pageok
pageok
pageok
TalkLeft on the "Jena 6":
Over at TalkLeft, Jeralyn Merritt has a very helpful post on what we know — and what we don't — about the "Jena 6" controversy. Based on her summary, it looks like we don't yet have clear evidence of racial discrimination in the charging decisions. There were two charging decisions that seem questionable, but we don't yet have the context to know why they were made. Perhaps we'll get that evidence in time, but I don't think we have it yet.

  I realize that some will find this terribly naive, on the theory that in our gut we all know what was happening (a reaction that explains posts like this). But I'd rather go on evidence than our gut feelings on this one, especially given how many people are trying to get to the bottom of the facts.
John87 (mail):
I'm sure that Jeralyn at Talkleft thought that she was so brave and open minded by writing this post when she knows that the party line among the left and the academics is that the Jena 6 controversy shows how racist America still is. In reality, it is just one degree better than the propoganda being generated by Al Sharpton and CNN.

Saying that a teenager with two prior convicitions for assault that are mere "months" (huh?) apart is not a violent offender is plain ridiculous.

Furthermore, she shows great concern about the gun incident. Are alternative explanations really that hard to generate? A group of teens are approaching a lone individual, racial tensions are known to be high...maybe the kid didn't want to get knocked unconscious and stomped into the ground. I'm not saying this is what happened, just that it easily could have been the case. Why did the black kids come and wrestle the gun out of his hands? If they wanted no trouble, why did they not just leave. Was it even being pointed anywhere near them. Knowing nothing about this incident other than the basic facts, it seems the group of black kids were the aggressors. Again, no one seems to care to find out.

Also, I find it unprofessional that Jeralyn points out amibuity, but than shamelessly assumes every inconclusive point in the assailant's favor.
9.23.2007 11:52pm
MikeC&F (mail):
Saying that a teenager with two prior convicitions for assault that are mere "months" (huh?) apart is not a violent offender is plain ridiculous.

Depends. You are making assumptions Were those street fights? Or did the dude go around hitting old ladies? You don't know.

Also, if race is a factor in charging decisions, what if the kid got into fights with other white kids and then found himself charged with assault? What is a white kid said, "Hey n-word, I'm going to string you from a rope," and then got punched in the face? This is not hard to imagine, especially since a white kid who pulled a gun on a black kid wasn't charged with any crimes.... But the black kids who defended themselves by taking the gun from him were charged with theft. To quote Shakespeare, WTF?

So, again, you are really talking out of your you-know-what. If you actually know the circumstances under which Bell has been convicted of assault, please share with us. If you don't, perhaps you should wait until more evidence is available before forming such strong opinions.
9.24.2007 12:04am
MikeC&F (mail):
John87: I read your post again. I noticed something interesting. You are quick to assign bad characteristics to the black kid (he is plainly a violent offender, and anyone who says otherwise is being ridiculous), but quick to explain away the white kid's conduct (maybe the white guy was just afraid of a bunch of scary black people and thus pulled his gun out.... let's wait for more facts).

So blacks are presumed guilty... But we should await more evidence for declaring a white person guilty.

Interesting....
9.24.2007 12:08am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, I'm certain, without doing any further inquiry at all, that NPR's equation of 'hanging nooses on a tree' with 'mob attack beating lone kid unconscious' is crap.

Futher deponent sayeth not.
9.24.2007 12:10am
OrinKerr:
In my post, I wrote:
I realize that some will find this terribly naive, on the theory that in our gut we all know what was happening . . . . But I'd rather go on evidence than our gut feelings on this one, especially given how many people are trying to get to the bottom of the facts.
John87, I meant this to include both guts that instinctively say this is about racism and guts that instinctively say this is all b.s.
9.24.2007 12:19am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Are alternative explanations really that hard to generate? A group of teens are approaching a lone individual, racial tensions are known to be high...maybe the kid didn't want to get knocked unconscious and stomped into the ground. I'm not saying this is what happened, just that it easily could have been the case. Why did the black kids come and wrestle the gun out of his hands?

You are ignoring the very important fact that the guy went back to his truck to retrieve his shotgun. He should have just driven away, yet he chose to confront the black kids with the shotgun, elevating the situation--yet they were the ones charged with a crime. In what bizarro world should they, and not the person who went to his truck to get a shotgun, be charged with a crime?
9.24.2007 12:26am
Tony Tutins (mail):
First, Jena is racist as hell. Second, why are all the white youths in Jena named Justin? Third, the DA should prosecute the gun guy, at least for brandishing a firearm. And the DA should prosecute the guy that punched/hit/beat the party crasher. Unless prosecuting the party crasher makes more sense. Fourth, why haven't the school arsonists been found? The forum on the local paper website is full of chat how taxes are going to go up to pay for a new building. Finally, a group stomping, giving a guy a concussion, is way more serious than either of those other incidents.
9.24.2007 12:37am
Justin (mail):
I agree we don't know all the details, but there sure is a lot of smoke. And there doesn't seem to be any set of facts that justifies the original attempted murder charges. You take that and the history of Louisiana and race, and I don't think the prosecutors should be given the benefit of the doubt. I would like to see Donald Washington's files, for one.
9.24.2007 1:13am
Steve Sailer (mail) (www):
The left has the Jena story about 179 degrees backwards. It's not 1877 in the South anymore, it's 2007 and football is king. Youths of any color who can run amok on the football field are allowed to run amok on the streets, until they finally go too far. The Jena Six had long gotten preferential treatment for their crimes because they were the town's star high school football players. Mychal Bell was convicted of four crimes as a juvenile over the previous year, but he was still allowed to play football, and he scored 18 touchdown and was chosen All-State. Another one of the Jena Six scored 11 touchdowns in 2006. The one member of the Jena Six who was too young to be prosecuted as an adult has taken Bell's place and rushed for an average of 100 yards per game in the first two games of the season.

The crimes previously committed by the other members of the Jena Six haven't been unsealed yet because they were charged as juveniles, but people in the know say they are extensive.

Eddie Thompson, a minister in Jena, explained how the stomping of Barker was merely the culmination of the Jena Six's long skein of privileged criminality:

"Some of these students have reputations in Jena for intimidating and sometimes beating other students. They have vandalized and destroyed both school property and community property. Some of the Jena Six have been involved in crimes not only in LaSalle Parish but also in surrounding parishes. For the most part, coaches and other adults have prevented them from being held accountable for the reign of terror they have presided over in Jena. Despite intervention by adults wanting to give them chances due their athletic potential, most of the Jena Six have extensive juvenile records. … These boys did not receive prejudicial treatment but received preferential treatment until things got out of hand."[The Battle Against Racism In Jena: Jena-Cide, Authorsden.com, September 10, 2007]

This case is a lot more like OJ Simpson that Emmett Till.
9.24.2007 1:59am
MikeC&F (mail):
And there doesn't seem to be any set of facts that justifies the original attempted murder charges.

I take it you don't work in the criminal justice system. ;-) Overcharging takes place all of the time. It happens to whites, blacks... even rich and poor. If you remember, lily white (and rich!) Martha Stewart was charged with wire fraud for going on television and saying she was innocent of the crimes the AUSA had initially charged her with. This was a bogus charge. It happens - often.

So we could go on and on about overcharging decisions. I think they are problematic. But that the black kids were charged with attempted murder for simply giving some (alleged) racist a good rump-kicking is not at all surprising.
9.24.2007 2:49am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You are ignoring the very important fact that the guy went back to his truck to retrieve his shotgun. He should have just driven away, yet he chose to confront the black kids with the shotgun, elevating the situation--yet they were the ones charged with a crime. In what bizarro world should they, and not the person who went to his truck to get a shotgun, be charged with a crime?
In the bizarro world in which the police, after talking to eyewitnesses, believed his story, I guess. While it's easy to say that he "should have" driven away,

(1) we don't know whether he could have done so; for all we know they were standing behind his truck, or he didn't have time to do so; and
(2) assuming he could have, he is not legally required to do so. Again, Louisiana isn't New York City; you're not required to run away when you're threatened in a public place.

Assuming he could have done so, that would indeed have been the prudent thing to do. But defending oneself against assault isn't a crime. (I am not asserting that this is what happened; for all I know, he was the aggressor. I am responding only to your challenge to John87's point that there are alternative explanations.)
9.24.2007 3:17am
Steve Sailer (mail) (www):
I would presume they were initially charged with attempted murder because that's what it took to get the Jena Six out of the juvenile justice system, which had so clearly failed to dissuade them from committing more crimes, and into the adult justice system. Was this the right thing to do? I don't know. Was this objective logic so implausible that only racial animus could explain this step? I strongly doubt it.
9.24.2007 4:26am
Mary at Subsumed (mail) (www):
I think Stebbins Jefferson wrote an excellent column, reprinted on Subsumed. That's why I reprinted it there.

Why not acknowledge you're playing catch up with this one? Definitely be open to gathering more information, but this, Mr. Kerr? Come on... "I spent about 30 minutes this morning trying to research it, but I couldn't get a good enough sense of what the facts are or what the precise cause of the protest is to really know what to make of it." O.K.

The precise cause of the protest is a persistent pattern that appears to favor one race over another. Or put more eloquently: "The perception that there are two Americas, separate and unequal, supposedly was ended by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and replaced with renewed commitment to equal justice for all without regard to race or ethnicity. The disparate prosecution of the Jena Six in Louisiana is proof that constitutional promise is yet to be realized." S.J.

If you and the other pundit folk linked at my post can't handle a bit of criticism, maybe y'all shouldn't be calling yourselves critics of all things media and justice related?

Or was it the "white" label I tagged ya's with? C'mon, Mr. Kerr. "Toughen up, buttercup" M.G. Seems you could easily have figured out the precise cause of the protests: the widely held belief at times our justice system selectively applies equal protection under the law.

Maybe read it again?
9.24.2007 7:39am
Bottomfish (mail):
It is interesting that there seems to have been no national publicity on this case until recently, after Messrs Jackson and Sharpton went to work. Can it be that they are attempting to recover from the fallure of their case against the Duke lacrosse team?
9.24.2007 10:01am
Anderson (mail):
The views I've been seeing at my lefty blogs I read, are that the group-stomping was a serious offense, but that it's one-sided to ignore the mistakes that helped create a sense among the black students that no one else was looking out for them.

A noose in a tree may be quaint or merely symbolic to some readers; to blacks in the South, it's not quaint or symbolic at all. The principal made the right call with those students, and when the school board undercut his leadership, it sent an unmistakable message to the whites and blacks in the school: whites could be as racist and hateful as they liked, and nothing too serious would happen to them.
9.24.2007 10:03am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Anderson.
It appears from your post that being racist and hateful is...racist and thus a separate and worse category than the real LAFO (laid a finger on, or actual, you know, damaging a human body) crime. But I don't think you'd be making that point had the six been white and the one black.
9.24.2007 10:26am
Anderson (mail):
It appears from your post that being racist and hateful is...racist and thus a separate and worse category than the real LAFO (laid a finger on, or actual, you know, damaging a human body) crime.

Really? That appears from my post? You mean, after you printed it off and held it over a light bulb, to expose the hidden ink?
9.24.2007 10:32am
John87 (mail):
John87, I meant this to include both guts that instinctively say this is about racism and guts that instinctively say this is all b.s.


The tone of my email may have obscured the content. The only place that I used a gut instinct was to assume that someone who has two convictions for simple assualt in a matter of months is a violent offender. I suppose it does not ALWAYS have to be the case, but in my mind, it is fair to make this presumption until proven otherwise. This is not the same type of jumping to conclusions I believe, because we have strong information that could only be countered by a couple of scenarios. The other posters, and the orginal authors, presume one of those scenarios was more likely than not. I think leaning toward a less likely outcome is one major component of bias.

Regarding the gun incident, I found it hard to draw any conclusion based on what we know. Really, I was pointing out that the author openly sided with the black teens, when I think, in a colorblind scenario, the facts are highly ambiguous. This gets reported as, "white teen drew a gun on a group of black teens," but unlike the case with the assault convictions, no fact finder has looked at this case and made a judgement. Therefore, I find it reasonable to presume that Bell was a violent offender, but unreasonable to jump to a conclusion that the gun incident reflects racial bias in the system simply based on the quality of the information coming out in each direction.
9.24.2007 10:59am
Anderson (mail):
but unlike the case with the assault convictions, no fact finder has looked at this case and made a judgement.

Wait, which *convictions* are those? I'm lost ... sorry!
9.24.2007 11:00am
John87 (mail):
John87, I meant this to include both guts that instinctively say this is about racism and guts that instinctively say this is all b.s.


The tone of my email may have obscured the content. The only place that I used a gut instinct was to assume that someone who has two convictions for simple assualt in a matter of months is a violent offender. I suppose it does not ALWAYS have to be the case, but in my mind, it is fair to make this presumption until proven otherwise. This is not the same type of jumping to conclusions I believe, because we have strong information that could only be countered by a couple of scenarios. The other posters, and the orginal authors, presume one of those scenarios was more likely than not. I think leaning toward a less likely outcome is one major component of bias.

Regarding the gun incident, I found it hard to draw any conclusion based on what we know. Really, I was pointing out that the author openly sided with the black teens, when I think, in a colorblind scenario, the facts are highly ambiguous. This gets reported as, "white teen drew a gun on a group of black teens," but unlike the case with the assault convictions, no fact finder has looked at this case and made a judgement. Therefore, I find it reasonable to presume that Bell was a violent offender, but unreasonable to jump to a conclusion that the gun incident reflects racial bias in the system simply based on the quality of the information coming out in each direction. Of course, any postion can be refuted by new information, and I could have this all wrong. I more or less said this in my first post, but it seemed to get lost in translation.
9.24.2007 11:01am
John87 (mail):
My mistake, I meant simply to say that no solid information is coming out regarding the gun incident to identify it as an example of bias in the system. I believe the incident is highly suspect and may be evidence of bias, we should just not jump to that conclusion and take a deeper look.
9.24.2007 11:05am
OrinKerr:
Mary at Subsumed,

It sounds like you want me to read a news story about a black man wrongly charged with a crime in a racially charged environment and then drop everything and join his defense team pro bono. But what are the chances I would do that?
9.24.2007 11:25am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Anderson.

No light bulb necessary. It was clear.
9.24.2007 11:40am
Seamus (mail):

The principal made the right call with those students, and when the school board undercut his leadership, it sent an unmistakable message to the whites and blacks in the school: whites could be as racist and hateful as they liked, and nothing too serious would happen to them.



I thought that, in a free country, you were free to "be as racist and hateful as [you] liked," so long as you didn't translate your racism and hate into actual harm of another person. IMHO, the nooses don't even begin to approach the level of actual harm that beating the crap out of the white boy constituted. I haven't heard anyone seriously suggesting that they constituted a true threat. At most, it constituted "fighting words," and should have been treated that way, rather than like the second coming of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.
9.24.2007 12:10pm
Seamus (mail):
And BTW, kudos to Prof. Kerr for joining the good guys on the Cory Maye case.
9.24.2007 12:12pm
Seamus (mail):
As the Instapundit points out, "it's constructive to ask how people would act if the races were reversed." That was certainly true in the Duke lacrosse case. In the Jena case, Steve Sailer has done the heavy lifting of flipping the colors around for us, and demonstrated pretty convincingly that if it had been a bunch of white athletes who'd gotten away with assault before and kicked the crap out of a black kid, Al Sharpton would be howling for their hide, and claiming that the DA had been treating them too leniently when he dropped the attempted murder charges:
http://www.vdare.com/sailer/070923_jena.htm
9.24.2007 12:46pm
Anderson (mail):
I thought that, in a free country, you were free to "be as racist and hateful as [you] liked," so long as you didn't translate your racism and hate into actual harm of another person.

Not in school, you're not. I suppose you think a student can sneer "N-gg-r! I hope you die!" at another student in the hallway, and not be punished for thus exercising his First Amendment rights?
9.24.2007 2:59pm
A rude dude (mail):
Seems you can now get tshirts: Jail the Jena 6.
9.24.2007 3:26pm
A rude dude (mail):

So, again, you are really talking out of your you-know-what. If you actually know the circumstances under which Bell has been convicted of assault, please share with us. If you don't, perhaps you should wait until more evidence is available before forming such strong opinions.


What I really like is how all the supporters of Nifong and that angel, Crystal Gail Mangum, were saying: Dude, let's wait for all the facts to come out before we call for the rapists to be castrated. Yeah.
9.24.2007 3:29pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Anderson. Missed again. Stock line from an old comic show.

Anyway, the point was that you can BE any old thing your potty little self desires. It's behavior--the taunt--that is sanctioned, sometimes.

It's odd--if you haven't been paying attention--that only a few, a very few taunts would be actionable in a public school.
9.24.2007 3:30pm
Anderson (mail):
Anyway, the point was that you can BE any old thing your potty little self desires. It's behavior--the taunt--that is sanctioned, sometimes.

Uh-huh, and hanging nooses is behavior.

It's odd--if you haven't been paying attention--that only a few, a very few taunts would be actionable in a public school.

Such as "bitch," "faggot," "motherfucker," "asshole" -- I think even "douchebag" might land one in detention. What was your point, sir?
9.24.2007 3:33pm
A rude dude (mail):
Mary says:


Or was it the "white" label I tagged ya's with? C'mon, Mr. Kerr. "Toughen up, buttercup" M.G. Seems you could easily have figured out the precise cause of the protests: the widely held belief at times our justice system selectively applies equal protection under the law.


Actually, Mary, it is my perception that blacks who commit horrific crimes against whites, like the one in Knox County, get preferential treatment, at least in the MSM. What was that other one in Wichita?
9.24.2007 3:34pm
Per Son:
A Rude Dude:

You are mislead. I do not see the kidnapping, rape, and torture of the black woman in West Virginia making much of dent in the news. Maybe 2 or 3 days worth - tops.
9.24.2007 3:44pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The principal made the right call with those students, and when the school board undercut his leadership, it sent an unmistakable message to the whites and blacks in the school: whites could be as racist and hateful as they liked, and nothing too serious would happen to them.


I don't know about that. I've read accounts from people saying that the school was playing a football game against a team that week called the Cowboys and the pep rally theme was "hang 'em high." The nooses (which some reports say were in the school colors) were hung on the tree because it was routinely used for school functions. The students (who were apparently part of the roping club) though may not have been part of the officially sanctioned pep rally. But thinking back to high school, I seem to recall more than a few pranks committed by students as part of pep week that resulted in detention.
9.24.2007 3:55pm
Chicago Guest:
Let me see if I got this straight: a group of six blacks attacks a white student, repeatedly stomps on his face and beats him, and knocks him unconscious. The white student had nothing to do with any prior racial incidents. Since the perpetrators are black, by definition they must be the victims. Righttttt....

It seems the media has made a number of unspoken assumptions in its coverage:
1. Black people (but not other groups) are justified in using violence if they are offended.
2. Physically assaulting an innocent white person is acceptable if blacks feel like they have a grievance.
3. Attaching the label "civil rights" automatically tranforms any act of black wrongdoing into something saintly and protected.
4. White students who hung a few nooses on a tree (an act arguably protected by the First Amendment) are equally blameworthy to a group of black thugs who attack a white student months later.

What am I missing here?
9.24.2007 4:14pm
Seamus (mail):
Not in school, you're not. I suppose you think a student can sneer "N-gg-r! I hope you die!" at another student in the hallway, and not be punished for thus exercising his First Amendment rights?

Would the student be punished by expulsion? I doubt it. (If you read my post in full, you'd have seen that I said the nooses should be regarded as at most the equivalent of fighting words and should have been treated accordingly. Your example, presenting actual fighting words, reinforces rather than undermines my conclusion.)
9.24.2007 4:42pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Mary: "The precise cause of the protest is a persistent pattern that appears to favor one race over another."

Perhaps. But what does that perception tell us about what happened with the Jena-6?
9.24.2007 5:28pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Read the commentary about this case on discussion groups that have nothing to do with legal topics. The pro-"Jena 6" comments appearing there are truly scary. Within the past few days, I've seen over a dozen people insisting that the 6 must be good guys, because they're football stars. Several more have offered some variant of "I'd be proud to invite these boys into my home." Worst IMO are the people making a "Two wrongs do make a right" claim - if one crime goes unpunished, another crime in "response" is A-OK.

Nick
9.24.2007 9:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Anderson. Your initial remark had to do with "being", not actions.
9.24.2007 10:07pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
NickM.

There are Division I football fans everywhere. Those are the scary people.

Sort of like Tom Hayden, once of Nebraska, who insisted there was always some good to be found in a boy who could do a 4.4 forty, toting a football.

If these guys had been rampaging cross-country runners, there'd be a lot less sympathy.
9.25.2007 1:04am
Caliban Darklock (www):
> Would the student be punished by expulsion? I doubt it.

My 16 year old nephew was expelled for having a two inch pocket knife on his keychain. Having just started an after-school job at a warehouse, he found it useful to carry a small knife for opening boxes. It never occurred to him that any rational human being would call this $3 tool a "deadly weapon".

So doubt all you want, I'm of the opinion that our public schools are managed by the insane.
9.26.2007 10:24pm