right from the playbook pages of Progressivism. First, federal laws changed the legal incentives to financially and politically-reward prosecutors who got wrongful convictions – and then ensured that even if those same prosecutors later were found to be lying, that they would escape meaningful punishment. Centralization of political and judicial power has been a main priority for Progressives for more than a century.

Second, by helping to create scores of new agencies staffed by “experts” who then plied their “expertise” in courts and convinced jurors that the charges – however absurd they seemed to be – really were true, the government ensured an increase in the prison population, thus strengthening the Prison-Industrial Complex that exists in this country. Third, the federal government was able to eviscerate the precious “Rights of the Accused” that Americans supposedly enjoyed, thus further empowering government agents. All of these things have come from the playbooks of Progressive writers and politicians such as Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson.

American criminal law, be it at the state or federal level, is a mere shadow of what it used to be. The vast growth of federal crimes and the evisceration of the rules of evidence at all levels have turned what the famed English jurist William Blackstone once termed as a “shield for the innocent” into a system of governmental tyranny.

This is no accident. The tyrannical criminal law regime that grips America is what the Progressives wanted all along. They wanted Americans to have to live in fear of a powerful state that could and should tell them how to live, what to believe, and what to do. And the police state is what we have.