Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Want to Make This Perfectly Clear

All day long I've been listening to the various shows on Air America as the hosts discussed the Jena 6 and yesterday's march. Inevitably, each host would have to field calls from callers with the following questions:

Didn't those six guys commit a crime? Why shouldn't they go to trial? Why shouldn't they be in jail? Why do y'all want them to get off with no consequences?

I hope that at least someone with those questions stumbles across my little blog here because I'm about to answer them.

Yes, a fight broke out and a crime was committed. Yes, those who committed that crime should go to court and, if found guilty, serve any sentence that is given to them to serve. NO ONE has demanded that these guys get off "scott free".

It has never been questioned that a fight broke out at school and a boy was beaten up. The problem all along has been the unfair way punishment has been handed out.

Let's compare:

1. Three nooses are hung from an oak tree after two black kids sit there for lunch the previous day. The offenders are three white boys. Nooses hanging from a tree mean one thing and one thing only. They are a threat to the lives of the black kids. Punishment for those three white boys - Each given a three day in-school suspension.

2. At a party, a black kid is beaten up by a 22 year old white male wielding a beer bottle. Punishment - The white male is charged with a misdemeanor and given probation.

3. At a convenience store, two white males harass two black males and an argument ensues. One of the white males grabs a shotgun out of his truck and points it at the two black males. Here in Louisiana that crime is called aggravated assault (AKA assault with a deadly weapon). One of the black males wrestles the shotgun away from the white male and leaves the scene with it. Punishment - white male who committed aggravated assault, none - black male who left with the shotgun to keep from being shot with it, theft.

4. A fight between white and black students starts at school. In the course of the fight, a white male is beaten and kicked by several black males. When I was growing up and going through school, if there was a fight, everybody involved got into trouble. Punishment - white kids involved, none - six black kids involved, charged with attempted second degree murder.

So let's look at our totals now:

White kids
1. Three days in-school probation
2. Misdemeanor and probation
3. None
4. None

Black kids
1. None
2. None
3. Theft of a shotgun
4. Attempted 2nd Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit 2nd Deg. Murder

Now weigh those punishments in the white column against the punishments in the black column. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm...looks quite a bit heavier in the black column to me.

So what should be done in the case of the Jena 6? Well, their charges have all been reduced to aggravated 2nd degree battery, which is still a felony. My question is why does the white guy who beat somebody up get a misdemeanor and some probation when the black kids who beat somebody up get felonies with the possibility of 10 years in prison at hard labor? How about reducing those felonies to misdemeanors? That might work.

The basis of the Jena 6 issue has always been the heavy-handedness with which charges have been handed out and how unbalanced those charges have been between the two races. I don't understand why some white people can't wrap their head around this. (I am white, BTW) Our country is based on the foundation of equality for all. This isn't pre-civil war America; this is 2007, for crying out loud. This isn't supposed to happen any more. But it will continue to happen as long as there are folks out there that take the "oh, it's not so bad" attitude. Wake up, people. It's bad and we need to do something about it.

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  • At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Cero said…

    Good post! It is amazing how many misconceptions there are circulating about this situation.


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