Remember Law and Order?
No, I don’t mean the formulistic pro-prosecution TV show that portrays cops and prosecutors in the hazy glow of the Just. I mean the supposed hard-rock conservative concept that the Law is the Law and must be followed. You are to live your life not only within the Law, but with appropriate Order. If you don’t, you are some sort of degenerate, sociopath, sicko un-American type.
Most recently, the right-wing has trumpeted the “broken windows” concept of law enforcement, whereby every small infraction -- from jay-walking to not using seatbelts -- is treated as a serious matter so that everyone gets the idea that the Law is the Law, so don’t even think about causing really serious trouble, bub. This is especially so in one of those parts of the city that they don’t really know anything about, but always assume the worst. The idea is to intimidate people so that they don’t even think about bringing that brazen jay-walking attitude to Mayfair, etc.
But, for wing-nuts on the radio and in the newspaper, the Law is the Law only when they say it is, and only when applied to certain people. If someone they support violates the law, well, who really cares, and they make all kinds of denials and excuses. So it is especially in cases involving their favorite politicians, where special dispensations are made for people like the two Scooters: Jensen, the former Republican Speaker of the Assembly and now convicted felon sentenced to prison who has been allowed to walk around free pending his unlikely appeal for a year now; and Libby, the Cheney henchman, whose real lies to a federal grand jury are excused as somehow insignificant by the same people who are still squawking about Bill Clinton’s obfuscations during the Starr witch-hunt.
This week, the “aw, what’s the big deal?” excusers have focused on a small case involving a woman in Milwaukee who allegedly shot a 16 year old boy 4 times with a BB gun and then beat him over the head with it. Apparently the misdemeanor prosecution of this 39-year old woman for this alleged attack on a young man who was found sleeping on the floor of her daughter’s bedroom was too much for the former get-tough-on-crimers.
Every last one of the local wing-nuts whined all week about the (to them) understandable actions of the woman, without ever really saying what may have justified such an attack. On his web page, Charlie Sykes said it was something about what the woman was “up against”. Sykes’ second banana Jeff Wagner, who will contantly remind you how much of a former prosecutor he is, declared that the woman was “understandably upset” and that she, at most, overreacted. “Frankly, the kid is lucky that he wasn't discovered by an angry dad with a shotgun,” he wrote. Oh, so murder would have been OK, too? “What a waste of resources and tax money!” says Wagner of the fairly mild charging decision.
Oh, gee, I don’t know. I think it would be best if people got the idea that family and social issues should not be handled at the barrel of a gun, BB or otherwise. I can’t figure out why this is not an appropriate prosecution, in a city plagued with too many guns and where just aiming any kind of gun will get you prosecuted, much less firing it. “Just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it should be prosecuted,” writes TMJ back-bencher Jessica McBride. Since when? I guess the McBride Doctrine kicks in when you don’t like the victim or, in the case of the Scooters, you like the defendants and their buddies too much.
At the same time they were encouraging BB moms everywhere to lock-and-load, the wing-nuts also came out in favor of other law violations at the Southridge Boston Store. There, the otherwise-empty cafeteria has managed to attract turn-away crowds several nights a week by holding an apparently illegal bingo game, and apparently had been doing so for years. No one was prosecuted and they were just told to knock it off, but you would think that the area was suddenly put under martial law.
The Journal Sentinel's resident wing-nut columnist Patrick McIlheran weighed in this morning, claiming that, since there is gambling going on all over the place, what the heck? "Maybe we should rethink just how hard we're cracking down on the few places where gambling isn't yet legal," he says. Yeah, who cares about the law. Besides, these are people who might listen to our radio stations and read our newspaper. They are, well, special, aren't they?
In the meantime, the wing-nuts have fully endorsed a new plan that would have everyone entering Mayfair will be treated with suspicion. Those under 30 will be carded (what is it, a bar?) and, after they pass inspection they will be given a wristband, like they are at Noah’s Ark or something. Now, do you think the young Mayfair patrons might benefit from the new wing-nut moral relativism?
Don’t count on it. See, according to the right-wing, anyone named Scooter, BB moms and senior bingo-players don’t have to follow the law. On the other hand, young black people trying to go to Mayfair have to do more than follow the law. They are presumed guilty of something. And, even after they are let in, walking around with those damn wristbands, they’ll still be considered a nuisance by the pampered class.
The message from the wing-nuts is that some laws should be followed and some don’t have to be. I think they should make a list, so we know which is which.