Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Hate Crime Hoax Redux

(Via Glenn Reynolds) Michelle Malkin talks about the Ole Miss hate crime hoax. I briefly noted it earlier in a sea of Lott postings. (A Daily Mississippian report is here.) To summarize: a number of African-American students had racist graffiti drawn on their dorm room doors during the "Open Doors" celebration of James Meredith's integration of the University of Mississippi; after an investigation, the perpetrators turned out to be African-American friends of the victims, rather than racists.

I somewhat disagree with Malkin's premise, though; hoaxes or pranks usually don't earn the perpetrator the punishment that genuine crimes do, unless death or injury results, whether the events are racially charged or not. However, the students involved ought to be punished and the university community ought to seriously consider how different this offense is to the blackface incident at Ole Miss last year that resulted in a one-year ban for Alpha Tao Omega. (The ATO incident largely revolved around a single photograph from a Halloween party; no black students were directly threatened, so in some ways the recent hoax is more egregious.)

For what it's worth, the Daily Mississippian editorial board is calling for the students involved to be expelled, the maximum punishment that's still on the table.

I'm not convinced that expulsion is appropriate for a first offense, no matter the races of the perpetrators, but that's my opinion (my authority on such matters is nonexistent). However, if the university is serious about Zero Tolerance (not a policy I'm fond of, but precedent suggests it), I think in light of the ATO punishment, for an arguably similar offense, the students involved ought to be thrown out, at least for a year. The students also ought to apologize publicly and the university community deserves to know their identities, regardless of any other penalties.

Patrick Carver comments. So does Radley Balko.

From the “ignorance is a virtue” department

A letter writer in today's Memphis Commercial Appeal:

But for the fact that the holier-than-thou finger-pointers have made an issue of it, most people would never have known that Thurmond ran for president on a ticket that included segregation in its platform.

I'm not sure if this is an indictment of our education system or just of the letter writer's general intelligence; either way, it's profoundly disturbing.

Memo to the GOP

Fellow Mississippian Conrad, commenting on Shelby Steele's piece in today's Wall Street Journal, who notes Trent Lott's refusal to fully repudiate his role in past racism and segregation:

To review the evidence, Lott has consorted with racists, spoken to and praised racist organizations, written in racist publications, voted against nearly every significant piece civil rights legislation to come before him, opposed the integration of his university and fraternity, campaigned for segregationist candidates, publicly wished for the election of a segregationist president, and he comes from a family of bigots. He refused to call segregation and racism inherently evil until he found himself trussed up like a pig, the spit up his ass and the apple in his mouth.

Would those who have written that they do not believe Lott is actually a racist, please explain why not? What crucial piece of evidence is missing? Do we need to catch him on camera calling Colin Powell “boy” or find a black man hanging from a tree limb in his back yard?

This is the man at least a dozen of your senators are on record supporting. Trent Lott will be an issue every day he's still Senate majority leader. For your party's sake, make his days short.

Why Libertarians Don't Vote Republican

Chip Taylor writes on Trent Lott, the GOP and libertarians:

[S]everal Republicans in several different forums have recently accused Libertarians of standing in the way of freedom and liberty by our refusal to vote for Republican candidates -- by our refusal to be Republicans. They say that we are selfish, that we are too stubborn, that we want to have things strictly our way, that we won't compromise in order to move forward the parts of their agenda that we do agree with. (I'm leaving aside, for the sake of argument, the fact that they seldom advance the parts of their agenda that we agree with.)

Now comes Trent Lott, who as one of their leaders, you would expect to show great committment to their agenda. But for him, the agenda takes a back seat when faced with a choice between doing what's good for his party and preserving his own personal power and priveleges. So I ask, Why should I, as a Libertarian, show more committment to the GOP and their agenda than Trent Lott?

The answer, of course, is that Republicans (and Democrats) don't have principles, so you shouldn't expect Trent Lott to uphold them. (This is also why the “liberal” and “conservative” labels are not congruent to “Democrat” and “Republican”.) In essence, parties translate voters' preferences into policy by providing an effective organization for coalitions of politicians to form. “Principles” are convenient ways to facilitate this organization, but they aren't the sine qua non of political parties. (Hence why the Libertarians' “party of principle” statement is at once both refreshing and impractical: political parties, by their very nature, must compromise to be effective.)

To clarify: the GOP and Democrats articulate principles, but they take a back seat to electoral considerations.

Chafee: Lott must go; Lott: I'm not going (updated)

The other shoe has dropped: Lincoln Chafee, widely regarded as the GOP senator most likely to defect (er, become an “independent” like Democrat-in-all-but-name Jim Jeffords), is calling for Lott to go. Meanwhile, Our Man Trent says he's not going to quit the Senate regardless.

JB Armstrong suggests that Chafee's position helps Lott (in comments); I'm not so sure:

Good news for Lott? I'm not so sure... a lot of Republicans would prefer a 51-48-1 Senate without Lott as the leader to a 50-48-2 Senate with Lott nominally in charge depending on the good graces of Snow, McCain et al. and the continued functioning of Dick Cheney's pacemaker. (If Cheney has to be replaced in a 50-48-2 Senate, needing 51 votes to be replaced, you could end up with a John Adams/Thomas Jefferson situation.)

Plus, Chafee's basically saying "it's me or him." Any other moderate can now join Chafee and say "it's the majority or him." I still see Lott as screwed.

Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer, speaking on Fox News (on Special Report with Brit Hume), still think Lott is history.