September 23, 2019

Allegations That Don’t Stick

The Wall Street Journal just ran a ” title=”rule change” target=”_blank”>rule change that penalizes with a technical foul any player who demonstratively whines about a foul call. How nice it would be, he suggests, if “American society as a whole instituted an across-the-board no whining rule.” As he notes, the media is complicit with the epidemic of whining, “by spreading certain items on bellyaching far and wide, the media bears special responsibility for aiding and abetting this national contagion.” Indeed.

Last week, The New York Times columnist Charles Blow ” title=”study” target=”_blank”>study he cites for verification.  That study alleges that 60,000 people were arrested in California for marijuana possession in 2008. One would assume that the pernicious effects of “marijuana arrests that….permanently bars” someone from “mainstream society” would be most reflected here.

In a recent year, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department incarcerated exactly 6 people in the central jail for marijuana possession. I wasn’t given the data for 2008, but it couldn’t have been markedly different. If that’s what takes place in LA County, all the other counties in California would have had to have been very busy to arrest the balance of the 59,994 souls who allegedly were detained for marijuana crimes.

In fact, in California, misdemeanor possession of marijuana (one ounce or less) results in a maximum punishment of $100; first and second time offenders may opt for a treatment program and arrests are expunged from the offender’s record after two years or upon completion of the treatment program. That’s not exactly Jim Crow, nor is that a one way ticket to the “undercaste.”

Even if one buys Blow’s assumptions—-that there are cadres of cynical officers who train their idle, new recruits on the backs of young blacks and Hispanics-there isn’t much pay off; the “perp” gets the equivalent of a parking ticket. Also, if Blow’s and Prof. Levine’s cynical analysis is correct—- that arrests for mere possession of marijuana were the goal of young cops—- wouldn’t the cops have done much better stationing themselves outside any of several hundred strip malls and arresting thousands for marijuana possession as they left cannabis dispensaries that were more numerous than Starbucks in the city of angels?

I suspect the Blow piece appeared in the Times, in no small measure, because a good whine is good copy; an aggrieved party claiming mistreatment and abuse that plays into conspiracy notions that few want to take on. The fact that the underlying assumptions of rank and cynical bigotry are credulity stretching in the America of 2010 gets overshadowed by the quality of the whine.

This past weekend, elements of the Jewish community opted for a good whine as well.

Over the past month I have received several