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A Missed Opportunity to Stir Liberal Outrage

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I’ve been on the road recently, which has cut into both my blogging and my blog-reading. So I just ran across Orin Kerr’s calmly outraged and entirely correct response to the story of four young white men in Linden, Texas, who beat up a mentally challenged black man and dumped him in a field. Billy Ray Johnson is crippled for life, and his assailants are being let off without any of them spending so much as a day in jail. Note that the District Attorney thinks the outcome was just fine.

Arvin Tseung at Rebuttable Presumption is right to say that there’s no evidence that the assailants were racially motivated. But, as a thought-experiment, mentally switch the races of the assailants and the victim; can you imagine a similarly lenient sentence? I can’t. It seems to me, as a non-lawyer, that the 14th Amendment guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” ought to include equal punishment for perpetrators of similar acts regardless of the race of the victim. But it seems that no one has standing to sue. Just remember this the next time someone starts preaching about the moral degeneracy of the blue states.

It also says something about the myth of the liberal media that this story had almost precisely no “legs.” Nor did it make much of a splash in Blogtown. One thing right-wing talk radio and the rest of the VRWC sounding-board apparatus are good at is making sure that everyone hears about outrages that stir conservative emotion. Our side has no comparable mechanism. I’m grateful to Orin Kerr for pointing the story out, but it seems to me a case study in failure on the liberal side of the aisle.

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About Mark Kleiman

  • http://georgepwood.com George P. Wood

    Surely you’re not suggesting that only liberals should be outraged by this sentence? To tell you the truth, I’m a bit “outraged” by your lazy implicit equivalence of racism and conservatism.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Actually, I’m surprised the MSM didn’t make a big deal out of this.

    Fits their template, ya know?