Is justice blind? Sometimes it sure feels like it. For my random thought today I’d like to compare two different criminal cases to illustrate the disparate dispensation of justice. The cases occurred about 22 years apart but I feel they still offer a disturbing example of inconsistent justice.
Dan White, Supervisor
If you’ve seen the movie Milk you may already know some of this. In 1978 San Fransisco former Supervisor Dan White killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. White entered city hall through a first-floor window to avoid newly installed metal detectors while carrying a loaded gun and 10 rounds of ammunition, then gained entry to the Mayor’s office where an argument ensured. White shot and killed Moscone using four bullets. White then reloaded his gun and walked down the hall to Milk’s office and shot and killed Milk using five bullets.
For the cold-blooded and premeditated murder of two men White served less than two years of a five-year sentence.
Richard Hatch, TV game show contestant
The first season of the reality TV show Survivor was held in 2000 in Borneo and was won by a contestant named Richard Hatch. His prize for winning the game was $1 million.
After becoming the sole survivor Hatch failed to report his winnings on his federal tax returns. In addition to the $1 million he also failed to report $10,000 for a reunion show, $321,000 for appearances on a radio program, an automobile he won on Survivor, and rental income from properties he owned.
In 2006 a jury found Hatch guilty of tax evasion. He faced up to 13 years in prison.
For tax evasion Hatch was sentenced to 51 months (4 years, 3 months) in prison and three additional years of probation. He served over three years of that sentence before being released.
I find the comparison in sentences between White and Hatch very incredible. The killing of two human beings resulted in less than two years in prison while cheating on taxes resulted in over three.
Today’s random Wikipedia page is actually fairly interesting. It’s about Maski, an archeological site in India.
Justice is hard to find. It often depends on who did the killing and who was killed. For example, the biology professor in Alabama was not charged with killing her brother years ago, although some testified there was an argument and that it was not an accident as her mother claimed.
I stumbled across this blog post today with some interesting videos and weirdness in Chicago.
Re: The first link. Interesting that police would take the mom’s word for it being an “accident.” You think they’d forensically find out for themselves. The woman may have gotten away with murder.
Re: The second link:
An Andrew Breitbart web site? Ugh. 🙂 You ever notice there are a lot of web sites on the internet. Usually they have a name, like People of Wal-Mart.com. If Brietbart owned that site, though, it would be called “Andrew Breitbart presents People of Wal-Mart.com.” Methinks there are some ego issues there. 🙂
When I think “journalism” the first thing that always pops into my head as a good starting point is rabid foaming at the mouth bias. Yes, that has got to be a primary ingredient to good journalism, right? The primary job of a journalism is to report the news. Somewhere along the line that has been updated into “spinning the news” and reporting the news framed under a certain point of view. Reporting the news is journalism but forming information into a certain point of view is more rightly called “entertainment.” Or perhaps “propaganda.” Newspapers used to have pages set aside for “editorials.” Now we have entire organizations devoted to editorials that call themselves “journalism.” That isn’t right.
So one thing I know for sure going to an Andrew Breitbart web site to read an article: It’s not going to have an especially Obama-friendly sort of tone, eh? 🙂
Now I know absolutely nothing of “Chicago politics” and the “machine” and all the sort of stuff, and the mere election of Obama wasn’t quite enough to suddenly make me interested to go research my ass off, either. I’ve heard the sneering comments about “he’s a product of the Chicago machine” and so forth, as if he is somehow pure, concentrated evil simply because he came from Chicago. I accept that as the opinion of some but I don’t yet have enough information to accept it as the truth.
Is Chicago, even if it qualifies for the “machine” moniker, that outside of the norm? Has there been sufficient evidence to show, for example, that Chicago is more corrupt than the average American big city? Or is this more of the “Obama is involved therefore it must be bad” type of thing. Obama wants to destroy the American economy. Obama is a terrorist. Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. Obama comes from Chicago so of course he’s bad. Obama is a thug.
Why is truth such an elusive animal in this new era of the information age and in the greatest country on planet Earth?
Why has politics boiled down to the ethics and morals of a kindergarten playground? Tommy has a piece of candy I want. So I’ll go tell the teacher he stole it from me. Yeah, that works.
I’m enjoying your Tweetholio. Love this: “Eating crow. Tastes a lot like chicken. Does that mean I’m no longer vegetarian?”
LOL, thanks. I find that I have very little to say on Twitter. It’s an extra layer of difficulty on the blog. 🙂
This was in the NY Times today. Seems you have precognition on the hot topics.
“Justice Kennedy on Prisons”
Elected officials and voters should pay more attention to overincarceration, but the courts also need to do their part.
Very interesting editorial. 25 years to life for a third strike which was shoplifting some golf clubs. Meanwhile a guy like Dan White was sentenced to five years for the murder of two men and served less than two years of his sentence. I know that his sentencing would be different in today’s world, but still.
I know it seems extreme to say “25 years to life for shoplifting” but on the other hand, how hard is it to avoid that third felony? Personally, I have none.
And how do we begin to address the problem that the United States has a higher prison population per capita than any other country in the world? We’re #1!
I’ve seen The People of walmart site. I didn’t know Breibart was the same guy. I haven’t visited either site more than a few times.
The thing I thought was interesting about the link, though, was the three suicides. It didn’t seem that they were investigated very well, or at all. That was the tie-in to your story about some crimes not being punished or even acknowledged and others are over-punished. There is more coming about about Amy Bishop’s, the biology professor) earlier killing of her brother and how it may have been covered up, as well as a pipe bomb delivered to a professor she’d feuded with. Bishop was a Harvard student at the time of her brother’s “accidental” killing.
It’s widely acknowledged that Chicago is a corrupt town and has been for a long time. In fact, it’s the poster child for corrupt cities.
This is a story from 2006, before Obama was a frontrunner for president.
I found these linke by googling Chicago corrupt city. You can find more by doing the same. Other cities have had corrupt periods, such as my own area of Kansas City.
Bill called Obama a Chicago thug early in the campaign, and Hillary made some remarks about Obama’s machine politics, too. Breitbart is late to the game on that. John Kennedy, Jr., joked that his father only won the very close presidential election because some dead people in Chicago voted, which many people acknowledged, but there didn’t seem to be a general outcry about it. After all, JFK was a lot more appealing than Nixon, perhaps even to the half of the of country who voted for Nixon in 1960.
We do need to cut back on our prison population. Murderers should be locked up, but not shoplifters, at least not for very long. I don’t have any answers here, alas. A friend of mine went to law school to be a public defender. She didn’t last very long. She was under the illusion that many of these inmates were illegally locked up, but she was aghast to discover they were so “guilty” as she put it. She became an estate attorney. Do we have more thieves and murderers than other western countries?
Oops. I didn’t mean to say Breitbart owned People of Wal-Mart. I was just using that as an example. Note that the owner doesn’t say “So and So presents… People of Wal-Mart.” Not the same ego, I guess. 🙂
Lots of good info there. Thanks for commenting! I’ll be back as time permits to comment further. Right now it is time to bend over.
“It’s widely acknowledged that Chicago is a corrupt town and has been for a long time. In fact, it’s the poster child for corrupt cities.”
At least an attempt to provide data was made. 🙂 That poll, however, is not a scientific one and besides only crudely measures public perception. That poll may simply indicate nothing more than the effects of right-wing media at shaping public opinion.
Chicago is often described as having a political “machine.” What about Los Angeles? New York City? Miami? Seattle? Tulsa, Oklahoma? 🙂 How do we really know if what goes on in Chicago is that outside of the norm or not? And if Chicago is so bad, why didn’t I hear people railing against the machine there during the eight years of the Bush administration? It feels to me like the stinging criticism of Chicago of late has more to do with Obama than anything else.
No, no, no, believe me, Chicago has been known as a corrupt city for a long, long time. I only listed one poll. I could have come up with dozens of lists, even from before Obama was a national name. I’m hardly the only person who thinks this! People railed against the machine while Bush was in office, too. Chicago corruption from the 1930s was even a question on Jeopardy today. Obama did fit right in, though, I must say! The media is hardly right wing. Good lord!
OK, some media is right wing. I dashed this off. But truly, Chicago is widely known for being corrupt. There was plenty about its corrupt history in the mainstream news when the ex-Illinois governor, Blago, was in the news. I didn’t mean that Obama fit into the corrupt Chicago1930s, I meant the corrupt 2000s. Hey, Bill Clinton called it.
“Chicago has been known as a corrupt city for a long, long time.”
I’m willing to stipulate that as a big city, Chicago has its “machine” and is probably rife with corruption. My question remains: Is it especially more corrupt than any other big city? That is what remains unproven to me. Heck, maybe Chicago is the most corrupt American city of all time. I’m not saying it’s not. I’d just like to see some sort of data or information that convinces me. Do we really know this to be true?
I still have to wonder, though, if Chicago is unusually corrupt compared to your average big city, why did it take the election of Obama for it suddenly be so gosh darn important? My hypothesis is that some people are desperate to paint Obama with any brush they can find and Chicago happens to be a very convenient one.
“The media is hardly right wing.”
I think you mistook my meaning there. You won’t find me claiming otherwise. What I was talking about above was the “effects of right-wing media” and not all media in general.
“I dashed this off.”
That’s always acceptable here in the abyss. In fact, I almost exclusively operate in that mode. 🙂
I’m just glad for the comments! And I appreciate being challenged (and even losing) when it’s done in an intelligent and reasoned way. 🙂
More about Chicago corruption.
Thanks! I’ve been continuing my research. For the record I was merely asking questions based on logic. I was never saying I disagreed with you. As I research my position is evolving. So thanks for the prodding! 🙂
In fact, I have a Chicago post in the works. Stay tuned. 😉
I look forward to it!
[…] Up the Hatch Posted: March 14, 2011 by shoutabyss in fail Tags: borneo, crime, evasion, fishing boat, internal, irs, jail, judge, lead, les miserables, murder, prison, punishment, revenue, richard hatch, sentence, service, survivor, tax, tax evasion, taxes 0 How important is it to pay your taxes? Pretty important, I’d say. Especially when failure to comply can result in more time in jail than if you shot two people in the head and killed them in cold blood. […]