Have you noticed that when sensible, neutral, and longstanding rules and policies don’t produce the racial outcomes desired by the left, it calls for changing those rules and policies? Plagued by a lack of solid family structure and constructive role models, young Black students as a class behave more poorly than White students and thus are disciplined more often. The solution? Change the disciplinary rules and tolerate disciplinary breakdowns — with disastrous consequences for students Black and White.
When Black students apply for college they perform abysmally as a class on the SAT. The solution? Race norm their scores, effectively adding hundreds of points when comparing their performance to that of White applicants. Or, if you are a state university like the University of Texas (Austin) finesse the SAT by admitting the top 10 percent of students in terms of grades at every high school in the state.
When Blacks are finished with school, as a class they commit a disproportionate number of crimes and thus are incarcerated in disproportionate numbers. The solution? Lobby for changes in the criminal law, including shorter prison sentences. (Never mind that, as Jim Scanlan pointed out in a letter to the American Statistical Association, modifications that reduce adverse criminal justice outcomes tend to increase, not decrease, racial disparities in outcomes. The point is to let Black lawbreakers off the hook, not to cure “disparate impact.”)
And while you’re at it, try to discredit the police force as racist.
The phenomena I have described are part of what I call the war on standards. Because adherence to reasonable standards is the hallmark of a successful people (as it is on a personal level), the war on standards is insidious.
Now, in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray trials, we see the same imperative of outcomes that drives the war on standards prompting stirrings for something potentially more disturbing — an attack on liberty.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the decisions by Judge Barry Williams, who is Black, to acquit three police officers in the Freddie Gray case has spurred a call to make it more difficult for criminal defendants to be tried by a judge, rather than a jury:
After losing those three trials, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced last week that she would drop all remaining charges against the three other officers — Porter, Officer Garrett Miller and Sgt. Alicia White. She said Williams’ opinions of the prosecution’s case in the three bench trials would likely carry over to the remaining trials and result in more acquittals.
Mosby went on to say that prosecutors’ lack of a say in whether a defendant in Maryland can elect a bench trial — it is solely the defendant’s choice — impeded justice in the Gray case. She said she would consider pushing legislation in Annapolis to change the rules.
Mosby is a sore loser. But the Sun’s article shows that she’s not alone in wanting to change the rules that applied in her cases.
Jurisdictions vary regarding the ability of the prosecutor to have a say in whether a case will be decided by a judge or a jury. Reasonable people can and do disagree about the question. To me, it seems that the Freddie Gray cases, which by Mosby’s admission, were a response to angry chants of “no justice, no peace,” are a perfect illustration of the virtues of a permitting defendants to have a bench trial upon request.
Merits aside, what’s offensive here is the push for a rule change based on this judge’s decision to acquit defendants in a racially charged case. Sen. Robert A. Zirkin, who chairs the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee says “just because you lose a case doesn’t mean you change the entire framework of defendants’ rights.” But for some, that’s exactly what it means if the losing side was pushing a leftist narrative and/or agenda on matters involving race.
Mosby did have one jury trial before the defendants began opting to have Judge Williams decide their fate. In that trial, involving Officer William Porter, the jury ended up deadlocked, but reportedly came within two votes of convicting Porter on one of the lesser charges.
Had this become the pattern in the Freddie Gray cases, one can imagine a cry for changing the rules requiring that criminal convictions be unanimous. After all, “racist” white jurors shouldn’t be able to thwart “justice” by holding out.
Standardized tests are useful indicators of likelihood of success in college. School disciplinary standards and tough drug sentences serve important societal purposes. But protection against mob justice is more fundamental. If that protection is eroded (as it already has been on college campuses) in the name of Black Lives Matter or “social justice,” it’s game, set, and match to left-wing authoritarianism.