Tuesday, August 14, 2007

“Bizarro World” Post Resonates in Blogosphere, Talk Radio

We felt the need to chronicle the sham “hearing,” held yesterday, of the Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System.

After all, we sat through virtually all of it, and didn’t want the experience to be entirely for naught (although it was clear to us it was mostly for naught).

But it seems it has resonated with a fair number of people.

Charlie Sykes discussed it at some length this morning, and linked to it on his blog page.

As of right now, it is linked on the front page of Mark Belling’s site and WisOpinion (both links will go away over time).

And it has created quite a stir in the blogosphere. The Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger discussed it, as did Patrick McIlheran, Rick Esenberg and Dad29.

Not in response to our post, but an independent report came from Glenn D. Frankovis on the Badger Blogger.

Who also reported on the event, but didn’t bother to mention our testimony, nor that of Frankovis? Dani McClain of the Journal-Sentinel. Her article is nothing but a puff piece about the Commission.

Typical of the article is the following:
The commission has heard firsthand accounts of racial profiling, inconsistent application of prosecutorial discretion, and the classification of certain offenses as misdemeanors in suburban communities but felonies in urban areas.

“The themes have come up consistently at these public hearings,” said Ryan Sugden, spokesman for the Office of Justice Assistance, which coordinated the hearings.

One statistic was repeated several times Monday: African-Americans make up 6% of Wisconsin’s population, but 45% of inmates in state correctional facilities are black, according to the state Department of Corrections.
Sugden seems to think that since certain themes come up “consistently” they must represent the reality of criminal justice in Wisconsin.

The fact that only certain kinds of people, with certain grievances and certain agendas show up at the hearings doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind.

McClain got pretty thoroughly roughed up by people leaving comments at Badger Blogger. In fairness to McClain, she did not hear our testimony, did ask us for contact information at the hearing, and left us a voice mail today asking for an “executive summary” of our testimony, to be used “if and when” she writes further on the topic.

Being on vacation, we haven’t sent that out, but will soon.

Right now, our assessment is that she is trying to be fair, but is simply ill-informed on these issues, and didn’t know there is an alternative to the standard racial view.

But the question remains. Why has this struck a chord, especially among conservatives? It really is hard to see how the Commission is important. It was created by the Governor as a sop to some black legislators, and what it says is unlikely to have any real effect on criminal justice in Wisconsin.

The answer, I think, is that people have simply become fed up with the dishonesty surrounding the issue. The naked contrast between the harsh reality of life in the black inner city and the cosy situation of race hustling black politicians is hard to stomach. While children are being shot the politicians are wringing their hands over the fact that a greater proportion of blacks than whites is being thrown in prison.

If this was the result of real racial discrimination, it would demand a remedy. The problem is: the hustlers don’t really want to know whether it’s the result of discrimination. They don’t, in fact, actually care.

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