June 27th, 2003

flavored with age

Patterns

Earlier in the week, the Supreme Court upheld (however weakly) affirmative action. One day later, Lester Maddux died.

Later in the week, the Supreme Court struck down an anti-sodomy law in Texas. One day later, Strom Thurmond died.

My question is, are there any arts funding issues up before the SCOTUS, so we can get rid of Jesse Helms as well?
flavored with age

Dead guy on board

The Chante Mallard case has instilled in me mixed reactions, to say the least. On the one hand, it's impossible to over look the fact that she committed a particularly horrible crime; that she behaved in an inexplicable fashion after committing it; and that, as awful as the situation was, if she had simply called for help after hitting Gregory Biggs with her car, she probably could have gotten off with a minimal charge such as vehicular manslaughter. Her claim that she didn't call the police because she was afraid of going to jail is completely delusional. Because of her, one man is dead, a son has lost his father, and two of her friends face a decade in prison for making a bad decision about how to help her. Had I been on the jury, I can't imagine how I would have done anything but cast a quick and sure guilty verdict.

On the other hand, there's some unsettling aspects to the case, and what it signifies. The mere fact that it's a murder case in Texas makes it automatically suspect; just the combination of the words "Texas murder trial" set off all sorts of alarm bells. The penalty phase is approaching, and I don't have high hopes; if there was ever a case of a remorseful killer who needs to be rehabilitated rather than punished, Chante Mallard is it, but I have a feeling the jury will go for the maximum penalty allowed. It's impossible to avoid the racial aspects of the case, and there's a tangible air of "oh, those crazy drugged-out black people" to the proceedings; and, the grotesque aspects of the case aside, it's really not all that different from a typical drunk driving fatality except in how severely it's being punished. The irony of how the government only cares about homeless people when they become murder victims hasn't been lost on me. And most irritating of all, the case is being transformed into a referendum on ecstacy and marijuana, which are being cited left and right as the "cause" of the crime (rather than the more obvious culprits, alcohol and stupidity). The Mallard case, mark my words, is going to be used to justify continued crackdowns on relatively harmless indulgences like weed and X for the next decade.

"I was asking God to tell me what to do," Mallard says. Once again, God doesn't come through in the clutch. That guy's starting to get a reputation as a choker.