The Local Crank

Musings & Sardonic Commentary on Politics, Religion, Culture & Native American Issues. Bringing you the finest in radioactive screeds since 2002! "The Local Crank" newspaper column is distributed by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

Just a simple Cherokee trial lawyer, Barkman has been forcing his opinions on others in print since, for reasons that passeth understanding, he was an unsuccessful candidate for state representative in 2002. His philosophy: "If people had wanted me to be nice, they should've voted for me."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why So Angry?

While drug crime is OVERprosecuted among blacks, violent crime is UNDERprosecuted. Though Drum rightly critiques the article for taking an obliviously narrow definition of "white racism," the statistics are stomach-churning. The whole thing reminds me rather uncomfortably of the situation regarding white-on-Indian crime in Indian Country, only on a much larger scale.

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Blogger dmarks said...

So, what do we do. "Reform" crack laws so black neighborhooods are flooded with crackheads?

3/25/2008 5:01 AM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

No, I think your gigantic straw-man should more than suffice to scare off the dealers...

3/25/2008 8:23 AM  
Blogger Brody said...

How about we start by recognizing that our current education policies are just one big bucket of fail?

We've dropped any and all programs which might possibly lead to an underprivileged young person accidentally succeeding in society in exchange for standardized tests that prove crapall about a persons ability. So, why don't we drop this NCLB nonsense, and bring back hands on chemistry and physics, along with actually revitalizing the precious few vocational and lifeskill classes being kept going on bubblegum and tape.

Grumblegrumblegrumble says the honors student with a Humanities degree. The most useful class I've ever taken was high school auto shop. I've saved more money having taken that class than I've ever earned being able to discuss the symbolic use of color in Toni Morrison's "Beloved."

3/25/2008 4:17 PM  
Blogger dmarks said...

@crank: Shorter sentences for crackheads and dealers would put more of them on the streets. Not a straw man. Leave things as they are for these crimes, but yes do something about the violence in neighborhoods where cops refuse to go and stop the crime (and, by refusing, are basically being very bad cops)

@brody: The standardized tests would not be a problem if the schools bothered to teach the basics. NCLB is only a problem if it is OK for schools to keep graduating kids who can't even read.

3/25/2008 5:01 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

"Shorter sentences for crackheads and dealers would put more of them on the streets."

First, I never said word one about "shorter sentences" for anyone. That was all you. Therefore, strawman. Second, were you under the impression that the current policy of long sentences for crack (longer than for powder cocaine, incidentally) and longer sentences for drug crimes in general have made the streets into a utopian paradise of brotherhood? If so, I know a Nigerian prince who would like to share a $5 million inheiritance with you if only you would provide him your bank account number.
As to Brody's point, two of the most cherished liberal myths are that A) education cures everything; and B) more money = better education. Washington, DC disproves both those points in one city.

3/25/2008 5:09 PM  
Blogger Brody said...

Of course, I never said a word about more education or more money for education- those are all on you Spongebob Crankypants.

What I said was *better* education. Smart education, if you will. DC is actually a phenomenal story in what happens when you start teaching exclusively to standardized goals. You get entrenchment of teaching styles in a desperate attempt that if you just teach *harder* all of a sudden it will work. I thought I had made it clear that I don't support simply dumping more money into our current educational system by calling it a "big bucket of fail." Next time I shall call it a "giagantor bag of flaming poo" so as to remove all doubt.

Rather, in a lot of ways, DC has shown the way out of these ideas. DCs system of charter schools and vouchers, while containing some spectacular failures, also has some very good successes. It's also a cautionary tale of raiding public schools for talent and then throwing the rest of the students to the wolves. It's an entrenched problem, but the solution simply can't be to continue to do what we're doing.

I don't know if Germany style tracked schools are the answer, but if I were dictator for a day I'd be more than happy to write a law giving them a 20 year chance. I think one of the BIGGEST problems is that national programs like NCLB have completely shut down any chance at a "Laboratory for Democracy" that could otherwise unfold at the state and local level with alternative approaches to education. And don't even get me started on higher education...

3/25/2008 8:55 PM  
Blogger dmarks said...

The strawman is one of your own creation. You brought up the issue of overprosecution. In fact, the main news about that lately is sentence length reform (which you referred to also, indicating that you are probably aware of it). That is what turns more crackheads, pushers, etc loose.

"utopian paradise of brotherhood"

I guess the places are so bad, a bunch more dealers and crackheads won't be noticed, right? That is not the best attitude. Easy to say if one does not live there, either. I know if I lived in an area that used to have a dealer, that has been sent up the river, I'd want him to stay away from my block at least a few years longer.
You are right about Brody's point, I think.

3/25/2008 8:58 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

Uhm, dmarks, YOU (not me, but YOU) raised the idea of shorter sentences for "crackheads" then argued against it. That is a classic strawman argument. Now you are assuming that shorter sentences for "crackheads" will automatically lead to more "crackheads" on the streets. This is a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, since the current strict sentences have done little to nothing to prevent the ongoing epidemic of crack in many parts of the country. By way of example, look at the fact that there is no significant difference in murder rates between states that have the death penalty and states that don't. Or the fact that California's infamous "three strikes" law has had little impact on its crime rate. All this suggests that stricter sentences, in and of themselves, have a very limited to non-existent effect on crime rates.

3/26/2008 9:59 AM  
Blogger dmarks said...

The sentence reduction is a hot topic in the whole overprosecution-of-blacks issue, so bringing up "overprosecution" necessarily brings up the sentence issue. Just like if someone brings up "military issues", it is not a straw man for someone to discuss Iraq or nuclear disarmament.

(I hope this puts to bed the straw-man you raised).

Unless you kill them or deport the crack criminals instead (something I am against), when you release these criminals, where do they end up? The streets. If you release them earlier? The streets, for a longer time.

Even if it does not dent percentages, any criminal out of circulation is not causing mischief in neighborhoods.

But anyway, to take this on another tangent, I strongly favor alternatives to incarceration. Rather than being soft on these criminals, why not community service for many of them instead of prison? At least they would be doing something to help the community.

3/27/2008 6:31 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

It's not clear to me what kind of drug crimes he's referring to (possession, selling, manufacturing, etc.), but stories like this make me wonder if decriminalizing drug use (at a minimum) might help at least a little. I'm not convinced that heavy-handed laws aimed at drug users do any good; in fact, I think they do a great deal of harm, like overcrowding prisons and turning petty criminals into harder ones.

3/27/2008 9:29 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

Okay, I'll stop flogging the dead straw horse.
As for alternatives to incarceration, given the high % of prisoners who are drug addicts, and given that feeding a drug addiction is often the impetus behind many property crimes, a relatively modest investment in drug treatment programs could at least cut down on recidivism rates and free up prison space for the truly violent and dangerous.

3/27/2008 10:36 PM  
Blogger dmarks said...

Eric: Decriminalizing possession/abuse alone is a big benefit to organized crime. Especially with cocaine related drugs (as opposed to pot) which have a illegal industry going back up the line through at least a few countries back to and including the coca farms.

Cranky: The horse thanks you. And I agree with your last statement.

3/28/2008 6:21 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

While I can maybe see the arguments in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, in general I think decriminalization sets a bad precedent by essentially arguing that society will give up on punishing certain crimes if enough people just commit them. Reductio ad absurdam, why not legalize murder given that laws against it have done little if anything to deter it? Having seen firsthand the devastating effects of hard drug addiction, particularly meth, I cannot agree that it is a "victimless crime," in the same category as marijuana, or sodomy laws.

3/28/2008 8:20 PM  

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