Words Speak Louder Than Actions

Prosecutors, judges and juries are giving words more weight than the actual commission of the crime.

William F. Buckley wrote an article for NRO about a defendant who could face up to 25 years depending upon how an epithet he uttered is interpreted when he fractured a man's skull with a baseball bat.

Buckley writes of his own experience:

Some years ago I was a defendant in a lawsuit brought by a creepy fascistic outfit (they are now out of business), and the question before the jury was whether I and the magazine I edited were racist. The attorney had one weapon to use in making his point, namely that we had published an editorial about Adam Clayton Powell Jr. when he made a terminally wrong move in his defense against federal prosecutors. The editorial we published was titled, "The Jig Is Up for Adam Clayton Powell Jr.?" On the witness stand I argued that the word "jig" could be used other than as animadversion. The feverish lawyer grabbed a book from his table and slammed it down on the arm of my chair. "Have you ever heard of a dictionary?" he asked scornfully, as if he had put the smoking gun in my lap. I examined the American Heritage College Dictionary and said yes, I was familiar with it. "In fact," I was able to say, opening the book, "I wrote the introduction to this edition." That was the high moment of my forensic life. And, of course, the dictionary establishes that the word “jig” can be used harmlessly.

It is absurd for a court to split hairs over what the perpetrator really meant when he used the N-word. Just give the man 25 years for what he did.

Posted by Mutti at May 23, 2006 07:13 AM | TrackBack