Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)”

An old, old, lament: “Laws are for the little people…”

I am constantly impressed at the perceptive and eloquent comments that issue from such a large number of Ethics Alarms readers. It cushions the blow of the traffic fall-off here that came shortly after the 2016 election, as the rapid Trump-Haters and resistance acolytes fled to secure echo chambers. (Facebook banning EA didn’t help.) I’d like both, sure, but I’ll take quality over quantity every time.

Aaron Pascal is long-time participant on Ethics Alarms, and he has issued many provocative comments, usually with a refreshing edge. This, in reaction to the most recent of AOC’s annoying and ethics-dead tweets, is one of his best.

Here is Aaron Pascal’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)”….

“Jail the poor to free the rich” smacks of a combination of two extreme positions on two separate valid social dilemmas interacting.

First, there is the moderately unsettling (to me) privately funded and operated prison system. It’s been suggested that inmates are the product that is sold to bring in money. If people stopped being put in prison, then the corporations running the prison would lose money. Ergo, they get the politicians (especially the nasty, racist Republicans) to criminalize more activity, and push for longer sentences for smaller and smaller offenses. Especially if the crimes you tighten up on end up imprisoning a disproportionate number of racial minorities. Not a viewpoint completely without merit, but if you assume it’s the norm it certainly encourages a topsy turvy view of criminal activity vs the justice system. It also requires picturing the police, the justice system, the prison system, and the government as really bad, selfish people. Which is only a problem for leftists once you get to the government, which once you assign the blame to those horrible Republicans, the cognitive dissonance goes away.

The second issue is the suggestion of the two tier justice system. Rich people aren’t put in prison for not paying fines, or smoking dope, or not paying child support, or taxes. Certainly not for causing classified information to be leaked, or attending orgies with underage prostitutes. There is a growing air of “well, of course I can’t get away with something like that, I’m poor.” Again, a complex and valid concern in this day and age. But it’s really hard to trust in the justice of a system that cracks down hard on jaywalkers and turnstile jumpers, while you’re being told that rich people across the country are getting away with rape and murder. And also jaywalking and turnstile jumping!

They’ve talked up and about these issues and several more that touch on them so much, that they’ve created their own dog whistles. Throw in a dash of “everybody knows,” a bit of class envy, season liberally (ha!) with paranoia, and you have the perfect stew for creating as many useful idiots as your socialist utopia on the horizon will possibly need to come into being. Sure, it will divide the country, encourage anarchy, and make life a hell for everyone touched by it – but those are features, not bugs. The solution is revolution, comrade. She’s no idiot, she’s a commie, and everything is going according to plan. At least, once they can get impeachment through. That’s taking a bit longer than expected, only because lousy Trump can’t even be counted upon to have the decency to commit crimes when they wanted him to. Oh, well.

 

7 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)”

  1. In the State of Oklahoma, the last Democratic Governor, Brad Henry, increased the capacity of the prisons. The last 2 Republican Governors have sought to reduce the number of prisoners. Prison reform has been driven by Republicans, not Democrats here. On the National scene, the First Step Act was driven by Republicans, not Democrats (how much criminal justice reform came about when the Democrats controlled House, Senate, and the Presidency?). The crime being committed by the rich and powerful without consequence seems to be concentrated (although definitely not exclusively) on the Democratic side of the aisle and in the government bureaucracy that appears to be 95% Democrat (based on the candidates they support). You can argue that Donald Trump is being impeached for the crime of investigating the corruption of government Democrats.

    • I’ll not guess at that, I will state it out loud: the Swamp is afraid of crimes they committed being exposed, and that accountability might follow.

      How dare anyone suggest that they be forced to live under the laws they impose on the deplorables!

  2. We’ve talked about this issue before, tangentially… And it’s something of a hot topic for me. It’s something that differentiates me from the group, I think, because it’s something I think America could do better, and it seems to be something that other right-leaning commentators are somewhere between apathetic to and actually proud of.

    I think, and I could be wrong, but I think that this reaction is more of a rejection of the other side than a legitimate statement of belief. Progressives seem to no longer be content with the steady beat of “normal” progress, instead seeming to be approaching everything from politics to the personal with a militant quasi-religious fervour. And to an point, who can blame them? If I listened and believed half of what their thought-leaders are telling them, I might be right there beside them. I’m of the opinion that people on the right feel like (and I agree with them, to an extent) they are perpetually under siege; their values, their way of life, their livelihoods, their basic understanding of the rules of the game of life. They’re given no rest, having the steady grind of not only the overt political messaging, but cultural and familial shifts happening around them in real time. And that’s worn away the dermis a little, they’re on their last nerves, and not picking their battles very well, instead opting to fight everything.
    Because otherwise…. The wholesale rejection of criticisms of the penal system seems… kinda shitty when you think about it.

    America *does* send people to jail for things that aren’t even crimes in much of the rest of the world, and even if they are, those infractions often do not carry jail time. America *does* send those people for vastly disproportionate periods of time, and America *is* one of three modern democracies with active for-profit prisons (the other two being the UK and Australia, both of which also seem to have recurring prison population problems), Canada, France, and Israel all tried the model and found it wanting.

    Worse; America, and particularly the right, generally, has a really rough view on prison conditions…. We kind of hashed this out during the “kids in cages” episodes, but there is a contingent of people, and it isn’t small, that seems to think that once someone has broken the law, literally any law, they have utterly forfeit the right to any amount of comfort. That everything that happens to them past that point is their own damn fault, and there are a few who seem to revel in the particularly bad conditions in some facility, seeming to partake in a sadistic glee at the idea of housing people in 100 degree concrete boxes.

    This seems particularly cruel when you consider that following up on the earlier point of “America incarcerates a lot of people” an amazing number of American prisoners are in jail for being poor. They were levied a fee or a fine, could not pay it, and are in jail for contempt. “But Jeff” My handy Watson pipes in, “Those people are actually in jail for jaywalking, or whatever they got the fine for.” No… They’re in jail for failure to pay. They would not have a fine to pay if they hadn’t run afoul of whatever piddly thing created the fine in the first place, but they’re in jail because they could not pay it.
    It also seems particularly unnecessary when you consider that it isn’t effective. Despite America throwing people in jail for the smallest of infractions, given sentences that are often grossly disproportionate to the crimes committed, in conditions sometimes contravene the Geneva Conventions…. At the end of the day, crime rates are somewhere between similar and worse than the rates of comparable nations.

    Unless… Perhaps you want to argue that “American Exceptionalism” in this context means that Americans are exceptionally criminal, and what I see as excesses are really the only thing keeping the vastly disproportionate criminal element at bay. In which case, carry on. I suppose.

    • “This seems particularly cruel when you consider that following up on the earlier point of “America incarcerates a lot of people” an amazing number of American prisoners are in jail for being poor. They were levied a fee or a fine, could not pay it, and are in jail for contempt. “But Jeff” My handy Watson pipes in, “Those people are actually in jail for jaywalking, or whatever they got the fine for.” No… They’re in jail for failure to pay. They would not have a fine to pay if they hadn’t run afoul of whatever piddly thing created the fine in the first place, but they’re in jail because they could not pay it.”

      This is false assertion.

      No one, I repeat, no one is jailed for being poor, they are jailed for not complying with the law and/or court orders, period!

      If people don’t like a specific law then they need to advocate to change that law, until the law is changed it is their civic duty to follow the law or suffer the consequences known and unknown, period!

      If people don’t like the conditions in jails and prisons then they should advocate to change the conditions not advocate to abolish prisons because they don’t like the conditions, period!

      A civil society must have laws, must enforce those laws, and those that do not comply with the laws will suffer the consequences.

      • “This is false assertion.”

        Ok, Walt. If I had said “Just for being poor”, you might almost have a point, but I didn’t, so you don’t. The fact of the matter is that no one is in jail for jaywalking, but there are people in jail for failure to pay their jaywalking fees. And do you think people would go to jail if they had the means to pay those fines? They are *literally* in jail at that point because they are poor, where someone who was less poor would not be.

        And think about that for a second: Functionally; Someone does something piddly, I’m using jaywalking as an example, but you can ad-lib in whatever you want. They are deemed to have broken the law and they are assigned a fine. Unable to pay that fine with food stamps and dreams, the person cannot (not will not) pay. At that point, that person is deemed to have a debt to society! A debt that can only be paid by incarceration, where their food and board are paid for a determinate amount of time on the public dollar in a private prison. Because what else makes sense?

        “If people don’t like the conditions in jails and prisons then they should advocate to change the conditions not advocate to abolish prisons because they don’t like the conditions, period!”

        I’m criticizing the legal system and for-profit prisons. I suppose when appropriate I’ll advocate better conditions. But I have never, nor will I ever, advocate abolishing prisons. I mean, during the “kids in cages” season my take was consistently that the facilities were necessary, but that they should just be better equipped, and then I ripped into the progressives who wanted to boycott Wayfair for selling beds to Homeland Security because they saw their photo op opportunities swirling down the drain. I have no idea what you even think you’re responding to, but it ain’t me.

        • “If I had said “Just for being poor”, you might almost have a point, but I didn’t, so you don’t.”

          You wrote this, “an amazing number of American prisoners are in jail for being poor.”, did you not? Your words “in jail for being poor” have meaning, do you really not comprehend what that meaning is? You could have just said that’s not what I meant and tried to explained yourself better.

          What I said is in reply to what you wrote is fact and is completely appropriate…

          Again, “No one, I repeat, no one is jailed for being poor, they are jailed for not complying with the law and/or court orders, period!”

          Do you dispute those facts, yes or no.

          “I have no idea what you even think you’re responding to, but it ain’t me.”

          It wasn’t a response to you, brain child, it was an extrapolation on the theme of jail issues in general. I figured you were intelligent enough to actually figure that out without help from a “mental midget” like myself.

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